Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dying with calendula

I haven't been posting anything due to the fact the only thing we've been doing is painting my dye studio, I'm up to 11 plus gallons of paint! I'm sick of painting. We're almost finished, my husband is running the gas line to my stove then I will touch up the paint and call it quits for this year. Next week I'll post some pictures of the room. I did take a little time to try dying with my calendula blossoms. This is a picture of them in my planter along with nasturtiums.
I didn't have many but I thought I'd give it a try. The seed package said you'd get orange, the dye books said pale yellow. I got gold. Not too exciting.

My planter on my back porch is so beautiful now. Last weekend we did go camping in southern Mi. at Gun lake. They have a wonderful natural inlet next to the campground where you can dock your boat. Every year my husband's mothers' side has a camping family reunion. My husband's cousin brought her pontoon boat for everyone to enjoy, this is where I spent my day hand quilting and evening sunset cruising.

My sister-in-law Joan and I. This is life! The weeds under the water were beautiful. Some of them were corkscrew shape.

I woke up early Sunday morning and took a walk with my camera, the mist off the water was magical.
The ducks would wander the campground getting food hand outs.
This view was so pretty with the fishermen.
Ok, I guess I did do something besides painting but on the whole every free minute is spent working in the studio. See you next week.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Crazy Quilt

Several years ago at our quilt guild meeting one of our members donated some antique crazy quilt blocks to be raffled off and donated the money to the guilds treasury. I bought a ticket and my good friend Deb bought lots of tickets as she really wanted those blocks. I won a group of them as did another member and the last number called was Debs. Knowing how much she wanted the blocks we gave her ours so she could make a big quilt. Well, a few months later Deb presented me with a quilt made from some of the blocks. I was so shocked, I loved it. Some of the blocks are very fragile so I don't use it any more but I keep it displayed. I tried to photograph the quilt laided over a chair with some of Debs' embroidered pictures showing . She embroidered some of my favorite things, the log cabin with trees and the turtle. The verse is beautiful. I believe the rabbit was already on the quilt (am I right Deb?). She also embroidered a lot of the crazy patches. It is very cosy with the soft wool boarders and back. This is a close up of the verse. If you want to see the quilts "sister" go on Debs blog: You'll love her blog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A little more natural dying

When we went to Utah last fall I brought home a bag of red clay to try to dye with. The clay really isn't a dye, it's a pigment that sort of stains your fabric. A blog on the web "Prairie Fibers" talks about clay dying and it said instead of using water to dye with use soy milk. So I mixed clay with the milk and soaked the fabric in the milk before adding it to the clay mixture. I let it set in my refrigerator for a few days mixing it everyday. Then, I took it out of the clay and hung it in my garage for a week to "cure". I then rinsed it lightly and hung it another week to "cure". After which I threw it in my washing machine on delicate to wash out the rest of the clay. I was afraid to open the washer lid that the fabric might be white again. But it came out a beautiful rosy clay color, just the right color to use for my daughters "house quilt" block. Her house is stucco and almost this shade of color.

All of my flowers are at peak blooming right now, I picked a assortment of them, sunflowers, marigolds, black eye Susan's, goldenrod and made what I call a "summer stew" dye pot. Simmered it a good hour and threw a couple pieces of fabric in.
This one I had dyed with something earlier in the year and I didn't like it so I over dyed it. Turned out pretty good but I might over dye it with red cochineal later to get a rusty orange (hopefully) color.

This piece was white and turned out OK. It's actually more gold than the other one but the picture doesn't show it.
My quilt guild "Patchers at the Lakeshore" is bringing in my good friend Deb from Alaska to teach some of her classes and a lecture for us. We are so excited. She is the most gifted quilter I know. She will be staying with me for around a week. In the early morning and at night we're going to be dying our fabrics. Deb and I first experimented with natural dyes 13 or 14 years ago and are anxious to play with the dyes again. Last week I ordered an assortment of natural dyes from around the world to dye with. (I ordered them from Dharma). My dear husband has been busy finishing my dye studio. We have a small garage attached to our house that we used as a shed, so he put up a new shed and has been working on the garage turning it into my studio. Tonight, he is putting in a glass sliding door to look out to our back yard and woods. I have been busy painting, (9 gallons so far)! We have an antique gas stove in our basement we're bringing up for the dye pots. I'll show pictures when its finished.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How to mordant wool fabric

This wall hanging was a "Round Robin" made with my good friends. I hand appliqued the center square (the flowers and lady bugs are from Anita Shacklefords book), then passed the square onto my friend who did the little green boarder and the triangles. Then onto the next friend who added the next boarder and appliqued the leaves and stems and used buttons for the flowers. Then onto another friend who added the little flap and the green boarder and fence. Then onto the last friend (Deb) who embroidery the saying, added the path from the gate, and all the embellishments, silk ribbon, buttons, butterflys, bumblebee, etc. I then hand quilted it while on a trip out west. This was made this quite a few years ago but I still love it and hang it every spring and summer. It reminds me of all my friends. Ok, I thought some of you might like to learn how to mordant your wool fabric and yarns before natural dying them. Mordanting helps the fabric grab the dye better and improve the light and washfastness of most dye colors. After studying quite a few dye books, the amount of mordant called for is always little different, this amount is kind of in the middle. You don't want to use too much or your fabric will be "sticky" and the stickiest will not go away. When Deb and I started dying years ago this is what we came up with and it still works great. This recipe is for 1 pound of wool (weigh your fabric). First soak your wool in cool water and hour or more. While that is soaking fill a large stainless steel or enamel pot with cool water (at least 4 gallons).
Dissolve 2 Tablespoons of cream of tarter (I ordered the tarter from Earth Guild) in boiling water. Add to pot and stir in well. The cream of tarter helps the wool to absorb the alum. I mordant without it with no problem. Next dissolve the 3 Tablespoons of Alum (I order mine from Dharma Trading Co. its not the baking type) in boiling water. Add to the pot and stir well. Add your wet wool, heat to simmering. Simmer for one hour. Stir the wool once in awhile making sure it remains under the water. After 1 hour turn off heat and let set over night. The next day remove the wool and rinse it well in cool water. It is now ready to dye or dry and put away for later. You only have to mordant the fabric once even with overdying. There are other mordants you can use, but I only use alum, it is the safest and when I'm finished with it I dispose of it by dumping it on my holly and rhododendron bushes, any acid loving plant.
Back to my quest for green. I picked some of my ivy leaves from my yard. Simmered them an hour or more, added my fabric and.....

This is what I got. HmmmmmOur woods are full of this type of ferns, so I picked a lot of them and simmered them a long time and added my fabric and this is what I got............
Not green, although it was olive green last night and I resimmered it and let it set overnight again and this is what I got. Maybe I'm over doing some of the greens. In one of my weaving books called Navajo Weaving Way by Noel Bennett she states she tried 117 times over 6 years to get natural green before she found the secret. I tried her secret and it still didn't work for me. I may top her record for green trys.
This is my next house for my "family tree" quilt.It was my mother's childhood home except for a few changes, white house with shutters, shrubs and flower landscaping. I'm drafting it now and getting ready to applique it.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo