when it rains, make rainbows

Our grass is greening as it rains, and things are finally popping up, all delphinium-y and cranesbill-ish and rhubarb-ian, so i’m in the dye pots making colour too!

In the shop!


Ujamaa score!

Have you ever heard of the Ujamaa Gramma’s? A Calgary, Alberta (Canada) initiative, they do massive work to help support a very worthy cause and solution.

Approximately 14.8 million children under 18 have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In many African countries, 40 to 60 percent of these children now live in grandmother-headed households.

As part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, UJAMAA GRANDMAS works to raise awareness for these tens of thousands of African grandmothers who are struggling to raise their orphaned grandchildren.

Since 2004, this dedicated local group of (mostly) women has raised a lot of money for the Foundation through an annual stash busting sale: donations of anything textile related from the surrounding area crams an entire large church basement, and people eagerly and happily wait in line for up to 2 hours to get in. (Gotta follow fire code regulations for occupancy!) It sounds like small potatoes in a way, but when you realize that the dollar bags of threads, the fabrics at a dollar a metre (except for higher priced quilting items, still a grand deal though!), yarns, notions, crafting supplies, tools, books and patterns raised $42,000 last year alone, that’s a lot of metres and miles of yarn and threads!

(With no way to snap pics as i was shopping,Β  i “borrowed” these from the FaceBook site) Imagine these spaces with huge knots of gridlocked shoppers too! What you don’t see, is all the little side and back rooms crammed with stuff as well.

Last year, i spent the magnificent sum of 37.00, this year a mere 12.00–not because i couldn’t find anything, but because A. i was overwhelmed by the amount offered, B. overwhelmed by the number of people and C. (unfortunately) overwhelmed by all of the perfume! I also had a specific list this year, and finding alternatives to items on that list was not a Thing. (Part of both those amounts included a $2 dollar admission fee, and a small “keep the change” donation as well.)

I bought 3 bags of embroidery threads at a dollar a bag–and even with some of them being short ends, i figure i saved at least 96bucks, by not buying “new” or from a retail operation. I fooled myself again, and do this frequently–i always get excited by the look of the “variegated” threads in the bag, which always turn out to be specific colours knotted together for someone else’s defunct/fuhgeddaboudit projects πŸ™‚ You’d think i’d be more on the ball by now, but no-ooo-oo-ooo. Quite happy regardless! Some of the colours that i won’t likely use will be for overdyeing, so not a waste at all!

Edit next day: Untwangled everything, and discovered i have 102 skeins, counting some of the shorts as one—that works out to a wee bit less than 3cents per!

A bag of tassels for a buck:

A Maggie Grey, and a Jan Beaney/Jean Littlejohn, both hardcovers, both a measly 1buck each:

(The Beaney/Littlejohn book is signed by Beaney, but so what? πŸ˜‰ )

Another (small) bag of threads for dyeing:

I say “small” because i COULD have crammed the bag full with three times this amount, and still have been charged only a buck!

Lace bits for a dollar:

One chunk of fabric i want to cut into small bits and play with, again only a dollar:


And my best score to date. As we stood in line to get in, we noticed there was sidewalk length of “free items”, mostly weaving frames, tapestry frames, and a few tapestry/embroidery stands. I poohpoohed the idea that i “needed” any of it. However, since i finished an hour before my friend Susan whom i’d gone with, i was sitting on the bench outside and thought “Hmmmmm…” So i pulled a stand over by my sit spot and looked at it, sneaking glances out of the corner of my eye, hoping it wouldn’t bond with me. When Susan came out, she reminded me that it’s FREE, sensibly mentioned that it’s wood so i could burn it if i didn’t need it and give the metal attachmenterthings to the Greyman, and that if it was semi wobbly, Greyman could fix it, and reminded me again that it’s FREE. How can i argue with that logic?

Never mind the mess behind–it’s “creative exploration” πŸ™‚

I did a bit of research this morning, and the closest model i could find online sells for $195US (PLUS the shipping of course). Miss Susan was correct in her logic therefore.


Jam Day Ecoprintingpalooza

Friends and i have been planning and hoping to get together for literally months to have a play day! All of us of course have busy lives, but finally on the 27th, we were able to commit all at the same time, to the 29th of January.

Lyn has a wonderful second story studio set up, waaaaaaaaaaay out by the mountains!

With oodles of materials to work with from rose to cherry, sumac and grevillea, onion and maple, marigold flowers, rose petals, turmeric, something like sliced betel nut, privet berries and oak, eucalyptus, osage curlings, well, you name it–if it was scavenged locally, buyable or shared, we had a plethora of materials to choose from. Almost overwhelmingly so! We also shared pre-mordanted fabrics, and lots of discussion and tips about various methods and techniques.

We had a pot of onion skins going for one bath, and a pot of superstrong Lac as well.

I had a difficult time choosing, soΒ  i stuck to the “tried and true’s” of maple, oak, grevillea, euc and osage, with experimental hints of privet berry, rose petal, the almost betel nut, amaryllis and rowan. (Note, the privet berries give a nice green dye, but do NOT print at all….) Lyn generously shared a long strip of viscose (?) scarf (commercially dyed, and un-mordanted) that we first soaked in vinegar (NOT A MORDANT, but a modifier/Ph adjuster), and then layered with plant materials, with me adding a strip of previously logwood dyed silk in between. I had gone out for a bit of fresh air at one point and picked some fresh fir, tearing it into little pieces and putting that between the layers, with a bit of euc also.

!!!! When this was wet, we couldn’t decide if there was a definite imprint, thinking perhaps it was just an “embossing” effect as the viscose was thicker than most cottons and silks, but yup, fir and euc did the job and discharged just enough to make it interesting. First photo below, un-pressed, second pressed:

(To see more details, all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.) Part of the effect i think is that some of the logwood “transferred” to the viscose, as evidenced by the darker colour. Even so, i think i’m going to discharge this whole piece, and try again. I might even add a crocheted or needlelace edging after so i can wear it as a scarf.

And look what it did to the logwood silk!!!


We tried some of the haremcloth as well. Lyn got crisp results, mine not so much, but i think mine was too loose a bundle.

I love this green from the onion bath, very atmospheric and reminding me of an old Arthur Rackham illustration.

Great colour on this one from the lac, but the maple, euc and osage is barely visible, except as a contrasting yellow:


Blah, but i like the string patterning, always my favourite part, and usually strong even on failed pieces:



I wish i had a shot of one of Susan’s pieces–she has used alum acetate with a chalking after (mordanting procedure for cellulose fibres) , something i have pooh-poohed as a step i didn’t “need” to do πŸ™‚Β  However, it definitely made the colours from the leaves and dyes bond better, with maple leaves showing such incredible detail and colour range that you would believe it had been painted by a VERY skilled artist.

These two pieces are the ones though that really made me SQUEAL.

Above, euc, oak and osage on cotton, with lac. Below, euc, oak and osage on previously logwood dyed cotton, in lac.

Obvious to me is that pre-mordanting properly can make a major difference. Click on the photos to see the full glory πŸ™‚

I still have one bundle cooking right now, as it missed getting into either pot, so maybe another surprise or two.

(And alas i don’t have a lot of in situ shots, or pics of Susan and Lyn’s results–oh some were to die for!!– as i forgot to put the chip in the big camera, and had to use my phone. And most of those were blurry ’cause i was so excited πŸ™‚ )

I do believe i could get excited about ecoprinting again. I’m still in “Epiphany” mode though, so taking more time for reflection and doing, rather than showing and sharing here.


You may, or may not(!),Β  notice that i have disabled the “like” button on posts, starting with Jan 21st of this year. It’s starting to feel like FB where people “react”, but never actually say anything. Blogging is about interaction, and as guilty as i myself am sometimes for doing that, i’m feeling if i *do* “like” something, it might be is helpful, encouraging or validating to someone to actually SAY what i mean. Trying to change that habit myself!

harem cloth notes

I’ve had harem cloth, a type of cotton, in the stash since waaaay back when i took one of Jude Hill’s classes (2010?), on her recommendation as a “base”. Gauzy, lightweight and infinitely malleable for many techniques, it’s usually been relegated in my studio to hand dyed overlays to build colour, test stitches (predominantly machine), and much went into indigo baths. I found it much too diaphanous however, to use as a batting/background in *my* opinion, for my work, stitching that requires some Meat to hold to, build the dimension and accent texture.

(Image courtesy of Dharma, where i bought the fabric.)


For the most part, i figured it was too “lazy” a fabric to use much, usually just lying there all wan, frail and languishing, trying to pretend it’s a pale Rossetti maiden. It *does* take dyes beautifully though, and shibori tie/stitch works well because it’s sheer/filmy, but beyond the figures on “Tabula Memoria”, it never got centre stage.

But i DID use it obviously and since i’ve gone through almost 20 yards, with only a yard left, figured it was time to re-order. Β  The new batch that arrived in December is even more delicate! That sparked some new ideas though, because it is exquisite in its ethereal transparency! (Of course, i have no doubt that spectacular work can/will be done with the TEN yards i bought, and when/if i re-order to make more Wonder, the quality will be different again…..)

Now, as those of you who have ecoprinted with sheer fabrics know, that transparency usually means the images aren’t that visible unless laid over something else. I gave up on 5mm silk a long time ago because of that, going to at least a 12, but am wondering what effect natural dyes will have on such a rarefied weight of cotton. Before you get all squiffy, i *know* the colour won’t make it more solid, but am wondering about light play, (un)even-ness, colour striking and possible patterning. Actually, i want it to be a bit uneven, imperfect, but i don’t want it splodgy and poorly done either. I still want that otherworldly appearance.

BOTHER. Well, ya gotta laugh at yerself sometimes, doncha? I wanted to stick a video clip of Tom Hulce as Amadeus (Mozart), laughing here, but it would just be too cruel to subject you to more than one clip πŸ™‚

I wrote all that before i washed the fabric. It’s the same. It all still applies though.

Guess i better experiment.

letting the hands have their way, though not feeling very handish….

Just stitching. Red scrap salvaged from student scrap box at ACAD. I even left the dart in πŸ™‚

For the need of it.

Β New wallet!


For the sake of it. Naturally dyed threads:

For the potential, new work component:

All she will have is the honeycombs, i think.


For the nostalgia, old project picked up again (“A Stone’s Throw from the Midnight Lake”), stitching started 2009:

hand and centre ripped out in 2012, going to rip out the heavy leaves at bottom right as well, and the beads in the centre:

Started with embroidery again this past week. And yup, i’m hiding the machined lines with hand embroidery, not that i think it’s bad or not valid, just because i can, and like the heavier/more textural look with hand embroidery. Mixing naturally dyed with the commercially dyed as well, ’cause colour is colour. (And what a ridiculous time frame for such a small piece…. 15.5×23.5″)

I’m thinking an indigo moon might work in that centre? A face?Β  A tree? Mmmm, tree.

Β For the possibility, new work, sample, done enough to think about:


Idea to be incorporated in piece with the lace figure.


For the practice, keeping the hand in.


It’s that Magical Thinking time of the year again. We don’t worry about it, each day, each year much the same (safe, warm, employed, happily married and parenting animals, no drama), but if that turn of a calendar page does something for you, enjoy it. See ya on the flip side.


circus bird

That’s me, just home from “my stylist” (hear that swoony yet snotty accent? πŸ™‚ ). I’m not sure if it’s a circus tent top, or an exotic bird, but i LOVE it. Pink and blue over dark cherry.

For the record, i loathe selfies, so that’s all of me you’re going to see– the topping ,the brain, and the eyes.

The boss however may have a shit fit, but hey, it’s my hair, and hair grows. (I *mean* the boss too, not Greyman who likes this sort of thing, strangely and happily enough!)

i’m dyein’ here


There ARE plans for stitch coming, ideas developing as i dye the threads and fabrics i want to use.

Last night i tried a wee bit of overdyeing and some modifier experiments:

Left, osage dipped in cochineal, logwood dipped in osage–a lovely surprise as i’ve wanted this colour combination for the longest time! , then logwood and cochineal, and cochineal with soda ash, which didn’t deepen as purple as i thought it would. The two logwood overdyes have to have those ends dipped in some iron though to improve the lightfastness, so i wonder how much it will change, and if any will seep into the osage?