Archive for November, 2010

Findon Church

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

As we gradually explore the countryside around us here, one of my favourite places has been the area near Findon church, which is separated from the village by the A24. This means that to get to the church one either has to cross the A24 on foot or drive out of the village and over the main road to the country lane that leads up to Findon’s Saxon church of St. John the Baptist. It is very unusual for a village church to be cut off from the village in this way but its isolation does give the church a particularly tranquil and peaceful setting, especially as the church is approached by a quiet narrow lane with trees on either side. The views over the countryside are spectacular and it is also along this lane leading to the church that I have found some interesting specimens of fungi and some wonderful old trees, including a walnut tree.

Findon church is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 but an architectural study of the building shows evidence of a Saxon church which predates the Norman record and was probably built around 900AD. In 1120 the Norman parts of the church were built and in 1254 the church had its first recorded patron, Reginald de Northank. The early patrons were the owners of the manor of Findon, until 1506 when Magdalen College Oxford took over the responsibility. In 1949 the patronage of the parish passed to the Bishop of Chichester.

In 1867 a major reconstruction of the interior of the church was carried out by Sir Gilbert Scott and this included the tiles on either side of the altar, which were designed by William Morris, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

The entrance to Findon Church

The entrance to Findon Church

Findon Church tower

Findon Church tower

The interior of the church

The interior of the church

Some of the William Morris tiles in the church

Some of the William Morris tiles in the church

A lichen-encrusted headstone in the graveyard

A lichen-encrusted headstone in the graveyard

A woad-bearing visitor

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Just over a week ago we had our first non-family guest to stay for a few days and we very much enjoyed this visit from Chris Dobson, a dear friend of nearly 30 years. Chris is a true kindred spirit and we have shared many happy hours engaged in various textile-related activities, especially natural dyeing, so I wasn’t surprised that she arrived bearing a large bag of woad leaves from her allotment.

We soon got down to making a woad vat and the leaves performed their magic, even though they had been in a plastic bag for nearly three days before we used them. Chris, who is also a horticultural expert and source of information on all botanical matters, told me that, as long as the leaves are stored slightly damp in a little water in a plastic bag in a cool place, there is no reason why they can’t be picked a few days in advance and still give excellent blues. (I think the reason why we failed to get blues at Stanmer Park (see earlier post) from the stored woad leaves was probably because they had been stored in a fridge and the temperature had been too low.)

The following photos show some of the stages of our woad vat.

The leaves soaking in just-boiled water. Note the metallic sheen appearing on the surface

The chopped leaves soaking in just-boiled water. Note the metallic sheen appearing on the surface

 

 

The blue froth formed after adding washing soda & whisking the woad solution

The blue froth formed after adding washing soda to the strained-off solution and whisking to incorporate oxygen

Scraping out the last of the froth that contains the blue pigment

Scraping out the last of the froth that contains the blue pigment

Adding sodium hydrosulphite to the solution

Adding sodium hydrosulphite to the solution

The vat nearly ready to use

The vat nearly ready to use

Gently adding the skeins to the vat

Gently adding the skeins to the vat

The skeins in the vat. (Notice the blue froth still lingering on the surface)

The skeins in the vat. Notice the blue froth still lingering on the surface, even though we have tried to gently stir it all into the solution

Removing the dyed skeins

Removing the dyed skeins. Next to the vat is a bucket of water, into which the skeins will be immersed after they are removed from the vat. This will get rid of any loose particles of indigo pigment, which might cause blotches.

Some of the dyed skeins drying

Some of the dyed skeins drying

P.S. to “Fungi Again”

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

The mushrooms which gave such a good yellow have re-appeared on the grass at the front of our house, so I have photographed them in case anyone is able to identify them. I think they may be a species of  Hygrocybe.

These mushrooms gave a lovely bright yellow in the dyebath.

These mushrooms gave a lovely bright yellow in the dyebath.

My new “den”

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Before my summer house (or, as my two-year-old granddaughter calls it, “Namma’s Wendy House) becomes as cluttered and untidy as my workshop at our old home, I thought it would be a good idea to make a photographic record of it in its tidy state. Not that I intend to fill this new “den” with disorganised “stuff” but somehow these things just seem to happen.

The first photo shows a very useful plastic garden storage unit, left behind by the former owners of the house. This has turned out to be the ideal place for storing all my dye equipment and dyes etc.

As the other photos below suggest, I haven’t spent much time in my “den” yet, so everything looks much tidier than I am accustomed to. I can’t imagine the tablecloth will remain on my dyeing table when I get round to some serious dyeing and the new heat source will certainly soon be as stained as all my old ones.

 

Storage unit for my dyeing equipment etc

Storage unit for my dyeing equipment etc

  

 

My spinning area

My spinning area

This shows the spinning area from a different angle

This shows the spinning area from a different angle

My dyeing area, complete with shiny new heat source, as yet unused.

My dyeing area, complete with shiny new heat source, as yet unused.

Area for relaxing (particularly popular with my granddaughter)

Area for relaxing (particularly popular with my granddaughter)