Thursday, September 28, 2006

Seventy-two Ways

For all my readers who are quilters or stitch by machine, I've recently bought this booklet by Dijanne Cevaal, with whom I took a dyeing class back in 1999.

It's called "Seventy-two Ways Not To Stipple Or Meander - Ideas For Free Machine Quilting". As someone who suffered an inferiority complex about showing my quilts for years because of my complete inability to do either of those, I LOVE this book. And because it's hard to think up quilting patterns by myself, I decided to pick Dijanne's brains instead. And I must say that I'd never have thought of some of these designs. Time to get out all the WIPs?
(translation: WIP = Work in Progress, aka UFOs or UnFinished Objects) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dyeing up a (woollen) storm

Here's three skeins of baby wool that I dyed this morning to show my friend Sue-Ellen from Lyttelton how I dye it in the microwave. The red/pink skein is to make a chemo cap for someone, and other two (purple and lavender; red and yellow and orange) I dyed just for fun. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beaded markers

The lovely Hattie (see previous post) works part-time in a bead shop when not attending uni. I asked her if she'd whip me up a couple of beaded knitting markers, and sent her a photo of some I'de seen on the net. I thought these were a bit classier than the bent paper clips and bits of wool I'd been using.

Today I received these lovely green and purple markers in the mail. Don't they make you just want to go knit something? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The other half

Here's the other half of my family - my son Cass and the lovely Hattie. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Before the Extreme Makeover

This is out of order, but here are the four metre lengths from yesterday's post out drying on the line. I overdyed a quarter of each of them. I quite like the other bits, so I'll keep them.
 Posted by Picasa

Discharge results

Here's what a bleach pen did on 2 pieces of commerecially dyed black fabric.
Here the bleach pen has been applied to a fat quarter of my overdyed fabric. Note that although I overdyed with double strength black dye, the fabric has not come out black as such.
And here is the lattice piece when dry, along with another fat quarter. While you can see that there are other colours in the background, the discharged areas are predominantly red, orange and pale yellow shades. No blues, greens or purples, even those those colours were present. Hmmm. An interesting exercise, but it's not something I plan to do much of. Regrettably, there is not much bleach in a bleach pen, so this is not a very economical way to discharge colour either. Posted by Picasa

Marbling Results

Ok, quite cute but too small and too pale, and just not interesting enough for me. Posted by Picasa

Marbling with Shaving Cream

Here's some of the wrok in progress as I played with shaving cream. I swirled the dye around with a pastry brush - kept especially for this purpose, of course.

But while marbling is kinda fun, I find it annoying and messy. You can only dye fabric the size of the tray you're using, then you're supposed to carefully lift the fabric up and leave it to dry while covered in shaving cream. The fabric, that is. I don't exactly have spaces in my house where I can sit several metres of gucky fabric to dry, so I stuck them out on the line, dried them, then rinsed them and probably washed a lot of the colour away. Posted by Picasa

Discharging (removing) colour

The next round of photos will have to wait, as the batteries in my camera have gone flat. Rats.

Charleen asked about the bleach pen -"Wouldn't it take all of the color out?" so i thought I'd answer that while waiting for the batteries to charge.

Black is mostly used when discharging, as black is not actually a colour! Black dye is made up of mixes of a whole lot of other colours, so when you discharge it, with bleach or discharge paste or thiox, you never quite know what colour will be underneath, especially with commercially dyed fabric. Seldom do they actually discharge back to white - you can get lovely pinks, tans, oranges and so on. This is why I want to overdye and discharge some fabric myself, so I can see how it goes. Photos coming later!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Experimental Day - the process Part 1

Here are the colours I'm using today, sitting in my studio ( aka the kitchen bench).
And here are one metre (one yard) pieces of fabric, already soaked in soda ash and laid out in various ways in trays, with multi-coloured dyes added. Normally I don't use so many colours, but today I'm making backgrounds to overdye and then play with my bleach pen on. So I want a range of colours underneath. The dyes have just been poured on at this stage, and not squdged. Squdge is a highly technical dyeing term - just kidding! !!! It's kinda the noise the fabric makes as you push it around in the liquid.

Here are the four trays AFTER squdging. Notice that they dyes don't all turn into a horrible brown mess like colours do when you mix them together. Now they're sitting and absorbing the colour for an hour or so. Then I'll rinse them, wash them and dry them, before repeating the process with a darker overdye.

I have a few half metre lengths which are drying on the line, as I plan to play with shaving cream dyeing on these. More photos coming! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In a former life

Back in the olden days when I was married, my husband and I ran a mail order orchid nursery. This was my first experience of being self-employed. I rocked my children in the bouncinette under the table while I potted up tiny seedlings out of sterile flasks. When they had their afternoon nap, I was down in the glasshouse doing the watering. It was a hugely risky type of business, as we imported orchids from their native habitats around the world. There was no comeback when plants rotted after sitting on the tarmac in Venezuela in the rain because of airport worker strikes, or died after being fumigated by the Ministry of Agriculture here because the hollow bulbs of one species are the natural home of Honduran fire ants. Ahem. We had our hands smacked over that situation but the plants were in quarantine and no ants escaped.

My husband liked the lifestyle because he didn't have to work for someone else, and I loved growing things, but we didn't make any money out of it. When we parted, almost 20 years ago, I walked away from the orchids so that I wouldn't be lumbered with any more debt that I already had.

I've gathered a few plants over the intervening years, ones that grow cool and need little attention. Recently I read "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean (yes, it was made into a movie but a crap one in my opinion, and quite different from the book), and this rekindled my interest. I've now joined the local Orchid Society, where I'm one of the youngest living members, and I'm increasing my collection.

Here are a couple of plants in flower that I exhibited in the local society's show at the weekend. The slipper orchid won first prize in its class, but as my brother had just given it to me, I can't claim any credit for how good it looks. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I want a big strong man....

What for? You mean I need to have a REASON? Well, here's the truckload of wet firewood I just had delivered from the sawmill that I now have to move by that a good enough reason? Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 10, 2006


And here are the lovely flowers of the kowhai, a New Zealand tree not found anywhere else and loved by our native nectar-eating birds. Posted by Picasa

Spring is sprung

I know it's autumn/fall for many of my blog readers, but here it's glorious spring! Here's a few pix of stuff in flower at Tillia House (yes, my little stone cottage has a name). The house was rented for many years and its garden suffered the neglect that rented property gardens do, so I'm in the process of turning it into a wonderland. I've planted around 25 roses, mainly old fashioned and David Austin varieties, plus a myriad of fruit trees and perennials. It'll take 2 or 3 growing seasons before it starts to look really good.

Do you like my spot out on the back deck? Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 08, 2006

Another tribute to another Aussie

Another sunrise, and another tribute. It's been a bad week for our cousins over in Australia.

Most of you won't be familiar with this Aussie, Peter Brock, who has today died after running into a tree on a greasy road in the Targa Rally in Western Australia. Brockie was the face of motor racing in Australia, and also a mentor for Kiwi racing drivers. He fronted road safety ads here in New Zealand, and my kids grew up with his "only a fool breaks the 2 second rule" and "merge like a zip" messages. Of course, he delivered these in an Aussie accent, so they came out sounding like "only a ferl breaks the 2 second rerl" and "merge like a zeep". The kids used to trot these out as I drove, whenever they thought I wasn't doing it well. Just slogans maybe, but they stuck in your mind. He was know as "Peter Perfect" because of his unblemished driving record.

Brockie, you were a real character, and you'll be sadly missed. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tribute to the Crocodile Hunter

This is the sunrise this morning. I'm dedicating this blog entry to the memory of Steve Irwin (1962-2006), the Crocodile Hunter, who was tragically killed yesterday. Of course, he's an Aussie, not a Kiwi, but my kids grew up with his tv programmes on wildlife and it's fair to say he changed the face of environmentalism in Australia. A sad loss. Crikey. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I got de Indigo Blues

Today I've been painting with thickened Japanese Black dye (not real indigo, and hopefully not real Japanese Black either, as it's carcinogenic) which gives this lovely faux indigo colour. These designs showed up best after putting a diluted dye wash over the fabric when the hand-painted designs were dry. Because these are just samples, I worked with fat quarter sized pieces of fabric.

I also have a beautifully dyed left index finger, where my rubber glove had a hole. Whena girl's got a creative mood on, she's not gonna stop and race to the store for new gloves. Posted by Picasa

More wicked fabric

I did a second set, with more subtle colours. the Rust Orange/Chocolate brown combination is lovely. I like the Wisteria/Stormy Grey one too. This piece (shown as a folded strip, because I ironed it damp and it's acquired a dark stripe along each ironed edge) was my original wicked piece. I used 3 colours, primary yellow, red
and blue, but I wasn't happy with my first attempt at making the colours blend where they met, plus I don't really enjoy working with what I call "hard" primary colours.

So I applied discharge paste with a natural sponge, and then overdyed it with Warm Black. I rather like the murky sulky colours that have resulted. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Wicked fabric

Wicked! Because the fabric is made with 2 different colours that have been allowed to wick into each other. One photo shows all of the 1 metre (yard) lengths I did, and the others are close-ups of where the colours meet. I rather like the effects. Posted by Picasa