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!!


laughing at myself

First project of the year, a little test for scale, motifs, use, this needle book is for me.

5×4″, indigo, madder, cochineal, tansy, osage, sandalwood, quebracho rojo, linen, cotton, silk, naturally dyed “*orts”, beads. I won’t show you the inside: apparently some 4 year old snuck into the studio and worked that part! πŸ™‚

I had grand plans for this little work, thinking i could make multiples and offer them in my shop, enticing people with price and portability. HA! If i actually charged what that *should* be, no one would pay the price. A common problem many makers have, either inadvertently, or deliberately, is actually pricing the true value/worth an object has cost in terms of time, skill, design and materials, assembly, and in my case, the dyeing of cloth and threads, and hopefully a small markup for profit. This Thing took the same amount of time and work as one of my larger moon pieces! Would *you* buy a $100 needle book? Nope, me neither.

At least i know my new indigo vat is working though and i *did* cull some ideas for other work from the making and thinking time!

*Orts are the left over short ends of threads (or teeny weeny scraps of fabric) used in other projects.

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.”


No more tears or tears.

gah, winter is here

Really, we have had very little autumn this year!

Good thing i collected the last of the oak leaves yesterday! Hopefully we will have a melt because i still want leaves from the cottonwood/poplars.

Today, i’ve filled up the bird feeder, put out their suet blocks, and shaken some apples off the tree for the deer and squirrels. Part of the tracks in that snowy photo are the deer wandering through the patio area πŸ™‚ I’ll shake the snow off those bowed down raspberries, because the deer love them too! I’ve already been out getting it off that crabapple so it doesn’t snap the power line to the garage. And the dog can’t make up her tiny little mind if she wants to come in, so she can have a towel rubdown, or go out so she can come in—- for a towel rubdown. πŸ™‚ I think we’re up to a foot now…….

It’ll be a good day to stay in and play with post mordants and modifiers for the oak leaf experiments!



just a day

Here’s proof that pink calms dragons as well πŸ™‚ He then flew onto my shoulder to say hello, before he went off on business.

How can one ignore inspiration from one’s own garden? It wasn’t just the yellow shouting of these Ligularia flowers, it was the indigo shadows underneath as well, due in part to the smoke still hanging here.

“Ain’t no sunshine”

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
It’s not warm when she’s away
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And she’s always gone too long
Anytime she goes away
Wonder this time where she’s gone
Wonder if she’s gone to stay
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away
None here, because there’s so much smoke again from BC and California!!!!!!
Normally at this time of year, i’d be using tansy or goldenrod, gathered locally, for base yellows, but for whatever reason, this season again, the tansy gave very poor results, and the goldenrod is so stingy mingy stunted in our climate that i always feel guilty gathering any. I miss the big beautiful bounteous ones from Ontario and the East!
So, since the objective was to make some gold for making green πŸ™‚ , i dug out the Osage and had some sun fun with it.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine….”

cooking with noxious weed control

Just doing my bit to keep invasives from taking over πŸ™‚ Tansy, oh Tansy, i love you, but you’re considered “noxious” here in Alberta. And YES, i get that invasive/non-native weeds plants can be a serious problem. I’m a Nature Girl, but the best Nature is, well, Natural, not “introduced”.

Okay, really, to me, a weed is something that grows in my garden that isn’t edible and/or pretty. I let the purslane and amaranthus go crazy, the millet seeded from the bird feeder, the bindweed in the lawn, the dandilions even. Control is maintained by mowing the Back40 often enough, but not MEGA SHORT (cause AΒ  that’s ugly and B bad practice), so our little nasties there are never taller than 3″. We have a milkweed growing by the side fence where no other garden is, and guard it jealously, as the bees love it, as do other pollinators, and hope and pray that one day, some day we have visits from Monarch butterflies. I don’t think i’ve seen one since i was a child in mid-western Ontario, many many moons ago.

(I should finish this, from 2012…)

BUT, Tansy is really really prevalent here, so i’m ambivalent about the growth, and the destruction of it, as the city and the province would like us to do. On the fence actually, because i cut their pretty little yellow heads off so they can’t set anymore seed, BUT they also reproduce easily from a rhizomatous root. However, because they are so ubiquitous here, i feel no compunction in bringing home bags and bags and bags of decapitated Tanacetum vulgare, to throw in the dyepot fresh, and to dry for future use. The colourfastness is classified as “good””, and with proper mordanting, i don’t worry about its longevity. (Note though, the longest lasting natural yellow is Weld, an ancient–and spendy–dye. Can’t grow my own because it too is a No No here in Alberta.)

Too, yellow is the most scopic of all natural dye plants, from a multitude of sources, some light and wash fast, some not so much. It is however, if you remember your primary mixing of colour, a good base for oranges (think corals and peaches, not pumpkins πŸ™‚ ), greens (teal! emerald!) and browns (chocolate chocolate chocolate!). The photo i showed here is the reason i picked much of this, and plan on stockpiling fibres as bases for overdyeing. I didn’t get *quite* the greens i wanted, but will keep trying.

Tansy on bamboo above overdyed (obviously) with indigo.Β  I’m going to try again with cotton (because i’m out of the bamboo) that took up a load of oxidized tannin, as the yellow uptake was quite strong.

There were more greens in the shibori samples below, but the indigo is now weak, and needs reviving. Ah, to find that happy balance. The tansy dyed cotton was post modifed in, top to bottom soda ash, iron and copper before the indigo dip.

I need to find a disappearing type of marker as well. Even after the “finishing” of these pieces, the pencil i used is still visible, okay for samples, but not for actual work.


And i also want to do this again!