Indigo with Valerie Wells and Kelly Sheets

I've been wanting to make an indigo vat for ages, but just haven't gotten around to it. When my friend asked me if I wanted to join her for a weekend of indigo dying with Valerie Wells and Kelly Sheets at the Stitchin' Post in Sisters, I was all in.

Val and Kelly had many samples of indigo shibori (Japanese manual resist dying technique, which produces patterns on fabric) and explained how they achieved the results for each of them, including folding, tying, clamping, stitching, using rubber bands, rocks, glass globs, slinkies, rope, chopsticks, cords, cardboard, plastic shapes......the sky is the limit!! I had a handful of flour sack towels plus other fabrics to try my hand and experiment with all these great ideas.

This piece was using the "ghost" technique. You grab the piece by the center, and use a string to tie it up into a bundle. I'll use these pieces made from drop cloth to make some more square corner bags like this one:

Here's a bundle with chopsticks rolled up and tied.

Perhaps it created something like the piece hanging on the far right:

This next piece reminds me of fish scales. It was rolled onto a rope, then you tie the rope, causing the sides to squish into each other, kind of like a scrunchy hair band.

These are glass globs tied with rubber bands.

They create the "circles". The lines are achieved by stitching a simple running stitch.

I think it may be my favorite piece. I watched some youtube videos about shibori stitching. I like how you can use the stitches to "draw" something specific on the fabric. There is a lot of control over details.

This is a quilt top Valerie brought in to show us as another idea of what we might do with all of our samples.

We talked about different types of indigo, with tips on how to successfully set up our own vats if we choose.

I was able to dye a couple yards of organic cotton jersey fabric and some pieces of clothing as well. I had stitched this top a few years ago. I loved the Burgundy and gold combination.....on someone else. I did not like the color combination on me, and so I hardly ever wore it. It was a little scary dipping it into the vat, not knowing if I would like the results. But hey, I hardly wore it, so it was worth the risk. Here is the original top.

Here is the first dip. Not too bad, but a little muddy for me.

And the last dip....

Soooooo much better! Don't you agree? It was darker before I washed it. I don't think I had the water hot enough to set it properly. If I do my own vat one day, who knows, I may dip it again, but for now, I love the results and I know I'll get a ton of wear out of this top now.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day. Seeing all these beautiful indigo pieces, gently swaying in the breeze created a most impressive vision. Creating together is very inspiring. Community artwork, for sure.

Crazy Quilt - A Collaborative Birthday Gift

My "Sister-from-another-mother" turns 60. I needed something very special for her. It had to be hand made (of course!): It had to come from the heart. A quilt would be lovely. Sure, I could do it all myself, but wouldn't it be so much better, even more meaningful if a group of her friends were part of it? Each one bringing their own story, sentiment, and hand to the whole?

I contacted friends, and those friends helpfully reached out to other friends, and soon we had a quilt posse, armed with funny anecdotal ideas, needles, threads and scissors.

A color palette was chosen from my stash of Alabama Chanin organic cotton jersey, general parameters set, a deadline put in place.

I made a "quilt map". I used the free-flowing pattern from my Woodland Critter quilt and added a row of rectangles along one side. I cut out all the base pieces, two layers each. As none of her friends lived in my town, I mailed swatch kits to the others involved.  Each person would create their own swatch design using the chosen color palette. We all felt a child-like giddiness as it was to be a surprise!

Each swatch I received back in the mail was like Christmas morning, opening that special package.
Here is a school of pup fish from one friend, reminiscent of a group camping trip taken years ago.

Another dear friend of hers sent this joyful canine for the dog lover.

Leaping foxes for the animal lover from yet another friend.

Another member of the posse sent Lama Love, for the birthday girl had raised and kept lamas for decades.

See the llama in the yellow portion? That's a Peruvian knitted finger puppet sewn on.

I had saved the remnants of the rooster and the rose from the first quilt I had made. I was so happy to find the perfect use for them!

Here's a shot of that first quilt made from an Alabama Chanin DIY kit.

And here from another friend, Musical notes dancing about as she plays the violin and guitar and thrives on music.

Flowers and plants for the avid outdoors-woman and gardener extraordinaire.

And this pretty square to represent her adopted, rescued greyhounds.

The family tree, rooted into the map of her home city where she grew up and still lives, surrounded by family and friends.

And some sweet  little details here and there.

I gleaned some great ideas for the lichen covered tree from this youtube video.

Here's the process for this funky, yellow patch.

I used a disappearing pen to make a grid; stitched in the middle of each; then cut along the lines.

When washed the edges will curl and look like this.

I created this stencil for a Camp Stitches class I taught.

I appliqued the snipped petals from it for this bit of embroidery.

The quilt was constructed with Coats and Clarks buttoncraft thread; then the edges were blanket stitched with embroidery floss to finish off this soft throw.

I enjoy seeing the back side stitches on my other quilts, knots and all, and I knew my friend would be the same, so I did not cover them up.

Each and every stitch of this quilt is imbued with love and friendship and best wishes. What started out as a little kernel of an idea, blossomed into a gathering of friends, celebrating our mutual comrade with a showering of affection.

Happy Birthday, my dear, sweet friend ~~~ Cheers!

Cocoknits Paulina ~ My Very First Sweater

I'm feeling rather giddy today. I've always admired those that can sit down with a ball of yarn, work their magic, and end up with a beautiful sweater to be cozied up into. Over the years I've daydreamed of nonchalantly knitting away whilst chatting with friends, never skipping a beat or dropping a stitch. For me, though, it is no small feat, really a mountainous task. I know I'll never be at ease like those knitting masters, but I'm very happy and satisfied with my first go. This project would have not been possible and successful without my ever present knitting guru girlfriends and our local yarn shop, Wool Town. Lovely comments and cheerings-on from my Instagram friends were also very heartening and kept me going. Thank you, one and all!

This sweater is from Cocoknits, the Paulina pattern. I used very soft, affordable yarn from Berroco Yarns, called Remix Light. "Delight in the making" is on the homepage of Cocoknits. There was much hemming and hawing and angst, but there was also "Delight in the making". I really like the way this garment fits. The sweet little uptick in the front is so flirty. Yes, I must wear a dress or t-shirt under it, but it's super cute! The yarn is very soft and bouncy. It floats like a feather on the body.

One tip from a friend was very useful. See the yellow highlighted place on the pattern in the photo above? That's highlighter tape, excellent for helping keep your place on the pattern.

Here's a photo of the back of the sweater. You can modify the pattern if you like to make the front without the lift, in which case it would look like the back. 

I made these cute little bags from a drop cloth. The small one is perfect for keeping the yarn corralled: and the large one is big enough to fit all of my knitting needs for one project.

It was a long, circuitous path, but I learned so much in making this sweater! I've already got two more projects lined up. It may be awhile, but I now have the confidence to look forward to "Delight in the making".