camellia fiber company • warp and weft, a weave
place // Avalon Lea, Byron Bay
colour // blush pink
sound // as sure as the sun, ellie holcomb
word // ethereal
A small group of women gathered their baskets, borrowed an old wheelbarrow, and trudged across the Avalon Lea farm in search of flora for our fabric dyeing and weaving class. Just a step behind the wonderful Rebekka Seale of Camellia Fiber Co., we idly chatted our way into the experience of dyeing fabrics with all natural dyes made from scratch.
With an enchanting southern accent, Rebekka is one of those people whose mere presence calms a space. She is soft and delicate, and spending time with her makes you feel so comfortable with who you are and what you believe in. You can expect consistency, and you can learn the art of being slow.
TRC: Who inspires you?
Rebekka: I am inspired so much by women who have the courage and dedication to start creative businesses in today's world. I understand first hand how difficult it can be, and when someone is able to follow her creative vision into the realm of reality...I think it's just amazing. Some of my favorite creative ladies are Emily Brock of Board and Bread, Elizabeth Suzann, Olivia Rae James, and of course Luisa Brimble and Beth Kirby of Local Milk.
What have you dyed fabric with that produced the most unpredictable result?
Avocado pits! Dyeing with avocado pits is almost like a magic trick. You chop up the pits and cover them with water, and...once they start to boil...a lovely rose-pink hue starts seeping out of the brown pits. Such a great surprise! Avocado pits will dye any natural fiber (cotton, wool, silk, alpaca) shades of peach-pink. Who would have thought?
After sourcing some aromatic eucalyptus leaves, we slowly wandered back to Avalon Lea where Rebekka had prepared a dye using madder root for our first lesson. Overnight the madder root had turned the water a beautiful deep red, and we would soon see it stain the natural wool and alpaca an earthy blush pink.
What is your favourite yarn to work with, and why?
I love all natural fibers, but my very favorite is alpaca. Here in Tennessee, I work with a group of about fifteen alpaca farmers and have fallen in love with the animals as well as their luxurious fiber. They are the most adorable, gentle creatures, and their fleece is silky and soft (and actually warmer than wool!). Because of how soft alpaca fiber is, it can tend to lose its shape, so I like to blend it with a bit of wool to create a yarn that is both durable and luxurious.
It wasn't long before linens from our suitcases and bodies found their way into the pot of madder root. We explored how each type of fiber held onto the dye in a unique way. The wool, alpaca, and cotton was placed in the pot and over time a new shade of pink emerged. We left some to soak, and quickly dipped in others.
Before too long, the eucalyptus was ready to dye, and we tinted and stained more of the lush yarn. After drying it all out, we set up our warp and weft using Y-shaped twigs and began to weave our dusty pink, natural cream, and eucalyptus gold yarn in and out, over and around.
An afternoon thunderstorm provided the perfect excuse to comfy up on the verandah and the rest of the afternoon disappeared as we fell into the trance of the weave.