Working in a creative department, of a creative company, means that sometimes (*often) we get to do creative things.
Marketing isn’t always about sitting in an office posting to Instagram or tracking algorithms and sending newsletters… Sometimes it’s about seeing a Great Dane outside the office window, running down with a Moholo Dog Blanket, coercing said dog with some Salticrax and then snapping away… But that’s a different story.
The point is that on occasion we get to forgo the boardroom for the beach (or in this case, the office for the veld). And being a resident writer gives me occasional licence to pick up a notebook and a camera and document it.
A few years ago, Craig naturally dyed some wool and cotton scarves. These scarves, cut from original Stu Holding cloth, quickly sold out. Since then, every so often we’ve had customers write in asking if there are any left in stock…
So naturally we peer-pressured Craig into doing another batch.
Naturally, he dyed / died..
Why? The process is no short order – it requires a lot of time / patience / snacks.
Loaded with a wicker basket like two old witches in the heath, Craig and I went flower picking in the Crags – an idyllic spot, just outside of Plettenberg Bay, where Mungo makes its home.
Madness and medlem quickly ensued; Craig’s painstakingly handpicked basket of Heli-something-somethings had been set down on the driveway while letting me in the gate. Needless to say, said basket and said pickings quickly blew away in the wind. Many expletives followed.
Back at it, we gumbooted through the heath, picking more helichrysum flowers.
The best technique for this seemed to be scooping up a big handful in a kind of cupping motion that lets you grab lots of the little dried flowers at once, while sieving the stalks through your fingers (all while knyping your collecting bag between your knees or underneath your armpit to keep them away from the wind).
Then we trudged back to the house, all the while Craig declaring that this was “not enough. Definitely not enough” of our honest pickings.
From there, the flowers were placed in a teabag (a large cloth bag looking suspiciously like a Mungo Linen Pillowcase) and then boiled vigorously with the scarves. Left on stir duty, Craig once more returned to the fray. And no, the matchbox seen boiling below is not part of the recipe. Oops.
Besides our flower picking foray, Craig had also made dyes using onion skin, black beans, and beetroot.
A note – prior to this step, Craig had already ‘mordanted’ the scarves using Alum. No, this does not sound like a word to me either, but it is – a substance used to fix or set the dye onto a fabric. Without it… well all of the above would have been an interesting exercise in enjoying the outdoors / getting windswept / wasting time.
Part weird science, part witchcraft, the resulting dye colours are more of a fingers-crossed-hope-this-turns-out-well experiment.
So the question is, did they turn out well? I think they’re pretty neat…
My co-conspirator? In true sardonic Craig style, he had this to say about the colours:
“My back still hurts. Might be the last time I use flowers. Once and floral.”
“The leftovers of this resulted in weeks’ worth of beans for dinner. Never. Again.”
“There are so many layers to this…”
“I was rooting for pink, but this is what I got. Beets me.”
Oh well. Beauty might be in the dye of the beholder, but in my highly qualified experience (and by that I mean no experience at all) these Kenza Scarves are something quite special.
Woven by a Holding.
Hand-dyed by a Harding.
And presided over by the third in line, Kitt.
There’s just a couple available in each colour. And once they’re gone, they’re gone.
No really, gone (this is the last of the Kenza fabric).