Over the holidays, I went to a summer dye cap at the Botanical Studio run by Beautiful Silks, in Allansford (near Warrnambool) country Victoria. I stayed in a cabin at one of the caravan parks by the beachfront in Warrnambool because the on site accommodation was booked out. I haven’t been to Warrnambool since I was a child. It was just beautiful. The frisking around of many small people on skates and scooters and bikes had me in mind of childhood holidays at the beach.
I arrived early and had beach walks and runs before dye camp each day and long strolls through town too. My photos of scenery are a bit rubbish and really don’t reflect the glory. Like me, my photos are largely focused on small lovelinesses such as lichen.
After dark there was spinning and some experimental printing on paper. Since I had the car to myself, I came with wheel and dye pot! I converted carding waste to yarn and knit some yarn bombs. One night I had a wonderful dinner with a couple of the other dye campers. I taught one of them how to cast on a sock and how to turn a heel with short rows, and we talked blogging and dyeing and, well, everything. Awesome and lovely.
All round, it was a fabulous holiday. But dye camp! Dye camp was focused on indigo and woad. We had Jenai Hooke from Eudlo in Queensland as our expert guide and instructor, and I learned so much. There were some big fructose vats. The method I really do want to learn. Perfect. We learned how to start them, how to feed and tend them, how to dye in them.
There was making of little vats so we could grasp the principles.
There was a massive pot with leafy bundles in it. E Crenulata sent its spicy notes through us all on the first day.
Who doesn’t love leafy bundles?? Some of my companions had brought along leaf printed samples, their own indigo dyeing, their hand made and dyed scarves and bags, samples of their wild and creative experiments in dyeing yarns, and of course their genius, skills, ideas and energy. There was hand sewn and hand made clothing, spontaneous pattern drafting and people’s own clothing designs. There were three other women from Adelaide, hurrah! In short, I was among my people, and this seemed to be a shared feeling.
There was ice-dyeing with fresh woad leaves.
There was shibori. Jenai is a shibori expert and teacher, and taught the basics to some of us with spectacular results (the others were too busy dyeing to stop for that!). In short, there was dyeing.
So much dyeing. I could not believe the number of garments and other things that turned blue. Light blue, mid blue, blue-black. Turquoise-green colours from the ice dyeing. Oranges and browns from eucalypts.
We ran out of drying space.
I dyed bags. I know, shocking. I got deeper blues than before. I believe I deepened my understanding. And it was good to be reminded of the complexity of the skills, the complexity of the process and the years of apprenticeship that would have been undertaken by historic dyers. A little humility is a good thing in the face of a large learning curve.
I even dyed a linen shirt. I pulled it out of the cupboard where clothes go awaiting reincarnation, and felt moved to try it on (it was an op shop find). I decided it just needed a new button, and it was clamped and dyed and has been out in public several times already!
Immense thanks to Marion Gorr and Elephant at Beautiful Silks for a wonderful learning opportunity and fabulous catering and company, and to Jenai Hooke for such wonderful education!