Saturday, May 30, 2009


I've been putting off writing more about the Landskins workshop. When something is significant, it feels important to get it right. I realise I have no way to translate the ENERGY we collectively created into words.

How I've been dreaming of Colours! Soft, gentle, living colours all through the night in my dreams, for night after night.

We stitch and sample, felt and dye. Years fall off everybody, we turn into excited girls, feverishly creating something still unknown.

It is then the Earth starts to whisper through our work. In the hues unwrapped, in the wool and silk, we let Nature do its magic.
We marinate our work in the delicious juice we boil out of plants, let leaves make a mark on the weave. We invite pieces of metal to give things another twist.

What we have to show in the end of the day is not the big thing, it is the possibilities that have suddenly dawned on us.

Thank you India for sharing your magic.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Landskins workshop with India Flint, Day 1.

I'm not alone! It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to be in a room with fifteen others who are equally crazy about fibre and colour. What a gathering of knowledge and inspiration! I'm open to all things new and exciting, quite outside my comfort zone, expecting to learn new skills and experiment.

These bundles are the boiled results of our "Windfall walk". With a strip of undyed silk we wondered out to the beautiful autumn garden of the Fairfield House. The idea was to walk a predetermined distance - I was humming an Alison Krauss song - then stop and pick up some plant material,
wind it with the silk around a stick, walk some more and stop for another discovery. Don't search: the Universe will provide! The parcels got tied with wool or silk yarn before putting into a pot of hot water for an hour or two.

Many people have tried to put me off plant dyeing. The colours won't last! usually being the reason. And I so love the whole rainbow of hues. Could it be achievable through plant dyes alone?

The bright orange came from a lichen.

After the first day's effort I'm enthused. India's style of plant dyeing seems simple and fun. I could do this at home, even with kids around, since there are no chemicals involved. Toxic materials could still be an issue: many plants are poisonous, so it takes a bit of research to be safe.

Consider this. There are nine variables that affect the end result of plant dyeing: Plant used, season of harvest, water, pot, cloth, temperature, time, mordant and method. It certainly would take many lifetimes to master the possibilities available. So - let's get to work!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

getting sorted

Yesterday I got out all my coloured wool: some of it had been abandoned in the far corner of the wardrobe for some time. My 3 year old loved helping me to sort everything into a big colour wheel on the floor.

Later we walked part way up to the Centre of New Zealand, collecting acorns, berries, fallen branches with hard sharp leaves and pieces of bark. I hope they will come handy in a couple of weeks, when I get to escape the family, and spend three days felting, dyeing and stitching in a workshop called "Landskins,
camouflage wraps for wilderness wanderers".

The bush had a mat of fallen leaves, the recent autumn storms have stripped some of the trees bare. We are heading towards winter, but I feel the opposite, like waking up from hibernation.

The Weaving Waters of Life

We woke up after a cold night in Otira Hotel. The morning was sunny, the valley filled with birdsong. We drove back a few kilometres to Arthur's Pass, turned left after the big tree. Two walks started from there, I was drawn to the Devil's Punchbowl Falls. The track started uphill with sections of steps, so I had to carry my daughter in a frontpack.

The walk was just the kind I had longed for on our road trip. Every step was a step to another dimension, to a feeling of oneness with our planet. The water rushing down the mountainside connected me to the bloodstream of the living Earth.

By the beautiful waterfall I read the story of Hinekakai, a famous weaver. The falls were named after her. To Ngai Tahu, these long intertwining threads of white water resemble the threads of dressed flax - whitau or muka - used to weave fine garments and mats.

Just like the water in the stream runs down to the ocean, making it part of the body of water surrounding the whole planet, my creating connects me to this organism, letting the life essence flow through me, making me a strand in the weave. I am part of the creation; I am a creator. This is my purpose.