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be thankful

August 21, 2019

the backstrap weaving for August is finished

it’s the strip at the bottom

woven with 2 ply handspun yarns, wool for the weft and a hemp warp

 all the pieces woven so far are sewn together

as this is very rustic (that’s what I’m calling it!) I’ve been experimenting on different seam stitches

might as well learn something

at the beginning and end of the warp I hemstitch

in order to attach the next weaving I press the hemstitch knots to the back and secure with a running stitch

this is not elegant but a useful and warm way to use the samples

there is 465gms. of 2 ply handspun wool and silk (on the right) waiting to be alum mordanted

white Icelandic, brown Corriedale and silk hankies

the only purchase I made at Fibrations was 200gms. of beautifully prepared Cotswold roving

Cotswold is an old British breed, now considered a rare breed

read more about it here

click on history and then Cotswold

it is a pleasure to spin on my IST Crafts rim weighted Turkish spindle

I had to order 2 longer galvanized pipes to make my tapestry loom wider

 while waiting, the time is well spent researching and working on a new design

as each tapestry gets a little larger and weaving takes more time it is important to be very sure about the design

this is a start – the baby dress (right) was taken to the hospital by my birth mother

she died and my adoptive mother kept the dress for me

I hope to weave it in the background

the book “Threads of Feeling” is the catalogue from an exhibition at the Foundling Hospital, London, 2010

 the Selvedge article (issue 36 Sept/Oct 2010) gives more details on some of the fabric scraps

left by mothers to identify their babies in the improbable chance they would come back to claim the child

it is a heartbreaking story – more on my blog here

there are still too many children in the world who desperately need help



fun in the sun

August 19, 2019

yesterday was the annual “Fibrations” – all things fibrey in the park

it was a beautiful day

in the North-east of the province they had snow, in August! can you believe it?

my first stop – Deep Blue Dyeworks, from Salt Spring Is., had a wonderful selection of indigo scarves blowing in the breeze

the selection of knitting yarns was extensive with every colour imaginable

the tent where local flax is being processed always draws a crowd

and the lady weaving kelp baskets – she weaves the kelp while wet

(sorry, I wrote down people’s names but now can’t find the piece of paper)

when dry the baskets take wonderful, natural shapes

needle felting is popular – foxes and raccoons, bears, sheep and a very cheeky monkey

I wanted to bring him home but resisted – now I wish I hadn’t!

(click on photo to enlarge)

a booth with old Swedish equipment – including a loom, a wheel and bamboo reeds

should have bought one of the reeds, too

a walking wheel – not tempted – but…

I’m researching this charkha on the internet

the spinner was happy to talk, she cards her own punis (little cotton fibre rolls)

but she was spinning raw cotton bolls – I was so fascinated and impressed

I’ve never been sure I could spin on one but it all packs up in the little box and can go traveling

oh dear! I’m seriously lusting after one but the price may dampen that ardor

 an update on the walnut bark dye

sitting outside in the sun the walnut (on the left) is fermenting

solar dyed the wool felt square is a beautiful colour

I’ll simmer it at the end of the month

the birch bark hasn’t changed at all

this leaf skeleton, picked up yesterday, is the same warm colour

Autumn is on the way


ScrapHappy August

August 14, 2019

I’d run out of scrappy ideas

until a comment Kate left on my blog

about a small sample of shibori dyed wool felt

the felt squares that are available are approx. 8″ x 12″ or 20cm. x 30cm.

 they shrink a little when dyed so not really big enough to make anything

and there were a couple more in the stash

then a bright idea hit – folded in half there was just enough to make a small teddy bear

I drew a pattern to fit

added button eyes and a bit of undyed felt for the snout

buttonhole stitched around and stuffed them with leftover bits of batting

and then there were three

the scraps were big enough for “accessories”

the bits that are left might appear again on something else

the colours are all natural dyes – indigo, marigold and cochineal/lac

for the shibori the felt is wrapped around a PVC plumbing pipe, tied tightly and squished up tightly

the wool fabric shrinks and creates a three dimensional texture

unfortunately when the bear was stuffed the texture almost disappeared

now I need to find a Goldilocks

to see other happy scrappers

Kate Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

preparing to dye

August 13, 2019

this fig tree was planted 24 years ago

it has been a very good producer with more than enough for friends, the raccoons, starlings and me

I prune 6 – 8 feet off the branches every year

this year it tripled in size – a shocking sign of climate change – other gardeners are experiencing the same growth

at night the raccoons have their fill and leave a dozen half eaten ones on the ground

I cooked and strained a pot of them and added it to the indigo vat

the best fruit vat yet

the squirrels planted walnuts which grow quickly and become too large

I cut off all the branches and strip the bark to hopefully dye a dark brown

it will soak in the sun for a couple weeks

I’ve been busy spinning local wool  – 308gms. white Icelandic and 110gms. pale grey

ready for colour samples

a weaver friend who is moving on to other interests gave me 50gms. of silk hankies

can’t wait to start spinning

 I tear it into pencil thin roving and loosely wind into balls to make it easier to spin

wait until you see the natural dyes on silk


August ramblings

August 10, 2019

hard to believe – it’s August 10th – I’ve been missing from these pages

but, life has been busy

another day in Beacon Hill Park – this time with my friend Mary

this border is spectacular – (think she is swearing at me, she doesn’t like her picture taken!)

the planning for colours, the repeat pattern and the variety of plants is impressive

 an area that includes formal gardens, grassland, ponds and lakes, mature forest – and the petting zoo!it is meticulously maintained

open and free to everyone including the peacocks, ducks, turtles, nesting eagles and blue herons

locals and tourists, kids and dogs

and of course flocks of Canada geese

it is the perfect place to spend a few hours and a photographer’s delight

there are greenhouses and a plant nursery tucked away in one corner

even a cricket pitch and clubhouse

love the shape of these leaves – could they make a tapestry design?

and finally a tapestry is finished

the sun is shining on all the loose ends – still a few hours of work to do

the back with the ends stitched in and trimmed

woven with handspun wool, cotton and silk, colours are all natural dyes

measures 7″ X 7″ (17.8 X17.8 cm)

my first attempt at a Kirsten Glasbrook style tapestry collage

Japan – bamboo, a Noh mask, ginkgo leaf

and the kanji kokoro – literally translated as heart

but with many subtle meanings – mind, spirit, love, desire

Alex Kerr writes in Another Kyoto

“Because it carries with it so many levels of history, each kanji is surrounded by a radiating rainbow of meanings. It stands for something that is larger than just a normal word.”

no wonder gaijin (foreigners) struggle with the nuance of language and interpretations

oh, so slowly!

July 31, 2019

 inching forward at a snail’s pace

searching through the handspun stash, at the back of the cupboard, I found a large skein of fine wool singles

spun several years ago and dyed with mahonia berries (a rosy brown)

hiding with it was a bag of flax a guild member gifted me several years ago

so – I plied the wool and spun and plied the flax

and warped the backstrap loom ready for August’s challenge

more linesy-woolsey

the indigo fruit vat is working well

I pole wrapped a small (7″ X 11″) square of wool felt and spent the better part of a day dyeing it

8 dips lasting 8-10 minutes and aired 30+ minutes between each dip

approximately 5 hours!

a school of minnows in an indigo sea

in the dyeing process the wool shrinks and the finished piece has a wonderful texture

(this is more pronounced when dyed in a hot water bath)

now what to do with this scrap??

blue is calling to me

the boro kimono tapestry needed a frame – indigo and kakishibu – with lots of stitching

the tapestry on the loom is slowly inching up – weaving it sideways

I simmered the birch bark for a couple hours, added more bark and left it to soak for approx. 10 days

simmered it for another 2 1/2 hours, added 1 skein of alum mordanted wool leaving the bark in the bath

simmered for 2 hours and left overnight

a lot of work for light yellow/beige

guess if you live in the woods and really want to use local materials this could be an option

you could use it for a tannin but natural yellows are abundant

the internet shows soft pinks – not from this birch

think I’m going to fly away



in search of colour

July 24, 2019

the “Bluebird” hardy hibiscus is blooming

I’m excited because I didn’t think there would be any blooms, the deer eat most of the buds in the Spring

one came last night to check it out

guess they don’t eat the flowers – fussy eaters!

the purple hollyhocks self seed easily but each year the colour gets lighter

and finally the blooms are pink

in my experience only the dark purple blossoms give a good dye

this was the original colour when planted in 2012

 I’ll plant fresh ones in the Spring

meanwhile I gather the blossoms when they have finished blooming and dry them

(they still dry a dark purple)

ready for dyeing at the end of Summer

can you see the odd pink one?

I save just the outer rind of pomegranates – they dry easily in the sun – and dye a strong yellow

with an iron modifier a soft olive green

the fruit from the grocery store is not as good this year

it has a thick outer white flesh and less edible seeds – climate change around the world!

I am really sorry to report this but because I posted a review of the book “The Art and Science of Natural Dyes”

I feel the need to add this update

the ring binding has completely come apart from the cover

and if I hadn’t made quick repairs the individual pages would have come away too

yes, I have read different chapters several times and referred to it while dyeing

but it is only 6 weeks old, I handle books carefully and wasn’t it written to be well used?

I laced the ring binding together to prevent the pages from ending up in a loose pile

I think if each page is taken off separately, then the rings carefully threaded through the holes in the paper spine

and the pages, one by one placed back on the wire I’ll have a complete book again

I emailed and received a reply from Catharine Ellis

also emailed the publisher, they offered to replace the book if the original was returned via FedEx

I’ve not had a lot of luck with FedEx in Canada so have chosen to fix it myself

on the bright side the indigo fruit vat is doing remarkably well – better than I had hoped for