Back on track

As well as starting a new job here this week, I’ve had a wonderful two days being taught again by the incomparable Jan Beaney at Broadland Arts Centre.  The theme this time was ‘Trees’

“Trees are inspiring subjects to study and offer exceptional starting points for making exciting designs. Their characteristic shapes, varying bark structures, leaves, fruits and seeds could all be interpreted in fabric and thread to great effect. On this course we will enjoy looking at the many possibilities of developing richly coloured patterns and textural surfaces in a range of techniques. These may include print, fabric paints, hand and/or machine embroidery as appropriate for the images envisaged.”

And I have another two day course to look forward to at the end of the month – this time with the other, equally superb half of Double Trouble – Jean Littlejohn - when the theme will be ‘Flowers’.

“On this course students will design dynamic patterns based on flowers. We will combine a variety of printing methods using flowers from our environment and other cultures to produce wonderful colourful backgrounds. Techniques will include bonding, hand and machine embroidery, as well as free appliqué and embellishing.”

Pictures to follow soon.

A new home

One of the things that I’ve been up to during my ‘hiatus’ is creating this new home for my blog.  It’s still a work in progress – I’ve an awful lot of work to do moving images around for instance – but I hope you’ll call in to see me from time to time.

Hiatus

Hiatus (noun) – a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc

After the year began so well, it was followed by the news that I am being made redundant from the day job on 18th March 2011 after eight and a half years. So, a hiatus in blogging while I figure out what happens next.

Back soon – hopefully…..

The Big Day

Hard on the heels of the hen weekend was, of course, the big day itself. Being an events organiser by profession, Kelly, the bride, left absolutely nothing to chance and everything went like clockwork – it was a lovely day and both bride and groom looked really happy.

 

I splashed out and bought a new outfit in black and shocking pink which, of course, needed a matching bag.

And everyone was completely captivated by flower fairy, Grace – none more so than her doting Nana!

 

Finally time to draw breath

Phew! It’s been non-stop for what seems like weeks here but I think I may finally have the time to stop and draw breath and show you what the ‘hens’ produced weekend before last. I’d prepared three different samples of fabric flowers for them to choose from. There were lots of doubtful faces at the beginning of the session but I think they were all delighted with the results which were worn with best frocks on Saturday evening when we enjoyed canapes and champagne served by a butler in the buff!!!

Briefly back ….

Just a quick post to show you the main reason why I’ve been so quiet here lately. You may remember this previous post about Mum’s hexagon quilt. Well, three kilometres (!) of thread and much swearing later I finally finished it on Christmas Eve. She was so pleased, it immediately went on the bed.

Off to Northumberland again for New Year – hope the weather isn’t as bad as last year and we have another awful journey like this one.  As soon as we get back, I have a crafting session to run for about 17 ‘hens’ at my niece’s hen weekend.  Hopefully, I can then get back to some stitching for myself.

Happy New Year!

So little time …

I’m afraid there won’t be much blogging this side of Christmas – lots of sewing projects that are gifts to finish and already I feel like I’m running out of time! Normal service will be resumed in 2011…..

Alchemy indeed ….

I bought this book earlier in the year, fully intending to experiment in the summer when nature is at its most abundant, but, as always, life got in the way. I was talking about the book to my friend Helen last week ,who just happened (as you do!) to have a container of frozen elderberries in her freezer that she kindly donated to me. So today, rather than get on with the household chores, and having been reading India and Arlee’s blogs, I decided to play.

The elderberries, contained in the foot of a popsock and still frozen, were immersed in water in my copper dyeing pot and, very slowly, heated on the stove until barely simmering. While this was going on, I pre-mordanted various different types of cotton fabric in diluted soy milk. In an ideal world, the fabric should have been pre-mordanted, drip dried and left to ‘cure’ before being dyed but the berries were already on the go before I read that page!

When the dye bath had a good bit of colour to it, I decanted some into an empty coffee jar, scrunched in a bit of the soy mordanted cotton and that is destined to sit on the kitchen windowsill to see what will happen to it in the next few weeks. (all the colours in the photos on this post are much brighter in real life – had to use the flash as it’s so grey and gloomy today)

then heated back to almost simmering and left for an hour.
This is what I ended up with:-

The pieces seem to have taken the dye differently – the muslin is much darker than the recycled cotton sheet – and I think a bit of polycotton has inadvertently slipped in as one piece of fabric is very pale. Anyway, I’ll leave it all in the dye pot for as long as possible to steep. It’ll then be drip dried and left for a few days before rinsing and we’ll see what I end up with.
So, that last bit of mordanted cotton – what to do with it? Common sense said to let it dry and cure so I’d have something all ready for dyeing in the future but I was on a roll and wanted colour on that cloth today! Outside I went and gathered some of the fallen leaves from the garden, spread them on the cloth and then rolled it up tightly and secured it with elastic bands. A bit of unmordanted, dampened cotton got the same treatment, as did a piece of habotai silk (but with more carefully placed leaves from the Acer palmatum atropurpureum in the garden). Break out the so-far-unused-but-now-dedicated-to-dyeing electric steamer!
After an hour’s steaming, this is what I had:-
Just look at the colour and patterns from the Acer leaves on that silk!
Now I have to be patient and leave the bundles alone, still tightly wrapped, until I can’t stand the suspense any longer!
Alchemy indeed……