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!

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

 

 

two and a half weeks of rainbow

I β™₯β™₯β™₯ variegated threads. I used a lot of commercially dyed ones with earlier work ( pre 2017) but when i switched completely to using naturally dyed, there was a dearth of them available anywhere, and i was petrified at the thought of doing threads! I have since refined my use and skill level of natural dyes, and while i had successfully dyed solids, i hadn’t really thought about variegating any, beyond the simple step of post modifying dipped areas.

Last week i had shown photos to an acquaintance who waxed so eloquently rhapsodic about the colour breaks in these little leaves:

 

They aren’t variegated threads however; they were “orts” (scraps, ends) of naturally dyed solids that i couldn’t bear to throw away. Just as i have found a use for one inch squares of naturally dyed velvet, so too do i save bits of thread that are at least 3″ long!

But i started thinking about this. Much of my work is finely detailed and there is no way to get such tiny breaks of colour, unless one becomes really neurotic about the method. (Yeah, yeah, i know: some manyΒ  a few think i AM neurotic but i ain’t that much…) But, never say never. While i will not attempt breaks of 1/2″, i can do 1″. Some of the colour combos too are practically impossible: i’ll never get a half inch of green on a predominantly pink, purple, blue thread, but i can get close in each colourway. And then use 3″ long bits, NARF.

So, for the past two and a half weeks, i have been working with thread instead of fabric, playing and testing, using different combos of 4 dyes (madder, osage, cochineal –that old moldy one STILL!–and indigo) and overdyes, post modifiers and timing and got these results:

The above are two colour breaks, pretty basic, but lovely nonetheless. Obviously, indigo over anything makes magic πŸ™‚

And a mix of the 2 colour variegateds and solids from this work, thrilling to say only 3 dyes, and some indigo :)!

I dyed many of these in larger skeins so i can divvy them up, some for me, and *some* of these for the shop, in 10 yard lengths. All are cotton, except for the three in top photo, the bright red, bright yellow and salmon, towards the right of the photo.

Next i’ll be trying 3 colour skeins and continuing this way, i’m hoping to get to 5 colour breaks, something that my tired brain actually has to draw out to figure the correct sequences.

One thing that made me really happy was that i finally got a lavender/lilac/wisteria/whateverflavour you call it in your palette (centre of bottom photo). This one is NOT going to be anything but what it is, no modifying, no other colour additions. (Until the next time.) Again, from the moldy old cochineal. I’m not saying the mold had anything to do with it, just that there is no reason to waste a dye because it’s gone off, looks funny, or is fuzzy. Yeah, if it was completely foosty, but not as a surface deal πŸ™‚ Obviously, if this happens to you, do some tests first with a small amount, don’t just take my word for it. *Your* mileage vary vary greatly.

I must now get back to a piece that is slated for a show, due March 31st–hurry, hurry, hurry hard!!

 

plugged back in, part time

I’ve been reveling in the colours achieved, now that i “know the waters” here πŸ™‚

(All the purples, greens and reds have already gone to a great home.)

I’m working on a new batch of threads, in various weights and plies, as i am running low myself, and would like to offer them again in the shop.

I rejoined a local fibre group, one that while i really enjoyed on an artistic and intellectual level, felt i never personally “fit” in. To hell with that mind set, i am what i am, and if they look at me like i have a third nostril, so be it. If all goes well, i’ll be joining the group show in April (appropriately, themed “to evoke a sense of community, place-making, inclusivity and intention”) with this from 2011 as a starting point:

HA. Or so i thought. This is the ONE piece i can’t find in ANY box of UFO’s, bits, nada, nuttin’ zip, zero, zilch. I *know* i didn’t throw it out during the move because i still see the potential it has–and yes, i really did toss some unfinished pieces in the trash, because i knew i would NEVER finish them, but this decidedly was not one of them.

SO. The deadline for this show is March 31st. Of course it is, because if i could find the above piece, i’d have somehow been working for a show with a further away deadline. You now how it goes πŸ™‚ (That’s called Magical Thinking.) Because i have to start from scratch, i have 50 days to get cracking, and finish. And there’s no guarantee i will get in either, so it could just be an exercise in time management….

This is my base fabric:

See the face?

This is the sketch i’m working from (OLD and used in many ways since it’s inception in 2014):

These are my colours:

I may switch out the peachy toned one for a duller yellow, a rhubarb root dyed piece.

I know too that the pieces i have of these are not all long enough, so will have to re-invent the wheel maybe to get the effect i need.

 

It’s also going to be a good while until i can show you the “finally” set up studio–we have to re-drywall, move electrical boxes and lights, paint, and figure out storage configuration, so suffice it to say, i have enough room to work, but have to still move piles, or dig to find things.Β  It’s been a lesson in “clean up as you go, and organize as you store”!

 

blobbing along

Whew, Mothers Day WEEK is over. If you’re in the plants and floral industry, it ain’t just one day that ya bust yer ass for!

I managed to finish, except for turning the edges, the second piece (#5).

The leaf really rises above the surface, due to the tension of the stitch, so i’m going to pad it out more to keep that dimension.

Now i’m onto another, the #7, though not the 7th piece i’ve worked on. πŸ™‚

I used a copper modifier again, as this is to be “similar” to #5, and added a few circles this time. They are barely readable in the photo above, but will be worked with/around and more evident when the stitching is done.

The “plan”:

#1 was done first.

The piecing of the diamonds is sometimes frustrating as i get them sewn backwards, sideways and upside down, and have to take them apart or start all over! The stitching is mindless/”mindful”, something i can easily do during tubage, slow moments or waiting for laundry to dry, ha. All the other pieces are very small, so i might NOT piece diamonds for them, or i may go full tilt and make tinier diamonds…….

The “biggest”, most intense part of the project is actually the Crone, the most important component of all, and then the final stitching of spirals over the blobs, and on the background. She is smaller than figures i’ve worked this way before, and i’m hoping the delicacy won’t be an issue. So technically, i’m further along than i thought.

Next time i do a piece like this, all the diamond blobs will be pieced first, so i can switch amongst them to keep the flow going, rather than cut one, piece one, stitch one…………

Crone progress

Still working on this, albeit very very slowly! Obviously the redder piece is going to need a bigger turn under (or trim) than i thought.

The “loosely based on a eucalyptus” leaf didn’t sing toΒ  me, until i added the copper mix beads:

Today should enable finishing the few remaining areas in the diamonds.

The rest of the week will see little studio or stitch corner work done: it’s Mother’s Day week at the ffffFlower Mines, and already i’m tired!

part 2, of many

Not going to show you the aborted and horrifying first attempt for the euc leaf on the second section πŸ™‚ I decided to keep that part simple instead and embroider on the section itself.

Just as well, because the text would be problematic to do over the edges of an applied piece. I’m not necessarily for taking the easy way out, but i think i made the right choice here. I’m also not sure i need to add the text at all. Or maybe i add it elsewhere on the piece as a whole. Or at the very least, part of it could become the name of the piece!

I did learn two new stitches though!

The walnut thread is the Pekinese stitch, something i’d love to do as a massed line/shape, and with my anchor stitches smaller. The paler colours (osage and sandalwood) are a woven cross stitch. That second one should be done with a heavier thread to show the effect, but i’m also convinced that it’s just easier to do it as a small weaving if you want more “legs” than the basic stitch has, rather than the awkwardness of trying to go through the same holes and lay threads flat enough to give the shape to it! The basic tute is on Sharon B’s Pintangle, though i went from my stitch bible, Jacqueline Enthoven’s “The Stitches of Creative Embroidery”. You can’t see the extra legs i did though because the silk thread is so fine. Nice lustre, but no definition!

The Pekinese stitch is good for the leaf, though in its new incarnation. Textural, and with the walnut thread and judicious use of paler earth tones, a good almost bas-relief translation of the original sketch. I’ll blend in the lighter threads so they are not so “liney” :), and finish filling in the diamonds as well. The whole when attached to the backing, won’t be as pointy either!

 

 

 

don’t set it in stone

I’m not sure who snuck into my studio the day i pieced this section and made it a different shape than “the plan”.Β  Doesn’t matter though, a plan is just a piece of paper, the work is what counts.

As i worked this, i also wondered if i had made myself extra work by piecing it first: does it matter that it’s many sections? Could i have done it as one piece which would have necessitated more marking, so maybe the same or more work to begin with anyways? From a distance, the diamonds don’t register as separate chunks. Would i feel as gratified if i had used one larger piece, that might have been closer to the original shape?

Does it make any difference in the end? If i had left the diamond shapes obvious around the edges, as i did this piece, maybe. Something to consider for future work. Should square pegs be forced into round holes? Reminds me of some ecoprint work that is COVERED in embroidery–well, now you can’t see the ecoprint, so wtf was the point of using it? Work with something, not against or despite it.

I could do this again, with smaller pieces and see if the rougher edges work. Mock up first, before i commit.

PS My quebracho rojo threads ran out, so i also used madder post modified with iron, dark cochineal, and a qr overdyed on bad lichen ( πŸ™‚ )

first stitches, mixing it up

I continue to study the embroidery stitches used on Central Asian textiles, but the other day while consulting Dr Google, i found this:

(Source, sold item on eBay) This is actually Swedish Huck “weaving”, a form of counted thread embroidery primarily used on household linens. Some of it looks very intricate, but is actually wonderful combinations of colour and simple line. (TIP: search huck weaving, rather than huck stitch.) Since the primary reason for looking at the CA embroideries was to learn new stitches, and new approaches, this still ties in nicely with expanding the repertoire.

I found it best to attempt it by first marking out some lines on my diamonds, because there are no threads visible for counting spaces, as there is on linen and other fabrics with this type of weave. You can see from this stitch diagram, that the lines and counting are spaced very evenly, but offset so there’s a “brick” patterning in that area.

Too, the long floats of the cotton thread used traditionally are a bit heavier, resulting in those lovely curves.

HA! because it isn’t a fabric that can have threads counted, oh my. Not quite as elegant as the above example, but i do do do like it, uneven-ness, angles and all. One can’t work perfectly, because only the Gawdz/Gawddessez are allowed perfection πŸ™‚ I want these sections to be less “obvious”, decorated, enhanced, so i chose instead to use a toning thread, quebracho rojo on the madder background, and will switch to deep cochineal when i run out of the qr. (Time for a big dye session again, running low on a few colours!) Even though it’s a silk, which you would think would give sinuous curves to the longer stitches/floats, it’s too fine to give that lay to the thread.

Thank goodness for washable markers, or this would be a horrendous mess πŸ™‚

 

 

no such thing as imperfect

It’s like gardening. You have to think of what will come up from fertile ground. The roots don’t show at all, there’s no movement of leaves, no budding of branches where birds rest, no twining of tendril or bloom tipping to sun. What colours will stay true, which will devolve/evolve/resolve to basic rainbow?

β€œAnd don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.

It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.”

-Rumi

No more tears or tears.