Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Indigo dyeing workshop

Last week I actually did some textile work!  I went on a two-day indigo dyeing workshop with Janice Gunner www.janicegunner.co.uk at Cowslip Workshops www.cowslipworkshops.co.uk.  I had always thought that indigo was a very dirty and borderline dangerous process so I did not want to do it at home.  Now I realise it isn't anything of the sort and I shall almost certainly have a go at home.

I have done workshops with Janice before so I knew I would learn a lot on this one.

Here she is demonstrating tying on the first day.  We did stitch resist, tying, clamping and scrunching fabric so there was plenty of variety in the fabrics we made.  I always forget what a long time it takes to do stitch resist so I need to sit in the sun and do a lot more!

My main aim was to make some cloth that I can use in quilts depicting Hayle. www.hayle.co.uk  In my head these are going to include pieces of rust dyeing to represent the industrial heritage of the town and pieces of indigo to represent the sea that surrounds it.  Here is one attempt to represent waves.  (All my photos were taken when the cloth had dried but not been washed so it looks a bit lumpy.)  I marked the lines with a flexible curve.  I know I also need to make some Arashi shibori, i.e. pole wrapped but as there were fewer poles than participants and as I know how to do it I let others have them..  It is top of the list for follow up work though.

I also did some Karamatsu (the larch) using templates Janice had made.

And at home that evening I made a doughnut with cord placed through a rolled up piece of fabric.

I also have a checked grid but it took hours and hours to pull the threads out and it missed the photo session.  It was linen and very tight.  A lovely effect although one row of thread was too close to the fold and did not really 'take'.  I came to the conclusion that the linen thread I used for stitching everything was really too thick so I must see what else I have.

On Day 2 we began with clamping.  I had not realised that there is a use for all the millions of Klippits I have acquired over the years.  Here is what these gave me.

This was made by folding the fabric samosa style and then anchoring it across the middle with the Klippit.  You can see on the right of the photo how you get interesting patterns from the ridges in the Klippit.  I then tied thick threads across the corners of the triangle I had created.  This means I got some dyed thread out of the exercise as well.

Then I did a small piece with bulldog clips placed on each of the four sides of a folded square.

A wonderful Rorschach inkblot type piece which I think should just be turned into a stitched piece as it is.  Now where are all the bulldog clips we have somewhere in the house?  And the clothes pegs?

These little round ones gave me spotty fabric.

Mixing the indigo vats turned out to be quite straight forward provided you remembered the health and safety aspects.

Ten minutes immersion in the vat and then outside for the pieces to oxidate before immersing them again.

We only had time to immerse pieces a couple of times but that seems to have been enough.  The very pale pieces at the left of the photo were dyed in woad in a communal vat.  What a fantastic colour it makes!

I tried out a lot of different weights of fabric ranging from silk organza to delphina cotton.  I have decided that the shibori techniques work better with lighter weights such as cotton lawn although you do need to take account of how tight the weave is if you are going to hand stitch it.  I seem to have come home with an awful lot of scrunched up pieces of different weights.

There are a few more pieces that I will photograph at the next stage of their development.  I have pressed everything carefully but in this household there are other influences.  Hinemoa took one look at the basket in which I had put the pieces and decided it would be a nice new day bed.

I hope she isn't High on the smell of indigo.  That was yesterday.  I have had to find another container for the fabric and turn this one into a new bed for her with an old pullover inside.  Meanwhile her sister, Pania, had decided to have a bath on the pieces I had got out and was musing about how to use.

Never share your creations with cats - unless you are prepared to get all the hairs off with sellotape or similar!

If you feel inspired by this, Janice has written a very good book: Shibori for Textile Artists which you can probably find on Amazon although I am not sure where it is in terms of editions.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Quilt Backs

At the beginning of this week I determined to assemble the back of the wedding present quilt ready for it to go to the longarm quilting person later in the month.   I am afraid progress has been painfully slow.  Last Saturday I bought a second piece of fabric to combine with one I probably bought about eight years ago.  That was a remaindered bin end and I knew it would come in  handy one day.

The blue fabric is the new piece and the William Morris the old one.  I washed the new fabric (mainly because the old one had been washed) but that is as far as I got for several days.  On Monday I received a the results of a biopsy I had some weeks ago for what I call my 'wobbly legs syndrome'.  It said I have a rare degenerative muscular condition called Inclusion Body Myositis.(IBM).   The consultant had mentioned something 'old people get' when I saw him months ago.   I don't consider myself old by today's standards but maybe that isn't the case.  The condition has no known cause (I guess it's age) and there is nothing they can do for it except physio.  If you look it up on the Web you find that the long-term prognosis isn't good but I have decided that something else could finish me off first and as at the moment my arms are fine, I just hope it progresses slowly and I don't have to give up sewing for years yet.  However, spurred on by twisting my ankle badly about ten days ago when one leg went as I descended some stairs in a shop,  I have started doing an exercise for my thighs (three times a day) that I found on the Web, begun practising Tai Chi again (I should really go back to the class) and made sure I have been swimming twice this week and for a two mile walk on the other days except for one when it rained.  All this seems to take up a lot of time that should be going on sewing.  Oh, and my GP told me I should not travel until I had seen the consultant which isn't till the end of May so I have had to cancel my spring holiday and find something else I can do in the UK in May.  Living down here you need to get away occasionally but John doesn't travel because of his fibromyalgia and I am used to doing a lot of things on my own.  Not such a good idea when I might fall and break something.

So here it is Saturday and all I have done on the quilt back is cut the pieces to length.  That's when I found the second problem: the blue piece was the end of the bolt and it has stretched.  In my youth when I made all my own clothes we used to hold the opposite corners and pull the fabric back into shape but at 88 inches long I thought this would be very difficult.  So this afternoon I have sat with a pin and pulled out a thread across each end and then cut along the line with scissors.  It seems a bit better.  Now for the third stage.

I had planned to make a 'frame' of the William Morris fabric but once I had cut off the uneven ends and cut it to length I realised I did not have enough for a piece at each end.  I was going to make it like this one.

I hope you enjoy the moving cats.  That is fairly typical in this house.  I made this quilt in 2000/1 according to the label and it is called Pacific Rim.  I machine pieced it but it was all hand quilted - hence the time taken.

I like unusual backs.  Here is another one where I took all the leftover pieces from the front.  Getting them to fit together was a bit of a nightmare with hours and hours of rearranging them on my bed as there was nowhere big enough to lay it all out in our old house.

And here is the front.  I made templates of the patterns on the Makower fabric and hand-quilted them.  This quilt always reminds me of sore hands as I developed slight carpel tunnel syndrome from all the cutting.  It was the first quilt I made from Cut Loose Quilts, the book by Jan Mullen that I have used for both nephews' wedding present quilts.

So tomorrow in between all the exercise I have to cut the William Morris fabric lengthwise and sew everything together.  I am currently thinking of putting a 'stripe' of the William Morris somewhere across the middle.  I think I may need to do this because in cutting the blue fabric straight I lost several inches and there may not be enough to use from top to bottom.