Another Hobby Blog

Friday, August 26, 2005

August: Blackberries

I love living in the Pacific Northwest. In late April or early May we get ripe cherries. Ripe Rainier cherries, sometimes as low as three dollars a pound. Every year, as soon as the first roadside stand blooms, I buy five pounds of cherries. It takes me less than a week to eat them all. I have cherries with breakfast, cherries with lunch, cherries after dinner, and cherries as a mid-day snack. It's one of the simple joys of life, and I look forward to it every spring.

August's simple joy is blackberries. The blackberry bush is very invasive here. Any space, left untended long enough, will sprout blackberries. Once they're established, they're almost impossible to get rid of: they're a gardener's nightmare. They require very little care to flourish, hence they're free for the taking at most area parks.

First off, blackberries are delicious. For the first hour, one out of every four berries goes directly into the mouth. A full bucket of ripe blackberries might turn into jam or pie or cobbler. This year the berries were so perfect that we ate them straight with a side of ice cream. The reward is well worth the thorny scratches obtained while picking them.

Second, blackberries make a splendid dyestuff. Nontoxic! Pleasantly aromatic! Lovely color. Like most natural dyes, the color will change, fade, and turn brownish with time and exposure to light. I've found that I don't really mind.

So this week I have been tending dyepots every day. Blackberries (berry only), Blackberry brambles (stems and leaves, berries that are under-ripe), Queen Anne's Lace (also non-toxic), and Red Cabbage.

Not sure what I will do with the yarn yet.


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