textiles · exploration · misadventure

Rosemary Past

Rosemary for dyeingRosemary is an herb particular to San Francisco, a fragrant ground cover that thrives in this climate, whose light blue blossoms draw native burrowing, honey, and bumble bees.

I didn’t always have such docile memories of rosemary.

I used to live with a woman named Sarah, and we would go out on the town in San Francisco together. She would have a nice time, socialize, meet people, have interesting conversations. I would shiver in some corner, consume as much alcohol in as little time as possible, have stilted and uncomfortable conversations, and let her get me home.

One night I passed out fell asleep on the bus on the way home. If Sarah hadn’t been there, I’d have wound up in Petaluma. She hauled my ass off the bus, along with my big mouth.

I complained I didn’t need her help. She told me I was lucky I wasn’t in Petaluma, and lucky she was holding me up. I called bullshit on her, so she let me go.

I toppled into the rosemary hedge. Sarah had to help me (again), because I got a little tangled in the branches. Oh, and because I didn’t know which way was up.

I shut the hell up, after that. Somehow she got me home.

191I have constant reminders of those lovely days and what a brilliant companion I was, as rosemary grows everywhere here, including my own backyard. It was easy—if time-consuming—to harvest our much-in-need-of-pruning rosemary bush, and strip the leaves for dyeing.

The leaves are tough, so instead of macerating them in my Cuisinart, I had to chop them by hand. With a big knife. For a long time. It was kind of zen.

184Then it went into the pot to steep.

After a few days, I simmered it gently on the stove per some of the books I’ve been reading, for further dye extraction.


217When it had cooled, it went into five jars with five different pre-mordanted yarns.

And there it sits.


For bougainvillea dye prep, click here.

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