Category Archives: crafts

Dyeing with Dandelion Leaves – gives you Yellow!

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Dandelions are normally treated as weeds, which have long tap roots and are difficult to get out of your lawn, if you prefer a perfect green, nicely mowed lawn.  But before you get rid of them, think again – they could be useful as a dye for wool!

rivillaRiihivilla is the name of a small business based in Helskinki, Finland, which specialises in hand dyeing, with plants and mushrooms – and I was interested to find this post thro’  hand-spinning-news.com.  The original blog post, written in Finnish and English can be found here.

If you haven’t used natural dyes before, this will give you an idea of what is involved, but there are simpler ‘recipes’ for all kinds of flowers, leaves, and even wood!  It’s a fascinating subject and if you want to discover more about what colours you can get, there is more information on the Riihivilla blog, and there are many books on the subject.

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I dyed with dandelion more than a week ago,(May 2018) when they were beginning to flower. Now they are still flowering. I collected a bucketful of leaves and flowers, mostly leaves though, and they weighted 1,9kg.
I simmered them for an hour (with added some washing soda) and let the bath cool until the next day. Bath was dark reddish/brownish yellow.
After straining off the bath I dyed 100g of yarn in it, mordanted with alum and CoT. I thought that it is better to put too little yarn in it rather than too much. The colour became very nice lemon yellow, a bit like you would get from a weld bath. To a yarn with no mordant the colour didn’t take hardly at all. I found from Liber Herbarum pages that dandelion contains many flavonoids which also act as dyes, including luteolin, which is the same dye as is also in weld, so it was no wonder that the colour I got is similar to weld colour.
I don’t know if I’m happy or not that there are not that many dandelions in the garden: they can be an awful weed in a flowerbed but on the other hand they could be used for dyeing!

Young dandelion leaves can also be used in salads, and I’m told that beekeepers rate the early season dandelion honey as the best there is!

 

 

Kantha – Vintage Quilts – recycling fabrics the time honoured way

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I hadn’t known anything about the history of quilt making with recycled fabrics in India, until I chanced on an advert for an exhibition of KANTHA textiles at the Mingei International Museum, California, last September.

see https://julzcrafts.com/2017/09/06/kantha-exhibition-of-textiles-of-bengal/.

“Kantha is a term used across the Indian sub-continent to denote decorative stitched quilting. In Gujarat, hangings patterned with concentric circles or squares in running stitch are known as kanthas, while in Bengal, kanthas are stitched for a variety of purposes, such as winter quilts, covers and wraps for books and valuables or as mats for ceremonial purposes.

They are most often given to daughters on the occasion of their marriage, as a token of love, or as a gift for a new-born child or grown son. They are often, as tradition has it, made up of old cast off saris or dhotis. They can be the work of two or more generations of women and are treasured as family heirlooms.”

You can also find out more about Kantha HERE

fullsizeoutput_34bOne of the people who saw the post was Manish, who was doing research on this ancient tradition, and he has recently set up a small business to collect and recycle old quilts, and to make new ones for sale worldwide.

He asked if I could give his website a mention, and sent me a bit more information about Kantha.  So I checked him out!  I have edited his contribution to fit the style of this blog – which is ‘to inspire and educate’ my readers – and myself! – in various aspects of crafts, whether you make anything yourself – or just appreciate!

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PHOTO-2018-05-17-17-32-33” The term ‘Kantha’ can be understood in Sanskrit as ‘rags’.

 

The origin of Kantha can be dated back to the age of Vedic period, which has a profound background in India. Chaitanya Charitamrita is a very popular age old book written by Krishnadas Kaviraj, some 500 years ago. The recurring patterns, designs and other beautiful elements are most celebrated part, which the book talks about.

The historic art and motifs are incorporated in modern works with the depiction of nature, sun, trees, people, culture and many more through the finest play of thread over a piece of cloth.

In the region of West Bengal, Kantha is seen as a very auspicious symbol in weddings and birth ceremonies.

Being a Bengali man, I never really got an opportunity to peek inside and know more about this form of art, which is being transferred from generation to generation. 

When I was a kid, I saw my grandmother would sit with a piece of cloth in her lap and different colours of thread lying all around her. She used to be very keen and generous with her work. She would move her hands very slowly and firmly with a needle and thread across the cloth and a very beautiful design would come up. 

The clothes on which she used to weave would tell stories of trees, people, lakes and animals.

vintage kantha quilt by makkiWhen I moved to eastern Bengal, I saw old and young women still so engrossed in the stitching kantha handkerchiefs, quilts and bed sheets. I was mesmerized by the beauty in their eyes and the passion in their attitude while they were busy doing the embroidery.

I was so inspired and motivated to continue this tradition in other parts of India that I started my own business, selling Kantha quilts and, hopefully creating a world class platform for customers from every corner of the world to know more about India, its tradition and history of India, through the quilts.

vintagekanthaquiltThe Kantha quilts have been made with finest threads, and will last long longer than your life, so that you can pass down this historical piece to many upcoming generations. India is best reflected within the dimensions of quilt.”

He tells me that the “quilts are made in West Bengal by artisans, and they are paid fairly”.

Do have a look at his site – vintagekanthaquilt.com – the prices are reasonable and he is currently running a special discount offer.

NB:  I do not normally ‘advertise’ other businesses on this site, but he asked nicely – smile – and I like what he is doing.  No fee has been charged and I have no other knowledge of how he works, and do not take any responsibility for the quality of the products.

Sheep Shearing in the UK

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Following on from my previous post – the video of shearing a shetland sheep in USA – I thought I’d add a couple of my old photos of sheep shearing, taken about 30 years ago!  I can’t remember where I took them – somewhere in South Wales.

 

 

These are scans of the A6 sepia postcards I published of the original photos – which is why they aren’t very sharp.  The sheep were being sheared in a field, and they were penned to make it easier to do the shearing as quickly as possible.

I did a search for shearing in the UK, to get a bit more info on when shearing is done here, and found this useful piece, oddly enough, published under the name of Sheep Shearing in the UK by Indie Farmer.

 

 

These are a couple of colour photos from that site.

And this is the first part of the blog – written in July 2014

The sheep shearing season in the UK (roughly mid May to mid July) is pretty much finished now, so farmers will be pleased that one difficult and time consuming job is over for another year, and the sheep will be happy to have got rid of their thick fleeces in this hot weather.

Shearing requires both skill and a lot of hard, physical work in hot summer conditions.  Some farmers shear their own sheep but many, especially those with large flocks (anything over a few hundred sheep) hire specialist shearing gangs to do the work for them.  Shearing gangs typically have three to eight members, and travel the country going from farm to farm, shearing every day during the season.  It is a hard life but pay can be good, about £2 a sheep and a good shearer can shear 200 sheep per day.  When the UK shearing season is over, the shearing gangs often travel to other countries where the shearing season is at a different time of year, in what is known as ‘the shearing circuit’, travelling from the UK to Norway, the USA, the Falklands, New Zealand, Australia, and pretty much anywhere that you can find plenty of sheep!  It is a very tough, hard working and hard drinking lifestyle, but it’s a good way to see the world, have fun and make some money.

Wool used to be where the main profit was in sheep farming, with meat as a useful sideline.  Many of the great Cathedrals and castles of the middle ages were built using the profits from the wool trade.  The Lord Speaker in the House of Lords still sits on a ceremonial Woolsack to represent the importance of wool to the economy in former times.  Now, however, sheep farmers make their main profit from meat, with wool being a very minor sideline.

It’s always useful to know a bit more about where your wool comes from!  Especially for spinners who are carding and spinning the raw fleeces!

PS. PLUG!

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pair of standard hand carders – 72 pt

I sell hand carders that can deal with raw fleeces and all types of wool fibres – and also are quite useful as brushes for sheep and other animals if you are tidying up your stock for Agricultural Shows.  The current listings can be found if you click on the links below.

Listed on julzcraftstore.com here

USE THE COUPON CODE  customer10%off  at the checkout to get 10% off your order.

Listed on etsy here

Listed on ebay here

Recycling Paper – into yarns for weaving!

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I found this post on YOURSTORY – about a woman in India who is making items from paper yarn – and have just copied it here.  Its a great idea!

She’s weaving a sustainable future with yarn made from paper

Teja Lele Desai     posted on 17th April 2018

pic1Neerja Palisetty’s Sutrakaar Creations combines paper with post-consumer waste to promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste, and ethical fashion.

 

Neerja Palisetty has always been passionate about paper.

“Paper is considered to be very fragile by the common man and I want to change that perception. Once woven, paper has immense potential; it’s a very strong and versatile material,” she says.

“But,” she adds, “Pulp (and paper) is the third largest industrial polluter of air, water and soil and I wanted to help avoid this,” she says.

That’s the reason she started Jaipur-based Sutrakaar Creations, which focuses on eco-textile creations made from paper and natural materials as a step towards a sustainable future.

But perhaps it was destined to be. For Neerja was born into a family of weavers in a small village in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh. Ponduru is known for its fine khadi and cotton weaves, and almost every other house had a loom.

Growing up, it was no surprise that she gravitated towards weaving: she wove her first piece of yarn when a teenager. “I was in Class VII or VIII when I first wove jute and cotton into yarn for a school project. I ended up making a small pouch for pencils,” she says.

Neerja says her father, who had graduated as a textile designer from the first batch of NID Ahmedabad, was a huge influence on her life. “Influenced by him, I studied clothing and textiles during my graduate course at MSU Baroda. Later, I pursued a post-graduation course in higher education from Nottingham Trent University. Now, I have an experience of over 17 years working in the fashion industry and education sectors. But I owe all the textile design knowledge I have to my father,” she says.

 

After her education, Neerja did various jobs – she worked as a merchandiser at Tirupur in Tamil Nadu and as a design professor in Coimbatore and later Jaipur.

But Neerja lets on that through it all she remained fascinated by the art and technique of paper weaving. “There are references to paper weaving in Japanese legends. I wanted to emulate these techniques in the Indian context to promote our traditions and create livelihood opportunities for weavers,” she says.

Her own weaving studio was always a dream, even while she presented research papers on sustainable design and sustainable textiles at various international conferences. “I had the weaving studio on my mind from the time I graduated. However, life had different plans and my dreams took a backseat,” Neerja recalls.

But two years back, the experience she had garnered in these fields gave her enough confidence to pursue her dream. And Sutrakaar Creations was born.

It is a studio focused on eco-textile creations made from waste paper, recycled paper, and natural materials.

“Our products are 100 percent handmade and handcrafted, and with minimal use of electrically operated machines,” she says.

“It is also an open space for experimental weaving and I have collaborated with a few international artists and designers to create artworks and installations,” she adds.

At Sutrakaar, her weavers cut waste paper into strips of 2-4mm, twist and hand-spin them over the charkha to make thread-like strings using adhesive. This is used as the weft; the warp is either cotton or Ahimsa silk, both recycled industrial waste.

Palisetty works with weavers, four looms (two big pedal looms and two smaller ones), and women for cutting and trimming, at her studio in Jaipur. “I get more weavers if needed,” she says.

Most raw material is sourced from paper export houses and kabadiwalas.

 

The “80 percent upcycled” waste yarn is fashioned into accessories like pouches and handbags, gifting items such as diary covers and photo frames, and home decor accents such as lampshades and room dividers. Prices range between Rs 850 and Rs 10,000.

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“The idea is to juxtapose crafts with post-consumer waste so that we promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste and ethical fashion,” Neerja says.

Neerja now takes orders over Facebook and worldartcommunity.com, a peer-to-peer online marketplace. She also displays and sells Sutrakaar products at exhibitions.

Speaking about how Sutrakaar Creations has grown over the past year, she says the growth has not been tremendous, but it has been steady. “I am able to provide employment to housewives and local weavers. I started with one weaver and today I have three weavers and five housewives. People in India and abroad have heard about our products and are keen to understand the process,” she says.

She says the experience has been very positive. “When I explain to people on how we create what we create with an entirely unheard-of raw material, people are keen to understand and learn more.

The recycling and upcycling of paper

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With people – especially millennials – becoming environmentally conscious and keen to help save the earth, interest in environmentally relevant brands is at an all-time high.

“Our brand provides a one-of-a-kind solution; not just our products, our process is also eco-friendly and sustainable,” she says.

In an article on an online portal, she wrote: ”My dream is to educate more people globally to follow a sustainable lifestyle. My husband has now joined me in my work. This is our contribution to saving the earth for future generations.”

Neerja states she and Sutrakaar remain committed to driving change by designing socially and environmentally conscious products that embody vibrant, edgy, and smart sophistication.

“We ensure that we protect traditional techniques by incorporating them in contemporary designs. A few of our products are 90 percent biodegradable. And through our creations I can see we have created a small ripple in this ocean and hope to create a gigantic wave,” she says.

Where did the lanterns go?

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LANT52_001You may remember my original attempts to sell this lantern direct on this blog – see these posts!  My first attempt –   and the result!   Well – it didn’t work!  For a time I did list this one on etsy, and sold a couple of them before someone reported me to the administrators, who took the listings down.  It was a fair cop – smile – because I sell craft supplies in my etsy shop, and whilst they allow some of my gift items to be listed, they are really there to promote people who make craft items – and these are obviously not made by me!

It was another reason for me to create my own site – which by now many of you will know is JULZ CRAFT STORE.  The link is actually to the search results for lantern (it doesn’t work if you put ‘lanterns’ in the search box, because I didn’t use that word as a tag), and if you go there, you will find all the details you need, including the prices.  They range from £19.99 to £44.99.

These are the one’s I’ve listed, and I hope you might like to have a look and maybe even buy one!  They can be used indoors and outdoors!

 

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