Friday, August 19, 2011

book report: wild colour

i've been on a bit of a travelling roadshow lately with the hats, and haven't had a chance to do much dyeing.  but fortunately i'll be working for the next couple weeks from the little village i grew up in, and this time of year is fantastic for gathering local wild dyestuffs.  and i will.....

in the meantime, i wanted to put up a little natural dye book report of sorts.  over the years i've collected quite a few natural dye books, so i thought i could share little mini-reviews of my favorites with you.

i'll begin with wild colour, by jenny dean, which is one of the two dye books that i use the most, and recommend the most when people ask me.  my copy is older, i think there is a new edition with a different cover.

i think it's really the best all around natural dye book out there, and has clear instructions and great photos for most everything you might want to know as a beginner dyer, including several things you don't see in other books, like how to make your own mordants:

and also great experiments to try, such as this one, making 25 different colours from one dyebath:

the second half of the book lays out one page per dyestuff, and as the title suggests, it focuses on many dyestuffs that can be found in the wild.  of course, this depends a lot of where you live (the author lives in england), but many (though certainly not all) of the dyestuffs listed are things that i can find in southern ontario.  some, like goldenrod, are abundant right here in downtown toronto (right now!):

my only real complaint with this book is the kind of colour swatches that are used to demonstrate the potential colours within a dyestuff.  almost all dye books i've seen use photos of actual fibres which have been dyed.  in this book, it's a kind of pantone colour swatch, which i find can be a bit misleading.  for example, if anyone has ever been able to achieve such beautiful shades of soft pink using birchbark, like the swatches shown, i'd love to see them.  in my experience, you're more likely to get a range of browns with pink undertones.

but all in all, this is one of my two most valuable natural dye resource books, and i highly recommend it.  back soon with some actual dyeing!

Friday, August 12, 2011

kitchen vignettes

my lovely and very talented housemate aube has recently started a food blog, called kitchen vignettes, which you really should go check out.  aube is not only an incredible cook and lover of all things food, but she's also a super talented filmmaker and photographer. (you may remember she helped me out here.)   her blog combines her two passions, and she has some wonderful video-recipes postedi absolutely adore the garlic scape pesto video, for the sheer beauty of it, but i also love the quiet hilarity of her most recent chicken soup video (in which you may spot a cameo by a familiar face). 

aube's name is.....well....aube, but she is often given the nickname aubergine, hence the title and header, and all the beautiful photos she's done of that particular purple plant, like these ones:

feeling pretty lucky to live in the house where all these recipes are being created.....

you should also check out this post by sweet carolanne, who has got some rockin japanese indigo plants going.  i'm sad to say that the indigo plants i started haven't faired nearly so well.  my garden is full of beautiful tomatoes and herbs, but alas, the dye plants haven't shot up alongside them.  i may try to start some indigo seeds indoors, using the tutorial carolanne mentions.  i know they need the heat of the summer, so it may not work, but i figure it can't hurt to try.....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

dusk dances

i've had a strange (and quite terrible cold) for the last week or so, and have been laying pretty low, but i did make it to dusk dances, one of my all time favorite toronto summer events.  every year it's different and every year it's amazing, and i love that it happens in withrow park, which is right around the corner from my house. 

this year there were five different scenes, and another thing i love about dusk dances is how between each dance you up and move to a different part of the park.  the audience was huge when i went this year, and there's this great excited energy as everyone hurries and jostles to get a good spot to watch each scene.

one of my favorites this year was this performance, which i don't think i can describe better than the photo can:

but my absolute favorite were these gals, who were playing 1950's prom attendees, who started out really sweet and went a bit psyco by the end (all through dance, of course):

dusk dances is still on tour, you should check it out to see if they're coming to a park near you.  

summer is such a wonderful time for these small festivals - tonight i'm going to see a summerworks play "the intruder" that my friend clare did the movement direction for, and thursday i'll see another summerworks show "one" that my friend keith is in. both have been getting some great reviews.

and keeping all this summer festival-ing rolling - i just discovered that the edmonton fringe fest will be on when i'm there for a wholesale show next week. so excited! the edmonton fringe is legendary, and i think it will be a perfect way to spend my evenings after the show.

have you seen any great shows or festivals this summer?  do you have a favorite event that you make sure to catch every year?