Foraged Colour collaboration I

My work with the Foraged Colour project from initial ideas to final cloth

Foraged Colour is an Arts Council funded project conceived by seam member Linda Row, which began in February 2020. I was one of four textile artists; seam member Gill Hewitt , Eve Kumari and Frances Westerduin, collaborating with Linda to create unique, handmade textiles from British wool and dyed with foraged colours. Linda designed and constructed garments from these artisan textiles, and dyed all the wool for my cloth.

Initial ideas

I love the research phase of a project, especially when working with other people; the energy increases, we bounce ideas off one another, connections are found and our ideas move forward.

I was inspired by the definition of forage that Linda put on the front page of

Search for provisions
To wander in search of forage or food
To make a search

Discussing ideas with Linda Row’s sketches and range of colours from foraged dyestuff at our intial meeting

Wandering has a timelessness; making me think of the folk/fairy tales set in a forest; Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood.

My sketchbook with my initial ideas and some of my inspiration; clockwise from top left Shaun Tan illustration from Grimus Märchen; Anni Albers Dotted 1959, detail; Lorenzo Mattoti illustration from Hansel & Gretel; ibid; Anni Albers Dotted 1959; Anni Albers Under Way 1963; photo by author.

My initial ideas were to create a wandering path through a forest; referencing Annie Albers Under Way, 1963, using recycled silk fabric dyed red. A forest depicted with tree trunk verticals and leafy green horizontals, but then I saw Linda’s fashion sketch. The colours were beautiful; reminding me of autumns past, and the contrasts between autumn and spring.

My direction was set, two lengths of fabric, one depicting woods in spring and the other woods in autumn, from the same warp.

Exploring ikat with natural dyes, using tape made from used plastic bags, and windings using stripes to suggest a forest

How could I give an idea of trees? I experiemented with ikat to create blocks of colour in the warp with Linda, stripes in browns and purples; using the colours to suggest trunks, some closer and some further away.

The next step was sampling, which involved some failures and changes to my ideas… read how it went in my next blog post.

Penny Wheeler


  1. […] Exploring my initial ideas for the project led to my decision to create two lengths of fabric, one depicting woods in spring, and and the other woods in autumn, from the same warp. Sampling enabled me to try out different British wools and refine my ideas before weaving the final cloth. […]

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