the leaves of summer

beautiful evening skies; it’s been a warm summer and every evening has offered new versions of familiar views.


harvest is not over yet, and some barley crops have been damaged by the remains of Bertha, the ex-hurricane that just tore through here.


but in between making pots I have done some de- and re-construction, and some dyeing


a friend gave me a very nice John Smedley New Zealand merino large mens striped sweater he had grabbed in a sale and never worn. on digging around in my drawer I found another merino sweater I had hardly worn, a soft blue grey marl women’s one from Saltwater. I cut straight down the front of the men’s sweater with my big scissors, cut front bands from the women’s sweater’s sleeves, and made buttonholes. then I used the remains of the sleeves for pockets. there was then the body of the women’s sweater left – ah – a big hood …..


with another band piece from the sleeves to bind the edges and provide a space for more buttons to control this large baggy thing on the back. into the dyebath in a bundle with field maple and dogwood leaves dipped in an iron and vinegar solution …… a great conversion and perhaps a present for my friend’s wife, who is a very very old friend of mine.


this dress I made at the back end of july, from silky merino jersey, stitched with white merino 2/30’s yarn. I sloppily pleated it and stitched the pleats through with cotton for shibori, and put it in the dyebath with the cardigan bundle and some very ancient eucalyptus leaves that had been sitting outside on the branches brought to me this winter. they don’t have much colour in them at the best of times, but I added a small bag of florists eucalyptus leaves which had gone mouldy and didn’t look very promising, and some of my usual scrap iron bits. the photo is misleading, it’s all grey and greenish


like this. the heated in pleating of the tie dye of course helps to make it a more interesting shape. it has raw edges in the trim round neck and armholes, and around the pockets … it’s a little bit wild child.


this linen and cashmere knit top had been living in a jar of vinegar and water with copper wire, but I think it might have been copper-coloured wire, as this doesn’t look like the effects of copper. it stank when I got it out, so I dyed it in a bundle with rose leaves; the smell didn’t go until it had been hanging up in the semi-open air of my kiln shed for a few weeks.


I’m very pleased with the result – just a suggestion of leaf dye, and a rather glamorous garment. the pearls were not affected at all by any of the processes.


another two cardigans have been cannibalised by my assistant Sue Harper.


one had a scarf attached with sequins knitted in, and that has become the hood, while other parts of it made the base cardie into a longer flared shape


the bundling served to pull the whole together rather than showcase the leaf printing, so it’s very subtle


some field maple leaf prints.


I have one new cashmere cardigan that I’ve dyed recently


it’s really more of a jacket than a cardigan. I used rose leaves, mainly off my banksii climbing rose,


and the dyepot had new holme oak leaves – which produce a strong purple with the scrap iron.


now I have to wait for more cardigans to arrive – hellishly slow this summer – and I have to make more dresses for the tie-dyeing ..


and so eventually I will get my indigo into a vat … and have blue paws again.


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