Category Archives: textiles

dye workshop: nettle, coreopsis, elder and logwood

Another group of newbies got a taste of natural dyeing a couple of weeks ago… as always, I was too busy setting up and then teaching to get any photos of the workshop itself but here are the results from our dye baths…

Samples of silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

Samples of silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

We worked with both protein and cellulose fibres and four plants that display some important  aspects of the dye process: nettle as a readily-available, weedy species with a strong affinity with different mordants; dyers coreopsis, a flower that is easy to grow and requires very little processing to extract its dye compounds; logwood extract for easy, quick colour and elderberry for its crazy colour response to pH change. (I’d also hoped to use iron to modify some of our logwood samples but had a scale malfunction and the samples were WAY too dark to show any further colour modification!)

Nettle on silk velvet, silk, habutai, cotton and linen

Nettle on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

Nettle on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

Nettle on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

Nettle on organic merino on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

Nettle on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

coreopsis2

Dyers coreopsis on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

coreopsis2

Dyers coreopsis on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

coreopsis2

Dyers coreopsis on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

logwood1

Logwood on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen

logwood1

Logwood on organic merino, mordanted with alum, copper and iron

logwood1

Logwood on a series of different wool yarns, all mordanted with alum

elder1

Elderberry on silk velvet, silk habutai, cotton and linen; we dyed extra samples of silk velvet and habutai and then treated them with acid (upper) and alkali (lower) in order to demonstrate the influence of pH on the colour achieved from anthocyanin-rich plants (middle)

elder1

Elderberry on organic merino, mordanted with alum + acid, alum, alum + alkali, copper and iron

As always, it was interesting to see how different fibres took up the dyes; I was particularly interested to try a yarn base with two strands of merino and 1 of superwash merino (third from the left in the bundle), as it is commonly thought that superwash yarns take up dye more readily and are less able to hold onto the colour over time. So it was fascinating to see that, while that proved true in this case, the degree of difference in colour uptake seems to depend on the dye! It definitely needs more work but it certainly looks like there is more difference in colour in the coreopsis sample than in the others…

And I was thrilled to get such strong blues on wool using the logwood extract, because dyeing with indigo, while a magical and essentially simple process, requires a lot more work to set up (and a bit tricky in an indoor rental space!). The downside is that logwood is not as colourfast as indigo but using an iron modifier will greatly improve fastness…Something to play around with more.

Logwood on organic merino over dyers chamomile

Logwood on organic merino (over dyers chamomile)

If you are interested in learning more about plant dyes, there are places available in my next class on June 19 at the Glasgow Botanics Kibble Palace; you can find more information through my shop.  And, bonus, here will be so many plants to try by then!

shop update

Just a heads-up that I’ll be adding some pouches and cowls to the shop this time tomorrow- that’s at 6pm Saturday, Glasgow time…

Over the past six months, I’ve been blessed to have a steady stream of people hand their much-loved tweed or woollen garments over in the hope that what is no longer wearable may have a second life as a pouch. I’m always intrigued by the stories behind these fabrics and like to bring them to mind as I work with the fabric- evoking the memories held in them feels important to me.

 

Pouches

Pouches

Within this run of pouches are treasured pieces from a lovely friend, Anna (more on her lovely Penguin book next week), including some skirts made and worn by her Oma (so lovely to see the hand-stitching and marks of life) and a commercial Munrospun skirt (lovely to see one of these after writing this post).

Tweed pouch made from Anna's Munrospun skirt

Tweed pouch made from Anna’s Munrospun skirt

Tweed pouch from Anna's Oma's skirt

Tweed pouch from Anna’s Oma’s skirt

There are also pouches made from the seat covers from a Scottish camper van- with the occasional dog hair included!

Tweed pouch made from camper van seat covers

Tweed pouch made from camper van seat covers

And some from one of my favourite old Harris Tweed jackets…

Tweed pouch made from a 1050's Harris Tweed jacket

Tweed pouch made from a 1050’s Harris Tweed jacket

And there are a few new colourways in my favourite cowl patterns too…

Parterre Cowl in Oatmeal and Sage Blue

Parterre Cowl in Oatmeal and Sage Blue

All are up in the shop already but marked as coming soon if you are interested in having a sneak peek. And I look forward to showing you more of the lovely fabrics I’ve been given recently over the coming weeks…

Hoping you have a lovely weekend!

full circle

A belated happy new year to you! I hope it holds good things for you and those around you…

Gosh, I’d hoped to get back to this space a bit earlier in the year but we’ve had a bit of a slow start! I had a lovely, lovely trip back to Australia for Christmas- there really is nothing like being with family and close friends at that time of year and it was so great to be able spend some time with my dad who’s been unwell- that was the main reason I headed home again so soon after my trip in September but, thankfully, he’s on the mend so thank you to all who have asked about him.

After our first Hogmanay, Scotto and I headed up to Glen Lyon, a weirwood-ish glen in the southern Highlands, for a few days… A tiny one-room cabin with a wood stove and not much else meant we spent most of the time sleeping, reading, knitting, walking the beautiful glen, watching films (including the incredible The salt of the earth) and just reconnecting and recharging. Heavenly!

Sheep and fold, Glen Lyon

Sheep and circular sheep fold, Glen Lyon

And then, for the past few weeks, I’ve been pushing myself to get started making for the shop but, while I really do enjoy cold weather, I have found the short days a bit of a struggle- my body just wants to sleep! But I’m back into it and next winter will no doubt be easier ; ) We’ve been blessed with some sunny, rain-free days recently, which makes going out hiking so much more appealing, and even had some snow last week, our first real snow since we arrived!

Tobogganing at the Botanics

Tobogganing at the Botanics

Snowy rosehips

Snowy rosehips

Robin in the maples

Robin in the maples

So what does the year hold? If the last year was all new beginnings- a new country and culture to explore, a new business to build and new friendships and community to foster- this year is all about consolidating! It’s time to focus on what, of all the new, is most important, energising, viable and interesting. I’m so grateful for the incredible opportunities that have been presented to me- and there have been many- and I’m excited by so many things that I’ve felt my attention and energy go in many different directions which, again, has been so lovely but I just haven’t been able to keep up and so ended the year feeling a bit overwhelmed! My thoughts have also been at home with family, my dad in particular, and so I need to learn how to keep both my and their needs in perspective. So consolidation is the word of the year!

So what does that mean on a practical level?

  • I’ll be continuing the Harris Tweed and stranded colourwork joy in the shop but will be adding some lovely new things that I’m currently working on- so stay tuned there! As part of that, I plan to make a trip out to the Hebrides and to spend some time on Skye in summer. And I’ve also been adding some skeins of yarn to my personal dye experiments and am very excited to introduce some botanically-dyed yarn to the shop very soon.
  • I’m just finalizing dates for spring knitting classes at fluph, Ginger Twist and Queen of Purls but I have some classes at Ginger Twist over the next two Sundays, including one on Portuguese knitting! At this stage, there are some places still available- you can find out more here.
  • There will be more botanical dyeing classes at Glasgow Botanics this year too! I’m just locking in some dates but hoping for early April and mid-June… And I’m really excited to be getting my hands dirty looking after the dye garden at the Botanics! I can’t wait to get my hands in the earth…
  • I’m also super keen to meet more producers of wool and yarn and am planning to attend some lovely woolly events this year. I’ll also be teaching or selling my wares at some, including Unravel Farnham and Joeli’s Kitchen Retreat in February, and Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March and have my fingers crossed for Woolfest and Shetland Wool Week too… There are also field trips to visit sheep planned with lovely yarn friends Jeni, Leona, Louise and Mel : )
  • Scotto and I are really keen to make more of the incredible landscape here and so planning some good longer walks for the coming months- perhaps even some munros! And, having put on a bit of a winter coat during the last month of hibernating, I’m in dire need of a spring health boost so am excited to collect cleansing herbs in spring and am also on the lookout for a good yoga class- any suggestions?
  • I’m really keen to find some more space for personal knitting… especially some layers that are so essential in Glasgow! Patterns currently at the top of my queue include Lohman (minus the shawl collar in Rowan Scottish Tweed), Outi’s beautiful mittens (in Jamieson and Smith Shetland Supreme) for Louise’s Nature’s Shades KAL and another Pomme de Pin fro my favourite Amy Christoffers (in Shetland Organics 4ply).

So that is the plan for the year! As always, I know things will change in their way but I really hope to finish the year feeling that bit more grounded and solid in what I’m doing and that bit more connected to the place where we are living. I’ll keep you posted. What about your plans for the year?!

(Incidentally, it’s exactly a year today since we left Australia and so there’ll be a few posts over the next few days, encapsulating our first year in Scotland… special moments and things I haven’t shared to date, mostly because of time but perhaps also because it sometimes takes tie to recognise the significance of a thing. I’m looking forward to revisiting the year and hope you enjoy seeing some more of it too!)

shop update

Just a heads up that I’ll be updating the shop with some cowls and pouches this time tomorrow- that’s 10am Glasgow time on Sunday December 6…

It’s such a dark, rainy day in Glasgow today that I’m still waiting to take photos of some of the new pouch fabrics and new cowl colour/ pattern combinations- but, if you’re keen, do check the shop later today as I’ll have some shots of what’ll be up for grabs as soon as I can get some!

But there’ll definitely be some of these:

Cow Parsley Cowls

Cow Parsley Cowls

Shetland Pine Cowl in Flannel/ Bokhara

Shetland Pine Cowl in Flannel/ Bokhara

And these:

Harris Tweed pouch

Harris Tweed pouch

Harris Tweed pouch

Harris Tweed pouch

All orders will be processed and sent on Monday so, even if you’re somewhere far afield, they should arrive in plenty of time for Christmas! I send via first-class, standard airmail but, if you’re concerned about your order arriving in time, just drop me a line to have your post upgraded to express or tracked and signed.

And, in case you miss out tomorrow, I’ll be adding any stock I don’t sell at next Saturday’s Tea Green market at the Kibble Palace to the shop at the same time next Sunday- I can’t guarantee that there’ll be any left but will be happy to take custom orders from mid-January so just drop me a line.

Happy weekend!

dye workshop results

Yesterday I held a day-long workshop in dyeing with plants at the Glasgow Botanics. We worked with a single dyebath of madder, in my eyes one of the loveliest dye plants around, and explored the variety of colours you can achieve from this one bath through the use of different mordants, modifiers and fibres. Each time I teach this class, I see different results! Participants made organic merino yarn and silk fabric shade cards, whereas I dyed a few small skeins and fabrics to expand on the variety of textures and shades…

A few of my favourite results…

Madder on silk, wool and other fibres

Madder on silk, wool and other fibres

Madder on cellulose and silk fibres results in beautiful terracottas and pinks, while on protein fibres, oranges, rusts and reds. I was particularly excited to see a true red on a skein of alum-mordanted Jamieson and Smith Shetland Supreme- normally I’d expect to have to play around with pH to achieve a true red but this was a neutral bath so it must be the type of fibre that resulted in that fantastic shade…

Madder on cotton lace and Shetland yarns

Madder on cotton lace and Shetland yarns

Madder on Shetland (previously dyed with Prunus sp) and Falkland fibre

Madder on Shetland (previously dyed with Prunus sp) and Falkland fibre resulted in rust shade

Madder on organic merino with various pre-and-post treatments, tannin/ alum-mordanted cotton and silk velvet and yarns of various different sheep breeds

Organic merino with various pre-and-post treatments (front), tannin/ alum-mordanted cotton and silk velvet fabrics (middle) and yarns of various different sheep breeds (top)

I also added a stunning piece of embroidery to the bath, one that I’d found at my lucky charity shop where I find so many treasures. It was such an incredible piece of work that I was a bit unsure whether to do so, especially after one of the participants, an very talented embroiderer, confirmed that it was highly unusual and skilled work! But the combination of sheer silk base fabric and denser cotton shadow-work was begging for colour to highlight the embroidery so I popped it in!

Stunning thrifted embroidery piece- silk base fabric with cotton shadow work

Thrifted embroidery piece- silk base fabric with cotton shadow-work

Thrifted embroidery piece- silk base fabric with cotton shadowwork

Thrifted embroidery piece- silk base fabric with cotton shadow-work

It is a little patchy so needs another dip but I’m so thrilled with how it picked up that dusty terracotta colour. Such amazing work.

As part of the day, we took a walk around the gardens in the rain, looking at some of the plants growing there that yield dyes and some of the markers that tell you that a plant might hold dye potential, and it was such a treat to have not only the bed dedicated to dye plants but the entire gardens themselves as a teaching resource. I’m planning to hold more similar workshops there in the spring, by which time I should have more burners, pots and a bounty of foraged dyestuff that participants can really get their hands wet with! A huge thanks to everyone who came yesterday and, if you’re interested in coming to another, keep an eye out here and on Instagram for announcements of dates  : )