Tuesday, July 24, 2012

shades of cosmos

Instead of fresh plants, you can also try to use dried ones and dye the yarn using the same method I'm describing on this blog: Fermented herbal dyes

Here I used dried Sulfur Cosmos flowers (Cosmos sulphureus) harvested last year

The yarn is Orenburg kidsilk mohair lace

Thursday, July 12, 2012

shades of St John's Wort

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a yellow-flowering perennial herb indigenous to Europe, it's a well known herbal medicine used to treat depression and anxiety. Many people prefer this natural remedy instead of antidepressantsIt is also known to relieve muscle problems and sunburn.
It is called St. John's wort because it blooms approximately on St. John's Day (June 24). But of course it was well known before the "saints" appeared in our regions. Other names are: Tipton's weedchase-devil or Klamath weed.

The name Hypericum is from the Latin word hyper meaning "above" and icon meaning "image or symbol", perforatum refers to the black punctured little holes on the underside of the leaves.
When you crush a flower bud between your fingers, you will release a burgundy red juice, the evidence of the presence of the hypericin flavonoid.

Thus St John's Wort is a symbol from above and it has potent "blood" in his veins which can chase away bad vibes  :)

Did you know that you can also make a wonderful herbal dye out of it?
Perfect for dyeing wool and silk !
According to natural dyes experts you can obtain different shades with it (mostly yellow) but I did get a wonderful pink "old rose" as you can see here.

lace merino, kidsilk mohair, cobweb silk

The method I'm using here, to obtain the dyes I like for some of my yarns, is somewhat different than what people are used to. It's based on the fermentation of the plant materials and on the adding of some agent, like for example lemon juice or lime.
It's a very, very old technique, you don't need to work with any alum or metals, you don't boil anything and yes, the colours on the dyed textiles are permanent, they will not fade or wash out. Basically it is more or less the same technique as when working with woad or indigo to obtain blues, which also need a fermentation vat ! It is a wonderful way to dye your own yarn because it's not suited for large quantities of yarn and you don't need big amounts of plant material. Because the colours you get are always somewhat different, depending on the quality of your "harvest", the time of the year, the amount of sunrays and last but not least, the wonderful work of the little fermenting creatures who will turn your dye in something bright or dull, depending on their changing moods :)

It is magic and alchemistic and I love it because the colours are strangely "alive"  :)

You can use a lot of the wild and cultivated herbs and plants in whatever region you live in. It's really fun to do and in the process you can learn about plants and their little secrets.

one acidic and one basic mixture in glass containers
with the same fermented plant: St John's Wort

The pictures I posted here are from an experiment I did two summers ago, but at this moment I've started one new fermenting vat with St Johns wort as I did found a lot of them in my neighbourhood.
With the strange weather we have here lately, they are still blooming...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Because once in a while it is good to change a few things around oneself, 
I decided to start with this new blog. 
my other blog:
Mary Lena's Blog will continue to be available, at least for a while.

Of course I'm still going to tell everything about my knit and crochet designs. But I'm also going to write about my experiments with herbal dyes and my attempts to make "art" and other magical stuff.

I now live in Brittany, France, in this wonderful region called Finistere (which really means: Here the world ends). Here I have more space to do my work and Nature is more present than it ever was. Working in harmony with Nature is very important to me, there would be no inspiration at all if I didn't live surrounded by Her. So you can also expect to see some inspirational pictures of the surroundings. 

About the title:
shades refer to all the colours I love to work with and lynx is my designer name, shades of lynx is also a symbolic reference to what I consider to be a spirit animal and its connection with an other dimension of this visible world, on the shady side.

Or, put differently: (I want) to explore aspects of creativity with the intuitive mind.

So here we go,

I hope you will love this new blog, 
your comments are always welcome...