Cloth and becoming cloth

Linen, cotton off-cuts dyed with plants from the garden, green tea, black grape and tumeric. I am hoping Jude of Spirit Cloth may have some use for them in her unique and amazing Feather Project for under-priviledged children. If you are able, please check her blog (Spirit Cloth) in the sidebar and help out if you can.

Random dyed fleece drying in stormy weather.

These skeins are going into a mini exhibit for natural dyes at the local Victorian Handweavers and Spinners Guild  – a random selection of plant colours.


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Forgot to mention that the discussions emanated from ‘Spirit Cloth’ a few days ago and also one I am still mulling over from ‘Iph’ on the issue of blogging and privacy- a tricky one.

Take care.

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This is one of the views from the balcony of a country riverside motel I stayed in overnight in the heart of western Victoria.  The town, ‘Donald’,  in the middle of the Wimmera was flooded in January this year, including the tiny motel I had booked in to – explains the lingering musty odour.

The arching wooden bridge (painted green) is just visible, reflection also.  I had fallen into a ‘sink hole’ – metaphorically speaking and the two days away in the Australian bush was just what I needed, though not nearly long enough.  Being a city girl born and bred, I love the wide open spaces, changing vegetation and friendly unassuming  people.

Trust a ‘spinner’ to stroll into the local woolbroker and see what might be available from the local sheep farms. Lucky for me, the young fellow let me have my pick.  First on offer was ‘superfine merino’ destined for the Italian market’s high end tailored suits.  Beautiful, fine luxurious fibre, difficult and time consuming to spin – there never being sufficient time in life. Tempted, I declined.  Next on offer was this….

Straight off the sheep’s back! A fine crimp with a lovely staple length, a little grotty with minor vegetation in the tips but I jumped straight in with much gratitude. How much did I pay for his glorious fibre? Nothing! It was handed to me -“have you got something to put it in and is that sufficient?” There is NEVER enough wool!!

A clean staple lets me know I have picked up a gem…

Have peeked in to some of the recent posts and discussions centering around art, economics, being alone in one’s own space to create and importantly using creativity to ‘gift’ to others.  Personally, I find it difficult to eloquently paraphrase my thoughts online – like being camera shy, a brain freeze takes hold and the words become hidden in a wave of terror and insecurity with the comments appearing ‘lame’. Thus, I try not to say too much even though I am observing greatness.

There is an issue that does keep surfacing though and I am presenting it here come what may. Some of us are ‘movers and shakers’, creating unique and beautiful works in numerous ways and mediums, including those people that give their lives generously to others. Then there are those of us who are ‘workers’, whom for whatever reason just cannot pull that uniqueness together, try as they might.  Perhaps for many reasons, known and unknown, they can follow, learn, serve in other ways and revel in the art that is before them.  They may be artisans rather than artists and contribute in the best way they can.  After much reflection, it seems to me that I fall into the latter category. Perhaps I am not dedicated or committed sufficiently to be an artist, as far as I can tell there is a wall that I cannot get over, and I am particularly tired of the line -” Is that your design?” If we are all designers, then who is going to purchase our product?

That being said, we only get to be here once (as far as I know) and everyone should make the most of that time and do what they believe in, what makes them happy, eases the stresses of the day. You know, the things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning.  Bills will always be a problem, there is no easy answer to that.

None of this probably makes any sense, is relevant or well written but then,  I am computer shy !!!!

And the Silky Oak (grevillea robusta, I think) is in flower.

Seems a nap is the order of the day.

Sweet dreams Sophie. Take care everyone.

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Mould in the dyepot?

Lifted the lid on the enamel dyepot holding a concoction of eucalyptus leaves, mahonia berries and yellow iris flowers, with a splash of alum added to help things along!

 A fine white film of mould covered the fibre and dye liquor – not too unpleasant, and really, what did I expect would happen with the above concoction with varying temperatures of 30 deg C one day down to 14 deg the next. Seriously, how can anyone solar dye in such conditions!

Removed the wool from the offending liquid to rinse and see if what I was hoping for, had in anyway succeeded.  It was tempting to leave the pot for longer, however, sunshine is predicted for next week,  so I needed to determine the outcome.

Ok, so this doesn’t look very exciting, but it has shown me that I can get colour without having to boil the plant material first (though, I think it would be preferable) and better still, patches of fleece/yarn can take up dye by direct contact.  Difficult to see on this sample, yellow from the iris, red/tan from the gum leaves and nothing from the mahonia berries – well there weren’t very many this year.

Next step, spin up some white fleece into yarn and try this experiment again with more determination and better planning.

Just in time for Halloween…..

These silks look like raw meat or intestines – they look much better in the flesh! Each of the silks took up the dye differently, the mulberry (top left) is a tomato red, the tussah (top right) similar but lighter and without the sheen and the silk waste is most definitely peachy.

Lastly, the black wool/alpaca blend from here, is gradually being turned into skeins of yarn with the aid of my Little Gem spinning wheel. They are considerably darker than these images show.


Happy Halloween to those who celebrate this event and Good Luck to those who are hoping for a win on the Melbourne Cup! Take care everyone.

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The dye pot, the sun and the rain!

The Iris flowers have been both enormous and plentiful this Spring.  Boiled some of the yellow flowers, strained off the vegetation, added raw clean wool and a few eucalyptus leaves into the mix –  just to see if any colour would imprint on the wool without boiling them first –  and left pot outside to “cook” in the sun.  Not sure about this – the solution looks a little weak.

With the expectation of hot sunny days, it seemed too good to waste those solar rays, and with commercial product that needs to be used, I placed two trays of dark grey merino fleece (washed) basking in the sun, one with red dye and one with blue.

This is the same merino fleece solar dyed with blues and spun to a 5 ply/sport weight yarn. It has texture, is light and soft and has good variation of grey and blue colour through it.

I divided the exhaust liquor from the red/grey merino into three jars, placed 3 different silks into each jar.  From left to right – mulberry silk, silk waste and tussah silk and left them outside with the natural dyepot.

NB – The sun has been playing hide and seek for the last four days.  However, the silk has probably taken up as much of the dye as it is likely too, so the plan is to take them out tomorrow, rinse and (hoping for better weather) to dry them.

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