even greater distances

I don’t know how many textile artists work, when out of the public eye on blog, Instagram and FB, but me, i keep files and a private blog for ideas, sketches, colour and fabric combos, inspiration and possibles. Though little was “accomplished” this year, i’m happy with the results, and the dye play i’ve been doing, BUT i found myself this morning opening a new file and category for “WORK 2018”.

A LOT of the 2017 notes are archived already. Some are switched to the 2018, and a LOT MORE deleted.

I love the little moon series i’ve created over the last two years, and intend to make many more, however i also need to get back to the larger works as well. “Samara” will be one of them, and after seeing her in the sun yesterday, i pulled a bunch of these naturally dyed fabrics.

They may not all get used here, but given the initially planned harder look, i think this is more on track with what she’s saying, softer, still strongly feminine, but with a more “fertile” approach. I want her wings to be more inviting, enveloping, brilliant even. Autumn after all is not just a time of endings, but of rich harvests and warm gatherings. I do need however more autumnal colours so into the dyepots again with some of these scraps.

For other work i’ve wanted to do, i guess i will be making larger pieces of the potassium permanganate dyed cottons after all. I must have cut up the piece i did during residency, thinking it was a “fail”, a lesson learned: leave it alone and the time will come as it needs to!

While digging around in the actual fabrics i still have, i found this, and am thinking to use it as a “marker” for a new series with the PP.

It’s snow dyed, with Procion, but that doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme of things, colour is colour. And the texture of this old rayon velvet is freekin’ awesome. It’s vintage, at least 20 years old and at a yard and a half, is plenty to incorporate into this dreamed of work.

Another week of dyeing, and i figure i will have enough of threads and cloth to “share” and to use.



greater distances

Every time i finish something now, it seems a greater distance to the next one. I know these things are in there, in my heart, mind, gut, wherever that inspiration and dedication comes from, but digging it out gets harder and harder, though lord knows i feel empty and bereft without *something* going in my hands. Sometimes i wish i could just take a picture of the inside of my head and put that immediately on the fabric and in the stitching, but alas….it doesn’t work that way, does it? It’s almost as if there is a starter shot i’m waiting for, anticipating but never hearing or hearing a second late. I know i will jump in when the sound stops, but in the meantime it’s quite frustrating! It’s like that first step will mislead me, a commitment to the wrong future. May 2014

I used to “worry” about producing X number of pieces a year, but in the last couple, have recognized i don’t work that way anymore. The few i do get done take time, lots of time, as i invest my heart and soul in them, working myopically, intensely focused, by hand. “Tabula Memoria” was an 8 month project (Dec 2016-Jul 2017), and this year i have completed nothing else. I’ve started a few things along the way, small, not terribly exciting to me, or soul satisfying, but i don’t wonder anymore if i still have “It”, just because there aren’t 11tybajillion “finished” bits…..

I do still have It. It though has it’s own timetable. Part of this is logistical: there’s a certain piece of potassium permanganate dyed cotton i did during this summer’s residency, a large expanse, but do you think i can find it? I can’t even remember if i’ve already cut it up and used it for something else, overdyed it or threw it out. That of course is the piece i MUST have…… I’m giving myself a day to find it, and if i don’t, well, back to the PP pot. (Potassium permanganate that is, not a hissy fit of urine….)

And this, this i must get back to, caught yesterday still hanging on the studio wall.




autumn and the animals

Our backyard has the lowest fences on the block, ie none at front, and only old frail 4 foot chain link out back, with a delicate divider of open wire work that keeps Nessie in the back 40, though she has rarely ever gone walkabout on her own if the gates are accidentally blown open. We’re bounded on either side by 6 foot fences because the infills want privacy for their tiny yards. Being near the river and across from the park berm and path, all parts of the wildlife corridor, means a constant funneling therefore through ours, as they pass from water to habitat.

And hollyhocks, raspberries, bird feeder, crabapple and apple trees 🙂 Admittedly though, they are kind enough to wait until the raspberries are picked (deer LOVE the leaves), and most of the apples gathered, though i did miss a few blooms on my favoured black Chater hollyhock this summer. We’ve had rabbits and i mean Rabbits, the Alberta Jack Rabbit, not cute little abandoned bunnies that were turfed out after Easter and let to breed and live as they could, coyotes singing and hunting, a family of skunks that Nessie was unfortunate enough to check one out of one fine dark morning this summer, tons of squirrels, bajillions of birds, numerous deer, and a suspicion we had that there was a local porcupine.

Thursday morning i had been woken by the DogFaced Girl in a frenzy at 430AM, and in my winter boots and nightgown at -2C temps in the dark and a crisp frost on the ground, managed to ascertain with the stupidly useless flashlight on my phone, that yes, there was Something on the strut under the picnic table. Under those circumstances, that was good enough to bring Nessie back in. Skunk, cat, porcupine, whatever it was, welcome to our backyard, fill your boots then please leave. This autumn i have taken to leaving something outside by the back door to either kick over, or a shovel i can bang on the patio to warn whatever’s out there, because even after peering through the curtains, you can’t see the whole yard, and if the motion sensor lights haven’t come on, you can’t see anything anyways. Dog has a routine that can’t be interrupted for obvious reasons.

Nessie’s last ablutions of the day are around 9PM.  Last night i did the nosy neighbour check and saw deer resting and eating in the backyard, so opened the door gently and shooed them to safety. What leaps a young one can make! Let Miss PeePee Pants out and realized she was doing a warning circle with the low gruffs around the apple tree, saw a lump passing down the fence by it and thought AGH, grab the camera, be brave and let’s see what the lump really is. (If the lump had been larger, i’d have pulled DFG in, not chancing any encounter with bear, lynx or cougar, also known to visit Calgary backyards, though fortunately not (yet) in our neighbourhood.)

Lump saw me coming and proceeded to climb the apple tree.

Meet “Billy Idol”, our latest AirBnB guest.

Doesn’t he look all soft and cuddly? 🙂


Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Not so ordinaries


happily ensconced in the dye dungeon





NOTE: some of those above are overdyed or post modified, something i’m not about to share, not because it’s a secret, but because there are so many variables it would get ridiculous. (“Noblick tannin and Retooty acetate premordants, dyed with SuperPow pink, post modified with dog spit, overdye dip one end in Prang yellow, other in Choplitz blue, post mordanted AND modified with Ogden iron”…well, ya get the picture 🙂 ) What a range and hard to believe too that these are not synthetic dyes–who says natural colours are dull??????

I made myself a form of Niddy Noddy to wind skeins on, and happily wound 31 before realizing that my measurement made it necessary to do 40 winds to get 20 yards–i ended up with 10 yard skeins because i counted to 20……..ah well, that means when packaging, there will be two of those per card then, as i intend to keep the offerings to 20 yard lengths. You’ll note too, that most of these are on cotton: i do love the wool (which i am now out of) and the silk/wool blend that arrived rather snarled from the supplier, but the strands are so tangled that i’m having the devil of a time winding skeins. Have to figure out some sort of hanging apparatus so i can wind, untwangle and skein, without major body english and copious swearing. My rudimentary engineering and building skills are getting a work out also!

I’m spending most of my time this month dyeing threads and little bits of fabric (can you say mm–mm packs going into the shop soon?), while in the evening trying to get some stitching in. The naturally dyed moon is coming along nicely, but i’m not ready to share it yet.


Good thing too, that i am happily engaged. A typical fall week here: winter on Monday the 2nd and back to summer on Thursday the 5th, and now back to “seasonal”! (Thankfully, i dealt with the madder pot heeling in already!)


seeing red

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Muchly great large happie fantabulous hugormous exultations this morning from the Dye Dungeon. I’m seeing RED because i FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY got madder to work properly.

Yes, there’s a faint cast of l’orange, and yes, some look “vintage”, but i can live with all of that because “Look! I have made Fire!”

Photographed dry, ’cause i hate that wet expectation 🙂 (Everything always dries lighter.)

And yes, this is a stupendous result for me. Yeah yeah, madder is supposed to give red under Best Practices, but look at what i always got before:

Pretty, but i was always madder after using Madder previous to this eek’s results. I was even ready to give the damn stuff away–and of course now after all the failed bits, i have little left out of a kilo of Maiwa……………………..Obviously time to restock.

And apparently i got rid of ALL my old embroidery bobbin cards, time to re-order those as well.



Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Dyeing, Ecoprints and Natural Dyes, madder


heeling in

In a big way…

I have first year madder growing in a large pot, and it’s done rather well this first season. This is the hottest and sunniest spot for pots: our patio gets foot blistering hot and has full and /or reflected sun for at least 8-10 hours a day through the summer. (I watered thoroughly almost every day.) A bit frost tinged, as we had our first frost on Sept 16, it’s still growing and green, so it’s still alive.

HOWEVER, Calgary’s cold cold winters, heavy frosts and possible large dumps of snow mean that i either bring it in to overwinter–and where the hell do i put a pot that size where it can get decent light and warm-ish temps (ALL windows in the house are already, and always, glutted with plants)—–or mulch and insulate it like crazy, as pots freeze first, fast and heavily.


There *is* a plant planting procedure called “heeling in”. I’m just doing it with a pot, rather than bare roots. I can’t plant the root ball in the ground by itself, as madder roots spread (optimally!), and i want to be able to harvest them easily (see my Gallium post for reasons why that CAN be a good thing or not, even if the roots are a decent size), and also because our ground freezes HARD for quite a depth. That’s a BIG hole though, because the pot is 13″ deep and 14″ across.

A kind person in a FB group suggested this, and that’s what i’ma gonna do. I need to collect some insulating material still, for around the pot, and to mulch over it, but i’m keeping my hoofies crossed that this does the trick.

I won’t know until April probably if this works………………praying to the Dye Plant Gawdzesses, that this will blessedly show new growth then.

For the record, i bought these madder seeds from a Canadian company, Salt Spring Island Seeds. While i appreciate being able to get them, i don’t appreciate companies that have NO information on actually growing and caring for them–WTF??????–an email to them resulted in basically “we don’t know” (anything about them)…………… Of course, this company also sells Elecampane seeds, touting them as a source for blue dye from the roots…….PUH leez…..


i’ve been busy…………..

But not in my Studio.

Is it any wonder that i love my job so much?

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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Day Job at the fffFlower Mines