Natural Color

When I dream, I see myself living on a little plot of land, in a cottage, with my herb/natural dye plant garden in the back.  It’s tough to have that in the city, but still … I dream.  If I can’t have that, then certainly a natural dye container garden is a possibility in my urban environment, right?  Receiving “Natural Color” by Sasha Duerr has made that dream a goal; I’ve already started collecting seeds for my 2017 dye garden.  I have to work out where to put it without breaking the rules from my building’s management company and the fire marshal but I’ll deal with that later.  😛

Off the bat, the photography in this book is STUNNING!  Even if you’re not a crafter, you’ll love just looking at the pictures.  As usual, whether it’s a book I receive free for review or one I buy, with these types of books, I always follow the same parameters:

  • How easy are the supplies to find?
  • How simple or complicated are the instructions?
  • Realistically, how many of these projects am I likely to make/do?

Because of the diversity of soil composition in this big ole US of A, some of the plants used by the author are not easily found or not found at all in my area.  There’s the added challenge that I don’t live in the farmland area of my state, so sourcing the supplies in my urban environment is a little more difficult if I want to do so locally.  Not impossible but some of them are not readily available.  This is not the fault of the author, just a matter of fact.  With e-commerce what it is I’m sure I can find online whatever I can’t access locally.

The instructions are well-written and laid out in a way that even a novice dyer gets a non-intimidating introduction to actual dye materials, the pros and cons of particular mordants, safety precautions, plus recipes to get him/her started. There’s great material there even for the experienced dyer — basically,  something for everyone. The recipes are designed for any dye-able material — fabric or yarn — which gives crafters of non-woolly persuasion opportunity to play as well!!!

The biggest plus for me despite not having access to all the material the author used is that I still have the opportunity to experiment.  She used plant, vegetables and fruit dye materials for her recipes.  Although my access to the plant life is limited, I most definitely can play with the recipes which use vegetables and fruit local to me.  The book is divided up into seasons which I absolutely love.  I’m embracing seasonal eating, so being able to use the foods I consume now without having to purchase different or additional dye material is an absolute bonus — pomegranate skins I’m looking at you friend! Although I’m not able to try all the dye recipes, there’s enough that I can try that make having the book worthwhile.

I’ve already played around with recipes in this book (I’ll post more later) but my absolute favourite is my take on the recipe for madder dyed fiber.  I cheated and used madder powder I had before.  I took liberties with the recipe and made my mixture as alkaline as I needed to in order to get the salmon shade I envisioned.  The result was beautiful and I can’t wait to do more.

Natural Color Experiment -- Madder

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in natural dyeing.  In addition to learning a new skill, the opportunities for experimenting are endless and quite frankly … just plain fun!

Author’s website: Sasha Duerr

Author’s Instagram: Sashaduerr

disclaimer: this review was done through my affiliation with Blogging For Books.  Although I received a copy for review, the thoughts expressed are entirely my own.

Read, Knit: The Tea Planter’s Wife

Back in the day, when I was younger and full of tragic heroine’s angst, I would have lapped this book up in a heart-beat, but now that I’m older, not so much.  This is not to say that this book is not a good read, it’s just no longer my cup of tea.

The story is set in colonial Ceylon and it’s protagonist is Gwen — a naive nineteen year old who has become married to a mysterious tea plantation owner after an extremely fast  courtship.  She then travels from London to Ceylon, excited about her new life and head over heels in love with her new husband.  She arrives to find that he’s not the same man she married, that excitement she had to run her own household is dampened by the mistrust and resentment of the plantation’s servants, that her sister in law seems hellbent on breaking up her marriage and of course, there is another woman in her husband’s life whose complicated presence Gwen doesn’t understand.  Enter stage left, a local man who has piqued Gwen’s own interest, then last but not least, the secrecy of what happened to her husband’s first wife.

The book in some ways reminded me of Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea.  The air of secrecy, this “thing” that everyone knows except the protagonist, story set against a colonial backdrop.  Then all of a sudden, it’s discovered that even the protagonist has her own secrets which added a smidgen more drama to the plot.  I really liked the author’s prose and descriptions of the culture and country were beautifully done.  But that’s where it ended for me.  I just never became invested in the characters.  The protagonist made choices that I didn’t understand or could relate to.  I also thought the plot was predictable.  The book had a slow start, gained momentum in the middle but the end was as I expected.   For the fans of this genre, this book would be an absolute love,  in my case, I like it, but I don’t love it.  It held my attention enough so I could practice reading and knitting together.  That’s a good thing right?

The Planter's Wife

Author’s Website: Dinah Jefferies

Knit Pattern: Boden from Nice & Knit

disclaimer: this review was done through my affiliation with Blogging For Books.  Although I received a copy for review, the thoughts expressed are entirely my own.