Fall Yarns and a Fun Tote

Two self-striping sock yarn colorways are now available in my shop:  Fall Colors (with Plum), which is on the left, and Dark Anchorage Autumn on the right.

For eye candy, I included photos of a tote bag I made in July for a fundraiser for the Alaska Sudan Medical Project  The colorful designs were created by printing with food onto white fabric.  It was a lot of fun and a therapeutic activity on a dark winter day.  The wavy red lines at the top of the tote in the last picture were created by edges of (uncooked) lasagne noodles.


Indigo Dyeing

DSCN0458I finally broke out the indigo dye that I purchased from Dharma Trading Company a while back.  It’s a processed, somewhat easy-to-use formulation.  DSCN0454

I used the basic shibori techniques that can be easily found on the internet, along with plain old dyeing. One thing that’s fun is that when the items are removed from the indigo bath, they are blue-green.  They need about 15 minutes’ exposure to the air to darken.  Here is a photo of the back of the shirt fresh from the dyepot:DSCN0456

Just as with chemical dyeing, you’re going to have irregularities unless you agitate the item a lot in the dye bath.  Agitation is discouraged in indigo dyeing because it introduces oxygen, which can ruin the indigo bath for future use.

Here is some yarn and fabric that I dipped in the vat without tying any type of pattern.  (Yarn for sale here)


To achieve the darker shade, you just repeat the process of dipping and leaving the item out for a while to oxidize. The darker-colored items were dipped about 3 times and also suspended beneath the surface of the dye once for about 15 minutes.

I dyed an additional skein, shown below, and was knitting it for 2 hours at the Spinners’ and Weavers’ Guild meeting.  I noticed that the color was coming off on my fingers, especially the left index finger where the yarn passes across (I’m a continental knitter.).  I asked a natural dyer how to prevent the dye coming off and she said, “Indigo does this.”canvas

I will certainly rinse the heck out of the cowl after it’s finished and hope that my neck doesn’t turn blue!  (Yarn base is Sterling Silk and Silver.)

And now for some links that you might find interesting:

How failure helps creativity article  from BBC.

“If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes.” More on Vincent Van Gogh’s quote here.

Folt Bolt on Facebook provides multiple bits of artistic eye candy per day in your feed, from ceramics to jewelry to textiles, all with links.

Really good thoughts on this blog,  zenhabits.net

A blog about running a craft business and lots of other fibre-y information, including a weekly podcast, www.whileshenaps.com

Jonathan Fields has a weekly podcast with guests who have thought-provoking commentary.  For instance, this week’s guest, Bronnie Ware, is the author of a book on the 5 major regrets that dying people express.

Have you ever said, “I wish…”?  There is a free, online book with super-practical ideas for turning your wishes into reality:  Wishcraft.

What If I Fail?

DSCN0031I have given myself a new opportunity for growth.  I was invited to join a small group of quilters who create improvisational art quilts for charity.  The current charity is the local Nordic Ski Association, and we are making quilts for its November silent auction.  The group chose the theme “Tracks.”  I might utterly fail at my first few attempts, so I’ve already begun sewing! I sewed white strips together to use for snow and others to use for woods–as a start.

Just to show that I can do more than just run over a stitched piece (in a previous post), here is the result of another exercise.  We brainstormed items that occur in pairs or sets and then chose one and had about 90 minutes to create a piece.  Here is mine:DSCN0029

I have prepared yarn for dyeing the following colorways tomorrow:  Russian Rainbow (4 skeins), Lupine (2 skeins) and Sunprint (4 skeins).  Sunprint is not really sun printed–just inspired by the wonderful colors I achieved with fabric these past weeks.  (Of course you could sun print yarn, but I’ll save that experiment for next summer.) Sunprint will have 9 color segments. Here is yet another photo of sun printed fabrics that provided the inspiration: DSCN0033

More Sun Printing in Alaska

We had one of those occasional sunny and hot (73 degrees!) days in Anchorage yesterday and I was sunprinting like mad.DSCN0167 For the fabrics in the first three photos, I used my favorite blueprinting method:  Dipping the fabric in a cyanotype chemical solution consisting of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. I purchased the chemicals from www.blueprintsonfabric.com ten years ago.  I mixed some solution (chemicals plus water) a month or two ago and keep it in the garage in an opaque plastic container, covered–for good measure–with a black garbage bag.

I included some different fabrics in yesterday’s dyefest.  At the bottom center of the photo is linen (the two small ferns).  On the lower left is wool–not a big success this time!  Continuing around clockwise is silk velvet. To the right of the silk velvet is Kona cotton that was previously dyed green, yellow and turquoise. In the upper right–the four ferns–is a piece of silk.

You can see that I used a variety of items as masks this time:  Lace, two types of mesh, paper clips, washers and a big metal grid.

DSCN0162The white fabric (here, Kona cotton, PFD) is yellowish right after it’s removed from the solution.  I work in the garage–with the garage door closed–to prevent UV light from exposing the fabric until I am ready.  You can see that I raided my husband’s workbench for supplies!  Then I carried the fabric (on its “bed” of, here, foam core board covered with batting and then plastic) outdoors, left it in the sun for 20 minutes, brought it inside and rinsed it.  Here is the result:DSCN0171

I had better luck this time with my Lumi Inkodye prints.  I think I overexposed them previously.   DSCN0173Now I need to figure out how to use the fabrics in quilting!

The Quilted Raven

DSCN0148I was dropping off yarn at The Quilted Raven (in downtown Anchorage) and bought these gorgeous fat quarters.  Don’t ask me which ones I’ll use for what projects:  I just selected the fabrics that spoke to me.  I had only 40 minutes on my parking meter (and no more quarters) so wasn’t able to go totally nuts, which I was definitely tempted to do!  The shop carries gorgeous yarns, wool embroidery supplies, buttons, kits, jewelry and probably lots more that I didn’t notice–along with their unique Alaskan fabrics, patterns and kits.  Check out their online store if you’re not in Anchorage; just don’t confuse this awesome shop with another shop of the same name in Yellowknite, Northwest Territories.