Autumn Goddess Moon done!

A celebration of fecundity and the feminine, this indigo moon bears the rune “Jera”, a symbol of harvest, and meaning “Peace on the land, peace in the heart”.

Hand embroidered in cotton, silk and wool threads, naturally dyed with oak, osage, privet, walnut, madder, pomegranate, cochineal, indigo and sandalwood, on an ecoprinted and indigo dipped cotton, background madder and indigo on cotton. Some metallic threads are also featured, because even natural likes a bit of bling once in awhile!

Available in the shop!Β Β  SOLD

Moon number 12, almost done!

(Although, if i count the two Rabbit Moons, this one is number 14!)

Again, all natural dyes, threads and fabric, except for that teeeeeny bit of coppery glitz on the “stars”, a gift from Karin. Even naturals like a bit of bling once in awhile πŸ™‚

I figure about another 4-6 hours, and “Harvest Goddess Moon” will be done.

pocketing the difference

A happy start on the first pocket. To see how it’s progressing, scroll down!!!

Ahhhh, the different shades of madder! These are all cotton, and reasoning that pockets should be strong and capacious, i chose not to add silk to this, though i suppose with the method of construction, it would have been supported by the interlining. (The yellow “anchoring” machine stitch will be removed.)

The threads are silk, and wool. (The greens are from privet berries, on silk.) Because this, as i mentioned before, will have to be hand washed due to natural dye Ph sensitivity, i’m not being shy about using different fibre types together.

(Colours are truer in first photo–another reason i *usually* shoot in my sunny south facing studio between 2 and 4 PM, rather than the AM, like today πŸ™‚ )

The figures looked kind of floaty, so i added a curve below, a cupping earth if you will, and my favourite hexes/honeycombs/cells. And beads are coming, because, well, beads, and for awhile now i have wanted to add a bit of bling with naturals πŸ™‚

I thought this was still kind of flat looking, so dimensional roses will added at the edges, another motif i can carry across the whole garment.

At first i thought i would do my usual embroidered, then appliqued pieces above, (maybe too much dimension for this???) but stumbled across this from 2012:

Never finished, but certainly an inspiration for this project! I do have some chunkier wool to dye, along with some already done, so maybe i will have enough.

There’s a finely worked narrow band of antique laceΒ  and a chunk of vintage as well, and i’m hoping i can integrate those as well.

I don’t want anything saccharine sweet, but it might work. I’m going to have to add a solid band across the top also, as i forgot that gathering it a bit is going to distort the figures! The second pocket will be similar, but not identical–nothing says they have to match.


a natural moon

I’ve been slowly (and not so diligently, as other pursuits in the studio have “interfered”) working on this indigo moon, using my newly dyed naturally dyed threads. This is a lesson in itself, as the indigo i’m working on is strong enough to overshadow certain colours, necessitating some more neutral backgrounds for future plans/use.


The moon is worked with cotton, silk, silk/wool blend and wool threads in cochineal, osage, logwood, and privet berries, with the brown of the seeds coming from potassium permanganate (actually an inorganic compound). I found a walnut bath i had stored several years ago, when i was setting up in the basement, and shall test to see if it’s still “live”, for some of my browns in future, though i do love all the permutations the PP gave on the skein of cotton. On the background surround, in cotton, silk, wool and silk/wool, the colours i used are privet berry, cochineal, brazilwood, rhubarb root, hollyhock (and that’s where the “oh-oh” happened, as some of the colours are so soft, they are barely discernible), osage, logwood, and sandalwood. Using pre-mordanting (VERY important), and post modifying methods, changes the colours to a wide range. (Ha, just realized i used none of the wonderful madder results!)

I have two other moons still in the finishing stages, and hope to get them done soon too! All will be in the shop.



a new moon

This one is particularly satisfying–99% natural dyes!

The first section is osage and cochineal on cotton,

centre section is privet berries on silk and potassium permanganate on cotton (technically an inorganic chemical dye…)

and third section is three flavours of cochineal and logwood on wool, silk, and silk/wool blend, all on a background of indigo on cotton. (And yes, i am fully aware there are natural substances for browns, but i happen to like the permutations of “potperm”, and i have none of the naturals at the moment.)

And i just realized, that as usual my photos are mislabelled…….left and right always confuse me………..these are portrayed in the correct order above, but the orientation in the file name is reversed!

I have only to add a few more milkweed seeds to the centre, and then i can finish the whole.




Apparently i have scared a few people with the potassium permanganate. It’s as “safe” as using any other dye, WHEN you follow the protocols! (Would you drink or bathe in Procion??? Or even indigo???????) People also assume that “natural” immediately classifies as safe, and that’s not true either. Yes, PP is corrosive, so wear gloves—-i don’t stick my bare hands in ANY dye pot, mordant or assistant, i wear protective gear when mixing. PP is inert on the fibres: it is not going to explode or spontaneously combust, UNLESS you let ALL the liquid in the bath evaporate and then store it improperly. PP is poisonous–guess what? So are pokeweed, privet berries, rhubarb leaves can be problematic with all the oxalic acid, and logwood is potentially deadly. I also NEVER stick my nose over a pot and inhale deeply while exclaiming how earthgoddessywonderful it is, or blithely swish my unprotected hands through a conventional indigo vat, or even a 123 vat (there’s lime in there, right? and i’m not talking about the fruit.) Common sense people, common sense. We *don’t* know cumulative effects for most of these substances, because when they were in common use, nobody was doing studies about it, were they? Who wants to die from dyeing?

winter dye adventures, part 3, weird science

Well, mixed results! Surprising results. Chemistry is very obviously at play here, in the purest sense of the word. Playing with me: blues and purples from the privet berries showing in the pot, dark greys and deep greens when they come out and are still wet, drying to shades of celadon, ghosted sea blue, odd mixes with tansy and madder (all on silk hab), wonderful jades in the threads (silk and wool), brilliant with soda ash modifier. Iron didn’t do much at all, not saddening or shifting shade deeper.

Leaves and stalks(twigs/fine branches) hardly worth it, a really pale yellow on the threads,which surprised me, because they are usually the more reliable dye source.Β  I threw those into the berry pot too, as they are so wishy-washy as to be pointless.

Berries? Sort of a greeny grey green, like faded Celadon (?). ImPOSSible to photograph, so here, like this:



Updated as i write this post: my expensive DSLR camera could not capture the colours, no matter what i did in terms of lighting conditions, but the cheap camera on the cellphone worked. More weird science, go figure.


BUT, will they be lightfast?

Regardless of all this, i probably won’t be dyeing with privet again. It’s toxic, it’s expensive and it has to be imported, even if the importing is from BC πŸ™‚ Still, it was a nice little interlude, and learning experience in the wintery season of Calgary! And after a couple of weeks, if they don’t fade, they will be added to the thread and scrap arsenal.

Now back to the monumental stitching.

winter dye adventures, part 2

The big question of course is, are these lightfast? Some one said no, but Ethel says yes πŸ™‚ Old dye books sometimes have erroneous recipes and results though. And dandilion roots STILL don’t give magenta, pink or purple πŸ™‚


Most of the threads and silk chunks are still in the pot, marinating as long as possible, but i removed a few pieces to test some modifiers. (The only mordant so far has been alum.)

privet-various-mord-modsOn the two yellows left, which were from the first teeny pot, the soda ash (alkali) really brightened it, but vinegar (acid) seems to have stripped out the colour on the bottom!! The berries gave a completely different colour, something that *doesn’t* always happen. The alum mordant alone gave a lovely greyed shade, while soda ash turned it green, and vinegar changed the shade SLIGHTLY more blue (barely worth it.)


I’ll test too an iron mordant to see if it darkens, changes hue or can’t be bothered to do anything πŸ™‚

Stay tuned for part 3, sometime at the end of the week.

winter dye adventures, part 1

I always forget that i have access to plant materials that are suitable for dyeing with! Though i enjoy my DayJob, i try not to bring it home, except for the occasional orchid bloom, one gerb, some old roses, or the rare exotic specimen, but a few days ago paging through the FB dross and pearls, i chanced upon some of Morgen Bardati’s work, and lo and behold–a gorgeous deep green from privet. And privet just happens to be “seasonal” right now, though an import still, and since it readily falls apart, and one crappy scrappy stem is usually left after arranging with flowers, it behooved me to bring some home and try it.

Had to do a little research first, as i was afraid it was one of those temperamental ineedtobefresh things. Not a lot online but i did discover that it’s TOXIC, to humans AND animals. As with *all* natural dyes, i NEVER EVER NEVER assume—Β  just because it’s “natural” does NOT mean it’s SAFE. Seriously, some natural dyes are as scarey as synthetics, so don’t fall for the kitchenscrap all encompassing goodness that some sites breathily exclaim is so pure/eco-conscious/earthmagic.

So, the most i could find was boil up the leaves, chopped stems and (bruised) berries, throw in some alum, and see what happens.

Meh. Mind you, my first experiment was with a (gloved!) handful of berries and one chopped up stem/branch, so there wasn’t a lot of colour, but it did colour, and the colour was decidely green. Pale green. Again, small amount of plant material.

More research yielded up using salt–i’m guessing Glauber’s Salt, a chemical used by a lot of wool dyers. Not table salt, as again the Ensorcelled Cauldron Witches would have you believe toΒ  “set” colours, but Sodium Sulphate. Well, i don’t have any, but it *is* a chemical used in making soda ash, and that i have, so i threw a wee bit of that in.

Instant colour change. Yellowy-greeny-yellow. Standard plant colour from a million plants!!!!!!

So, it being the time of year when we are ordering a lot of stuff for Valentine’s Day, i asked for a whole bunch of it for myself to play with.

privetI added the chopped stems and leaves to the first pot and the second pot was just the berries.

No greens however, as i saw in Morgen’s photo…………

Because the first pot had soda ash in it, my threads (silk and wool) and silk scraps are yellowy.


The berry pot *looks* exciting, but i’m betting i’ll get greyed tones with a HINT of lavender, not the purple here.

privet-berries-dyebath-aΒ  These pots will sit for a couple of days at least.

Further tests will be done with different mordants and modifiers later in the week, as will light fastness tests. If i get the colours i think i’m going to end up with, i won’t use privet again. You never know though what results you will get, due to the season, where the material came from, how fresh it is and what your water does. It’s good to experiment, but not all outcomes are worth repeating, even if “successful”—as i have often mentioned, you can get yellow from so many local plants that specialty ordering is not the way to go. (The privet is not cheap, being $45 for FIVE branches–and yes i got a discount as staff so paid half of that, but still……)



There was quite a bitter exchange on one of the natural dye groups i’m in, with one ecoprinter getting all huffy saying that “Are you people mad, eco dyeing causes no harm.Listen lady there are groups that have been doing this eco dyeing for years, I suggest you research that and them and stop pulling yr hair out. ” WHAT THE FUCK???? This is exactly the mind set that reputable, safety conscious, responsible dyers get our panties in knots about. If you want to poison yourself, your dog or kids and husbands, by all means cook up that possibly toxic plant in the same pot you cook the soup in. That would be called Darwinian Karma. However, if you do the research, you’ll know what the possible dangers are.