Friday, 13 December 2013

It's Christmas!

Well, it must be because I'm posting here!  It's been a few months. It's not as if I haven't been creating things during that time, but I got a bit tied up with the other things I contribute to - the Fibrecircle blog, the SCQuilters blog, the ATASDA NSW blog FibreTribe and the ATASDA web page. So my own blog has fallen behind. I think I need to manage my time a little better!

OK, so what have I been doing? I've dyed stuff - scarves, socks, aprons, quilters' muslin, kids' tees - with fibre reactive dyes. I've eco-dyed some stuff, with the usual surprising results. I've used discharge paste.

This scarf was painted and dyed over several sessions, to build up the colour.

This one was dyed dark and discharged. As usual, the results were unexpected.  It's very Goth - kind of Midnight Roses - with a lot of pattern and texture.

Brush Box bark, Ironbark leaves and Eucalyptus cinerea leaves went into the making of this one.
Here's a detail shot of it. Luscious colour that doesn't seem to be typical of my eco-dyeing.

And this one was also eco-dyed, in Ironbark bark. It's picked up this gorgeous subtle colouring, including the crackle pattern.
And here's the detail shot...

There have been others but I don't want to bore you. Some have sold and some, I suspect, only a mother could love, which is where over-dyeing and discharging can work their magic. Sometimes, the least promising ones at the beginning turn out astounding by the end.
I'm in the process of setting up an Etsy shop, so I hope to have some stuff listed for sale soon. I'll add the link here, when I do, just in case someone actually wants to buy something! But really, when it comes down to it, I guess I'm doing all this for the fun of it.

Happy Christmas and see you in the New Year!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

SCQuilters Virtual Quilt Show

In one of my many other lives, I'm a moderator for the big Southern Cross Quilters Yahoogroup. SCQuilters has a fairly basic blog, as well as the Yahoogroup, the smaller spin-off Yahoogroups and the real world activities like local meetings and Retreats.

On the blog, we've just begun holding a Virtual Quilt Show for our members. Members are seding in images of their quilt that they're most fond of, with some words about it. You can check the blog out here or just the Virtual Quilt Show here.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Winter blues

Just recently, I remembered why I'm not keen on winter. Can't be doing with cold weather - it seem to get right into my bones.

The one thing I really like about winter is that I get the urge to knit. When Jennie visited in June, she was knitting this scarf using short rows, which results in beautiful triangles. I got quite excited, because I haven't knitted anything with short rows for ages. So I tried out the technique on some variegated yarn I had left over from another project.

Of course, I didn't have enough of it for a scarf but it made a beautiful piece of cloth, which will get used for something, sometime.

Then I started thinking, "what if?" My first "what if?" was using short rows to make diamonds along the centre of the knitting. I knitted the initial triangle, but then, after the next triangle, I slipped stitches to the centre and knitted a double-sided version, for the centre diamond. Then I slip stitched to the end and knitted the second side triangle. It worked as I imagined but I wasn't thrilled with the results. The join between the changes in direction was much more pronounced, perhaps because there's a lot more distortion in the knitting and therefore tension on the stitches. If I used textured yarn, that probably wouldn't be as obvious, but I found the process quite tedious. It's not exciting enough to show in a picture.

My second "what if"? was to change the stitches. Obviously, a scarf needs to be double-sided, so the pattern uses garter stitch. The interest is in the changes in the direction of the rows and the variegated yarn. I tried a rib with a dropped stitch pattern in one triangle, doing it both sides of the knitting, and that worked very well.

I was using leftover plain knitting yarn as a test swatch, so I could see the effect, and I think it would even work like this as a scarf, without using a fancy yarn.  But it would be even more interesting in a variegated yarn, though the pattern would be lost (and difficult to achieve) with a textured or fluffy yarn.

All this is really procrastination. My next project is a vest for the man in my life, to be knitted in Bendigo Woollen Mills 5-ply Classic, but it requires some fiddling around to get the pattern right. I guess I'll bite the bullet this week and do the planning...

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Craft & Quilt Fair, Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour was fascinating, as always. An amazing array of 400+quilts, at an incredible standard of work. The prizewinning quilts can be seen on the guild website, as always - they are very prompt at getting up a virtual quilt show of the winning quilts. The best of show, Rings and Roses, is a real show-stopper - a Double Wedding Ring quilt with a sort of colourwash effect in the rings, hand pieced and appliqued, hand quilted with trapunto. I have never seen so many ribbons on the show winner! The Narelle Grieve Award for Excellence in Amateur Hand Quilting, Best Traditional Hand Quilted, judge Kay Haerland's personal choice and the Hangers' Prize.

It was pushed to second in the Viewers' Choice by a very powerful quilt, Soldier On by Lucy Carroll, which also won first prize for a Pictorial Quilt. made in support of a military charity, it shows a wall of poppies leading to a doorway through which two soldiers are disappearing into the light. A remarkable piece of work.

The other prize winning quilts are also very special. One that spoke to me was Flower Songs II, by Eileen Campbell. There's so much to say about this quilt, as there usually is about really great quilts. I was struck by the way she didn't use a dark background on the upper right hand flowers, as a less experienced quilter (like me!) might have done. I liked the way she unified the three flower motifs with the delicate chain of flowers meandering across the face of the quilt, in a way that looked accidental, not overplanned. And I especially liked the quilting, which, in between the flowers, was detailed, exquisite renditions of flowers and butterflies, with very judicious use of coloured thread. It left me gobsmacked.

Among other quilts that appealed to me was In a Crazy Flap by Rae Cashman, machine quilted by Jo-Ann Phillips, which was a redwork quilt using images of flappers from the 1920s. Beautifully done and a lot of fun! Helen Godden's Zen Magpies also blew me away. I must admit to being a secret Helen groupie - I don't think I've ever seen a quilt by her that I didn't love. Two magpies, one in full song, gaze into the sky, which was rendered in a huge swirl of quilted patterns. My catalogue tells me she used more than a 100 different designs. It really has a sense of joy about it.

And I liked The Pleasure of Piecing, by Mercedes Forbes, machine quilted by Sue Rowles. It was inspired by a quilt in the Powerhouse Museum collection, I suspect possibly these blocks in an unfinished quilt. The Powerhouse also has these similar blocks. Mercedes' colour choices were a little softer and I think she used the same fabric, or similar fabrics, in the triangles where the block sashing meets. I liked her colour choices and I liked the block, which seems to be a colour variation of #264 in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, with the sashing as an extra feature. The block was called, somewhat unimaginatively, The Pinwheel, in the Kansas City Star, where it appeared in 1934, a century after the Powerhouse blocks were made.

It was pretty obvious that the trend to reproduction quilts has not really waned yet, though it was interesting to see quite a few pieced quilts in what could be called "country colours", that wouldn't have been out of place in a quilt show fifteen years ago. There were also some quilts in the "modern quilt" aesthetic - very light or white backgrounds, with greyed colour tones in the distinctive colourways. It's always interesting to watch these changing ideas in the quilting world, as new concepts about quilting are added to the quilters' lexicon.

You may remember that I was also involved in the ATASDA exhibition and sale. The display looked great and generated a lot of positive comments from people, especially about the "industrial" theme, with gave a modern and little bit edgy feel to the textile works on display. I manned the stand on Thursday afternoon, chatting to people who came through. It was a lot of fun. Some of my dyed socks and scarves sold too, which was a bonus.

I felt that, overall, the show numbers were down during the week, compared to past years. It will be interesting to see how things go next year, in a different venue.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Darling Harbour Craft and Quilt Fair

Here are some of my pretty things that will be on display and for sale at the ATASDA stand at the Craft and Quilt Fair at Darling Harbour this week.

Silk scarves...

... bags from break down printed cloth...

...hand dyed adults' and kids' socks...

...and our special hand-dyed reusable gift bags, that let you save a tree and make the wrapping part of your present.

ATASDA will have a wonderful range of textile art works to see and buy, and artists will be demonstrating all kinds of amazing techniques morning and afternoon.

I'll be on the stand on Thursday afternoon, Why not come by and say hello?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Some new scarves

Just a quick update on some scarves I've dyed in the last month.

Well, "in the past month" is a misnomer for some of these, which I started last year. This one was begun in July last year, when it was tied with string and dyed in a pot of ironbark bark. The result was a bit grey and boring so I wrapped it around some galvanised washers and redyed it in wattle flowers. The flowers were a bit less yellow than I'd hoped, though it did liven it up. But not enough, so I overdyed it with a pink-orange and yellow. Now I like it!
This one was also dyed midyear, with blocks tied on it, in a wattle flower bath. The result was the dreaded fawn, so I tied some teardrop-shaped wooden beads into the ends with cotton thread and redyed it in a bath  of Samoan hardwood sawdust. It gave a stronger pattern but it was quite dark. So I overdyed it with yellow dye, to lift the pattern.

This one was also dyed naturally, with diamond blocks in a bath of Eucalyptus cinerea, which gave me a pale orange and white scarf. I thought it could look better, so I overdyed it with turquoise fibre reactive dye, which brought out the angular pattern more strongly.
This one had some unknown gum leaves clamped on it with blocks and was dyed in the Eucalyptus cinerea pot. The leaves did very little other than add muted texture to the pale orange of the scarf. It was a bit lacking in excitement so I overdyed it with fibre reactive dye in a mixture of warm colours. It livened it up a  but but emphasised the dark pattern from the leaves. I think it may need some block printing or something to strengthen the ends and make them look a bit less brown.

This one is a silk tissue length, which was dyed pale blue in the waste water bucket. Then I twisted it back on itself and overdyed it with dark blue and purple. It's very delicate and pretty!
These two seem positively simple by comparison. This silk habotai scarf was dyed with a mixture of two greens, yellow and turquoise.
This silk tissue scarf was dyed in the waste water bucket, over the course of a dyeing session, as an experiment. I took it out several times and retied it differently, so it picked up the changing colour in different ways.
The interesting thing about these is that I sold them almost immediately to family members. I've never had scarves disappear so quickly!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Pleased as Punch!

I wonder where that expression comes from? Punch and Judy, I guess, so maybe I'm not that pleased! But I am pretty happy. You see, I sold some stuff. OK, selling stuff is always good but it's more the who than the actual selling. The Fibrecircle group rarely shows work at ATASDA, although we are all members, so we decided to take a table at the March meeting to show, and maybe sell, some of the things we make. We were completely blown away by the positive response from other members. Remember, these are people who "make stuff" themselves, and they are very textile-savvy people. So it was brilliant to get such a great reaction and, yes, to sell things to this market.

So what have I been making lately? Most of my energy (read:lethargy), post-Christmas, has gone into making a bag for the Fibrecircle challenge. We each chose four paint chip cards, sight unseen, and we had to make something larger than a postcard, using only those four colours. It's something that quilters often do, to challenge themselves, but I haven't seen it done much among textile artists.

My paint chips looked like this:
I think I was very lucky in my selection. My only reservation was that they might be difficult colours to match, so I might find it hard to get materials together. My dyeing skills are coming along apace, but I'm not yet at the point where I can dye a specific shade with 100% confidence. I scoured my whole stash, fabrics, yarns, threads of all kinds, and assembled a bundle of things in the colour range.

Strangely, the colour I thought would be hardest to match, the rusty red, was easiest! Turned out, I made my daughter a corduroy pinafore (for US readers, a jumper) in the exact colour, back when she was about ten, and I had quite a few remnants left over. This is more than twenty years ago, so I guess this means it's pretty much vintage fabric now? 

The turquoise was also fairly easy to match and, as well as a stash quilting cotton, I was able to dye some cotton fabric. The difficult shade was the green. In the interest of finishing this bag before I died of old age, I decided to hand embroider my corduroy fabric, since threads are easier to match. Hand embroidery also suited my January energy levels. I drew designs inspired by Jacobean embroidery freehand onto the cloth with chalk. Here's how it looked with the embroidery mostly done.
Once the embroidery was done, there was the usual modular assembly. I'm not sure I've talked about that specifically before, so I'll add a how-to shortly.

I interlined the bag with Shapewell interfacing and the flaps with a heavy Pellon material, like thin Timtex. The top zipper was from my extensive zipper stash, coloured to match the red fabric, but I found I needed to buy the turquoise zipper for the front pocket.

It's wasn't quite finished by the due date,because I could only buy gold D rings and I found I had only silver rivets left. That being remedied, here it is:
Isn't it purty?
Off to do some dyeing now! I have been dyeing a stack of stuff, which I'll share next time.