Monday, December 21, 2015

a "growing" collection...

i've been meaning to write this post for many weeks now - a month or two at least, but between dark days that made picture taking impossible and a schedule that wouldn't quit, it never happened

it's almost better to be written now though, on this winter's solstice day

last summer i had my first vegetable garden

pure heavenly delight

to wander out there in the bright sunshine and pick food for our dinner was a wonderful thing... most of what i grew we ate fresh

there were a few things that were more abundant and i did freeze little bundles of swiss chard, raspberries and homemade tomato sauce, full of onions and herbs and simmered to a lovely rich thickness

i also made several batches of strawberry black pepper balsamic jam

and then i harvested little bits of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers to dye embroidery thread...

oh what great fun it was

little jam jars filled to bursting with carefully tied skeins of white embroidery thread

and here and there a snippet of silk ribbon or cloth

cotton muslin and cotton cheesecloth

they looked so pretty stacked up on the windowsill, letting the waning autumn sun work it's magic

i experimented a fair bit with this process - scouring the thread, but adding the mordant to the dye jar... sometimes adding vinegar, sometimes not

above is avocado without vinegar... pearly greyish taupe

below is onion skins - brown and red, all mixed together in one jar

then lavender, this one with vinegar

below is the thread from my first attempt, back in september

marigold, lavender, blueberry and raspberry

 a better look at the avocado

below is beetroot

a piece of old linen towel that was ratty with holes so i did fme on it
i love how it took the dye

 more lavender

marigolds again
the difference between the cotton and the silk is quite amazing - same jar, same mordant

 below is rosemary, with vinegar

they were crammed in the jars pretty tightly, left to sit in the sun for four weeks

i'm so pleased with the results and have been quite diligent in my record keeping so i'm getting a pretty idea of what worked well and what didn't

i'm writing up little cards, attaching samples, doing light and colour-fast testing

plotting and planning and reading up on all sorts of ways of doing this

i want to try processing the jars in a water bath and leave them for a couple of months to see what the difference is

i want to try different mordants, different threads, different plants

i want to try freezing the plant material first to see how that works

i want to figure out how to get all the colours, bright and dark, pale and muted

then i want to paint little cards with images of the plants and attach small twisted hanks of pretty, plant-dyed embroidery thread to each of them

and then i want to stitch the plants with the threads they made

when i titled this post "a "growing" collection", i wasn't really referring to all the threads i've been creating...

i was referring to all the things i now want to do that stem from a lovely sunny day when i took a few pretty plants, some nice white thread and a few simple jars and made something wonderful

it seems those ideas are the collection, and i am a collector of desires


Karen Ruane said...

I can sense from this post how much pleasure you are getting from your vegetable garden. The threads you have dyed are beautiful, truly delicate colours Jillayne....and like they say ''you couldn't buy it''

gracie said...

What fun you have had with all this...thank you for sharing...

FlowerLady Lorraine said...


What lovely colors!

Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas ~ FlowerLady

Marj Talbot said...

That is really great - you have much patience. The colors are wonderful and your ideas of painting little cards and stitching the's a wonderful pastime and creates your very own thread choice for special projects. I wonder what color beet root would create?? So many possibilities. Thanks for sharing your desires and successes - good read - hope you have a jolly happy Christmas and looking forward to 2016.

Rachel said...

Love the idea of this collection! Go to it and tell us all about your progress!

JennyPennyPoppy said...

What a wonderful and delightful post and so timely to read on this winter solstice day. Great looking samples of your dyed threads and ribbons. I have a bag of avocado skins in the freezer that I'm collecting for dyeing as well as a bowl of onion skins. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Tina said...

it all looks so wonderful Jillayne - I want to do this too. I still in the need to learn how.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Jillayne, this post just plain makes me happy! So many beautiful colours in your collection - and so much inspiration for making more, and creating with them too.

Deb said...

Wonderful post, you can almost feel your enthusiasm for your garden and for the dyeing process of your threads and bits of cloth. Your colors came out lovely and I imagine 2016 will include many more dyeing expeditions. Have a Wonderful Yuletide and Merry Christmas too.

Monica said...

It's absolutely stunning. All of this xoxo

Createology said...

This is such a wonderful new passion you are exploring. I am in awe of your simple, thorough and untested journey into what our ancestors did out of necessity and curiosity. Back to our roots...both plants and dyes. Bless you Jillanyne Dear for sharing your journey with us. May you spend uncounted hours exploring your new passion...