Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Botanical textile dyeing with Australian native plants workshops

I'm excited to announce that I have two upcoming botanical textile dyeing workshops and that bookings are now open for both of them.

The first workshop is at Guild of Objects in North Melbourne on Saturday 19 December from 10am to 4pm. This shop/workshop space is one of my favourite new Melbourne spaces (featuring the work of some very talented Melbourne artisans), and if you haven't checked it out yet you are in for a treat (the shop will be open on the day of the workshop, too).

The second is at A Common Place in Lauriston (near Kyneton, about an hour north west of Melbourne) on Saturday 13 February 2016 from 9am - 3pm. This space, created by Tash and Ben of A Plot in Common, brings together family, friends and community, centering on the love of food and design. It's a beautiful space that gives people the opportunity to share knowledge, skills and passions and encourages slow and thoughtful living. It's a magical place to spend the day (and there are lots of beautiful places to stay nearby if you fancy making a weekend of it).

Both of these workshop include a delicious lunch, and you will go home from both with a collection of mini skeins of merino yarn that you have dyed yourself with foraged Australian native plants to use for weaving, knitting or crochet projects (for you or a Christmas gift, perhaps?), and detailed notes and all the skills you need to go home and start dyeing with plants from your garden and new or vintage yarns and fabrics.

These workshops are small, as I want you all to get lots of time working in your dyepot and give you one on one guidance as you need it. So if you are interested in spending the day dyeing with with me, don't delay booking too long.

Book in to the A Common Place workshop in Lauriston on Saturday 5 December here.
Book in to the Guild of Objects workshop in North Melbourne on Saturday 19 December here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

New Eco Weaving Kit: Australian Wildflowers

I've made a new Eco Weaving Kit in a new limited edition colourway, and it's now available in my online store. This new colourway, Australian Wildflowers is inspired by the colours of the wildflowers that are now in bloom here in Australia. 

This 14 piece kit includes: 

1 x Handmade 40 x 30 cm (16 x 12") FSC certified sustainable Australian wood weaving frame loom. 
1 x Yarn pack of 8 botanical dyed and undyed Australian merino wool yarns and fibres, naturally hand dyed in colour schemes inspired by the Australian natural landscape. 
1 x Handmade Australian wood tapestry needle. 
1 x Beginner's weaving guide (with full colour, step-by-step images, weaving terminology, troubleshooting and tips) by Belinda Evans. 
1 x Handmade cotton tote bag. 
1 x Eucalyptus hardwood rod (PEFC certified sustainable) to hang your tapestry wall hanging. 
1 x Cotton warping thread

The beginner's weaving guide now also focuses on freeform weaving techniques and how to use unspun fibres to create texture; these are the techniques that I use most of the time and there doesn't seem to be a lot of information out there on these techniques. It also includes instructions on more structured, geometric shapes so you can really weave anything you like with this guide.

You can also purchase the yarn separately from the kit in a yarn pack, for those of you who already have a loom. 

Colourful pastel tones are not usually my favourite, but after achieving so many beautiful earthy and neutral colours (all of which I love), I felt that it was time to discover it is possible to create the pastel tones that I rarely see people achieving with botanical dyes. 

I'm excited about these beautiful colours, so I have decided to share which plants have resulted in these colours. It turns out that it isn't simple to get achieve these paler pastel colours, and that the best way to do it is to layer the colours. This is very time consuming and means that there are more places for things to go wrong, but I think the results are totally worth it!

I've already started working on the next batch of colours for a summer colourway! If you want to be the first to find out when these are available, sign up for my mailing list

Monday, August 10, 2015

Botanical dyeing with organic cotton

I've been doing some experimenting with botanical dyeing with organic cotton. I haven't yet achieved a colour that I don't adore. I have a suspicion that nature only knows how to create colours that are easy to love.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Plant-related objects that have recently come into my life (that I love)

The Beauty of Australian Wildflowers by Norman Sparnon
This fantastic 1967 book was a gift from my lovely friend (and fellow plant lover) Em. I spotted it while Em and I were poking around at Waverly Antique Bazaar, where there are always treasures to be found. The idea of taking these wild, accessible and often unpredictably shaped Australian wildflowers and carefully arranging them, with respect to their natural colour and form, using the gentle, thoughtful art of ikebana is so appealing to me. This book is truly an Australian treasure.

RAW Peppermint and Coconut Chocolate
I've featured another RAW Chocolate flavour in this series before and I'm featuring it again because it's DELICIOUS - and because Casey has just released a new flavour that will soon be available on her website and in stores: peppermint and coconut. After much consideration and taste testing, I think that this is my favourite of all of her flavours. It reminds me of being allowed to have one of my parent's special after dinner mints as a child, if I was well behaved at dinner.

Plant-dyed hand-spun silk yarn by Myf Walker
I feel very honoured to be the recipient of three skeins of silk yarn that Myf Walker hand dyed with golden rod, tansy, tagettes, rose, madder, sumac and native Australian indigo from her garden and then hand spun into this delicate yarn. I've had it for a while now and it is so special that I am reluctant to use it. I'm keeping it aside for a very special project that is yet to be determined. Myf has just created some beautiful, limited edition necklaces using her plant-dyed silk, hand made ceramic beads and hammered copper and silver, and they're now in her online store.

Bondi Wash Tasmanian Pepper and Lavender soap bar
I have a really simple daily beauty/hygiene routine that involves plant-based soap, shampoo and moisturiser. I don't spend a lot of time and effort getting ready (too busy living), but I do like to use a few beautiful, high quality products with all natural ingredients. I've been using Bondi Wash products for the last few months and they are really quite lovely, feature heavenly smelling native Australian botanical ingredients (including Tasmanian Pepper, Wattleseed, Macadamia, Lemon Tea Tree,  Sydney Peppermint Eucalyptus and Paperbark oils) and leave my skin feeling clean and soft.

Homemade chai tea
I was recently gifted a little jar of chai tea spices by someone whom I do regular volunteer work with. As we were digging away in the garden of the community farm that we both volunteer at, I mentioned how much I love chai tea. As we finished up our vegetable planting at the end of the following week, she handed me a little jar of her prized homemade chai spices and gave me brewing instructions. I've been enjoying it with friends ever since. There's something extra delicious about food that has been made with loving intentions and received as a gift, I think.

Wild Tassie Tasmanian Kelp
I am one of those people that likes to eat exceptionally thoughtfully, but I am also a very lazy cook. I like to prepare food that tastes delicious and is really healthy but it cannot be hard work. I know it sounds like a lot to ask - super healthy and delicious food that isn't hard to prepare, but I have managed to find it. The secret is having really amazing ingredients that are bursting with flavour and nutrients that will do all of the hard work for you. This organic Tasmanian kelp is one such ingredient, and I've been using it in pretty much ever savoury dish that I've prepared over the last few months.

Australian seed pods
I recently went on a road trip east through Gippsland and across to Wilsons Promontory National Park. As with all of my road trips, this one involved regular stops to collect flowers, leaves and seed pods from the roadside along the way. These are some of my favourites from this trip. It gives me such pleasure every day to surround myself with little memoirs of my journeys around Australia.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Winter wildflowers

I've been collecting wildflowers to brighten up these cold, grey winter days. I found all of these flowers within two streets of my home. I love that I never have to look far to find beauty. 

Craft and connection

(Image: Felicia Semple)

I recently wrote an article for The Planthunter on my experiences with craft and how it has enabled me to connect with other people when the weather doesn’t lend itself to outdoor pursuits. I discovered how satisfying (and healthy) connecting with others and avoiding spending all winter alone on the couch with my loom can really be at The Craft Sessions last year. Read more about it over at The Planthunter.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Making time for beauty

No matter how busy my day is, I always make time for beauty. The imperfect beauty of the natural world surrounds me every day, and whether I'm in the city or out in the country, I always make time to immerse myself in it. Even if just for a few minutes, these experiences rejuvenate and inspire me as I go about my day. The smell of a fallen eucalyptus leaf in my hand, the sight of a bug crawling up a fence post, the sound of grevillea pods crunching underfoot; all of these things remind me of what a gift being alive is.

This is the current state of my ever growing wall of perfectly imperfect flora that I've found while on my way, a reminder of that beauty that is so easy to forget as we go about our day.