Thursday, May 29, 2008


No weaving or dyeing is happening. Instead, I have been gardening. We have had a prolonged wet, cool spring, but the last few days have been lovely! I am at least a month behind in planting the cool weather crops like peas, carrots, and lettuce. My usual date for planting those is April 10th. There was still 6 inches of snow covering the beds then. It may be too late and may be too hot before it's all ready to harvest. I planted anyway.
Seeds in the ground: lettuce, spinach (will probably bolt before it gets big enough to eat), mesclun mix, broccoli, peas, 3 varieties of potatoes, carrots, and onion sets. We seldom have a long enough summer to grow tomatoes in the garden, but I have 6 plants in five-gallon buckets. I still have corn, beans and annual flowers to put in.

Our garden fruit trees and the wild fruit trees are all in bloom. The scent in the air is heavenly!

We are eating the first vegetables from our garden- asparagus and rhubarb. Dinner was wild Alaskan salmon grilled on a cedar plank, basmati rice, asparagus picked 10 minutes before dinner, and rhubarb pie. It's a good life!

I have also been busy mixing sugar water for the hummingbirds. The first babies have fledged, and we have at least two dozen birds at the feeders at any given moment. They're guzzling a gallon of sugar water a day! There are 3 species in the picture: Calliope, Black Chinned and Rufous. They're like flying jewels. Soon the wild honeysuckle will start blooming, and nary a bird will be at the feeder for at least a month.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Shibori Samples

These samples were dyed last fall. My dye studio (aka: the front yard) is only seasonal, so I have to get the year's worth of dyeing done in the summer and warm fall weather.
I put 1/4" of Procion MX dye solution in a container, and laid the gathered fabric in it. I then painted a second color on the top of the folds, covered the container with plastic wrap, and batched overnight.
The first sample is black dye on the bottom. Warm brown painted on top. I love how the black haloed (or bled) the navy blue color! There is actually more black in the sample than the photo shows. I have a heck of a time getting color right in my pics.

The next two photos are different sides of the same sample. Red dye on the bottom, brown painted on top. This is a good example of the pattern being too regular for my taste, which I spoke about in my last post. I really like the color on the side of the fabric shown in the first pic. I would love a jacket out of this fabric (if the patterning was a little more irregular).
I hate the flip side! I dislike the pink haloing, and all of the tan is dyed pinky red. Yuck! I know that different color dyes bleed worse than others. Do you think making an alginate paste of the red dye would help control the bleeding?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Loom Controlled Shibori

Woven Shibori by Catherine Ellis is the book I am working with now.

I love the patterning Catherine achieves on her handwoven cloth. I want to do the same, but I don't have the facilities to do vat dyes. I am fairly fluent with Procion MX dyes, so I am trying to replicate the look of fiber-reactive dyes discharged and overdyed with vat dyes using only the fiber-reactive dyes.

I like Catherine's fabric that has several colors. I decided to start with a commercially dyed chenille (tan), and overdye it with other colors after it is gathered.

Here's the fabric on the loom:
The fabric is rayon chenille warp and weft with 10/2 cotton supplementary weft. The white threads will be gathered up to form the shibori pleats for dyeing. In the photo, the supplementary warp is the simple Monk's Belt pattern. I weave four shots of rayon chenille in plain weave, then a shot of white cotton.
On the first samples I wove, I used the plain weave and Monk's Belt in a regular pattern: 4 shots of chenille between a shot of the supplementary pattern, repeated 4 times. The dyed pattern turned out too regular for me.
On the sample warp I have pictured, I varied the length of the supplementary pattern randomly. I haven't dyed these samples yet, but I am assuming the dyed pattern will be a little more irregular.
Here are the samples gathered:
The gathering threads pictured are green because I am using up small amounts of odds and ends for the supplementary wefts.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shibori on the Brain

Here are some pictures of the treasure I picked up in the Textile Museum's gift shop. I am sorry about the resolution of the first picture- I can't get it right. The tag on the piece says it is hand stitched, indigo dyed shibori from Japan. It kept catching my eye as I drifted around the shop, and while it was more money than I felt I could spend, I knew I would kick myself later if I didn't buy it.

I have since learned from Karren Brito's book, "Shibori, Creating Color & Texture on Silk", that it is Kanoko Shibori. Kanoko means "fawn spot" in Japanese, and describes the pattern of small tied dots. A great site that explains how it is made is Traditional Crafts of Japan. I love that the fabric was not pressed out after it was untied. All the gathers from the tieing are still there and make a wonderful texture on the surface.

If you are interested in doing your own shibori, Karren's book is a must to own.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Still Playing with Shibori Discharge

I wish there was some other name for removing color from textiles than discharge. Shibori discharge sounds like a disease I don't want to catch!
But it sure is fun!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Quick Shibori Discharge

I am still winding white warps and dye skeins. Kinda boring, but I know that great fun is ahead when I get to dye them! I am starting to get cranky, I want to dye so bad, but prefer to have a day's work prepared before I start. I was inspired by Lisa's picture of her discharged black Tshirt in her blog: Dippy Dyeing and Quilting.
Of course, the Endless Stash has several black tshirts waiting just for this moment! I handstitched 6 diagonal lines of 1/2" stitches from shoulder to opposite waist, through both front and back layers,then gathered the stitches tightly, while I was talking on the phone. (Love my headset, great for multitasking!).
I took the shirt outside,and painted the gathered section with gel bleach bathroom cleaner. While I was waiting for the bleach to work, I cleaned the bathroom (more multitasking!).
After 20 minutes, the gathered section was barely orange in color, and didn't seem to be lightening any more. (It got lighter than the photo shows). The shirt was then soaked in a bucket of clean water, then in to a 1/2 hour soak in AntiChlor. Another rinse, then dried outside in the warm sun.
Many dye books and instructions on the internet tell you to neutralize bleach with vinegar. It doesn't work! Get some Antichlor from Prochem, or your pet store (it's sold for conditioning water for fish tanks.) It's very inexpensive, and you only use a tsp. in 2 gallons of water. It will save your beautiful art piece from disintegrating from the residual bleach.

Here's a close up of the patterning:

It was a quick project, less than 2 hours start to finish, and took the edge off my need to dye. Is this an addiction, or what?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back to Work!

I am settling in to old routines, now that vacation is over. There's a mountain of stuff do--starting with this little mountain:

That's a dump truck load of "black gold", composted manure from our neighbor's ranch. It all has to be spread on garden beds and around the fruit trees and bushes. It's a big job--I am only good for 8 or 10 wheelbarrows full, and I'm pooped. I am already a month behind in gardening because of the long winter. There are still snowbanks on the north side of the house and in the shade under trees. This weekend is promising to be lovely weather, so I will hopefully get some seeds in the ground.

Now that the snow is gone from my dye studio (AKA: the front yard), it's time to get some warps prepared to dye. I love to dye chenille for shawls. Here is a shawl on the loom from last year's dye season.
I have started winding spools of white chenille to prepare a warp. Very boring, thank goodness for books on CD! I'm listening to the beginning Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich. I love plucky women detectives!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thoughts on Blue

I loved every bit of the "Blue" show at The Textile Museum. The first part of the exhibit featured ancient through contemporary functional textiles dyed with indigo. I was amazed by the intricacy and fine threads of all of the ancient pieces on display. I am fascinated with ancient textiles ever since reading Elizabeth Wayland Barber's "Prehistoric Textiles".
Barber's book informed my work on many levels, but the best thing was that it taught me there is "nothing new under the sun". It allowed me to relax in my weaving- I was always striving to create something "new" and different. I realized I was working too hard at trying to design something I thought no one else was doing, when in fact it was designed, probably 5,000 years ago. Humbling, but freeing. Instead, I now weave what I enjoy, which is mostly twill designs with interesting color, and let the work carry me forward.

The piece I enjoyed most was "Shindigo Space 07" by Shihoko Fukumoto, pictured here (photo courtesy the Textile Museum):

I have been playing with shibori, some hand stitched and some loom controlled. The patterns made from the interaction of stitching and dyeing is endless and fascinating. I was completely enamored with Mr. Fukumoto's shibori banners. In fact, they took my breath away. I stood for long minutes trying to drink in the patterns on the cloth. It was impossible to explain to my husband what made these blue squiggles and shades so sublime. It was completely evident to me that this cloth was dyed by a master. I missed much of the rest of the exhibit because I kept coming back to look at it, and it took over my thoughts.

There is a short video about the exhibit playing in an endless loop. I am hoping it will be made available for purchase. On it is a short clip of Mr. Fukumoto demonstrating his process. There is a few seconds of video showing his hands forming the gathers of fabric that will be the resist. He gathers the cloth with his nails, pats it out a bit, and then gathers it again. I could see the mastery in how effortless it looked. That kind of mastery is only accomplished with talent and much practice, the kind that forms "muscle memory". I hope to have that someday.

The other short clip in the video that made me think was of a young indigo farmer. He said that he hoped his indigo would be processed well, so that cloth dyed with it will still be vivid in 50 or 100 years. Will any of my textiles still be around 50 or 100 years from now? I know of some of my handwoven rugs that are 20 years old and still in use. Does it matter?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

More Blue

The trip to Baltimore was colored blue even before we got to the Textile Museum. We visited the SugarLoaf Craft Fair at the Timonium Fairgrounds.
First, a wonderful cobalt blue bowl from Jeanne Scott of Greencastle, Missouri.

Then, an indigo dyed bandana from True Blue. This was stencilled with a paste resist, then indigo dyed.

Carol Soderlund in Montana

There are still a few places left in Carol Soderlund's "Color Mixing for Dyers I" to be held in Lakeside, MT, September 17-21, 2008.
The registration deadline has been extended to May 28, 2008. Montana is most beautiful in September, and the workshop is being held on Flathead Lake in a beautiful new log lodge overlooking the mountains of Glacier National Park. All of the details are available at:
(If the link does not work, please cut and paste the address into your browser.)
I hope you will join us!
Kathy Regier

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I am back from a two week vacation in Baltimore. I fully planned to continue blogging from there, but the internet connection was so slow as to make it impossible.
The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Textile Museum in Washington, DC. I was thrilled to be there, as I have wanted to visit for years. It turned out to be a perfect museum experience for me. We took the metro into the city, so we didn't have the hassle of crazy traffic (overwhelming for a Montanan used to driving 30 miles without seeing another car!) or finding a parking place. The museum is a very short walk from Dupont Station. It was nice to be in a non-tourist part of the city.

The size of the Museum is also perfect. I easily go in to "sensory overload", and lose my mental focus, so the quiet atmosphere, the small size of the exhibits and the fact that we had the place to ourselves was wonderful. The Museum shop is small but jam packed with gorgeous textiles. I purchased a treasure there that I will show you in another entry.

The featured exhibit is "Blue", devoted to exploring the natural dye, indigo. It starts with a pair of Levi's jeans from the 1800's, continues on through examples of indigo dyed textiles across time and then on to contemporary works of fiber arts.

Some articles from the Washington Post about the exhibit.