Thursday, October 31, 2013

Witches' Brew

Hallowe'en today. No ghosts or goblins at our house, we live at the end of a long dirt road with only a few houses on it. Its just not worth it for trick-or-treaters to take the risk that someone down here might be giving out treats. For us, we will be happy with the ravens, deer and squirrels and all the falling maple leaves.

Speaking of falling things, I went in search of windfall lichen on my walk down the driveway to Stacey's house. I found quite a lot! A very good start for my collection - which will eventually be boiled up in a witch's brew of dyestuff to colour some future fibre or other.

Last weekend at the conspiracy I took Wild Extraction with Anna Heywood-Jones. We had a day and a half to play around with extracting colour from plants and give it to fabric and yarn. Look what I came home with - a pile of notes, some samples and a head full of inspiration...  that brilliant yellow was derived from the root of oregon grape that we dug up, and the lovely red-brown came from the bucket of hemlock shavings you can see in my previous blog post. The murkier yellow at the bottom of the pic came from lichen, dyed on woolen cloth. A lifetime of possibilities, read Anna's blog if you want more.

I taught a very short introduction class called Modern Crossroads. My evil plan when I teach is to get people making their own quilts; to step away from using patterns designed by someone else, and to get to know their very own hand. It was a three hour class, and my lovelies worked hard without rulers or rules!

Given more time, we would have made more units, but getting the thing together usually takes a good day or maybe even two, as there is always lots of fiddling to do, so three hours was a perfect amount of time for an introduction to "free piecing". I had a great time and I loved  what people came up with in such a short time.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Well. Not.


I'm not going to be one of those people who apologizes for not making a blog post in months. I'm not.


The Denman Island Creative Threads Conspiracy is going on this weekend, and its pretty inspiring!

People are knitting and embroidering, they are dyeing, painting cloth and braiding rugs, eating great food and sewing. Someone there was nalebinding in her spare time! Quilts are being made, in improvisational, traditional and representational styles. Wow- it's creative mayhem in the community hall.

I am in the Natural Dyeing class with Anna Heywood-Jones and I'm having a good time and learning a lot. I always choose the classes I take sort of like I used to choose race horses: with the horses, I would peruse the animals and the jockeys pre-race, and then decide on the team by who had the best buttocks combo (let me interject - I do NOT choose classes based on buttocks; keep reading, hopefully it will make sense!). It had to be good jockey-butt and horse-butt in combination, and then I would bet a dollar or so on them. I really can't remember winning much, but I had a good time. When choosing classes to take, I assess whether or not I would like to spend time in a room with the teacher (online research, whether they give good eye-contact and smile in photos, what the work says...) and that the subject they are teaching speaks to me. I am more right with my formula for taking classes than I ever was with the horses. I don't get horse racing or gambling, and I do get fiber art.

A little about Anna's class.... we walked out into the woods and respectfully collected natural dye materials which we then took back into our classroom and made concoctions from these. We sank little samples of fibres into the festering pots of colour and waited. Anna talked the whole time, about dyes, fibers, how these dyes were used in First Nations cultures, exotic natural dyes, mordants, pitching colour, and a lot more. She really knows her stuff and has a real passion for the subject. And she is really nice to be in a room with. Then we hung our samples to dry. Its fun, its sort of scientific and sort of intuitive and a little scary and a lot experimental. I can hardly wait to do more. Anna makes it seem very accessible to me to do on my own, I feel like I can experiment and the results will be perhaps unpredictable but always exciting. Its better than betting a dollar on a horse/jockey butt combo.
Hemlock, the inner bark, shaved from a fallen tree.