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21 Clearing the decks

A dye stained ceramic bowl containing a handful of small wooden clothes pegs.

"A place for everything and everything in it's place" ... I can hear my grandmother now. And as a child who craved order in her disordered life I paid close attention. But I guess I must have missed the double meaning ... "Don't acquire more 'everything' than you have 'a place' for." Oops!

I'm clearing the decks in the studio and rearranging things a bit. And wishin' and hopin' I had a sink in there, which isn't going to happen because the room's too small. And thinking that I'd settle for more storage space, which isn't going to happen either. With dyeing paraphernalia scattered about me I looked to Marie Kondo - of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying fame - for a solution, but such stuff as may never "spark joy" - stainless steel tongs, pH test strips, mini pegs - but will certainly be needed someday soon is apparently not on her radar. I've been forced to commandeer a cupboard in the guestroom.

A digression. Long before 'paraphernalia' meant "miscellaneous items associated with a particular activity" it apparently described those personal belongings that - prior to the Married Women's Property Acts of the late 1800s - were legally a husband's property but that his wife might freely use ... her clothes, jewels, personal linen, even her combs. Or that's what it meant in the rest of Great Britain. Here in Wales the 'goods and chattels' settled on a wife by her husband, her cowyll, were thereafter owned inalienably by her "and could not be forfeited even if her husband's desertion or dismissal of her was justified by her fault".* I mentioned this to the mister who said could he maybe have the Dire Strait's Brother's In Arms LP back, should it ever come to it.

Back to the deck clearing, and I've dealt with the jar of fermenting walnut hulls and the bags of red onion skins and dried avocado skins by 'boiling' them up - not together, she hastens to add, and in truth they were only simmered - and dyeing some yarn. I'll show you when it's dry. I know, I always say that and then I forget, but look, in true Blue Peter style, here's some I dyed (some months) earlier and was tidying away.

Skeins of naturally dyed yarn in a wire basket.

From top right left - you'd think I'd know my left from my right by now! - that's Herb Robert - Geranium robertianum - (first dip) on pure wool, Herb Robert (second dip) on a wool/alpaca blend, gorse flowers - Ulex europaeus - (first dip) on unbrushed mohair, and horsetail - Equisetum arvense - (second dip) on an alpaca/silk blend.

And why am I putting my dye house in order? Because new projects are being planned. It's all rather exciting!

* I'm quoting from Christine Peters, Women in Early Modern Britain, 1450-1640.


95 The Colour Collaborative: January: Home

A black and white photograph of opened paint cans, from above.

I'm leaving the colours in those paint cans to your imagination. What colours would they be if they were yours?

White, taupe, and neutral grey greens, that would be my answer. Or, more exotically, Dover Cliffs, Stony Ground, English Plaster, Swedish Grey, and English Pear*.

My first memory of a paint colour name is Magnolia. My mother wanted to paint the living room walls Magnolia and my father disagreed. I pitched in on my mother's side because I thought it sounded pretty. Until that day it simply hadn't occurred to me that the paint on the walls had a name.

At the time the entire house was being given 'a lick of something' and a few days later I was handed a paint chart and allowed to choose a colour for my bedroom. Almond Pink came into my life, and Lilac Mist, and I agonised for days over which of the two I should pick. And now I collect paint colour cards ... I have a drawer stuffed full of them. Take heed, dear reader, this is what happens to a child whose parents argue over matt emulsion*.

I attempted a paint card cull and found it unexpectedly hard to bin those bits of the history of our home. But I did keep the Dulux paint chart with the soft yellow circled in blue biro ... I was pregnant with our eldest when I scribbled 'Nursery' underneath. And I've kept everything from Farrow and Ball... F&B will mix archived colours for you, but in order to ask them to do that you first need to know what they were called.

If I'm honest the drawer's still fairly full, the culling fizzled out pronto, I got sidetracked by the colour names. Some of Fired Earth's are great fun ... Aunty Maud, Elizabeth's Parrot, Mad King George, Gin and Tonic. Please tell me I'm not alone in having paint names I could live with and paint names I most definitely could not. 'What colour did you paint the kitchen Annie?', 'Silt' ... that is absolutely not a conversation I am ever going to have. And Dead Salmon? No way Farrow & Ball!

What have the colours on the walls contributed to your memories of home I wonder, and do they influence your attachment to it? Do you have any paint colour stories to share?

As always, there are no sponsored links in this post.

*And whose paternal grandfather was a painter and decorator in his later years.

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below ...

Sandra at Cherry Heart       Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

CJ at Above the River       Jennifer at Thistlebear     

And January's guest poster ...
Bee at The Linen Cloud

What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.


79 Rash promises

I promised you a Women's Work readalong, but then my good friend Lal gave me Philip Walling's Counting Sheep for Christmas, I set Women's Work aside, and I haven't been back to it since. Counting Sheep is less worthy, more fun, and much better suited to my current mood. All you need to know is in the subtitle - A Celebration of the Pastoral Heritage of Britain - and in the blurb on the back ...
There is a parallel world at work in Britain which most people, even those who live close to it, hardly ever notice - and even when they do, know little or nothing about. It's a world that has existed time out of mind, and so it continues, keeping faith with the passing seasons, obeying its own imperatives, and adapting to survive. This is the world of sheep husbandry.
Okay, the last bit sounds less poetic, but Walling's book is not all fly-strike and foggage* ... there's a woolly wedding dress, a blood sacrifice, a collie called Carlo ... read it, every knitter should!

Dorset's sheep share a chapter with the Welsh Llanwenog, my first choice breed, were I ever to farm sheep. Poll Dorsets would be my second choice. (Philip Walling has coupled them, I believe, because both breeds are particularly fecund. I just like their characters). Poll Dorset yarn is white, bouncy, reluctant to felt - making it perfect for dyeing - and I came by over a kilogram of it recently. The skein above has been dipped in weld and woad and is on it's way to becoming a (grand)baby vest. Happy days!

I made another promise here that I fear I can't keep (I seem to be a dab hand at setting myself up to fail). My oft mentioned dodgy shoulder, and the arthritis and fibromyalgia ... I'm far too blooming Pollyannaish about all that. Truth is I keep dropping dye pots, and risk being scalded in the process. No, that won't do, denial again ... I have been scalded in the process, more than once. I'd be safer if I worked on a much smaller scale, or switched to solar dyeing or fermentation dyeing in skein sized jars, so no seasonal dye posts until I've sorted things out - sorry - although I will still have other dye posts to share.

How about you? Any promises broken lately? Any rash promises made?

* Foggage is the regrowth of grass after hay has been cut. And fly-strike involves maggots ... I shall say no more.

Linking with Ginny's Yarn Along

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