Berry Special Dye
Autumn has arrived at Loch Ness, there is a damp chill in the morning air and a haar lying through the glen. It's time for my Woodland Collection of sustainable natural dyes to change season.
The barks and leaves of the summer are too dry to work with now as the plants prepare themselves for shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures by pulling water resources back into the centre and discarding unnecessary foliage.
For fruiting trees and shrubs its a time to burst forth so that birds and wildlife, seeking to build up fat reserves, visit your tree and help to spread your seed.
Now is the time for me to start the Autumn gathering. I begin a round of visits to well known trees, like a relative doing rounds after a birth.
I harvest with permission from the landowners, and with intention. I harvest low down and from trees which will be cut back in the next few weeks as part of annual hedge trimming. These berries would not be left for birds and would otherwise be chipped up with the branches and wasted.
As part of my custodian approach I'm also replanting trees every year to at least double the harvest, for me and the wildlife!
Once gathered I have to dye or freeze the berries quickly, now is one of the few times where I take custom order requests for the Woodland Collection. Like all my dye collections I work hard to make sure not a drop is wasted.
The dye result varies from a deep dark pink to dusky rose as I work through the exhausts.
I like to lean over and take a deep inhale of the dye pot steam to clear my sinuses.
When the yarn is drying outside it is the same colour as the last blooms of mountain heather the surround the Loch, and we use the last of the light to chop wood and prepare for Winter.