I intend to conserve my Sanctuary this month.
haven, a place of safety, shelter from danger or hardship"
any space set aside for private use in which others are not supposed to intrude "
similar idea: "frith" (old English) and "frid" or "fredent" (Swedish), denoting "animals not to be hunted, flowers not to be picked", a "peaced" place
In my WOSEN course, I learned about the Adaptive Cycle, which attempts to map the stages we go through when faced with changing circumstances. The stages are: conserve, destroy, plant and grow.
Covid and Black Lives Matter have given us much to think about this past month and in those to come.
What about that which I'm currently doing will I continue to do?
What would it be best to discontinue doing?
What new thoughts, deeds or interactions can I start?
What of that which I'm doing might I strengthen and grow?
This reminds me of the departing questions I ask my Gr 10 Careers students: "What should I stop? start? continue? in next year's classes?"
Recently, I viewed a TED talk called "Start with Why", which says that we all know what we do, and can explain how we do it, but do we know why? This is, of course, values: significant drivers in my life.
The process of making SANCTUARY Bodice and Brief Set consists of the following steps:
* premordant Lenzing Tencel fabric with alum (2 days)
* premordant fabric in rhubarb leaf dyebath (1 day)
* dye fabric in madder root dyebath (1 day, may be done on same day as rhubarb dyebath)
* dry fabric (20 min)
* cut Bodice and Brief pattern (20 min)
* infuse pieces in echinacea flower, bay leaf and rosemary (3 days, once infusions have been made)
* air dry pieces (1 day)
* sew Bodice and Brief (2 hours)
* iron and label set (30 min)
* bottle infusion as Reinfusing Spray and make Whipped Soap (1/2 day)
TOTAL time taken: 8 days, minimum
Materia Medica: The known therapeutic properties of echinacea, rosemary and bay are given in the Materia medica linked here:
I value feeling safe, and can understand that others do, too. I long for a "peaced" self, community, humanity and planet.
As we ease back into our pre-covid routines, let's consciously and with intention conserve, destroy, plant and grow.
I will conserve my sanctuary.
I will destroy hatred and chaos.
I will plant kindness and understanding.
I will grow peace and love.
I intend to invite PEACE into my thoughts and interactions.
I'm grateful for a warm fire, a busy and contented husband, and the ability to continue creating in these times. It seems to me that if I can continue to use natural ingredients to create, I will be able to keep clear of some of the world's current difficulties. I wish for you a measure of this freedom of self-sufficiency, a space in your heart for gratitude, and PEACE.
It's planting season! I was pleased with germination rates of most of my dye plant and herb seeds, and my back has held out long enough to plant them out into the garden. Now the wonder of nature continues, and I anticipate good crops, happy dye days, and aromatic evenings making hydrosols long into the coming winter months.
I'v been experimenting with logwood as a new purple dye. I've not been successful growing alkanet, my prior purple source. The plants are loved by the bees and monarchs, but the roots did not yield the required colour (actually, no colour at all....a sad dye day.....and no pics ;/ )
Logwood produced an amazingly intense purple colour with a low dye stuff to fabric ratio. Here you can see what just a few chips of this wood can do, and you'll likely agree that more experimentation is needed to achieve a 'peaceful' tone. The plant grows in tropical climates, but is another that has the ability to naturalize and take over a garden.
Just briefly, woad is another example of a plant which risks overpopulation. Here are my efforts to control its growth prior to flowering and seeding. The leaves of the first year plant are used for dyeing. I also currently have yarrow taking over my lawn, but I digress....
This past month in isolation has been productive. I've tried to listen to my body and mind to discern that which they need, thinking that others may be feeling similarly. A new design and 3 prototypes for an at-home bra are among the results. I wanted a garment which offered a soft hold and lift, with some cover and discretion. In an old world Greek style, my Bra-na offers the above, with options to add a cup, and/or to nurse easily. I enjoyed doing this, and am now offering this breathable embrace at an introductory price in a pop up on my website.
I've also developed some Wish Packages for people who would like to send an intentioned thought in the form of a hand-made (my hands only!) gift. See my website for more information and to purchase.
This month, I'm proud to have contributed to a magazine called Blank Spaces with an article about my clothing. It's a local venture, beautifully presented and full of examples of artistic talent. That makes me even more proud!
I'll leave you with this slide show of some of the fabulous pictures taken by my very special model, Amanda. I feel very special to have these isolation pics....
I intend to show LOVE this month
I intend to show LOVE this month.
Social media. If you've read my previous blog posts, you'll know I’ve been trying to find the good in it. Important revelations, tips for a better life, improved relationships....truly, I know I won't find them there. I've come to the conclusion that the reason I'm doing it is only that I don’t want to be left behind.
The world has stopped. The wheel of life has nearly come to a standstill. The rat race has all but halted.
Isn’t it nice?
I’m enjoying focusing on things I enjoy doing. Still trying to stay connected, but enjoying reaching out further to those whose existence I have accepted but not investigated. Relatives I’ve never met. Strangers who need help. Organizations doing good. Those closest to me or to my heart.
Indigo has worked well this month. I’ve been successfully trying to move further into “all natural” territory with this, my final frontier (see last month’s blog post for more info). Woad is still a mystery, but indigo has become more of a friend. My last vat only used 5 g thiox, with the rest natural ingredients: natural indigo, dried leaves from my indigo crop, indigo balls made last year (both for their indigotin or colour), calx (lime to raise the pH), fructose (to reduce the amount of oxygen in the water), and water. The blue was magnificent, and now, 1 week later, I write with blue-tipped fingers, a natural indigo dyer’s badge of honour. I have been making LOVE with it all week!
JOY has also been a pleasant surprise, with last year’s weld crop awarding patience and effort many times over.
My response to our current situation has come in the form of masks for the staff at Bowmanville Creek Retirement Residence and ribbon flowers for the residents there, and gowns for Marnwood Long Term Care Facility.
and now I'm making robes. These are special order and are meant to help people feel beautiful at home.
I wish you LOVE this month. Use the time to reconnect to what’s important, and as we move toward “relaunch”, let LOVE guide our choices of where we put our time, energy and money.
If we could build a new world, what would it be like? Now’s the time to make it that way!
And how about considering this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do things or say things or show people LOVE.
I intend to bring ZEST to my activities each day.
Last month, I set out to open up on social media in order to find the good it might do for me as a person.
I can honestly say that I've tried, but have come hopelessly short of my goal. Learning has never been this difficult.
I have dedicated every morning to it. looking outside on my sunny greening lawn and warming gardens, while not getting anywhere. And then the rest of the languishing country wakes up and my rural internet connection fades.
That's when I take a deep breath and head outside....
....the squirrels have left me some acorns and they're exactly what I need right now!
My friend Nancy at Oasis Boutique returned some unsold Sanctuary Innerwear sets. Among these were two in which the colour had faded: indigo and woad.
If the garment that you have bought from me has faded significantly, please let me know."
So now I'm back to the drawing board (or dye pot, whatever the case may be...).
Woad and indigo colour as a result of the constituent "indigotin" in their leaves. Both have a very rich history and are quite magical to work with. My dye vats are 2 and 3 years old, with fermented leaves from my garden added each time I dye and refresh the vat.
The vats are also quite temperamental. Here's the poor dye result I got on a day I was arguing with my husband!
The forces of nature in the plants make the ultimate decision as to whether or not to divest colour. I've achieved wonderful results and been disappointed as many times. For this fabric, I will overdye with goldenrod to attempt to achieve the green of ZEST and try again for TRUTH. Perhaps you've been with me during one of my dye workshops at Abbey Gardens. Were the indigo gods smiling on us that day?
Although technically they are both a pigment and not a dye, woad and indigo are typically very colourfast and don't require a mordant (preparation to open the fibres to accept the dye). But mordanting serves two purposes: to connect the dye to the fibres ("mordant" means to "bite") and, logically following, to make the colour stay in the fibres.
Enter: the acorns. Acorns contain tannins, natural chemicals secreted by woody plants in order to deter insects looking to use them as hosts. We know tannins from two common things: red wine (developed in oak barrels) and tanning leather. Other tannin mordanting which I do involves rhubarb leaves, sumac leaves, and pomegranate rinds. Here I am cooking year-old rhubarb leaves to make a concentrated tannin mordant.
These latter give a more yellow colour, so i'm trying acorns. Here's the result after soaking acorns, cooking them, drawing off the water, soaking fabric in it, then collking the fabric in alum and leaving it overnight:
During this time of social distancing and worry about my mom and running out of food, at least my dye supplies are available. I just need to wait until it's time to pick. That seems manageable. And predicatable.
Being resourceful is my forte.
And still I'm scared.
Each morning I wake up and it's still here....
...and I'm still here. I'm still making, still using the bounty that is thankfully still being provided for our use.
I can't offer any deals or give-aways this month.
But I am still here, and still discovering, and will do what I can to make your wearing experience what you need it to be.
I intend to bring more ZEST to everything I do.
I have a hard time trusting people I don't know.
and that includes everyone on social media.
...Everyone except people I know or who I've met.
Is this a problem?
...Except that I expect everyone on social media to trust me.
Here I'm making a hydrosol. I'm cooking herbs in water and gathering the condensation. the ice on the pot lid cools it, so that steam becomes water. This water is full of the goodness from the plants which gave up their water-soluble constituents through the simmering process.
I love making hydrosols.
The hum of my cooker and the aroma of the herbs just fills my sanctuary and I sew.
I am at peace.
In their book, "Trust Agents | Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust" (2010), authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith try very hard to get me to break down the wall between my sanctuary and all those not known people beyond.
They speak to me about establishing my authority. I discovered how to infuse fabric with herbs. I've learned a lot in my explorations that I could share. They talk about being helpful and reliable, about committing to regular speaking and listening, about maintaining my audience. I'm a doer, not a talker. But I am reliable. They mention community. I would like that, I think.
"It's a slow roast, not a TV dinner.", they say. (pg 212)
Why hydrosols? What are they and can they be helpful?
In her book "Hydrosols | The Next Aromatherapy" (2001), Canadian Suzanne Catty outlines what is and what isn't aromatherapy. "Aromatherapy products are not made in a plant (factory), but in a plant (living, growing, green thing)" (pg 2). I love this. Aromatherapy and essential oils are big business. Is what we are giving our nose to smell good for us? This is yet another trust topic. Catty claims that most products marketed as aromatherapy are merely perfumes, and have never even seen a plant (living, growing green thing). Smells can be produced synthetically, and at present there are not many controls over what synthetics are used, and if any natural ingredients are included at all.
I bottle the hydrosol I make, after blending it with other hydrosols to achieve something healthy and intended to affect the body according to the name of the garment. There is nothing else in the bottle except for hydrosols. Again, trust.
You can use the spray on anything, but its main purpose is to re-infuse the clothing with the herbs. Catty suggests that hydrosols are as therapeutic as essential oils (the oil constituents of the plant). Like the seed, hydrosols are holograms of the plant, where "every tiny part contains all the information of the whole". What I draw out of the plant is what was in the cells of the plant itself. Many people who visit my booth tell me that they can feel the energy of the clothing. It is almost alive. When this water essence is put next to our skin, and absorbed or breathed in, it just may blend with the natural chaos of our bodies. Who knows?
"In the use of plant essences we evoke the earth's healing forces." (Catty, pg 22)
I have survived social media evils already, and am a little less scared of them.
Can I improve myself by using social media?
Is that really a possibility?
It will help be become even more knowledgeable about my subject matter.
It may empower me to think of myself as "with it" ;)
It may keep me organized. And give me patience.
It may help me learn to be more social …. and human.
I intend to be more trusting of everyone.
I intend to show virtue in my interaction with others.
The phenomenon of facebook has caused me to think.
It's different for others.
Not everyone has the same weather on any given day. Obviously. But before I was able to see what was growing in people's gardens while snow lay on the ground outside my window, I didn't fully appreciate this.
Religion might be the same.
Do we share an understanding of "virtue"?
Is there one idea of "virtue" that we can agree on? Can we do right in our interaction with others even though we may not always agree on "right"? Is there a universal virtue?
Lately I have been suffering from what I believe could be a hernia. It causes me to stop and rest when I exert too much effort. I often exert a lot of effort.
The discomfort emanates from my solar plexus, I believe. In the pit of my stomach where the fight or flight response is produced. It's called "solar" because it's at the centre of the body where many nerves meet (www.healthline.com/search). Like the sun, it is the energy centre of the body, giving us power and momentum (chakras.infolexus-chakra/). With the symbol of fire, the manipura chakra just under the navel is characterized by "the expression of will, personal power and mental abilities" and helps us "realize personal desires and intentions in the world" (ibid).
Interestingly, as I write this I am waiting to hear from partners in a new venture. I want to form a non-profit Co-op which engages hand-makers, producers and providers in the Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes/Haliburton areas who use natural materials and processes. I think we could support and promote one another other for the benefit of conscientious consumers.
A month ago, I was contemplating goals much smaller. But lately this idea has given me a new direction and I have surprised myself with the actions I have been able to take to reach it.
I go skiing to pass the time.
Grandfather and grandmother fir trees, archetypal and powerful, extend their welcome. Undisturbed, the quiet lake allows me to walk on it, an honour.
I need to rest. I lie down.
The universe opens the curtain, the sun its light and energy source.
In his book "Sacred Plant Medicine" (2006), Stephen Harrod Buhner states that according to the Teton Sioux, the sun is only able to provide life with the help of the earth. Without the rain-giving, cooling action of the clouds and plants, and the humans who feed co2 into the cycle, the sun would dry up the earth.
We humans are needed in this life dance, despite the harm we do.
There, with my face to the sky, I notice the other dancers in the universe: the animal and plant kingdoms, the rocks and the unseen spirit that holds everything together. I sit among these in a circle, re-establishing right relations.
Then I get up from my council meeting in the middle of the lake and return to my work asserting myself in the world.
Let's all take a moment to sit among the circles of our inner and outer councils, establishing virtuous relations, before we go about our interactions with others.
I intend to practice purity of thought......
This blog in meant to be a source, a source of information for conscious consumers of clothing. I mean to practice purity of thought when writing it.
Let it be the stream that fills the lake with fresh water, spilling out into an ocean of salt and spoil.
I won't dwell on the ocean. Much is known about the offenses of the fashion industry.
I will bring awareness to little known alternatives and long forgotten practices, that I might calm minds eager to live purely. And I will invite others to contribute their stream of honestly-found knowledge:
Unto the pure all things are pure. "
The visionary Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) believed that "vita integra" came from faith and the use of plants. She taught her nuns to pray, heal, garden, sing and celebrate their own beauty. She was not educated, but spent her days making discoveries by working with plants, all the while interpreting what she found through the religious lens common at the time. Her textbook of medicine, Causae et Curae was discovered 100 years ago in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. In all her written works, she links spirituality, health and plants. For this innovative and bold woman, a life filled with sorrow, worry, fear, chronic stress and hurry was risky and dangerous. Those who had the best health were those who lived by inward strength and joy and communion with the natural world.
(Hildegard of Bingen's Medicine, Strehlow & Hertzka, M.D., Folk Wisdom Series, Bear and Company Books, 1988)
Their habits, wimples and undergarments were no doubt made from hand-harvested and spun linen (a cellulose fibre) and hand-carded wool (a protein fibre), since no other fabrics were available in medieval Europe.
How far we've come in 1000 years! The garment manufacturing industry is third in size to only electronics and cars, with a supply chain that circles the world!
Thankfully, we haven't forgotten about those pure fabrics. And yes, they must still be considered pure despite calls against wool because of the treatment of sheep not well cared for. To these pure fabrics we've added hemp (the "true environmentally friendly" material) and ramie (both cellulosics) and Lenzing Tencel™.
I would not add any others to this list.
Tencel is the brand name of a lyocell fabric made by Lenzing AG, Austria, and developed in the 1980's. It is made from FSC® and PEFC™ certified farmed and renewable eucalyptus trees, a rapidly renewable resource which grows to maturity in 7-10 years (Woodings, Courtaulds, UK). Eucalyptus trees yield 10 times the amount of cotton per square metre, and the land which is needed for eucalyptus is not suitable for agriculture. More efficient use of land is coupled with the fact that no irrigation, no pesticides and no herbicides are used to produce a low impact raw material. Lyocell is a carbon-neutral fibre, where the same amount of carbon is released into the atmosphere naturally during the tree's life cyle as is used in its harvesting (ibid).
To produce the fibres, Lenzing uses a closed loop fibre production system and NMMO, an aqueous, biodegradable, organic amine oxide (a solvent) to break down the bark and produce a pulp. The pulp is then extruded through tiny spinnerets to produce the fibre. The solvent is then recovered at a rate of 99.5%, all of which is recycled back into the main process. The solvent is non-toxic, non corrosive and all effluent is non-hazardous (ibid). Water is also recycled, producing very low emissions to the environment and reducing the dangers of water scarcity common with cotton growing by 10-20 times! This manufacturing process has been awarded the "European Award for the Environment" by the European Union. (Lenzing promotional materials, 2008/E) and takes about 2 hours from start to finish.
Compared with other viscose (rayon) fibres, Lenzing Tencel shows “substantially better” performance according to the Higg Material Sustainability Index (MSI) and it is Zero Discharge compliant (Annex 6) of OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, a certification which identifies textile materials that are harmless to health and have skin friendly pH. At the end of its long life, Lenzing Tencel is biodegradable in an aerated compost in just eight days, a factor of great importance when considering the harmful effects of mountains of textile waste in our world.
More absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen, this fabric is beautiful. Lenzing Tencel™. has the strongest tenacity profile of all cellulosic fibres, is naturally moth-free and is 2000 times less likely to grow bacteria than synthetic fibres such as polyester (Lenzing Marketing Communication EN/11-2014). Lenzing Tencel has the best skin sensory properties of softness and drape. and it's breathable.
Sanctuary Innerwear bears the label of Lenzing Tencel. That's because I have certification that Lenzing's fibres are what make up 92% of my fabric. (The other 8% is Spandex, which is not biodegradable and is produced using oil byproducts).
Look for this logo (or the newer Lenzing Ecovero on the right) when you shop for clothes:
It is no accident that a balance has evolved between the plant and animal kingdoms over a few billion years of evolution. Cellulose, the natural polyumer which makes up the living cells of all vegetation, the material at the centre of the carbon cycle, is the most abundant and renewable biopolymer on the planet.
A little known alternative.
Made with sustainability in mind, and part of the slow fashion movement.
I imagine Hildegard's nuns wore Sanctuary Innerwear under their frocks, or out in the open within the cloistered walls. I imagine they were beautiful, healthy creatures, full of purity.
PURITY Chemise and Short Set
Eco-elegant and clean. A chemise and short combination in undyed, unbleached eucalyptus. Good-for-the-earth and good-for-you. It's only natural.
Hand sewn by Anna Luckai with attention to detail such as shirring at top and bottom lace edges and elastic plus drawstring waist on shorts.
Made from certified Lenzing Tencel® (eucalyptus from FSC managed forests) with 8% spandex.
Comes with 100 ml each of Re-infusing Spray and Whipped Soap (your choice of infusion).
See below for size specifications.
TRUST Nightie & Pantie Set
Just 💗! Launch your personal style with this attention-getting nightie and pantie, perfect in undyed and unbleached Tencel eucalyptus.
Hand sewn by Anna Luckai with attention to details such as lace insets and full front gusset on panties.
Made from certified Lenzing Tencel® (eucalyptus from FSC managed forests) with 5% spandex.
Comes with 100 ml each of Re-infusing Spray and Whipped Soap (your choice of infusion).
See below for size specifications.
Undyed, unbleached 100% Tencel eucalyptus woven fabric drapes beautifully from this fitted and pencil-tucked bodice. Luxury with a clean conscience. Perfect alignment.
Hand sewn by Anna Luckai with attention to many details, such as front yoke pencil tucks, petite flower buttons and back shirring for form and comfort.
Made from certified Lenzing Tencel® (eucalyptus from FSC managed forests).
Comes with 100 ml each of Re-infusing Spray and Whipped Soap(your choice of infusion).
See below for size specifications.
Healthy Living Holiday Market
I'm the designer and creator of
a line of hand made clothing worn next to the skin which imparts goodness from plants through the hand-dyed and infused fabric.