We often think of dyeing in terms of yarn and knitting, but Sasha Duerr offers a much wider variety of projects in The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes: Personalize Your Craft with Organic Colors from Acorns, Blackberries, Coffee, and Other Everyday Ingredients (Timber Press, 2010, $19.95). Devoted to sustainable design and education in fashion and textiles, Duerr avoids the use of materials that could have adverse health effects. Instead, she focuses on everyday materials that contain dye compounds and allows them to naturally color, with variations in evenness and intensity. The book is beautifully designed and illustrated with 190 color photographs. These, along with Duerr's particular perspective of the Slow Textile movement, provide a book to enjoy both using and reading.
Favorite or New Plant
Most of the time gardeners choose plants based on their flowers, but purple shamrock (Oxalis triangularis) is a great addition to both the garden in summer and the house in the winter with its striking, deep purple leaves. These small plants, growing just 10 inches tall, contribute a huge visual impact, plus they are almost indestructible. Hardy to -10 degrees F, purple shamrock can play a role planted in the garden with moist but well-drained soil and light shade. Consider the impact of its purple leaves paired with heucheras or Japanese painted ferns. As a houseplant, the small rhizomes will quickly fill a pot, readily growing in moderate light. Don't panic when the leaves fold shut at night on this Brazilian native. Occasionally, small pink flowers rise above the foliage. Purple shamrock will also go through dormancy periodically. When foliage starts to die back, withhold water for several weeks. When planting the rhizomes, set them about an inch deep.