Monday, August 31, 2015

Not much sewing this week.....

Ella in the summerhouse
I've been rather busy helping with the construction of a summerhouse down at the bottom of the garden. Ella is acting as organiser ensuring her meals are on time.

Papers and dyecatchers for bookmaking
One of the textile groups I go to is having a session working on altered books in November. Since I really cannot bear the thought of damaging or working into a printed book I decided to make my own instead. I have brought out all my dyecatchers and dyed papers to see what I can do. Since there has been no time this week to start anything,  it has remained in a heap. I'm looking forward to seeing what shape of book I end up with. The papers were dyed since they were used to wipe excess dye from boxes I had been cleaning out after a dyeing session. They were far too interesting to be consigned to the bin.

The growing crochet cushion cover
The crochet cover continues to grow. It is surprising just how much work can continue on a portable project like this.
Rowan knitting patterns by Martin Storey
My elder daughter and her husband were up this weekend and a jumper was requested. I brought out my latest knitting magazines and books and the pattern chosen was "Hearth" from the Rowan "Pioneer" collection. Knitted in a Super Chunky yarn, it really shouldn't take too long to make. However, it is always dangerous for me to pick up the knitting needles again. I know I shall start planning other knitting projects........ This is such an interesting book with some very nice patterns.....

The chosen pattern
 Yes, I did get some stitching done, but only some handstitching. I took this piece along to another group and worked quite happily on it before going back to get some of the crocheted cushion hexagons completed.
Hand stitched sampler destined to become a cushion cover
Another of the groups I go to will be having a cushion tombola in 2016. I thought I would get a head start and use some of my samplers up, turning them into the tops for cushion covers. This first one doesn't feel finished yet, But this next one is almost ready.
A hand stitched sampler - another future cushion cover

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

More sewing and crochet - it's been a busy week.

Curtain fabric remnant
The past week has been busy - first, I managed to wash and iron a couple of pieces of fabric I found in the remnants section of Shufflebotham's in Macclesfield. This first piece will eventually become a jacket. Not sure yet whether it will be a blazer or a more fitted and lined jacket. At the moment I plan to make the latter. I do have a lovely pattern, but will need to find it first.

Remnant of silk
This delightful piece of fabric just had to come home with me from the same remnants section. It is a sheer blouse weight, so will need to be fully lined. It just asked to come home with me.............

If you do get the chance to visit Macclesfield, then this shop is well worth a visit. One of those wonderful shops which are getting rather rare these days. It is full of gorgeous fabrics, has an amazing remnants section and has really helpful staff.

An old curtain makes a useful zipped bag
I found myself making a zipped bag for some blinds. A very quick job. The old curtain was in my stash. It was a find from a charity shop many months ago and had been destined for shopping bags. This will be so much more useful. The original container for these blinds was a rather nasty battered plastic bag.

Completed oven gloves
I started these last week and managed to get them finished a couple of days ago. Two squares of Insul-bright quilted inside some quilting cotton, edged with tape. There is a gap for my hand to fit inside the "sandwich". It will be interesting to see how well this works. There are two which is why I think of them as oven gloves rather than pot holders.

Reverse side
Lastly, the reason I ventured into Shufflebotham's in the first place. My new piano stool. This was a very lucky find in an auction when we were in Tring some weeks back. Constructed in the 1930's it was rather a mess when we first saw it. My husband has stripped it down completely and rebuilt it. I just added the finishing touch, the upholstered top.

Piano stool
There is a lot of polyester filling and some old polyester wadding which I really didn't want to use for a quilt - it was rather nasty, but perfect for this task.

Fabric and detail of the wood
So comfy now and just the right height. It is nice not to have to use one of the diningroom chairs. I always had to add a couple of cushions to be able to sit at the right height. Now I must stop looking at my new seat, and start using it.

Cushion cover in progress
I posted a photo of this project a little while ago. There are now 24 different designs of the hexagons. I have made two of each and so have a total of 48 completed. Just another 14 pairs to crochet.

Some of the completed hexagons

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sewing and dyeing

Drying the newly washed dye samples 

As promised last time, here are the photos of the dried samples. These first two photos show everything drying on my washing line.

Persian berries sample

Alder Buckthorn

Rhubarb root sample

Apparently, adding a small amount of washing soda carefully to the dye bath can turn the colour from brown to purple. A fascinating process. We were told that the colour could change to navy if too much washing soda is added.



Dyers Greenweed 
The beautiful darker green was achieved by the addition of washing soda to a smaller sample of the dye bath, Such a difference to what was originally a rather insipid yellow.

Such an exciting process. The last photo shows my favourite - Japanese Indigo. This is a piece of silk and I love it because of the various colours. Some red has leached onto it, but I think it makes it such a really interesting piece of fabric.

Japanese Indigo
I really don't know what I shall with these samples. They are quite small, but I expect most will end up being used one day.

The experimental dress
This is where I have got up to with my dress. The skirt is quite full, and now has pockets which were not part of the original design. I now need to get going with the printing.Not sure where this project is heading at the moment, and totally unsure whether it is worth the effort, but we shall see. I was feeling rather unsure whether to continue at all until I read the Blog posted today by Cherie Haas, the online Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors. Her title was "You might not like this". In her piece, Cherie wrote ",,,,if a project is scary, if it's so big that it seems impossible, then it's worth doing". "I invite you ro dig in, dig deep, and be authentic. You have nothing to lose."

(I should note here that, at the time of writing this, the Blog post mentioned above has not been added to the Cloth Paper Scissors website. Hopefully it will be added later. I found it well worth reading.)

Cherie Haas might have been talking just to me, the dithering, prevaricating me. I really felt encouraged by her words. I just need to clear a space to get the printing done. Sadly it will have to wait until the next project has been completed.

Work in progress
This is not a big project, just a pair of pot holders. The last set I made is currently living with my elder daughter and I miss having them in my kitchen. These will be a bit bigger. I must also get my piano stool upholstered, but that is a story for another day.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Experiments in printing and dyeing.

Printed calico bag - inverted
I've been busy since I last wrote. Firstly, I was involved in a delightful printing workshop. This was such fun. We were printing bags ready for the Festival of Quilts. They were donated to the Tombola which raises funds for The Quilters' Guild of The British Isles of which I am a member.

Printed bamboo bag - correct orientation

Printed black calico bag - correct orientation
We could each buy three different bags - two were calico, one being black. The third was a little more unusual, being made of bamboo. I must admit to having preferred the calico bags. I brought six extra bags home with me to print as presents. The three shown will be, by now, with their new owners since I donated all three bags which were completed on the day. The photos were taken as they dried on a washing line.

Last Friday I was really lucky and went to an Introduction to natural dyeing with the Frodsham Friday Felters group. We travelled to North Wales and visited Helen Melvin in her fascinating Blaen Wern Dye Garden.

Rhubarb root (Rheum sp)
The photos you see here are the wet samples of the different dyes we tried as they waited on the draining board in my kitchen. I shall post photos of the rinsed and dried samples in my next post.

Japanese Indigo (Persicaria tinctoria)

Persian berries (Rhamus sp with rusty nails)

Helen's dyed wool - fermented Alder Buckthorn

Alder Buckthornm (Frangula alnus)

Cochineal (Dactylopius Coccus)


Dyers Greenwood (Genista tinctoria)

Madder (Rubia tinctoria)
It was really interesting to walk around Helen's garden with her commentary on what each plant was and the colours that could be achieved using different mordants. Different parts of the plants were used - dried berries or roots, or fresh leaves (Japanese Indigo). All dyebaths, bar the Japanese Indigo, were prepared by Helen before we arrived so that we could make the best use of our time with her. I was able to help collect the leaves and liquidise them ready for use. Since I had forgotten to wear gloves, my nails were a rather nice shade of turquoise by the time I had finished.

The last photo shows the bodice I have been making. I am intending to print and paint the dress while it is in two pieces - the as yet uncompleted bodice and the skirt. The skirt has still to be assembled.
The almost finished bodice
You may have seen the pattern photograph in my last post. You can see it here.