a journal: textiles, inspiration, musings

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Indigo at last

A very fun blue-letter day: my first attempt at an indigo vat. Used the natural 3-2-1 pickling lime and fruit one, used fructose today but will try with bananas next. I muddled along a bit with the proportions and getting the lime to dissolve into the brew, so as I always seem to do, I was learning on the job! but it seemed to follow the general process which all the instructions point to, and I managed to sample -dye a number of pieces of fabric! very exciting, will keep practising with this over the next week or two; a change from my favourite eucalyptus – based dye pots . Will be pleased to see how the fabrics look tomorrow after washing: can’t quite believe it has been so successful and so quick! The vat was very strong, I actually weakened off some of the brew for the lighter pieces but I suspect they will be lighter in any case after washing………..watch this space !!!

 

Trio

Basics of new wardrobe, hand-stitched, naturally printed and dyed……….very satisfying!

trio of hand-stitched and naturally dyed:printed dresses

latest bundle unwrapped

glorious colours, a new dress, very happy with this one!

autumn holiday in daylesford

So inspired by wonderful March workshop with India Flint; sometimes [rarely] a class can be life-changing: having already been starting to learn to construct simple wearable pieces  with cloths woven on the Saori loom, India’s  Second Skin class taught me that I can make simple garments stitched by hand with lovely natural or recycled fabrics, then dye them  in the ways I have been learning to do, with plants and natural mordants; a meditative and gentle process that feels totally right to do, and causes no harm. So I find myself enjoying wearing the garments that I am making; I love the comfort of them, and the ethos of them, they make me feel connected to the earth.  Community  awareness of the destruction the textiles industry is inflicting on the environment, and the exploitation of its workers, is growing; as with food, it is impossible to un-know the realities of mass production and of the inherent problems with the toxins in synthetic materials once we understand them; and the power we have is to individually change our own approach first.

Have spent a week here in our holiday cottage stitching  some simple dresses, skirts  and tunics with Marion’s lovely silky merino [Beautiful Silks at Allansford]; and now the cauldron is simmering with local eucalyptus leaves and bits of metal [the Daylesford market is a treasure house for old metal discards!] and garments being bundled with autumn leaves, eucalyptus leaves and sundry other mark-making bits and pieces…………..as the garments come out of the pot it is always a surprise; the beauty of this method is that if the surprise is not entirely positive, there are always ways to cut/patch/cover/re-dye!!

In between the stitching and the dyepots, lots of long walks in the glorious autumn landscape; a beautiful environment to work in and be inspired by:

 

Loose Ends

At the end of a busy winter of stitching and dyeing [see more on that in next post!], have decided to pull together some of the various pieces of cloth that have occupied me. Seems time to construct a whole, rather than parts…just for awhile. So I have finished and hung the “warm winter cloth”: the intense embroidery stitching, very simple blanket stitch, chain stitch and running stitches, were satisfying on long winter evenings, as was the warmth of the felted fibres that were the base, beautiful and soft to stitch through..

I have started to assemble the blue-green pieces that have been on-going for quite some time, into a cloth loosely called “watercolours”

and the warm, madder-based cloth , a combination of naturally-dyed bits, old sari scraps and other warm-coloured pieces

so a lot of stitching to do, and textures to add, to both of these cloths, but they have a bit of a direction happening now.

Sad farewell this week to the brilliant Leonard Cohen, whose wonderful poetry  inspired the name of my blog….

 

winter stitching

short days and chilly weather, very conducive to stitching! Autumn Cloth all but finished…a few stitches here and there will probably go on for awhile….

and have started the bare bones of a warm Winter Cloth…..base coming together with the help of the felting machine; lots of hand stitching and embellishment to follow!

 

Have also finished another Turquoise piece, which was looking a bit sparse

slow stitching, slow living

…….seems to be the theme this year! I spent too long wondering what I wanted to work on, and where i was headed with it all; then realised that i was already working on what I wanted: life was what i was doing not what i was planning! and instead of stitching away on my Autumn Cloth while I wait for the “real inspiration” to strike, I am now seeing it as where i am at the moment:  piecing and stitching as the flow takes me, all by hand. Perhaps the general manic events in the outside world are causing a lot of us to turn inwards, and to deliberately slow down and use less technology; with the stitching more organic and less formalised, edges sometimes rough and fabrics less than perfect, bits of old dyed and painted cloth, pieces dyed with plants, old scraps of sari fabric. Working this way brings peace and a sense of quiet contemplation, the feel of the cloth and the flow of the stitching as important as the end result. Am  inspired by Jude Hill on her lovely blog Spirit Cloth …..her work is so very much an expression of herself and her life, and she is so generous with her methods and philosophies; by  the work of India Flint, who uses native plants so beautifully and skilfully; by the richly coloured  and very personal work of artists like Jo Bruhn, Mandy Pattullo and Sue Dove; by books like Claire Wellesley Smith’s Slow Stitch and Cas Holmes’ Stitch Stories. It’s interesting to put them all together and realise that they are all very different but each voice is unique and very much a true expression of the artist.

With winter arriving it will be lovely to keep working away on this piece until it decides it is finished!