dye | spin

Waysides Home

June 26, 2015

This post is part of a collaborative natural dye and mapping project with Annie Cholewa called Waysides: Local Colour from Our Home Grounds.

During the course of my Wayside dyeing wanderings, I realised that I had not included a dye plant that represented home. Home is the beginning of all journeys. What is the colour of home?

As these thoughts occurred during late autumn, I didn’t dwell over much on this question. The plant that frames our days at home, that overarches the bicycles on the back veranda is an Ornamental Grape, Vitus vinifera. It flames scarlet in late autumn. It is our delight and wonder. This is the plant that marks our seasons. This is where the colour of home resides.

IMG_0369I wanted that scarlet for the Waysides project. I tried solar dyeing a small amount of alum mordanted silk with some of the red leaves whilst I was finishing other dye lots. It yielded a very lovely rose.

After I had combed, spun and mordanted a batch of the English Leicester from Collingwood Children’s Farm, the yarn was immersed in a vat of red leaves. I had soaked these for a couple of weeks, very gently simmered them and the red colouring was evident in the dye water. I very gently simmered the yarn for about an hour…and made beige!


I gently simmered some more…still beige.

I left it to soak for a couple of days…still beige.

Here are the colours I made with the English Leicester 2 ply, premordanted with alum.

IMG_0796From left to right, you can see the unmodified skein, followed by the skeins modified with copper solution, iron solution, vinegar and washing soda. That last one is the stand out for me after I stopped cursing and started noticing.

Despite the complete lack of scarlet or even pink, nevertheless, these skeins are still the colour of our home. They are the colour inside our Ornamental Grape who cools us in the summer and beguiles us in the autumn.

IMG_0807These skeins represent the backyard, the view from the living room, the beginning of the school journey, the end of each weekday. The hammock swings underneath branches who have witnessed countless toy picnics, tussles, tears, play houses and dolly beds. Fallen leaves accumulate against the back door and often find their way under chairs and bookcases.


Interestingly, these colours are almost a match for the dye lot from the purple leafed Ornamental Plum. You can follow my Waysides journey here and that of Annie Cholewa, my comrade in dye-pots here.