red flower dye going brown with acid and green with alkali. The remaining dye bath tested as pH neutral and adding half a teaspoon of dissolved soda ash caused an immediate and obvious colour shift from pale pink to green. Putting some of the merino from each of the original samples back into the dye pot for half an hour of reheating, I expected their colour to become greener and stronger. Alkali did brighten up the
weaker second and third samples, but not as strikingly as I recalled happening before and I was not ecstatic at the prospect of spinning up these samples. Adding some iron water to the dye bath, I heated it up one last time with another piece of the three pH neutral portions. All of them turned deep green. Very nice. This could be worth trying as a background for contact dye on some extortionately expensive wool gauze I have tucked away. I went back out on yet another rainy afternoon to salvage the next lot of
spent pink hollyhock flowers and added them to the same pot along with the woolen fabric, rolled up round coreopsis and dyers chamomile flowers with hardy geranium leaves. The wool fabric is not as green and did not take such a detailed impression of the plants as silk, but the effect is pleasing.
Pleasing, but not exhilarating. It gets hard to look on the bright side while dark clouds perpetually cover the July sky. Particularly when the slugs have ravaged the woad leaves, black fly cluster on the stems of madder and chamomile and a bored puppy just bit one of the Hopi sunflower plants down to a stump. My companion, Elinor Gotland chose this moment of carnage for her return from Montreal.
"Cheer up, Beaut. I've brought you back some instant sunshine. Maple syrup. In the morning, we're making waffles."