Friday 30 September 2011

Tuesday 27 September 2011

inFlighT enTertainMent

stuck for something to do inflight?
stitch on what you're wearing

Friday 23 September 2011

delighted to announce...

'riverstitch' workshop at The Brewery, Goolwa, South Australia

this will be the only South Australian workshop for me next year
and i'm especially pleased because
my daughter Violette [whose hand-stitched cutwork lace appears in Second Skin and Handeye magazine
and who was commissioned by a Shakerag participant last year
to transform a garment using this technique]
will be co-teaching with me for the first time

we're also planning a class dinner at a local restaurant
and there'll be a talk [open to the general public] at the Goolwa Library

we may even manage a field trip to the Currency Creek Arboretum

here's the wrap

Work with bio-regional dye sources and gentle stitching during a week-long explorative journey in a private garden in one of South Australia’s historic river towns. Take windfall-leaf collecting walks to create beautiful dye samplers, gradually piecing them together to construct a unique and exquisite garment. India will guide participants in dye and construction techniques while guest tutor Violette will share her cutwork lace and embroidery skills [pictured in ‘Second Skin’].
Together we will spend five lovely summer days creating by reinventing and restructuring rejects from the wardrobe, adding scraps of new silk and wool together with hand-stitching, beads, buttons and of course plant dyes. We will create dye bundles and stitch samplers, explore ways of adding pattern to cloth and enjoy the delights of the sewing circle.


23 metres of milkymerino into the cauldron
for Zeega
before i get myself into another
flying sardine can

Sunday 18 September 2011

weather or not

two months is a long time to be out in the sun, given that 2 weeks in Australian sunshine is reputedly equivalent to about 25 years under museum conditions
as i'm away from home again [soon] for a while
and therefore shall not be able to sneekpeek inside the metal box
it seemed a good time to [once again] put some cloth to the test
the two pieces on the left are commercially produced cottons, the third from left is eucalyptus-dyed milkymerino, the four on the right snippets of silk dyed using the more delicate 'northern' plants

they are half in, half out of the box

assuming no birds try to steal them
or helpful family members decide to move them under cover

i shall open the box when i return home in November
and publish the results on these pages

Thursday 15 September 2011

be careful who you spill the beans to

...they might be a writer.
some time before dawn i awoke refreshed after a glorious bear-like sleep in transit over the pond and made a few notes from the previous evening...

the man who lowers himself ponderously into the seat next to mine introduces himself as an "empowerment psychologist" and although i am clearly tethered to my phone and skipping around between tunes, persists in attempting to converse.

he informs me variously [and without effort on my part] that he hovers between continents, spends six months each year in Australia, that he has a "very independent wife", that travelling is a lonely business, that he has been doing it for thirty-five years. 

out it pours, a muddy swollen river full of the flotsam of too much detail. the speakers planted visibly in my ears are no deterrent.
eventually he comes up for air. 
i use the interval in which his tortured cells are gratefully gulping oxygen to smile sweetly that i, on the other hand, am well content with my lot, thoughtfully stroking the thin silver band encircling my ring finger [which in reality has nothing to do with anything] and direct my attention back to the music, switching from Ben Webster inappropriately making whoopee on his sax to Leonard Cohen who somewhat unnecessarily but in delicious honeyed tones assures me "there ain't no cure for love"

the self-styled psychologist mutters something about taking a sleeping pill to "get through this boring flight", downs a couple of tablets with a flourish and is comatose within minutes.

must be strong stuff, i've seen sensitive horses take longer to succumb to intravenous anaesthetics.
enveloping myself in a leaf-scented shawl and some virtual hugs sent last-minute by a kind friend i drift into the arms of Morpheus myself, reflecting on the invisible line that separates men of honour from the other kind.

of course, i may have entirely miss-interpreted the poor chap, but it wouldn't have made half as good a story.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

goodnight America, it's been simply grand, thank you

after the last toes had danced on the felt
the bundles boiled
and all agreed 
it is better to dye together 
than to dye alone

i am delivered to Philadelphia airport 
[thank you Leslie and Keli]
and board a flight heading west

i collect my trashed suitcase
now missing a 'leg' and limping [meaning the suitcase, not me]
and find a taxi

discussing the most favourable route with the driver
[left on 3rd and then Kearny to Stockton]
he asks if i live here
i reply "sometimes in my dreams" 

the tide was out
so i was able to play with stones
and have a quiet moment

i catch up with familiar trees

sit quietly a while

and wander to favourite places

thanks America...Dog bless.

Sunday 11 September 2011

september 11

so far the quote of the week, for me, is this...
" i can't remember the last time i walked on grass with bare feet"

today is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks
that have been seared in to all of us forever

we remember where we were
just as we do, those of us old enough, with the assassination of President Kennedy
while stitching this week
people have been
sharing their stories of september 11, 2001

they all begin with

"it was such a beautiful day"

this morning we will go and stand in our grassy field
and take a quiet moment
to remember not only the horror of september 11
but also other atrocities perpetrated by human kind

needless wars
grandmothers schlepping sewing machines across Europe
grandfathers being railed to Siberia in cattle trucks
recall that somewhere
is even now contemplating strapping some explosive device to themselves
worse still
to someone else

read a poem
say a prayer

remind ourselves that life is precious
and can be beautiful
and that every day we wake up breathing
is a gift
and should be cherished

Friday 9 September 2011

handworking with wool and cloth

these are gentle days here in Pennsylvania
though it rains
the air feels warm and soft
elsewhere the weather is not so kind
and there is flooding and mayhem

but for us the conditions are perfect
for making our felted landskins
while we stitch and cut and interweave and grind holes
the wool is absorbing moisture from the atmosphere
which is going to make the felting easier

we begin our day with a quiet moment
and a reading of some kind
open our bundles from the pot-of-the-night-before
and settle to stitching ourselves into a quiet place

Thursday 8 September 2011


some words scribbled on the morning after a dark wet drive from Philadelphia to goodness knows where

trying to get somewheres
in the soup thick dark
through endless fallingwater
i feel my breath begin to catch
in the moment it becomes apparent
that those filaments on the map
blur into obscurity
even with the help of spectacles
or perhaps
because the glass was slightly misted
it seems there are two choices
blind panic
or sweet surrender
i opt for the river
sailing a random course
in my hired vessel
forging through shining sheets of water
adrift yet enlivened
around my neck hangs a bell
gifted to me by a shepherd
who no longer needs it to be heard
a dog above hears it tinkling
sends a breath that lifts the leaves
reveals the sign that points the road
guides this lost lamb safely in
to the waiting warm welcome

Wednesday 7 September 2011


here are some pix of my transamerica dress

a story that began here on August 19th
with a baptism of sorts in the Pacific

bundled in a garden on the left coast [but not quite on the edge]

continued at Long Ridge Farm
with several immersions in cauldrons
[some merely to quell the growth of microfauna]

arrived at Haystack
and wandered down to the Atlantic

by way of a puddle or two

concluded with an unbundling
on the evening of August 31
and looks like this

and a detail, with a bit of an odd yellow glow due to dim light whilst taking the pic

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Monday 5 September 2011

a few more Haystack pix...

stacking rocks
is a good way to begin the day
with a quiet mind
everything has a point of balance
finding it is the tricky thing

the kitchen cat
meditating on the meaning
of everything

the rich colours
from cold-processed elderberry

an exquisite piece of dyed paper
[the student responsible smiled rather a lot]

Sunday 4 September 2011

smoke gets in your eyes

when i boil cauldrons
over twigs and sticks
people inevitably ask about carbon
my response is that the twigs and sticks
will produce the same amount of carbon-based gas
whether they rot in the woods
or are consumed by flames

in the former case the gas will [i think]
be methane
in the latter
carbon dioxide
[chemists finding flaws while reading this page are invited to correct me]

on balance
probably better than using
coal-sourced electricity...

Saturday 3 September 2011


Haystack is an extraordinary place
you have to make a pilgrimage to get there

the gaff-rigged ship of dreams sails by
from time to time

the fibre studio is a delight

we boiled our cauldrons by the sea
using tannin-rich water from a nearby brook

diving into the sea at the end of the day
water so cold it felt like fire

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