Passage of time ::: India Flint on Lopez Island : part one


Over the [very few] years of learning to naturally dye cloth,
this quote by India Flint has been my ever-faithful sidekick ...
Time is your friend.
Patience, and all that other virtuous stuff, is not easy to lasso when one is
faced with a dyepot full of colorful, unopened bundles that you want to look at  NOW.

The same could be said for the anticipation of special visitors and
what I hadn't realized was this quote would also end up applying to India herself ~
that time would become my friend in quite a different way
when she said, "Yes," to my invitation to teach on Lopez Island ... over


It's been a long and utterly worthwhile wait.

It's taken me a few days since we disbanded to gather thoughts into somewhat of a cohesive order;
how to even begin describing this 'Wayfarer's Windfall Cloth' workshop?
So chock to the brim & overflowing with new inspiration and fresh ideas, my mind's
been in a whirlwind.

Looking back, I think that whirlwind started in the workroom,

as we set to stitching our personal marks almost immediately
accompanied by India's stories - a most entertaining storyteller -
and a bit of music from her phone, amplified by resting it in the interior of that silver pot ...
[try it - it really works!]

Then we walked,
and gathered.

~ our native Pacific madrone tree, bark & leaves (Arbutus menziesii) ready to bundle ~

Collecting windfall from our native plants took on a much deeper meaning for me
in comparison to simply harvesting blossoms out of the flower garden.  It harks back to
the meaning of place, of home,
 of where I've chosen to set down roots.
I wanted to go much deeper in my understanding of local plants and India took us there.
There, and several other exciting places as well.

Extracting color from a dark red hollyhock bloom is a piece of apple pie
compared to some of our natives.  For example, previously stumped in our dye efforts
by the leathery leaves of salal (Gaultheria shallon)
- which grows in abundance in forests and shady areas and is readily available year round - 
we learned new methods of not-so-gently coaxing its color onto cloth.  
We learned to consider the length of time and the amount of heat 
that might be needed for denser materials,
how to experiment with wrapping a bundle to gain the greatest effects 
[an iron-rich rock might be good, or a piece of copper pipe], 
and how to pack the dye pot with all manner of leftovers ... these things, 
combined with the notion to be ever-mindful of the plant material we are working with
[I.D. your plant material ahead of time]
had all of us heading for success.

*An interesting side note to the above is that both madrone & salal are in the Ericaceae family of plants,
the heath family, which might lead one to believe that similar dyeing practices
could be used on heathers to good effect.

This is my old rummage sale aluminum pot, stained from previous dye experiments
with Lac ... but no matter, "It's all good," as India would say.
No harmful mordants were used in the mix of this brew 
so bare hands & a gentle touch [vs. metal tongs]
were perfectly safe for bundle fishing ...

and contributed to expressive dialogue throughout.

Our hard work and careful preparation led to many of these wrapped beauties and
I don't think a single one of us will ever tire of seeing them unfurled
into the most glorious clotheslines ever.

Not to mention the pretty stash of wrapping strings that begins to accumulate ...


Next time, I'll show you where more of these string colors came from,
where our stitching took us,
and some silliness from the workroom.

[ click HERE to read part two ]


  1. fabulous everything - gorgeous images!

  2. bless you Possum, i had the most fabulous time there with y'all. missing my morning walks to Otter Bay to make mournful noises at the waves with my clarinet
    missing my evening cocktails with John and Patsy
    missing your ability to light up a room by stepping in the doorway
    missing the lovely Isla
    ...it was a very good time and
    like General Macarthur [but hopefully less fierce]
    i WILL be back.

  3. Makes my heart sing to see your collective work!

  4. ooo you've posted the most beautiful collection of images and words christi! makes me wish I could throw my hands in the pot....

    1. "Most beautiful collection of images and words"
      so true!

  5. How I wish I could have been there as well. India has kept me well informed with photos of your magical island with lovely photos but it isn't the same as having the full experience. Thank you for this lovely post Christi, I always miss her when she's away.

  6. The next best thing to being there are your words Christi and the photos, especially of India's hands, the bundles, and the overriding sense of shared joy and community. Thank you Christi for opening your home that led to this most wonderful experience of cloth alchemy with India as guide .

  7. christi, you've evoked india's teaching beautifully. being her student for a few days is a rare treat. thank you.

  8. How wonderful, thank you for sharing!!

  9. I could have been there had it not been so near the end of mom's illness....
    let me say the setting sure helps the scene.....

  10. Oh, I've been waiting for this posting! I knew you would have a lovely story to tell - of dyes, plants, color, patience and friends. Its all there and its beautiful

  11. Great memories Christie.
    I collected local plants I researched here in Denver yesterday and made some bundles with my mum.
    This morning we get to open them!

  12. I love the warm glow the photos and whole post has...thanks for posting such beautiful work

  13. wow great photos, thank you for sharing Christi!

  14. Oh I wish, I wish I could have been there! Thank you for sharing...

  15. That's the shiniest pot I've seen in a while, lol. All looks wonderful!

  16. What a lovely day that sounds! I love those wrapping strings in their delicate dyed colours, and I understand your comments about working with the land to enhance the sense of place where you have made your home. It's for these very reasons that I would like to have a go at dyeing. So far all I've done is plant some madder and some woad, but hopefully next year they'll be ready for the pot!

    1. I agree, also, about dying to enhance the sense of place. I liked that about the workshop... unexpected and wonderful!

  17. I am overwhelmed by all these beautiful words & messages. Thank you, everyone.
    Am still reeling on one level from this grand time learning from India and sharing fantastic
    camaraderie with like-minded souls & hearts ~ my local dye pals and my new friends ...
    there is nothing in the world quite like working/playing/experimenting together in this way.
    Should the opportunity present itself, RUN to India's nearest dyepot! She travels from such
    a long way herself to educate on these very important, sustainable processes, grab those
    moments with her, if you can. A more gracious, endearing and inspiring teacher, you could not
    ask for.


  18. Hi Christi, I am so pleased to finally meet you-- though it was a brief meeting. India and I had a very lovely dinner in LaConner... shared much about travel and teaching as I also travel around the U.S. and Canada teaching and as a juror... the travel part is hard but once we arrive we have a wonderful time. Your bundles look fabulous.. I can see how one could be impatient to open them up and see what happened. Can't wait to see part 2.

  19. Oooh, what colour does salal give? Beautiful pictures, and I am very envious of your opportunity to work with India.

  20. j'aime... la cuisine d'haloween!