There has been a lot happening in my world and life, lots of action but not much movement. Or maybe the other way around? Either way, there is not a lot of progress on projects to share with anyone. Except for this little one…

finished shawl

made from the following components:

  • a shawl/blanket given to me by a friend;
  • an old dressing gown;
  • leaves from a spotted gum tree that had recently died;
  • water from my water tanks;
  • electricity from my solar panels;
  • some rusty nails and the water they had been stored in for a month or two;
  • cotton yarn reclaimed from an old jumper;
  • thoughts from rebecca of needle and spindle, and from mazzaus of local and bespoke.

The shawl/blanket has been sitting in my pile of wraps for years. It had come to me after the death of a friend of a friend. My friend was dispersing her friend’s belongings to those she thought would appreciate and use them the best (this was also the source of the silver gray wool I dyed in my first eucalyptus experiment). I would drag the shawl out occasionally, feeling guilty about not using it, but it always went straight back into the pile. It was just the wrong colour for me, a pale acid yellow.

Last weekend the stars came together. My partner and I grabbed an opportunity to run away for a weekend alone on our south coast block. I remembered the tree I had seen that had inexplicably died, grabbed the shawl, and there was my project for the weekend.

As I got the shawl ready for the eucalypt dye bath, I realised I had mis-read the label on it. It was not made from 70% wool, 30% cotton as I had thought, but rather in reverse ratio. But I was very pleased to see that it had come from a Tasmanian woollen mill. With such a high cotton content the colour was not nearly as deep as I had hoped, but it was still a lovely cool grey.

When I got home from our weekend, I started going through a suitcase of stored fabrics and old clothes (for another project). I found a dressing gown I had bought from a vintage clothing store back in 1985. I loved that dressing gown. It is made from a soft, unspecified fabric printed with a paisley pattern in browns and black, and had come originally from an iconic Sydney store, Gowings. The gown had been much loved before I acquired it, with careful patching on the collar, and alterations on the sleeves. I remember wearing the dressing gown as evening wear, with chunky jewellery and a Greek fisherman’s cap (it was the 80s, don’t judge me!) and thinking I was the coolest, ever.

The dressing gown is now quite worn and falling apart. So I cut a panel from the back and sewed it to the shawl, using yarn I had collected from another suitcase find — a cotton sweater in a faded eucalypt-green-grey, another garment that I had worn obsessively during the late 80s.

As I stitched this together, I thought about all the pleasure, friendship, generosity and time that had to come together to produce what I hope will become another much-loved, much-used part of my wardrobe and life. I thought about the changes I am trying and striving to make to my life and the way I live it, and the considered and insightful thoughts that others have been prepared to share about how and why these changes are to be made.

This shawl isn’t art. But it is made from the components that I hope to use to create my art. Which I had better get back to doing…