english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe Update

Woad Seeds
Woad Seeds

I’ve written a short post for The Fold Line blog today on natural dyeing.

It reminded me that I haven’t blogged about my #naturallydyedwardrobe project lately. I have done less natural dyeing recently, it’s not as tempting in the winter – even though there are still plenty of available plant materials. However, I have dyed fabrics with indigo and madder powder, and with onion skins – blog posts to follow.

At the start of 2015, I set myself a list of natural dyes I wanted to try. I didn’t find time to try all of them, but looking back I actually blogged about quite a few natural dyes last year:

Turmeric
Paprika
Biden
Indigo
Solar dyeing with fungi and biden
Madder
Marigold
Indigo and logwood
Plus, with my guild I took part in a dyeing day, and a natural dyes exhibition.

Dyers Chamomile Seeds
Dyers Chamomile Seeds

I’m planning to continue my #naturallydyedwardrobe project during 2016. As previously, I’d like to include dyes from plants I’ve grown, materials I’ve foraged, and from store cupboard items or dye extracts which I’ve purchased.

To get started, I planted four types of dye plant seeds during May:
♥ Woad
♥ Dyers Chamomile
♥ Dyers Coreopsis
♥ Weld

Dyers Coreopsis Seeds
Dyers Coreopsis Seeds

I purchased the seeds from Wild Colours, and followed the planting instructions on their website. The seeds are currently in trays inside a growhouse, so hopefully they will be sufficiently sheltered from the intermittent cold weather we are currently experiencing in the UK.

I’m aiming to blog about my #naturallydyedwardrobe project more regularly over the course of the year, including recommendations for books, online resources and tools, and about how these little seeds progress (if at all – last year my woad plants failed to materialise).

Weld Seeds
Weld Seeds

Natural Dye Seeds

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A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe: Making a Start

#naturallydyedwardrobe Dye Garden

Me and Phil are currently on holiday in Copenhagen:) Before we left, I managed to make some progress on my #naturallydyedwardrobe.

The Bee Balm and Woad seeds that I ordered from Etsy arrived, and I’ve planted those along with the seeds I bought from a local garden centre (Bidens, Marigold, Yarrow, Teasel). They’re all planted in pots and placed inside my growhouse for protection. The weather is just starting to warm up here in the UK, so hopefully I should see some growth soon, and the beginnings of a dye plant garden.

I’ve bought a selection of yarns that I’m planning to dye in addition to dyeing fabric for dressmaking. I’m interested in seeing the different colours I achieve with cellulose (plant-based) and protein (animal-based) fibes. Phil bought be a (children’s) loom for Christmas and I’m excited to dye my own yarn and create a weaving that reflects the colours from my dye garden.

I’ve also ordered some Indigo extract from this Etsy shop in India. Indigo isn’t one of the plants I am attempting to grow and it’s going to be some time before my woad is ready (!) so I thought it would be fun to try an extract. The shop also stocks a range of natural fabrics described as perfect for dyeing, so I’ve ordered a couple of metres of fabric to dye.

Elsewhere

The latest episode of the Woolful podcast (which is always excellent) has a great interview with natural dyer Kristine Vejar.

Did you spot Portia’s brilliant tutorial for turmeric dyed ombre yarn?

There have been lots of good posts about naturally dyeing eggs for Easter. Here’s a good example from a few years ago.

I’m so impressed by this Solar Dyed Kimono by This is Moonlight; the One Year One Outfit challenge is also really inspiring.

Bee Balm Seeds

Woad Seeds

#naturallydyedwardrobe Dye Garden

#naturallydyedwardrobe Dye Garden

Wool for dyeing

TOFT Alpaca Open Day April 2015


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A Quick Trip to Biddulph Grange

This weekend we decided, at the last minute, to take a trip to Biddulph Grange, a  garden in Stoke-on-Trent owned by the National Trust. The National Trust have recreated the Victorian-era gardens of James Bateman, who developed the gardens at Biddulph Grange in order to display his collections of plants – many of which were brought to England from around the world by the famous plant hunters. The varied contents of the garden are displayed in dedicated sections, which include ‘Egypt’ and ‘China’ gardens. At this time of year the Dahlia Walk was in full bloom and the Stumpery and Pinetum  were particularly lovely.

Biddulph Grange, Stoke on Trent
Biddulph Grange, Stoke on Trent
Biddulph Grange, Stoke on Trent
Biddulph Grange, Stoke on Trent
Biddulph Grange, Stoke on Trent


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Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives

While in St Ives, me and Phil visited Barbara Hepworth’s former studio. Hepworth worked in the studio and it’s garden from 1949 until her death in 1975. It’s only a small museum as the studio itself was based in a small building, but it’s stunning – especially on a sunny day. The studio and garden contain a selection of Hepworth’s sculptures in wood, stone and bronze – with a number of the bronzes in the garden in the positions in which Hepworth placed them.

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall


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我的花园 – practicing my Mandarin

My Mandarin teacher asked the class to each try and write a few sentences every few days. I thought I might post my attempts on the blog , as a way of encouraging me to do it. Let me know if you spot any errors! As you can see these posts are necessarily going to be a bit simplistic!

今天气温的伯明翰很冷了。今天早上我的花园 有霜, 园是白色。 很漂亮可是很冷!

两个池塘在我的花园都被冻结。

走路上班我想我的帽子。

[The temperature today in Birmingham is very cold. This morning my garden was frosty and white. It was very pretty but very cold!

The two ponds in my garden were both frozen.

Walking into work, I needed my hat.]

Selly Oak Park in January
我家附近的公园


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Embroidered art by Stewart Easton & a trip to the garden centre

Most Saturdays me and Phil go shopping in Birmingham, but this week we had a bit of a change.

First we went to the MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) to watch a screening of My Neighbour Totoro. We were supposed to be getting to the MAC in plenty of time prior to the screening to view the various current art exhibitions  & have a stroll in the park where MAC is located. However, what actually happened was that we had a lie-in and ending up getting to the MAC with only enough time to grab a quick breakfast in the cafe and then dash into the screening. After Totoro we just had time to get a quick look at one of the exhibitions currently on at the MAC, Four Tragic Tales by Stewart Easton, before having to get back in the car and head to Coventry to collect some picture frames we’d had made.

A number of pieces in the Easton exhibition were embroidered, which made them particularly interesting to me. His technique is to digitally print onto fabric and then hand embroider elements of the image. It results in very professional and stylised works, and allowed him to achieve a very high level of detail in quite small pieces – which can be difficult (and certainly time consuming) through embroidery alone. I’m definitely going to give the technique a try myself.

Pictured below are two of the embroidered pieces, as well as an ink drawing from the exhibition.

Stewart Easton: Four Tragic Tales
Stewart Easton: Four Tragic Tales
Stewart Easton: Four Tragic Tales

Having travelled into Coventry to collect picture frames, me and Phil also popped to Ryton Gardens, to have a nose in the gardens and shop. I really want a wormery at the moment but was preventing from splurging on one today as they didn’t have any in stock. I think I may be best waiting until the winter is over before I buy one as I know worms aren’t too fond of the cold so won’t be composting very quickly at the moment anyway. Below are a few photos of the gardens at Ryton, mainly of features rather than plants as the gardens are inevitably a little bit bare at this time of year.
Ryton Gardens, Coventry, in January
Ryton Gardens, Coventry, in January
Ryton Gardens, Coventry, in January
Ryton Gardens, Coventry, in January
Ryton Gardens, Coventry, in January