Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Sloe Time!

Along the hedgerows in the village I watched for the sloe berries each time we went for a walk. Usually they are few and far between but this year they seem to be the best I have ever seen them. Of course I went picking them with ideas of using them to try out my ink and dye experimenting. I had a little helper who had such a great time helping me. Chloe was on half term.

I used the pressure cooker and cooked them and then added the cotton fabric. Her little five year old face was loving this, adding fabric to the berries. And then we wound some threads and wool and dropped them into the pot and created a pink spoon.

I wanted to show her how it changed from white to pink and so we washed some out and let it dry. The rest was left for a few hours and coloured a deeper shade. Sloe berries are normally used by the locals for sloe gin for the festive season. They are a dry bitter fruit with a large stone, it seemed more exciting to use the coloured juice for this and an exciting little hand helped stir the pot and watch.

I loved it just as much, threads and fabric to be creative with. I am not an expert, I do not know how the colour will last.

I hung it in the garden to dry. And I just kept one little branch to record the sloes in my square book.

I couldn't really paint the fine details, too hard on my eyes. I like it as it is, a detailed pencil study with a couple of coloured berries. My head was full of ideas as I decided on a little project using the fabric.

Oh look at that colour, threads came out gorgeous variegated shades of the colour. And yes I kept some juice, not sure it is ink but I can see how it looks on paper. You can also see the stones and my branch I used for my drawing.

I made a little patchwork, hand sewn with my sloe fabric. It is a miniature quilt for a tiny bed for a little mouse.

It is all stuffed and finished. Now I am working on an Elderberry patchwork in the wonderful rich colour I made from the elderberries. Just wish I had made about ten times more, hence the little projects.

This is so nice I wish I was tiny and it could be on my bed. Maybe next year if there is an amazing crop I might be picking buckets full. See the different shades that came out of the pot, just tiny pieces of fabric, but that makes it even more precious.

My lovely drawing of the hare on my pin cushion. I love working like this, things I have made. I collected the berries and dyed the fabric and stitched and made something that means something to me. Things made from my village. The slow and careful way of drawing and making, it makes me feel happy, it feels like me. I will share them again when they are finished.
Testing the sloe juice with a paintbrush straight from the pot. It actually changed to blue more like the skin colour. See below.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a little of what I have been up to. I have some seashore walks to tell you about and some drawings of my found objects. More about that next time. I am enjoying sewing on these cooler days. as we have had our first frosts. The huge bright moon brings the high tides and lots of treasures for me to find on the shore. I have lots to draw, days fly by.

I want to leave you with this early morning sight, a rainbow and the sky the colour of my sloe fabric. I hung out of the bedroom to take it and as I was wearing my pyjamas jumped back into my warm bed.

The products of the day. We had a little Pom Pom making competition and Chloe aged 5 won with her huge yellow one. Mine was the same colour as the sloe dye, so I put it in

Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoyed seeing my little projects. As always thank you for the lovely comments which I do love to read. Please stop and say hello if you are visiting and tell me what you are making. Bye for now...Millyx



Anonymous said...

I love how you've experimented with the colour from the berries via the medium of dyeing but also using it as ink, really interesting :) I've never tried natural dyeing but it's such a lovely thing, it just seems so nice and 'wholesome' if that makes sense. Beautiful drawing too with just the one coloured leaf and berry :) I love how the last photograph of the rainbow matches the sort of colour theme of the post too! x

RH Carpenter said...

There is so much in this post that soothes my heart. Such beauty, a gift of sharing with a child, the wonderful colors on fabric and paper, and then a gorgeous sloe-tinted sky! Thank you so much for sharing this.

Alissa Duke said...

An absolutely fascinating and wonderful blog post. I loved the step by step process of the sloe dying. A friend of mine recently went on sewing course in Toulouse, where they went to a wode dying day. I love the ones of these natural colours.

As usual, your drawings and painting are beautiful I am still following your blog, even though I am not always commenting.

It was amazing to see the photo of the sky at the end of the day. How very fitting. Thanks for sharing your area of the world

Lucille said...

This is a delightful post, it reminded me so much of the Brambly Hedge stories.

Valerie Gardiner said...

Those branches laden with fruit are s irresistible, I can never resist collecting them to make sloe gin but I love what you've done with them. I wonder if the dying would work when I drain the fruit when the gin is ready? I think it's worth a try!

Feathers said...

Neither you nor the little girl by your side will ever forget your "sloe time" together. Lovely little quilt project you've put together with the pink fabrics you've created, and I look forward to seeing the finished pieces. You make me want to go out looking for berries to have some fun with myself,though I think berry gathering here is well past now--Brrrrrr! (some snow flurries yesterday--Pretty, but Ugh!!!

MILLY said...

Thank you everyone . I am pleased you enjoyed this post.

Valerie, yes try it , it should work. I will not be washing my fabric, as I do not trust it to be fast.

Gill said...

It's such a good year for sloes that I'm going to pick some tomorrow and try dyeing with them!
I actually prefer damson gin to sloe gin - I find it much fruitier!!
Thanks for a fabulous post!

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Dear Milly,
First I would like to thank you for visiting and you lovely comment.
I would love to try dyeing with berries... I love the shades you came up with.. Your drawing is just beautiful... So very talented you are.

suz said...

your berry dyes are wonderful - love that you dye threads as well as fabric - I'm not sure about the threads, but I think you can heat set the fabric. I'd put some muslin on the ironing board before ironing...just in case...and then just iron the fabric with a cotton setting. The colors are yummy.

Debbie Nolan said...

Oh Milly - such a lovely color and I wish I was a mouse and could sleep under such a beautiful quilt. Your drawing is gorgeous as well. I really enjoyed seeing the wonderful projects you were working on and to know your helper was having fun too. P.S. We don't have sloe berries here...are they native to your area? Thank you for sharing and as always inspiring me to draw some of nature's treasures as well. Hugs!

Julie Clay Illustration said...

I love your tiny little quilts, what patience you have. I think that sloe gin sounds nice, never had any? The sketch and partial painted section are beautiful. I shall watch out for some sloe berries now :)

Lynn said...


valerie greeley said...

Your adventures with sloes are truly inspiring made even nicer by your obvious delight in sharing your joy with a five year old.

When I saw your pencil drawing I thought it would be a shame to cover up those subtle lines. They made me think of the drawings of Charles Rene Mackintosh.