booked out–and back

I needed a nice long break. I just read. No stitching, drawing, planning, dyeing, sewing, painting, nothing.

Worked my way through 75 books since the first of May, when i finally figured out how to access library ebooks. And yes, that is correct, 75 books. I learned to read fast, and i mean really fast when i was a kid, 900 words a minute at that time–we all did the three of us kids, this was “self defense/interest” in my family because if you wanted to finish the book that the family was all reading at once, you had to be speedy before Dad got it and spent hours with it! I read about 700 per minute now as i get older πŸ™‚

I gardened a little, walked the dog, did the minimum (TOO minimal, actually…) housework, watched piss all TV as even Netflix is rather boring right now as all i can find that i am interested in is usually Scandinavian with stiffly translated english subtitles, and read, read, read, for hours at a time. Books were a big escape for me when i was a kid and a single mother, and in times like we’ve had lately, and the times i’ve had lately, escapism was needed. I feel neither guilty nor as if i wasted time. Worked my way through series of David Baldacci, Frances Fyfield, Karin Slaughter, Nicci French, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Jo Nesbo, Kathy Reichs, the first volume in the Villanelle series —totally different than the tv series— and assorted “one off” novels by various writers. I read NOTHING for research purposes, nothing to learn new techniques, nothing to do with my passions.

The only exciting/worrying/dire/nasty thing that happened during all this was my mother ending up in hospital for a few days with something bad happening–but fortunately with a woman who speaks her mind and impresses upon doctors and staff that SHE IS NOT STUPID, SENILE, OR LOSING HER MARBLES: JUST TELL ME THE DAMN TRUTH (GO MOM!) that worked out and she’s home under the care of my Super Brother. Late night phone calls from family members are always agonizing, and i know there will be more happening as the year goes by…….. (Hopefully yearS!) (Hopefully with little frequency.)

Since my other library requests are “holds” where i am #57 on 2 copies and similar ridiculous wait times, i guess it’s time to get back to studio hours.



This bodes well. I bought Indigo suffruticosa seeds from the vaunted Deb McClintock in Texas, and soaking the seeds yielded what is usually the beginning colour of an actual indigo vat!


Of course, i don’t know if this is actually “normal”, and i don’t know how many will germinate or what success i will actually have at the end of the season, but WHOO HOO anyways πŸ™‚

In Texas, Deb gets these to SEVEN feet tall, where they are also more of a perennial. Mine will certainly not reach that height, and our growing season is shorter, with cooler nights, but i’ma gonna baby these babies as much as i can. Whatever i can harvest is a bonus. I may have to store dried until next year when i have enough, but that’s worth the wait as well. Natural dyeing can be a long slow process, but that’s what it IS all about. I did grow indigo one year in a pot at the old house, but hail and an early frost got it when it was barely 3 feet tall and rather sparse. I still have the dried leaves though!

Hoofies crossed!

EDIT May 20—-15 of the 24 planted have sprouted–WHOOOOOOOOHOO!!!

DD, part 3

Remember scale, visually and physically! I do like these dainty details, but i’d like them to be stronger. But i don’t like that indigo circle because it’s too strong!

I’m thinking too those deeper “grey” diamonds need only MINIMAL stitching as they are actually purpley ecoprints.

I still want the slightly aged effect i got with my first Suzani inspired piece:

Have to find the rest of that indigo cotton i used above. *That* is more the effect i want, a bit fadey, uneven, softer, more vintage. The deep indigo velvet i used in the top photo is beautiful, but i’m preferring more the “weaker” and the “mistakes” i’ve done πŸ™‚

I need to do a quick sketch or two to size up motifs. I usually do a printout of this and pencil in ideas, though i don’t always follow it slavishly. It’s kind of a free association exercise to see what i *could* do when i can see the whole.

DillyDally coat, part 2

I pulledΒ  a bunch of unfinished pieces, samples, chunks of fabrics etc and though initially i was going to spread them around the whole coat, realized that a lot of smaller pieces meant more time needed for figuring out layout and balance. I don’t want to just be dibbing together a bunch of small bits and then fretting about how to maintain continuity. This isn’t supposed to be a garment made of samples, it’s not to be a Sampler Coat, but a way to integrate and set off/off set certain components i already have, and to build a new Thing. Honestly too, though i have a lot of ufo’s, i don’t have enough to spread around the whole garment and feel settled as to design. I’d spend more brain effort trying to have meaning in placement and figuring out how to “blend” the “stories”, than i would have pleasure in the outcome!

So, obviously, there’s some new work to be done to make this mean something. One of the ideas that has stuck in my head was this:

I LOVE this piece, (sadly still wanting to be mounted on something), enjoyed the making, the design, the flavour, the colours, everything that occurred from a happy mistake in sewing together. This is a thing that can have size without being overwhelming, that fits (i think, and that’s what counts πŸ™‚ ) with the esthetic and some of the bits in that top photo, and that i know i will like doing. I’ve chosen mainly tones of red from my madder stash, have seamed the pieces together and shall start the embellishing now.Β  This so far is the right sleeve, with the “front” of the sleeve being on the right:

Certainly more “regular” looking than the piece above, but it will evolve with the stitching, so could become quite irregular!

And as always, nothing is set in stone, so this or both pieces may migrate elsewhere on the DillyDally coat.

the DillyDally coat

My muslin base, a heavier weight than i would have deliberately chosen, but since it came in this form and was scrounged for free, it is what it is:

Whomever had made this originally obviously got confused about seaming for right side/wrong side, but since it will all be covered, it doesn’t matter.


I’ve been “mapping out” what i need, as *i*am larger πŸ™‚ 😦 and the muslin base needs to *be* larger than it is. Wow, tried it on, it’s fine except that it needs some underarm gussets and a bit of sleeve widening so i can wear things under, and a 3″ extension on either front edge so i can wrap and tie. I’ve decided to keep the colourway in the terra cotta, red, orange, redder browns range with flashes of yellow, and indigo as an accent. Linen, a bit of velvet, some cotton certainly, i’m looking through what i have, and will also rev up the natural dye pots again–i adore the terra cotta resulting from madder over marigold (top of the photo above).

And pockets, gotta have pockets!

I want to try a few things i haven’t ever done, and a few that i haven’t done in awhile. Because OMGZ, i was so bored i dug through a box in the studio that i hadn’t seen in years (HOW did i miss that in the move??) and it was full of ideas, sketches, photos, instructions, patterns and ephemera from both my Cap College day in ’93 to ’95, but my first year in “Deadmanchuk”*** (’03) and WAHOO! I love lush surfaces, both visually and as tactile texture, so some bits that were previously done as “samples” (ie bits that never made it to finished work, or were aborted work!) may show up, along with new ones. (AND I FOUND MY YULE GHOUL PATTERN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)




***Deadmanchuk (also Deadmonton, Edmonchuk, The Chuck)–slang for Edmonton Alberta, usually used by people who hated living there…..

dillydallying as productive time

Not all of us will learn 6 new languages, make sourdough bread, write an opus for the ages, or invent a new way to weave gnat’s ass silk during these “lockdown” times, but it’s still a good and necessary thing to have SOME “busy time”.

My own busy-ness has been less than productive, because i’ve had too many busytime days instead of just relaxing and trying out things just for fun: 11tybajillion starts and 11tybajillion ideas don’t always mean actual finished (or pleasing!) work done–i have a lot of what i now realize are samples though! So whadda ya do with samples? You can stick them in a book, you can file them in boxes, you can sometimes incorporate them into future work————————

AHA! OR! I like Jude’s current project/teaching, kind of a “coating a coat” idea πŸ™‚Β  and i’m going to haphazardly go as it goes. I happen to have an old muslin coat base in the dyeables bin and also stumbled over this from 1983 (a photo of only, think i lost this actual piece in the 2013 Calgary flood).

Very Yvonne Porcella inspired as that was the first time i had seen that people actually did these wild and wonderful things with fabric!

The base muslin coat i have is too small but very unfinished as to edges and shape, so i’ll add, adjust and correct as needed. Today i’ll be digging through all my unfinished bits and samples and stuff, finding hopefully a common denominator, then start laying down some spackle πŸ™‚

first multicoloured naturally dyed embroidery skein

It’s been my goal since the beginning of March to create 5 colour threads, using a minimum of dyes. I know which dyes blended will make certain colours (ie yellows like weld, osage, tansy and blue (indigo) will always make greens though different factors can make many shades, and indigo and madder always make purple and again shades with varying factors), but have been experimenting with other dyes that are less predictable.

I have managed to make my first 4 colour skein (silk/wool blend) using 3 dyes (logwood, osage and quebracho rojo), though it’s just a prototype as the process needs refining. The pink is too weak, the purple and yellow areas too long, and there’s not enough green to really be noticeable. However it does have lavender, pink, purple, yellow, green and coral, and that means it was fiddly work, but i figure practice will make perfect, as with all things πŸ™‚ Still pretty pleased with myself!

My dream/wish/expectation is to make threads with colour breaks like these leaves:

They were done in these piece with “orts”, leftover bits of thread no longer than 3″–i want one thread skeins that look and act like this!

I know there there are dyers using naturals, and dyers using synthetics to make huge multicoloured knitting skeins, but since my focus is embroidery, it’s a bit more precise what i expect the end result to be. I still have to experiment with various post modifiers as well, a lightfast test for that green, and how well the process works on cotton threads.

Studying and “labbing” on!

bored bored bored attention span antidote

I’m so bored and going so squirrelly with a very short attention span, so keeping it simple. Never know what haphazard clamping and dyeing will result in! (Note this is ONE piece, but due to the IG algorithms, things have to be square to “fit”, so i had to “tile” it but oh what an idea now for other pieces!) Cutch on linen.

Now i want to do wider pieces! Repeats! Combos! Hey, boredom done with!

yesterday and today

Yesterday, i felt like this:

Pomegranate dyed/mordanted cotton, post modified with iron solutions. A base for bad days, i haven’t decided if i should work on it ON the bad days, or wait until a good day to do! Either way is valid–maybe both to see how it affects the work?

When the going gets tough though, it’s time to get out the brightest crayons and have a good scribble. My version of that is vivid natural dyes, and today these results on mostly cellulosic fibres (linen, cotton lace trim, cotton scrim, cotton threads– and small skeins of wool thread on the far left) came out of the quebracho rojo dye pot.

I’m thrilled with these results as previous experiments, while gorgeous on silk threads, silk habotai and silk velvet were rich, my cottons were pastel pinky browns, nothing exciting, and the threads were even more boring. The water IS different in this house, obviously quite different from the Grand Old Lady’s 100+ pipes.

I *might* use some of the wool thread on the top grey piece, still auditioning thread colours for it.

Scribble, scribble, scribble.


naturally dyed threads on sale!!

All thread skeins on sale, limited quantities! My naturally dyed colours are 10m each, and are available in listed quantities as 6 strand floss or #10 perle. Next week, i will be dyeing more and they will remain at $5.00 per 10 metre skein. PLEASE NOTE: IF THE COLOUR/NUMBER IS NOT IN DROPDOWN MENU, IT IS SOLD OUT. (10 meters is almost 11 yards for those who don’t use metric )

Sorry, below SOLD OUT