The Spices of Life - Natural Dyeing with Turmeric

The Spices of Life - Natural Dyeing with Turmeric

 

Our passion for natural plant dyes was inspired by Ayurvastra, an ancient branch of Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old system of healthcare.

“Ayur” is Sanskrit for health and “vastra” clothing so Ayurvastra is loosely translated to “life cloth”

It uses herb-infused and herb-dyed organic fabrics as healing agents, especially for skin, joint and respiratory conditions.

Ayurvastra functions through the principle of touch: as the skin comes into contact with the herb-infused fabric the body develops increased metabolism and rids itself of toxins. Studies have proven the effectiveness of this*

Turmeric is a wonderful spice to use for creating life cloth at home as it is a spice we hopefully all have in our kitchen cupboard. Utilising its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting qualities to wrap around you at will.

Try it yourself using our recipe, bearing in mind it is not a very colourfast or lightfast dye. If you leave in the sunlight the colour will fade as it will after frequent washes.

Ingredients:

Turmeric powder – 3 tablespoons for every 500g of fabric

Scoured Cotton fabric

A large pan full of water.

Vinegar

Instructions:

Fill a pan with water and warm to a simmer on the hob.

Add the turmeric and stir until it is well dispersed.

Wet your fabric. Because of its fugitive colour in sunlight we don’t recommend using mordant when dyeing with turmeric.

Add your fabric to the pan and make sure it is submerged. Move around with your hands to make sure every inch is covered and allow the pot to simmer for 2 hours and then cool stirring and moving the fabric every hour to make sure you get an even coverage. Add a splash of vinegar if you want to brighten the colour.

When you are happy with the colour rinse it in water and hang to dry inside ( not in sunlight)

You can cut out pieces of the cotton to make homemade bandages for cuts or sores, use the sheets to lie on during a massage or meditation or use the material to create eye masks. 

As a Naturopath I love to take a holistic approach to health. Why not combine the healing power of turmeric with its friend ginger.

Ginger has many uses in the home remedies department and can be used to help arthritis, diarrhea, flu, headache, heart and menstrual problems, diabetes, stomach upset and motion sickness.

Here are our top home uses for the spice ginger.

Muscle Strains - Apply warm ginger paste with turmeric to the affected area twice a day.

Sore throat - Boil some water and add a dash of cinnamon, a little piece of ginger, 1 tsp honey and drink.

For a persistent cough - Take a half teaspoonful of ginger powder, a pinch of clove with a pinch of cinnamon powder and honey in a cup of boiled water and drink it as tea.

Asthma - A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste acts as a excellent expectorant in the treatment of asthma.

Headaches - Dilute a paste of ginger powder, about 1/2 a teaspoon, with water and apply to you forehead.

Colds - Boil a teaspoonful of ginger powder in one quart of water and inhale the steam - helps alleviate colds.

Ginger Compress - This method stimulates blood and body fluid circulation, helps loosen and dissolve toxic matter eg. cysts, tumors. Place about a handful of coarsely grated ginger in a cloth and squeeze out the ginger juice into a pot containing 4 liters of hot water (do not boil the water). Dip a towel into the ginger water and wring it out. Apply very hot to the affected area.

Diabetes - Some doctors recommend some drinking ginger in water first thing in the morning to help regulate your glucose level.

Ginger Tea - Make with fresh ginger root. Grate a small piece of ginger, about the size of a nickel, into a mug. Add the juice of a half a lemon. Fill the mug with boiling water. Stir in a teaspoon of organic honey.

For relief of nausea - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 200 mg every 4 hours.

For relief of flatulence - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 250 to 500 mg 2 to 3 times a day.

 

X Primrose 

* In 2006, a trial by the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvanathapuram in southern India found Ayurvastra cloth to be effective in treating 40 patients with allergies, rheumatism, hypertension, psoriasis and other skin ailments. Despite the history of this practice, Western medicine has not yet recognized the benefits of ayurvastra clothing and products.

 

Winter Vitamins and Tips for Health

Winter Vitamins and Tips for Health

Preparing for a healthy winter

 

As a naturopath I get asked a lot at this time of year what we can do or take to keep ourselves in abundant health through the winter.

As the saying goes “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”. Preparing your body for the winter will help you sail through those dark days and cold nights with a vital force that is hopefully able to throw off any germs it comes into contact with.

 

These are my basic top tips:

 

Fresh air and exercise

 

Whilst it might feel less tempting to go for a walk or head to the gym, the importance of having some time out to clear your head, breath in some fresh air and get the blood moving is imperative to keep our immunity strong.  Take at least 30 minutes of the day to walk preferably with an incline to really get the blood moving.

 

Bone broth

Whilst this isn’t one for the vegetarians, the benefits of chicken soup should not be forgotten. It has been a wellness tonic for centuries and for good reason. It contains important minerals that are easily absorbable such as magnesium and calcium and phosphorus. It also contains the amino acid cysteine which can thin the mucus in the lining of the lungs so it can be expectorated more easily. As always supporting our gut improves our immunity which this is good for too.

Try and eat at least once a week.

 

Warm Hydration

During the winter months it can be harder to notice when you are dehydrated as you don’t sweat as much. Good hydration flushes out toxins from the body, maintains efficient bodily functions and keeps the body energized. Drink herbal teas containing turmeric, ginger, rosemary and cinnamon as these are warming and help keep the natural fire of your stomach burning and invigorated.

 

Winter Supplements

 

My preference is always to try and get your essential vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet but this can be harder to do these days due to poor soil quality, synthetic inputs and long air miles. Finding a local organic grower for your vegetables is ideal and helps you eat more seasonally, supporting your body with the food it should be eating at that time of year.

When that isn’t available you can incorporate the following supplements:

 

Garlic

We are often told to eat lots of garlic during the winter to keep us healthy. By eating garlic all the time its effectiveness at combating colds and flus is reduced.

Ideally you want to be eating it just as you start to feel a little run down and eat a lot of it! Using a raw garlic clove as a suppository is also a quick way to help your body fight back as well as knocking on the head any lingering urinary infections.

You can of course supplement with garlic capsules if you don’t like the garlic breath!

 

Vitamin C

You only have to take a walk in a park or along a country lane and you can see the abundance of berries presenting themselves in September. This year seems like a bumper year indeed.

These are natures immunity larder. Each one is packed with antioxidants that pack a punch against colds and flus.

Pick blackberries and whortleberries for freezing or eat straight away topped on cereal and smoothies. In last week’s blog I shared a recipe for elderberry syrup.

You can of course supplement Vitamin C and my all-time favourite brand is A Vogel chewable tablets made with food source sea buckthorn berries, acerola berries and passion fruit for a complete vitamin. Unlike most Vitamin C on the market which is  made with ascorbic acid (a synthesized version) this is food based so more recognizable by your body.

Vitamin C helps our iron absorption which is a bonus too.

 

Vitamin D

That bright circle in a sky, our friend the sun shines less frequently over the winter so we cannot make as much Vitamin D. Vitamin D maintains healthy bones and muscles as well as supporting positive mental health.

If you supplement with about 600iu per day it helps our body maintain the summer levels we are used to.

 

Zinc

Zinc has been shown to help reduce viruses replicating so taking it within 24 hours of starting to feel ill can reduce the duration of the cold or flu. About 75mg per day is recommended.

I suggest you use like garlic.

Stay tuned for more health and wellbeing tips and ideas over the next few months.

Stay well x 

Prim

Elderberry Boost

Elderberry Boost

As the holiday season nears an end and we approach the start of a new school year, it is an excellent time to consider boosting our immunity ahead of the winter months.

 

In nature’s wisdom, plants grow at the time of year when we need them.

Sharing their virtues for our health and wellbeing in order to support our body through the challenges different seasons bring.

 

Along the hedgerows you can’t help but notice the bulging bunches of elderberries hanging from the tree, ripening from green to purple.

As natural dye fanatics we loved to discover that the Romans used these berries as a natural hair dye, boiled in wine to make the hair black.

Certainly, it provides an initial bright purple dye on fabrics although being fugitive the colour won’t stay bright for long so enjoy the beauty while it lasts!

 

Like the bark of the elder tree the berries can have a purging effect on the bowels but their most common use is for our immune system.

 

These magic clusters our full of Vitamin C and antioxidants something we need most to fend off infection and secure optimum iron absorption. One cup of elderberries contains about 50 mg of Vitamin C with the recommended daily amount being 75mg for women and 90g for men.

 

There are numerous ways to enjoy elderberries such a drying the berries to make a tea, wine, making them into a jam with other hedgerow favourites like blackberry and hawthorn or adding them to a crumble.

 

Our favourite is as a syrup which is made from simmering berries and a sugar until it gets to a thick consistency. Whilst you can make it with sugar I prefer to make it with honey so you get the added anti-bacterial immune boosting properties of local honey. If you have a sore throat the consistency means it coats the throat nicely too. Make sure not to boil the honey and render it less potent.

 

Recipe

500g of juicy plump destalked elderberries

400g of sugar or honey

1 lemon juiced

 

You might like to add 3cm of freshly sliced ginger, a cinnamon stick or a star anise if you prefer a depth of flavour.

 

Place the berries into a saucepan and cover with about 1cm water. Add any spices you desire.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 mins until the berries have softened into a liquid.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve

Measure the liquid and for every 500ml of liquid add 400g of sweetener.

Tip the sweetener and the liquid back into a pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Leave to cool and bottle in sterilised jars.

This will keep for about 12 weeks in the fridge or freeze cubes in trays and use as you need until next season!

Water. More precious than gold?
August 19, 2022

Water. More precious than gold?

Are we running out of fresh water?

Whist water is essential for life on earth it is something that most of us in the developed world give little thought to. We expect it to always be there. To quench our thirst and bathe in at will. We can get in on tap, literally. 

Yet only a staggering 2.5 % of the Earth’s remaining water is fresh.

The clean water crisis is a hot topic at the moment with so little of it available due to recent droughts, a leaking infrastructure and contamination from sewage overspill causing more of a problem than ever.

Since the start of Bedstraw + Madder, maintaining clean, safe and abundant water has and always will be one of our main objectives.

From our packaging made with waterless ink, to our regenerative organic cotton grown without pesticides. From saving precious water with rain fed irrigation to using only natural inputs in our dyeing process. By removing all synthetic, toxic chemicals we prevent them from polluting fresh water supplies.

That's why the clothing we make is "clean" throughout the entire supply chain; to ensure a positive impact on our water.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin

"When the well is dry, we know the worth of water". 

In researching water, we discovered the average person in the UK uses 142 litres every day.

Clearly not only is it essential to use less water, but also to not pollute our water system in order to maintain as much clean healthy drinking water for communities around the world and not contribute to the 20% of global water pollution currently caused by textile processing.

Whilst the UK is known for having one of the cleanest drinking water in the world we are always looking out for ways to improve the quality for our health and wellbeing.

Unless specially filtered your home drinking water will likely contain the following:

Chlorine – a disinfectant.

Fluoride- a controversial mineral added to reduce tooth decay.

Microplastics have been found in 72% if water supplies in the UK

Drugs – a study in 2013 found compounds such as anti-depressants, cocaine bi products and ibuprofen to name a few.

These are our top choices of water filter that eliminate these nasties to one degree or another.

1.Berkey Water filter

This is our favourite due to its ability to remove all fluoride, chlorine, viruses, pathogenic cysts, parasites, pharmaceuticals, harmful chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, VOCs, detergents, organic solvents, cloudiness, trihalomethanes, silt, sediment, heavy metals.

2. Black and Blum charcoal

The basic option which removes chlorine and puts minerals back into the water.

3. Osmio clarity gravity filter

They are able to filter out chemicals, heavy metals, plastic, hormones, pharmaceuticals and fluoride.

 

Great health starts with great quality water. Support your body with the best.

X Prim

It's heating up. How to stay cool.

It's heating up. How to stay cool.

 

With temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in parts of the world, and even England feeling the heat, many people feel physically challenged by it.

Excessive heat can cause energy levels and blood pressure to fall, muscles to cramp, and our mental agility to suffer too. 

Traditionally, as hunter-gatherers, we would have made our way to the coast in the summer months to take advantage of the sea breeze, cool water, supportive minerals, and negative ions. Electrolytes in seawater and shellfish would have been beneficial, and seaweed gel would be used to nourish the skin.

With busy lives, it can be hard to get away, take a well-earned break and allow your body to cool down and relax, so how can we best support our body and manage these extremes in temperatures and the stress it afflicts on our body?

Hydration

Hydration might be obvious, but it is critical. If you are anything like me, water can become dull sometimes, so at Bedstraw + Madder, we love to jazz things up with freshwater infusions and smoothies.

Try our favourite rose and watermelon cooler.

Using the cooling properties of rose water, rose petals and fresh pureed watermelon blended together.

Recipe:

The flesh of 1 x small watermelon, including small pips (kept in the fridge before use)

25 ml of rose water

3 x ice cubes

Mint sprig for decoration

Combine all ingredients in a nutribullet and blend until watermelon is smooth. It doesn’t matter if there are still chunky bits of ice as this will keep it cool.

Serve in a glass and top with mint sprig. Enjoy a very refreshing drink.

Electrolytes

When it is hot, we sweat; for many people, it isn’t just a case of drinking more water to replace any lost fluid. It is often time to consider replacing electrolytes.

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge and are needed to regulate nerve and muscle function while maintaining fluid balance.

Sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium are all electrolytes, and you can find them in various foods. Banana is a well-known source of potassium, and honey contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Other good sources to incorporate into your diet are:

Spinach, kale, avocados, broccoli, potatoes, beans, almonds, peanuts, and coconut water.

Herbs

Some herbs have naturally cooling properties in the same way that the vegetable cucumber does. These are mint, chamomile and lavender as a few examples. Try making an iced tea with one of these as an alternative drink.

Facial Mist

Rose hydrosol is water distilled with rose petals. It can be a cooling mist spray for the face and neck while nourishing the skin. I always keep it in my handbag. You can buy it from most health food shops.

Supplements

Whilst maintaining a balanced diet in the heat, it can be helpful to boost your body with a vitamin tonic from supplements.

A combination of Magnesium for temperature regulation, muscle relaxation and adapting to stress

Vitamin C - to boost immunity and for anti-inflammatory effects

Vitamin B complex and B12 – are essential for your nervous system to cope with stress

Homoeopathy

As a homoeopath, this is often my first choice for health and wellbeing issues. Homoeopathy is a complementary medicine that uses small amounts of a substance that, in normal quantities, would usually produce the symptoms of the ailment. It is always best to consult a professional homoeopath for accurate prescribing, but here are a couple of remedies that can be helpful to keep in our cabinet to help with heat-related symptoms.

Glonoinum: This is often the first remedy for sunstroke. Agonising congestive headache after exposure to sun and heat. Hot face and cold extremities, irritability and confusion. And it was Pounding pain, compared to Belladonna.

Belladonna – This remedy is often used for fever, particularly if flushed with bright red skin and dulled mental activity. The people needing this are generally not thirsty even though their mouths and skin are dry.

Gelsenium – Used with symptoms of drowsiness, headache in the back of the head, no thirst, weakness, comatose, sunstroke symptoms.

Carbo Veg: Collapse from excess heat with clamminess of the skin and stomach complaints. The individual wants to be fanned and needs to feel moving air.

As a parting note, try keeping a wet flannel in a bowl of iced water next to your desk and apply it to the pulse points on the wrists, at the backs of the knees and the back of the neck. Suppose there is more space; place your whole feet in some cool water. These can all help cool you down.

Stay cool this Summer…

X Prim

How to stay safe in the Sun naturally

How to stay safe in the Sun naturally

Hello Summer and Sunshine Love.⁠

From February onwards we long for sunny Summer days and with good reason.⁠

When the light rays from the sun hits our skin it causes the body to produce vitamin D, our “sunshine vitamin”.⁠

This is a super vitamin boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, relaxes muscles, improves brain function and alleviates depression. In order to optimise this process try not washing your your skin for at least 24 hours before sun exposure, as the natural oils on your skin play a crucial part in increasing the production of these natural vitamins.⁠

Whilst the sun is important for our health there are steps we can take to look after our skin and keep it glowing and healthy. ⁠

Our advice for this is:

Hydration – Your skin is made up of millions of cells, which are primarily water. When you are dehydrated your skin will retract (like a piece of fruit does as it dries up) and this will stretch the muscles in the skin leading to wrinkles as well as feeling dry and flaky.

Drinking at least 2 litres of water each day will avoid this happening.

Time - Choose your time carefully. We all know the hottest time of the day is midday when the sun is directly overhead. For two hours either side of this time of the day it is wise to stay out of direct sunlight. So wear a hat, use an umbrella or find some shade. We were not made to cook ourselves.

Sunscreens- Your skin is the largest organ of your body and absorbs what it touches.  It’s interesting to notice that in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen. This may be due in part to the fact that many sunscreens contain petrochemicals and endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as oxybenzone, which is a hormone disruptor. These things end up in our body.

When looking for sunscreen it is important to look for ones with pure ingredients like zinc oxide with plant based oils.

Here are our top picks:

 

Zinc Oxide – Not only does regular sunscreen pollute your body, they increasingly are polluting our sea.  If you imagine every time someone on the beach goes swimming sunscreen is washing into the water. With water pollution globally on the increase it’s important to try and make small changes to address it.

Zinc oxide is the most natural of the sun protectors. It forms a whitish coating on the skin that blocks the suns rays and is fully biodegradable.

You can buy this on its own and combine with natural ingredients such as coconut oil or shea butter for application.

After sun

After suns like a lot of sunscreens on the market are chemical based and rather ineffective in reducing the trapped heat in the skin.

Essential oils like lavender combined with 100% plant juice of aloe vera and a pure plant oil base such as borage of jojoba is the most effective way to rehydrate your skin and reduce inflammation and redness.

As a homeopath Primrose recommends taking remedies Sol , Urtica urens or Belladonna 30c  in potency as these can be effective and worth keeping in the first aid kit.

Oat bath - As a lover of oats I also recommend a soothing oat bath for reducing inflammation and itchiness in the skin.

Upcycle your wardrobe by filling an old pair of tights with some organic oats and leave it in the bath as you run it.

This is a great system for your nervous system too.

Stay safe in the Sun this summer!

x Prim

 

Natural Dyeing with Wild Carrot

Natural Dyeing with Wild Carrot

Of all the wild flowers growing at the moment Wild Carrot otherwise known as Queen Anne's lace has a beautiful elegance.

A plant of numerous virtues which we will explore, most importantly as a natural dye with its fresh lemony tones.

It makes any wild flower bouquet complete with its dainty up-turned umbrella like flower heads on a delicate stem but what is the history of this beauty?

Believed to originate from Afghanistan and spread through Mediterranean Europe its Latin name is Daucus Carota with common names including Bird's Nest and Queen Anne's lace.

The origin of its name Queen Anne's lace came from Queen Anne of England who was an expert lace maker. The Legend says that whilst she crafted she pricked herself with a needle and a single drop of blood fell from her finger onto the lace leaving a dark purple spot which you find in the central bloom of the flower.

We enjoyed creating a natural dye with this plant. 

If you would like to try this at home here are some instructions:

Mordant your silk or cotton fabric. Find instructions here.

Fill a saucepan full with the leaves and stems and a few heads if you are short.

Cover with water at least 2cm above the top of the plant matter.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours with lid on then leave in to cool. You may need to simmer a little longer to reduce the liquid and strengthen the dye colour depending on what colour you wish to achieve.

Use a pan large enough to allow the fabric some room if you want an even colour.

Keep checking to see how the dye colour is looking and when you are happy strain out the skins and place your material in the dye bath.

Place your pan back on the hob and simmer for 15 minutes before setting aside and allowing to cool.

We found it best to leave the cooled dye pan overnight for maximum colour.

As with all the plant dyes we experiment with we love to take a holistic approach and learn more about their benefits as healing herbs, tonics and food.

The root or "carrot" is edible as a food and in fact grated raw is used historically to dispel worms.

Its main association is with the urinary system, acting as a powerful diuretic helping to remove uric acid and water retention from the system. An infusion of the leaves is a useful treatment for cystitis. 

Young first year leaves can be chopped and added to a salad to support liver and kidney.

Enjoy experimenting with this seasonal dye plant. 

x Prim and Ness

 

The Lost Language of Flowers

The Lost Language of Flowers

More than 7000 languages are spoken in the world today but one you may not have heard of is the ancient language of flowers.  It is known as Floriography, a means of cryptological communication through the choice and arrangement of flowers. 

Meaning has been attributed to flowers for thousands of year-end practised in traditional cultures across the world.  As great lovers of flowers and plants, utilising them in our natural dyes we love this ancient wisdom and wish to revive this knowledge. 

During the Victorian era this practise became very popular with the first floriography dictionary published in 1819, by Madame Charlotte de la Tour. At a time when expressing ones true feelings wasn't easy or was feared it opened a door.

We have put together a list of the flowers you can use as a starting point for sending your own messages and speaking from your heart. 

 

Roses – Nothing says I love you better than a red rose. Associated with the goddess of love, they symbolise love, passion, romance and desire.

Lavender – Don’t trust someone? Give them lavender. It is a symbol of distrust due to the fact that venomous snakes often make their homes in lavender fields. The origins of the word come from the latin “lavare” which means to wash. It was often added to baths for fragrance.

Daisies are associated with childhood which in turn is symbolic of innocence and purity. In an old Celtic legend God would plant daisies to comfort and uplift parents who had lost children.

Iris – Do you have sone good news to share. Iris is your flower. The word comes from the greek for "rainbow". Rainbows are a link between heaven an earth which the greek goddess Iris uses to travel back and forth bringing messages of hope and good news.

Chrysanthemum – In China this flower is symbolic of good luck and a long life.

Pansy – an edible flower whose name comes from the French verb “to think- pensée” is the perfect flower to give to someone when you want to remind them that you are thinking of them and are generally associated with platonic love.

Rosemary - the plant associated with memory is symbolic of remembrance so a good one to use on anniversaries.

Say it with flowers...

Benefits of Wild Swimming
July 19, 2022

Benefits of Wild Swimming

Reconnecting to our wild side and remembering our ancestral ways can help us thrive and encourage us to preserve our sacred wild places for future generations to enjoy.

Connecting to the element of water is particularly powerful and wild swimming is a great way to do it.

When we sit nearby or immerse ourselves in water it helps us connect with our emotions. It doesn’t matter if it is a lake, a river or the sea, the process of being in or near these wild watery places is healing. This healing power has been known for centuries. In greek medicine it was known as 'water cure' with therapies such as hydrotherapy and thalassotherapy becoming fashionable. There are still ancient cultures such as the Hindus who bathe in the river Ganges with the belief it will free them from sin.

“When you swim, you feel your body for what it mostly is – water – and it begins to move with the water around it. No wonder we feel such sympathy for beached whales; we are beached ourselves at birth. To swim is to experience how it was before we were born.”

-Waterlog Roger Deakin

At Bedstraw + Madder we have a strong desire to preserve our sacred waterways and keep them pure and free from pollution. With 20% of global water pollution linked with the fashion industry from   petrol chemical dyes and synthetic processing agents, it prompted our desire to work only with chemical free, natural plant dyes that had a positive impact on people and planet. 

Our co-founder Primrose was lucky enough to grow up on an Island and now lives next to the River Dart so wild water and cold water swimming is very much a part of her soul.

There are great benefits from swimming in cold water regularly and it is quickly becoming a global phenomenon with characters like Wim Hof inspiring us with their personal stories of triumphing over illness and depression through the power of the cold.

So what are the Benefits?

It helps to build up brown adipose tissue resulting in fat loss

It reduces inflammation through the body

It boosts our immunity and balances our hormones

Increases our sleep quality

Triggers the production of endorphins - the feel good hormones that naturally elevate your mood making it incredible for mental health which a study by the BMJ can vouch for.

https://casereports.bmj.com/content/2018/bcr-2018-225007.abstract 

Salt water in the sea contains minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron which activate the healing mechanisms in the body, reduce aches and pains as well as relaxing muscles and healing skin.

The best things in life really are free. If wild swimming can do all this then what are we waiting for?

The more you do it,  the less you feel the cold as your circulation increases. Focusing on your breathing as you swim makes wild swimming a very mindful process and reduces stress.

If you are looking for inspiring wild swimming reading material here are some of our favourites:

The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof

Wild Swimming walks Dartmoor and South Devon by Sophie Pierce

Taking the plunge by Vicky Allan

Cold water plunges can cool our cool temperature, especially in the cooler months. It is at these times it is especially important to have tools at hand to warm up quickly when you get out. You can't beat a hot drink for this. Our favourite companion for cold water swims is a Kelly Kettle so you can boil a cuppa for yourself and your companions wherever you find yourself. 

Kelly Kettle - for that warming cuppa after your dip.

 

 

“Live in the Sunshine, Swim the Sea, Drink the wild air”

 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Chemical Free Interiors with The Cloth Collective
July 12, 2022

Chemical Free Interiors with The Cloth Collective

As a naturopath our co founder Primrose has always been of the opinion that we are not just what we eat. We are what we wear and what we surround ourselves with. Molecules and chemicals in our environment are transferred to our body through our skin and through ingesting and breathing in tiny molecules. 

Seeking a healthy lifestyle is about far more that what you put on your plate.

When we are not outside in the fresh air, we are inside in our homes surrounded by painted walls, fabrics and furniture all with their own manufacturing journey that we very rarely stop to question.

Last week we were pleased to talk to our friend Charlotte Lawson Johnston who is bringing the idea of natural, chemical free interiors into our awareness via her business Cloth Collective.

We are excited for her to share with you her work and vision which is closely aligned with ours at Bedstraw.

You have a beautiful instagram page and I encourage anyone reading this to follow you if they are not already – you are often documenting the natural dyeing that you do. How did this journey with natural dyes start? What was the inspiration?  

I had a textiles business selling fabric by the metre mostly to Trade. I was printing the collections in a UK based factory and each time I visited to do another print run, I suffered from terrible headaches.  I began researching the print pigments and dyes being used in the textile industry and discovered that most of the fabrics created for our homes are full of toxins. I set out to change my practice so that it would not negatively impact our planet or our health. I discovered the work of Sarah Burns who is a talented print maker. She also makes all of her pigments and dyes from plants. Sarah generously shared her knowledge of natural dyeing with me and that was really the beginning of my journey! We are now collaborating on a collection together which is so lovely!

On your website you say “We believe we should be able to fill our homes with exceptionally beautiful textiles without compromising our well-being or negatively impacting our environment.” Explain how you achieve this and how it contrasts so heavily with mainstream soft furnishings. 

Most of the off-the-shelf soft furnishings readily available such as cushions, ready-to-hang blinds, rugs and bedding are coloured with synthetic dyes and chemically finished.  These man-made dyes negatively impact our environment in several ways, for example polluting our water systems and destroying biodiversity.  Many of the chemicals used to finish textiles (such as fabric softeners) contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). They are unstable at room temperature and so toxic gases evaporate into our indoor spaces thereby reducing our air quality. At Cloth we naturally dye all of our fabrics and they aren’t finished using any nasties! Our dyes are all hand made from flowers and food waste making our fabrics 100% natural, breathable and if anything GOOD for our health rather than bad!

The use of natural dyes within interiors world is still very ahead of its time. What reaction have you had from the interiors community from what you are doing?

Two years ago people thought I was mad, mainly because they couldn’t see how natural dyeing could be a scalable business.  Thanks to journalists such as Roddy Clarke, sustainability is now a prolific subject within the interiors industry. Toxicity in the home is less of a mainstream topic but with the rise of the wellbeing industry, I think it’s only a matter of time before it’s something more and more designers and makers will want to tackle. People are excited about what we are doing and they want to learn more about the benefits of our natural dyes. Designers are open minded and like the idea of being able to offer their clients British made, non-toxic and sustainable fabrics!

You have had some great collaborations to date. Tell us a project about a project you have most loved doing and why?

For me, it is about the people, always. I am currently working on a collection of 6 plain colours with Edward Bulmer Paint. The base fabric is woven with hemp and linen. We are creating dye recipes to match 6 of Edward’s most popular natural paint colours. Both of us are gentle chemists, creating plant based pigments and there is a mutual respect for our craft. Edward’s team are an absolute joy to work with and have given Cloth such an amazing platform from which to shout about non-toxic textiles.  If we can do for home furnishing fabrics what Edward has done for the paint industry, we will be very happy indeed!

Tell us a little about the people involved in the “collective”?

The idea behind the collective is to join forces with other British based craftspeople in the textile industry to create fabrics together. Whether they be growers, weavers & spinners of sustainable fibres (such as hemp and linen) or printers and embroiderers. We want as much of our supply chain to be as British as possible.

You mention you use botanical waste. What do you mean by this? And aside from waste do you have a favourite natural dye to work with?

When we refer to Botanical waste, we mean waste from flowers. We love to dye with British madder root. Being a dye stuff that is grown here in England, it has a low carbon footprint and that is a big positive. Also the pinks harnessed from Madder are absolutely beautiful and we just never get tired of working with this plant derived pigment. Recently we have been creating recipes with Madder and Gallnut, this mix creates a dirty/beige pink similar to Edward Bulmer’s paint colour called Jonquil!

All the fabrics you use are natural fibres. Why is this important to you and can you tell me about the materials you use currently and the ones you envisage sourcing in the future?

Yes that’s correct, we only work with fabrics woven from sustainable fibres such as hemp, wool, linen and peace silk; fibres which are positive for our environment. For example hemp requires little to no irrigation and it sucks carbon from our atmosphere as it grows.  We would love to use more locally grown fibres and were excited this year to discover a silk farm not far from us in Herefordshire. In terms of the future, we would love to be working with more British Grown fibres……there seems to be an exciting movement to reignite the Flax industry here so fingers crossed that we will be dyeing British linen in the not too distant future.

What you are doing and what we are doing at Bedstraw is all part of a larger green and conscious awakening. The planet is in an exciting but vulnerable time of change, what do you feel are the best things we can each do as individuals to adapt and bring about positive impact?

Sometimes climate change can feel overwhelming and most of us think we can’t make a big enough impact. It’s about incremental changes to effect change. Washing less, buying less, driving less, making environmentally positive purchases. Also talking to others about the small changes you are making, can easily influence them to do the same! 

 

Thank you Charlotte

You can follow Charlotte on her instagram page @clothcollective.co and via her website www.clothcollective.co

 

Hapa Zome - Japanese printmaking
July 05, 2022

Hapa Zome - Japanese printmaking

With all the flowers around, Spring and Summer are a great time of year to indulge in some Hapa zome. Hapa what? You ask.

Hapa zome. The term meaning “leaf dye” is a Japanese printmaking technique invented by artist India Flint using pigments in leaves, flower to produce lovely detailed prints.

In Japan this technique is actually known as Tataki Zome but India’s name has taken off and most refer to it as Hapa Zome now.

It basically involves selecting a basket of interesting bright flowers, leaves or berries and using a hammer (a wooden mallet works best if you have one) to hammer this selection onto fabric. You can use cotton or linen and silk is particularly effective.

 

So the colours from the plant material last longer and bind better we recommend mordanting the fabric either using alum or milk (instructions below).

Wash your fabric in the washing machine and let it dry naturally, soak the fabric for 24 hours in milk, spin off the milk in the washing machine and let dry naturally, place the fabric back into the milk and repeat this process around three times. Then leave the dried fabric for 3 days before using for optimum effect.

Place your fabric on a hard surface and arrange your flowers, leaves and berries as you wish.

You can hammer directly onto the flowers themselves but I like to fold material over the top in order to get a mirror print.

 

Whilst the idea with this technique is to experiment which we always encourage. We have had good results with some of the following so you could start there: Rose Petals, Eucalyptus leaves, foxgloves, marigolds, geraniums, common catsear, dandelions, nettles.

Tag us @bedstrawandmadder with any of your creations.

Elderflower and Ginger Kefir

Elderflower and Ginger Kefir

 

Supporting health and wellbeing is one of the reasons Bedstraw + Madder was born. Replacing toxic chemical dyes, with healing anti-inflammatory plant colour. 

It doesn’t stop there though. We love to share all the things we have learnt and continue to learn along the way about supporting our health. As when our bodies thrive, we can flourish.

We all have bacteria that live in our gut. The right foods can nourish our gut bacteria for the better and help them proliferate, we call these probiotics. Excess junk food, chemicals and sugar can cause the opposite and encourage fungal overgrowth like candida which impacts our ability to be able to fight of disease. Our good bacteria play an integral role in almost every aspect of our health and immunity, even our mental health.

The link between our gut and our brain was an unknown in the mainstream for years but recent studies show conclusive evidence between the health of our colon and the state of our mind as well as the health of our skin.

So how can we support the good bacteria in our gut to prosper?

One way the Bedstraw team enjoy is with water kefir, especially in the Summer months.

Dairy free, it is a beverage with benefits and one to try if you haven’t already.

Water kefir is a fermented carbonated drink made from water kefir grains. Unlike the milk kefir it is made by combining water, grains, sugar and dried fruit together for 48 hours in a kilner jar until fermentation occurs. (don’t worry the grains digest the sugar as part of the fermentation process)  

You can buy the grains easily online.

Of course, being passionate about plants and the power they hold for our health we bring them into all our recipes. Throughout the year there are different herbs or flowers that can be a powerful addition to bring anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory benefits.

It is elderflower season so this combination uses elderflower and fresh ginger.

Elderflower has a host of benefits but has a particular affinity with the respiratory system and sinuses. Isn’t nature clever. Plants appear in the season when they are most needed. Elderflower appears during hay fever season and reduce the symptoms.

Just like every human being on earth, they each have a role to play, a raison d’etre.. 

Ginger increases blood circulation and our ability to sweat so is energising without the need for sugar or caffeine.

Give it a whirl…

 


Ingredients:

Place your water kefir grains in a 1 litre kilner jar

Add 3 spoonful’s of brown sugar

Add one piece of dried fruit ( fig, apricot, 6 raisins)

Fill the jar up with unchlorinated filtered tap water.

Leave in a sunny spot for 3 days and watch for it to get fizzy.

Drain the contents and place in a bottle in the fridge to stop the fermentation process and consume within 2-3 days.

 

The secret to a healthy body is a healthy gut…