What do I actually do?











Roses Fantin Latour (left) and Veilchenblau (right) in my garden


 One of the joys at this time of the year is to welcome the return of favourite perennial garden flowers, such as roses and delphiniums. Each bloom is a natural work of art and fills me with wonder. As I sit in the garden and look at the beauty around me, I think about all the other sources of inspiration I have found, particularly in the websites & blogs I have come across about natural dyes, dyeing and textiles in general. I am full of admiration at the range of skills and real creative talent of craftspeople all over the world. The more I become aware of what others achieve, the more I have to ask myself what it is that I actually do. So many people produce beautiful items for sale or exhibitions, while I seem mainly to add to my ever-increasing stock of dyed samples.

The other aspect of my activities has been teaching others about the magic of colours from the natural world, either through my books and articles or through workshops. In the past I spent many weekends each year leading workshops or giving lectures on natural dyeing. I ran some workshops from my home and travelled widely to tutor courses elsewhere in the UK, including several summer schools. I have also led courses in Spain and worked on a natural dye project in Zambia. Nowadays, my activities are limited by the arthritis that has restricted my physical capabilities, but my passion for sharing my experiences with others has not waned, so this blog has proved a useful outlet for me.

So, what do I actually do? Well, I am still full of curiosity and keen to learn more about natural dyes, so I continue to experiment and write. To reduce my stash of dyed yarns, I knit for myself and for my family and friends. Occasionally I dye yarns for other craftspeople or for museums or research purposes. I also love to work with wool, starting with the raw fleece and spinning it on my spinning wheel. I’m not a particularly good spinner, and I’m not the sort of spinner who wants to spin very fine yarns that look just like commercially-spun ones, but I produce yarns that please me and suit my purposes. So I suppose I am creative in my own way, but I could never match the talents of the creative artists whose blogs and websites are such an inspiration and source of pleasure to me. And I do spend many hours in my garden, pottering or just looking at the natural beauty around me.

7 replies
  1. Steph
    Steph says:

    I think the process of sharing knowledge and research is invaluable and that in itself is a process that requires time and expertise…so thank-you for your willingness and the time it takes to do that .

  2. Nienke
    Nienke says:

    Isn´t it wonderfull that you are inspiring people all over the world by sharing your thoughts and feelings via your blog? I agree with Steph, thank you so much.

  3. Dot
    Dot says:

    I think it’s great that you keep experimenting and telling us about it!

    I’m interested that you addressed this question, I think it’s helpful to pause for reflection like this and know for one’s self, as well as being able to tell others, why we do the things we do.

  4. Helen
    Helen says:

    Jenny, what do you do ???

    Quite simply : you enrich the lives of everyone you come into contact with either in person or online through cyber space, with overwhelming inspiration, friendship and love.

    We all think you are incredible 🙂

    So another answer to what do you do?
    You are Jenny Dean and that is what you do!

    Huge hugs

    Helen x

  5. Kathy Jolman
    Kathy Jolman says:

    I agree with all of the above responses, your work, books, and blog are invaluable to natural dyers all over the world.

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