Friday 19 April 2013

A treat from Pontoise

This weekend has been the Marche Medieval in Pontoise an event we have been doing for quite a few years now. I'd like to thank Christophe and his team from Histoire Vivante for all their hard work organising such a successful event.
On the Saturday a young lady called Marie-Alix came to the stall with some hanks of wool in her hand which were clearly not ours. She said that she wanted to show me her spinning as I had sold her a spindle and given her a lesson and so inspired her that she had gone away and started practising. She is now a very proficient spinner and has started playing with natural dyes too. She had come to the stall specifically to thank me and tell me how much I had inspired her. She gave me one of the hanks of wool as a present - dyed with blackberries.
It's lovely, thank YOU Marie-Alix for both coming to see us and for the wool. I have been walking on air since you came!
I have started to crochet with the wool - it really needs to be made into something special, come back next time and I'll show YOU what you have inspired ME to do!

Wednesday 10 April 2013


For a long time packaging for my natural dyes has caused me headaches! I have used, as do most sellers, the ubiquitous polythene bags, bacause they are simple to get, reasonably priced and do a job. Sadly I find they do not do it well enough, but it seems to be what people expect. One of the issues is that people seem to like to see what they are buying - the plant matter, chopped up and shredded as it is, it's what they like to see, some because they can recognise what they are looking at and others because they want to KNOW what they are looking at.

I had a small flurry with the corn starch packaging - the enivironmental issue of polythene does bother me, sadly the corn starch is just not up to the job. Some of the chopped plant matter was OK, but lots of it found that the corn starch seemed to have an osmotic effect and water was actively encouraged into the packet from the atmosphere - not good!

One of the first things I wanted when I moved here was a dye store. I now have one! It is completely self contained, dry and cool. I can keep all my dye containers in one place and it is set up so that I can do all the bagging in there. I have professional scales, I have some laboratory standard calibration weights to ensure that my scales stay accurate, it is all important. BUT the most important thing really is THE DYESTUFF!

Over the years I have developed relationships with suppliers that I know will supply me with a quality product. I work with these dyes on a regular basis, so I know what I expect of them. If I expect the best - surely my customers do too?

Sooooo I have been looking for packaging that will work. Not everyone can do the dyeing immediately, so they need to know that the packet they have bought will look after what is inside until such time as they are able to use it. Dyestuff as with herbs should be kept in the dark and cool and dry to help it keep its qualities.

The new packets are brown paper, they have a polyfoil lining, they are still grip seal, but are also heat sealed, so until you open the packet there is a double protection there stopping the air get into the pack. The brown paper ensures the light isn't getting in and the polyfoil lining stops any exterior reactions from happening and NO atmospheric water should get in there at all.

Labelling has also been an issue. Working as I do across Europe it is difficult to label to keep everyone happy. So the labels now use the Latin name of the dyeplant as the main name. Everyone that uses natural dyes should be able to recognise the names and newcomers have a choice of English, German, Franch and Italian common names to look at to find the name they recognise. Oh and they haven't affected the price, that is dictated by the cost of the dyestuff to me!

I hope this meets with the approval of my customers, but I do feel so much happier about it and more content about my product!