Sunday, December 09, 2007

Inchie Challenge

The Designing Women challenge was to produce something that would display our inchies from the swap at our retreat. There were 13 inchie swap participants and this is the set I received.

I didn't meet the deadline but I wasn't alone - only 4 of us had challenge pieces finished. Helen had created a great cuff (in 10 minutes she claimed!) which appealed to everyone. I had thought I would make a necklet but, after seeing the cuff, I decided to make a bracelet. Joan had framed hers in a spiral layout, Delys had made a cube with inchies on each face (which meant she had to add some ring-ins as she 4 on each side - a total of 16), and someone? had made a needle case and appliqued the inchies to the cover.

I wrapped a ring from a Vegemite (Aussie staple diet item) jar with acrylic yarn and then stitched with bright coloured cottons all over it. This was to hide the big stitches I just knew I was going to make when attaching the inchies.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pink Crochet Top Finished

This is me wearing the pink crochet top. It's beautifully cool to wear as it is very fine cotton. I think I might add a few more flowers - although most of my friends seem to think it is finished as is.
I have 20 rows to go for the sleeve on the Splendid Wren coloured top and then it will be ready to assemble.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This is what happens...

When I can't sleep! My mind goes round and round thinking about HOW to make something. We have a Christmas decoration swap coming up. I'm trying to use these decorations as an opportunity to try techniques I've heard about but never done. I've seen beads made by wrapping fabric/yarn scraps around lengths of drinking straw. I thought they might look good as a 3-D decoration but wanted to be sure I could actually construct it before I made heaps of beads. So at 3am I got out of bed, cut up some drinking straws into 2.5cm and 5cm lengths and created these by threading yarn through. I found I needed a doll needle for the longer straws and that I needed to go through the beads several times in different directions to get a good tension throughout. I think these have definite potential so now I need to make the beads themselves.

Christmas Decorations

One of the groups I attend is having a Christmas Decoration swap at their next meeting so I've been playing with creating some decorations using techniques I've read about but never actually done. This star was created by painting Vliesofix fusible web with gold paint, letting it dry and then ironing the webbing to felt. I stitched a wonky grid with a variegated red rayon thread. I cut out the star shapes and zigzag stitched the edges together. I added the stuffing just before I completed the stitching around the edges while it was still under the presser foot of the machine. I've cut out 2 more and will stitch those by hand so I'll have a total of 3 different decorations from the one piece of embellished felt. I think I put a bit too much paint on the Vliesofix as it didn't adhere very well to the felt and would have looked better with a "worn" look. I am pleased with it overall though and the surface feels very like leather.

Pam Annesley Workshop

Here are my results from the workshop at the weekend with Pam Annesley hosted by the Designing Women group. Pam is a textile and polymer clay artist here in Perth and I've put her website into my links section.
Pam showed us how to layer paper images (pics from mags, wrapping paper, sweet wrappers etc) onto a base fabric with PVA glue and then use tissue paper and paint to fill-in gaps and/or go over the images. I liked the effect of the painting over tissue paper more so I omitted the images bit :-) There are several coats of PVA glue on the top and the resulting fabric/paper is apparently strong enough to make bags and/or boxes. Some ladies went on to stitch their first sheet into one of the designs Pam provided a pattern for. I decided to create a 2nd sheet instead and will do the stitching at home where I have all my threads handy.

I'm thinking I might turn one of them into a wine bottle carrier and depending on the success (or otherwise) of that will decide the fate of the other one.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Dyeing Fun

I played with the dyes that arrived from KraftKolour. I mixed the powders (about 50/50) to get an orange from the red & yellow, a purple from the red & blue, and a green from the blue & yellow. These pieces of fabric are the results of the baggies "cooking" in the sun using only one colour per piece so I have a colour reference for the future. I mixed up far too much dye so had a go later in the week as well with some yarn. And I've still got some mixed up dye left. Apparently they gradually lose reactive strength once mixed with water so I'm probably not going to get much else if I try to use them - but I will chuck something in to see what happens. If it doesn't work I haven't lost anything as I can always dye it again. I really like the Rubine.
This is the yarn that I think looks like the plumage of the Spendid Wren. I first dyed the yarn blue, then overdyed with red, purple and rubine. I was so pleased with it I started crocheting a top for myself as soon as it was dry! It will be a miracle if I look as good in this as the wren does in his finery :-)

Friday, October 05, 2007

A parcel arrived this week from KraftKolour I ordered some Procion dyes of my very own after the fun I had the previous couple of weekends. I decided on the 3 primaries and black, and then had a rush of blood to the head and added Rubine just because it took my fancy. They arrived in perfect condition so now I just have to pluck up the courage to actually use them. Bonnie at KraftKolour was very helpful when I explained that I was a beginner.

I've got a couple of things I want to do. The first thing I want to do is dye a piece of fabric with the pure colour and also mix the secondary colours from the primaries and dye a piece of fabric in each of them. So I'll have 8 samples of single colours. I want to add some more colour to the balls of yarn I dyed previously to get rid of the white that's showing. I have got some cotton yarn already skeined up too which I'll use several colours on. That's probably enough for one day. As a future project I also want to dye some really old faded and worn blue t-shirts and then cut them into 1/2" strips to knit and/or crochet. I thought I'd dye them first to make sure they take the dye rather than cut and knit only to discover they're not what I thought they were and don't dye. I'm going to wait to do that though until I have a bit more of a "feel" for what colours I get with what I've mixed today.

This is what my laundry looked like while preparing to dye. I mixed the powdered dye into a liquid in the laundry tub with all the doors closed to minimise any dye dust floating about. Then I did the actual dyeing just outside the laundry as I have a wall which is a great height for working at. This area isn't seen by visitors to the house so I figured if I made a mess and dyed the bricks it wouldn't matter too much - better than spillage inside the house.

These are some El Cheapo brushes I bought at the $2 shop - I went in looking for something to hold the bags such as washing up bowls or cat litter trays. They didn't have those but I thought I'd try the brushes at $2 for 4. They were brilliant for mixing the powdered dyes into a liquid. I'll be going back to buy the rest of their stock as soon as I can.

This is one of the washing up bowls with the dyed fabric just "sitting" in the sun. I placed it on the bricks in the sun as that was the warmest spot in the garden. I folded the tops of the bags over to prevent evaporation.

All the dyeing sunbathing. As this is my first attempt I mixed up far too much dye and will probably have to have another go in a few days to use it up - apparently it lasts about a week as a liquid if not refrigerated - and I don't have spare room in the fridge. This is absolutely the hardest part - leaving for 24 hours as I'm sure that will give me the strongest colour. I've told Russ he needs to eat more ice cream - I need more containers :-)

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm back...

These are the fruits of the last 2 weekends. The smaller group were dyed at my friend Joan's place in Leschenault, Western Australia and the larger group were dyed with the help of Joan Lock at a retreat in Dwellingup, WA. Both were using up old Procion dyes on cotton and now I think I might have to buy some dyes to do some more experiments of my own. Wonder how long it will be before I am offering them to some unsuspecting person saying "they're old dyes and we can have a bit of a play, they may work, they may not" :-)

Both sessions were great fun. The smaller batch were done without bags and we managed to create an almighty mess between myself, Joan and my 10 year old friend Andrea. We also didn't realise we should have added salt to the Soda Ash soak. The larger batch were done by putting a little dye concentrate in a bag, adding the yarn (was supposed to be a piece of fabric but I had yarn) then adding enough soda ash and salt solution to wet it all, another tablespoon or so of dye concentrate in another colour, squishing a bit and then leaving for 24 hours. This was decidedly less messy :-)

Now I need to spend some time looking at dyeing websites for ideas, recipes and supplies. I am currently reading Complex Cloth by Jane Dunnewold - awesome book. This copy is from the libary - it looks like a "must have". Uh oh, I think I am hooked.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Purses finished

Today I finished off these two purses in time to give them as birthday gifts for a couple of my friends. I made them using my own "Artists Canvas" purse pattern that is available on my website

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Crochet embellishment 3

I crocheted a few pink flowers last night so that I could see the effect of them grouped together on the t-shirt. I've made all different ones - just making them up as I went along. I like the look of these against the uniform and regular half treble crochet I used to make the basic t-shirt. I much prefer this self-coloured textural look to the embroidery experiments I did previously. So, lots more crochet flowers coming up.

Most of today has been spent making up orders and replenishing stock. I'm off to a retreat this weekend and taking my goodies to sell there. I'm taking my Seven Sisters quilt so that I can continue quilting it, Karen's Konstellation in case I finish the Seven Sisters as I don't think I 've got that much more of the centre panel to go, and the pink thread so I can crochet some more flowers. These make a nice break from hand quilting so I don't get too achy from doing one thing all the time. Knowing me I'll probably pack quite a few other things to do too even though I should have learned by now that I always take too much.
I took on newsletter duties for the WA Fibre & Textiles Association recently so I am currently compiling my first issue. As is usually the case with these things this first issue seems to be taking me forever. I looked at my schedule yesterday and frightened myself with all that I have to do over the next month. I am determined to keep blogging - although I will miss a few days while on retreat.

Monday, April 09, 2007

crochet embellishment 2

These are the two yarns I had in mind for embellishing the pink t-shirt. The multicoloured one is very slubby and proved too difficult to weave through the crochet. Weaving also damaged the yarn. I didn't like the effect of the purple and pink variegated yarn once woven although it was easy to weave as it is smooth. In the photos you can see the bright yellow tacking too. This is for placement purposes and will be removed after embellishing the top. So, back to square one as far as embellishing is concerned.

I have now decided to try adding texture rather than colour, and to create a more informal panel as I didn't like the regularity of the weaving either. I like the idea of lots of flowers using the same thread that I used to make the top stitched randomly over the panel and extending over the shouler area. The beige flowers are experiments - I like the size of them so will now go ahead and make lots from the pink thread.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Whirl Shape Drawn and Tested

I have just finished drawing and testing the Whirl shape you can see here. A customer requested this shape which is formed by 4 intersecting circles that then tesselate as a one-patch. I have also drawn the shapes to go around the edges to make the quilt top rectangular. These straight edges make it easy to attach borders and/or binding to the finished quilt top. You can see from the photo of the back of the block that I found it easier to tack the seam allowance of inward-facing curves onto the papers if I clipped them. The seam allowance along the straight sides is left "flapping" so that it doesn't get caught when piecing - which again makes it easier for attaching borders.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Improving Crochet Skills

I can crochet but have always wanted to get to that stage of being able to design things myself rather than simply follow a pattern. I also like the idea of embellishing a fabric of basic stitches with more crochet using decorative yarns. So I've been playing with various yarns and different sized hooks to get a better understanding of what happens when you change various things. Hopefully I will be able to better predict results and more quickly bring an idea into reality. I have not worried about colours for these experiments - just weight and type of yarn, and the size of the hook. I am primarily interested in cotton yarn so that I can combine the crochet with cotton fabrics to make clothing. If everything is cotton I believe it will be easier to overdye the finished garment to give it a more planned "look".