Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

Dyeing socks with dahlias


picking dahlias
Dahlias are the star of the early autumn garden those great flower heads glowing in low sunlight, the different shapes and colours making everything just a little jollier.

They are also a great dye plant they give a really nice deep green (not bright like the flower heads) which appears to be light fast.

Another advantage is that the flowers don’t need to be pristine to go into the dye pot so you can put the flowers you are deadheading to one side and simply freeze them until you have enough.I find that this feeling of productivity helps me get through the dreaded dead heading at a cheerful clip, which is never quite there when everything is headed for the compost heap.

You need

  • Pair of wool socks I use 100% alpaca bed socks in the photos
  • Mordant 10g alum per pair of socks
  • Dye material
  • Non cooking pan/sieve/tongs (pick these up from a charity shop or car boot sale and keep exclusively for dyeing if you want to dye using your normal kitchen equipment see the note at the end)

Step 1. Collect your dahlia flowers. Any dahlia flowers work for dyeing apart from white varieties Massive dinnerplate dahlias, with their millions of petals are perfect as there is so much in each one, but the smaller anenome flowered and single ones work just as well, you will simply need to collect more of them.

Step 2. Store your flowers you might want to build up your collection of flowers to make a single big pot of dye. You can either dehydrate all the flowers and store in paper bags or you can freeze them. I find that using twice the weight of flowers as you have wool works well. A pair of wool socks weighs approximately 100g, so try to get at least 200g petals together before you begin.

Step 3. Prepare your socks. Wool socks will need to be washed before you dye them. You can either wash by hand or on a wool setting in the washing machine.

Step 4. Mordant your socks. Use aluminium sulphate mordant to prepare your socks to that the dye will stick to the wool fibres. You need 10% the weight of your dry wool in mordant so for a 100g pair of socks you need 10g mordant. Dissolve the mordant in a small amount of boiling water and then add to a bowl or tub of luke warm water, stir and add the socks. Leave to soak for 24 hours

Step 5. Make the dye pot. Simmer your dahlia flowers in water for 40 minutes and leave to steep overnight. Heat up again for 20 minutes and leave to cool before straining. You want there to be enough pigment in the water that you cannot see a spoon under the water. If it is too pale add in more flowers to the pot and bring to a simmer again.

Step 6. Add socks to dye pot. Add the wet socks to the dye pot, make sure there is enough water to cover them and add more if you need to. Adding water doesn’t make the dye weaker that is dependent on the actual amount of pigment in the water, not the concentration.

Step 7. Gradually heat up the dye pot - you don't want to over heat the water and accidentally felt your socks - if you get it to a temperature where you can put your hand in, but only just, that is perfect!

Step 8. Hold that temperature in the pan for 40 minutes and then let it cool naturally. If you would like a darker colour (and remember it will dry much paler) then leave the socks to steep in the dye pot overnight.

Step 9. Rinse the socks in plain water until the water runs clear and leave to dry naturally.

Step 10. When they are completely dry put them somewhere dark to cure for a couple of weeks, this lets the dye settle into the fibres really well so it won't wash out.

Step 11. Wash with an eco detergent, dry, press and, if they are a gift, make them a wrap by cutting an A4 piece of paper in half lengthwise and decorating it.

Comments: 0 (Add)

Snapdragon social

The sun room table, an old enamel basin, hazel twigs and pure glamour from green tinged white trumpets.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I looked up yesterday lunchtime and the garden was full of sunshine. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
There are a few places in the (very messy) house where keeping a bit of negative space, clear surfaces, a sense of breathing out pays off.  This white table is one of them.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I took this on Sunday, disappointingly it is currently cluttered up with things (a nest, two candles, a box of matches, some receipts) to take down to the Studio.
Over the past year I have become increasingly uncomfortable about how we talk about the seasons to the point that I feel I need to say something.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I'm particularly uncomfortable about how we talk about using the seasons as a life guide.  I can understand why this has happened - it is great, easily understood marketing, it is a ready built structure, I'm sure it helps the people who are desperately in need of rules and timetables at the moment.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
But it is rooted in a very particular idea of what seasons look like - particularly the 4 defined seasons of the UK, Europe and North America;⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Which would be fine if people were talking about their local area, the view from their window.  But that doesn't seem to be the case - this seasonal structure is built up into a programme to follow, the language is very much that 'this is the correct way to think about life'.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
But, if you are saying that the dormant season is the time to rest and recuperate, what does that say about countries where the seasons don't look like that.  Is there to be no rest? Is everyone to adopt the seasons in the UK as the 'correct' version? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Language matters, because language is where our assumptions lie.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
⁠The photo is of a rose hip - rose hips are the only berries left in the hedges now.  I used to think that it was because they tasted spiky that the birds left them till there were no other options but recently I found that they have the least calories.  The ivy, rowan and hawthorns produce the Kendal mint cake of berries - perfect for seeing the birds through the cold - so get eaten first.⁠⠀
There is a lot of talk at the moment about what 'seasonal flowers' means - the wonderful @wolveslaneflowercompany have been addressing the issue and they have a great story thread exploring the issue saved in their highlights.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It was a thing that used to bother me a lot when I grew flowers because I only ever sold flowers that grew here, that was the whole point of the business - and in Scotland seasons are very late. I spent a lot of time explaining to brides that not everything is available at every time of the year. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I didn't ever have cut flowers until April.  I missed both Valentines and Mother's Day. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
This is what I have as flowers in my home through January and February - glamorous, long lasting, amaryllis bulbs are on every surface. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Elsewhere cut hazel twigs in jam jars are taking over the windowsills. next week I may add in some snowdrops.
Yesterday I sent out a newsletter about extractivism - about the human tendency to push and exploit and keep extracting until we end up with a husk.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It was sparked by conversations I had after the Oxford Real Farming Conference and a realisation that there is a thread that ties colonialism, industrial farming, privatisation of services and the way we often treat ourselves.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I've been having such interesting conversations with the people who replied.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I resend my newsletters to new subscribers on Sundays so if you want to sign up you can click through my profile to the website front page.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
We have been frozen here for a while - the top inch of ground thawed yesterday, but under that was rock hard.  Most of the garden is a low flood of slush floating on ice.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
The hardy annual plants I sowed in late September and transplanted in October are currently under snow but looking pretty terminal.  The temperature in the polytunnel went down to -6 last week and the salad crops turned to mush.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Were I remotely self sufficient it would be proving a hard winter.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
But I'm not, so I just add more plants to my sowing plan - sowing seeds is my favourite thing - and admire the beauty of the hoar frost, and feel happy that I have food in the store cupboard and logs in the woodpile and a big pile of books by me.
'See a pin and pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck'.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I have been embroidering a tiny run of linen needle/pin cases to go into the shop tomorrow - and I have embroidered this rhyme inside them - a reminder of the time when pins were made by hand and were to be treasured and looked after. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It gives a new appreciation to the term 'pin money' too - the modern kinds of pins, shiny in their plastic box that have made us assume that the term meant a small amount, left over change for fripperies. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
In reality it was used as an alternative name for a household allowance - the amount of which was often laid out in the marriage contract - and was the money that a woman had complete legal control over. If it was unpaid a woman could sue her husband or his estate for back pay.
Allium Chistophii are rolling around under the espalier apple trees in the vegetable patch. ⠀
⠀
I always hope for a little light self seeding as they go. ⠀
⠀
Now they are like glittery tumbleweeds in the frost. ⠀
⠀
In truth we bought the airstream to avoid a divorce.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
We bought it on Ebay late at night after sharing a bottle of wine.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
At the time I was running a business from the house - from a house that was about half the size it is now, a jumble of tiny rooms, painted plywood floors, two small children and a high level of sticky chaos.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I am not a tidy enough person to run a business in a home - even had it been a well run home with storage space - and those years were not remotely well run.  My invoices always had cereal stuck to them, my sewing machine was parked at the end of the dining table, 90% of my working time seemed to be spent looking for something that I was sure had been left 'just there'.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
So we looked for something that we could afford so I could move the business out of the house - we priced up a chalet style home office from B & Q - and then, on Ebay, we saw the airstream, badly damaged, vandalised, forlorn.  It came in cheaper than the shoffice . . . .⁠⠀
⁠⠀
For a few years - before I built the Studio - this was my workspace and since then it has become a storage area and been sadly neglected while I tried to save the money to repair the damaged back window and the sagging floor.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
This weekend we began clearing out all the fabric that was stored in it so that the renovation can begin.  I am very excited.
snapdragon.life
FacebookTwitterPinterest

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

Learn more about why here

Loading