02 October 2014

What September?

This is what I tried to do in September!
It seems that September passed me by - at least in the blogging sense. One friend said that she had stopped checking in because it had been so long. I plea guilty! 

I have been on a bit of a social networking slow down. It began in early September. When I went on a retreat for a few days in mid-September I inadvertently forgot BOTH my cell phone as well as my IPad (which had all of my knitting patterns on it). I had to borrow a phone to check in with home every day, which was an embarrassment. I think that I can pretty much guarantee that I won't forget my phone again! That weekend set the tone for my media slow down though. I barely glanced at FaceBook or any other social networking site all month. I did not feel as though I was missing a lot though and that surprised me a little. I just found a bit more time in the day to actually work!

Hopefully, these images will show that I was not being a total slug during the month. I imagine that much of this will be old hat news for some of you!
One side of my donation quilt for a child.
It's an easy, adorable, Strawberry flower fairy.

Every year, as part of our community outreach, our Guild donates quilts to a school. The school is located in the Pike Place Market area in Seattle (not really local for us but we have been doing this for many years now). The pre-school is for the children of the working poor. The quilts are intended for the children to take with them when the 'graduate' to kindergarten.
The other side contains the flower fairy alphabet.
I continued with my leaf and flower printing experiments although I have to get back on the stick and catch some of the luscious fall colors that are popping out now. The leaves are Oregon Grape and the flower is a Zinnia type. The original color was a lush, brilliant, purple. My friend, Lauren, assures me that she has the tag from them so that I can grow some next year!
Mid month featured our annual retreat. Considering that I had only begun to get out and about again a week or two before this event I was thrilled to feel well enough to go. I did overdo just a bit but I simply HAD to make use of the spacious design walls at the retreat house. I took a few days to recover once I got home but I was so happy to have been there with good friends and laughter!
Behind my head you can just make out part of a
fabulous piece  Linda Cooper, was working on.
 It's patriotic with a definite design twist!
My project was this "fractured" quilt from the "Making Quilts" by Kathy Doughty. This quilt was made with 90% fabrics from my stash. I cleaned out all of my reds, yellows, oranges and blacks.  I can't fit the whole quilt into a photo, but the quilt is about 100" X 110" with it's black border (not shown here). I love using traditional fabrics in a slightly non-traditional way.
 Below is a beautiful little gem made by friend, Janet Wright. I think that her use of the pattern and the colors all add up to a fresh, modern feel for this piece. We were all amazed at how the gradient border fabric (shown top and right) gave the impression of light coming in from an outside source. These amazing fabrics are from the E.E.Schenck Daiwabo Gradients line and I hope that they will not discontinue making them!
 Below: This cheerful quilt was made by Tori Benz-Hillstrom. She considers herself to be a beginner quilter, but she has that natural ability  to do things right that has already made her an 'expert'. Aside from finishing this during our short 3 day stay she also pieced another whole 'sofa' sized top!  
 Below: Another friend, Judy, was making these special 60 degree (?) table runners. They requite a special tool (60 degree ruler?). She got Tori interested in making them too. I have to admit that they look really great don't they?!
 Below: Liz made this wonderful "Professional" tote bag.  had made one of these some years ago. The pattern is beautifully done. It's just of those that you need to follow precisely and not think too much about as you make it. Liz's tote came out looking professional indeed both in workmanship as well as in color scheme.
Not too long after our retreat I visited Liz and noticed this amazing quilt on the wall. She designed the crow patterns herself and cut them out meticulously. I am in love with this quilt and might be tempted to take it home with me. It is an amazing piece and I think that it deserves much more attention!
Also in September I participated in a Mystery Knit Along with Sivia Harding through Ravelry. This is called the "Liken Shawl" and the design was inspired when Sivia found a beautiful piece of shelf Lichen during a visit to my fair island. Of course, I had to make this shawl! This photo shows only the first two "Clues". I am almost finished with it now though and am anxious to have it blocked. For this I also used stash yarn! I love knitting with beads and this design presented ample opportunities for using them!
I have been using a crochet hook when I knit with beads. It worked alright, but I was always a bit frustrated that I had to keep dipping into the tin of beads. I was designing a beading hook in my head when I happened upon this excellent little contraption called the Fleegel Beader from Miss Babs. It is available in three different sizes to accommodate a variety of bead and yarn sizes. It holds a lot more beads and is a much easier alternative I think! 

There is another model of beader called the Verna-X beader from one of my favorite beaded knit pattern vendors, Earthfaire (also available in different sizes). These beading needles are very similar. The Verna-X is a bit longer nd hence holds a few more beads. Foe me, the Fleegel seems just a bit easier to use, but it may be that my hands are small and so the shorter size feels more comfortable? If you like beading knits too do yourself a favor and have a look at these. They are both modestly priced. I think that they are made from guitar strings perhaps. I used pliers to add a tight scroll to the bottom below the rubber washer in case the washer slipped (which it seemed to do).

A few questions to ponder:
  • How do you feel about social networking? 
  • Do you ever feel the need for a break?
  • Do you tend to stop looking at blogs if they do not post regularly?
  • How often would you like to see a blog post?
  • do some months just fly by for you - leaving you in the dust wondering where time went?!

Lastly, if you have gotten all of this way and you happen to need a new set of Holbein Gouache paints - I happen to have one for sale. I accidentally placed a duplicate order. They came straight from Japan and this set is untouched - other than for taking the photo. I paid more than $50. but make me an offer if interested. I will be putting it on Etsy and Ebay shortly.... 

29 August 2014

More Eco Dyeing Experiments

Paper Bark Birch and Black Walnut leaves from two of my favorite trees. These samples were steamed with alum and white vinegar mordants
I have been taking a break from social media and being online. Not totally, but I have cut way back. I found that I was simply spending too much time online and not enough time actually 'doing'. It actually feels good to be a bit more "unhooked" for the time being, although I am certain that the pendulum will swing again at some point. 

I feel as if I lost a good bit of my summer being chair bound for 2.5 months, but I am enjoying playing a bit of "catch up" now! 

The week before last I started driving again, and I felt like a teenager with a newly printed license! I have gained more empathy for elders who no longer can drive. It is not a fun thing to be dependent on people to get every little thing for you all of the time!  I am also deferring my surgery for a bit. The thought of another back surgery is quite 'off-putting' for me and so, until the pain is once again too much, I will wait.

One of the things that I had planned to do at the beginning of the season was to learn some more about eco-dyeing. I love the kismet of this experience. There are some successes along with  a lot of "meh" results as well.
Black Walnut leaves
One of the things that I am currently experimenting with is what mordants work the best and how much, or how little, moisture I need to achieve the best prints from leaves. I have a project in mind and so I am just using small squares of silk noil from Dharma Trading do my experimenting with - along with my supply of "stashed" silks too.
Paper Bark Birch Leaves
The first thing that everyone asks when they see these samples is "what will you make from them?". Well, I am not sure what exactly, although I do have a project in mind that will use the best of the leaf print experiments. I would also like to make a wearable from the over-dyed kimono silks that I am accumulating. I have been looking online for a simple, somewhat boxy, blouse pattern to use, and I am finding it very difficult find the perfect pattern! Who knew that this would be difficult?!

Does anyone have any pattern suggestions for a simple blouse that would work for a "collaged" fabric look?

Does anyone have any eco-dyeing/ eco bundling tips to offer? 

Crocosmia stalk and blossoms

17 August 2014

Steeped Bundle Dyed Silk

It was difficult to get a photo of the entire length of the cloth! This is the first length.
There are two different patterns in the silks. 
Many years ago I purchased these kimono silks from Ah! Kimono. I miss the monthly mailing I used to get! Now I am not sure where to look for vintage kimono silk!

There are two different lengths of vintage kimono silks in the photos. There were  originally white, patterned silks.  Since I have I have become enamored with India Flint's stuff and steep dyeing methods and these two pieces were "canned" with white vinegar, a pinch of rust, and summer time red maple leaves. They were left to cool and "cure" for two weeks. I am quite happy with the depth of color that I was able to achieve. 

I spent today trimming a variety of leaves and doing some "canning". 
I am on the hunt for eucalyptus now!
You can find some decent leaf shapes if you look. There is one on this section mid-image top .

08 August 2014

A Chance To Win Lesley Riley's Newest Book!

As you may have read I was honored, and very fortunate, to have been included in Lesley Riley's latest book, "Creative Image Transfer".

This is a rendition of the personal photograph that I used for the project that is included in the book It's called the "Be Peace" bag.

Lesley is generously offering the chance to win a copy of the book PLUS 5 sheets of  amazing TAP transfer paper !

Just go here for the simple details!


04 August 2014

Bundle Eco-Dying A La India Flint's Stuff, Steep, and Store Method

I have been waiting all summer to be able to get down those few steps to my house so that I could gather some plant materials for some eco dying a la India Flint's "Stuff, Steep and Store" methods. Finally, over the weekend, I was up doing a bit of plant gathering, and with surgery just a week or so away, I wanted make haste while the sun shines so-to-speak!

For those of you who may not have heard of India Flint before she is the queen pin of all things bundle dye (my hero of natural dyes is Jenny Dean). Bundle dying is, I believe, more unique, to India.

There are many ways to learn more about Ms. Flint. Her blog, The Prophet of Bloom" is a delight:

You can find her on FaceBook at:

My first awareness of India Flint's work was thanks to my friend Janet, the knower of all things. I love India's book on bundle dyeing, named aptly enough, Eco-Color:

Her two most recent books are both self published through Blurb. The one that I used for this "canning" method of dying is from her  48 page offering entitled "Stuff, Steep and Store". It contains a lot of images as well as the salient points of this method, which is genius in its simplicity.

Her most recent  Blurb book is also a short 50 pages and is described as a "... pocket guide to eco-print bundling..."

This method uses your "normal" canning tools to process your plant dyes. Here I have some cottons (pre-mordanted in soda ash) and silks (pre-mordanted in white and apple vinegars). I collected horsetail, ferns, maple leaves, peppermint, dandelions, comfrey, and blackberry leaves from the yard, and I used bits of metal added to the water. The hardest part will be seeing how long I can make it before I unlock the surprises lurking in these jars.  I have some more ideas that I want to try, and am looking forward to some autumn leaves.
 Here you can already see how the blackberry leaves are printing beautifully. This makes me think that I should have added fewer leaves to the fabric because they look (or I think they look) so nice each leaf by itself!
Here is a maple leaf peeking out already. Rich promises emerging from the murk!