Category Archives: Jam Day

fifty shades of orange

HA!!!!!!!!!!! After 7 years and some grey hairs, i’m finally getting my “true” oranges in natural dyeing.

Annato powder used on several fibre types

Annatto results from 2010—-corrections for silk types added today— i was still learning about silk, as i’d never used it before in *anything*, believe it or not!

The “Way Back Machine” aka my own memory dredged these up, from the first few months of my natural dye experiments. I had Jenny Dean’s book “Wild Colour” (STILL my go-to bible for all things natural, along with her other books), but could find only Annatto powder in the “International” aisle of the local StoopidStore. It was cheap in one sense, i think 50cents for a package, but of course i look at the weight (10 gr!!!!), and wonder if it was “cut” too with any waste plant material, and understand why i had to use 3 packages of it to get the results above! Not so cheap after all, except in terms of colour depth.

Pale, but pretty, i still like these shades, but now that i’m getting more serious (ie FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS–though there’s always room for experimentation), i lucked into actual Annatto seeds, thanks to my local dye and textile friend, Susan, who got these for me. And the cost is pretty much the same per OUNCE! By the way, if you really really REALLY like orange shades, you can buy Annatto seeds on AliBaba by THE METRIC TON for a mere 700US.

I could see the difference the minute i added a miniscule amount of soda ash to the bath. I don’t even remember using this that wayback time.


Of course, cloth ALWAYS dries a lighter shade, but this bodes well.


And after an overnight soak (recommended, seeds left in, though they can be taken out also):

Above: threads, left top silk, left bottom overdyed pale grey silk, right cotton

Below, top previously madder dyed silk, bottom white silk:

Below, previously madder dyed cotton doily:

Below, the results all together:

Top left, gallnut extract pre-mordant, below unmordanted cotton, unmordanted silk. Top right, previously madder dyed cotton with matching doily, below previously madder and tansy dyed silk, bottom centre, unmordanted white cotton flannellette. Annatto doesn’t really “need” a mordant, but given the latest session of pre-mordanting craploads of cotton in readiness for Res 2017, i hucked a piece of gallnut extract mordanted cotton in as well, just to see if there was any difference.

MUCHLY better-er than 2010!!!!!!

I flung in two pieces of silk and some silk thread separately *after* the cotton was done, as different fibres have unique uptakes, and animal fibres grab the colour first. Best to take advantage of that after the cellulose fibres have had their turn–i figure it’s one way to “exhaust” the bath as well;) (Two separate baths if you want to do both in one session.) One piece had previously been dyed with madder over tansy, one was white and un-mordanted.

I plan on doing some other tests with various modifiers and post mordants as well, so who knows what shades i’ll get in the end? And some/most are slated for overdyeing with other colours.


EDIT: This dye material is INCREDIBLY POTENTLY STRONG. It immediately stained my stirrer, and at 3TBSP per 3L water, i’m pretty sure that next time, i’ll use much less, perhaps even “thirding” the amount of seeds to water. Of course i got a LOT of dyed fabric from this pot!!!!!! (I also did not cook and grind into a paste, as some do, as the seeds gave up their colour readily without a messy extra step. I suspect this was the influence of the soda ash–before i tossed that in, the seeds just laid sullenly at the bottom of the water, with no bleeding.) And sthere’s still a lot of colour left in the bath, so i’ll decant that into something dark and airtight, dry the seeds, and store all for the next use.


However, it can be used as a base for other colours, and if they are substantive, or more resistant to fading, can hold the colour better.

And note, supposedly, annatto used as a food colouring has been linked to certain childhood behaviour disorders, and can cause an anaphylactic reaction in some!!!! As always, just because it’s Natural, doesn’t mean it’s safe for Everyone.



me break stitching

Erm, not that i broke anything! I’m just giving myself a stitching break from the big work, by going back to a project started last summer.

Samara has been languishing for a good while: ennui, boredom, what-evering (not to be confused with what-if-ing….), lack of direction. I dumped some threads on her to see what would work.


Above, while i love the colours and the combo, too bright for this one. They are however being used on these little bits, destined for something else:


These are what i’ll use.

threads-second-choice-samara-cStill bright (ish), but more toned to her taste 🙂


Yesterday’s sampling with the indigo for/in/with hexes was heartening, but not ready to reveal that yet 🙂


Posted by on January 17, 2017 in in progress, Jam Day, Residency 2016, Samara


durings and afters






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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Days of Honey, ice dyeing, Jam Day


chasing rabbits

One of those “OMG Where’s my camera???” moments the other day: Greyman and i were coming home from the grocery run and as we passed one of the fields by the distillery, i saw three sets of long white ears with black tips, peeking above the grass like auricular scopes–RABBITS. Jack rabbits [White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii)] abound here (you should forgive the obvious pun), and often Nessie, the DogFaced Girl, winds up coil tight for a chase and has to sit abruptly when she is told to “WAIT”. (She’s not allowed to chase rabbits, deer, squirrels, cats, birds or cows.)

What more perfect for another moon series then? (Happily, all five of the “Leighton: Suite Blue” have gone to good homes!) Going through my stash turned up several small canvases, so the next little while will be spent on them. These new ones will be 8×10, in either a landscape or portrait orientation, depending on the rabbit that models.

This particular one was a bit picky to fit together, as i ‘d had to work around Cosmo, who was *not* going to give up the stoodio worktable! I have to completely re-work the right side of the moon as it turned out too large and more than a little wonky. Layouts with a pissed off kitty in the way are not the way to work, but my soft heart wouldn’t let me move him!


I just adore this little guy, done on ecoprinted, rusted and potassium permanganate dyed cotton! I’m not sure though if this should be “Rocky Mountain Rabbit Moon” or “Rocky Mountain Moon Rabbit”!

He also reminds me of this one deer, from December 2013:



Which reminds me, i think i have two more of these deer all laid out ready to put together……..I’d like to do a bit of a menagerie i think! I haven’t done any ecoprinting in a long while, so am low on those components, but on a nice long snowy walk with Nessie today, around Pearce Estate Park, i collected osier, red currant and goldenrod leaves.




Posted by on October 11, 2016 in Jam Day, Moons


lost on a moon

moon-oct-4Only a little more to do, including adding that flash of gold from rhubarb root dyed thread. These silks glow on the indigo cotton, and my flower loving side (i *am* in the business after all 🙂 ) is very happy with the prettiness. I say “lost” too, as in i am quite taken with the look and the progress, though i can’t wait to start on the middle sections!

It being the week leading to Canadian Thanksgiving, i shall have to snatch five minutes at a time when and where i can, so into my purse it goes. We’re also expecting snow, so i’m not sure how much stitch will be added on bus and train benches!


Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Indigo Dreams, Jam Day, Moons


a jam *and* jelly day

The Big Work is chugging very very slowly in the background, and i decided to show less of that as i go through the making. How many shots of two more inches done can i show and keep anyone but myself captivated? 🙂

In the meantime, i am playing with smaller pieces, no pressure, no grand plans, just embroidery for the sheer fun and joy of it, a Jam Day.

Wait until you see what’s going in the middle of this one though 🙂 (And sorry–REAL camera battery is charging, and phone camera is pain in the bazotski as usual…)

I’m also making grape jelly today, from 25 pounds of grapes i scored for a riDICULOUS price from a local gardener. And keeping me company is Mr SixToes (Cosmo), a good sign as he’s spent most of his time so far, under my stoodio table. He’s also quite a pig about food, so that’s another good sign that his mouth is healing nicely!



jelly-companionAnd Greyman is such a chicken. So far, he hasn’t told his mother that Cosmo is NOT coming back to her house. Instead we are “keeping him for a couple of weeks so he can get all his meds and check up properly.” She doesn’t deserve him, he’s MINE now, with his growly little meow and quiet ways.


Posted by on October 4, 2016 in Indigo Dreams, Jam Day, Moons, Not so ordinaries


still hexing in my mind

configurations C

ecoprint hexes b C

ecoprint hexes CAbove, a couple of years ago, i thought of making a small “traditional” “quilt” using these ecoprints. That went by the wayside and i did sell the pieces as packs, but i’m looking at things in a new light and getting excited about plans for work after the current piece is done.

Looking at older work sections as well, and loving the textures and soft colourways:

Haystack in progress 2010 C

Haystack in progress b 2010 c C

Haystack in progress b 2010 b CNow i admit, i “plan” a lot of work, get all dithered up, and then when it comes time, realize the idea is not ripe enough to work, or in execution does not please me after all. (A lot of that going on this year for me, for whatever reason….) Those plans get stuck on my work blog, sometimes re-appearing, sometimes cannabalized, but often dismissed and forgotten deliberately.

However…………this time, since i have been wanting to Return to the Machine, even if for only a bit, i can see my lovely new hex work done this way as well. Pulling together past work sometimes sparks new ideas that can be integrated into one piece. It’ll be abstract, rather than pictorial as most of my work has been recently, but it’s not always about the recognizable, the tangible object that gets my juices going.

As i was cleaning my stoodio yesterday, i found a leftover piece from “The Difference Between a Plum”— and look:


Now i see hexes used in this colourway and feel:



Soluble lace, machine work, hand stitch, shapes, woven sections (thanks to Jude for that wonderful class), natural dyes and soft colours. Of course, nothing can happen until the current piece is done for the Aug 28 deadline!

But, this one could be, will be, next.

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Posted by on August 14, 2016 in a collusion of ideas, Jam Day