Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and 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: 4 (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

Charlotte Neuhaus on June 19 2020 at 13:27

Yes, a 3 mile radius from home could have been the boundarie for humans for millenia. However, they were free to step out of it and make a longer journey if desired.
Nevertheless, I think your post and idea are beautiful. It's remarkable how positive you have stayed (or tryed to stay) during the pandemic and made effort to share this.
Well done Jane. The socks look really beautiful and compfy.

Greetings form the Netherlands

Catherine Hunt on June 19 2020 at 16:14

What an amazing project and love the slowing down to notice how it feels to live in a particular landscape

Snapdragon social

Seraphina's eleven babies have grown so fast.⁠⠀
Now when she tries to gather them under her - usually if she hears the buzzard overhead - they all head under her feathers but their heads and tails stick out the side.⁠⠀
She seems unperturbed and a little like an overstuffed tea cosy.
I think that the last time I had this wooden clothes horse out was when we needed to dry cloth nappies c. 2001.⁠⠀
The plant dyed alpaca house socks have all cured now, the dye is well sunk into the fibres, so over the past couple of days I've been washing and pressing and packaging them.⁠⠀
The link to the shop page for them will go out in Friday's newsletter first - the actual newsletter is all about the dye deck and if you want to get it straight into your inbox you can sign up on the website or through my profile.⁠⠀
These were all dyed with tansy - the very yellow ones from the plant at the top of the Studio meadow, the slightly more orange ones from the plant down by the Studio door.
Last year, in the spring,  I got a tiny amount of seed of a grey Shirley poppy. ⁠⠀
I sowed half and gave half to @gracealexanderflowers .⁠⠀
None came up, in my garden at least.⁠⠀
This year two plants have appeared - a little fey and wan as Shirley poppies go, but with definitely grey flowers. ⁠⠀
Well kind of a purply grey . . . and if I'm honest I prefer the rich plums of Pandora . . . but It is eminently instagrammable.
Yesterday Seth Godin wrote that instead of getting our ideas spread like wildfire (uncontrolled, destructive, leaving nothing) we should get them to spread like wildflowers instead.⁠⠀
I loved this idea.  Ideas that self seed and spread in groups, ideas that place themselves where they are happiest, where they can thrive.⁠⠀
Ideas that take root in unpromising places and bring joy.

These daisies moved into the top of the Studio Meadow last year- spreading from the garden rather than the fields- but wilding themselves none the less.
A bright new morning starting a bright new week. ⁠⠀
A row of dog daisies and love in a mist, fresh and light and optimistic.⁠⠀
I feel like I'm hovering on the edge of planning things outside my studio this week. It is tentative.⁠⠀
Today I have a meeting about something that will involve me leaving the premises. I'm part excited, part terrified - I think they are probably the same things in many ways.⁠⠀
I'm building up to going on holiday in a few weeks. It feels vertiginous.  I definitely need to build my social muscles back up.⁠⠀
The globe thistles shouldn't be there. ⁠⠀
It was meant to be a temporary nursery bed.⁠⠀
They were a root cutting from my parents' garden - memories of pulling off the heads as missiles.⁠⠀
It is the perfect place for them.⁠⠀
Low sun barrels along the path as the gloaming comes. ⁠⠀
They glow in the golden hour.⁠⠀
I leave the heads alone.
Of all the half hardy annuals that are beginning to flower here, I think that cosmos purity is my favourite. ⁠⠀
Happy and light and generous with its flowers.⁠⠀
As you pick it, the foliage smells that dense herby/incense way that is perfect for the late summer/early autumn time.
Yesterday I was chatting to Eileen, who volunteers in the garden on Wednesday mornings, about how the Studio meadow changes in the light.  In particular how the warmer light in August - especially the soft evening light - makes everything glow.⁠⠀
Walking back from checking things at work I snapped these big daisies with a speckle of purple loosestrife behind them.  Softly glowing.⁠⠀

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.

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

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