Fiber Arts

My Lena Dress – Not Forgotten

I just realized that I hadn’t recorded about the progress on my dress. I began this way too long ago, Lena’s Dress is on the Loom, but here we sit still with an unfinished dress. The cloth has been all woven and off the loom and the eternal wet finishing of a long piece completed. But, then things didn’t go so well. Not that they started so well – either.

There were problems with the beginning and some of it was broken warp threads and … well just a bunch of boogery things to drive a soul crazy.


One reason we cut off and started over again. What is going on with that white warp thread?

Yep, I ended up cutting off and rechecking the threading and starting over again. This time things looked much better alas was it “let’s drive her crazy” free? No, not even.


CHT goody bag gifts come in handy in this loom room

But we were moving and getting cloth that was working out pretty well. There were lots of little bits that made the wet finishing go longer as I fixed problem areas, but considering the start, we were happy.


A favorite sight. A cloth beam filling up.

Then we were getting near the end and I was hoping for another half yard at least but then things went really wonky and one bout on the back beam broke free. Not sure why they were so unhappy back there, but they decided being tense was too much and thus put a stop to my weaving. I wasn’t about to try and fix that for just an half yard more, when I should really have enough for the dress.


The end in sight! Alas, right before the freedom lovers broke loose.

So what next? The scissors came out and it was cut off. All that cloth was done with this first bit of the journey.


Off the loom!

What Next? Well, to make the dress like the original, I needed to weave a solid blue piece for piping, buttons, and false buttons for adornment. But I had enough of this battle so the decision was made to just use the same fabric for these other jobs as well. I knew it wouldn’t look as nice but I was tired of this project, and, for me, the worse was yet to come as I really don’t enjoy sewing. Alas, every time I tried to work on a mock up of the dress before cutting into this cloth, I got frustrated and then said to self, “I can weave better than work on this.” So slowly a solid warp ended up on the loom to weave the extra bits I needed. Now it went rough as well, but it took my husband walking past, me complaining, to come up with the simple reason for some trouble and soon that was fixed. So we got some length for the accent cloth.


Done as well.

So once I finished this, I was happy I went ahead with it. But now it is time to get back to that mockup. Yikes! Still not feeling confident about it, but I did talk to a lady who knows a bit about sewing, and so I have some idea of what I need to do next. I have a pattern that will work for most of the dress but really need to change up the sleeve a bit, so must go and work on it. Today! Maybe typing those words will help me get out there and at it. I can really put off a job that I’m not enjoying. I will head out into the heat and hopefully get something accomplished.


Fiddling with the mockup. Close but no award yet.


Categories: Fiber, Fiber Arts, Weaving | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

CHT Conference 2017

Have you spent two years waiting for something and then suddenly it’s here and gone? That’s how I feel about the conference this past weekend. Two years of seeing the planning and helping in a small way, and it is all gone and past so quickly.

I think one of the fun things with a conference is seeing others responses. I watched as a new member realized we got goodie bags and what wonderful things came in them donated by vendors and guilds. Yes, these bags are worth a bit on their own.

goodie bag extra

My goodie bag haul along with table favors and door prize

The last conference I took a picture with all my accumulations in one shot. Alas this year was a bit much for that. So above is some quite practical goodies along with some just wonderful creations with woven fabrics, felting, and dyeing. The bag of fiber is a silk and baby camel mix that I received as a door prize from Red Fish. I got their door prize at the Austin conference as well. Such lovely fiber they turn out. I talked with the gal and learned a bit about spinning this particular blend. It will be dreamy and will need a special project. I could say something about each item, but for space I won’t, but I do enjoy looking at all these items here.

bougth class

Class items and money spent

Now for the picture of what came home with me otherwise. I do highly recommend if you are a spinner or lover of touch, watch where you stick your hand. Now I like black and white and grey and seeing some fiber with such coloring, I went over and touched it. (Don’t you love an obsession that vendors want you to touch because … well follow on.) I stuck my hand in a tub full of wonderful softness. Touching clouds of silk and merino. Such loveliness that, yes, it didn’t take two seconds to look at the price and say, “I’ll take three ounces of that.” Then while waiting, yes, there was a tub of some brown lusciousness. Mistake again. I stuck my hand in it. It was Yak and silk. Lord have mercy (aren’t we thankful He is merciful), I added an ounce of that to my order. So have three new bags of wondrous spinning fiber when I didn’t mean to bring any home. As per weaving fiber, I also bought some more navy blue and natural cotton for a project that will need more.

Now I might add that I only used my egg money (plus some demonstration money) for any spending while at the conference. Don’t you love having chickens and people who will buy eggs and then you get to be old fashion and use your egg money to buy what you would love to have.

The color card and color-aid sheets were from a class that was great in the sense that, yes, I had heard a bit of it before, but actually messing with colors hands on was a revelation in many ways. I was amazed at what happened and want to actually do all the exercises over again. Great mind blowing day on Saturday. Also got to play with embroidery ideas for textiles on Friday. That was fun to experiment outside the box as I do quite stay in a box there. Many of us in the class had done needlework in our distant pasts and all agreed that dipping our fingers in again made us want to delve back in on our own created textiles.

Now if ever I wanted a raffle basket it was this year. Tall Pines was the guild I began my fiber journey in, and I have several friends there. We gathered at this conference and roomed together, ate together, gad-abouted together. It was great seeing them again. They put together a basket to dream about. It had a log cabin theme and was full of foods as well as log cabin woven textiles of different types. I wanted that basket. Alas, when the name was called it went to Jane. It stayed in the group but not to me. It was a bit disheartening. Alas afterwards as we were getting to see it all together, Jane shared the wealth as there were things in it she couldn’t eat or was gracious enough to share. So she gave me the three small cones of cotton as well as some whole wheat flour that missed the picture. The small log cabin bag was one she had woven for the basket so she gave it to me as well. I loved the way the pattern looked in it. I love log cabin and all of its various variations. Could you just weave it the rest of your life and never repeat a pattern?

Now I went this whole conference without taking pictures. Never thought to take a single one until after the fashion show, and I wanted a picture of us all together. So asked Marian if she would snap it and here we are after a wonderful day and evening. Thanks, Marian, for a great picture.


So here is the Friday to Sunday Tall Pines contingent who hung out together at the conference.

Categories: Fiber, Fiber Arts, Weaving | Tags: | 4 Comments

Darning Good Socks

I have three pair of good thick wool socks, and yes, my feet get cold even in a Central Texas winter. I love my thick wool socks. Alas, I wear them all over and it doesn’t take long for heels to wear out. Now these three pair of socks I just couldn’t get rid of so I decided that I must learn to darn socks. So to YouTube I went and found out that it is quite basic and not much to it but practice.


Getting started

So the first lesson I learned in the practice of darning is that if you are going to darn socks it is best to do it before holes get too large. The above sock was the smallest of my holes to fill. Small is easier. But anyway,off we went with each individual sock. I picked some of my early handspun yarn that was lacking much. It seemed a good dimension though.


Warp finished

Now one is to weave back and forth till you have a warp to then weave through with the weft. I did learn that it would be better to try and get the threads closer together but then also I need to use better yarn the next time.


One sock done

Alas, it looks sad but I finished this green one with one piece of yarn that didn’t come apart once in the pulling of it. It is not remotely really good but I can wear the sock and as soon as it wears out again we will know how to fix it better the next time.



See that missed thread above. Yep, a bit to learn and practice at this yet. But it totally does its job so whose complaining. And they look so much better once turned right side out again.


Two pair and do you see the mistake?

Time passed as I worked on 5 of the socks and got to thinking to well of what as happening. When I finished the sixth one and took the lightbulb out of it (yes, I went old fashion for a round object inside or at least twentieth century old fashion), I realized I had forgotten to turn it inside out first. YIKES! Doing them inside out hides so much when it is actually worn. So I have one reminder of how not to do it but it still will work. Will just have to correct it when it wears out again. The third pair missed the above picture as they were already on my feet. I can tell the heel isn’t quite the same as the rest of the sock, but it is covered and has been warm since it was completed on a cold night. I am happy.

It seems I have found several uses of late for all that badly spun, learning to spin, fiber yarn, from the beginning years of learning to spin that I still have sitting around here. Need a few more projects but I am pleased with this one and will be darning socks from now on. Will check on some cotton ones next.

Categories: Fiber, Fiber Arts, Sewing, Spinning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What to do with Thrums?

I had seen a project using thrums a long time ago. Who knows really when, but it always stuck in my brain. It would take quite a few and not seem to take lots of time. Well, I needed one product to make it easily, and it seemed to hide when I looked for it. But as we had a rough Sunday evening, I went shopping Monday. Well, not totally the reason I went shopping, I needed to go do some shopping, but I made a day of it in the end. It kept the mind busy on other things. And in the process, I found what I needed for this project. So yesterday we gave it a shot.

I was going to make a scarf sewing thrums together. Though it had been ages since seeing it originally, I didn’t think it would take much to recreate. So I finally found some wash away stabilizer.


Wash away it says, will it actually do it?

Thankfully I found this at Hobby Lobby and the price seemed a bit high to me for an experiment but then it was nice to whip out the phone and Hobby Lobby app and get a quick 40% off.

I decided a 2 yard scarf would be a good place to start. So cut two lengths of 2 yards and laid it out on the table. Then I got the glass jar full of thrums down (no I do not throw away weaving thrums or much of anything handmade. Getting better at tossing those tiny bits but not yet totally.) and started pulling out yarn and laying it out on the stabilizer.


How much do you layer it?

I did have a time deciding how much to put down and what colors. Then as I rolled it up, I had to decide if I wanted to keep it looking the same all the way along and … oh dear, would I remember what all and how much of each I put down in each section? Of course not.


I think it needs a good bit more.

So layers and layers of the different colors went on the stabilizer. Actually a trip down memory lane as I remembered what each of these yarns had been a part of creating. Some favorites and some not so favorites.

Then came the sewing. A bit tricky. Especially since I’m not great with a machine anyway. But we went to town.


The first of the sewing before it went south

So freeform sewing was attempted. A bit wobbly and crazy but it seemed that it really didn’t matter how things went as long as there was no major shift in what was there. Then the bobbin ran out.  I refilled it. Started again. Things went south. It had a bit of a time not balling up. But after cutting it out (yes, I had to cut it away from the machine) and refreshing the machine, it seemed to work better. Not sure what the problem was in there. A bit of tension problems?

So we finally finished sewing and went to wash out the stabilizer.


Drying and wondering

I was amazed at how easily the stabilizer washed out. Rather quite quickly it just all dissolved into nothing and I had my scarf. So after the rinse we laid it out for the night and waited for it to dry.

This morning I checked on it and it had worked.


A finished scarf – maybe

It is one piece of “fabric” or whatever one would call it. It all holds together. You can wrap it around and it hangs nicely.

Is it perfect? No. Of course not. I had tried to lay out the threads so that no ends hung out on the edges but there are many hanger outers. I think I could have done more sewing on it to hold more in place but then also it does have quite a 3D look to it and more sewing would probably flatten that out quite a bit. One half did end up with quite a bit more on it than the other, and I like the thick end better.  The thicker end holds together better or at least looks better. You don’t notice the sewing in it like the thinner end. Just wish now I knew which end was which though I think I could guess. (After more perusing of pictures and knowing what end I was at in them. The thick end was the second half.) So need to find a way to keep it thick and even all the way through.

Funny I’m typing with it here in my hands (or lap while typing) and the more I study it the less I’m liking how it came out. I’m seeing so much that needs to be better. Well, I have enough stabilizer for another one so will try again. Need to sort yarns so that I know how much is going in each half or else do it on a longer table where it can all lay out at once. Or …. so much to think and improve but I’m happy with the start.

My other project of the last entry? It keeps growing with the pattern I’m crocheting around the outside, well, I have to spin some more yarn and get enough black to finish of one layer and then get more for the next layer …. will there ever be an end? I am going to Yarnorama tomorrow so will see what they have to offer. Would be so much quicker to just get a yarn and finish it but as it started all handspun, it will end all handspun.

Categories: Fiber, Fiber Arts | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Weaving Those Squares Together: Part 1

Yesterday I vacuumed the downstairs and upstairs at one time. Anyone, who knows me well, knows I absolutely hate vacuuming. That may be a bit strong, but I really don’t like it and can put it off forever. So needless to say, after such an ambitious workout, I had to sit and weave. So I set about to improve weaving those little squares off the Zoom Loom together while making them.

So to begin with, how about some advice? I know I like things to be really easy. Alas life isn’t easy. But when weaving this long of a piece of yarn at once, you really need to cut it in two. Each should be enough thread to do two of the four layers. (Or maybe you want to do each on its own, but I found that two layers at once did work.) So roughly 4 yards long each. Now what can happen if you don’t?


My mess!

If you try to weave it all with one long thread, inevitably on that first pass of weaving into the loops of the finished square, you will end up with tangles and thread coming off of the posts. The only good in this is that the yarn has a size large enough that you can see the tangle and pull on the correct thread to undo it. But… Who wants to spend all that time untangling knots and then putting the thread back on the post that it was pulled off. Now I don’t like to waste things, and I wasn’t going to just chuck this, so yes, I untangled the mess, got the thread laying back in its proper path and then worked even more carefully. Alas it still tangled up. So my advice. Cut the length in two. You do need to cut it before starting to weave. This is different than the standard directions for weaving a square where you just take the end of your yarn and lay it in place for the first three layers and then wrap the yarn around the square 5 times and cut the thread. Then you thread it onto your long needle and start weaving it in and out.

So once you have decided to weave using two lengths you will need to join them when almost at the end of the first one. When I was learning to weave on a triangle loom, I became good friends with the Russian Join. I have a tendency to want color changes so needed to find a way to do that with the least knot showing. So it was a happy day when I discovered this method of joining two threads. Here it also works well.


First yarn woven into itself

Take the end of the yarn you are working with, and using a tapestry needle, weave it back into itself leaving a loop.


Two pieces of yarn looped together

Next take your second piece of yarn and thread it on the tapestry needle and then thread it through the first loop. After you have them entwined then weave in and out of itself just as you did with the first one.


My mess!

Now you take your two ends that are short and hanging out and pull them tight. Scrunching up the loop till it disappears. I pull them as tight as I can at first to get it as snug as I can. Then I smooth it back out and make it lay as smooth and as flat as it can. This particular thread does that well.


Laying flat and ends cut close.

So once you snug it up, then cut those loose ends off close without cutting the wrong piece. It is rather nice how it can blend in to the rest of the weaving and is hardly noticeable.

So there is my first two pieces of advice for going crazy. Since all this will be long, I will start weaving two together tomorrow.

Categories: Fiber Arts, Weaving | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Sewing and Dyeing

This will be my last Art Camp post. I do have my two sewn pieces that I haven’t written about yet. Though there are a few more not exciting things, I do want to add these two to my record.

Saturday towards the end of the day I decided to try and sew a piece as there was a pattern in Connie’s samples that I liked. So to make it easier on myself I snapped a couple pictures with my phone, went over and sat down, and started to sew. I’m glad now I have the sample to compare what I ended up doing.


Horses teeth I believe was its name


Sample sewing













So with a bit of a start in class and then working all evening after supper on my sewing, I had it ready to drop in the indigo dye bath. The picture below is of the actual sewing done but still working on drawing up all the gathers as tightly as possible. Wish I did have a picture of the tiny little package it became. But alas and alack.


Gathering up all those tiny gathers

Now what I had done with this piece is make tiny little stitches on the first row. Guess I’m used to that. Connie saw it and was amazed at my stitches but said it really needed to be bigger. So we decided that I would double the stitches on each row. So I had two rows together of the tiny stitches and then twice as large, then space, and doubled the size again. Hmmm… I wasn’t liking these bigger stitches as well though it was a lot faster. So I did the 3rd and 4th rows the same size.  After it was gathered up into almost a tiny ball it went into the indigo the next morning. And then again, and again, and again, and who knows in the end how many times but it was dunked all day long. So by the end of class, I was eager to unwrap it. Wow! I loved it and Connie did as well. That always makes you feel better about a piece when the teacher likes it. Thanks to Susan Antrican who sent me this picture as it is better than any I could get.


My Blue Piece

I then sewed another piece to try some over-dying of osage orange with the indigo to get a green. I made up a pattern on the top that sort of copied what I’d seen another classmate do. Then tried another of Connie’s patterns that I didn’t get a picture of but I can assure you I did the stitches way too small and it would have been much better larger. Then in the middle I folded it over and did a very loose, sort of leaf pattern with big stitches. Now I wish I had taken more care in that part but will save it to try again. Will make the idea work better next time.


Silk Noil sewn and ready for dye bath

So when done I let it sit in the bran/water bath a bit and then let it down into the osage orange bath. Since I hate the color yellow, this was hard to do and look at, but I knew the end product would be much the better for it. There’s a lesson there for life. So anyway, it came out of the osage orange and went into the indigo bath and came out pretty good. I do wish I had dunked it one more time in the indigo as I did love the wet color better than the dry color but all in all it has a very earthy look and feel.


My Green Piece

Now to continue my fun at home. Getting ready to do another sewn pattern and see what I can get.


Categories: dyeing, Fiber Arts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Still Dyeing but with Cochineal


Cochineal dye pot

Ok, so on day two of Art Camp Connie had an extra bonus for us. Yes, there was a Cochineal bath (as well as an Osage Orange dye bath but that is later). Now, if one of your favorite books is A Perfect Red, and hence you are madly in love with the word Cochineal let alone the dye, can you imagine my excitement to actually get to dye with it? Such a deep lovely color in the dye pot. I could stand and look in that pot all day. We had a bit of a time getting it going as the hot plates didn’t heat up. But then after trying an iron in the outlet, we discovered that it was dead. Actually, the gals ironing and heating water in electric kettles learned that all the outlets on that side of the room were gone. So we shifted the table to the other side and got it going. The gal working there got the privilege of calling and learning where the breaker box was for that room and how to get us back on that side of the room but that only helped the irons at that point. We had hot water and dye going on the other side.


Cochineal over-dyed with indigo with lines from twine

I don’t remember in what order I decided to dye things. I’m sure I just threw something in because I had to see that color. But to start with I did pleat up a long piece of cotton Connie had given us. I then put a block on it and dropped it in. As we were all wanting to drop something in that tiny kettle we were limited on time so after about 20 minutes it came out. Undid it and hung it up. Drying. UGHHH. Rather a dull pink. Not very interesting at all. Hmmm… I then decided to over-dye it in the indigo. But what to do. I folded all my pleats back in and looked at it. Knew I needed to keep with them. Then decided to tie it onto a pole. It fit just around the big one. I then tied it on in sections with no scrunching. In it went to the indigo bath. Out it came. Drying again. OOOH! I liked it so much better. So you see, a good dye can cover a multitude of sins.

I like what a classmate said of this piece. It made her think of a roll of film and the fading images. Fading memories.


left: folded and rolled, right: folded and flag folded

I did drop my two silk pieces in the cochineal. I folded one up into a small packet of flag folds and a block. It came out mostly white with red about the edges of the folds. Not a winner but not too awful. The other – well I don’t remember what I did with it. I can tell I folded it in fourths the long way and short way. But I don’t remember what I did for the design element beyond that. Ohhh… Maybe something is surfacing from those fading memories. I think maybe this is a piece I just rolled up then tied twine around it and just dropped it in. Nothing fancy. Boy, now that I look at it more, I am being amazed at it. I didn’t have much time there to marvel at it as it was the end of the day these were unwrapped but now. I may have to try that again.


Three different cloths with different shades

But no we are not done there. One thing I found interesting though not over exciting was with three pieces that just went in the pot as is. One was cotton and came out fairly light in color. One was silk noil and boy does it show what a wonder cochineal was to the world when brought back to Europe. And one was in between. Now I don’t believe all these were in the pot for the same amount of time though it wasn’t too far off. But look at the different shades of pink and red. One could really have a time of exploring every shade out of that pot. Then go and drop some acid in and totally change it and keep on going.

So what more did I do? I did drop in one small skein of yarn I had brought. Wool it was. I didn’t get a great picture of it to show the shade well but I do like the little thing and it will be added to my zoom loom project.


The twine used to dip it is still attached

Categories: dyeing, Fiber Arts | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Still Dying to Dye

I didn’t get around to ironing my big piece till after dark yesterday and as there isn’t good light in this house for pictures, I was lazy and waited till this morning to post again. Excuses I know. I need to get away from them. Note to self – Remember INDUSTRY.

The dyeing continued on. (Have you ever tried to keep track of your spellings of dying and dyeing? So changes the meaning in a sentence. Don’t we love all the borrowing that English has done to give us such fun words!)


Pole wrapping


Second pole wrapped piece

I did another pole wrapped piece with my large cloth. I included a sample picture of pole wrapping this time. Here is the PVC pipe to which the cloth is taped. Then the twine is wrapped around it with constant scrunching up for effect. You can see this piece has been scrunched up once and then there is more wraps waiting to be scrunched.

This cloth is anything but a stiff cloth and so loves to just go where it pleased. This I worked to my advantage and as I wrapped it, I let it just twist and scrunch at will. Didn’t try to keep it straight at all. It also was too wide for the pole so had folded it in half to the center so that the dye is strongest down the middle and lighter on the edges giving it a wide border. (Boy, another fun word. Almost had someone staying with me instead of an edge to my fabric.) You can tell in the picture that as I wrapped it, the more it went off kilter and thus more vertical lines towards the bottom.


Bar towel block dyed

Next, I had the bar towel that I wanted to try and so had to hurry with it – so I felt. (So much to try in so little time.) Connie had some beautiful ones with sharp shapes on them that I admired, so off I went. Do need more practice at getting a sharp edge to my shapes (more clamps?). But I did have a thought guiding this one. She had two … well I forget what she called the shape but as soon as I saw them I saw lightening bolts. Then the commas looked like they could be rain drops. Well after clamping them I decided it needed something else (over kill?) so also added the half circles. So we have a storm at night – lightening, rain, and the moon out as well. Ok, a strange storm, but a storm none the less. I think this came to me as small things can excite me, and I remember the first time I recognized a contributor in Handwoven magazine. It was a towel by Connie that was a pattern from South America and had to do with thunder and lightening. It was exciting to think, “I know her!”


Wash cloth

Then the poor wash cloth. This one’s best claim is that it was dyed in indigo so fun, but alas and alack, nothing to brag about. Again, I need to improve clamping for better definition. And though the picture is a bit fuzzy, I decided it really wouldn’t look much better if I went and retook it. The edges inside the cloth are fuzzy. Though it was fun, and I think in a setting where you weren’t competing for space with others, it would be much better. But once again, a good practice piece.

The wash cloth and bar towel do take up dye quite easily. Neither were dumped more than a couple of times, if I remember right. So again more times in a bath would give them even a better and deeper shade of blue. You know, I came home with dye …. hmmm … they may get dunked again. I can see possibilities and another dunking, or half dozen dunkings won’t make them look worse.

One thing we could do was bring things from home to dye. So I had brought some zoom loom squares that I had made with handspun yarn that had been dyed by a friend in osage orange. It was a very light coloring to them, and not really liking the color yellow, decided that maybe we would see if we overdyed them, they would come out green.


Very light osage orange

These two squares I wove at camp. You see, in the evenings we sit around and talk and work on small projects. While making one square with the zoom loom, a gal in my class got to wondering if you could weave two squares together instead of having to connect them afterwards (by sewing or crocheting etc.). Hmmm… the wheels went turning and I had to take up the gauntlet and see if it was possible. The funny bit of this is that I’ve made many, many squares and can do plain weave in my sleep. Or so I thought. Alas being half brain dead after busy days, and late at night, I had an awful time trying to get that forth row woven. I had missed the right pins on the third row then had done an extra row. After way too long, with even getting the booklet out, I finally found what I was doing wrong and did manage to weave the two together. I made one plain weave and the other a pattern so they stand out better. The suggestion was two different colored squares, but as I only had the one yarn, I thought pattern could do the job. I make it work! You have to cut your yarn for the whole square at the beginning, and as I didn’t want to weave the whole length in on the second round, I cut it in half and then made a russian join to continue. It worked. I don’t know if I’m the first to try this or not, but I showed to another gal that does lots of zoom loom squares, and she was impressed with the idea as well.


Dusty over dyed squares

So the last sample for today is my squares I dyed. I strung them on twine and dunked them a couple of times in the dye bath. You can easily see that the osage orange was not that strong of a color as the squares didn’t turn out green. But they aren’t just a strong indigo blue either. They are a lovely dusty blue so the yellow did have a small affect on them.

Categories: dyeing, Fiber Arts | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Dying to Dye

I have been dying to take an indigo dye class from Connie for quite some time but every time she had one, I had something else get in the way. What was a girl to do? Especially after she moves a few hours west.

This past weekend was CHT Art Camp. it becomes a busy weekend with arriving at the 4H center in Brownwood, Texas Friday afternoon and not stopping till you get home Monday afternoon. And guess what was one of the workshops? Connie and indigo dyeing. Two days of dyeing. Was I ever excited. Signed up. Even got a scholarship from CHT for the workshop so now have several “pass it on” projects in the works.

We began with a talk on indigo dye and getting the dye bath going. Ohhhhh, that lovely blue mess in a bucket. And yes, we even got to smell it. I would have thought that without the one old ingredient being used any more, it wouldn’t smell so much. But I guess even the cleaner chemical version still has that smell that lets you know why dyers lived on the outskirts of towns in history.


My first ever indigo dyed yarn

We first dunked in our butcher’s twine to get our feet wet. I think I only did one dip with this as I was still feeling my way along in the whole process. (maybe a bit too excited as well to think clearly) So with indigo you don’t let it just soak and soak to get deeper color. You have to dunk your fiber and wait about 5 minutes, then take it out and let it oxidize for at least 15 minutes or more and then keep on dunking till it is darker than you want as when it dries it will be lighter in color than the wet look.


My first pole wrapped piece


My next attempt was at pole wrapping. For this we had two different sizes of PVC pipe that you wrapped you cloth around. Then you took twine and wrapped it around and around and around and around and … with after every few times scruntching it up to the top till it was all wrapped and scrunched up tight. Then you dunked it in the bath. Again I think this was only dunked once though maybe twice. Actually maybe more but I can’t remember. When I unwrapped it I wasn’t too happy with it as it didn’t look like some of the others (who had more experience dyeing than myself). No distinct lines but fading in and out. But then another classmate, who has been to Japan and played with indigo there, came by and said she liked it. It had a very Japanese zen quality about it. Amazing how a word can change your feelings about a piece. Maybe it wasn’t so ugly after all.



My first block and fold dye

So then I took a long strip and tried another idea. Once again somewhat copying what I’d seen another classmate do. I folded this piece in fourths down the length and then in the middle folded it so that their were six sections that had triangles clamped over it. Then the two ends I flag folded. The folds were such that the two outside edges were outside in the bath. Hence darker color there. I did like this piece though it should have been in the bath a few more times. But then tomorrow will come and it will fall down in the list of favorites.




My first tape resist

After that I lead the way in another suggestion. Using painter’s tape for a resist on a cloth. I chose my canvas piece and put tape on both sides working hard at lining it up. It only got one bath as some of the tape started coming off. But all in all an interesting idea. Not a favorite but interesting. Alas, the others who followed suit had stunning pieces. But you have to have the one that leads the way so the others can improve on it.

This was not the end of the journey. In fact this was barely the beginning. Connie gave us packs of different cloths to dye. Nothing fancy as she wanted us to experiement and have fun. If we had, say a scarf, then we would be worried about ruining the scarf and may not go as far as we would if we didn’t think of the piece as a special item. Needless to say we did experiment, and I ended the first day starting my first sewn piece. But that is for another time. Also we had good surprises the second day. A three for one on our workshop. That will come hopefully tomorrow.


The three pieces and twine hanging to dry with two more pieces in the bucket below dripping between baths. One is a clamped piece and the right side is a pole wrap piece


Categories: dyeing, Fiber Arts | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Grandmas’ Doilies

Well we are moved into our new home these past two weeks. Does that mean we actually have everything unpacked and a home found for each item? Absolutely not! I need Mark’s help for some things and he has different priorities, so I will still have to wait some on him. But in unpacking what is available at the moment, I thought I needed a record of three doilies I have.

I don’t remember how I came into possession of the following doily. I know that it was crocheted by my maternal grandmother, Wilba Cowger. Now she had cancer for 12 years and as she died when I was 14, none of us grandkids really knew her outside of cancer. But I have been told all about this wonderful woman that we saw only glimpses of at times. I know she did knit, and we all got knitted socks one Christmas when she was feeling better. I was given her knitting needles after my grandfather’s death though I don’t know a whit about knitting and couldn’t tell you a knit from a purl. Ok, so I know a small whit about it. I know two terms.

Grandma Cowger's doily

Grandma Cowger’s doily

I do crochet though, but have never crocheted with such a small hook as this was done with. And look at those cute flowers added at the points. I will admit that I have not kept this well. Upon perusing it, I realize that it was probably quite white at one time though I never remember it white. I will say that for the pictures it did get a good ironing for the first time in probably forever. I couldn’t take a picture with the flowers closed up and the stems willy nilly.

Close up of a point

Close up of a point

This has sat under an oil lamp for a few years, but I still haven’t decided where in this incarnation it will abide.

Now the next two doilies were crocheted by my paternal grandmother. Virginia Cummins. I do remember her crocheting, and I don’t think anyone on that side of the family knits at all – though I might be surprised. But my Grandma Cummins did crochet though her main pastime was quilts. All by hand and not a whit of a machine to be seen by any quilt.

Two doilies crocheted by Grandma Cummins

Two doilies crocheted by Grandma Cummins

These two doilies have always sat in my hutch under two sets of dishes that I love. So alas and alack, you don’t really see much of them. But then most people wouldn’t know what was up anyway and I know what is back there so I enjoy. And who knows, their life may be why they are still in almost perfect order. Just like the day that Grandma gave them to me.

Closeup of Grandma Cummins' doilies

Closeup of Grandma Cummins’ doilies

I can say that these were not originally white so don’t feel bad about the color. The second picture, as far an my monitor is concerned, is closer to their real color.

It is nice to have my grandmother’s close by even all these years later.

Categories: Fiber Arts | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Blog at