Monday, August 20, 2012

Rags, plants, dyes, stones and strawberries!

Outdoor dyeing is great fun! Messy and unpredictable but fun all the same....last weekend we were invited along to the annual Steam and Craft Fair at The Museum of East Anglian Life! I chatted up one of the volunteers and was given a bouquet containing Golden Rod and rhubarb leaves from the walled garden behind the newly restored Abbots Hall which has recently opened as a museum with fascinating exhibitions documenting rural life in this region!
 Purple feathery reed heads are in flower right now and give a stunning pistachio green colour and instead of the usual alum mordant we decided it would be good to use rhubarb leaves! Containing loads of oxalic acid the leaves (which are very toxic) make a useful mordant for the natural dyer.

While we were playing with plants a wonderful lady called Zoe visited the tent and showed us what she had made with the brilliant Hullaballoo from Colinette yarns that she had purchased on a recent visit to HH HQ...
Earrings that are miniature skeins of yarn!
AND a matching necklace.....superb! She felt that it was by far the best way to display the amazing colours of the hand dyed yarn! But Zoe also had another reason for visiting the tent, she was keen to watch some indigo dyeing! As a keen knitter, spinner, weaver and dyer she already knew how magical the process was and helped me as I managed to follow the instructions and tried to make it look like I knew what I was doing....
Fantastic colour!
Over dyeing the silk scarf dyed with Golden Rod gave us this fantastic green!
Some Gedgrave Flock Wensleydale fleece for felting...or mermaid's hair! Dyeing fleece always makes me think of felting rather than spinning (I'm not a very good spinner!) and I always get excited when Rachel holds workshops at HH HQ as she is so enthusiastic and reassuring. Her felted bag workshop is next Saturday (25th August) at 11 - 5 and it's sure to be a lovely one as they are all making this tub shaped bag!
The other workshops that have proved popular have been the natural dyeing ones! The last Madder, Mordants and Purple Feathery Reed Heeds one was so much fun and has led to a rise in demand for old, large pans and an interest in plants and the colours they give us, Lyn and I have been experimenting with lichens and marigolds...so pretty!
The next dyeing workshops are Thursday 30th August 6 - 9 pm and we are doing a range of colours including my new favourite indigo! There's a Woad party on Saturday 8th August at 1.30 - 5.30 - "dyeing with woad is magical" - Peg the Dyer.
Another traditional craft that has become popular once more of late is making rag rugs. Making something from nothing it's the ultimate in thrifty crafting and last Saturday's workshop was amazing! Using simple shapes as a guide and fueled by tea, cake and enthusiasm there was an awful lot of hooking going on!
Helen's...
Jackie's....
Julie's...
Penny's.....
and mine! Excuse the blurry pic....I love it and have been planning a mini rag rug brooch for ages! We all had a great time and making rag rugs means that you look at fabrics in a completely different way...
Another lovely afternoon was when one of my knitters came along to make lined tote bags with boxed bottoms and brought her two very talented daughters along too. We all fell in love with Emily's colour combo of choc/lime and found that the new bright webbing tape that has just landed in the shop (adding to website very soon - promise!) worked perfectly making the handles super strong! Emily's sister Hannah also made a bag but I couldn't catch her with the camera so when she comes in again I will make her show off her rather gorgeous pink number and get a pic!
I've been very impressed with the sewing skills of some younger crafters recently and these strawberry pin cushions are a lovely quick make. We've made quite a few just lately and the next workshop for these is on Saturday 25th August 2 - 5 and there are some gorgeous fabrics to choose from and our ever so fragrant dried lavender from Provence to stuff them with...!
Rocks with Frocks and felt...hmmmm! I can't stop myself making these pretty crochet covered stones inspired by Margaret Ooman but my new found love of dyeing and felt has led to yet another craft I can't wait to try out....I asked advice on twitter about the identity of a plant growing all over the allotment right now that I had a hunch we could dye with and this led to lots of really helpful advice! One of the answers came from a dyer and felter called Lisa www.lilfishstudios.com @lilfishstudios who felts over stones! So after the next Rocks with Frocks crochet workshop on this Thursday 23rd August 6 - 9 and inspired by the brilliant colours of the new felt packs in the shop I will be having a go at making some and I cannot wait!                                                                       
Workshops can be booked in person at HH HQ, by email (follow the link from www.halfpennyhome.co.uk) or over the phone. Payment can be made in cash, by cheque, card or Paypal. Look forward to seeing you soon, Nic x

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