Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


The summer sock project

summer sock project natural plant dye

Of all the things that I have found happening to my mind in lockdown the most interesting is the way that the small, commonplace things in the space around me have become more important, more valued.

Most obvious has been the plants. Specifically the common weeds.

The nettles, the plantains, the docks - the slightly problematic invasive weeds of our land here - all have become fascinating, even compelling. Seen day by day as my world has shrunk to our garden and the farm road.

I say shrunk, because there has obviously been a physical shrinking - but actually it has in many ways expanded in interest and texture, in a sense of being. I surmise that for many millennia most humans would have lived with similar boundaries to my lockdown - a 3 mile walkable radius of home - and would have had a similarly deeper attention.

Born of this is my Summer Sock Project - I like tying my experiments to a specific project, a practical thing, because, though I love the look of beautiful dye record books and documented samples - I know I will never keep them up.

Last year I made a big knitted patchwork throw from dyed silk yarn. This year it is socks. Actual socks. luxurious alpaca bed socks knitted in an old traditional sock mill in Leicestershire

I am dying a pair of socks in each dye pot I make - all from a plant somewhere within that 3 mile radius. I want to compare the colours from different times of the year, from different patches of land.

If you want to have a go yourself I am stocking the unfinished alpaca blanks in the shop - these are straight off the knitting machines and need to be washed and mordanted before you dye them.

In October - when I am finished - I shall be selling the dyed socks in the shop as a limited collection.

I am loving it as a project - partly I think because it is completely nonsensical in terms of business. The process is so involved - the picking and preparing of the dye stuff, the making the dye pot, the washing and mordanting and dying, the rinsing and drying and curing and washing again. It isn't something you would do as a viable business and that is why it appeals I think.

But also I love it because of the colours - the soft colours pulled from the sun and the rain and the ground I walk on.

That is the magic.

nettle dyed socks

Comments: 2 (Add)

Carah on June 18 2020 at 13:13

Lovely post and idea Jane with the socks :-).
I relate totally with your perception of your immediate surroundings in Lockdown. :-).
Your website is beautiful too. Think I might buy some candles (and maybe some socks!).

Jane Lindsey on June 18 2020 at 13:21

Thank you Carah! J x

Snapdragon social

Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we 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.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

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