So instead I'm posting up my recent knitted book adventure!
Well after a disaster in the current dye batch (in which I foolishly threw the the sloe samples in with the log-wood samples to launder, and ended up with a lot of grey/mauve instead of that lovely old pink) I had to go and pick more sloes and will start again. I have no idea if the pink will remain after a launder, but it's not much use if it doesn't as I want to make items that can be washed.
So instead I'm posting up my recent knitted book adventure!
There are a dozen here, and I have more in process. They are made with various knitted stitches in cotton, mohair, alpaca and silk yarns
This one is a single cable in cotton. I've photographed me holding it to give a sense of scale. They're small and tactile.
This one is in a simple stocking stitch, but in a luxurious silk yarn that makes you want to hold onto it.
This is a more complex series of knitted cables in apple green cotton with bright green hand-made Khadi paper pages. I make them by bonding a stiff but flexible interfacing to a cotton lining, sewing the pages in, then attaching the lining to the knitting with tiny stitches.
This one is a simple rib pattern in a soft alpaca/silk yarn.
It has soft blue Khadi paper pages
This one is in a variegated yarn in vibrant greens with bright green Khadi papers. I want to eat apples when I see this one!
I leave you with this one which is a basket weave design in another soft alpaca/silk yarn. This is one of the reasons why I can't walk past a yarn shop without going in and buying far too many gorgeous skeins. I long ago ran out of storage space and must keep knitting to keep up with my addiction!
......and about not doing any more dyeing for a while.
The alkanet dye has really grown on me. After a launder, it turns out that the colours are quite alluring in a calmer, more subtle way. I'm now more drawn to these than the brighter tones. Here are a few samples; more to follow as there is another pot on the boil.
I collected sloes from the nature reserve this week and got a lovely range of pinky lilacs; seen here drying out.
I've also used log-wood again for the first time in many years. I'm amazed by the purple intensity of this pot, on antique cotton and silk. I've only used it on wool before (mordanted with chrome, back in the days when I didn't realise how toxic it was) and gotten a uniform greenish grey. When the new samples are laundered and dried, I shall post up the detailed images.
Started a new page on the website today. I've been playing with my photographs and editing with paint, then embellishing with fabric. Here are the first two pieces.
This is the last jar in my current dye series. I did open the Avocado jar (disappointing beige colour and not pink) and the Alkanet jar (muddy grey and not mauve). Then I discovered that a higher Ph may have made the Alkanet more vibrantly mauve. Too bad I schlepped an enormous water jar back from Ty Cariad for it's softer water with neutral Ph then! I have another packet of Alkanet so I will try again some time.
Here are the Eucalyptus samples instead.
Again, a nice range of colour; this time a warm terracotta/rust on soft antique cotton and silk.
The samples left and centre were boiled with the leaves bundled, and the sample on the right was bundled and solar dyed for a couple of weeks.
The leaves can clearly be seen in the details.
And on the boiled samples, appear to be blotchy and textured.
The solar dyed samples here are much smoother and warmer in tone.
So that's about it on plant dyeing for the moment. I think I should do something with my current samples before doing another batch. Hope you've enjoyed this series, and do leave a comment here if you have any suggestions or questions.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I opened this dye bundle. That unidentified leaf from the madder jar (the one I thought may have been a dahlia) turned out to be a cherry leaf. I had a feeling about the shape and size of the unidentified leaf, so I went to Roath Park to collect some that I thought were the same for this piece.
I took a small antique cotton table cloth which I'd pre-mordanted with alum and soya. I placed the leaves in the centre, then folded it into a bundle. I then boiled it with eucalyptus leaves, and opened it straight away.
I'm really pleased with the definition and the intensity of colour from the cherry leaves, and also the more subtle hue from the eucalyptus which holds it all together.
Here are some details from the edges. There is a good variety of colour, shape and texture within the cherry leaves themselves.
As I was ironing the newly laundered cloth, I noticed a seredipitous coincidence. If you look at these last three detail pictures, you will see that the table cloth has little cherries woven into the damask. Synchronicity at it's finest! I've already been back to the park again today to collect more windfall from the cherry tree.
"Beneath you birch with silver bark
And boughs so pendulous and fair,
The brook falls scattered down the rock:
and all is mossy there."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Birch Jar unpacked! T'was much less smelly than the madder and easier to dimantle. I like the warm earthy tones on the the scraps of crochet lace and silk velvet.
The range between the darkest (Silk) to lightest (cotton) is quite pronounced. Again, a lovely range across the different fabrics in the same dye jar, though the hues are generally softer and lighter than other plant-stuffs I've tried.
Some of the details with the leaves shown here are less pronounced than in the madder jar, but this jar had less time on the shelf. I was too excited to wait for this one so I simmered it for a bit after only a week on the shelf.
This is a piece of silk that I bundled with rose petals; I love the delicacy of rose petal prints.
I've also dismantled the Eucalyptus jar and I'm really pleased with it so I will post that one here shortly.
After the malodorous unpacking of the madder jar, and an hour spent picking bits of rotten leaves and flowers from the folds of fabric, I laundered and pressed the samples and left them for a few days before photographing them. Now smelling sweetly, I notice that the faint outlines of the leaves have darkened and become more distinct after a few days airing. So here they are:
These first samples are a silk/viscose velvet (no leaves) variously scrunched and tied. The more loosely tied; the greater variation in hue.
These are pieces of the softest antique cotton; it is old and has little strength, but has been laundered for many years, so takes the dye well. The first picture shows a piece folded with rose petals and fuschia (only the central purple part of the fuschia gave colour) and the other two are various flowers (heather) and cochineal beetles.
This is an old antique soft cotton table-cloth folded with hollyhocks, cochineal beetles and a few leaves. The hollyhocks are from the garden at Ty Cariad and I planted them for a splash of deepest dark purple in the border; though the dye they produce is a blue that is quite a deep Prussian in hue.
These are from the same cloth, and show some details; the one in the centre is the whole cloth.
These are interesting; a combination of red onion skins and maple leaves............and a leaf I'm not sure of (may be dahlia) and another dark blue one in the corner that I have no recollection of at all! I like the variation of colours through the cloth with this one.
This is the first of the pure silk pieces; one has a very faint green leafy outline, but more interesting is the intensity of the madder where the bundle was tied.
I'll find a use for the string itself too I'm sure.
Here's another that is similar, but again the leaf is so faint it hardly registers. The darker splodgy line up the middle is where the madder dye water evaporated away from the fabric and it was left exposed to the air.
I rather like this one; it looks like a rib-cage and spinal column. It is silk folded with rose leaves.
And this is the same piece with the rose leaf detail. The rose leaves may be more distinct if I were to boil the bundle in the dye bath before leaving to rest; something to try next time.
This is silk with a maple leaf and some less distinct images. The border is made from some mordanted lace and a wide cotton ribbon; all thrown in the same dye pot. I find the contrast in colours between the different fabric samples is quite astounding.
And this is my favourite piece of silk from this dye jar. It has everything; two distinctly different maple leaves, and a scattering of gorse flowers. The silk picked up the pink from the madder quite intensely with this one and it also has the string tie marks too. What more could you want from a sample!
And to finish off, this was at the bottom of the jar. It's an antique soft cotton camisole top with a crochet border which took the dye beautifully.
I'm so pleased with this first dye jar and intend to carry on experimenting with other plant dyes. The birch jars will be opened next; watch this space!
Julie Shackson is an artist and designer, working across various mediums and living in Wales