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: 5 (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

Julie on November 8 2020 at 00:03

such an inspiring post, can't wait to give it a go.

Snapdragon social

Small runs.⁠⠀
The single thing that has made the most difference in Snapdragon Life's eco-footprint over the past 9 months has been choosing only to make small runs of products.⁠⠀
I know that can be frustrating sometimes - people get upset when something sells out.  @amandabanhamceramics wrote about this recently - how she received frustrated, sometimes even nasty, emails after every online sale of her houses.⁠⠀
Once upon a time I would make 100s, sometimes even 1000s, of a single design. ⁠Now I make 10 or 20 or 30 of something. ⁠⠀
And that is it. ⁠Once they are gone they are gone.⁠⠀
⁠The photo is of some allium embroidered lavender cushions, embroidered onto C19th handwoven linen - part of the Just Breathe gift set - a limited edition of 20. ⁠⠀
Half have sold.⁠⠀
A big sky and a bright pond for the end of the working week.⁠⠀
This week I've been setting aside time to make things.⁠ It has felt grounding in the way that gardening is when we aren’t ankle deep in mud. Carefully chosen materials, working with my hands, concentrating. ⠀
These patches of antique linen, embroidered with the dark lines of allium seed heads, are for a new batch of the 'Just Breathe' gift sets which should be up on the website tomorrow.⁠⠀
I taught myself to draw with a sewing machine⁠⠀
years before I learned to draw with a pen. ⁠⠀
In many ways I still find it easier - as though there were something backwards in my head that is happier thinking in reverse.⁠⠀
At the weekend I read Anne Lamott's 'Almost Everything: Notes on Hope' - a book written in 2018, ⁠⠀
I copied out this quote ⁠⠀
Oh this linen from @scottishlinen is wonderful to embroider on.  It has inspired me to try something I have been meaning to do for ages.⁠⠀
All Summer I have been decorating order boxes with mugs and flowers.  I must have done a few hundred by now, the initial of the customer on the mug, fine liner on card.⁠⠀
It is a design device I love - the wonderful works of @debbiegeorgeartist and @angielewin are my inspiration - and I wanted to see if I could get fluid enough to have it work as a freehand machine embroidery.⁠⠀
I don't work from a sketch, there are no lines on the fabric, I just put my sewing machine pedal down and go.  It helps a lot if there is some level of muscle memory.⁠⠀
This large lavender cushion is the result - this particular one is going as a gift to a Club Member who has agreed to write for my January edition of Some Seasonal Notes. ⁠⠀
The link to have me make one is going first to Studio Club Members their e-mail this morning, but then will go up on the website later today. The last order date will be 30th November as I can't stockpile them and will need time to make them.⁠⠀
My Dad would hate this photo.⁠⠀
Growing up candles were banned from the house except from on Christmas Day - and even then he spent his time blowing them out as he passed.⁠⠀
This is a rosemary covered jam-jar.  I first saw these in 1990s when they were a speciality of the florist Paula Pryke and the tie was a silk taffeta bow.⁠⠀
This rustic version - with a tie make from linen offcuts - is the 15 minute activity going out in tomorrow's Studio Club email.
Dixie is slowly getting used to being a Studio dog.  All last year - as  I changed the way Snapdragon Life worked - she spent her time with me working at the kitchen table, bossing the cats around, barking at the postman.⁠⠀
Earlier this year, I moved back into the Studio full time and she came with me. To begin with it was fine, she was mainly outside and the doors were open.  She spent her days lying across the Studio threshold and watching out for trespassing pheasants.⁠⠀
But now it is too cold to have open doors and I can't be bothered with constantly letting her in and out, so she is a full time studio dog, curled up on the chair by the stove.⁠⠀
She very clearly finds it “boring, boring, boring” and thoroughly disapproves of both my music and the lack of biscuits. ⁠⠀
Now that we are in the season of mud I am spending most of my time looking up.⁠⠀
Birds stripped the orange rowan berries within a couple of days, but these yellow ones were still hanging bright against the grey.

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.


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