Eco printing on dappled silk

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Oh, that glow!

So much for good intentions… Well at least you know the good intention was there to start with!

A quick post to show off a pre-loved silk shirt eco-dyed with eucalyptus, cochineal, geranium, alkanet flakes, rose leaves and what is probably a red-leafed Acer japonicum, although I have never seen such a big tree (easily 4 metres tall) here in the Netherlands.

All of it simmered in a dye bath made from Dutch-grown eucalyptus generously contributed by Mary from the Koala eucalyptus nursery in De Pol laced with iron liqueur, which turned a deep grey – almost black. Sadly, I never thought of dyeing some silk thread in that dye pot before it had to be discarded (because it developed an unpleasant odour that caused my family to complain loudly)…

The shirt had a dappled weave pattern, which makes for some lovely highlights in the dyed fabric. I may add some stitching and change the sleeves, which are too long. I’ll first need to figure out how, though.

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Out of the pot

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First indication of something lovely

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Opening up

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I ❤ eucalyptus and it loves me right back!

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Rorschach snake face

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Tie resist marks showing up beautifully

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Earthy pleasures

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Oh, the beauty of it,,,

 

Silver and Golden

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Last year this time, I was home alone. For me, New Year’s Eve has not been a night of celebration for a long time and I’m not sure it will ever be that again. Somehow it is associated with too much melancholy, endings, saying goodbye and farewell. And yet something is different. Last year on my own, not feeling forced to be artificially happy or pleasant, it felt like a new beginning for the first time in a long time.

And so it is this year. Somehow I have come into my own and that, my dear and faithful friends, is reason to celebrate. It is an ongoing process of course and I still battle my daemons, but there seem to be fewer of them and more of me.

I think there has not been a single day this year in which I did not realise and appreciate how beautiful this world – this life – really is. Naturally there is sorrow and sadness and pain and anger, but there is always beauty. And I have learned the true meaning of gratitude.

Gratitude when riding my bicycle in sunshine or rain, one little girl in front of me and one in back, singing, humming, chattering, warm bodies pressing against me, saying ‘Mummy you are the sweetest and the best’. My beautiful fifteen year old regaining his joy and wonderful smile in an off-system new school, hugging me and rubbing his cheek against mine, hoping for the day I will tell him his skin is prickly and he needs to shave. 

Gratitude when sticking my hands in the earth, picking flowers and herbs in my beautiful little garden, smelling the lovely, lovely scents of nature. Walking on the beach, head bent towards the sand as in my youth, collecting shells and storm-tossed wood… Strolling through the forest, smelling the earth, sitting beneath an oak tree and hearing the leaves whisper in the wind… My house has been filling up with plants, leaves, sticks, stones, shells and feathers and something loosens inside me every time I see them, smell them, touch them. Truly there is healing in allmother nature.

Gratitude when getting up at five in the morning, shivering and tired, to start work because that is the most quiet and peaceful time of day for me and those few precious early hours are when I do most and best. Oh, so grateful for having work and making money I can call my own (sort of) and at the same time being home for my boy and girls, even though I complain because I am running around all day from school to work to grocery shopping and laundry and cleaning and finally, blissedly, bed. 

Gratitude for the rediscovery of my great well of creativity, sadly neglected these many years but still waiting and willing to pour forth in such wealth. And the discovery of so many others whose creativity has inspired mine and made me better. So many beautiful people willing to share and reach out and encourage.

I have discovered people on the Web who have become precious to me, places that I love to dwell in, new dreams and creations to explore each day. People with great courage and love and wisdom who have made my life richer in the encountering and sharing. 

Gratitude, also, for having so much and so much therefore to give. Gratitude and generosity, I have come to understand, are two sides of the same coin. I hope I have given freely of myself and returned some of the gifts I have received.

It has been a silver and golden year. Not without its shadows, of course, some cast by others and some my own, but definitely filled with silver and golden light and much, much love.

So I am strangely amused to find myself looking forward to this ending and beginning all in one, even if just symbolic, and curious to see what another year will bring. I have been falling into the gravity well of my self and now, cautiously finding an orbit around that stable centre within, am striding forward once more.

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Photos: Eucalyptus and iron eco dye on ecological silk jersey, December 2013

Thoughtful

DSC09450Fall leaves used to dye an old silk top that I never liked. The silk looks more beautiful now, cut into pieces soaked up colour from nature. I stitched a piece into my personal journal. The paper holds, a small surprise. Aren’t these leaves the most beautiful thing on earth right now?

And I have been knitting, of course

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This pretty little thing is currently on my needles. I love the combination of slinky soft bamboo with wild tussah silk, which has an extremely dry hand feel. It makes for a sensuous contrast, which is reinforced by the colours my son helped me pick: a vintage rose for the bamboo set off by the rich Merlot grape of the silk. Both came from Weldraad, an eco yarn shop in Amsterdam.

The bamboo is from Fonty, a French yarn brand. It is extremely soft and has lovely stitch definition. The label suggests 3-3.5mm needles but I went with 5mm and would knit this with even larger needles to create a lovely open-textured fabric. It has wonderful drape, too.

The Tussah Tweed, what can I say? I am in love with the Tussah Tweed. BC Garn is a Danish manufacturer of natural and ecologically sound yarns. They created a wonderfully matt, very light, tweedy yarn, almost linen-like in its apparent simplicity. At around 250 meters in each 50-gram skein, I would say this is a fingering weight yarn. Because the bamboo is a heavier (sport) weight, I decided to knit the silk holding a double strand but I think this would knit up beautifully for a light summer cardigan or top on smaller needles, for instance. The earthy colour palette makes for an almost Medieval feeling. I would definitely absolutely recommend this if you are allergic to wool (oh, such a terrible affliction) or are looking for a light summer yarn. Like I said, I am in love.

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