Saturday Night Painting – work in progress



Collecting Dye Stuff

Yesterday we collected bits for dyeing from our garden. Arbutus bark, fallen eucalyptus leaves and dead headed marigolds. Perhaps the makings for an eco dyed scarf or a “stuff and store” if the recycle depot has a good jar.

Knit Beach – fibre art

"Knit Beach"8"x10" Naturally dyed cotton and wool embellished with glass beads.

“Knit Beach”
Naturally dyed cotton and wool embellished with glass beads.

This is a quirky little piece that I just finished this evening. It is quirky in the way that it came to be.

I had been dyeing some silk for another project and was using arbutus bark and blackberries as the dyeing material. I have a tendency to throw a few bits of this and that into the pots when dyeing just to see what happens. On this particular occasion I tossed  a bit of wool yarn into each dye pot and thought I would knit up the yarn at some point down the road if the dyeing was successful. The colors of the wool were very nice and the yarn sat on my desk. When I dye yarn I loop it into a big circle and tie it loosely in a few places just to keep it from being a huge goopy spaghetti-like mess while in the dye pot.

One day I decided I should at least roll this yarn into balls so I untied the pieces of yarn holding the yarn in the loop, rolled the balls, put them away, but left the loose strands hanging out on my desk, or more specifically my mouse pad. For a few days my mouse and these strands fought for position. A sane person would have just tossed them, but no, there they sat. One day while working on my computer I thought, lets see what these scraps could do (I had yet to knit up the main yarn), so I rolled up the main pieces but tossed a few scraggly scraps into the bin thinking I was tidying my desk. I start knitting away and all looks good. I break off to make my littlest two children good old Kraft Dinner for lunch. They are eating away. I am knitting away. The littles finish up, I clear the table, scrape the plates into the bin, hose down the kids (not really but it would be way faster than the washcloth routine), sit down and knit………and then I realized I needed those little scraggly pieces to knit into the piece. I did what anyone would do (well actually no one in their right mind…but anyway), I went to hunt for the scraggly pieces in the bin. Yes I dug past the half eaten cold mac and cheese and found the scraggly bits all safe and sound there in my garbage bin.

Whew! I had the pieces I needed. (And yes, I did wash them before knitting them up!)

Now most people are now saying “Why did you so desperately need the scraggly bits?”, so I’ll tell you a little about my inspiration for this piece. The original dye project was actually an eco-dyeing project that I started while out on Pender Island. It consisted of a bundled piece dyed with blackberries collected in the Trincomali neighborhood and arbutus bark collected under the massive arbutus tree at Medicine Beach. The dye pot at home was just to dye some silk¬†thread to complement the project. As I knit I thought about the origins of the dyestuff and the beach where the bark had been collected, and so I decided to knit a beach. The scraggly bits, that I so desperately wanted, are the islands in the piece. I also decided that I would make the beach using only the remnant scraps plus plain un-dyed yarn; it was interesting to challenge myself to a limited amount of material. I also added a few glass beads to embellish the piece as there is always a little glimmer and reflection on the beach and around the water. The knit part of the piece is mounted on cotton dyed with arbutus bark after being tied for patterning.

I am quite pleased with the end result. I like that this was not a planned piece. I love that the dyeing materials come from a place that means something to me. When I see the brown of the beach, it is not brown, it is the huge tree by the side of the sea shedding it’s bark.