Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting

Summertime Dyeing, Part 2

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In Vermont, it is still hot. Too hot. I never thought I’d say that, but maybe after all of these years, the longing for the change into winter has evolved and grown. I’m catching up now, with projects begun in the early summer and late summer months, so that I might get some things in order to prepare for the coming autumn. I have a lot to make for the Women’s Festival of Crafts at the end of November, and there are new things I want to try. I would love to attempt weaving again, and I would love to try to knit something a little bit complicated, with color pick-ups, maybe, where gauge matters. I do worry a bit about getting frustrated or feeling defeated, but I think that’s exactly why I should try these things. If I want to make it, I gotta learn how to do it!

Anyway, before I wrap things up for the summer months in this blog, I wanted to document and share with you more about my plant dye experiments with wool. And I guess, writing a post that includes a “Part 1” in the title suggests that more is coming on the topic, right? Well, here’s Part 2.

In June, I was gripped by the pull of flowers, trees and all things planty. I longed to see what came of what was all around me in my yard. Here is a part of my dye journal: 

“I am at a stage of dyeing wool where experimentation and flexibility are key. The mystery is so much fun, but I know that around the corner is more discipline and study. This morning as my children played with a friend, I wandered around our wet yard and gathered purple clover and buttercup flowers. I filled a small basket my mom gave me; purple on one side, yellow on the other. My daughter occasionally ran to me with small bundles of flowers. I saw little grasshoppers and butterflies and I breathed and felt the air and heard the laughter. I was aware at one point of my own hastiness and then remembered there was no reason to rush or to apply urgency to this job. Urgency is everywhere. I carry it on my shoulders like a silent, heavy monkey. Once I realized my company, I uninvited it with each little pick and pinch of the lovely weeds. I could feel my belly relax and gratitude enter.”

 What I did:

~ Buttercups with a few evening primrose flowers thrown in, plus stems from both. Mordant- alum.

~ Purple Clover, flowers and stems. Mordant- alum.

What I got:

It’s not especially easy to see, but trust me when I tell you that the buttercups made a lovely, light yellow, and the clovers made a very light brown. I was delighted with the outcome! 

Around this same time, I did an experiment with horsetail. With this, I just poured almost boiling water over a lot of horsetail in a pot and let it sit in my garage for a few days. It was the boiling of that in my house that resulted in my moving my whole operation out into the garage. It sure did smell bad. Real bad. I didn’t admit it then in the face of the rebellion on my hands, but it did. I’m sure the soaking weed worked up a bit of gunk in those few days. The results though, were lovely! I got another nice golden yellow with a brown hue.

I’m sure by now, if you’ve read my other posts, you’ve noticed a theme. I seem to keep coming back to the idea of slowing things down. Way down. Maybe some of you are not afflicted by the sense of busy-ness, rushed-ness and too much of everything-ness always shaping a day, but I find those feelings or experiences of life impact even the most peaceful of days if I’m not careful. It’s sort of an automatic way of thinking and behaving. I think the act of going outside, collecting flowers or plants to dye with, when you don’t exactly know what the results are going to be, is an ultimate exercise in combatting that daily life habit. 


Author: healinghandcrafting

I am a psychologist and a fiber enthusiast. I have a deep interest in the healing effects of handcrafting, and its place in our common histories.

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