Tag Archives: E Scoparia

Extinction Rebellion, climate change, and a beanie

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Hello dear Readers, I have designed a knitting pattern.  You can, should you wish, download it from Ravelry here. You see it here in handspun coloured merino with eucalyptus-dyed wool contrast. But allow me to explain.

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It is a big time in the life of the world, with even conservative estimates by scientists telling us that we have less than 12 years to take emergency level action that could keep global warming to below 1.5C.  Even 1.5C warming will have, and is already having, massive impacts on the earth and all who depend on the earth for life. Including you and me. It isn’t as though I’ve been sitting around. I’m doing the little things that depend on my being one straw in a very, very big haystack for impact (online petitions, postcards, letter writing, voting).

Last week I joined the thousands of Australian school children who went out on strike demanding climate action.  Their speeches showed more understanding of climate change than anything coming out of our federal government, which is still supporting coal mining and oil drilling on a massive scale.  The school students had more clarity than our state government, which has only partially, temporarily, banned fracking because it destroys farmland (and thus costs votes though these things certainly do matter in their own right)–not because of the impact of burning fossil fuels on global warming. I sing with a posse of climate singers who were out on the weekend telling the good people of our city about the issue and giving people the chance to write to the leader of the opposition about this issue.

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And yet, on this day when world leaders are meeting in Katowice, Poland, to talk about what to do about this–there is just no coverage in my country of this critically important meeting.  My government is not on track to meet the inadequate targets set in Paris.  And the high pitched screaming sound between my ears when I lie awake in the middle of the night worrying about climate change is not quietening down.

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My heart soared when I saw that a new group in the UK called Extinction Rebellion have served their demands on their government, and that they are framing the climate and ecological emergency like the existential threat that it is.  On their first Rebellion Day they blocked all the bridges across the Thames River and brought central London to a standstill. This is a strategy of escalating nonviolent civil disobedience designed to compel the governments that are failing their people and the future of our world to take emergency level action.

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It may not succeed.  But it has to be attempted, because scientists have been patiently explaining and then explaining in tones of increasing panic, and then explaining with tears as they set out the loss we already face: and governments are not listening nor acting.  Fossil fuel companies are continuing to fund political parties here and elsewhere.  The current federal government is not even close to having a rational policy on climate.  And nowhere are there signs of action being taken that comes close to responding to the grave threat every life form on earth now faces.

So, dear friends, I have decided to commit to being an organiser for Extinction Rebellion. And I also decided to design a beanie, watching all those English folk out being arrested and protesting in the chill weather of their winter as we head into the searing heat of our summer.  I knit it in the week a tornado hit a town in our state for the first time in my memory.  If you have questions about Extinction Rebellion, I hope you will roam their www site, find them on social media, and go here scroll down and watch their briefing on climate change and what we can do about it.  This is an invitation to act with courage in times that demand no less. Let’s step up, for the love of life.

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Filed under Natural dyeing, Knitting, Craftivism, Activism

Of Aprons and Alchemy

Some years ago, I made an apron at an India Flint workshop.  It’s an ingenious design India has created which starts with a shirt with a collar and ends with a coverall with straps that cross over at the back.  This model also has some stitched-on panels creating a generous length at the back.

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I brought this garment home to dye it, and it would be fair to say that I never loved the outcome (friends who were consulted recently liked it more than I did).  And, it had some large holes for which I was responsible and which I had a lot of [bad] feelings about having created.  In short, this garment has been in the naughty corner (the place garments go to wait when I have been naughty) for some extended time.  But then, India put up an online course called The Alchemist’s Apron.   It is further supported by an online community of eager stitchers and dyers from all round the world on facebook.  I was lucky enough to be gifted an enrolment (Thank you India!)–and this turned out to be the trigger for getting the apron out of the naughty corner and into my hands again.

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First step, give it a wash and soften it up a bit (soy mordant no doubt was responsible for starching it a little).  Second step, mending. Mending is an evening occupation for me, thus the mood lighting… I have learned some things about mending since these holes appeared and decided to use several different strategies.

Some mends went over the hem (they were the most discouraging). These round-ish mends I especially like.

Once that was done, a second pass through the soy mordanting process, a wander around my neighbourhood by bicycle collecting leaves, and a bundle up with home made string (hems and seams left from cutting up and recycling clothing, in this case).

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I do love eucalyptus.

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The mends still stand out but I think that is OK, because #visiblemending!  I had chosen linen patching and cotton thread, which did rather guarantee they would stand out as the patches are mostly in the added border at the back of the apron which is cut from a recycled op shop raw silk pant suit a friend gave me.

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I like the new apron much more!

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And here is the back view… with the button placket still sporting buttons.  It’s a bit glorious now, I think. Do you have things waiting in the naughty corner?  How do they get there, and more importantly, what motivates you to get them out again?

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Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

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

Spring guerilla gardening

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The guerilla gardening is going on–with seeds sprouting and plants that have grown slowly through the cold months or those which were propagated from cuttings in autumn going into the ground as I am able.

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Bladder saltbush (atriplex versicaria) in the foreground–I have been gradually creating some drifts of silver foliaged plants in this spot, as well as the ruby saltbush (enchylaena tomentosa) you can see growing in the background.  There is a place here where people walk through the bed and not along the concrete paths, and I’d like more vegetation, while there is plenty of concrete already. I am hoping eventually to crowd out the path people and dogs are using through the bed at the moment, so that one day it will cease to seem the obvious pathway.

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Some of my seedling eucalypts finally went into the ground!

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Pigface (carprobrotus edulis) is a winner even in very dry places.

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I’ve had to laugh abut how I’m spreading some of the plants in our garden into the neighbourhood.  This bladder saltbush went in at least 6 months ago.  I don’t think there is any risk of violas becoming a serious weed around here however!

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And here’s a task for the weekend–entire branches ripped and cut from nearby trees and dumped on top of other plants.  I don’t know why or or by whom, but I think I might just remove these myself (and plant a more prolific understorey so that this does not appeal as a place to dump things).  On the up side, every time I plant here now, there is so much soil compared to even a year ago.  Things are moving in a positive direction!

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Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

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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Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Blue silk bags

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Could I stop at … ahem… was it twelve? I lost count of the bags I had already made…and no, as usual, I couldn’t stop.  I had one more piece of silk that started out a pale blue and ended up more like this.

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There were a few pieces of cream or bronze fabric left and they were pieced in.

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The first has already gone to a lovely friend I was lucky enough to visit with when I went to Brisbane, and the second to a house warming.  And I love the buds, especially!  Well.  I am ready for any number of occasions for gifts now!  In the meantime I am still trying to work out how to wind back the Christmas gifting obligations in my family.  How to honour the ideas of generosity and reciprocity and love that perhaps moved this tradition to come into existence, but to detach from its wasteful and consumerist present.  Maybe I have to begun by asking that I not be given gifts.  Or perhaps talking about how my daughter has clearly decided that from now on she will only buy me second hand gifts.  She reached this decision without discussing it with me specifically–and it has really made me feel that she sees me!  Well.  One step at a time.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Drawstring silk bags

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Some time ago I dyed some silk I found at the Guild trading table. Just recently though, I stopped looking at it, draped around the place, and realised what it could become. I am hoping these little bags will be pleasing gifts, and in some cases, replace wrapping paper in the coming season of compulsory gifting, which I prefer to involve as little waste as possible, as I have not managed to convert my family to thinking perhaps this is not the best possible way to show our affection for one another. I love giving people gifts, but I find the compulsory nature of it and the set date, just leads to waste, and giving and getting things that are not always wanted or needed.

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You knew where this was going, didn’t you?  I couldn’t possibly stop at one or two.

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I think it is partly the satisfaction of figuring something out and routinising it.  Practising it.  Being able to create a little system.  This wouldn’t satisfy every mind, but evidently there is something in it for me.

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I think it is also as simple as getting on a roll and being able to make maximum use of a piece of fabric. Again, not something that has an inherent logic that would work for everyone. And clearly the attitude of a person who has an outward bound stash rather than just one precious piece of fabric. I enjoyed piecing together some of the fabric so I could use it all, as you can see.

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I also made one from one of the fronts of a linen shirt dyed some time ago. The bronze-coloured fabric became two larger bags with double draw strings. And so here I am, hours of pleasurable bag making behind me and happy times of gifting ahead!  I hope your plans for the gifting season are going well…

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Needle books on the Murray River

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We went for a birthday holiday on a house boat on the Mighty Murray River.  I’ve never been on a house boat before and it was pretty funny to be in something with six bedrooms, but on the water!  We set out on a sunny day and it was just lovely.  And then, hours before sunset, the sky turned dark.  The river was anything but calm.  My capable companions decided it was time to find a mooring, and that the green tinge in the distant clouds was a sign of hail even though it is November.  And we moored just in time for powerful winds, amazing rain… the whole thing.

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Eventually things calmed down and for those feeling nauseous, that part subsided, and the sun set over beautiful river red gums.

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Last week I finally stitched these two little eucalyptus dyed needle books together with madder-dyed thread and they were in my sewing tin along with everything else, so they found new homes among my companions.  Here they sit on the obligatory holiday puzzle.

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It wasn’t all wild weather… there were naps and songs and stories and birthday cake and lots of delicious food and company, and beautiful views.  There were so many birds… cormorants, pelicans, ducks and ducklings, superb blue wrens, raptors of various kinds… fabulous!

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On our return we discovered that every single car (and a lot of houseboats) had been hit by hail the size of golf balls.  In November.  We’d had a summary phoned in on our first night out, but it was quite a sight in person.  After a safety check, we drove home slowly, with the light dancing off all the cracks from 17 major hits on the windscreen. Too many dents in the car to count! Just as well there were needle books to keep things a little bit sensible in between times.  A person needs evidence of the ordinary in these challenging times.

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Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

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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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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Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

A little dyeing

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The winter seemed to go slowly to me.  I was sick a lot and had weeks of weariness that meant I wasn’t able to put my itchy fingers to use the way I’d like to. So one particular week of wind and spring rain, I decided on a very small project.  The cotton bag a purchase from Beautiful Silks arrived in met the remains of some soy milk that was in the fridge at work for too long.  Then it joined a shirt front previously prepared for dyeing.

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I’ve been trying to walk more, so windblown eucalyptus leaves and opportunistic scores of leaves were added to the mix, and pretty soon I had a bundle.

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I think the bag is much improved.  The way these prints turned out is so interesting–almost like an out-of-focus photograph.

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And the shirt front stands ready for its next incarnation.

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Finally,  since plastic troubles me more and more all the time, I took a leaf from Beautiful Silks‘ book and stitched parcels for these supplies, being returned to another city after use on national divestment (from fossil fuels) day rather than buying new plastic prepaid satchels.   And now to discover what the post office think about parcels that come stitched up in ancient flannelette sheet. [Update: the woman on the counter made a joke about me sending pillows through the post, asked how she was supposed to get stamps to stick to that, then answered her own question by saying that was her problem not mine]!

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing