Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Darkness Visible

Adding a bit of black to a quilt can give it dimension, depth, mystery-- the list is long and I always look for a really true black when I go shopping since that is hard to dye. But I would love to try this new black in a quilt:

Beyond Black: Scientists Invent the World's Darkest Material - The Takeaway

I doubt my fabric budget would allow it, however.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sunny Days

The warm sunny days we were having last week whispered to me that I should be setting up my wet studio in the basement--and so I began to do some experimenting while I was deciding logical places for all the paraphernalia I had brought along from PA. Many of my experiments could not be placed in the successful category and a couple were even in the frustrating category. But I did have some learning breakthroughs, particularly with sun-dyeing. Perhaps the biggest achievement was the reminder to myself that following directions is sometimes worthwhile.  I had been relying on my memory of what I had done before but found my notes on the process and made a couple of discoveries:
1. Don't use opaque Setacolor paint; only the transparent works.
2. Thin paint is best: add water in a 2-to-1 ratio. Thick paint does not produce a darker result; the migration of the paint makes it darker and it needs to be thin to move.

And I actually got some patterning--
I'm not wild about the color, but the images are clear--and that wasn't happening last summer when I tried this.
I am happy with this one, which was the result of some scrunching and some mixing of colors. Now I am ready for a project with grand-kids!

And to round out the week I dyed some shimmery silk for a current project. This just glows when I work with it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A board on which to iron

I had gotten rid of my ironing board before we moved--not because I was giving up ironing (although years ago I did give up ironing clothes except for a particularly wrinkled shirt now and again) but because I had planned a new ironing surface for my studio. And finally last week enough of the must-do items had been taken care of and I could take some time (and some of my husband's time) to create a custom-sized surface.

There are many how-to videos on the web and so I knew the basics. I began with a piece of plywood 48" x 26". I chose plywood rather than some of the other composite wood surfaces because I am hoping the plywood will give off fewer nasty fumes with the steamy heat it will be subjected to, but it also should not warp as easily as wood shelving. The board will sit atop a wooden dresser that holds my commercial fabrics and that is a good height (35" high) for me. I can iron on top of it without hunching over the board and with my forearms parallel with the ground. The board is wider and longer than the top of the dresser, providing more ironing surface, and the dresser backs against my cutting table so excess fabric (or a large quilt top) will be supported in the back.

Next I cut a piece of Quilter's Dream cotton batting (Request weight--one step above the thinnest) just a bit bigger than the top of the board. Quilter's Dream has no plastic scrim that could cause problems if it was heated by a very hot iron.

I made a quick trip to Jo-Ann's for some heavy cotton duck and chose the lightest color they had since I did not want to have any color transfer problems. And I washed and dried it before I used it because that new fabric chemical smell was annoying when I pulled it out of the bag but when heated would have been unbearable.

I cut the duck about 5 inches longer and wider than the board, laid it on the floor, centered the batting on the fabric and then the board on the batting. I folded the fabric around to the back of the board and stapled it in the middle of one side, moved to the opposite side, pulled the fabric as taut as I could and stapled it there, repeating the whole process on the other two sides. The corners were next: I flipped the fabric diagonally over the corner of the board, stapled and then sort of mitered the two sides down and stapled them. I stapled every couple of inches between the corners and the middles and I had a pressing surface!

I can cross one more thing off my to-do list for the studio. And I will not end this blog by saying I now must return to more pressing issues--or perhaps I will. Thanks for the company!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Good Day

The morning began cool enough to make me put on a jacket when I set out to walk Terra. I knew the dastardly poison ivy would be at its weakest in such cool temperatures and today I would have to mount my attack, which I had been finding excuses to put off ever since I discovered a tiny patch last week deep within the holly bush that is in great need of pruning in our front yard. So I tied my hair back, put on an old shirt with long sleeves that would be thrown in the wash immediately after my battle, removed my watch (a lesson I learned last summer), donned plastic gloves, and went off to slay the dragon. I came back triumphant--or at least as triumphant as one can be with a plant that can regenerate from the smallest amount of root left in the soil.

And what does this have to do with quilting? Everything. My efforts to eradicate poison ivy from our little yard last summer made me pretty much useless for a week and a half and so pulling poison ivy can radically impact my ability to sit down at the sewing machine or push a needle through fabric.

And I was riding so high from crossing such an unpleasant task off my to-do list that I decided to not only do my usual amount of stitching on my current project but embark on a new one. And so I started pulling fabrics for the first project in my new life in Massachusetts.

Beginnings with all their endless possibilities are energizing. Let's see where this one takes me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Begin again

Two weeks ago my new studio looked a bit like what I had been feeling for the past year as we slowly transitioned to a new old home:

But I finally had enough time to set my sewing machine up and some order began to creep into the chaos.

Embracing change sometimes means having to hold on to the neck of a racing horse as he plunges over a ravine and hoping he lands without losing his balance or breaking a leg. (I must have watched too many cowboy movies in my youth.) He hasn't stopped running yet but he made it to the bottom of the ravine without major injury to himself or his rider.

And if you are still reading my on-again, off-again attempts to record my journey, thanks for the company!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Threads of Color

As I began to pack up my dyeing area in the basement, I realized that I had too much dye left over from my few winter projects and couldn't bring myself just to pour it down the drain. I decided to do a little more experimenting with thread dyeing that I began with the Easter eggs:
I was surprised at how strong the colors were. On the left I tried unbleached perle cotton (bottom) and bleached/mercerized (top) and could tell little difference, although a paler color may show some change, but it would be nice to be able to avoid the bleaching process that adds more nasty stuff to the cotton factory waste water. The upper right one was the result of dipping one end in navy blue and the other in yellow. You may not see much difference in the photo but one end is a nice green and the other dark blue.

I was in a red mood so I mixed up a batch using larger amounts of thread and a bit of a gradation:

Not too much gradation is evident--I was in the using up mode and was a bit profligate with the dye, but got an interesting result with the bottom bit. The others I put in the containers in loose piles but that one I wound into a skein and twisted it, seeing if some parts might be lighter or if I could keep the thread from getting less tangled.  For some reason it turned a much purplier red than the others. Have no reason why. And it did have a couple of small white spots where the dye didn't take.

And finally I still couldn't stand throwing that dye away so I just got out my pfd fabric and had an orgy of dyeing, hoping for very saturated colors. I even threw in the wipe-up rags.

It was still too cold to leave them in the basement to batch so they occupied a corner not already claimed by moving boxes--can't wait for that heated wet studio in Massachusetts.

All the dye is used up and I hope I haven't overstayed my welcome. Thanks for the company!

I'm linking with Off the Wall Fridays.

Monday, May 12, 2014


In 2011 several members of the local quilt guild got together to form an art quilt challenge group. We had many lively meetings as we revealed our own personal interpretations of the particular challenge we were focusing on. But the last challenge was one I didn't participate in.

At the beginning of May six of us (with one member out of town) met for a potluck lunch, a farewell party of sorts and I anticipated a great meal, since we have some excellent cooks in this group. But even before we sat down to eat, I was presented with an amazing gift--a quilted book with each page designed and made by a different member of the group. I will let the book speak for itself.
Hand-dyed and stitched by Peggi Yacovissi
Kate Means

Nancy Cooledge

Louise Holder

Susan McConnell

Anya Tyson (see her explanation of this page on her blog)

Peggi Yacovissi
Hand-dyed by Louise Holder
Thanks, guys! I will treasure this gift and your friendship--and I will miss you all!