Thursday, July 28, 2011

Caught in the Act

For the past few years I have grown a variety of tomatoes, called Sun Gold. They are a cherry tomato, a bright yellowy orange when ripe. They are sweet, juicy, succulent and I love to eat them warm right off the vine. I planted them quite small and have watched them get tall and vigorous with my daily waterings and weekly feedings. I picked a few a couple of weeks ago and have been eagerly awaiting the ripening of the rest. Before I went away for a few days last week, I had several that were starting to turn yellow. I anticipated a nice handful to pick when I got home. Nothing! I was perplexed. Every day I go out and check and.....nothing! I began to suspect a varmint.

Here's a nice cluster of green ones, still not ripe. This morning I saw a half-eaten ripe one on the railing of the deck. Aha, the plot thickens!

Then later in the day I was reading inside by the window that overlooks the deck and I heard a plop that sounded like a falling tomato. I looked out to see the plant swaying and a chipmunk scurrying across the deck. A little later I heard the same noise and there he was a bold as could be climbing the plant. I had to stamp my feet and make a lot of noise before he ran away. Then I went and got my camera and the next time I caught him in the act and was able to snap this picture before he took off. I'm not sure if he's the only one or part of a group of thieves.

Don't tell me how cute he is! I want my tomatoes!! I wait for them all year, but doubt that I'll have them this year. I'll have to go to the farmer's market on Saturday. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can keep them away? I have two big containers with one big plant each.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shibori surprise

This will be my last post on Shibori for awhile because I've run out of PFD fabric and have to order some more. When I did my last batch I had an awful lot of dye left in the bucket and it seemed a shame to throw it away, so I experimented with putting in a small piece of white fabric to see it the dye was still viable after several hours. The fabric took the dye, although it was much lighter than the original batch. So I quickly sewed up two tubes of fabric to fit over the pipes, scrunched it down and put it in the dye pot for a couple of hours. When I rinsed it out, I had the nice light blue on the left. I scrunched one of the them again and put it back in for an hour or two and got the results on the right. I guess I could have done more, but as I said, I was out of fabric.

From now on, when I do a batch, I will have another batch ready to go in the now weaker dye. Maybe I'm making my dye too strong, but I was happy with that deep dark color achieved on the first dip.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

And More Shibori

I've been away for a few days visiting relatives in upstate NY, where it should have been nice and cool. But it was just as hot as most of the rest of the country. We had a delightful time anyway, getting to see some relatives that we haven't seen in ages. The visit was mainly for a memorial for my first cousin who passed away this winter and it was bittersweet because of that.

Before I went I did some more shibori experimenting. Here are just a few of the results.

This was done by wrapping the fabric on the poles diagonally, then wrapping with thread before scrunching down. It was much more labor intensive than sewing a tube and scrunching down and I don't think it was worth the extra effort.

Here's the sewn tube scrunched down, this time done on a pre-dyed fabric. Reminds me of tiger stripes. I did this in a couple of colors.

This is the tube sewn, scrunched down version again. After rinsing and washing, the one on the left was done a second time in the same color dye. I like the intense, close together look of the wiggly stripes.

I experimented some more with doing the sewing by machine. I put Jeans Stitch thread in the bottom and was able to get it pulled very tight before dyeing. The results are not bad, but not as good as hand sewn.

Here is a good example of hand sewn versus machine sewn. They were both done in the exact same pattern of half circles sewn on a folded strip. The one on the left is hand sewn and a much crisper design.

These last three are a few of the folded and clamped designs I tried. I accordion pleated them, pressing each pleat as I went with a hot iron. After pleating and folding, a wooden shape was clamped onto each side of the bundle and submerged into the dye. The wooden shapes bought at Michael's, came in various shapes and sizes and were quite inexpensive. I think I achieved some very interesting patterns. This first one was folded into triangle shapes and used wooden triangles. I did these in different sizes.

I did several circle ones using different sized circles and different widths of folds.

This used a fun flower shape. It's rather whimsical, but I'm not sure if I would use it in a quilt.

I'll do one more posting tomorrow with what was a pleasant surprise for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good News!

I was so pleased today to get the email notification that my quilt, "Of Cabbages and Kings" has been juried into the IQA show, Quilts: A World of Beauty in Houston this fall. This is a whole cloth painted quilt that was quilted using free-motion satin stitch.


Last year was the first one in seven years that I did not have something in the show. I didn't enter because I just didn't have anything that I thought was right. This year I entered two and this was one accepted. So I will be going to Houston again this year. It's always a wonderful experience.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Shibori

These next four Shibori samples involve stitching by hand using a strong thread and then pulling it all up very tight before putting it in the dye bath. Be sure to click on each picture for a bigger view.

This one is rather tedious. I drew the wavy lines with water soluble graphite pencil and then folded on each line so that I was sewing through two layers of fabric very close to the fold.

It was suggested that I try machine stitching and this is the result. While it was a cinch to sew, pulling up the threads was not. I was so afraid of them breaking and I didn't get them evenly pulled. But I am going to try it again, using Jeans Stitch thread in the bobbin. That would make it easier to pull tight.

This was done with just straight rows of running stitch by hand, I am using that Jeans Stitch thread by YLI for all my hand stitching. It is very strong and won't break, no matter how hard I pull.
Several people thought that they saw "people" in this piece. Do you?

This is one of my favorites, although it is rather tedious, too You fold your fabric in half length wise then draw concentric half circles in a row. First sew all the larger circles, jumping from one circle to the next without cutting the thread. Do all three rows this way then pull up all the 3 threads tightly. Put in dye-bath.

After the dye bath for all of these, you rinse and rinse then take out the stitching, wearing rubber gloves unless you want blue hands. Then wash in the washing machine in hot water with Synthropol, a soap meant for removing excess dye.

Now I am doing more pole wrapping in a different manner that the ones I showed yesterday and more stitch resist and folding and clamping. For now I am sticking to blue and white, but plan to branch out to other colors or color over color. The possibilities are endless. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I mentioned in my last post that I was going to do some Shibori. If you are unfamiliar with the word, it is a Japanese term for the dye-resist technique of binding, clamping, or gathering fabric so that the dye cannot reach certain parts. The results are very interesting and often unpredictable. The traditional way of doing it is with Indigo dye, a complicated and messy process, but I have used MX reactive dyes in an Indigo color. Here are just a few of the samples that I've done over the past few days, starting with the easiest.

This was a piece of fabric that was folded accordion style then tied loosely with thread to keep the stacked shape.

This piece was folded in the same accordion pleat style but bound tightly with thread to form a tight roll. See how the dye could not penetrate the center and left many more white spaces.

These next two pieces were made by sewing a 45" tube of fabric to fit a PVC pipe 4" in diameter. I scrunched the fabric as tightly as I could to compress it toward the bottom of the pole.
After the fabric is prepped, it is submerged in the dye for a few hours, then taken out, unfolded or unscrunched, rinsed and washed.

Please come back tomorrow to see some stitched Shibori with some fascinating designs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue, Day 10

Why are so many of the things that we love to eat unhealthy or not good for us? You know what I mean....bacon cheeseburgers, chocolate chip cookies, deep fried anything, candy, cheesecake, etc., etc. Of course a little bit once in awhile won't kill you, but it's so rewarding when you find something that you love that is actually good for you. Like blueberries. And I do love blueberries! I eat them just about everyday. In the winter I eat frozen ones on my hot cereal every morning and now that they are in season I sometimes have them for breakfast and lunch. I recently learned that 1 tsp. of cinnamon has as many antioxidants as a cup of blueberries. So now I sprinkle cinnamon on my cereal and mix it in with my fat free yogurt or cottage cheese with my blueberries. Yumm! It tastes like dessert.

I know that I skipped a day, but I keep checking the other people signed up for this Creative Everyday/Blue and it seems that I'm the only one doing it. So maybe I'll give it a rest.

Today I went to buy PVC pipe for my shibori. I wanted 4" diameter. I could buy 2 foot lengths for $6.50, but I wanted several. A ten foot length was about $17. I asked if he could cut it for me and he could. I thought that he would put it on a machine and zip through it, but no, he cut it by hand with a saw. It took forever and I felt so guilty. I don't know if I was supposed to, but I slipped a tip into his apron pocket and thanked him profusely.

Now I'm off to do some pole wrapping. I will post the results of my dyeing, but it may be awhile. I have a very busy week coming up.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue, Day 8

My Surface Design Challenge Quilt is finished! Whew! I had a lot of trouble deciding how to quilt this. I blogged a few days ago about the machine quilted faux French knots. Here's what I did with the rest.

I quilted "ghost circles" on all the circle areas of the clamp resist Shibori sections. They were fun to do and I liked the results. I used YLI Jeans Stitch thread which is very heavy and went over each little circle two or three times to give it a lot of diminution and texture.

I outline quilted on all these straight lines. These were made with a stamp I made by wrapping rubber bands around a wooden block.

These dots were made by stamping with bubble wrap. I just quilted straight lines between the rows. I tried several different things but this looked the best.

I'm glad that it's finished and can't wait to start experimenting with more Shibori. My two new books from Amazon arrived today and they both look like they are going to be terrific.....lots of new techniques to try.

I still don't have a title. Any suggestions??

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue, Day 7

I put in an order at ProChem on Tuesday and it arrived yesterday, Wednesday. This company is so great to work with and it's where I get all my dyeing supplies. I almost always get next day delivery. As you can see, I've ordered new blues getting myself ready to do some Shibori dyeing. I don't want to work with real indigo and these colors of fiber reactive dyes should give me some good indigo colors.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue , Day 6

Keeping with the blue theme, here is a scarf I tie dyed. No, no, no, this is nothing like the hippie T-shirt thing from the 6o's. This is actually silk transfer dyeing. You use silk neckties that you cut up, lay on a silk scarf, roll the whole thing tightly, tie securely and simmer in white vinegar and water for about 20 minutes. That's a very brief explanation. The process is very serendipitous since you never know what the final results will look like. I covered the white silk scarf with strips and pieces of very bright blue ties. I was so disappointed when I washed it out and saw that it was mostly pale blue. So I did it again adding more strips of bright blue and dashes of red. It's OK, but I'm not thrilled with it. One member of my quilt group led us in a little workshop. She has done many and all of hers are gorgeous. I did a second one in red, but that one I like even less. I have five more silk scarves to use, so I may try it again at a later date.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue , Day 5

Smooth Sailing
A fabric postcard I made for a friend's sick husband

Monday, July 4, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue , Day 4

Hooray for the Red, White and Blue
Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue , Day 3

I was having a terrible time deciding how to quilt my Surface Design quilt on which I am currently working. Two sections have stitched Shibori and Paula suggested that I try French knots. I love French knots and like doing them, but couldn't envision myself doing that many through two layers of fabric and batting. So I decided to do them by machine. I used white YLI Jeans Stitch thread, a favorite of mine. It is 30 weight, which means it is quite heavy. I free motion stitched and went around in tight little circles several times to make the knot. It was really fun to do! Then I painted them with a watered down blue acrylic paint because the white was too stark.
Be sure to click on the picture for a bigger view.

Here's a piece before I did the French knots. Perhaps you don't know what "stitched shibori" is. I started with plain white PFD cotton and made rows of running stitch by hand. Then I drew the threads up tight and put it in blue dye. Wherever I stitched made a resist for the dye. After dyeing I removed the threads and this is what I got. Although the hand stitching is slow going and somewhat tedious, I like the results and want to do a lot more, using different patterns.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue, Day 2

Although my house is full of blue and white, I seldom wear blue, usually gravitating toward aquas, turquoise, or lime green. This cute little jacket was purchased on my trip to China a few years ago. I like it because it is shibori on indigo. The jacket is well made with charming details like satin piping and knot buttons. It even has vents at the side that are piped with the satin. I paid a ridiculously low price for it. I hate to think of how little the workers were paid.

I have always been interested in shibori. I've done very little by myself and used some recently in a small quilt shown here. I just ordered two books from Amazon and plan to teach myself some of the many techniques.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Creative Every Day/Blue Theme

Leah Piken Kolidos has a blog called Creative Every Day where she challenges other bloggers to do just that. She picks a different theme every month and this month the theme is the color Blue. She also has Create Art Every Day in November, where participants are to create a new piece of art every day and post it on their blog. I did it once and it was challenging, but I did keep up with it, mostly making small pieces or fabric post cards. You can also go to her blog to see what all the other participants are doing.

This theme was almost too easy for me. I love blue in its many shades and most of my house is decorated in some shade of blue and white. You don't have to make something everyday, just be aware of the color blue and post a picture. I know that I will post some pictures of things in my home, but I'll also try to be creative.

These beautiful blue Scaevola are a favorite summer annual. They bloom and bloom all summer long. I have two big pots on my front porch and another on my back deck. I also have them planted in the ground around my mailbox. I know that it's a purple blue, but it's still blue to me. In fact this variety is called Blue Fan. They require very little care, since there is no dead-heading involved. However if they are in a container, they must be watered every day or they will go into a big sulky, droopy pout. I also fertilize weekly with Miracle Grow, as I do with all my annuals.

Come back tomorrow for "something blue".