This piece has been an ongoing work for a few years now.. a preloved and deconstructed cotton and silk wrap which I dyed one summer in woad, the colour of the sky, and have spent many hours embroidering with French knots along the seams. Knots felt between my fingers – tiny nuggets of thread – thoughts, like prayer beads. The jars of dried flowers hold their scent. Some petals are solar dyed, some are still waiting, this year woad grew and flowered in the soil of my garden. Making the knots feels like steps on a walk, and I always stop by the door to greet the calendula – my power flowers
When walking there are always treasures to collect – a lifetime’s habit
Sometimes laid together on tables, ledges, spaces – little assemblages
I found some old family crochet hooks that handle fine thread sensitively. The sewing cottons were gifted by a friend when her mother died – beautiful soft thread, and the red caught my attention as well as a rust coloured reel. Red thread has so many connotations linking in different ways across culture, history – I am researching deeper into that.
Crocheted red and rust flowers, a linked chain, rosebuds dried from last year’s walks, feathers, natural finds that come home cradled in my hands. Then some experiments in ‘handwork’ that take some fluency and practise – intricate – easy to feel all fingers and thumbs!
Seems like a time to show some natural dye work as summer ends and autumn walks are highlighted with the pops of colour from berries, the ripening seeds, and the first glimpses of turning colour on trees. I tend to make dye baths in the spring and summer times, often starting with dandelion solar jars.
This year I just couldn’t take a buddleia in bloom as I felt the bees and butterflies and all pollinators needed every blossom. Golden rod I simply stood watching as it was such an attraction. And now the pink sedums and the ivy flowers are teeming with bees – the ivy sounds alive with vibration. A few buddleia blooms, with their colour fading, came down with a wall repair in the garden, and I collected some more whose flowers were spent. They yielded the richest colour and a sweet heady scent
This dye bath was warmed just to simmering point and then left to cool overnight
Out to dry in the breeze and even when dry it retains the scent in it’s folds
Linen scraps pieced together – dyed from the exhaust buddleia bath and some more dyed with tea. Pieces and patches of experiments which have led me to take out the bag of little offcuts from the quilt work I am making as part of an exhibition next year. It is the process of these small and often unexpected explorations that I enjoy so much.
I made a field recording of chattering sparrows in the hedge this week and looked at a sky where the last pictures I took of swallows and house martins were 10 days ago now and I wish them safe migration
The equinox is this coming week
I feel my energy change as the season turns. It is a welcome revived feeling. Time to start to collect seeds and fruits, and there are rich colours in the garden from rudbeckia, dahlia, rosehips. No more picking of our sweet peas – the scent of the flowers fills the air still as I watch for seeds to form
A meadow walk with soft colours and textures
I saw a wonderful image on the internet of a collection of bees sleeping in one of these nest like structures which are turning to seed
And the colours of the toadflax appeared overnight in a field nearby – the folk name says ‘butter and eggs’
the scent of the buddleia flowers lasts beyond the dye pot and is infused into the cloth from a year or more ago…. as I take out cloth for quilting the fragrance drifts up to meet me
This year I had not the heart to take a single flower when the insects have been out – our summer has been so wet recently, so inclement for them that when they emerge they need every tiny flower head. Luckily for me though, the dye from the spent flowers is just as strong in my experience, and so it is then I shall bring out the dye pot
Butterfly colours …
The summer season is changing – the sense has shifted, the air, the feel
Bleached grasses, grey cloud, a fresher breeze – berries ripening on elder, rose, sloe and blackberry and seeds ready to take flight
The meadows where we walk are changing. As some flowers and grasses die back new ones emerge. Seeds are ripening and dispersing. It is a mix of colours – many pops of pinks, some purples / mauves as well as dusty yellows and neutral sandy beiges
The blackberry flowers are out, but the wind meant capturing a blurred image. It made me think how often images are blurred when walking. Insects move so fast my eyes catch a hazy impression which makes identifying species tricky! I could have waited for the wind to pause, but this is what my eyes see of the blackberry flowers
More butterflies now in the meadows and garden, and bees of all kinds in the lavender and teasels
Working on 2 quilts – 2 more in my mind. Field recordings, natural finds, a dye pot in the making.
It has been wet this summer and the insects not as plentiful as usual so it was a delight to see this yesterday!
Yarrows in the hedgerows, the field and the bottom of the garden
The honey scent of lady’s bedstraw which appeared as if overnight in the garden. The second year of not mowing and encouraging beautiful signs of regeneration.
This – the excitement of walking down to the apple trees and under the copper beech discovering this – common spotted orchid. There are pyramid orchids in the meadows around us and more of these. It feels so hopeful.
Evening primroses – emerging and unfurling in the late afternoon for a single night
In the evenings I walk in the garden and they glow lemon yellow in the dusk
This scent too reminds me of my mother, of long midsummers and falling asleep when there is still light…
The birds love the seeds later on, and meanwhile these delicate beauties attract moths at night, bees by day
I love too how the fading flowers turn to a burnt orange red the next day
7 flowers for summer solstice
I love the rituals associated with both winter and summer solstice. We make some of our own in my family and we follow some traditions. This week the first sweet pea flowered in the garden, the scent reminding me of mothers and grandmothers…
Some so fragile they last only a day and are so precious for that quality alone, I make sure to pause – and hard to capture as their petals flicker delicately in the breeze..
Others captivating and attracting the bees from afar…
Red oriental poppies as large as a dinner plate this year..
and standing tall in the grasses where they self seeded… I can hear the noise of bees humming inside them …
The garden is singing with these yellow ones and they choose the margins, the nooks and crannies, the edges – unfurling crinkly petals…
And suddenly up pops a ragged beauty whose petals begin to drift …