Friday, May 30, 2014

Natural dye pot

Last weekend I went on a lovely 3 day course with the wonderful Alex Madden -

It took place at her house in a gorgeous village called Coleshill. A friend, Liz, (who I had met on another workshop that Alex was helping to run alongside another lovely lady, Jane Meredith at, and I were fortunate to stay with a lovely couple, Linda and Colin, and were made very welcome. I had a lovely view across the churchyard.

Alex, along with Dan and Jennifer, made it a great weekend. We were learning so much that we were exhausted - but happy - when it came time to leave.

We learnt about dying natural fabrics, especially silk, using plant materials foraged from the garden and countryside, and how to use different mordants to bring out the dyes. My hands still show some of the colours, even after scrubbing!!

We started by sewing silk and other materials randomly onto paper and bundling huge amounts of leaves inside - with glorious results.

Then we placed leaves how we wanted on silk then rolled the fabric round a stick or a piece of iron or copper, and boiled it in different concoctions.

The leaves laid on the cloth.
The the bundle rolled up.

When they came out of the pots they looked pretty unappetising!

But then glorious patterns and colours!! We were all like big kids, and got so excited when we were allowed to unwrap the bundles!!!

We ended up with 9 squares of silk which we sewed together and then cut into 4 which could then be rearranged into a scarf.

Liz produced this particularly lovely square.

We then tried to put what we had learnt to use in trying to make a scarf from butter muslin but this time trying to produce a clear print from leaves. This was then put into an iron bath - hence the dark purples and black.

I had also taken along some cotton cloth from an old french sheet.

One of the great things about the workshop -apart from the amazing food and great company - was the fact that we could do this at home without any specialist equipment and just play! Hence I have already started my ash and iron potions!!! - thanks Dan for the rusty iron to get me started!!

And finally - the food - aaahh, we don't have long enough - suffice to say the lunches were glorious, along with the flapjacks and cakes - recipes, please, Alex! And Dan very kindly made us walnut and seed bread that we could take away. I made the mistake of having the warm walnut bread beside me in the car while driving to see a friend near Gatwick. Mmmm!!! Liz and I also had the added bonus of being invited to have dinner on Sunday night with Linda and Colin. A really lovely evening - and vegetarian food is now firmly on the menu!

Alex was the perfect teacher, continually giving us a ton of information, answering questions, but all in a very relaxed, enjoyable manner.

A perfect weekend.


Monday, May 12, 2014


Been having some fun with baby stuff as my best mate has had the cutest little girl in Christendom so here is an ABC blanket I saw on Ravelry - except I changed it a bit. Instead of doing it as one big blanket I crocheted the squares individually and then crocheted them together. I then made a sandwich with cotton batting and a cute spotty material. Fortunately there was enough material left to make a length of bias binding which I sewed on then hand sewed the last side on. Finally, I used some wool to tie it all together.

No idea what she will use it for, but hey, it was fun to do!


Friday, May 9, 2014


Went on a course at Rowan Tree Studios at Clovelly yesterday and had a lovely day learning how to free motion quilt - a lot more difficult than it looks and definitely one of those skills that needs practice, practice, practice! Sarah who lead the course was lovely and really helpful.

I have so much African fabric I thought I would take some of it along and try and use that. Hmmm...

Yup, got to work on that! But it was lots of fun and looking forward to trying it on my sewing machine.

Here is the spinning I have done this last week, awaiting a good wash before being wound into balls, probably to be used in weaving.

Think that might be it for a while as got a manic month coming up but... I can but hope!


Monday, May 5, 2014


At last started trying out different ideas to see if they sell, so almost time to set up the blog to go with it. Have FINALLY decided on a name - look at these cute little tags I made on my silhouette machine though not straight forward and would happily throw it and the printer through the window!!

Made the first cushion to see how to finish it properly and see how it looks. Can't see anything else out there quite like these, but maybe that's because no-one will like them! However, will try selling some of them on Etsy and see what happens.


Made the tags out of bark cloth which is lovely as it doesn't fray! But need to make the text darker and slightly larger I think.

Laid out some of the Shetland tweed offcuts for tomorrow's project!

Also had a bit of a wacky idea of how I can use this book....

And this apron... bought it for a few pounds at a secondhand shop and it is so darned cute!!!

Looking forward to starting that!

And yes, still spinning like crazy - the latest - pretty in pink!

Crazy few weeks ahead so going to make the most of the calm before the storm.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Spinning away

Actually got a few bits finished but am excited as Bryan away next week so less going on with house - though I still need to paint some woodwork EVERY morning!!

So, finished Suzies blanket, turned out better than expected so hope it is useful!

Put together the crocheted squares and getting ready to put the backing on.

Been spinning away in the evenings and trying out mixing the colours of the Shetland roving. First up come the reds!!! Actually got two skeins ready now.

Am playing around with the drum carder as carding by hand is very time consuming and created my first batt from there - bring on the Blues!!!

On the 1st, I got my May calendar page done. Need to put more leaves round top side but almost there!

And today went to the lovely lady at Sew Country near Barnstaple, whose name is Alison. The workshop is the most lovely caravan with views over Devon that are to die for. She taught me how to make a bag with oilcloth and it turned out really well. And pleased with the sewing machine which has had little or no use recently!!

Hopefully lots to blog about next week as I claim back my craft room xxx