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Creating with Slow Colour

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As one dark rainy day slips into the next here on the west coast, I find comfort in the warmth of wool and the plant dyed colours I create with.

Waiting for Motherhood

I originally became interested in plant dyes for environmental reasons. Here in the woods we are dependant on a well and septic field and I never felt quite right about dumping the chemicals used in regular dye into our beautiful land. For a while I used both chemical and natural dyes, mainly out of a lack of patience. It only takes 45 minutes, start to finish, to dye with chemicals – an excellent example of instant gratification.

With Natural Plant Dyes, it takes hours over a 3 days period to achieve the best quality of colour. There is a lot of waiting involved, each step works best if you leave nature alone to work its magic. It gives the plant time to release the full depth of its, sometimes hidden, colour. But it is well worth the wait. Over the years I have found that the process is also sensitive to my moods, the best results coming when I am centered and in tune with the flow of things.. taking a note from the Slow Food movement, plant colour is best described as Slow Colour.

It has taken me a while to be able to really articulate what is so special about this type of colour. On the surface there is the environment aspect; all the waste from the dye kitchen now feeds my happy compost heap. And the deep historical ties; most of the dye plants I use have been used for thousands of years.

While I do love the fact that each plant has its own unique story to tell, it is more than that… it is the quality of the colour itself. It goes so far beyond anything chemicals can imitate. Plant colours are profoundly complex and, above all, they are Alive! Filled with the rich living energy of the sun and the natural world!

Working with these magical colours helps me through this tricky time of year. Instead of sinking into the darker moods I used to really struggle with, I now sink myself into plant colour that simply glows with all the sunshine and energy that the plants absorbed as they grew. I feel it deeply and it keeps me connected to the beauty of the changing seasons.

I know that nature needs this time to rest in preparation for a new explosion of colour. I am just so grateful that I can have nature’s true colours right here in my studio to inspire me and help me through these dark days while I wait.

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Happy belated Valentine’s Day!

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Yesterday was such an eventful day. In addition to our family traditions, this year the weekly Handwork class lined up perfectly with Valentines Day.

The children have been working on these for the last couple of classes, in addition to their main knitting projects. And they were so excited to finish their Valentine’s gifts and take them home to their parents.

After class I was spoiled with an Italian feast, lovingly prepared by my husband. And then I was off to celebrate the launch of Lesley Fountain’s wonderful book – The Passionate Life.

This book features 22 women, myself included, living passionate lives here in the Cowichan Valley.

Being involved in this book has been such an incredible experience! I knew a number of these women prior to the creation of the book, but I have since made many new and inspiring connections. This book and these women remind me how important it is to be involved in a community. Especially one that is so full of amazing women all searching and striving for beautiful, passionate lives. It gives me such strength and courage knowing that I am not alone in my search. And that I am not crazy in what I am trying to achieve. Unless, of course, we are all just a little crazy… Perhaps we need to be.

I send a big THANK YOU out to this wonderful circle of women. Connecting with all of you is a such a gift! May your muse sing forever and alway!

Getting past my ‘First Post’ nerves.

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I decided that today was finally the day. I could hide from it no longer.

After getting the children up and off to school this morning (something that is becoming more difficult the older they get), I sat down in front of the computer. I checked for emails… Facebook…. Please let there be something urgent! Nope… It was really time… but I couldn’t even convince myself to open the blog ‘dashboard’! (That name still makes me think I should be driving somewhere.)

I have stared at this blog a few times now, wondering where to begin. It feels strangely familiar, like starting a new sketch book. That first white page stares up at you… waiting. It always seems to be asking for something important, profound. I found a way around that daunting first page. I skip it and always start on the second page. But a blog won’t let me do that…

I decide to take a breather instead.

Wrapping up warm, I head out into the cold crisp sunny day. By the time I get half way down our rather long gravel driveway, Nature begins to work her magic. My pace slows, my shoulders relax and I feel myself open to the beautiful world around me. The trees, the lush green moss and ferns… the sound of our little creek… and birds singing! Reminding me that spring is not far off!

Left at the end of our driveway, and there is the lake – calm and quiet. Sparkling in the late morning sun.

I visit the seasonal waterfall on the other side of the road then slowly walk down to say Hello to the lake.

I feel so much gratitude and joy.

Then… on the way back home I mentally sort things out.

This is one of my rituals for when I’m feeling stuck or worried about something. It helps me remember to just breathe for a moment. By the time I reach home, I usually have a plan or idea I can work with.

It worked like a charm today… I grabbed my camera and headed back out. I knew exactly what I was going to share with you today!