Archive for September, 2012

Ocean Waves – high tide!

What an incredible feeling. This morning I sat down at my sewing table and began the much familiar routine of piecing triangles for my Ocean Waves quilt.

The morning hours sped quickly by and suddenly, after months and months of piecing, my pile of triangles was gone and all the blocks were pieced!

I’m so proud of my stack of blocks – 15 square blocks, 11 half squares, and 2 quarter squares – that I just have to share one more picture.

Oh so beautiful. I couldn’t resist the urge to lay them all out to get the feel of the quilt. Drum role please.

Oh my goodness, they aren’t even pieced yet and they take my breath away. I think I’m in love.

Already, my head is spinning with next steps. What color border should go around the edges? I need about ten inches worth to bring the quilt up to the size of a queen size quilt. What pattern to quilt with? What color thread to quilt the quilting with? What color fabric to put on the back? Maybe I’ll dye more since the front is mostly dyed fabric.

Can I get it all pieced, layered, and basted in time to spend the long dark winter evenings hand quilting? I hope so!


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On Sunday, Lesley, Brianna and I experimented for the first time with dyeing yarn and fabric with indigo. Lesley had ordered a kit from Dharma, and we started by dissolving and mixing the indigo powder and reducing agent in a big pot of warm water.

After stirring, we let the pot sit for an hour, while the chemical reaction worked its magic. When the water turned a yellowish-green, it was ready to dye. The instructions said to remove the “flower”, a bubble of blue stuff that formed on the top of the water. Lesley gamely jumped in to give it a try. It was very, very stinky.

Then it was time to dye the material! After soaking each hank or piece of fabric in water to wet thoroughly, we held in the pot for three minutes or so, gently agitating to make sure the dye penetrated the whole piece, without making bubbles or splashes.

When the fabric was removed, it was a bright yellow color, which rapidly started to turn blue as it was exposed to the oxygen in the air. Wild!

We lay out the pieces for twenty minutes, watching with excitement as the colors continued to deepen and darken as time passed.

I  then rinsed, washed, and dried the fabric. I made different colors by starting with white fabric or yellow fabric, and varying the amount of time the fabric was exposed to the dye, sometimes dunking the pieces for two times.

Such a different way to dye fabric, stretching my understanding of chemistry a bit, what with reacting agents and oxidation and the like. Crazy to take a moment and imagine that this is how our blue jeans are dyed!

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Saturday morning, Lesley, Becca and I hopped on our bikes and rode down to the Owens River to harvest rabbit brush.

We quickly noticed that there were a lot of bees, all going for the same flowers we were! This made for slow work, but luckily no one got stung.

Some bushes had larger flowers than others, and we gravitated towards those, which filled our buckets quicker. We harvested from one bush and then moved onto another, covering a pretty large area, but there was no end to the rabbit brush!

After almost an hour of collecting, we had ten pounds of rabbit brush, which would dye about three pounds of yarn and fabric. Yikes!

We loaded the flowers into my bike trailer, and pedaled home.

Then the boiling began. First, we mordanted the yarn and fabric in alum, and rinsed it prior to dyeing.

Next we boiled the rabbit brush for an hour. I started to get excited when the stirring spoon started to get yellow! After boiling for an hour, we removed the flowers to make room in the dye pots for the fiber.

The second the yarn was placed in the water, it started to turn yellow!

Then we simmered the fiber and dye together for another hour. With great anticipation, we removed the dyed fibers from the dye pot to much oohing and aahing, and rinsed before hanging to dry.

Some rabbit brush flowers still stuck to the yarn!

Just look at the color. So brilliant and happy.

The work went quickly with three of us working to rinse and hang the fibers to dry.

The finished product: nine hanks of yarn and two yards of fabric. Note the color difference, the cotton not taking up the color as brilliantly as the wool.

What would you do with yarn of this brilliant nature?

Learn to knit a sweater of course! More on that coming soon.

What’s next? Maybe dyeing with pear bark from Lesley’s tree?

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Labor day weekend is county fair time in the Eastern Sierra. I love entering my crafty items in the fair, and also enjoy seeing friend’s entries as well. I didn’t enter any quilts this year, but did enter two of my batik fabrics and a set of patchwork coasters.

And the great news is – my underwater algae batik fabric received a Best of Division in the Beginning Fine Arts division! My sweet yellow daisy batik fabric on the right received a third place in the beginning fine arts division.

A set of my patchwork coasters made with hand dyed fabric received a second place in the clothing and textiles department.

And congrats to my crafty friends as well!

Lesley received a Best of Show with a knitted sweater.

Roberta received a Best of Show with this art quilt.

And Margaret received a first place with this art quilt, inspired by iced parfait fabrics she dyed!

Yay for another year of good times and beautiful crafty items at the Tri-County Fair.

Double rainbow at the fair on Thursday evening.

Here’s our view from the ferris wheel looking out over the fairgrounds and city.


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