I have managed to lose myself for quite a few hours over the past two days, pottering about with the dye-pots. It’s no mean feat these days to achieve that sort of peace, and I am grateful for this absorbing interest in natural dyes, slow stitching and making or up cycling clothes that feel satisfying and ethical to wear.
In my short experience with indigo vats I have had very mixed results; I have worked only with fructose vats, because I do not want to use harsh chemicals, but have found them temperamental [maybe reflecting my own states of mind on occasion!] and have been often disappointed with the depth of blue achieved. I’ve also had problems with splodges forming on garments, and with the colour washing out [but not the splodges, sadly !], and am learning to respect every step of the process, and to really build up a close observation and understanding of the vat. And as with all natural dyeing, to be PATIENT…waiting for the reduction to take place, sometimes over several days if it’s a revamp of the vat; and really checking the ph and the colour.
This latest time I decided to try a henna vat, and have been delighted with the depth of blue in my new dress, hand stitched as taught by India Flint in one of her wonderful workshops and made out of silky merino [from Beautiful Silks]: will add some pockets and patches and it will be done!
I am also finding that I could revive this vat a couple of days later much more effectively than I have achieved so far, and am in the process of over-dyeing some other garments…more pics later.
a growing obsession…… bought India Flint’s new book Bagstories, and joined the private facebook page…..some wonderful ideas for using my stack of naturally-dyed fabric off cuts to make different bags. Love their earthiness and love the process of slow stitching to make them.
Managing a serious illness in the family, there hasn’t been time for much updating of the blog journal….but I am using the quick format of Instagram to keep a bit of a record of textile potterings, which add a bit of peace and grounding to difficult times. Sometimes just finding time to soak one little piece of cloth in a pot of plant dye, or stitch a row of simple stitches on a small piece of cloth that may one day become a pocket or a patch, can bring some moments of calm and meditation.
The Instagram address is
This long-term project is moving forward: the top is being assembled now; I will add some more stitching and then back it to make a snuggly blanket. I haven’t felt in any sort of hurry to finish it, as it is a lovely pick-up-and-stitch project; I enjoy looking at the wonderful prints that have emerged at different times from my eucalyptus bundles; some pieces have been individually dyed, some are leftovers from garments. I have bought some lovely fine soft wool fabric from Beautiful Silks and will dye this before using it as the back, so there will be plenty more stitching to do, as i will join the front and back pieces with some form of kantha-type stitching.
the pile of saori cloth pieces is growing… becoming scarves and shawls, simple-pieced jackets, gifts …. adding to my quest to make or upcycle garments wherever possible. It’s a fun and very satisfying challenge! And the saori loom is so lovely to work with; a meditation, a chance to play instinctively with colour and texture.