Friday, October 29, 2010


A poem


The trees are shedding summer's sun,
in glorious array:
One last burst of golden light
to tide us through the gathering grey.

and some photos:

Friday, October 22, 2010

nettle dye

There are a lot of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)in the UK, growing in the hedgerows, in abandoned corners and down lane-ways.

They are fabulous things to use, while you want to avoid touching them they make great tea (good for hayfever and colds), as a herbal remedy they are used for ailments such as eczema, allergies, arthritis and gout, you can make fabric from them, they make yummy soup ( I have tried them as soup while camping, which made me feel proper wilderness savvy). Recently, I was given as a birthday present a bottle of nettle wine, which was delicious - light, fresh and full of subtle flavours. I plan to brew some nettle beer in the near future (well - realistically in spring)

But to the point - you can use them as dye! I had some plain homespun wool, about 400 grams of it, and I picked about 800 grams of nettles, boiled them up with vinegar and left the wool in to soak for 24 hours. Result? a very subtle, pale warm beige - apparently you get this yellowy beige if you use nettles in autumn, while in spring, while the plants are full of chlorophyll, you get a pale olivy green. I was pleased - unfortunately the wool is a little itchy to use as clothing, but I plan to incorporate it into a fabulous and weird knitted rug... will be posting about that in a little while...

Finally- while coming home from work one evening, I turned into the park, and it was awash with glorious autumnal light filtering through the trees, photos don't really do it justice:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clothing for Africa

Anyone that know me knows how much I love buying things in charity shops. That's pretty much the only place I shop - and my poor one bar wardrobe is literally bending under the weight of charity shop finds.

Over the course of this year, I've really noticed the way my relationship with clothing shapes a lot of what I put my energy into - here's some observations
I feel permanantly scruffy.
I often feel out of date, unfashionable and downright frumpy.
I shop to make myself feel better - and I kid myself because it's only a charity shop buy, therefore it's ok -
but actually I spend more money than we have budgeted on charity shop clothing, feel guilty while shopping, and still end up feeling scruffy...

There's something going on here to my relationship with stuff - check out this blogpost I found looking at one woman's analysis of her own relationship to buying things

I tried, with not much success to give up charity shopping for lent - but failed, fairly miserably.I've been thinking and talking about this issue for a little while - my lovely lulastic friend did an even mroe radical project: wore only two sets of clothes for 6 months - basically, to break the link between self esteem and image. I am a self declared feminist - and I think it's pretty interesting how much pressure (and money) rests on how women look: you are what you look like, goes the message, over and over again - and even the most liberated of us find it hard not to internalise this on some fundamental level. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy clothing as a way of expressing myself, love colour and have no qualms about dressing to look nice - but how quickly this flips over from a healthy into an unhealthy connection, for me anyway.

So I decided it's time for something drastic: re-learn my habits for making myself feel better.

I have a grand goal, one that I've held for ages - to go to Africa. We really hope to make this happen in about a years time, and we need to save save save - so I'm giving up buying clothing, and going to Africa.

So: as of today, 19th October 2010 - until we go to Africa - I am buying no more clothes.

Here are my parameters: underwear and socks/tights - allowed
New running shoes - if I need them - (old pair falling apart)
Jewelery - only when we go on a holiday planned in March to a country that has amazing jewlery but i don't want to give too much away ;-)
1 pair of ethically made new black trousers - allowed (this helps with mixing and match existing clothing hugely)

Anything I can make myself, with existing materials (until they are all used up) - allowed (buttons zips and threads for making allowed)

So the plan is to do this mindfully- to not use buying clothes as a pick me up, though I scoot past the charity shops every day on my way to work- they are not my emotional crutch anymore.I will find other, more healthy ways of recognising and dealing with self esteem and negative feelings.

Blogging about it is one way of making myself accountable - and I will post some of my makings too...

What do you think? How's your relationship to clothes?

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