Thursday, December 19, 2013

Having fun with dyes and making bags again.

Dyed applied over strips of masking tape, More dye applied after tape removed.

 The following collection of photos show the fabric dyed at the Textiles without limits workshop. I have annotated the photos to explain the various processes I tried out.

Dye applied using scrunched up kitchen paper.
The kitchen paper I used when dabbing on dye for the above fabric, I have saved these pieces for use too.

Fabric folded and held with clips before dyeing.

Fabric folded and tied with brown thread - this has also dyed the fabric in places.

Fabric taken out of dye to show clips and plastic disks in place.
Fabric opened out and ironed - see the previous photo.

Fabric held with bulldog clip during dyeing.
The resulting fabric. I shall probably over dye or print this piece. Perhaps both?

 At the moment I am getting on with some Christmas sewing - some fabric bags for the presents. I last did this a couple of years ago and the bags were very popular. In fact I had a request for one, so everyone will get one this year. Each bag has two pockets - one is zipped and other open. So far, I have completed three with just another three to finish off. All the fabric is cut to size and the zips and their tags are ready it is just a matter of finishing them off today. Then I must get on with the waistcoat which my elder daughter wants as her present this year.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Natural colours and having fun with dyes

Colours around my garden
I really should have written this post a couple of weeks ago, but I found myself far too busy to post anything here. These photos were taken on the 17th November, they day after I had been on a dyeing day with the Weekend group. This group is really called "Textiles without limits" and they have a blog which can be found here.

Walking around the village

Going for a walk with Ella - just look at those legs!

Colours around my garden
The dyeing session was huge fun. Many of the other members of the group had been to a previous session where they had been doing some shibori - preparing fabric ready for dyeing.

My collection of freshly dyed fabrics
I hadn't been able to go to that meeting, but I was able to try out some of the ideas since Leah had given us a link to an amazing blog called "And then we set it on fire". I copied some of the ideas there to try out with my own fabrics. As you can see I did get through rather a lot of fabric, to say nothing of bulldog clips, those clips used to clip on freezer bags, string and washers. I had a lot of fun and will share the before and after photos in my next Blog post. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Still sewing

It has been an interesting week. I have been continuing the sewing for the Drama Group production, but have not been able to do any of the other projects I really should be getting on with. Ah well, the rehearsal this evening is a costume check, so I should see the end of the sewing for this production. Today will see me adding buttons to a jacket which seems to have lost all the buttons it originally had. I'm only going to add the buttons on the epaulettes since they look distinctly odd with none. The there is just the fastenings to be added to the last pair of dungarees. Then end is in sight.
I do have some knitting on the go. The hat I mentioned last time is now finished and is so cosy to wear. I have started a second hat and hope that this will be finished soon so I can have one hat in the wash and one ready to wear. I intend to knit another pair of the fingerless mittens to match this new hat.
There are a couple of other projects which really need my attention now - a textile book which really should be completed before the next Beading Group meeting. This is the book which will hold all the Chinese Whispers pieces; an A3 quilt which I promised for the end of this month and has still not been started; my piece for the Sky's the limit November theme; my journal quilts which are woefully behind. All four remaining quilts need to be finished by the end of December. Did I really say "a couple" of projects?
I'd better get on with the Drama Group bits and pieces and then set about designing the book and the A3 quilt. Hopefully everything will get done in time....... wish me luck.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Back to sewing once more.

So why am I starting with knitting? Well, I have had a bit of a mental block as far as stitching and sewing are concerned. I think it is all to do with having quite a long list of things I need to get on with. Once I have that sort of list, my own inclination is to walk away and get on with something else. This usually turns into a lengthy stage where I get nothing of a textile nature done at all.
Sock heel
The first sign that this impasse is coming to an end is the fact that I feel the urge to start knitting again. I tend to knit the safe and easy projects - socks, gloves and hats. So useful now that I have Ella to take for walks and I am woefully short of hats to cover my ears and protect them from the wind.
Fingerless mittens
I must admit that I do have quite a number of pairs of socks already in my drawers ready to warm my toes. But then, when it is getting chilly outside is there such a thing as having too many socks? It is the bought socks which I tend to wear out. They don't last nearly as long as my own knitted socks. It isn't that I buy them either. I seem to have them given to me every so often.

I've experimented with fingerless mittens this time too. I already have one pair, but haven't been particularly impressed with their ability to keep my hands warm. This new pair, however are quite different. Sock yarn, the same yarn I used for the first pair of socks, bought cheaply in the local Lidl. These have been a revelation. I lengthened the cuff to avoid drafty winds breezing their way up my arms when walking. They enable me to keep hold of the lead without it sliding through my fingers, and yet manage to keep my fingers as warm as my old pair of leather gloves do.

 Now, the remnants of the same yarn are being put to use as the ribbed band on my new hat. Hopefully I shall get it finished this weekend ready to start on a second pair of the fingerless mittens. The yarn is a wool and nylon mix. I must admit that it isn't all that soft, but will be hardwearing. However, they are quite comfortable to wear and the yarn is quite good to knit with. It doesn't split too much, and is quite evenly spun, although there are one or two slightly thicker, more lumpy sections.

Old print board cover
You will have seen this photo before. It is the old cover for my printing board. It had become so covered in fabric paint and thickened dye, that I had to remove it and replace with a clean white cover (two layers of old cotton sheeting). This is no longer a pristine white, but then you would have been most disappointed to hear it was still unused. There hasn't been much printing done and I really need to do some more.
The second layer of the old print board cover
This photo is one you will not have seen, however. I pulled the two layers of the old top apart and this is the lower of the two layers. I rather liked it and so used it as the basis for the Abstract theme for The Sky's the Limit challenge for October. You will find a detailed description of the piece on their blog.

"Abstract" for The Sky's the Limit challenge

I do so love accidental dyeing. It turns into something really special. I still haven't done anything with the old top layer. That will wait until I think of a use for it. I don't really think it needs much adding, it just needs the right project.

I haven't been entirely idle over the last few weeks. I have been sewing, but this has just been a sequence of repairs and also alterations for the costumes for the next Drama Group production, "Bolt from the blue", by David Tristram. Ella comes along to rehearsals too. She quite enjoys all the fuss she gets, especially the treats for being good.

In case you are interested, here are the links to the knitting patterns:

Socks - "Wise Hilda's Basic Ribbed Sock" by Kate Atherley.

Fingerless Mittens - "Koigu fingerless gloves" by Astrante.

Hat - "Double Layer Sockyarn Hat" by Dawn Adcock.

Each of these patterns is available on Ravelry.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chinese Whispers - a collection

Rather later than I intended, here are the pages I produced for the other members of the Chinese Whispers Challenge. We all saw each others pages and original inspiration for the first time at a recent meeting. Here are my contributions in chronological order.

Rosemary's page.
This first one was for Rosemary. The fabric picture I received reminded me so much of a bear wandering through a landscape. The original photograph was rather interesting. I showed a rather beautiful valley called Bryce Canyon in the USA. The shape I had thought of as a bear was actually a shaped rock in the photo graph. So my landscape was truly fictitious. The image is constructed using simple kantha style stitches for texture and commercial fabrics appliqu├ęd onto a black background.

Brenda's picture.
The second picture had already been to Rosemary, so I was working from her stitched picture. The image I received reminded me of the story of Jonah and the whale. Hence my own hand stitched image using a variety of accidentally dyed dyecatchers. I used back stitch and simple kantha style stitches for the image. What amused me when I saw Brenda's original inspiration was that it was the famous painting of the wave!
Bernice's picture.
This third image had come to me through versions made by Brenda and then by Rosemary. As a result the original image came as rather a surprise. It showed a snowy lakeside scene in Handforth, Cheshire. My own version was based on what I saw was an interpretation of the four seasons. This used my own dyed fabrics, free machine embroidery and some sheer fabrics cut using a soldering iron.

Mary's picture.

The inspiration for this one was a seaside scene which I received from Rosemary. She had interpreted a scene from Brenda, who in turn had received one from Bernice. The photos for this were printed onto silk and allowed to fray a little before being handstitched in place. My photos came from a trip made to Llandudno in Wales. The background is made up of sheer fabrics over different colours of satins used both matte side up and shiny side up. The original inspiration was the photo of a lighthouse. So perhaps I wasn't so very far out with this one.

Chris' page.

This last page was inspired by a rather nice stitched picture of a pigeon. It reminded me so strongly of a song we were singing with the choir that Rosemary, Chris and I sing with. I just had to use the information from the song. It is one of a series about pigeons by Guy Turner. This particular song was "Wood pigeon in the Weald" and uses a pub and place names around Hartfield in Sussex. The hand drawn images were printed onto silk and then bondawebbed in place. The stitching was all by hand with many french knots. The phrase on the grey border at the bottom of the image was directly taken from the song. The original image from Chris was a Kiwi bird. So her pages have travelled rather a long way from New Zealand to the UK.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dyed fabric.

Pale colours

All the following photos show my fabrics drying on the line after being washed and removed from the packaging. These freshly dyed fabrics were completed during the Dyeing Day lead by Sandra Wyman last Thursday. It was such fun!

Shibori before I removed the string and container

Shibori being washed

The fascinating thing about my Shibori experiment - tying fabric around a shape and crushing this down before dyeing - was that the yarn I used for tying the fabric has also stained the fabric it touched addin a really interesting pattern.

Parfait dyeing
Not my usual choice of colours, but this bright piece is great fun.

More parfait dyeing
I find it amazing that two pieces of fabric dyed together can be so entirely different.

Allowing dye to find it's own way
These four pieces of fabric were dyed in teh same tub with dye being added after each piece of fabric was scrunched into the pot. I just love the way the colours have come out on these.

Mixing two colours - red and green.
The colours here are just so vibrant. I shall really enjoy having these pieces in my stash ready to use.

allowing blue dye to wander and find it's own way

These fabrics were all dyed together another parfait experiment.
This collection is a mixture of cotton, silk prepoline, and silk velvet. The silk velvet is the amazingly marked piece between the sheer fabric and the blue.

Mixing two colours - purple and green

Overdyeing with black
If anything didn't work, it was this piece. However, as it continued to dry, the colours changed again. I shall photograph these pieces after I have ironed them. The small piece is a piece of viscose satin, which has taken the colour really intensely. These will be wonderful bases for a printing session.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Catching up with sewing projects.

The past few weeks have been very busy. First, I had to remove the old cover on my small printing board. It had just got to the end of it's useful life and I was due to go and help out with the crafts at a birthday party last weekend. I had offered to teach anyone who wished ti have a go, to print on fabric.
My old cover for the small printing board.
It was quite interesting. I only ended up with a couple of people actually wanting to have a go, but quite a number coming along to look and see what I was doing. I had taken all my fabric paints, printing blocks, thermofax screens and a lot of fabric. One man was really taken with the idea of printing that he spent some time with me and was delighted to take away a carefully decorated piece of fabric. Sadly, I just did not take any photographs, I just didn't have enough hands. You may be surprised to hear that this was a friend's 50th birthday party, and it all took place in her garden. The nice thing is that she had a go too and gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers.

September challenge for the Sky's the limit group - "Change".
Last week was filled with completing challenges ready for deadlines which were looming. The first to be completed was the chameleon on my Sky's the limit piece. I still am not fully convinced by this piece, mostly because I made a mistake with the stomach area and had to add a piece of fabric to cover a piece which was really far too dark. I feel this needs much more work than I can do at present. What do you think? I call it "Change, alter, adapt". It is calligraphy using up my old fabric dye pens which were drying out over a dyed piece of fabric made some time ago. Over this is a piece of scrim which has then had a bobbin work drawing stitched in place. The whole piece has then been quilted onto a wadding base.

For Wednesday, I had to complete my last piece for the Chinese Whispers challenge. This has been going on since last September, but I haven't been able to post about it before now.

The original photo - underneath the Tay Road Bridge, Dundee, Scotland.

It all started with a photograph. I took this during the Quilters' Guild AGM and Conference held in Dundee, Scotland in May 2012. It is a view looking through the pillars of the bridge. I was very lucky with the light conditions on the morning I took this photo. It had been extremely foggy earlier on.

My piece based on the Tay Road Bridge.

I must admit that I wasn't very happy with my own piece, feeling it is just too simplistic. However, at the time I just didn't have the time to make a more complex piece. I feel it would be wrong of me now to replace this piece with something else since my next challenge now that I have had all the pieces back from everyone else taking part in the challenge is to make a book with all the pieces I have. Hmmmm.

Chris' piece - designed from my textile piece.
I passed my textile piece on to Chris. We had been instructed to pass everything on to the next person hidden in an envelope to hide it from everyone else taking part in the challenge. We would only be allowed to see all the pieces at the end of the challenge.

Chris' note attached to her piece reads, "I found this quite difficult to know what to follow on with at first. However, two things came to mind - a ploughed field and a wooden door, or floor. Decided to use the pattern I had for a foundation pieced house and make the door of wooden slats!"

My main difficulty was that Chris' house was landscape in orientation and not portrait. However, that adds a rather interesting challenge in itself.

Mary's piece - designed from Chris' piece.

The next piece came from Mary who made this enchanting quirky castle. She had only seen Chris' foundation pieced house, so her block is also landscape in orientation. She wrote, "The log cabin reminded me of a house and an English Man's House is his castle so I did a quirky fairytale castle in applique."

Bernice's piece, designed from Mary's piece.
Seeing only Mary's design, Bernice completed this piece. She wrote, "The castle that Mary passed to me caused me to think of knights of old. Then when wondering how I cold depict my thoughts, I came up with the idea of making it a fun picture just suing simple applique techniques."

Brenda's piece designed from Bernice's piece.
Brenda wrote, "After seeing the crusader with such an aggressive stance it conjured up ideas of what or who he had rousted. So we had to have a knight fleeing on a horse to gain the safety of his castle."

Rosemary's piece designed from Brenda's piece.
 The last piece to be completed was Rosemary's. She had organised the challenge for us all and kept us to time as well. Not easy since we met every other month to exchange pieces. Each time we each had a piece for someone else's Chinese Whisper. In my next post I really must put together the photos of the pieces I made for each of the others involved in this project.

Going back to Rosemary's piece for me, she wrote "The picture is of a castle in Guimaraes, Portugal. We went there on th last day of our holiday. The figure is D. Alfonso Henriques. He won the battle of Sao Mamede which paved the way for the foundation of Portugal. The castle was built to defend the monastery and Christian Community from the attacks by the Moors and Normands, so I decided to use my holiday memories as a basis fo the Chinese Whisper piece. It is hand stitching on appliqued background with the knight on a separate piece of the applique fabric stitched in place by matching the background stitching."

As you can see each piece is a superb item in it's own right, all very different and now my challenge is to make a book which will retain the quality of each of the pieces I have been given and yet will make a book which works as a whole piece in it's own right. Not easy!

Thursday brought a very different day. I met up with other members of NWCQ and we had a wonderful day of learning different techniques of dyeing.

Freshly dyed fabric waiting for me to get around to washing it all.

Our teacher for the day was a good friend, Sandra Wyman who is an expert dyer and great fun to be with. I was extremely saddened to hear that she too had lost a very dear furry friend very recently. She wrote a very moving post about the loss of her dear cat. Do go and read it.

Now all that is left for this month is for me to complete my Journal Quilt for September - it has been started and just needs to have the stitching completed before it is ready for posting. Then I must get on and wash all the fabrics which I had such fun dyeing yesterday. Thanks Sandra.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Journal quilts.

The last week or two has been rather a roller coaster, personally. During the past week my dear little friend, Coco, died. Her general health had been deteriorating over the previous couple of weeks, but her loss has been quite a blow. You will recall that her brother Felix died before Christmas. She had been getting on so well with our dog Ella, despite the difference in their ages. Coco was 19 years old, Ella just 6.

On to the textiles worked on this past week. I managed to get my four journal quilts finished and posted just before the deadline, on Saturday. Why, oh why, do I always end up finishing things at the very last moment. I really must try to get things done earlier from now on.
Tree and leaf 1 - May
(felt and tea-dyed cotton applique over my own screen printed fabric, machine quilted.)

Tree and leaf 2 - June
 (my own painted and then screenprinted loose woven cheesecloth fabric.
Applique using my own screenprinted cotton, quilted.)

Line drawing - trees - July
(tea-dyed fabric background with overlay of sheer fabric.
This latter fabric has been cut using a soldering iron.
Machine quilted outline.)
Hedgerow - August
(Background fabric was a cleaning cloth after a session painting the background fabric
for my Horizons quilt. Over this is an overlay of painted cheesecloth.
The applique shapes are commercial fabrics.)
 Each of the above is from my series which has the theme of Silhouettes and shadows. I had intended to insert some shadows into the last four pieces, but have got myself stuck on the theme of silhouettes and simplifying them. Each of these pieces is quite minimalist - simple shapes and stitching. I really am not sure how to continue the series at this point. I think I shall probably just doodle with some shapes before continuing and intend to work on the final four pieces in one session - or a series of sessions during the same week.

Drying fabric dyed during a dyeing session at Brenda's house.

Drying fabric dyed during a dyeing session at Brenda's house.
The fabrics I dyed at Brenda's house the other week have all turned out rather paler than I had thought. However, I shall find these perfect for overprinting or screenprinting at a later date. I am looking forward to attending another dyeing day later this month.