keeping the blogging habit

I always seem to find it much easier to get out of a habit of doing something than to get into one, and even harder to get back into one after the habitualness has slipped away.  I don’t really know why it should be nearly two months since I last posted, only that as each silent week goes by there’s more inertia to overcome; and more has happened – so what to write about becomes a bigger decision (decisive is not my middle name).

I’ve been doing a little of this and that, focusing on fabric manipulation as I get back into OCA Textiles 1, some stitched resists, some felt. One exercise was to develop a manipulated sample from a previous design, and I went back to these block prints that were inspired by a tulip and then scanned to try out designs on the computer.

sketchbook work from tulip image

I simplified the shapes and stitched a repeating pattern based on circles and the spaces between. I was thinking about bands of colour and bands of resist. It’s a 30cm square.

stitched circles

Pulling the stitches up was a bit fiddly, and then I’m always tempted to leave them gathered, loving the structures they  make.

stitched circles gathered

I dyed this with some other pieces (of which more in another post) and this was the end result.

stitched circles dyed

I would have liked a bit more contrast – for some reason this calico didn’t take the dye as well as some of the other cottons in the same dyebath, but apart from that I was quite pleased with the overall effect.

I’d like to try other variations with colour, width of the stitching, etc. And I noticed that last time I dyed some stitched resist (when I soaked the bundles in the soda solution beforehand) the whites were very white, whereas here the ‘white’ is actually a very pale purple. These were soaked in water, then added to a dye bucket and the soda added after 30 minutes, and I used some urea, so either or both of those could have had an effect on the resist. The stitching itself was pulled up just as tightly as the earlier samples, more tightly if anything – I’ve been watching Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada‘s Arimatsu Narumi Shibori DVD, and learning how to use the needle to knot the pulled up thread without letting the stitches loosen. Not that I have mastered it – the Japanese artists make it look so easy – but I’m practising!

stitching resists

While we were at Land’s End we sat for hours one day in the camper van while the rain poured down outside and I stitched some experiments to add to my little pile for dyeing. I made a square of squares, first overstitching a grid and then a different idea in each small square. In a fit of unusual methodicalness (or maybe all I need to be methodical is some dedicated time… ) I drew the stitch pattern for each square in my sketchbook so that if I like some of the results I can remember how I did them.

stitched resists and diagrams

I broke the thread a few times, which was very frustrating, and reminded me I wanted to get hold of some ‘seriously strong thread’ from Callishibori – I’ll put it on my list to look for at the Knitting & Stitching Show. I used ordinary polyester thread and I ran out of white – I’m sure I will regret the black when I come to unpick it!

The rest of the samples include some embroidery stitches pulled up tight and my first try at maki-age, stitched and bound resist.

stitched resists and diagrams

I haven’t decided what  to dye these with yet. I’ve been thinking more about the environmental effects of different dyes and mordants recently, partly because we’ll be on a septic tank when come November, partly as I’m (slowly) reading Eco-Colour, India Flint’s beautiful and thought-provoking book about using locally sourced materials for dyeing. At the moment I feel that I couldn’t change to only using plant materials but I would like to gradually use more of them (though moving to the windiest place in Britain may not help with the locally sourced part!). By the way, I found a very interesting and inspiring blog while reading round this subject on the web, Robin Paris’s Sustainable Batik, and another I’ve been reading for a while is Helen Methven’s Growing Colour. Lots of food for thought.

shibori happy

There were some coloured dyes at the "Kendal Green meets Shibori Dyeing" workshop this morning (with Donna Campbell at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre) – but there was an indigo vat too, so I just used that – too good a chance to miss. The workshop was only two and a half hours long and went all too quickly but I came home with five samples and I’m pleased because I really tried to plan the way I tied and folded the cloth and I like most of the results! The only one that didn’t really do what I wanted is the striped one, which was concertina folded with lolly sticks and then wrapped. I was hoping the lines from the wrapping would show up on all the blue stripes – I think I should have left more of the fabric sticking out of the resist. I didn’t take along my fabric manipulation experiments in the end, I’m going to dye those at home later on.

indigo shibori samples

shibori sample

shibori sample

I especially liked this effect which was from making three small pleats in the fabric and overstitching through all the layers.

shibori sample detail

And this, which is a combination of paper clip clamps and a wave pattern gathering stitch. One thing I learned is that it’s much easier to gather the fabric well with a proper strong thread sold for the purpose. The one we were using had come from Callishibori as had the indigo.

shibori sample detail

The Motto festival of which this workshop was a part is on in Kendal till September with lots of textile workshops and events at the Brewery Arts Centre and in the town.

 

drawing breath

Life always gets away from me in the summer when time away (lovely as it is) means twice as much work to fit into the weeks afterwards – and it’s not long before we set off again, this time heading down to Cornwall. In between, a little space to draw breath and share what I’m up to.

Our visit to Tiree was momentous, to say the least. Alan’s on sabbatical next year and we’ve decided to seize the day and do something we’ve been thinking about for years – to live and work in a small community on a remote and windswept island. So we went there looking for a home – and found one! We’re now jubilant and terrified in about equal measure. The move won’t be till November but there’s going to be plenty to do before then. We have two daughters starting uni this autumn too, one moving from Cornwall to Liverpool, and one just moving round the corner in Birmingham, but both will need help with their stuff. I’ll need to work hard to keep time for art among all this excitement!

While we were on Tiree I at last joined in with the World Beach Project.

World Beach Project at Traigh Ghrianal

And I did a bit more sampling of gathered fabrics while I was away. The ones in the middle will end up being dyed, I think.

gathering samples

I got fascinated by the effect of visible stitching…

gathering samples

and tying…

gathering samples

Tomorrow I’m going to a short workshop with the intriguing title “Kendal Green meets Shibori Dyeing”. I think I’ve mentioned before that Kendal’s town motto is Pannus mihi Panis – “Cloth is my Bread”; and the arts centre is having a festival to celebrate the town’s heritage with lots of textile events. Kendal Green is an old dye colour mentioned in Shakespeare, but I think we’re going to use a modern version! It should be fun, anyway. I’m just wondering if I can take my gathered samples along and throw them in too!

And these are some pics of Tiree I’ve put on Flickr, colours of sea and sky, rust and sand, light and water.

Tiree mosaic

1. Gunna Sound, 2. rocks at Caoles, 3. light and waves, 4. Balevullin, 5. light, waves and seaweed, 6. fences at Balevullin, 7. cows on the beach at Balevullin, 8. rust and lichen, 9. Crossapol beach, 10. oystercatchers, 11. rusty machinery on Crossapol beach, 12. sunset, 13. clear sea, Gunna Sound, 14. rusty metal at Hynish, 15. Crossapol beach, 16. Balevullin