Meet Ocean Rose, a poet, textile artist and dye expert. Ocean uses natural dyes to color entire skeins of yarn for herself and her customers to knit. Natural dyes avoid the bad in synthetics, give plants a second life and, often spiritually, allow the user to connect to land in a new way. Pomegranate skins, turmeric and rosemary make yellow tones. Red onion skins, avocado pits and red wine make pink tones and teas make a range of colors based on the type of tea.
We sat down with Ocean, wearing our Pencil Dress in Multi Floral, to talk about knitting, natural dying and poetry and how renewal plays a role in each.
When did you learn how to knit and do you have a favorite thing to knit? Do you create with other mediums too?
Knitting found its way into my life through my grandmother’s hands. Her knitting was like t.v. for me - I was instantly glued to her side during the summers. With many art forms, creatives lean toward ‘process vs. product’ making. If we were to blend the two together, my favorite piece to knit would be something impossibly whimsical with a touch of mohair that catches the halo perfectly in the sunlight. This week, it’s a sweet, simple, blush sweater for the approaching season, a woolen spring-fling. Inspiration blooms in many forms and definitely makes its way into the other creative outlets I deeply feel for. Silversmithing has a similar emotion with the added strength of needing to wield heavy tools and fire. For the days where a gentle wave of passion is needed, I sit and indulge in watercolours, bringing to life what was seen in the dream-space.
Why did you begin to use natural dyes?
Natural dyeing came to me chaotically and organically. My sweet baby and I were homeless and a creative anchor to hold the emotions in place was needed. This was during the time when knitting made a resurgence in the spaces I frequented online and, as many can probably relate when it comes to finding a new hobby, I dove headfirst down this endless, magical rabbit hole. I got to not only nutritionally make the most out of our humble meals, but also to further the life and beauty of the food scraps through botanical dyeing. All the while, I felt a part of something that reminded me of my grandma and those days spent watching her needles and yarn click away in the sunlight. It was, and still is, all about finding balance - a quiet, magnetic sense of sustainability from a more approachable way.
How does renewal play a role in your work?
Constantly reimagining and dreaming with a frequency that feels natural to you is renewal. Allowing yourself, despite what has presented itself at your feet, to continue to search, while taking rest along the way, is renewal. Continuing to tell the story of the wildflowers is renewal.
Could you tell me about the poetry you write? When and why did you start to write?
Poetry for me is the way birdsong sounds at first light. It is the gentle rhythm of this earth, yet it is constantly changing. It is the language of the heart remixed with the soul.
I started writing poems, even if i didn't realize they were poems, whenever I wrote Mother's Day cards or birthday notes. Someone always had tears sparkling in their eyes and I could never place why. It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows though. On more than one occasion, the principal's office would call home and inquire why such a small child had unspeakably big emotions and scribbled in colored pencil handwriting. These are the paths we walk towards our gifts.
Is there anything that makes you feel personally renewed and ready to take on what's next?
Receiving messages from people letting me know they feel seen because of the simple moments I share is a renewal that connects to healing. That makes taking the next step feel like another sweet offering.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of learning how to knit?
If you’re feeling called to bring knitting into your life, fall in love with the fibre first and the rest will flow into place.