Monday, November 5, 2012

Scarves and Headdresses, Naturally Dyed for the Rainy Days

On these fog and rain-filled autumn mornings, I've been working on a new felting project.  Between my two hands, with only the help of a little soap and hot water, I roll long pieces of raw wool. It is the same quick friction one uses to start a fire with a wooden drill. It is an ancient textile-technique, this rubbing of wool with water and heat.

Together, these pieces make lovely scarves or wild thick headdresses for wearing through the eucalyptus woods as they drip fog from their blue leaves. Various vats of dye have been bubbling on the stovetop-- coyote brush and black walnut. (above) bay leaf, japanese maple, eucalyptus, to naturally color each loop. Sometimes, the spicy strange plant fumes have quite gone to our heads!

These "infinity scarves" are a gentle experiment with wool and the colors of the land—and I find that there is a magical simplicity to them, a looping grace that roots you firmly with the wool of local sheep, the dyes from wild hills. If you are so moved, I am selling them in my Etsy shop, Deerstone Felts. Do have a look!

The clothes we put on our bodies are often highly processed, dyed with chemical colors that poison the nearby watersheds and, slowly, our own permeable skins and organs, not to mention the people who make them. Inspired by the work of Rebecca Burgess and her Fibershed project, I love the idea that these scarves/headdresses are so wholly made of natural fibers and colors, you could compost them!

The spider is the ultimate spinner, a truly rooted goddess of weaving.

If this is not true magic, I don't know what is: a spider, circling her web, dipping down her great belly to lay down the silk, from spoke to spoke, as the thousand planets of dew on each thread glint in the dawn. Then, in the middle of her woven universe, born from her own secretions, she sits, she waits.

These are my own very humble webs, connected by silken strands to the textile traditions of women throughout time, all the way back to the weaving spidress, our most ancient ancestor.


  1. Sylvia, you're killing me! these, like everything else in your shoppe (yes I went gratuitously old timey there and I do not regret it), are just fantastic. I'm pretty sure I need some skeins of bay leaf-brewed infinite on my humble head right now.

    I've excavated something for you, from out the stratigraphy of my deplorable closet: a scarf handmade and personally procured from Madagascar, one of the last vestiges of traditional textile crafts woven by the once arachnean malagasy women. on its way to you soonly. hold me accountable. (and no...arachnean is not a word, but by golly it should be).

    moreover reading this inspired me to go back through all my photographs of the malagasy weavers and actually share my horde of pretties with the disinterested world, but if you'd like a peek at your forthcoming gift's provenance, here's a bit of a link


    1. Oh my goodness, I can't wait to see said arachnean delight, what a treat!! And I'm so happy to hear you like these headdresses... perhaps I see a christmas present in order here...? they make me think of all the magic games we played as children, in the garden, calling on our invented egyptian deities. we could have used some spidery wool headdresses, dyed with wild things, i think. also, you would be proud-- last night, after all the election shenanigans, s and i went out into the sleepy uptight streets where we live and blew with all our might into two large viking bull horns, to celebrate. ah. what a sound! we sure scared some people out onto their balconies!

    2. p.s. your photos are truly stunning