Sunday, 29 April 2012

I'm suffering from "lady flu"

You've heard of "man flu", Mr T had it last week - not actually flu - but you know, generally feeling grim, coughing, sneezing and sniffing etc.  I must say he is not a demanding patient, but suffers in 'silence'.  This weekend it is my turn, my head feels as if it is stuffed with a nice cotton/polyester wadding and my chest feels as if I've drawn my gathering threads too tight and the day is passing in a fuzzy dream. Hopefully it will all be over in a couple of days, Mr T is much better now and is making tea on demand and being very understanding. I have no intention of doing anything demanding as I have already snipped a corner of one of my "samples" from below, which tells me not to get out the sewing machine, it could lead to a disaster.  The weather is foul, cold, wet and windy, so at least I didn't feel bad about not cutting the grass. Instead I shall share what I have been doing since my last post.

At last I have reached the stitching part of my City and Guilds course and here are some samples I have made using my dyed fabric.  They are illustrating the techniques of 'echo' and 'void'.

'Echo' is drawing or stitching the outline of a shape and then echoing that line. 

 Below is the sketchbook page I took it from

'Void' is demarcating a shape by stitching the negative space around it - here is my sketchbook page

and a little stitched sample.

This is another example, this time the negative space is left unstitched.

Now I need to put all of these into a folder or book of some sort and write up notes, but not today...

Meanwhile here is my A4 size piece first shown last week.

 I free machined in the details and then practiced my vermicelli stitch in the background.  I started off with a variegated thread, but soon decided to change to one that blended in as the stops and starts didn't show so much.

I have added some hand stitching.

I had envisaged encrusting it with lots of french knots and bead work, but now I'm not so sure.

I will bind the edges and live with it a bit longer before deciding if it is finished or not.

Not sure what I shall do for the rest of the day - may be plan my calendar page for May or another little quilt.  Meanwhile I hope you keep warm and dry and sniffle free,
have a good week,

Sunday, 22 April 2012

What Jill did next

As part of my City and Guilds course I have to print on some of the fabric I have dyed.  this has been done using acrylic paint and expanded sponge blocks. I have included a paper version in three of them.

 These flowers were made with freezer paper stencils and a gold Markal stick.

This one is using both methods.

 Here are a couple more sketchbook pages.

Now, just to show that I do have a life outside of my City and Guilds course I have been toying with creating a small piece from a drawing I did several years ago.  I have planned it out using some dyed fabric and some from my scrap stash. I've painted some texture on the background using sequin waste and used bond-a-web to hold down the pieces. I'm just off to baste the whole lot together before I get out the sewing machine.  I will need to do a bit of practice before I start on this.

Have a good week.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Enough dyeing for now

I've had another dyeing session.  I've built up a nice stash of fabric, so I'm hoping that it will be enough for the time being.

Before starting, I assembled all the kit - plenty of newspaper laid over the work top given a spray of water to absorb any spilled powder.
Below is the dyed fabric - the 'pure' colours are in the zip-loc bags at the back and I also experimented with different mixes, some in plastic glasses and some in plastic tomato trays.

Although the colours look pretty intense in the above photograph, I used a more dilute solution than before and got these lovely fruit pastel colours.

Here are some of the more experimental pieces -  cotton lawn and muslin...

and below, cotton organza, which is beautifully marbled.

Below are the colours I dyed in my first session, much deeper primaries.

I've got to go now, my sister has just arrived for the evening so there will be lots of chat....

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Two in one week

This is the first time in ages that I have written two posts in one week, but the mood is on me.  Typically for those of you for whom a public holiday is precious time-off work, the weather is chilly and dull, but I have been creating a bit of rainbow to cheer you up.  Here is my first attempt at using Procion MX dyes. I was using a low immersion method by placing the fabric and dye in a plastic bag. It is a fairly straightforward process, but it does require a certain amount of forward planning and organisation, which does not come naturally to an impulsive creator like myself.  I was going to photograph my progress but I didn't want to stop the process especially as it involves wearing rubber gloves, perhaps next time.  I am sure many of you have used these dyes before and have got a routine off pat, but I had the kitchen layed out like a science lab, and Mr T had strict instructions not to interrupt. I thought I had thought of everything - plastic 'glasses' for mixing the dye in, plastic teaspoons for measuring the dye powder, zip-lock bags for the damp fabric, mixed solutions of salt and soda ash. All started well until I tried getting a teaspoon into the small size jars of powder I had bought! I needed one teaspoon of powder to 250ml of water.  Luckily I had bought a set of measuring scoops and the half-teaspoon size just fitted in the jar. I also decided that 100ml of each colour was plenty for the amount of fabric I was dyeing. 
I do have to declare the experiment a success and I now have six rainbow-hued pieces of  Egyptian cotton.

I also wound skeins of cotton and silk to dye - here you can see the silk, but I swear I had wound off six skeins. Procion dye is not supposed to be so well suited to silk, but these threads took up the colour beautifully.  I only left them in the solution for an hour, but the cotton was left overnight. Below is a piece of cotton muslin and a couple of skeins of crochet cotton I coloured with the left-over dye
All of this is new to me, so pleased excuse my excitement.

Using Procion dye is so much easier than having to boil up a pot of Dylon on the stove.  That takes me back to college days when friends who were studying creative embroidery would be boiling up mixtures of threads in catering sized tin cans on the baby Burco in the students' kitchen.

Rinsing was a bit of a chore - the purple mix seemed to take forever to rinse out, and there was still some surplus colour even after I had used up a reservoir of water, so a daren't use the washing machine in case the colours cross-contaminated, which meant a long time standing at the kitchen sink.  I may have mixed the colour up a bit strong, if anyone has some tips, I would be pleased to hear.  There are plenty of demos on the net, but each one is slightly different.  I have three different shades of red, yellow and blue to try next.

Back to paper with three double spreads in my sketchbook exploring 3D. 

Thank you for your lovely comments - they are very encouraging and make me feel happy in continuing to share my learning progress with you. 
I do hope you are enjoying your Easter weekend,

Monday, 2 April 2012


 I am spending less time than usual at my computer at the moment due to outside influences so I have only managed quick looks of other people's postings.   I am trying to prioritise my course and doing practical things rather than 'blogging' when time is limited.  It may be that everything is just taking me a little bit longer these days, but I just don't seem to have the time. However,  I have managed to finish my March calendar page and put together one for April.  

My April page  was influenced by Lesley's photograph of the snake's head fritillaries in her garden, which made me go searching for my postcard of Charles Rennie Macintosh's watercolour.

I decided to make a couple of further studies for future reference as I think they could lend themselves to a bit of stitching.

Although I do try to do some work outside of my course, it is occupying my creative flow.
Below are a few pages developing ideas. 
The first set influenced by the photos I took of Wardown Museum in Luton,

chimney stacks and ridge tiles

Those below are from my collection of favourite objects 

When I started this blog I subtitled it as chronicles of my learning journey, and the last year certainly has been that. I have built up quite a resource of sketchbook ideas and hopefully, if you stick with me, I will be able to share some completed textile work before too long.  I am off to Art Van Go in the next couple of days for supplies of Procion Dye, which I have not used before.  Before long I will actually be applying needle to fabric and starting to interpret some of my ideas into stitch. But I am trying not to jump too far ahead of myself. 
Have a good week