updates: dyes

The gorgeous magenta juice I got out of the prickly pears is no longer magenta. It’s this:

I had it sitting outside on the patio to stay warm so it wouldn’t mold. It stayed beautiful for quite some time, and then overnight the color vanished. The only explanation I can think of is that it got too hot one day, and the color browned.

I plan to try again, but I need to find a bigger container to roll the pears in so I can de-spine them faster. As much as it amuses the cat, it’s kind of a pain to only do three at a time.

In sunflower news, several weeks ago I bagged several of the heads so the birds wouldn’t get them, and discovered a few of the smaller heads missing. One of the remaining heads, a fairly large one, still had petals on it so I decided to leave it unbagged.

Bad idea. Whomever took the smaller heads came back and made off with the big one. I wasn’t entirely sure who did it, until we found chunks of the head on the ground with toothmarks in them. J said he’d seen a squirrel climbing up one of the stalks earlier, so I went ahead and brought all the remaining heads in even though they weren’t all completely ready.

I let them sit to dry for a few weeks, and then rubbed the seeds out. J’s dad was visiting us at the time and thought I was being very weird, but since I was also keeping him company while he put a cathole in one of the doors, he didn’t say too much.

I have yet to separate them from the chaff and use them. Since I only had a few heads, and only one was actually a decent size (next year, I might put them in the ground instead of in pots), I’m not sure if I’ll try to save any seeds for next year. If I get a good color, I can always order more.

It started to freeze at night a few weeks ago, so I brought the amaranth and Japanese indigo inside. They’re still going– the indigo even decided to flower– but I’m still not sure how to use the amaranth. I thought that there was some information in Hopi Dyes so I got it from the interlibrary, but then I realized that a) there isn’t anything about amaranth in the book, and b) I already own a copy. Mine is part of a double volume with another book about Navajo dyes, so the cover photo’s a little different. Back to searching, I guess.

I did start an indigo bath, but that’ll be in a different post.


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