Monday, 24 March 2014

the answer to yesterday's question

where should i have begun?
at the beginning.

last week i flew home, changed my socks, polished my boots, cuddled my cat
patted the dogs, had a quick gin with my family, blew some notes on the tenor sax
and then
flew to Melbourne

to teach the first of what is rapidly becoming a series of second skin classes

Sally Harvey [proprietor of the gorgeous Crockett Cottage] kindly met me at the airport and took me straight to Brunetti's on Lygon Stree for a delicious iced coffee.
it was one of those rare moments when i actually thanked the Dogs Above that i am wheat intolerant otherwise i think i could cheerfully have eaten my way through that establishment.
wall to wall cakes of every description
with a goodly percentage of them loaded with cream and chocolate [two essential daily vitamins so far as i am concerned]

that was a fine beginning.

next morning i tottered across Johnston street and up the back lanes for a bit of a wander
and a quick reconnaissance of the green trash bins outside the flower store Vasette

and lots of it

i found nerines, tiger lilies [stamens intact, thank you], gardenia, magnolia, oak, three species of eucalyptus [i found even more wandering back down the laneways], lotus, roses, orchids, cotinus and more

in short, i found abundance

which reassured me that the maxim i live by

"everything we need is here"

still works very nicely, thank you.

for this trip i tried to keep my luggage compact, taking the smallest of work kits [spectacles included in photo for scale] although i did rather kick myself for forgetting to pack my singing bowl. unlike Stuart Kestenbaum [Director of Haystack Mountain School of Craft] who commands an expectant hush just by walking to the front of the room

to get attention i have to ring a bell [better still, a bowl] or resort to making a loud "coooooeeeee" noise. so it was the latter [that, or unpack the soprano sax...which might have had the opposite effect and cleared the room]

 i could do this of course [travel lightly, i mean, not clear the room] because i was coming to silkcentral
Beautiful Silks
where we were going to be working with the most luscious of materials

SilkyMerino and #5silkcotton stitching thread
i think this combination is my all time favourite. i'm the original sensitive princess when it comes to cloth against skin.

polyester brings me out in a rash [my son says it is psychosomatic but that is nonsense.]

the itchy wool trousers of my school uniform in the '70s had me in tears [although now i am sure the dyes in that cloth were as much to blame]

but i can even sleep in SilkyMerino [purl side inwards is best of all]
 we began by making a super-simple garment that doubles as a sweet top and as a scarf [even a hoodie if you're clever] so that we could get something into the dyepot and have a present to open next morning
and then we moved on to making one of the most important tools in dressmaking
no, not forging scissors [though that would be exciting]
but making string

and then on day two we started work on our beautiful second skins, exploring almost-no-waste cutting techniques and delighting in the fabulous drape of the cloth as well as the joy of handsewing,
simple running stitch and flat fell seams...strong AND beautiful

but we needed another present to open on day three
we took advantage of the sucrose indigo vats that had been brewing happily [nurtured by Naomi] since Aboubakar Fofana's workshop there in November last year [which i sadly missed because i was happily in Portland]
rebundling those simple ecoprinted garments, to add patches of blue...
totally gorgeous.

i had such a splendid time and everyone seemed so happy [and the wait list for Mansfield is bubbling over] that i really think there will have to be more second skin classes.
stay tuned for an announcement later this week...


  1. i suppose i could have hidden out in b.s. basement (with the mother) until you arrived…i so want to make some clothes.

  2. One of my dreams is i have some milky merino!
    My 2e hear you play the soprano sax!

    1. we were using SilkyMerino which eclipses the milky version by light years in wearability and colour intensity
      i sound much much better on the tenor, Martine! i only have the soprano so that i can keep my lungs in work while travelling.
      i wish i could take the tenor but i would have to buy an extra seat on the plane

  3. oh my (oh sigh) oh why can't I stow away on just one occasion.....

    oh sigh

    1. there's a one-day class in August at Glenmore House in NSW [not formally announced yet]...oops, guess the cat is out of the bag.

    2. What a beautiful post! I was visiting my daughter in Sydney while you were less than 100 miles away in Portland Oregon. I do like reading your posts and this one was exceptional!

    3. were 100 miles away from where I live on the Oregon Coast..

  4. I'm wearing my wrap scarf today and getting lots of lovely comments - I'm keen to do a pot with my surly Year 11's on Wednesday - will keep you posted! THANKS a million for an inspiring time. Jo

  5. all lovely the text and pictures, you got the blue wouv , silky merino are the best , i use the scarf i bought from you very much and have still some fabric on my working table. After Scotland i have a waiting list to you : the blue with you anf Roz ,.and second skin i wish the money would com with a whirlwind!!!!

  6. Is there going to be a Workshop in Europe apart from the already fully booked one in Scotland? Have you ever thought about....Germany? Or the Netherlands? Or Antwerp! That's where all the avandgardist fashionistas come from.

    1. i have happily taught in Belgium and Switzerland [and many years ago also in Austria and Russia] as well as the UK
      oddly, the last three potential hosts to inquire from the Netherlands flatly refused to contribute to my travel costs, so that fell through.
      i'm quite capable of delivering a class in German and had considered offering one in a small Schloss near Regensburg but sadly that too came to nothing.
      on the other hand i have plenty of things to occupy me, so shall wait until the Dogs Above sort things out :)

  7. More Second Skin classes? Yes please! I suppose it's easier to add extra classes on your side of the pond than on mine though. Where's that penny jar? Need to start saving...

    1. SilkyMerino is such a fabulous fabric to work with...everything always turns out beautifully which makes it an especial joy to build a class around it.

  8. I would dearly love to meet you and to take a dyeing class with you. Your no waste theory reminded me of my grandmother. She never wasted anything.
    She and I had purchased the most lovely wool fabric and I had a pattern I wanted to try. My grandmother immediately had a fit about the pattern. She said it was a waste of fabric. So she taught me how to make a skirt without a pattern and no waste. I was a teenager at the time and did not understand the gift she had given me.

  9. Luscious materials.... green bins.... hand made string ....a class with you ....a present to open next morning ..... sighhhh

  10. we are definitely deprived over here in Europe :( big sighs .... that sounds just .... well .. no words really, except yours. I did actually dream I was doing a workshop of yours last night ....

    1. ooh i hope the dreamclass was a good one!

    2. well it started off rather wonderful but then it was me showing you a dress I had made and dyed/painted made of a sort of canvas which was absolutely nothing like anything I would ever do. which was so weird I woke up. .... well that's dreams for you. :)

    3. as long as it was a dream and not a nightbear!

  11. beautiful dyeing, fabulous colours. Hoping you might be coming to the west of England again sometime.

  12. Such a lovely tidbit of a post! Was your indigo vat something similar to this information from Botanical Colors? -!prettyPhoto

    1. It was a 1,2,3 fructose vat set up by Aboubakar Fofana

  13. Such a lovely tidbit of a post! Was your indigo vat something similar to this information from Botanical Colors? -!prettyPhoto

  14. and my copy of field notes has been shipped! very exciting ...

  15. Never met a wool I could wear so close to my skin until I made [what turned out to be] that headband thingie during our workshop - that Silky stuff is somethin' else ;>]] Can only imagine an entire frock ......
    and loved that bit about your foray for petals inside those green bins!