Lavender brings to my mind home, childhood, family, peace, safety and calm. I associate it with Barbentane in Provence, where my family spent several summers when I was young, as well as my parents' home. As a child I suffered from severe insomnia and my mother would spray my pillows and bed linens with a lavender spray each night to help me sleep. As an adult, the smell of lavender helps to calm my anxiety, aid my sleep and bring pleasant memories to mind.
I designed a knitted sweater with front panels which wrap around the body, suggesting a comforting, protective presence, almost like a wearable security blanket. I dyed and stored this garment with lavender to imbue it with a subtle color, calming scent and antiseptic properties which protect the fibers from insects and allow for less frequent washing. The garment is intended to be dyed seasonally to reinvigorate its aromatherapeutic and antiseptic properties, and to refresh or alter the color. The garment begins entirely biodegradable, though this may change depending on the wearer's choice of repair materials. To accompany this garment, I created a webpage detailing its care, both in shorter and longer cycles of use. Along with typical washing and storage information, the site will provide instructions basic repair including sewing and darning.
The interactive nature of the garment and its digital record create a bond between wearer and garment which is renewed seasonally. The ritual aspect of re-dyeing and re-infusing the garment helps to create and strengthen that bond, while also refreshing the garment, making it "new" again each season. By strengthening our bonds with our garments, and allowing them to change and evolve with us, we are more likely to keep and care for them instead of discarding them. The somewhat temporal nature of plant dyes allows the wearer to change dyestuffs if they wish to radically alter the color of the garment, exchanging the subtle silvers of lavender for the yellows of turmeric, or the greens of rosemary. Altering the dyestuff also allows for the wearer-dyer to maintain the talismanic quality of the garment for its entire lifetime by permeating its fibers with whichever properties seem appropriate each season.
Encouraging the use of lavender--especially by encouraging the wearer to plant lavender of their own by including a small packet of lavender seeds for that purpose--will help sustain honeybees and bring some of the joy plants offer into the wearer's home or yard. Lavender is water-conserving and is native to the Mediterranean, making it an ideal plant to grow in much of California.