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 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.

Focused on Shibori

On Friday, Eloise, Yolanda and Eula came for a class in shibori dyeing. What a day we had! They made some incredibly beautiful fabrics and were so intent on wrapping, clamping and tying that I could hardly get them to stop so that we could put the fabrics in the dyepots and eat lunch.

Yolanda used lots of marbles to make a beautiful piece of fabric which you can see further down the post.

Eloise brought some commercially dyed fabrics and got great results.

Like this – this fabric was a gold and was dyed with in the red violet  bucket – wow! Isn’t it amazing?

Eula wrapped and wrapped what I call spider webs…

…and look how lovely they are.

This is the front and back of a white on white print. Yolanda got a “two fer”. The white on white looks very Japanese to me.

Clamping always looks so dramatic.

And here’s the clean up at the end of the day. Isn’t this an interesting assortment of stuff?

Arashi Shibori Quilts

When preparing for my class the other day, I dug out some of the quilts I made when I was last dyeing these lovely fabrics. I don’t think my students will have trouble coming up with ways to use the fabrics, but many do. I find when people take dyeing classes, they feel very “precious” about their work. It’s even worse with any sort of shibori fabrics because you have taken a good bit of time to make a truly one of a kind fabric. I do not save tiny bits of commercial fabrics, but believe me, I save all my shibori bits!!! When thinking about quilts to make, what came to mind was plain Amish style quilts which would showcase the fabric. I wouldn’t do – say – a drunkard’s path or something with weird shapes which would waste my fabrics.

One difficulty I have is thinking of how to quilt them, as quilting is not my strong suit. For “New Age Nine Patch I”, I had to think of something to do in the plain blocks. I finally did a flower shape using a straight stitch, so a lot of rotating under the needle was involved.

It’s always nice to see your work after some time; you get a different perspective on it. And it makes me want to make some more! I really got caught up with the oranges for a time. I dyed using a magenta and a fuchsia with the same yellow and came up with a myriad of yellow and red oranges. I keep trying to do something very abstract, but it doesn’t seem to be in me. Perhaps I can move from these simple quilts to one that are more abstract; this is as close as I have come.

Many years ago when I started dyeing cotton and became a quilter, I wanted to make a progressive quilt where the color moves. I never did it as I thought it would be too dull in plain hand dyes, but when I dyed the arashi shibori I knew that this was the fabric I needed! The center color is pure fuchsia and it moves out to the edge which is a pure blue. This one gave me fits – I didn’t know how much fabric I would need as I moved out and I spent a lot of time dyeing to match. A color would look “close enough” but jump out when I sewed it in place…..

This is my take on Chinese Coin quilts, made wonky, and was made to use up “bits”. The inspiration for the applique design came from the back of a woman’s blue jean jacket at a craft show! I whipped out my pad and did a quick drawing. You never know when you will see something interesting!

I hope this gives you some ideas for quilts and helps you make yourself cut up beautiful fabrics that you have. If you’d like to see some close-ups, I have added a page to my website.

Arashi Shibori Class – the Reveal

Fall definitely seems to be here, but I had hoped that it would be warm enough last Thursday for us to sit outside to do the messy job of adding dyes and chemicals to the buckets…. Instead, I put lots of sheets of plastic, covered with old towels on the kitchen floor. Dyes were mixed at the kitchen table. As you can see, there were lots of different colors and I had everyone using their smart phones to time the various buckets!

Another reason I like to dye outdoors is emptying the buckets. This size bucket, with lots of water in it is very, very heavy to lift up and try to accurately pour into the sink. However, Peter was working at home and I asked him to help carry the buckets outside where we dumped them in the sewer grate in the backyard. The hose was on as well, so that the bucket could be sprayed to get the excess dye out, as could the pipes with the drippy dyes. And here we are indoors again as the reveal begins.

It’s amazing how much dental floss is used to wind around the fabric. And look how pretty! Unwrapping arashi shibori fabric is so much fun!!!

This is Debbie, impersonating a tree trunk! No really, she brought a new brown dye to try – isn’t it a great color? Earlier, when they were dumping buckets outside, I did see her photographing the trunk of our gorgeous burr oak. Perhaps a project is in the making.

Barb is washing a nice piece of red-orange.

And here is one of the pieces of fabric that Bev overdyed. She creates art quilts and these fabrics could be the inspiration for a new series – I hope!

I really enjoy teaching shibori and surface design classes. Helping students learn a new technique and be inspired, inspires me as well. I asked them to send pictures and a write up when they use these lovely fabrics in a new project, so look for a guest post coming soon. Barb took me seriously and this morning I found this picture of all the fabric she dyed on Thursday – thanks Barb! (And sorry, I can’t get the picture to turn….)

Arashi Shibori Class!

I haven’t taught arashi shibori for some time and have been really looking forward to it. On Thursday some of the “Ladies Who Dye” as I call them, came for what I had planned to be a morning of wrapping. Turns out I underestimated the amount of time it would take to – catch up, demonstrate some techniques, wrap, prepare the dye buckets, etc! Luckily there is a sandwich place nearby so the ladies did not starve.

Arashi shibori is so lovely! For years I had admired it and “knew” how to do it from reading books and articles, but just never tried it. When I was able to take classes with Akemi Nakano Cohn, I jumped at the chance. She studied with many fiber artists in Japan and went to Cranbrook, so she is an expert.

The technique is not all that difficult and there are many variations. Frankly, each strip you dye is a one of a kind piece, never to be duplicated even if you wanted to. Strips of fabric are wrapped around a PVC pipe, so that they look like candy canes. Then thread, twine or dental floss is wrapped around the fabric and it is compressed. Two variations are: pushing the fabric straight down the pole or pushing with a twist. We used cotton, though the results are even more amazing with silks.

It’s fun to experiment with a variety of wrapping fibers, though the twine made Debbie sneeze so much she had to stop using it!

You need many hands when wrapping; it’s quite awkward when you are first learning. Barb has run out of hands….

And here is Beverly, overdyeing a surface design experiment that she didn’t like. When you are a dyer, anything that doesn’t please you can be overdyed, until you have a result you like!

Here are some pipes ready to put into the buckets and let the magic happen… Check in a few days for “the reveal”!

Clamped Shibori

Class updates and some “atta girls” too!

Last Thursday morning I taught a shibori class that has been postponed twice – once because of the weather and once because I was sick. Third time is the charm…

In looking over my other shibori class postings, I realized there is a really fun technique that I didn’t photograph – clamping. I asked the ladies to rip some 12″ squares of fabrics. The blocks of wood are cut into 3″ squares and 3″ half triangles. For the square piece of wood, I have them fold the fabric in a fan shape one way and then the other. For the triangle, they fold a fan shape and then a flag fold. You can tie everything together, but for these small sizes, I like clamps.

Isn’t the result just amazing? There is something about all the white space and the crispness of the lines that makes it special. This is the flag fold. Variations come from how you fold the fabric, and how you clamp it. You can, of course, fold it again and re-dye it. If you soak the fabric in a soda ash solution, you can dip the sides in different dyes and then batch it (let it sit) in a baggie. Clamping is a pretty simple technique for the Japanese, who do such ornate shibori, and I read that they use it for kimono linings and diapers. There’s something you can make for the next baby shower you’re invited to!

And here are the “atta girls”. Last Wednesday night was the finish up class for Primitive Rug Hooking. Karen finished her rug and worked on binding the edge. I particularly like her tulip and leaves – they make me think of an old piece of fabric.. Her hooking was very well done and so even. Impressive job for a new hooker.

I invited Laura, who was in the Fall class and lives close to the store. She seems to have caught the “hooking bug” and here she’s working on another project. She is without a cutter, so she uses a rotary cutter to cut  the wool into 1/2″ pieces and then scissors to cut them 1/4″. She is a lover of primitives, so this suits her and looks wonderful.

I am working on some new ideas for a Fall rug hooking class. I have been using the tulip and heart for some years and am ready for a new pattern, or maybe two. I am thinking of drawing some quilt applique sort of patterns, wreaths, bouquets of flowers, something fairly simple for beginners. Since I am teaching in a quilt store, I hope that will lure new people.

Perhaps I will work on that today, to cheer me up! It’s rainy and 52 degrees, and rain is predicted for the rest of the week…. There are lots of daffodils out today so I will need to make a dash between the raindrops to pick them.

Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair-

Registration is Open!

This is the fair’s 5th anniversary and it will be held June 24 – 26 at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Illinois. This will be the second year at this location and I am sure will be better than ever.

I have been teaching there since the beginning and over the years I have taught some fun classes and enjoyed great students. One year I was crazy and taught an all day shibori class. The students were exhausted by the end of the day and I was too! In the morning we did folding and clamping and a bit of sewing,

and in the afternoon, it was on to arashi shibori. I often wonder if any of them still dye…

Last year I offered wool applique.

I think the ladies chose some pretty combinations.

This will be the third year I have taught Primitive Rug Hooking. Here are some of the colors I’ve dyed for class.

And here are a group of ladies happily hooking! Doesn’t it look like fun?

As well as rug hooking, I will also have several hour class/demos on English Paper Piecing. There’s yummy food, music, many, many vendors and lots of interesting artsy people to chat with. There are loads of interesting classes with some “big” name teachers this year, and as I said, registration is open, so I hope you will check out the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair.

Nui Shibori

Another shibori class met at my house a few Saturdays ago. This time we concentrated on mostly stitched resists, which the Japanese call nui. It’s a very time-consuming process, but it’s my favorite to do. The results are stunning. To get the stitching out, you need very sharp little scissors and a lot of patience, or you may cut the fabric.

Stitching and gathering around dowels

Stitching and marbles

Dyed fabric right off the dowels

Another method we tried was folding the fabric in various ways and dipping it in dye. I pre-soaked pieces of fabric in soda ash and salt, so the dye would be permanent. This is a direct dyeing technique and the colors are always very strong.

I did the dipping method many, many years ago with my second graders. We used folded tissue paper and food dyes and they came up with amazing patterns. When you use paper, while it is still wet, you unfold it to dry and – voila – you have the most unusual wrapping paper!