in which i publicly humiliate myself

Because we’ve all done Stoopid with a Capitol 9 at least once………

“Normally” i would have thrown this in the unfinished pile where it would have sat forever, but the lace is too precious to me to “waste” it. And i *have* gotten much better at (im)patiently pulling or cutting out mistakes, because the initial idea is good. When they lack in interpretation though, cut your losses, or cut the threads!

Firstly, the lace puffed up and made itself look big, trying to scare me. I do believe i forgot to iron the underlayer (Lazy!) and a wrinkle in there resulted in this lofty attempt at escape.

What’s REALLY sad is that though i had a very clear picture in my head of how she would look when worked, i didn’t stop for any consideration on HOW i was going to do that, and just Started. Dear GAWDZ but this is Horridatious, looking as if an inexperienced newbie or a 4 year old got hold of it. I have done trite work, i admit it (we all honestly have) but this? Not only trite, but badly worked–NOTHING to do with what the figure is/says, NO beauty in any of that working, and seriously, i am embarrassing myself horribly by showing this. Is it any wonder she’s holding her head in her hands???? She’s wailing!!! “What have you done to meeeeeeeeeeee???”

I picked out ALL of the interior stitching. I slit the lace and flattened it down–nothing anywhere says that can’t be done, or will detract from the work. I don’t know about you, but there’s nowhere in my contract that says i HAVE to do something ONE way or it’s Wrong! I had to also soak the whole thing to let the resulting holes and pulls Relax. (Relax, Baby: i’ll still respect you in the morning.)

I had this bright idea to use several of my naturally dyed threads, and while the colourway would have worked, it took too much away from the figure, putting focus on the threads instead. I have gone to my commercially dyed threads in rebuttal 🙂 As i’ve always said, colour is colour–yes, brown is too a colour!—and i’m not about to get all precious about just naturally dyed, so all my “bland, boring, beige” browns in all their glorious permutations are being hauled out.

I’m off to appease the Stitching Gawdesses with a cup of fresh coffee, small sweet biscuits and a sacrificial thread loaded needle or two…..i already gave blood, sweat and tears…………

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a natural moon

I’ve been slowly (and not so diligently, as other pursuits in the studio have “interfered”) working on this indigo moon, using my newly dyed naturally dyed threads. This is a lesson in itself, as the indigo i’m working on is strong enough to overshadow certain colours, necessitating some more neutral backgrounds for future plans/use.

 

The moon is worked with cotton, silk, silk/wool blend and wool threads in cochineal, osage, logwood, and privet berries, with the brown of the seeds coming from potassium permanganate (actually an inorganic compound). I found a walnut bath i had stored several years ago, when i was setting up in the basement, and shall test to see if it’s still “live”, for some of my browns in future, though i do love all the permutations the PP gave on the skein of cotton. On the background surround, in cotton, silk, wool and silk/wool, the colours i used are privet berry, cochineal, brazilwood, rhubarb root, hollyhock (and that’s where the “oh-oh” happened, as some of the colours are so soft, they are barely discernible), osage, logwood, and sandalwood. Using pre-mordanting (VERY important), and post modifying methods, changes the colours to a wide range. (Ha, just realized i used none of the wonderful madder results!)

I have two other moons still in the finishing stages, and hope to get them done soon too! All will be in the shop.

 

 

abracafabric!

I SWEAR that i looked everywhere for the fabric i wanted to use for a new big work. Potassium permanganate dyed, it was a substantial piece of yardage, and i could not for the life of me figure out where the damn thing went, and finally surmised i must have cut it up. I had scoured bins, boxes, bags of fails, scrap debris in the dye dungeon and the usual odd places where something goes to be “kept safe”.

Yesterday i was going through a stack in the studio, pulling out chunks to be redyed, admiring or not in new separate piles 🙂 , refolding, and hanging larger pieces over the back of the chairs, and

WHAT????!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had just refolded the piece i was looking for all along.

So, i redyed it in the PP vat, as the original bath it had at the summer res was weak and old, resulting in a negligible beige blandness, and have now a warm deep milk-chocolate-verging-on-dark-chocolate chunk. I’m going to introduce it to both logwood cloth (cotton and silk) and madder, osage and logwood (cotton) threads.

See how much darker the silk is? Technically this is why protein and cellulose fibres shouldn’t be in the same pot, as proteins uptake faster and deeper. (I should have divided the bath and done separate soaks.)  The logwood threads were done by themselves in the first new pot, and the colour uptake was phenomenal. (The silks and cotton fabrics were done in subsequent soaks in the same pot, in two sessions.) Of course, that’s because i accidentally dumped in what was left in the jar, instead of actually measuring!

I am perfectly happy with the results though, even if the cottons are quite mottled (due to sitting in a pot all day while i was at the DayJob and unable to stir once in awhile), and will use it all anyways. I still however have to do a post mordant/modify with iron, so expect these to become somewhat darker. Again, going with the flow, and happy the work is working!

And there’s still some dye left in the bath, so am scrounging up some more protein fibres: a lone piece of linen, maybe some wool threads and a bit more silk. I expect they will be not as deep a shade, but can always build on them in other dyes, such as cochineal, madder or the old stand by, indigo.

HOWEVER, since i have been lazy/uninspired/busy for at least a month and a half, i am keeping all my notes in the 2018 file. I have 3 small moons to finish, and will not allow myself to start major new work, while dibbly bits are still hanging around waiting for their turn. I WILL get to new work before the end of the year, but the luxury of starting will be only when the UFO’s are gone!

happily ensconced in the dye dungeon

Sandalwood

Cochineal

Madder

Osage

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.

 

a new moon

This one is particularly satisfying–99% natural dyes!

The first section is osage and cochineal on cotton,

centre section is privet berries on silk and potassium permanganate on cotton (technically an inorganic chemical dye…)

and third section is three flavours of cochineal and logwood on wool, silk, and silk/wool blend, all on a background of indigo on cotton. (And yes, i am fully aware there are natural substances for browns, but i happen to like the permutations of “potperm”, and i have none of the naturals at the moment.)

And i just realized, that as usual my photos are mislabelled…….left and right always confuse me………..these are portrayed in the correct order above, but the orientation in the file name is reversed!

I have only to add a few more milkweed seeds to the centre, and then i can finish the whole.

 

 

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Apparently i have scared a few people with the potassium permanganate. It’s as “safe” as using any other dye, WHEN you follow the protocols! (Would you drink or bathe in Procion??? Or even indigo???????) People also assume that “natural” immediately classifies as safe, and that’s not true either. Yes, PP is corrosive, so wear gloves—-i don’t stick my bare hands in ANY dye pot, mordant or assistant, i wear protective gear when mixing. PP is inert on the fibres: it is not going to explode or spontaneously combust, UNLESS you let ALL the liquid in the bath evaporate and then store it improperly. PP is poisonous–guess what? So are pokeweed, privet berries, rhubarb leaves can be problematic with all the oxalic acid, and logwood is potentially deadly. I also NEVER stick my nose over a pot and inhale deeply while exclaiming how earthgoddessywonderful it is, or blithely swish my unprotected hands through a conventional indigo vat, or even a 123 vat (there’s lime in there, right? and i’m not talking about the fruit.) Common sense people, common sense. We *don’t* know cumulative effects for most of these substances, because when they were in common use, nobody was doing studies about it, were they? Who wants to die from dyeing?

The Dye Dungeon Openeth Again

BANG. “Shit”, pause, “Sorry!” BANG. “Fuck”, pause, “Sorry!” BANG. “dammit”, pause, “Sorry!” The poor water heater man was in the basement, fixing things, and that’s what i kept hearing. Our basement is low ceilinged after all, being in a 107 year old house. You *can* walk upright (unless you’re 6′ plus, in which case you will be grazing the first floor bracing beams), but there are areas where furnace ducts are low, and both Greyman and i regularly bash our heads on them. When my hair was long and i wore it pinned up, it would be a common part of the experience, catching that full tilt on the top of the head……….I finally had to tell that poor workman to stop apologizing, and just get on with. I’ve heard all those words before, so whatever 🙂

And yes, our basement is slightly creepy. The house is after all Old, and there are parts behind walls down there that are the original stonework and earth dug-outs. It doesn’t smell musty or moldy, just old, no strange growths anywhere or slithering whatthehellisthats, one of the benefits of Calgary’s dry climate, even with us being beside the river and probably not that far above the natural water table. (Actually after the 2013 Calgary flood, we *know* it’s not far above, but we do know we also have the only self draining house on the block!) You can stand up in it, something not said about a lot of 107 year old basements, it’s floored with concrete and mostly painted white. We don’t use it for much beyond storage and it occurred to me yesterday that it was largely being wasted.

It’s divided into 4 strange little rooms, evidence of the original size and shape of the house, documenting add-ons and renovations. There’s actually no basement below the teeny back bedroom, laundry room, kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom, unless you count the old stone and earth part (!), but it’s still big enough for a lot of uses. Dyeing space immediately comes to mind through the winter. The garage is uninsulated and too far from the house in terms of -30c weather, so why not just descend to the depths?

That’s where the Dye Dungeon is again, in the back part near what is the old cistern, long boarded and bricked up, and containing we are sure, a body or two…..There’s a tiny backroom with lots of old wood shelves for all my dye supplies, natural and un-natural chemical/synthetic, plenty of old pull string lights, and a concrete floor. Nothing fancy down there at all, just space where the dog never goes (she’s afraid of the creepy old narrow stairs down), and the cat rarely, as “it’s boring, so boring”. (You know how cats are.) I *did* have it set up 7 years ago, but admittedly didn’t do as much then as i had thought i would. I’m afraid right now if i keep using the studio, that the mess will become a wet one, with pots and jars all over, and inquisitive studio assistants, Slapshot (official studio cat) and Nessie the DogFaced Girl (resident i-go-everywhere-Mom-is dog).

(I’ll post pics in another entry 🙂 )

And the first cochineal results are in, and i am very very quite happy 🙂 These are dry too, so none of that misleading wet photograph stuff–we all know wet is more intense looking than dry!

Same threads, different light, to show their beauty, all on wool or a silk/wool blend, different mordants and modifiers.

I have cotton threads as well now, dried after a long soak in the dye bath, and oh i am thrilled with the results!

So, in the last two weeks, with experimenting and testing that i am doing things correctly, behold my new stash!!!!!!!!!

As soon as i can plan for being more productive, quantity wise, i really would like to be offering these in the shop. Stay tuned 🙂