April 25, 2009

More about dyeing fabric

Here's some more about the workshop with Carol Soderlund. The photo above is from a project where we chose a color from the sample book we had created, and then dyed a yard of fabric, low immersion, aiming for a solid look (whether mottled a lot or a little). Mine is the rusty red, 5th from the left. I really did get the chosen color, and I was aiming for some mottle. Success!

A central part of this workshop was the creation of a sample book, 343 hues from three different combinations of primaries, for a total of 1,029 swatches in the sample book. Here's just one page, with 49 one-inch square swatches.

Posted with permission; (c) Carol Soderlund

It is quite something to know that I can now make fabric with any of 1,029 colors--and how to vary them further if so desired. Getting a predictable variation of two or more colors across one piece of fabric will be more of a challenge than with the painting process I've been using the last several months, but dyeing gives me a larger range of color and value than I'm able to achieve with paint, and the ability to readily color larger pieces of fabric.

I highly recommend any workshop with Carol; she is a superb teacher!

April 15, 2009


I'm currently at a week-long workshop on "Color Mixing for Dyers" Part I by Carol Soderlund. The photo is a pile of scraps from the 1,000 different colors we dyed samples of in the first two days. It is quite an experience to be immersed in color to this extent. The workshop is being held at Nancy Crow's Timber Frame Barn.
Here's half of one batch, waiting to be loaded into the dryer. Each piece was kept separate to avoid bleeding from one piece to another.
And here's a pile out of the dryer. Each of these is a different color.

April 11, 2009

Hand work

Photo by Ken Exum for the Galesburg Register-Mail

Isn't this a lovely photo? That's me knitting during a recent forum for city council candidates; the photo was published in the local newspaper, with the caption "Multitasking." Appropriate caption, as I only knit while doing something else as well--mostly attending meetings of one sort or another. Here's a photo of the finished socks, my first pair:

I've been knitting since I was a child, but it never occurred to me to make socks. They've become a popular item in the current knitting revival, and there are such great sock yarns out now, that I thought I'd give it a try. This pair is made with just one yarn (Opal); it automatically makes these patterns as you knit. Very cool!

April 9, 2009


I've made up some small trial samples, to try different ways of finishing the edges of stone rectangles. (Each small rectangle piece is about 1.5 x 2".) The top is a pillowcase binding; middle is hand-sewn edging, half with hand-dyed thread from Laura Wasilowski, half a double strand of plain khaki (most visible on the bottom edge); the bottom is a 1/8" binding, which is straighter than it looks in this photo! Click on the photo to see close-ups. I'm inclining towards center or bottom versions. Any thoughts?

The quilting: I'm planning on hand-quilting, in the ditch. The bottom two are a little to the side of the ditch, because I ironed the seams open on these, not thinking about the quilting.

April 5, 2009


I recently spent four great days on a quilting retreat. I sewed many panels for the turquoise section of "Shelter." I also brought with me work in progress on "Stones." The image to the left is two small pieces, finished up as coasters (about 4"), done with hand-painted fabric for the stone shapes. I'm working on different sizes, compositions, shapes, seeing how pieces like this might work together into a quilt.

I had also, some months ago, tried doing something that focused on color alone, using small rectangles of Kona cotton, but it turned out very boring (about 10x13"):

While at the retreat, I thought of trying rectangles (forgetting I had done it before), but now using hand-painted fabric. Here are two versions. I'm quite happy with these. Each are 7 rows x 7 columns, but the pieces in the second are a little larger than in the first. First is 8.5x11", second 12x14". (Color difference due to night/day photos.)

This second piece was originally larger—9 rows by 10 columns:

But having more seems to take something away—the piece becomes more like a tile floor, and one's attention is drawn less to the beauty of the little rectangles, some of which are like little landscapes. (I think if you click on the images, you'll get a bigger version.)

Now on to figuring out the quilting (something very simple) and finishing technique (probably a pillowcase binding).