Returning home

I decided to celebrate returning home from Tin Can Bay with some local bundles… and knitting, and a visit to the saltbush plantings… and time with my beloved and our friends, and music… but here I’ll focus on the bundles!  If I can restrain myself that far…

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I took my new found knowledge and experience of bundling paper, which built on my reading of India Flint’s Bundle Book.  There is a cheap and simple e-book version available –or go for the glory of a solid object!  I tried a different kind of paper, acquired in the last few weeks, and I used scrap metal my Dad cut me.  I tried op shopping for flat metal with remarkably little success in previous months.  But there are quite a few priorities on my personal list and some progress slowly.

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Happy results!  These are E Cinerea leaves–different to what I would get on fabric and very lovely. Like all bundle dyeing, part of the mystery and part of the joy is trying out what is local and seasonal. Everyone’s selection is different.  My garden is heavy on calendula and marigold right now and I had some lovely little geranium flowers and all sorts of local leaves to try too.

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I decided to use my flanellette string for bundles despite it being unnaturally dyed.  I loved seeing some of my retreat companions loving their bundles enough to use handmade string to tie them.  And my much re-used string collection is getting to the end of its tether.

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I used all kinds of fabrics–raw silk from a recycled garment, calico, linen offcuts, and a little piece of silky merino given to me by a retreat companion (should she be reading, thankyou again!)

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The silky merino gives such vibrant colours, but actually the linen was a bit of a standout too.

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Meanwhile, the string making continues.  I have decided to try using this process of making string as a point of reflection on my obligations under Indigenous law–and of so many principles of earth care that might come under that set of principles.  The importance of things that will biodegrade and that will not last forever, the way plastic will.  The intertwining of all life.  The cycles by which nature does its magic.  Our dependence on plants and water.  the way things and beings come into closer relationship with one another.  I keep sharing the string–as people admire or ask about it, I have a little stash right here by my hand and I can give them some.  Sharing is a primary principle too.

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I have in mind something like what Grackle and Sun might call atheist prayer.  But different, of course.  Do read her post and be inspired.  I love her idea of chantstrands, but my experiments along those lines didn’t work for me the way taking a few wet leaves out to a tree to twist together into string and considering things has so far.  So I have taken inspiration from her and begun to make cordage from it…

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A few people have been asking about how to make string.  I have put a link to an online tutorial in the How To tab at the top of the blog, but you could learn from a basket weaver (as I did) or from any basic basketry text.  Or put yourself near India Flint, who shares string making everywhere she goes, as far as I can tell (having learned how from Nalda Searles).  Or go to YouTube and be among survivalists who do something similar!  Meanwhile, the garden is growing as rain begins to fall.

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The first poppy of the season is out and beyond lovely.

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And I had a new insight about this especially beautiful saltbush which I have so far not managed to propagate.  It has taken a lot of observations to figure out when I might be able to collect seed, but one day at work recently I pulled out a seed envelope I happened to have with me (as you do) and amused bystanders by rubbing the ends of these silvery stems gently into it.  Who knows what might come of that?  I have high hopes…


Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures

8 responses to “Returning home

  1. Hello m’dear, you are welcome ! I too am on a string adventure…mine of course is food based! so far Sugar cane, turmeric, asparagus vine (ouch) corn, and now wait for it….Lemongrass, my favourite! who knew, glorious fragrance for a day or two! Then there came the crochet lawn garden, day lily, iris, canna. I am nearly to my elbows. We could start a new trend, you and I. Up for a challenge? xo Tarla


    • hello dear Tarla, I think we’re already on the challenge, don’t you? You’re winning though, I am not up to my elbow YET! I have been eyeing off the lemongrass… and wish I could see your garden. The images of it are just as spectacular as it sounds. Delighted to hear from you… and grateful as ever for your generosity.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan

    You come home and send me on more trips!! Grackle and Sun, wonderful and I am beginning to call you THAT woman haha to my friends. I just received a large box of processed nettles and my thought besides spinning them, which I have done before, was to get an Indigo dye pot going this summer and dye some. And make string…………I was wondering how all your plantings did while you were away. Your dyed fabrics are great.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! You have processed nettle fibre? That sounds so exciting… and with indigo plans? Tremendous. Thanks for your compliments… the plantings have all done well apart from another 13 plants stolen from the streets nearby, including a few of my saltbush. The weather has turned toward winter here and it is cool and rainy. It won’t get any easier for plants to survive here. My beloved put in a great effort watering all the seedlings and cuttings while I was gone and they are thriving. Happy string making!


    • Susan

      Oh sorry, I was given nettle fibre that had been processed, some from France (horrid stuff) and some from a company here in the states, better.
      It is quite coarse as opposed to what is called nettles in your country which when I ordered some turned out to be Ramie! I spun up the American stuff and wove it with Black Linen to make a bag. I like working with it for some reason or other, no one else would touch it which is how I got it 🙂 Nettles don’t grow tall enough here to get any fibre out of but I use it for tea. I do have some sites re people processing, spinning and weaving with nettles if you’d like to see them. The nettles are trickier than flax because they have so much sugar in them the water has to be changed more often as the bacteria develops and eats the outer stalk and the inner fibre. Interesting plant. The Saltbush plants won’t winter over? Email me if you want the sites, sorry I didn’t save your email address. cheers!


      • We don’t call ramie nettle here–so there must have been a mistake in your Australian supplier! The saltbush will indeed winter over, they just won’t grow as quickly while it is cold and propagating seems to go better with warmth too. It doesn’t snow here. Your nettles sound like mine, but that fibre sounds really interesting. Your woven nettle bag sounds amazing!


  4. i learned to make string from Nalda Searles. according to Elizabeth Wayland Barber [“Women’s work : the first 20,000 years”] it is the oldest known craft. i happen to think it’s possibly humankind’s most important technological invention 🙂


    • Hard to argue with that when you begin to picture all that string has made possible! I am still revelling in making string more often. I roamed the local suburbs earlier in the week looking for likely plants and gleaning the odd dead leaf. I’ve been working my way through them one by one…


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