Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Craft Sessions 2015 - a round up

This past September I taught two workshops at The Craft Sessions: Natural dyeing using Australian native plants and Weaving a wall hanging with naturally dyed yarn. It was a fantastic weekend again - the weather was perfect (especially important for natural dyeing outdoors) and the company was lovely. I made lots of new friends and caught up with old friends, we talked and laughed and ate (and again, there was a lot of knitting at the dinner table, a habit I was not familiar with before I attended The Craft Sessions in the previous year!).

Each time I go along to The Craft Sessions I feel like I take a huge leap in my personal growth. I have thought a lot about why this might be. Is it the teaching, is it being in the company of 100 or so interesting, intelligent, thoughtful women for 2.5 days, or is it the long days spent working with my hands for no reason but to work with my hands? Maybe it's all of those things. It's certainly a time of self reflection for me, both the event as well as the lead up and time afterwards. I definitely recall feeling a new kind of emotion the first time I went, and I felt it again the most recent time. I don't really have a word for this new emotion, but I think it's a new kind (or perhaps an old kind that I don't remember) of vulnerability, and even looking at these photos stirs up that emotion in a small way. Those rooms, those people, those conversations, that weaving, knitting, dyeing, sewing - they are more than just parts of a crafting retreat. They're openings to parts of me I've never been before.

Photos by Xan Holyoak from The Conscious Caterpillar and Felicia Semple from The Craft Sessions.


I've been gathering again. Not again as much as still. I never stop wanting to gather and capture the beauty that is all around me. I'm capturing it with my eyes and my camera, on my textiles and in my heart.

Winter wildflowers

A bouquet that I made this past winter from foraged winter wildflowers. I'm learning to love winter time more and more each year. 

A beautiful watercolour illustration of this bouquet by Sarah Hankinson is featured in the Santiago Sunbird 2016 calendar (and 10% of all profits from sales of this calendar go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Indigenous Literacy Foundation).  

Native Australian smudge stick making workshop for MPavilion

This summer I taught two native Australian smudge stick making workshops at MPavilion in Melbourne. It was a privilege and a joy to spend two afternoons with kindred spirits, sharing stories and making smudge sticks from the native Australian plants, herbs and flowers that I gathered from around my home. 

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 13 February 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.