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Friday, November 24, 2006

Textile art, Dyeing, and Mystery

Finished another China Bayles mystery. Booklogged mentioned these the other day, and I had not read one in a while, but remembered that I enjoyed them. This one particularly interested me because it deals not only with the herbs that China Bayles grows and sells in her shop, but also with a textile artist and the art of natural dyes.
I love herbs and grow many in my garden. I have to confess that my love of them is, in part, because of their hardy and carefree nature. They require little care (except in containing their tendencies to spread) and most require little water. Added benefits are many. When my dog noses through the rosemary and the basil in the summer, he stirs up the delightful scents, to say nothing of the improvement on his own doggy aroma.
Each chapter in the China Bayles novels begins with excerpts from other sources that connect with the mystery in some way and increase your herbal knowlege. Albert always includes a page or two of bibliographic resources at the end of her novels, and the ones on natural dyeing and indigo dyeing are especially interesting to me.
The mysteries are light and quick reading. I like the herbal information, and in this novel, the information on natural dyeing. I also like the Texas expressions she includes and wish I'd flagged the pages with my little sticky notes so I could include one or two. Albert is also interested in the environment and this novel includes some of the very real destructive effects involved in strip mining and processing.
Her novels are pretty formulaic, if you read more than one, you quickly notice these tendencies, but I still like them and have begun another one.


  1. I've been meaning to try these...I like a light series for unwinding...especially after a heavy or involved book...

  2. They are perfect for a light quick read!

  3. You may be just the person to ask about my parsley. I planted it from seed in a pot outside this summer. It grew wonderfully, but since I've brought it indoors for the winter it is getting sparse and pale. I have it setting on my kitchen windowsill with northern exposure. Any suggestions?

  4. Booklogged - Parsley does like a lot of sun. Also, unlike most herbs, it likes a richer soil. Maybe feed it a little liquid plant food, keep it moist, the sunniest window available...

    Most herbs tolerate (or prefer) poorer soil and dry conditions, but parsley likes a richer, moister situation.

  5. I'm also a big China Bayles fan - I do really like the herb information in the books and having done some work with natural dyes, remember thinking this one was particularly interesting. I'm waiting for there to be a new one since I think I 've read all of them so far.

  6. Have you seen the 'China Bayles Book of Days' she has out? It's a neat book, filled with lots of herbal lore and recipes if like me, you like that sort of thing.

    I was lucky enough to attend a talk she gave at an area herbal guild about her books and herbs in general. She's quite a knowledgeable lady!

    And did you know she also has a series featuring Beatrix Potter?

  7. Lesley - No, but I bet I'd like it. Think I'll visit her website. I was looking at some of the recipes in her latest book last night.

    She IS a knowledgeable lady, and she does research in many areas. Lucky you to be able to attend her herbal/book talk! Her books are filled with interesting trivia that she kind of throws out on subjects that interest her. And her herbal knowledge is backed up with excellent research and experience.

    I've never read the Beatrix Potter series, though I've seen them. Have you read them?

  8. Jackie - Albert really hit on a way to keep people reading, didn't she? I love the fact that she addresses so many of her interests that coincide with mine. :)

  9. Thanks for the help with the parsley. I picked up on a couple things I need to do for it.