Category Archives: Natural dyeing

Mending the blanket

I have this blanket.  It doesn’t have a family history of emotional attachment; I found it in an op shop.  I can’t say what made me bring it home, it’s quite a strong shade of orange which isn’t entirely lovely.  It’s not in good repair.  It has fade lines from being left out in the sun too long on a washing line.  Some of its stitching had come undone when I brought it home.  Moths (well, moth larvae) had nibbled on it before it came to my house.IMAG5839

In a way, it is even more odd that I feel driven to mend this thing.  The holes are small enough they they will not lead to unravelling or any serious consequence.  I want to mend them anyway.  My beloved offered me a robust critique of this project one night recently, and there wasn’t a thing she said, that I didn’t accept.  Yet, I started mending it in 2015.  I notice in that post I think the blanket is rather lovely! Apparently I have been less sure of its loveliness recently… but no less attached to it.

These holidays, I sat the sewing kit on my bed and mended a few more holes each day until I had a big evening session and finally mended all the little holes the moths left. Things I’ve noticed: how lovely it is working with the silk embroidery thread from Beautiful Silks, and in colours I’ve dyed with plants.   That I have settled on the number of strands I like using best.  That my sense of how to use thread, and how to work with colour,  has changed.  How comfortable I feel with these odd little grids in mismatched colours sprinkled over my blanket.  How confident I feel that this blanket and I will spend many more years together, and maybe in that time, there will be more mends, or simply more stitching.  So I guess the reality is that this blanket from the op shop now does hold emotional resonance of some kind, even if it’s hard to say exactly what or why.  It’s a blanket, after all.  I don’t really feel like there has to be an accounting for these things.  Though I like its warmth very much when the season calls for it.

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Handspun socks in use 3

We visited a friend recently and of course, I was knitting away as we chatted.  I explained about the tuff socks naturally project and she brought out her entire sock drawer in which there were quite a few pairs knit by my own hands, some of which I don’t remember knitting!  There was just one hand spun pair, and they were quite recent.  Here they are finished in mid 2017.  They look very lightly worn indeed though she assures me she has been wearing them.  No signs of wear at all on this as-yet-young pair of tough knits.  Hopefully that speaks to the qualities of a suffolk/mohair/silk blend…

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

Needlebooks

While I was on holiday, I finished sewing a batch of needle books made from scraps of blanket dyed with various plants.  Now they are waiting to become part of mending kits!

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More spinning

 

…some more fat yarns spun from the fleece of a sheep called Lentil, which have now gone to their new home with a friend who likes to knit fat yarns. Plus some yarn that had been dyed in a very weak vat of indigo or woad at some time in the past, now a soft green with some help from soursobs (oxalis), a common weed here.

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Madder dyeing

There was a very exciting moment in the garden last week.  I was digging out madder roots hoping to create enough space to plant Japanese indigo seedlings (as you do).  I found a substantial chrysalis and moved it out of harm’s way.  Then a bit later, a movement caught my eye, and a large moth was emerging from the chrysalis right before my eyes.  What a privilege! Naturally I wasn’t going to waste the madder root.  I had some wool cold mordanting in a bucket, so I processed the roots and created a vat.  While I was at it, I did the same with the carrot tops from our farmers’ market.

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I ended up with quite a red colour from the first madder bath and two orange shades from the exhaust baths, as well as a nice yellow from the carrot tops.

Plus, the joy of watching the moth emerge.  I think it might be a native hawk moth. Back in this post, I found I rather wonderful caterpillar in the madder, and I have found them several times since.  I’ve also seen similar chrysalises (?) in the garden.  Pisstkitty,  a generous and regular reader thought it might be a native hawk moth, Hippotion scrofa, the Coprosma hawk moth.  I thought she was right then, and I think this is the moth form of the same creature.  Glorious.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing

Spinning in the background

I keep forgetting, or simply not finding the time to post.  Apologies, gentle readers.  I’ve needed the making more than I’ve been inclined to post about it this last while.  But I’ve been spinning Malcolm’s Kangaroo Island “black” Merino cross (left), and leftover batts of local Finn cross (right) and clearly there was a day when they posed with leaves and flowers…

When we were at Marion Bay (cough) I carded a lot of wool, and did some blending.

But I’ve also spun up all manner of wool dyed previously, including the last of the earth palette dyed wool.  There was a request for bulky yarn from one friend in particular.  She’s managing the state of the world by knitting a lot of beanies and gauntlets.  So I sent more yarn. And there was some very pale woad dyed wool that went into a vat with soursobs I weeded at someone else’s house.

But the big excitement is the Suffolk/Silk/Kid Mohair blend for #tuffsocksnaturally. The last of which is in the dyepot with some leaves on the day I am drafting this post.  To be continued…

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Filed under Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing, Spinning

Leafy patchwork

The leafy log cabin workshop went ahead recently, and it was a lovely day of stitching, dyeing, company and cake. So much cake!  I took one photo near the start…

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And one photo of a silk bag at the end.

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Evidently, I didn’t take any in between!  I dyed a lot of fabric in advance of this workshop, so I’ve had a lot of fun with it already.  I had a surprise success in getting green from maple leaves. Kangaroo Paw prints was another happy surprise outcome. And I have what are sure to be the first of many more leafy log cabin blocks.  It was great fun watching what other people made with some of the fabric I’d dyed (and in some cases, fabric they had dyed), and their own big imaginations. I was very struck by how many others expressed what I often feel: reluctance to use beautiful materials.  Wanting to start with whatever is leftover or unwanted.  Patchwork is a bit of a happy place for people who have this orientation toward using things up, I think.

And as well as the pleasure of spending time with lovely women, sewing and sharing and exploring, I had the pleasure of Susan’s home and hospitality, and since we spent the night before the workshop nearby, the joy of Aldinga beach at sunset too.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Leafy Log Cabin

I’ve been busily dyeing fabric, making plans and piecing examples for the leafy log cabin workshop coming up in only a very few weeks’ time.

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There are still places for anyone able to join us.  We’ll be exploring using eco prints in patchwork as well as doing a little dyeing and making a bag featuring a leafy log cabin design.  All in a lovely, friendly setting at the Aldinga Eco-Village.  For details or to sign up… click here. 

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Kangaroo paw prints

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For my birthday this year, my beloved bought me some kangaroo paws.  They started blooming about a week after they went into the ground in march, and they are still flowering.

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As I started dyeing fabrics for the Leafy Log Cabin workshop (details here), I decided to try some of the oldest blooms in the dye pot.  Too exciting!

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Decidedly overexcited by this experience, I wandered out on my bike the next day to deadhead the kangaroo paws at a nearby intersection (there are so many).  They were not red–and they did not give a print.

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But I did find a couple of mulberry trees in fruit, and I had a lovely ride and collected E Cinerea leaves… so a lovely afternoon just the same. How’s your dyeing and foraging going?

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Tuff socks, naturally: The project

My friend-in-blogging-and-making, Rebecca from Needle and Spindle, has had the exciting idea of a shared project on handspun socks without superwash treatment or nylon.  They would make use of the properties of breeds of sheep that were preferred for socks [by those who wearing wearing socks at all] in the swathe of human history in which nylon did not exist, superwash had not been invented, and the merino had not yet become the overwhelming giant of industrial wool production.  I give you the Suffolk!

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Adele Moon will be joining us for some sock spinning and knitting and posting. As you know, I love to knit socks, and I love to spin, and I’ve often thought I should be doing more spinning for sock knitting.  And of course, like a lot of people who read this blog, I think a lot about the industrial production of textiles and the pollution it causes, the permanence and harmfulness of plastics of all kinds (I’m considering nylon just this moment), and about the burdens of my own decisions on the earth and all who share her. There can’t be any pretence, in my case, to having all the answers; or to proving up to the challenge of making right decisions on all occasions.  I should think my readers all know that I can’t do that yet.  But I don’t think that can be a reason not to look for solutions or to make the changes we can figure out how to make.

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Full solutions to the issues of pollution and plastics require change on way more than personal level.  There’s no real point, to my way of thinking, in getting overinvolved in our own feelings of self-blame or failure, on these questions. Better to keep focused on how to move forward, and how to spread awareness and action more widely.

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At my place, the recently acquired Suffolk fleece will be part of the experiment.  I’ll be sharing what I know about knitting socks that last, and maybe we can spend some time on what to do when they disintegrate too!  I have begun to call in surviving socks that I hand spun and hand knit for friends and relatives so that an inventory (and some mending) can be undertaken. I’ll be spinning, and of course, dyeing with plants and knitting socks on public transport and in meetings.

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The tech minded spinners will have company in Rebecca, and there will be somewhat less well planned spinning at this blog, as you may have come to expect.  It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Feel free to offer your tips and inspirations!

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This is an open project, anyone can join in. If you are interested in being part of the Tuff Socks Naturally Project, please share your experiments or link to your project pages on this blog in post comments, or on Rebecca’s blog, Needle and Spindle, or with any of us on Instagram: @rebeccaspindle, @localandbespoke or @adelemoon and use the #tuffsocksnaturally tag.

 

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Filed under Craftivism, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning