I grew up in South Africa and have always been aware of nature, fauna and flora. My Mum had an off grid indigenous plant nursery which supplied farmers with Protea plants for flower farms. As a child she taught me to recognise and identify wild plants, while taking the time to really look and see how amazing they were.
15 years ago I moved to the UK and have always appreciated the access we have in London to parks, river and canal towpaths and greenspaces. I have often needed to ‘Forest Bathe’ the Shinto way in these spaces to de-stress and remind myself that work and the pressures of life, fit into a bigger picture. I have had to learn a whole new language of British plants, some were familiar, but British woods and hedgerows have been a revelation. Identifying species while walking the dog or camping with the kids became a familiar joy that made me feel at home.
Keeping my hands busy with various craft and textile projects is my ‘normal’ and after experiencing my first snow and real winter, I started to crochet and knit. I love the freedom of crocheting, however my knitting skills are pretty basic – you can see some of my misshapen jumper attempts on my Instagram @lubhelutextiles. So I became a ‘yarnie’ with a stash of beautiful Indie dyed yarns that was costing me a fortune! After research into Acid dyes, the process did not appeal to me as it seemed unnatural. The growing importance of re-using, mending and making our own clothing is a growing trend in Europe, however coming from Africa, it is second nature. Bright colour and light is an instinctive part of my visual awareness and at some point it became obvious that using plants to create yarn colour was something I needed to try.
My Mom was part of the generation that made Easter eggs dyed with onion skins and taught me to tie dye as a child. Through my interest in African craft I knew about the use of plants and earth pigments as a colour source, so my research started and I discovered the resurgence of natural dyeing. I read and experimented on my own for a while, then a course at ‘Tribe’ yarn shop in Richmond with Emma of @towndyer set me on my path. It then snowballed and I fast became obsessed; an amazing workshop in Denmark with G_ULD, instagram natural dyers, joining the London Guild of Dyers, Weavers and Spinners, meeting Susan and Ash of Natures Rainbow all served to build a network of wonderful people who are all so generous with their time, knowledge and skills – I feel that I have joined a community of people who care about this planet, each other and a common love of the handmade.
I hope that I have sparked your interest and that you will try your hand at natural dying , come on a workshop, buy a book, forage and experiment…..join us