With the Selvedge Fair in Charleston fast approaching next Saturday 14 October, we caught-up with dyer Elisabeth Beverley, the founder of Plant-Dyed Wool, who will be exhibiting her naturally-dyed yarns on the day...
What sparked your interest in textiles?
I inherited my interest in needlework from my mother. She was a Nottinghamshire working class girl. Knitting and sewing, putting up a good line of washing and producing a good pile of ironing was second nature to her.
How did you go from needlework to dyeing?
I once did an evening class in weaving, spinning and dyeing. We dyed fleece with ragwort grown in the cracks of Camden's pavement. Why producing colours from plants spoke to me when weaving and spinning never have, I just don't know.
What inspires you?
Sight and sound. I play the piano, so I find music can be as uplifting for me as a beautiful landscape.
Who influences you?
People who commit to their craft inspire me. Plant dyeing would have died out had it not been promoted by several redoubtable women in the last century, Jenny Dean being the most recent.
What’s your favourite part of the process?
The dyeing. When you see a colour develop you never quite know what will appear. It will always a bit different, so it never stops being a voyage of discovery.
What the hardest part?
There's a lot of donkey work; winding and rewinding for example. Mordanting is a necessary but boring process that improves colour fastness.
Where do you live and why?
I'm in rural West Berkshire. Country life suits me, but I do like my London buzz.
What’s your ideal Sunday?
I've reached that age when I only have myself to please. So Sunday is like any other, a day with infinite potential.
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
I'm just back from Sicily and missing it very much. The sun, the street life, the passeggiata (no phones!) and all of that baroque beauty...
What are you reading right now?
Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb.
What's your favourite colour?
Whatever one I'm making right now. It was recently blue, but I think now it's probably green.
To find out more about the Selvedge Fair in Charleston this October 14th, and to avail of our special two for one offer on all tickets, click here.