the doorstep of winter

Yesterday I planted the garlic box, four varieties all tucked in for winter. And today I intended to tidy up and winterize some other parts of the vegetable garden. But somehow the basket of prepared fabric was calling. So this morning I prepared an indigo dye vat on the long cedar bench outside


and have just done the first dip of several different kinds of tied and knotted lengths of cotton and linen. The stuff is oxidizing as I type. The last time I dyed with indigo, the final colour was beautiful but not deep blue.


I’m not enough of a chemist to understand why. I know that the colour comes from many short dips rather than a long sustained time in the vat. And maybe I don’t really care. Today I thought I’d do ten dips of 20 minutes with a 30 minute period of oxidization between dips. We’ll see. Here’s a length of prepared arashi—it means “storm”— and I

first arashi dip

have to use a long plastic tub because the pvc pipe that the fabric is wrapped around is too long for my vat. The last time I did this particular technique, the end result was lovely in that the cloth remembered its turns.


I’ve also been penciling salmon shapes onto a vintage linen sheet (a single bed size) and if I have time tomorrow, I’ll wax them and then dip the sheet too. I’ve been wanting to make a quilt using full lengths of fabric rather than patchwork and using a kind of sashiko or functional stitching to bind the layers together. Red thread. So this might be the opportunity if the waxed salmon work out the way I hope they will. Sometimes I find myself filled with an urgency to make things with my hands. Not writing but something solid and durable. I can’t paint, can’t draw very well. But there are other ways to immerse myself in colour and texture and on the doorstep of winter, I’m hoping to do just that.

2 thoughts on “the doorstep of winter”

  1. I hope it goes well. Let us know. We can have a salmon going to sea celebration across the spans of air and the threads of water that bind us and set us free.

    1. Thanks, Harold. The fish shapes got waxed and today they’ll visit the indigo vat. I have a box of shell buttons too, various sizes, and am eager to see what happens. The whole process lit and (somehow) inspired by the bigleaf maples. I’ve never seen such light!

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