Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm in Frankie!

No. Not really. But knitted cactuses by Odds & Ends are, and that may be as close as I get to featuring in my favourite mag.

The cactus is a wonderful little member of the plant family. Here's some fun facts about some of my cousins and reasons why
I love them so much:

We're survivors
To survive, cactuses only need moisture from fog, mist or dew. They can grow in rocky, hilly desserts

We're a protected by law
Destroying or vandalizing a cactus is called cactus plugging and is illegal! Sometimes, people cut open the cactus, fill it with explosives and blow it apart. Many of the cactuses people destroy are over one hundred years old.

We're crafty and practical
Back in the day, cactuses were used for all sorts of nifty things. Got some meat stuck in your teeth? Break off a the sharp spine and hey presto - a toothpick! Got some mending but dropped your needle? Snap off another and add some yarn and you'll be sewing in no time. Hungry? Hollow out the middle and you have the perfect pot for a hearty stew. Or, if you don't want to get hands on, just group together and make a fence to keep pests away from your livestock.

We're healthy and good for you
Some cactus plants grow fruit. Native Americans have been using cholla cactus as a treatment for arthritis for hundreds of years. Pads of prickly pear are sliced open and placed on the wounds to heal and relieve pain. The juice from the prickly pear also soothes insect bites, burns, rashes and sunburn. Today, cactus sap is being tested to see if it can help control diabetes.

We're hot, red-hot
When Spain invaded Mexico in 1519 the Spaniards were amazed to see such vivid red robes as all the dyes that they and the Europeans were using were dull, lifeless. The dye is made from the cochineal insects that live on the prickly pear cactuses. The female beetles eat the red cactus berries and the colour stays in their bodies. The beetles are killed, dried in the sun then squashed. This is what makes the dark red powder and in turn the dye. When I was in Mexico I went to a weaving factory and the lady crushed these beetles in my hands. Not speaking Spanish, I was frightened that I was going to have to eat them. So was pleasantly surprised, while still slightly uneasy when they were crushed in my palm. The red didn't wash off for days.

Hope I've made you love me just a little bit more now.


  1. It's the same reason I love roses; their beauty is well protected. I'm amazed at all the cactus facts!! But who better to present them to us.
    And I thought the photos were real plants. I did a double take when I realised they were knitted.

  2. Cactus I'm sorry I've been AWAL. When Brett texted back the other night I felt bad that I haven't been in touch for so long. Well I did in the morning, when I woke up and read it. Because I go to bed at 11 on Saturday nights. And 8 on week nights. Because I am so uncontrollably fun. Yep. So you're not really missing out. But let's go to a market together soon. I promise not to go to sleep. Kiss kiss.

  3. Allie! I have been wondering where you've been. Cactus has missed you!
    Hey sister, nothing wrong with that - it ain't called beauty sleep for nothing - that's what I've been missing out on! Would love to market soon. There's still so many I need to do. Including Bondi, which is kinda your hood right? Maybe we can do that one together? Would love to see you!

  4. Hi there, thanks for posting the lovely pictures of my knitted cactus, I must admit I have a real soft spot for these plants...but sadly in the words of one of my customers, I have a green thumb of have to limit my indoor plants to the knitted variety.

    Stop by my blog or Etsy store any time.
    Andrea X

  5. Hi Andrea,

    Nice to meet you! I love your plants (as I'm sure you can see) and cactuses in general too. They're pretty hard to kill which is what I like best :)
    Will do!
    Thanks for the comment.