Saturday, 14 June 2014

WOOL to DYE for...

What a perfect way to spend a sunny June afternoon -  ‘dyeing’ with friends...!!!
 Came home with stained hands & clothes, smelling of bonfires 
BUT with some wonderful coloured fleece ready for felting…

 All the natural plant materials were boiled up first in old pots to create 
the dyes using traditional methods and recipes. 
Some plants came from the garden - red dahlia heads, parsley, onion skins -
as well as some more exotic plants such as madder, cutch, purple heart & logwood. 

The wool was soaked first in water & urine (YES a traditional ingredient!) 
then added to the dye and stirred gently… 

Slowly the colours begin to develop…

And as the day passed the dyed wools were hung up to dry.

I’ve always been fascinated by the alchemy of natural dyeing, 
especially when mordants are added to the mix. 
These are powdered metals such as tin & copper that help fix the colour 
but also dramatically effect the results! 

 Natural dyes are always unpredictable & surprising 
and when worked together their soft muted colours always blend beautifully.

Some of my dye samples go back to the 1980’s 

when I kept note books, photographs and records of all my experiments 
and even grew some dye plants in my garden. 
I've lost count of the number of jumpers I've knitted using as many dyed wools 
as possible as the colours are so complimentary 

I’ve always dyed unbleached spun wool, bought on cones from 
Jamiesons in the Shetlands, so all my dyed wools are the same and
 can be knitted up together.

This was the first time I’d dyed Merino tops and I’m pleased with the results. 
I did sew the lengths of tops into net bags just to prevent too much agitation. 
I didn’t want the wool to start felting in the dye pots with all the stirring!

Now I’ve got some wonderfully muted colours that are 
quite unique and ready for felting.

It was one of those idyllic summer days!   

Lots of tea and cake, cheese scones & elderflower cordial...

Lovely company and really good fun!

PS. Don't forget you can click on all the photos to enlarge them...

Sunday, 8 June 2014

LOOKING forward...

The IOW Open Studios Yearbooks have just been delivered 
and suddenly the event in mid-July 
seems SO much closer…

  This year I’m exhibiting at Shalfleet Village Hall (18th—20th July) 
and also at Quarr Abbey (24th—29th July) so it’s going to be a 
very busy couple of weeks. The new yearbook has all the details 
and can be downloaded here...

I’m planning to have lots of new work on show - new scarf and wrap designs, 
new bag & vessels shapes and embellished felt work 
(like the bag featured in ‘Embellish’ magazine)

I shall be at Quarr Abbey for a week (24th—29th July) and will be re-creating
 a mini ‘pop-up’ studio in a corner of the Gallery.
 In the spirit of Open Studios I shall be making felt each day and
 have plenty of samples and work in progress, as well as a display of new designs,
so there’ll be lots to see...

At the moment I’m looking for new premises to hold my regular workshops here 
on the island - somewhere that offers plenty of space to work. 
Until then workshops will continue at West Wight Alpacas with new summer dates 
coming up soon. There are also plans to return to Spring Farm Alpacas in Sussex 
and again dates will be posted as soon as things are arranged…
Distance is never a problem!

Looking ahead to the autumn...
 I’m holding a very exciting workshop at  a new venue - The Seaview Hotel.
We will begin the day with a walk along the shoreline, beachcombing
 and seeking inspiration for felting pebble weights and scarves, 
and there’s more details here...

So another very busy summer ahead, 
with lots of events and workshops planned...

Watch this space!

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