Have Your Say

6th August 2021

Stashing the Blues and Beginning Again

It seems that not only do we have a huge group of talented stitchers out there in our community, but we also have a number of very knowledgeable historians as well! We received several responses to our article on the rare blue dye which was so prized by ancient Jewish cultures and the classical civilizations of the Mediterranean. 

Ancient Jewish Fabric Fragment (source)

Nik Ravenscroft mentioned woad, a plant that also produces a blue dye and, according to Nik, resulted in the Tudors seeing blue as the colour of poverty! Nik told us about a video she’d seen that showed the dyes that Vikings had available and specifically pointed out the intense dark blue from woad. As to why the early Jewish dyers and the Romans didn’t use it… there may be other readers with historical knowledge who may be able to provide more detail?

Woad or Isatis tinctoria (source)

In fact, Eva-Maria Mair also told us about woad and has even had a try at dyeing using the plant herself. Woad, or Isatis tinctoria, grows in the colder climates of Europe according to Eva-Maria. Could this account for it not being used so frequently in the warmer parts of the continent?

Eva-Maria explains that the dyeing process is the same as with indigo, where the leaves need to be broken down and fermented to produce the colour.

As with indigo, skill and knowledge are required to achieve an even result. 

If you want to know more about colour, Kathryn Molitor recommends a book on the subject called ‘Colour: A Natural History of the Colour Palette’ by Victoria Findlay. The book is filled with fascinating information about colours and dyes that the author has gathered throughout her travels. We have been lucky enough to read this book ourselves and can confirm that it is a very enjoyable and enlightening read.

Many of our readers were inspired by the welcome in All Stitched Up! issue #290 titled  ‘Beginning Again’. Lana Lipsett shared a very personal story where she had to ‘begin again’ after she was tragically involved in a near fatal car-accident and spent five long months in hospital. Lana had to cope with excruciating pain, particularly when she had to be moved. One day, two new nurses came to her ward to help move Lana with an orthopaedic sling. Neither nurse had done the procedure before, so Lana prepared herself for the process to be very painful. However, both nurses took the time to read the directions and slowly work through the procedure, which resulted in Lana being moved with almost no pain at all. As Lana observes:

‘There is definitely something to be said for careful, dedicated and thoughtful beginners.’

This certainly should be a lesson for us all. 

Orna Yehudai simply wanted to share a thought – she reminded us that we have an opportunity to start again every living moment. This is true about everything in life and thank goodness it is. We are very appreciative of the reminder, Orna.

Finally, we are still getting some great responses regarding using up our stash supplies. Carol Meadows likes to quilt with her stash. She doesn’t just create geometrically patterned quilts, but often makes quilts using long sashes of left-over fabric, which she then embroiders over and adds leaves, flowers, appliqué birds and butterflies. She’s made quilts out of old placemats, doilies, cotton fabric and even silk fabric. Her grandmother always used to remind her to:

‘Waste not, want not.’

However, as she wryly observes, no matter how much stash she uses up, there is always something that she just has to buy in order to turn that stash into something she likes!

Finally, Joan Lessard shared a stash challenge and asked whether anyone else had some solutions. She lives in an RV as she and her husband travel constantly. It means she has almost no storage space, and although her husband tolerates it, she has thread, beads and fabric stuffed into every possible space. If she places everything carefully back after she’s used it, things generally work out OK. However, if she does a ‘stuff and store’ job using plastic bags (not an uncommon thing it seems!) then she’s in trouble. But she wondered whether anyone else had experience keeping track of their materials in an RV, caravan or any other small space?

We’ll be back with more Have Your Say next week as we start to share some of the stories we’re received about your own close encounters with the third kind… well the unfinished project kind in this case! In the meantime, we’d love to hear from anyone who may have more thoughts about blue dyes, starting again or storage in small spaces or, indeed, any other topic that takes your fancy. Just email us at news@inspirationsstudios.com   

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