We need a transformative “art of living together” whereby the good life is to be found in the quality of social relations or ‘social fabric’ and relations to nature, seeking alternatives to endless economic growth which benefit a fraction of the human population whilst immiserating millions.
Sewing Café Lancaster thinks that Covid-19 opens up an opportunity to think about how to influence coming changes through the prism of ‘conviviality.’ The notion of Conviviality understands people as social beings who are dependent upon one another for their flourishing and we are working on generating some tools and strategies to achieve it.
Given the current conjuncture, our ‘pop-up’ mending and sewing sessions, clothes swaps, conversations, talks and events in public spaces, as well as specific classes to re-establish a ‘make-do-and-mend’ culture have been cancelled or moved online,
We are now focused on consolidating our online presence and conducting research on local textiles, fibers types and natural dyes, and strengthen the links with other projects such as Claver hill, Food Futures, Women’s aid, Fibershed, food banks and clubs, among others.
Victoria is an active member of the Union Of Concerned Researchers in Fashion (UCRF) and is linked with textile/yarn growers/dealers in Lancashire and Cumbria, with the idea of creating a network building up a local textile production whilst respecting people and environment.
Apart from Sew&Sow Free little libraries, Sewing Café is working on a natural dyes project, developing a seasonal zine, reusable period pads – which the video on how to make them have already inspired and guided a enterprise supporting young girls in West pokot county Kenya-, and working with Sewing Circle for Refugees and asylum seekers developing face masks to give away or under pay as you feel basis.
Natural Dyes living collection and experimentation: at Claver Hill
As material production moves further away from craft processes and traditional methods, through digital printing, there is an increasing interest and need for people to learn about and experience a natural and locally sourced alternative.
To highlight the feasibility of natural dyes in Lancaster and Morecambe and to revitalise and relocate dyes that globalization has divorced from their natural context, we are in the process of:
- Creating a Natural dyes living collection at Claver Hill.
- Gathering photos and information for our seasonal zine.
- Raising awareness of the toxic effects of chemical dyes on the environment and implications for health on our online channels.
- Identifying the dye plants that are suited for different garden contexts or those with the best chance of success and their reliability as a dye.
- Making a Museum of Chicago graphic guide available for people to be able to identify the plants.
We would like to:
- Identify (mapping) who is doing what and where in Lancaster and Morecambe linked to natural dyes and dyeing.
- Research natural dyes used historically in the area, linking Lancaster or Cumbria Universities and UCRF
- Establish and grow a network in Lancaster and Morecambe connecting farmers, dyers, designers, spinners, weavers/knitters and consumers.
- Promote and Develop long lasting meaningful and sustainable products
- Create alternatives to the dyes available in the market like Dylon.
- Promote the production of compostable textiles
- Make sets of darning yarns grown and dyed locally to share at Sew&Sow Free libraries
- Have an exhibition of naturally dyed fabrics (as part of FRW2021) extended to show examples of upcycled clothes using Nat Dyes
- To offer Dye Camps, where we will forage and make dye and dyed items/yarn in a specific environment.
- Make tutorial videos on how to grow/find/identify natural dyes material, to prepare the fibers and dyes, eco-printing, Shibori and other resist techniques.
- Experiment and develop products with naturally dyed recycled materials, and hopefully employ local people, including marginalised women (the unemployed, asylum seekers, refugees, and others)
- Develop a book or series of booklets with seasonal and local information on natural dyes.