Category Archives: Eucalypts

Leafy Clothing

I had a little holiday in Allansford in the middle of the year, and since I stayed at Beautiful Silks–it involved stitching and dyeing.  Perfect.  I also broke my commitments against buying stuff and invested in a pile of fabric from the scraps and oddments department at Beautiful Silks and some silky merino. And there was some op shopping too!

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Some fabrics hit the dye pots while I was still in Victoria!  The ever-generous Marion showed me some of her favourite local dye trees, including plants I had not been able to coax much colour from or simply didn’t know.  And some wonderful greens resulted.

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I have a very basic home made singlet pattern, and managed to get the front from a silk knit and the back from silky merino after cutting a larger garment out.

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So now I have this machine seamed, hand finished piece of splendid. The front:

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And the back:

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It’s a bit sad so few people will ever see it.

 

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Shibusa: India Flint at the Onkaparinga Woollen Mills, Lobethal

India Flint is exhibiting at the historic Onkaparinga Woollen Mill in Lobethal (for those of you far away, this is a small town in the hills outside Adelaide).  A dear friend and I made a date and went to see the exhibit last weekend and there is one weekend to go!  21 January-12 February, Building 20, 11.30-4.00 pm on weekends only.  Check details here.  Yes, friends, this exhibit (part of it, at least) has been on show in Texas, and now–we have it to see and admire right here (I know, lots of you are not here)!

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‘Shibusa’ is a Japanese concept which is described in the exhibition documents as ‘a way of being that contrasts elegance with imperfection, spontaneity with restraint’.  Clearly an extremely good fit with India’s way of working and aesthetic.  ‘The seven elements of shibusa are simplicity, implicity, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness, and imperfection’.  Here, shibusa becomes an organising principle that brings together natural fibres, the imperfections of clothing that has been well-loved and well-worn, plant dyes and an immense imagination and a huge body of technique and skill.

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There is a very striking piece that felt as though it was greeting us or calling to us on our way into the space.  It draws on Latvian clothing traditions and includes embroidered Latvian text.  It drew our attention immediately.  India Flint has written about this piece herself in a rather wonderful way right here on her blog.  She has many more images of this work in her post, and explains its autobiographical references.  Despite its obviously tactile, material, concrete form, this aproned figure bearing words of such significance that they have been stitched into her surface nevertheless conveys an impression of ghostliness, one that it seems was intended by the artist herself.

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Like all of the works in the exhibition, the details are wonderful: dense stitching, reconstructed garments pieced together in ingenious ways, resist marks as well as leafy details.  And always the generous number of pockets that a wanderer–by choice or without alternatives–might need, no matter the occasion.  Hidden pockets, tiny pockets, pockets that contrast, former cuffs and sleeves transmogrified into pockets, front, back and side pockets.  Pockets full of bones.

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Garments dominate the space, a quiet but rather elegant crowd.  It is only in getting close to them that themes emerge.  Some of these dresses are rich in strips: torn pieces of silk; plackets that have become separated from their original garments and restitched, ribbons, shreds of lace.  Some have pockets in even greater abundance than others.  Some are gathered and pleated and feature gathers and pleats that might once have formed the front of a short or the feature on a jacket.  Some bear text: they are signed, or stitched with song lyrics.  It is only when you get close to them that you form the sense that their elegance has been formed from elements that are rescued, sometimes threadbare, newly transformed into new shapes, for the new purposes of new wearers.

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The ingenuity with which India reshapes garments never ceases to fascinate me.  You could say that transforming old garments and other textiles is something that also consumes my sewing life.  But the ways in which India undertakes this kind of shape-changing is utterly different, full of whimsy and genius. And always, full of leaves.

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We studied the garments in some detail, and I struggled to capture what it is I find interesting and lovely about them in images.  But I was rather riveted by two other parts of the exhibition.  One, a wall of trouser legs, separated from their previous partners.

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Needless to say, they were also dyed in rather spectacular fashion.

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Then, there was the wall of sleeves, severed from their former bodies and transformed by eucalypts and perhaps a few other plants.

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The shapes and colours and details are just so wonderful.

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We stepped out into the afternoon and went on to visit the India Flint made- and/or dyed-clothing and cushions available at Poet’s Ode in Hahndorf in what I understand are the last week or two the shop will be open.  And to talk up our plans for dyeing and stitching, inspired and delighted.  I hope some of you can also visit while the opportunity is still available!

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Shawl dyeing

Dear and lovely readers, it has been a while.  I’ve been on holidays and blessedly away from the keyboard.  But it hasn’t all been holiday blessedness… I’ve missed you!  And of course, much has happened in our world. It is going to take a fair few posts to catch you up on what has happened in localandbespoke land since last I wrote. But that should be fun, yes? Welcome and thank you to those who followed the blog while it was sleepier than usual! Let’s count our blessings as we roll up our sleeves to face the times we are in with courage and among friends.

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A dear friend came to visit us over the holidays.  I met her in the peace movement in the 1990s and it has been my privilege to have her in my life through many changes in both our lives, since.

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I bought some shawls and scarves from Beautiful Silks last year and have been dyeing them as gifts. I decided she might like one and set about giving it layers of walnut leaf and eucalyptus. I had a fairly major fail on getting good images of it before gifting it away. Summer sun here can be pretty brutal! Pictures aside, my friend loves this big, snuggly piece of merino wool.

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It has gone to live at her beachside home.  She sent a lovely picture of it on her bed in a sunny room, with morning light flooding in and the rich colours of eucalyptus lighting it up in a different way.

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What a treat to be able to share these colours and images and touches of what is local and lovely to me, with people who live in other beautiful places, with other trees and other views. It’s one glorious opportunity to share the love in a tactile way. I hope it will give her joy when times are good and comfort when it’s chilly and times are less kind.  She is a woman of courage, persistence and such an awesome intelligence and wit! Long may she be surrounded by love and good company (and the odd snug woolly item)…

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Leafy bundles

First there was a walk home from a distant railway station.  Cotinus (smoke bush) growing through a fence….

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Then there was a walk home from a bus stop on a major road further from home than the one I usually use.  And the amazing discovery of a HUGE maple with finely ferny leaves.  Hanging over a high fence.

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Well. It was only a matter of time… a recycled linen shirt and a wool scarf…2016-11-04-15-43-06

A couple of bundles…

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I love the transformation!

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Some of the maple leaves came out pale. 2016-11-05-12-54-27

Those closest to the iron at the centre of the bundle…

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Perhaps I chose the wrong side of the cotinus as the one likely to give colour, because…

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And the scarf, mmmm!

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This one is destined to become a birthday gift.

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Winter wardrobe: from white to wow!

Before I went to Mansfield (… a year ago!) I cut out a long sleeved knit top.  The last one I made, a few years back, was nibbled by moths before I even sewed it together, so this one has been safely in a ziplock bag for its quiet year in pieces.IMAG2026

In the end, it took me only an evening to sew it together.  Why did I wait so long? Last time, I had a lot of trouble with this top and hand finished a lot of it, hand inserting the zipper and hand sewing the hems. I think I was a bit intimidated by the job, sorry to admit.  This time it all came together on the machine although the zipper is not lying terribly flat.

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Next morning, I was out in search of dye plants and visited one of my favourites (E Scoparia). The whole time I was collecting leaves I could hear clicking and popping sounds.  Eventually I realised there was a rosella (maybe more than one) very high up–more than 10 metres up) in the sugar gums on the other side of the street, nibbling on the gumnuts and then letting them fall onto the surface of the road (so that was beak clicking and the popping sound of gumnuts dropping on the hard surface)!

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There has been so much wind and rain I hardly needed to cut anything from this tree.  I have learned enough to be able to pick the leaves of this tree out from all the others in the gutter (which I could not always do dependably in the past–I have learned some things!)IMAG2039

Deciding how to fold and wrap is always intriguing…

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In the end I decided to dye a woven wool scarf at the same time. I spent time with a friend I don’t see very often recently and thought I might send her a gift. This will be part of it if it turns out well enough! I tucked some more leaves from my stash of dried leaves into the dye bath.

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I love the transformation… and wish I could be more patient…

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And I love the outcome!  Here is the front…

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Here is the back… (the zipper looks pallid now but it was what I had, recycled and saved).

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This has motivated me to make another, as my stock of winter warm work clothes is becoming pilled and threadbare, and I’ve had some lovely encouragement from friends lately.  Sometimes I think it is a shame I can’t get away with just wearing the same thing every day, as my tendency is clearly to make the same thing over and over again…

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Last of the autumn guerilla plantings

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I got home from a work a little early thanks to a lift from a friend, and decided to get out into the neighbourhood while it was still light.

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Saltbush going in beside the tram bridge and bike path.

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Wattles and more saltbush going in on the other side of the tram bridge in a particularly desolate patch as the light fades.

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I came home with one bucket full of empty pots, gloves and rubbish, and the other full of fallen leaves.

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Just enough time to plant beetroot in the back garden and admire the lemon scented gum over the back fence.

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This week in guerilla gardening

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This morning, I went out with some saltbush I’ve grown from seed and some other plants a friend has grown and given me for guerilla gardening.  She comes from a coastal area and is growing plants well adapted (and mostly endemic) to her local sandy soils.  They are thriving in sandy areas of our suburb.  So the saltbush went in under a large river red gum in our neighbourhood, the better to protect the root zone of this giant tree.  Then I trundled around to a spot in the neighbourhood where the pattern of what will grow is very different to the rest of the patches I’m working, partly because the new beds created here in the wake of major infrastructure works are very sandy.

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In went several of these native hibiscus, an olearia, a kangaroo apple and a rhagodia (seaberry saltbush).  Out came weeds, alive and dead, and feral tree seedlings.

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The tiny E Scoparias that my friends and I planted months ago are thriving here but still small.  The council has planted a random eucalypt and a Manchurian Pear since we put them in, and they were much bigger–but they left the E Scoparias to live, bless them.  Let’s see how it goes.

Where previously nothing grew, now there are a lot of boobiallas (myoporum), some good sized olearias, a few saltbush and a couple of feijoas as well as the trees.  One saltbush is loving it here and has set fruit.

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As I finished watering the new plants in and set off to weed invasive grass out of a very successful patch nearby, one of the cyclists whizzing past called out ‘good work!’  It was a good way to start the day: kneeling in the earth and planting things that might help it heal.

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Summer festival of mending 3

I have a rather lovely woollen blanket that came to me from a op shop (thrift shop) years ago.  It came with a lot of little holes that haven’t stopped it being a great warm blanket.

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I have had it in mind to mend them or embellish them for years.  This time I have actually done a little mending.

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I even blanket stitched some of the unravelled edges.

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Well.  Someone enjoys it!  She is a visitor who spent some weeks with us but has now been on a road trip to her new home in Tasmania with her usual people.

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It did seem funny to be mending a woollen blanket when we are verging on summer… I give you a local eucalypt in full bloom!

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Birthday gift

It came to my notice that a niece who was shortly to visit us also has a birthday approaching. I put on the dye pot.

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I went out to visit a favourite tree.

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I had ordered the scarves with this kind of occurrence in mind, so I pulled one out and pulled out the new silk thread as well.

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In they went (and so did the stems that were left from the leaves I’d used)!

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The transformation is always amazing in the dye pot.

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But the contents are even better fun!

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Shown here wet from the dye bath…

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And here hung out to dry.

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Yes, she does like it….! And we took her out on a walk to see the tree that contributed its glory to her gift.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures

Beloved trees

My very local tree loving friends and I have had a plan for a little while to plant more trees around here, and we decided to plant E Scoparia.  An opportunity came to buy some, so my friends bought some, and they were on special for $1 each!

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We took them, and some saltbush and boobialla… and even parsley.

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While we were out planting, and singing the tree planting blessing, this little banner went back onto its tree.

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It had been home for a wash and reapplication of string. It had fallen down or been pulled down.

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It is a huge tree!

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One of us had to climb it.

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When it was all over there was another shared lunch (I am blessed with generous friends!) and chicken happiness, and bit less rubbish in the neighbourhood.

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