and all of a sudden we find ourselves driving along our dike, almost home, almost back home and the long week we were away is like a distant memory; after a hasty unpacking I unfold the treasures (I share only a couple in this post) I bought and found on the island: the Merchant & Mills workbook I bought in Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh; it contains a collection of basic, versatile sewing patterns I'm hoping to be able to put to good use: the home-dyed fabrics will become home-sewn items of clothing

I particularly fancy the Curlew dress and the Heron wrap top - isn't it absolutely wonderful the items are all named after birds

bought in lovely bookshop Atkinson Pryce Books in Biggar on our way to Edinburgh; the young woman helping me in the store mentioned she had studied this poet, however I wasn't paying proper attention to what she was saying exactly, excited as I was upon finding a poet who had written such lovely poems on Toad, Frog and many other creatures I so love, so I don't quite know what it was she had to say about him, other than that she admired his writing a lot.
from the book:

Stop looking like a purse. How could a purse
squeeze under the rickety door and sit,
full of satisfaction, in a man's house?

You clamber towards me on your four corners-
right hand, left foot, left hand, right foot.

I love you for being a toad,
for crawling like a Japanese wrestler,
and for not being frightened

I put you in my purse hand, not shutting it,
and set you down outside directly under
every star.

A jewel in your head? Toad,
you've put one in mine,
a tiny radiance in a dark place.

Summer weather here is very similar to what we've been exposed to in Scotland, the day begins grey, blue bursts of sky between the clouds, drizzle and then all of a sudden the sun comes shining through and the day ends softly with a moisture rich air 
I was thinking this fabric could be used for the dress making; it's cotton, avocado dye, metal washer/coin clamping in copper pot, been left to soak up the juices for the past 10 days and revealed itself today
 this is a pot of red earth I collected in the field below, proof of me holding same pot in said field, the exact location of which is a Secret! At Glen House we met another artist Viv and we got to talking about herman de vries a Dutch artist representing the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale this year and I told her how fascinated I am by this man, whom I had not heard of until I read about the Biennale and Viv mentioned that she had actually met him years ago at a gallery in Edinburgh, 1990 to be precise; at the time she'd promised him a jar of red earth, as this is what he collects from all over the world and uses in his art (read more about him here)

so now I was even more excited, for if one could paint with the earth, surely one could dye with it as well! Viv very generously gave us instructions on how to get to this field with the Red Earth and she wrote it all down for us and a few days later we were on our quest, found the field, where I jumped out of the car and ran along the tractor grooves, scooping up the red dirt into the jar, whilst the three men waited patiently for me to finish my happy dance; I felt content at having accomplished the small and at the same time big thing at this exact spot - secretly thinking, maybe this is why we came here - 


Marti said…
Welcome back home Saskia and thank you taking us along on your special week.

Red dirt is truly special and although I have never dyed with it, I'm hoping to scoop some up on one of our travels around New Mexico. Red dirt is universal and I first learned about it in 1993 when we traveled to Kauai. The year before, Hurricane Iniki had hit Kauai and almost devastated the entire island. A local t- shirt maker who created printed t-shirts had a whole bunch of them dumped into the red dirt that was flung all over the island due to the hurricane; the dirt is a rich volcanic dirt. As a result, an idea was born and the shirts were not thrown away but dyed and rubbed with the red dirt and were sold as a fund raiser to help the island. We bought one for Rich and he wore it for many years until finally there were too many holes in it to mend. Over time, the rich red color faded with washing but still had a soft earthy look to it that we loved.
Dana said…
What a wonderful vacation you have had! Thank you again for sharing it with us. The red dirt may work better as a paint on fabric. John Marshall has a great method for using soy milk as a binder. Earthues ( still sells a set of earth pigments in a lovely range of colors that can be used with a brush, stamps or stencils, along with John's instructions.
It won't hold a candle to finding this field and collecting your own red, but the soy milk idea may be useful.
Liz A said…
The red earth ... a perfect birdhut hue, methinks.

And isn't a vacation the perfect interval to leave cloth undisturbed? Then you get home to your own bed and a gift from the dye gods. It's the perfect antidote to any sadness you may have that your time away is now but a memory. A new cloth and a new adventure on which to embark!
Saskia said…
Hi Marti, I had no idea red dirt was popular the world over, then again I hadn't given it a lot of thought before stumbling upon it like this myself! The t-shirt happen-stance sounds like a super resourceful way of making the most in a terrible situation. I know of t-shirts like Rich's that have gone on and on and on.........we own a couple like those ourselves, ha.

thanks for the useful tips Dana, and yes, digging up the dirt oneself is way better than buying

a tad sad Liz, of course, been a really good long week away, however the newly dyed fabrics do lift my spirits, as does having a coffee outdoors in the early morning sun on our deck!

it's good to be back
LOVE the pattern book....some years ago this would have totally captured
me...and yes, the bird names...
i just can't imagine making clothing anymore...i don't know why. I say
it's because recycle from thrift shop is enough, or/and why make clothes
to wear around here for the Goats, or well, then there is just a Blank
in my mind...
but i will so much love watching what you do and the dye pot
the marks
and o eeeee, the pot of earth, the pot of earth, the pot of earth
Saskia said…
i know Grace, the red dirt is fantastic, although first dye results were dismally disappointing! however, will carry on the clothing, I have always claimed i'm not interested in the sewing together part of items of clothing and would much rather recycle a piece; however, stumbling upon this particular book at this particular time in my life where i find i want to make useful items with some of my most cherished dye results, in fact wanting to WEAR them: it was serendipity and synchronicity knocked into one, a sign i just couldn't ignore
Julie S said…
I am in the north of Iceland at the moment taking pictures of dead seabirds for you,
FvD said…
So glad you found the red earth! Are you still going to take some to Herman de Vries or do you think dyeing will be too much fun? I wonder if he will remember Viv, 25 years on?
Saskia said…
I do hope you're enjoying yourself Julie!! (LOL)

isn't it amazing Fran! we had a wonderful time with you, can't thank you enough!!
i do intend to visit



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