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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Dyes from plants

We've just returned from a bit of a research holiday around Herefordshire and Wales so it has been a long time since I posted on this blog. I'm slowly trawling through the mountains of blog fodder I gathered on this trip which included visits to many a woollen mill, a knitting design weekend and tours of various eco communities.

To start off I just wanted to post a couple of beautiful pictures of an incredibly inspiring spectrum of naturally dyed wool skeins.

We visited the National Wool Museum in Wales where these lovely little specimens were on show. They were created by the Wallis Woollen Mill, Dyfed, Wales which closed in 2002.

The plaque reads "These colours were extracted from nine different plants with the exception of the bright reds, pinks and burgundies which were obtained from the cochineal beetle. Natural dyes were in use until the middle of the nineteenth century, when synthetic dyes based on coal tar were discovered. Synthetic dyes are cheaper to use and it is easier to repeat colours more exactly but they lack the subtle harmony and gentle ageing properties of natural dyes. Recipes used in this mill in the nineteenth century are still in existence today. "

More from this fascinating museum later...

Monday, 2 May 2011

Summer Hats Hand Stitched in American Smocking

Hooray for the sun! It's properly back after what feels like a very long winter. We've had some beautiful sunny weather here in London and I've been loving the chance to wear my summer hat again. I've just put a whole bunch of new hats on my etsy shop please take a look.
I have lovingly hand stitched these vintage style hats using fabrics from my collection, mostly vintage pieces I've picked up from various places. I just love American smocking and how it makes gingham fabric look almost woven by the way it pulls together every other square of the grid.
There is a great tutorial on American Smocking here. It looks complicated but actually you can really get into a rhythm with the stitching, so although it has to be done by hand your stitches seem to fly by. Traditionally you use the grid of the gingham fabric to guide you in your stitching but you can also use non check fabric and just draw on your grid.

I've just had some lovely photographer/fashion designer friends staying who took some fantastic photos of my hats.

Here is a link to the fabulous Finnish photographer who so beautifully photographed my hats being modelled, thank you Arsi and thank you to my good friend Jaana who made a most beautiful model!
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