A Dyed Garment – Ripped From the Catalogs!

I have been doing some dyeing, over the last few days and having lots of fun. Many of the projects I worked on did not come out as I had hoped, but this knit top “ripped from a catalog” is a winner. I had some ideas about what to do with a knit top I bought from Dharma Trading Company, but when I flipped through a catalog the other night, I found the perfect (and perfectly simple) design. I’ve been working on some examples of shibori and tie dye for the neighborhood ladies’ craft group. Tie dyeing is loads of fun, but perhaps not so wearable for us older ladies… Shibori techniques, on the other hand, can be quite elegant and examples of them are in all sorts of stores. This pattern is so easy; it’s the classic spiderweb (perhaps called kumo in Japanese?) and I always enjoy it. Here it is all tied up.

And here is the front….

And a side view…

And the back.

The color couldn’t have been simpler! It’s PRO Chem MX Fuchsia 308. I dribbled it into the pan until I liked the tint and submerged the t-shirt. The fact that it looks so nice on my mannequin means it won’t fit me now (she’s a size 10) but it’s a good Summer goal for me. ;-D



Shibori Surprises

It has been forever since I have dyed anything! I attended the very wonderful wool dyeing workshop at Pro Chem two Summers ago when we were moving and that’s been it. { FYI – Pro Chem has a lot of interesting workshops and you’d be learning from the best!} A year or so ago, I gave my friend Molly an IOU for a shibori class and finally decided that I needed to get to it. Most of the dyeing supplies are out in the garage and the first order of business was to get them out so that I could see what came with us. I did order dyes a few months ago, when I remembered that I threw all the MX dyes away when we moved.

So here are all the goodies I dug out of several storage bins for Molly to play with. On the computer I located my class notes from years ago when I was teaching shibori, reminding me of what I might show her.

Shibori goodies

I didn’t look at the clock much (too much talking!) but this is about 2 hours worth of stitching, clamping, knotting and folding ready to go in the dye baths.

Ready to dye!

Here’s Molly with some of her favorite samples. Aren’t the purples just fabulous? They came out well, but she was trying for an orange and got a coral instead. I have some new dye colors, as my usual go-tos seem to be gone and the yellow wasn’t doing much. Disappointing and it means I will need to do some dye experiments to find out the proper proportions for orange.

Molly's handwork

A day of handwork………there’s nothing like creating for the soul!

Molly's hands


Shibori Kimono Collection

Because of Peter’s job with a US connector company, we lived in Asia for about 8 years. The last 4 years of that time we lived in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, next door to a Yakusa and down the street from some minor Royals. Every place that we lived or visited, I found new and wonderful textiles, paintings or china to collect. Everything is indeed very expensive in Japan, so I had to consider each purchase with care. The surprisingly inexpensive items to collect were kimono! As I think about it now, though treasures to us, used kimono are – used clothing! Just as I don’t hang the gown that I wore to the Christmas dance with Peter, the Japanese find it odd that we display their clothing. (Perhaps that’s why they were such a deal.) I lived very close by to a shrine sale (think garage sales on Sunday at a church) which happened once a month and I would walk down and hope for some great finds.

And now I must admit that I still collect kimono, though now I buy them on eBay and several Internet stores. This is my newest acquisition and I am absolutely in love with it. I call this sort of shibori, dotty, but the Japanese call it dots within squares. It is a bound technique; thread is twisted around a teeny tiny bit of the fabric to create the resist. This kimono is a whole study of how the dots can be combined to make other shapes.

The dyes are darker in some spots, as you can see on the sleeve, and lighter in others.

In this close-up of the back, you can see that the color disappears entirely, but there is still texture from the bound dots. Wow. Wow. Wow.

This kimono is also new. It is quite thin and I am wondering if it might be an under kimono. When dressing for a very fancy occasion, several kimono may be layered.

I was drawn to the shape of the resist on this kimono. In referring to a book I have about shibori, this looks like it is the larch shape. It is stitched on the outside and bound on the inside of the shape. Do you see that the artist left one oval blank? Love the asymmetry of that.

And finally, this is not a kimono, but a thin scarf that a woman uses to tie over her obi so that you can’t see any of the underpinnings. This is a favorite of mine. The fabric is blue silk and the artist wound what are called spider webs, or kumo in Japanese.

My collection rotates according to the season, my whim and what I may have just bought and looking at them inspires and delights me on a daily basis.