August Garden Colour

When I started out natural dyeing, I depended on dyestuffs that I’d foraged from my local surroundings, or else ordered online. But in the last two years I’ve become increasingly able to grow plants that will yield colour in my own garden. And this last month I’ve achieved a satisfying array of colours from plant…

Produce, Production, and Productivity

The summer months are bit of a funny time for an academic. With the respite from the demands of teaching-related duties also comes conference season and the sense that these weeks are the chance to get done the writing and research you’ve not had time for since September. But summers–especially hot, sunny summers like the…

Cuckoos and Owls

I write this while seated in my garden on a sunny late May morning. I’ve been eating my breakfast and drinking tea while watching the birds go about their business in the ash trees and holly bushes. Blue tits and great tits are darting about between the branches; magpies, rooks and woodpigeons having various minor…

Spring, finally!

Well it’s been an extremely long winter. Lennoxtown was cited as an example of snowed-in communities in the ‘red zone’ of central Scotland during the snowstorms of early March, and I had certainly never seen anything like that amount of snow in all my life. The dogs enjoyed it rather more than the hens did….

Winter Visitors

Over the last couple of days we’ve been visited by several inches of snow, which for someone who grew up on the coast of south east England is pretty exciting. The hens aren’t too impressed, however. But this blog post is titled after two other winter visitors. At the end of October, I glanced out…

Pinks & Purples from Lichen, Wood and Woad

At different times of the year there are certain visual motifs in nature that I get obsessed with trying to represent in coloured wool. In winter, the silhouettes of bare trees against the milky light of the sky; in spring, the bright yellow of daffodils; in autumn the oranges and golds of the leaves. This…

Wild and Garden Growth

Having a good-sized garden of my own for the first time has been something of an adventure. In the seven to eight months since we moved in, I have been in turns delighted, excited, terrified, bewildered and frustrated by the responsibility and opportunity of this patch of land we call our garden. There is the…

Crow: On Corvids, Myth, and Inter-Species Encounters

A couple of months ago I got a commission from my mother-in-common-law, as a gift for her sister. She asked me to make a small brooch: a crow. The specific bird was in reference to the book Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter’s cycle of poetry-come-novella in which a widower and his sons…

Daffodils

So Easter has been and gone, there are lambs in the fields, enough wild garlic growing along the river that I won’t need buy garlic bulbs for another month at least, and I’m even starting to see the odd bluebell. Bluebells are probably my favourite seasonal ubiquitous wildflower, so I’m delighted about this. But this…

The Coming of Spring

It’s been three weeks since I planned to write this post, and I kept thinking that I’d missed the boat, it would be too late to talk about my wooly celebrations of spring’s tentative arrival. (Such as these madder-dyed Martenitsa in the garden). But no. Spring’s presence still feels rather provisional, and while this was the…

Home and Epiphany

The sixth of January seems like an auspicious day to write a blog post, especially the first of the new year (and the first for many weeks). The prolonged midwinter pause was due to busyness and big changes: buying a house and moving to the countryside! In November we moved to a village at the…

Fallen Leaves of Autumn

It’s a blustery day, the trees are getting barer and the golden and red leaf carpet is getting thicker, Samhainn is approaching. I wrote a couple of posts ago about my recent obsession with knitting and felting leaves with the fibres I had dyed autumnal colours: here’s a selection of the finished products. All available…