Snap out of it

This Mary Englebright illustration hung over my kitchen sink for years, as a reminder!

If I was paying attention to my body, it would have whispered to me “You are holding a lot of tension – relax!” I would have also noticed impatience – not the floral kind.

It was a workshop on nature dyes at the Etobicoke Handweavers & Spinners Guild. I had already created a vision in my head of how things were going to unfold. Do you see where I’m going? The bigger the gap between what was happening in the moment and what I wanted, the more I felt my cranky, inner child.

I gave myself a time out and sat on the floor with some books from our guild library and this is where things turned around. The workshop leader joined me. We talked and she shared some insights into who she is, which most importantly helped me to understand and appreciate her ways. It reminded me to let my child play.

I laugh to think I was in a situation that, at best, has random and unpredictable results. That is part of the magic of natural dying. In addition to mordant and after bath, colours are affected by the ph of the water (Are you using tap water, well water, rain water?) and so much more.  If there is ever a time to relax and enjoy the process, just to see how things unfold… this is it! Once I allowed myself to do exactly that my day transformed… along with my attitude!

It amazes me to think of our ancestors dying fabric in much the same way thousands of years ago. The oldest known record of dyed flax fibres came from a cave in the Republic of Georgia dating back to 36,000 BC. Astounding! This simple act shared by humans over centuries gives me pause. More so that we let fibres swim in the dye pot on the Solstice!

Coreopsis, plant, tincture

If looking to plant a dye garden, you can buy Coreopsis at garden centres.

Coreopsis, dye pot

Coreopsis dye pot simmering away.

Which of the three dye pots captivated me the most? I would have expected to say indigo but that wasn’t the case. It was Brazilwood! My roving went into the pot as a soft grey and came out  the colour of a pecan shell. Our delightful leader surprised me at the end of the day with a jar of Brazilwood pieces steeped in alcohol. These can be dried and reused. I plan to experiment…

Brazilwood, dyepot

Fibre swimming in Brazilwood dyebath mordanted with 15% alum

shibori, tansy, indigo

Shibori: tansy overdyed with indigo

I discovered superwash wool takes the dye too readily for my taste. It looks like commercially dyed yarn (which in itself is pretty amazing!)

Roberta used tansy to dye a piece of wool fabric then tied a resist and overdyed it with indigo for a beautiful shibori effect.

I have to admit, when it comes to indigo, the thought of a traditionally fermented dyebath nurtured slowly is what makes my heart beat faster.

Plans are afoot…

Brazilwood, Indigo, Coreopsis, Natural Dye

Brazilwood on grey roving, indigo and coreopsis on superwash wool.