By utilising the power of medicinal plants and herbal remedies to create dyes and soaks, it is possible to transfer some of these values to the cloth.
The skin is a permeable membrane and can absorb natural and synthetic chemicals allowing them to enter the body. While synthetic dyes cause harm, natural dyes do not. Scientists have recently discovered that natural dyes can impart antimicrobial, antibacterial and UV protective properties to textiles. While some studies have shown that herbal dyed textiles can provide relief from arthritis, diabetes, headaches and skin conditions.
The products that have been made focus on helping those with sensitive skin and arthritic/rheumatic pain. The herbal remedies chosen were advised by practicing herbalists. Herbal dyeing however, is not an alternative to medication or treatment. There is no guarantee that it will provide relief, but the garments will also not cause harm or negative reactions unlike chemical dyes.
This jumper was designed specifically for arthritic and rheumatic pain. To prevent the joints from freezing up, a cashmere-wool blend yarn was used to provide warmth. Colour focus areas were incorporated in the design so that trouble areas were covered: although the colour covers these areas directly, the dyes are absorbed into the body so the effect will be widespread. The colours originate from dyes made of medicinal plants which feature in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. The yarn was also soaked in a blend of medicinal herbs, as directed by an herbalist, which are topically used in the treatment of the same conditions. A fully fashioned knitting pattern limits the amount of yarn needed and helps to reduce waste. Each pattern piece was knit on an industrial Dubied knitting machine to provide a finer finish.
Beginning with a collection of hand-spun bamboo yarn, a cardigan for sensitive skin was born. The use of bamboo yarn provides a soft, silky feel whilst regulating ones’ temperature: perfect for those with sensitive skin, its silky texture doesn’t cause irritation like wool, but it also allows you to keep warm in the winter and stay cool in the summer. While the trims remained undyed, the pink colour was achieved through the use of medicinal dye plants and herbal soaks, all of which help ease irritated skin. Indian madder, Rubia cordifolia, provides one of the strongest pinks on plant fibres and was used for its renowned ability to care for the skin, to treat acne and hypo-pigmentation, or to alleviate swelling. Madder was used in conjunction with an herbal soak. This soak consisted of Rose, Lavender, German Chamomile and Marigold, all of which help ease troubled skin.
As part of a second sock collaboration, these herbal baby socks were knit by Zara Nugent. The main inspiration was to create an herbal product that was suitable for babies and/or toddlers with sensitive skin. 100% bamboo yarn was used in place of wool or cotton to provide a soft, silky alternative that regulates heat to keep feet warm in winter and cool in summer. The bamboo knit feels incredibly soft against the skin and helps minimise the irritation caused by clothing. A selection of three colours were created and subjected to an herbal soak. This soak featured a blend of herbs, including Lavender, Rose, German Chamomile, Marigold and Aloe Vera, which are all known to help aid skin conditions.
These children’s woollen hats were hand-knit using an alpaca-wool blend yarn. The yarn was subjected to an herbal soak of ground ivy and tansy, both of which are used in the herbal treatment of head lice. The yarn was over-dyed to provide a choice of two colours: orange and green. The orange comes from Indian madder, while the green is from an Indigo over-dye: Indigo is also an insect-repelling plant. These hats are perfect for protecting your little ones’ head during the colder weather, and during the ongoing fight against head lice.