Monthly Archives: August 2013

Summer Dyeing on the Porch

The beautiful flowers of the summer garden offer riches for the dyepots of natural dyers. This summer Dorothy and Roberta, members of the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild, and I raided our gardens and gathered on my porch for a dyeing party.

We used the dahlias, begonias, marigolds, daylilies, zinnias and rudbeckia to make bundles as India Flint ( describes in her book Eco Colour.HA_petals laid out.

To make the bundles, we laid out the flowers on silk pre-mordanted with alum, rolled up the fabric, then tied it tightly.

HA_petal bundle

Once the bundles were ready, we loaded them into the steamer, ready to cook.

HA_fibre bundles

While the bundles were steaming, we did some immersion dyeing with French marigold flowers that I’d cooked up the day before. Gardeners have to compete for marigolds with slugs, who have a passion for them and will quickly eat them to the ground. I grow mine in containers and, flashlight in hand, do a nightly slug patrol.

6French marigolds

We added our fabric and fibre to the dyebath and turned on the electric hotplate that lives on my porch.


While the dyepot was heating, we did some dyeing and overdyeing with the indigo vat I keep going. It’s such an easy and fast way to dye—no mordanting or heating is needed.



When the bundles and marigold dyeing were finished, we set them out to cool. But no unwrapping those bundles yet. They need to be left to sit at least overnight to let the colour set in more deeply—torture for the curious!


The results of our wonderful day of dyeing with summer flowers.




Heather Apple, Ruby Slippers Creations, Flickr


Summer on the Porch

What a wonderful time of year to begin our Fibreshed’s very first blog!

Aahh, summer. . . when we return to outdoor living, enjoying those summer breezes and dining al fresco. I have always been an outdoor girl who now enjoys a small home with a large garden and my wonderful large porch, which I like to refer to as my “breathing room.” Whether your “porch” is tiny or grand, sitting on the porch is not a place, but a state of mind, and having a pretty spot to land is so enjoyable this time of year.

Blog1_#3 Not only are summers on the porch a traditional icon of Canadian life, they have also become special studio space for all things creative, colourful and beautiful. In summer we look forward to moving our spinning wheels, knitting baskets and portable looms to the outdoors, along with all those wonderful plants, fungi, seeds and flowers we have collected to dye with in relaxed safety.

A frosty glass of lemonade or a cup of tea from a favourite family heirloom teacup/teapot with a cookie or biscuit helps to celebrate this special personal time we can share with our friends, or even just alone with our thoughts and summer dreaming. These are special times and will soon be gone for another year, so we must savour and use them fully now.
For this first blog we are sharing with you a peek at the ways the ladies of our Guild share our summers together and the wonderful projects we enjoy working on together in small informal groups or at our twice-monthly spin-ins at each other’s homes. Future blogs will feature more details of these gatherings.

Tell us about a treasured porch memory or what’s happening on your porch this summer.
Did You Know?
New Urbanism advocates communities with small-town-like layouts that encourage walking and decrease reliance on cars. The front porch, which had gone out of vogue after World War II, has played a key role in fostering community in such developments.