Tag Archives: turning of the year

Late Winter Palette

We didn’t get much snow this winter, and spring temperatures are coming early. It’s time to say farewell to the muted colours of winter, at least outside. I find I am increasingly drawn to these calm neutral colours. Partly this is a result of searching through thrift store racks for clothing that will make a good canvas for printing. My eyes skim over all the bright colours, looking for a nice pale silk blouse or a shirt in ecru linen. I have become more appreciative of a subtle patterned weave in a fabric, or a wee bit of lace trim. This is a good outlook to have here on the edge of the prairie, where the beauty of the landscape is often found in leaves of grass or the shape of a lone tree against the sky.


This wool scarf was dyed in an onion skin bath. I love how the string lines from bundling it up created this topography in the fabric. A little bit like paths of snow through a field of tall grass.


I was pleased with how the oak and maple leaves printed on this silk scarf, and with the overall shades of taupe colour effect.


I have been looking at the work of Yoko Saito and admiring her inspired use of “neutral” colour schemes. In her book Japanese Quilting, Piece by Piece she discusses the historical significance of these colours in traditional Japanese fabrics. Her description of taupe as “a subtle mixture of grey and brown … an extremely versatile colour” really made me smile. Ah! That explains the colour of some fleeces I have been looking at over the winter, in pleasant debate over how to define the colour. “Taupe” will never be on the official list of Shetland sheep colours but the idea of a mixture of grey and brown is very useful for me when contemplating sheep colour genetics.

Linen / cotton shirts, fleece samples from Dash, Ava, and Kir.

Of course, sometimes it is more fun just to watch the sheep themselves. No wonder I love neutral colours when they come in a beautiful package like this. This is Daisy, back in the spring of 2013 when she was just a couple of days old.


Lambs are due in early May this year. What colours will 2015 bring? Whatever the shade of sheep, we know it will harmonize perfectly with the green grass of spring.

A Stitch in Time

“A stitch in time saves nine” is how that old adage goes. That certainly would apply to this mending project. If I had mended the knees of these favourite jeans at the first sign of a tear, instead of continuing to wear them as the erosion spread and spread, it would have been a simple task. Instead it became a ‘project’. Like so many projects, it was started with great enthusiasm. But this visible mending technique of stitching across the surface of the cloth is not intended to be fast and efficient. It is a slow and meditative process. And life being what it seems to be, the basket with the jeans was set down and instantly buried under an avalanche of, well, more projects, and laundry, and stuff.


So on this midwinter’s eve, at the turning of the year, I’m picking up this piece of well worn cloth again. Breathe. Stitch. Breathe. Stitch. Slowing the process of decay, while honouring age and imperfection.  And maybe, if I sit still, “a stitch in time” will mean stepping out of the whirlwind for a moment. In the dark of this solstice night, time will stop, and then oh so slowly we begin the journey back to the light. Breathe. Stitch. I won’t count the stitches or the moments it takes, but I hope these jeans will see another spring, and that each of these stitches will feel the fresh stain of moist garden earth under the June sun.