A while back, my computer reached the stage in its life where I needed to go and make a cup of tea after I turned it on and before it started to be capable of doing anything other than finding its own fingers and toes. The new one is a lot smaller than the old, and needed a protective cover.
The plant dyed blanket stash came to mind yet again, and this is the rather plain and simple sleeve I made.
And a close up of my rather basic blanket stitching! I am loving the way all the plant dyed thread I’ve been gathering keeps getting put to use along with the fabric…
My fellow plant dyer and Guild member Hedgerow Weaver (who is an exquisite spinner and weaver as well as a dyer and blogger) asked if I’d help with an international collaboration where Guilds swap plant dyed yarns and weave them. I remain, thus far, unable to weave. So my role was to help with the dyeing, which I was glad to do. A third Guild member also joined us in our endeavours and conversations. I arrived with E Cinerea from my neighbourhood and a friend’s backyard tree, and E Scoparia bark foraged from the footpaths of my neighbourhood in unromantic but practical chook feed sacks.
The Guild has a dye room with multiple burners, and I took my two burners as well… and with a great deal of constant monitoring we managed to dye a substantial quantity of yarn. I had ten people coming for dinner so was concerned to arrive before they did!
We obtained nice strong colours on the wool. I seem to have neglected to take any “after” photos though!
As each batch was done we moved it into a bucket to continue steeping, while the next was heated.
I’ve been working on my fabric stash for quite a while, and found I was now struggling to decide what could become bags–and my attention turned to the plant dyed woollen blanket stash. Having made quite a few larger items–the question of what to do with the small scraps arose (inevitably). And so, a very large number of needle books came into existence.
And then some more, and some more. The stash of random small quantities of string went into the mix, and eventually home made string also got used!
I guess I will now have to work on creating some mending kits…
There came a point where I started to find I couldn’t figure out what fabric to use for boomerang bags anymore. I’ve cleared an entire selection of fabrics out of my stash. And that is when I started to turn toward the wool, and my thoughts returned to the box pouch.
I love this design. Those who have been reading for a while know that I can really get on a roll, and make the same thing over and over. This isn’t even the first time with the box pouch. They are a great size for some of my wool blanket stash, and they have also used a good number of the vintage and reclaimed zippers in my stash. And what fun to be able to use this fabric… dyed with purple carrots, passionfruit skins, eucalyptus …
But wait! There’s more (of course)…
Just quietly, that isn’t a complete catalogue… but it is a fair sampling…
This morning I felt quite unwell and scaled back my expectations of the day. But, I decided on a quiet stroll to the Farmers’ Market nearby as a pleasant undemanding outing. I’m blessed to love walking distance from this weekly market. I love that it sells local produce; I love that packaging is much less of a feature here than at a supermarket. I love that there are small organic producers selling here. It’s spring, and on the way I saw another woman walk up to a bottlebrush and run her hand over the flowers with evident pleasure–we had a lovely conversation about their beauty and she said she had seen streets full of jacaranda but never a whole street where the street trees are bottlebrush. A sister!
So I set out and decided to litter pick on my way. A few weeks back I bought three kilograms of rhubarb from the farm gate when I was out and about, and it came in three rhubarb–length bags with holes punched in them. They’ve gone to the litter picking bag stash rather than into the re-use for food stash because of the holes. One had already been used to pick litter when I was out on my bike. So I put the other two in a calico bag with my garden gloves and set out. I filled one bag on my way there. In my neighbourhood, I pick up a lot of cigarette butts, bottle lids of all kinds, advertising, confectionery packaging, fast food containers, straws, cable ties and tissues. The tissues make me want to continue with the [making and sharing] hanky project! On the way there I also picked up a beer bottle. In my experience it is always a mistake to leave a glass bottle on the street because the next time I see it, it is usually shattered. I arrived at the market, put my litter bag in the bin and the bottle in the recycling. I got a lovely smile from a woman pushing a child in a pram just as I arrived–looked to me as though she could see what I was doing and wanted to share her approval.
First stop, cheese. I ran into a friend and complimented him on his photos of the School Strike for Climate, which massive here as in so many parts of the world. The woman running the stall joined in the conversation, and when my friend said we just have to keep the momentum building, she said she thought there was an event coming Monday week–and what do you know? She was referring to one of the events for the Extinction Rebellion Spring Rebellion–which is a global week of action–and I’m part of the organising team for our city. As he stepped away, I told her I was an organiser and we had a chat about what she might do, and about the local group near where she lives. That was very cheering!
Next I bought some seeds for my spring garden and had a lovely chat with the seller who also had a gorgeous selection of flowers.
Then I decided on a treat from a stall that sells apples and delectables featuring apples and other home grown fruit. I have been bringing my own bag to this stall for years, and the couple who run it have always expressed their delight when I bring my own bag. When I buy a tart or brownie from them I bring my own container and they love that too! It’s so nice to have people respond positively, especially as some folks will refuse to co-operate in this strategy. Many will embrace it, however, and I now use it for sushi, cheese at the Central Market, one of the few places I can still find cheese being cut from a block and not pre-packaged, and all manner of things that need a container but don’t need a single use container. This stall provides paper bags, and has moved to cardboard trays for squishy fragile delectables, but clearly the owners are still hoping for a non-single-use strategy, so we talked over some of the possibilities, including just advertising that you can bring your own tub.
And then I walked home and filled another bag with litter. But I felt quite heartened by today’s chat. It made me think, yet again, that you do not know the ripples your efforts might have. I often think that individual efforts, while educational and ethically significant, are not especially impactful–and that is one reason I focus my effort on activism when I am able. Yet the apple-store woman said she had been prompted to go further in her quest for less waste by my bringing my own tub week in, week out. Our conversation held one new idea from me and one new idea from her own imagination. The cheese-store woman is one step closer to coming along to an Extinction Rebellion event because she has had a warm conversation with a customer. And the neighbourhood has less plastic going into the storm water system.
For those who don’t recognise it–the title of this post is a reference to “From Little Things, Big Things Grow” by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly, two giants of Australian songwriting. It is a tribute to the movement for Indigenous land rights in this country, and in particular to a key leader of the Gurindji: Vincent Lingiari, who led the walk off at Wave Hill, a key moment both for land rights and sovereignty. It was also a key moment for the right of Indigenous Australians to be paid equal wages in a period when some white landowners were still “paying” Indigenous Australians in rations–just one appalling practice in a lengthy history of exploitation which has continued into my lifetime.
Once I finished stitching one apron… I was keen to keep going! I had trouble dyeing my other candidate apron so in the end I cut one from some hemp I had prepared for dyeing with soy milk. Hrm, very stiff for stitching. However–I took it with me for a week in Melbourne and constructed the whole thing by hand, then began stitching for sheer decoration.
Here is the top front, with leaves stitched into it using a variety of undyed threads. And here is the apron prepared for dyeing, with onion shells arranged over the embroidery.
And here it is after dyeing…
And in more detail…
It has gone to one of my beloveds–we make bread together quite regularly and he is often to be seen at our house sporting one of the kitchen aprons.
I just squeaked into this exhibition in its last few days at Fabrik, a fabulous exhibition space in the former Onkaparinga Woollen Mills in Lobethal, a small town in the hills outside Adelaide.
At the entrance to the exhibition, fittingly enough, I was greeted by Troy Anthony-Baylis’ Hey-ya! and Hey-ya! Ay-O in knit acrylic. I first encountered this artist years ago and was rather delighted to see he is still deploying knitting as one of his artforms. I’m also delighted to see he has recently won a fellowship to further his art. I found these rather gleeful forms which do rather call out ‘Hey-ya!’ on arrival…
I was rather struck by Kay Lawrence’s pieces Day by Day and Day by Day: Japanese Cloths. Each had a large panel of cloths stitched together by hand, a handmade book, a table and a pair of gloves. I was really uncertain about whether the gloves were meant to be used so that I could open the books… and so, I left the books closed and admired the assemblage! I especially liked Day by Day, perhaps because these cloths are the daily cloths I grew up with. I think part of the admiration for boro in places like Australia is centred on admiration for the cloth of which it was/is made, which in some cases would have been everyday to those using and mending it. I feel that admiration for making cloth from scrap, for making things last, for facing poverty and difficulty and making something beautiful from it. But in terms of day to day–gingham speaks to my day to day, more than Japanese Indigo.
I have seen Ngarrindjeri sister baskets made from sedges, but this metal Sister Basket by Robert Wuldi was rather astonishing, building up what I understand to be the traditional form using the traditional stitch, in anything but the traditional materials.
India Flint had several works in this exhibition, collectively titled limina. What a perfect title for works which I believe were made from scraps and selvedges. I was fascinated watching other people look at these works–I overheard conversation about how much they reminded one observer of objects that have been buried and then dug up. Just such textiles have inspired and informed some of India Flint’s work–so that seemed quite apt. Others puzzled over these works as if trying to figure out how they were created.
I love the colours indigo gives over eucalyptus. Some of the works were hanging beside the piece in the images above.
I loved seeing the different take up of dyes in the various fibres included in the weaving.
Shoes, belt and hat is another set of Ngarrindjeri weavings, this time in sedge, by Ellen Trevorrow, Alice Abdullah and Jelina Haines.
I was completely bemused by Linda Marie Walker’s works–until I read the title: For Election, 6 moves. These pieces are a critique of our recent national election, in weaving. That makes sense … as the fluctuating moods with which people who did not enjoy the process or outcome responded to the election are all too familiar!
Russell Leonard’s pieces Colour #1-6 were rich and beautiful.
There was a lot to appreciate! Machine embroidery Naturally Alluring by Cheryl Bridgart; Phyllis Williams’ astonishing knit pieces Dream Dress and Indigo Dress.
The embroidered work ‘the mysterious butterflies of the soul’ by Catherine Buddle was glorious, and moving slightly in the breeze when I saw it. It had me in mind of braille. It was mesmerising.
And finally, Sera Waters‘ Sampler for a colonised land. What a statement about colonisation. One recognisably colonial dwelling on a nice clean background (cleared of trees, shrubs, grasses, pre-existing human life, and legal rights) and then–fences and walls from bunting to razor wire. It had me in mind of Kev Carmody’s song Thou Shalt Not Steal, a song that has always summed up, for me, the hypocrisy to which Indigenous Australians are so often subjected by non-Indigenous Australians.
So there you have it. A lovely trip to Lobethal and a rather awesome exhibition.
Extinction Rebellion is a wonderful hive of every kind of activity in our city (and in so many other places around the world). I went to a crafternoon last weekend where people were screen printing thrifted t shirts and patches, cutting out stencils, and carving lino blocks for block printing. Meanwhile, I was taking instructions about how to sew a snail costume and insert zippers into it–some from my stash and some other that showed up from someone else’s stash.
Meanwhile, one of this week’s crafty projects at home has been cutting out some ripstop nylon to form pennants for our critical mass extinction bike swarms. The nylon came from the Remakery, and while Sue from the Remakery and I were in agreement that nylon is evil stuff–we were also in agreement that this piece of nylon is otherwise destined for landfill. So I cut out pennants, used a cardboard stencil to draw the image on the pennant, and then painted the design in.
I sewed a casing on each pennant and stitched across one end. Then it was off to the local bamboo patch to cut long slender bamboo poles, and to the hardware to get staples for the heavy duty stapler (we don’t want the pennants flying off!) And then onto our bikes to go to the swarm.
Above, a picture of our pre-swarm briefing. And below, a picture of us all taking up space on the road and letting passersby and road users know that we want climate action!
It all began with a linen shirt from an op shop in Warrnambool. A lime green linen shirt. Then I added India Flint’s online class The Alchemist’s Apron and stirred.
I overshot my goals on the elimination of lime green and produced a very dark grey shirt on the first attempt. Never mind, I dyed it and it was still deep grey with some leafy marks on it. I wanted to take it with me on holiday… and so I sewed it into an apron shape more or less, found some cereal packets to cut to size and tuck into pockets, added thread and scissors and my trusty needle book, tucked them into the inside zippered pocket and tucked the lot into my bag. Not quite what The Alchemist’s Apron proposed, but definitely using it as a point of departure!
I had a quote in mind, and stitched it in: ‘a needle is a tool for reparation’ Gina Niederhumer. Then the serious stitching began… and just kept going while my beloved was having her dream holiday swimming 5 km every day and I was often spending time sitting on a boat. It’s a funny thing. I have never fancied embroidery, and undoubtedly, this is embroidery of a type. And yet, I just kept going and going. At first, with threads I’d dyed (and some undyed too). And after I’d cruised a lot of plausible looking places in Athens, I finally found a really old fashioned haberdashery. And did not take good images of it! I could not find a way to ask the women running the shop if that would be OK with them, and it sure was sunny outside. I could have spent hours in there but my enthusiasm tried the patience of others… I came away with single strand cotton thread in two colours.
And when I came home, I kept going for some time. I bought some pre-Euro Greek coins in the flea market in Athens and added them, and a yellow washer I’d picked up on a French Road we were walking along. I stitched in the places I’d sewn in, including the sea.
I stitched watery lines.
And eventually there was an entire apron covered in rather a lot of stitching, with a lot of pockets.
… which tinkles as I move! I find I rather like it.
I do love wearing it. And I like the way it demarcates time when I’m dyeing and stitching and crafting and whatnot, from time when I’m occupied with other things.
Autumn’s cuttings and seedlings are ready for planting around the neighbourhood.
One of my dear friends died recently, and on the day of her funeral I decided I’d go out and plant. Somehow it seemed right. Here they are ready to go.
I planted them along a corrugated iron fence, where some have lived, some have been poisoned, and some have been pulled out. Here’s hoping these make it! Then as usual, litter picking, weeding and home.