Category Archives: Natural dyeing

Bee motel

It is a sign that fills my heart with dread–that bees are in so much danger. Leaving aside the honey bee for a moment, calls now go out for the creation of habitats for native bees–a real indictment of the devastation of native habitats. This has led to “bee motels” turning up all kinds of places. This one is in the park lands.

This one is near our local community garden.

Honestly, the best things I do for bees are growing without chemicals at home, and guerilla planting native plants. But, I decided I could make a bee motel with things that would otherwise be going to recycling or compost, and why not?

The cans come from the kitchen, thought not very often these days. The bamboo grows in our neighbourhood. I had harvested some for banner poles and the side shoots have gone into the cans as well as the excess length. And I’ve tied them together with pre-loved string that has come from the dye pot and before that–from ripped up and upcycled clothing and manchester. Here’s hoping the bees will like it!

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Eucalyptus dyed frankensocks

Two balls of yarn wound into cakes in two shades of orange.

Another pair of frankensocks begins! It had been so long since I dyed this yarn that I was looking for undyed yarn and realised I had already dyed it. On the bottom, handspun Southdown. I am pretty happy with this spinning. High twist, true three ply, quite even (well, maybe just for me). On the top, a high twist 100% commercial merino sock yarn bought in a Ravelry destash.

An orange sock in progress on the dashboard of a car, with a road and dry South Australian landscape and blue sky out of focus in the background.

I decided on a long leg and calf shaping for the boot-loving, extensive walking awesome woman for whom these socks are destined. They went with us on a trip to our first same sex wedding, in the north of the state. Oh my, what a dry state we are in. Always, but especially this year, the driest one of the betrothed can remember in her more than fifty years in this place.

Here they are finished, with the difference in colour between the yarns clearly visible. And here are some details…

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Blue slippers

These slippers (Felted clogs by Bev Galeskas, may her memory be a blessing) have been waiting around for quite a while. Composed of handspun dyed in all shade of blue, mostly handspun and indigo dyed but some unnatural blues too… I grafted the top to the sole one day while travelling and found I did not have the required third needle. Out came my chopstick! The plastic-avoiding cutlery pouch my fairy-goddess-son made me comes with chopsticks rather than a knife and fork, with backup knitting needles as a further advantage!

Lots of blue knitting with live stitches on steel circulars and a blunt ended steel chopstick. Three needle bind off in progress.

Here they are prior to felting with my size 10 feet for comparison.

Very large knit slippers prior to felting, with much smaller shoes beside them.

And here they are after felting and prior to delivery to friends who run a permaculture farm where slippers I’ve knit are apparently in constant use!

Blue felted slippers on a wooden plank background.

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Beloved trees

This tree has had several beloved tree banners in the last few years. This one is well and truly eucalypt dyed at this stage, and the fact that it is made of biodegradable fabrics is showing too.

I had been planning a new banner for a bit, and found companions for the ceremony one fine evening. So we added a new one.

So now it has two banners!

And the tree is as glorious as ever. Long may it stand.

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Filed under Craftivism, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

More pink socks!

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I had enough cochineal dyed yarn for a second pair of socks, and in a moment where I just didn’t have time to wind more balls, I cast on.

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I knit quite a bit on one of our long and lovely walks.  That is my beloved striding out ahead of me making the bridge undulate ever so slightly!

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There was quite a game of yarn chicken going on at the end–for the non knitters, this is where the knitter messes with their own mind trying to outwit the ball of yarn in an effort to make it last to the end of the project.  There are just a few metres left here.  Though in all honesty, these socks are yet again not quite the same length despite my best efforts!

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And now they are on their way to a friend whose last pair wore through without warning at an inconvenient moment–a report of which reached me when I was about one and a half of these socks in!  Long may her feet be cosy and her legs be strong.

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A report on recent climate action

There was a great report on the Australian government’s climate action on national TV this week. And lest I be misunderstood by people who are not from around here, what I mean is our government’s virtually complete inaction.  The barrier our politicians represent to real action. The world’s scientists have declared that we need 12 years of emergency level action on an unprecedented global scale to avert catastrophe, and the Australian governments federal and state are doing the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears, chanting “rhubarb rhubarb”, pushing cash in a brown paper bag toward the fossil fuel industry, and behaving as though there is nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile, the schoolchildren of the world and supportive adults are organising in the streets. #climatestrike. Because schoolchildren know the gravity of the situation.  That is how smart they are; that is also how transparent government inaction is. So I added myself to their number in solidarity, and when I had to squeeze myself onto the train to get to the rally, I already knew it was going to be BIG!  My pictures don’t do it justice. I love being able to stand behind children’s leadership on this issue.

Extinction Rebellion in four states of our country delivered our demands to our governments in March.  Here in South Australia we read out our demands and hand delivered them (yes, we did it by email as well just in case) to the government, the parliament and the Advertiser as a representative of the media.  I realise it’s a lot to ask when the planet is at risk (cough)–but we are demanding government and the media tell the truth about climate change and take serious, emergency level action. Our collection of upcycled high visibility vests for marshals and police liaisons have been screen printed by an awesome friend; cured in the hot sun (the photo) and aired out after use ready for a good deal of future action.

And then there was Paddle Out for the Bight, an action designed to let Equinor (a Norwegian fossil fuel giant) know that we do not think drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight is a good idea.  Because–whale sanctuary and wilderness–oil spill modelling shows unbelievable damage would result from a spill in these treacherous seas–and, you know?? CLIMATE CHANGE is a mighty good reason to keep it in the ground. See you on the streets and on the beaches, my friends.

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Cochineal dyed Frankensocks

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Back in December, I began another pair of Frankensocks. Merino-silk legs made from commercial yarn, with a tough foot and sole made from handspun Ryeland wool gifted to me by the wonderful Rebecca from Needle and Spindle.

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I began knitting on a day of respite from what was, for my beloved, six weeks of intensively caring for her parents after one more health crisis threw the fragile balance of their lives together into complete disarray. We spent a blessed day and night at the home of one of her precious high school friends. The company was excellent, the conversation flowed freely, and needless to say, they are contemporaries with their own stories to tell about difficult times such as this one. And thus I had a cuff knit.

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That first sock went pretty slowly. Most of the time we were the care crew, I wasn’t able to knit,and needless to say, knitting was not a priority. And so it was January and the first sock was still in progress when I went to Melbourne hoping to be there when a certain babe came into the world. Here I am with a heavily pregnant woman (not in the shot-) at a splendid cafe where chocolate is the main attraction.

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It turned out my cochineal dyeing matched the flowers there one day! A lot happened in the gap between that photo and the finished object–but not one photo of a sock.

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The whimsically cabled leg on the first sock went more or less as usual. But then the second sock. I was knitting the leg on the return trip to Melbourne when my daughter had gone into labour. Almost two days later, I pulled out my knitting as I sat beside her. Nothing about that labour went smoothly or to plan, and on day 3, she finally had pain relief that allowed her to get some rest. While she was resting and the final stage of labour was approaching,  this sock kept me company in the quiet and darkness. I can knit in the dark, but cabling in the dark–not so much. If there was a visit from a midwife involving light, I’d cable. Otherwise, I just knit. As a result, there is a long stretch with no cabling at all. I considered ripping it out, on the basis it had served its purpose.

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But then I thought about the intended recipient, who is one of those awesome humans who have given birth, herself. And I thought she’d likely be happy to have a sock recording this moment in the life of myself, my daughter and her daughter. And so here they are.  #tuffsocksnaturally that accompanied me through supporting my daughter in her courage, determination, pain and joy and the awe inspiring process of birth. I hope the recipient will wear these with a light heart in happy times. But I can attest to these socks being good companions when things are not going to plan and not going easily, when things are messy and difficult. And yet the prospects for the future remain excellent.

 

 

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Festival of handkerchieves

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I love the humble hanky. The way it accompanies me through life in a pocket, ready to assist when pollen is too much, when I’m moved to tears, when the wind is chilly enough to make eyes water or when genuine misery leaks out of me. The way it supports me through illness time after time. The way it saves me from single use napkins, means I never find a tissue that has gone through the washing machine, and rescues entire trees from being turned into tissues. I love the way it can be called upon to wipe up spills, deal with sticky fingers at unexpected moments, prevent chafing, or (if clean) wrap a small item at short notice.

The latest festival of the hanky was generated by a friend whose hanky collection had shrunk to zero. But needless to say it didn’t stop when I’d made a collection for him. Soon I had some made from cotton voile and some made from muslin that had a past life wrapping a baby. Then a fine cotton scarf which has been in the cupboard unused for over a decade became four lovely hankies. Then the main parts of a striped shirt that belonged to a friend, who gifted it to me, which had a superpower of making people in shops address me as sir for many years–was converted from a very worn thin shirt to some lovely fine hankies.

And then some fine cotton I’d dyed… and some brand new fine cotton voile… and there it stopped for the time being.  And now I have so many opportunities to share the hanky love…

 

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Socks and true confessions

At some point in the #tuffsocksnaturally project, I had a point of anxiety where I just couldn’t imagine being able to spin enough sock yarn to keep up with my constant sock knitting. A person with more capacity for consistency might decide on knitting something else.  Or focusing on spinning more. I didn’t do that this time.  The future is unwritten so I’ll see how it unfolds and aim to move in a positive direction!  Instead, I decided on harm minimisation and bought some all-wool sock yarns from a destash on Ravelry.

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I managed to buy some undyed yarn, but while I’ve avoided yarns containing nylon, AKA plastic, I haven’t completely avoided chemical dyes.  So, there’s an ongoing project.  These socks for my beloved are shown above, on some form of public transport or another.

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Here, having a superb hot chocolate with my daughter and a pretty serious conversation if I remember right!

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Random streetscape…

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On our way to a climate action protest (by train).  Sock and backpack in foreground, banner for our climate action choir in its vaguely indigo-dyed bag laid along the bench!  And here they are, done, dusted and ready for winter which feels very far away here at this time of year.

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Festive greetings!

Dear and patient readers, I hope that you have been enjoying the festivals you celebrate and the holidays that you are able to arrange. I am sorry to have been absent so long–it has been a time of massive transformation at our place and other commitments have needed to take priority. I am hoping I might now be entering calmer times.  However–there has been some making going on in between things… One of my sister-out-laws was my Kris Kringle this year–in that family, there is a cap on the amount you can spend on a gift and you are responsible for a gift for just one person. It’s a very sensible arrangement that results in a small number of carefully chosen gifts, that I wish I could convince my family to take up. My sister-in-law requested a eucalyptus-dyed shawl.  What a pleasure it was to create that!

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My favourite neighbourhood eucalyptus tree contributed the leaves, and the shawl is made from wool–ever the perfect match, as India Flint says. I also dyed a smaller silk and wool scarf that seemed to me perfect for a dear friend.  You can see how much more readily the wool takes up colour (left) than the silk blend (right).

This gift made it into the mail in plenty of time, which was lucky because our plans were eclipsed by events in my partner’s family that have seen us spending time in Brisbane providing all manner of care to her beloved parents rather than at home hosting my family’s end of year celebration. Needless to say there as been a little quiet sock knitting involved…

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