Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dye and dye again

So, I had a rough week and was really sick. Jason got back in town late Friday night and I picked him up at the airport. I had worked a 14 hour day and I wasn't sure how much energy I'd have this weekend, but there were some things I really wanted to do.

I was itching to dye some fabric again and Jason gave me a lecture about how perhaps I should just take it easy since I'd been sick. I appreciated the fact that he loves me enough to tell me when he thinks I've pushed myself too far, but I really wanted to do some dyeing.

So, I spent all weekend doing just that. Since my setup is less than ideal, as the rainy season sets in, I will have little chance to dye, so I'd like to get as much in as I can.

I'll post more pictures later, but here you see several of the colors I did this weekend. There are a few more pieces not in the picture and I have plenty of concentrate left to do more this week. Forgive the junk box and the ugly, deformed feet in the picture. It was a quick-and-dirty-grab-a-shot-just-to-have-a-post kind of thing. :)

I wish I had more time to dye and quilt. Unfortunately I got little quilting done this weekend. I must work on my pumpkins and my Christmas quilt..oh and finish the Halloween quilts...

This weekend's dyeing made me wonder about tint and shade. Typically shade is adding black to a pure color to darken it and tint is adding white. Since you can't add white in dyeing...what do you add? I have to do some research on this, but at the moment I'm thinking it's really just less of the pure color to make it lighter. Does anyone know where I can find some information on it?

Well, it's late and I'm exhausted. I know I pushed myself too much this weekend, but I really love dyeing.

If you were one of my 'winners' don't forget to send me your address!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Been sick

I haven't been around to post because I've been really out of it with whatever horrible crud Jason brought home. He was sick for several days and I knew that I'd catch it, because I always do. I had pneumonia for the first time when I was 2 years old and that seems to have set the stage for me to get any cold or flu bug in the area. It usually deteriorates into brochitis and I have a lovely week or so of feeling like death warmed over.

Anyway... I got sick starting last weekend and it just went downhill from there. By Tuesday night I felt completely awful and I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday lying on the couch in and out of sleep.

The worse part of it was Jason had to go out of town for his work so it was just me and Bentley. As much as Bentley loves me he still hasn't mastered the art of shopping and fixing chicken soup. Maybe it's that opposable thumb thing.

I don't know how people who are alone do it when they get sick. I really feel for any of you who do not have a partner, child or even a roommate.

This morning I feel at least mostly human again, so I think I'm over it at last. Of course Jason will be home tonight!

I have a lot of quilty things I want to get to this weekend as well as doing another dye batch, but we'll see how much energy I have.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Okay so I'm part of the pumpkin swap and I stopped tonight to get some fabric for it. My pumpkin is supposed to be rust colored. I hope these fabrics are going to work okay.

I'm still feeling not so good, I'm hoping that I will be better tomorrow. Jason has to go out of town for work so I will probably get a bit of sewing done while he's gone...but I'll miss him!

hmm looking at the picture the colors are just a bit off. The middle one is more green than it seems in the picture. Anyone with more experience on the primative look let me know if the fabric is going to work.

And the winner is....

I offered to send a piece of hand dyed fabric to anyone who posted on this post. Six people posted and which one won? (Say that fast five time!)

Well... all of you! I figure since only a few of you posted or maybe it's a few of you are the only ones reading...anyway... send me your address and next dye batch I'll send pieces out to each of you. :)

Looking forward to hearing from you and thank you reading!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


This weekend hasn't been nearly as productive as I had hoped.

I was going to get my Halloween quilt top sewed together. I needed to do applique down the cut out pieces from the panels and then sew up the blocks. And on Sunday I was going to go to Quilting in the Garden, but Jason was sick on Friday and in an exression of love he seems to have spread it to me.

I'm aching and coughing and just generally feel bad. I have to go to work tomorrow because of an important project so I'm trying to conserve as much energy as I can.

Yvonne has been saying crazy things about going on a spending freeze. I'm thinking maybe I should join her. I need to get my fabric for the pumpkin block swap but after that I'm thinking that I should go on a freeze for a period of time. I know some of you have done the no fabric buying thing before. How did it work? I remember reading in Vicky's blog about a past time when she felt really good about not buying. She isn't on a 'quilt diet' now, and I've loved seeing what she's bought lately, but I remember reading past posts that talked about it, last year I think.

Maybe it's just the sickness talking! :) I'll see how I feel after I get the pumpkin fabric.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Work, creativity and life!

One thing I really wish I had was more time to do things. It seems like I'm so drained from work by the time I get home I don't feel like quilting. That means most of what I do is on the weekend. I really want to find a way to change this, however.

I've been working on my book for September (Jinny Beyer's Quiltmaking by Hand) and I really think that going back to hand piecing will help me get more done. I just have to get everything together though. I guess that will wait until the weekend! ;)

I'm hopeless. I have all these books and I wanted to cut down on 'unread' books and what do I do?

Since I didn't have time to dye more fabric and I'm trying to be more productive with my evenings I did mock up the Halloween quilt:

I'm really interested in opinions on this. I don't know if the placement of the applique is pleasing enough. I don't want any glaring holes. Let me know whatcha think!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Second Dyeing attempt

Edit: Okay I have messed up the links on this post and you can't click for larger pictures. I will get that fixed later, however. But for now... they don't enlarge.

Edit 2: The links are fixed now!

When you do dyeing the way I am doing it, you mix dye powder with water and urea to make dye concentrate. You then use the concentrate with warm water at the appropriate strength to dye the cloth whatever colors you prefer.

There had been left over concentrate from the first batch of dyeing I did and since it doesn't keep long at room temperature I wanted to use it up.

Since I had concentrated mostly on a single color from the dyes and not mixed them except on the last couple of pieces (which was really just the leftover dye water used a second time), this time I wanted to try mixing some colors.

I thought I'd start with Orange and I carefully began to measure out some of the red dye concentrate. Well, the cap fell off and dumped a bunch into my mixture, so I gave up on the measuring idea and decided to just sort of 'wing it'.

Here's my first attempt at an orange.

As you can see it's really more 'salmon' than orange.
Now trying to guess what color a piece of fabric is going to be from the color of the dye water is pretty much just a wild guess at best. The dye water may be vaguely the color you are looking for in a super concentrated way, but you really can't tell until the fabric is completely done and dry. That's why measuring is so important to acheive predictable results.

I could tell, however, even from the way the fabric looked that it wasn't the color I was hoping for, so I tried again and this time used more yellow.

This was more the effect I was going for and now I know that if I want salmon it's more red and if I want orange it's more yellow. :)

Next I wanted to try purple.

>This was definately purple, but I wondered if I could get lavender and so I cut back quite a bit on the amount of red and got this.

>There are some pretty lavender shades in there, but it ended up being much darker than I'd anticipated.

My next attempt was green.

>I thought this one turned out pretty much as I had wanted so I was really happy with it.

I had a lot of leftover dye and wasn't sure what to do with it, so I thought I'd try two experiments. I wanted to see if I could get brown. Well, my attempt at brown produced this:


Although there are some 'tanish' spots on it, it certainly isn't brown.

After all this I still had a lot of dye concentrate left, especially blue. I figured I'd just take one large piece and dump all the remaining dye onto it.

Here is the result:


I like this piece but one concern I have is the amount of concentrate I used ended up making it possible this will bleed. I had a white piece of fabric next to it and when it was wet it bled onto it. I washed it in Synthrapol again and it seems stable now, but it did make me a bit nervous about my other pieces. I'd checked them as told to in the book. The rinse water ran clear and they didn't iron color onto a wet white piece of cloth. It was only by accident I found that the color bled when wet and left next to another piece of fabric.

All in all I'm really excited about my experiments. Right at this time I don't mind a one of a kind results but I am sure eventually I'm going to want to reproduce them.

In celebration of my new passion and sympathy for anyone who read all the way to the bottom here I'm going to offer a little prize for anyone who leaves a comment on this post by Monday 6AM Pacific time. I'll send you a random piece of fabric from my next dye batch!

Don't forget what today is!

Avast all ye wenches! Haul sail and remember those mateys that have gone before ye. Houst a tankard to them!

Shiver me timbers. It's Talk Like a Pirate Day

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I'm pretty sure I've tipped over into 'nuts' or maybe 'wacko' is more my speed. In any case I've lost it.

It's past my bedtime and I have one more dye batch to finish. I know it's the middle of the week and I have work tomorrow, but I needed to use up the left over dye concentrate before it lost it's 'ompf' and I thought I'd just dye one little piece when I got home.

One turned into two...which turned into four, which quickly became six and then oh.. seven. I'm tired and hurting from standing but I am so happy. I'll post pictures of what I ended up with tomorrow when I can take the photos in good light.

I did this batch a lot differently.

It's pretty funny actually. I wanted to make purple, so I started carefully measuring the red dye...and the cap fell off. I figured, what the heck and just started dumping what I thought was a good amount. I also didn't stir the fabric hardly at all.

I really like these pieces (at least the four I've seen so far).

I've been wanting to dye the fabric for the Hometown Christmas quilt. But I'm not sure that's a good idea, since it would take even longer for me to experiment and find the colors I want. I haven't gotten very far on the quilt yet. So far I'm in a race to end up in last place. I'm currently neck and neck with Yvonne! ;)

Well, the washer just quit so I'm going to go see what the green piece ended up looking like!

Monday, September 17, 2007

To Dye for

This is how I spent my weekend.
I took recipes from Color by Accident. The first sets I started with are dark and light versions of single colors.

Here you see the primary red. PR13 Fushia Red from Dharma Trading Co. This red is one of the primary dye colors. I wanted the variation in color, so I deliberately didn't stir much to keep the dye distribution uneven.

I learned a lot from doing the batches I did this weekend and I definately found a lot of things I'll be doing differently next time.

Here you see the light and dark versions of the primary yellow PR1 Lemon Yellow. The light one here was definitely not as 'light' as I'd thought it would be and the color distribution on the dark piece was much more even than it had been on the red. I didn't think this got stirred more, though it might have.
Next time I am going to see if I can get a much lighter version of the 'light one'.

I had two different blues. This one is PR23 Cerulean Blue. This is not listed as a primary but Ann Johnston listed it as one color she used quite a bit. I thought it was a very pretty blue and Jason definately liked this blue better than the other one.

Again, this is light and dark versions of it.

In addition to the Cerulean Blue I had PR25 Turquoise which is listed as a Primary.

Here you see the light and dark versions of these. It definitely has a very different color.

This first exercise was interesting for me for a number of reasons. I learned a lot about what I will do the same and what I will do differently next time. For instance, there were a ton of little things like having more measuring cups and something to stir the cloth in the dye buckets instead of always using gloves. I went through a ton of gloves. I'm also not so sure I'd do so many different colors at one time. I had four different colors with two versions of each. This meant I was washing fabric long past my bedtime.

Oh, that's another thing. I'd start on Saturday this time instead of Sunday. That would give me more 'fudge' time. I spent part of Saturday picking up the rest of the things I thought I'd need and then sort of lazing away the evening.

I'd also dye more cloth at one time. Because it's the same amount of mess for a little verses a lot.

After I was done with the color study, I didn't want to waste all that remaining dye, so I did some other pieces to see what would happen if I used the left over dye water. Now, I knew it would be different because with the initial batches I put some dye directly on the cloth then added the soda ash water after a few minutes. That meant this dye water I was using already had the soda ash in it and I wasn't sure what difference it would make.

For this piece
I dumped the remaining yellow and both blues into a bucket with a wet piece. It ended up being greenish but definitely more 'blue' in the green.

These two pieces are what's left of everything in the dye vats. I layered the cloth on the left and poured the water on the layers. First the red, then the Cerulean blue. After that I added the cloth on the right and poured in the yellow and finally the turquoise.

I had expected at least a bit more red or a deeper purple, but that didn't happen. I'm still really pleased with these two pieces and in the future I think I'm going to make sure I use up the remaining fabric this way. All the other pieces were a bout two yards. This was a total of about six yards.

The most unexpected piece was this one.

This was all of the leftover dye water together. I expected it to be more brown or gray or something, but instead this is what I got.

I was so excited to see each piece come out and I'm definitely hooked!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hamster Brain

It's 10:41 pm and I have to be up in 5 hours. Instead of sleeping my mind keeps running around and around the same old thing not getting anywhere like a tiny rodent on a wheel.

I wish I could find the magic box to stuff it all down inside to lock it away so I could just sleep.

It's silly... going over things doesn't change them. I know at the bottom of the problem is that I haven't got a good course of action. Once I know what I'm going to do I can usually put a problem away but this one just keeps whirling around in the chaos of my mind.

It doesn't happen often, thankfully and maybe if I go lay back down and count sheep or something the problem will disappear and I can sleep...

Well, I can hope can't I? ;)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dyeing to quilt

Look what I got in!! I've been wanting to learn to dye fabric for a long time, so after I got my bonus this year at work...I ran off to Dharma and bought a whole bunch of stuff. I've got a bunch of fabric and everything I need, so I have no excuse now for not trying it out.

Ever notice how many quilting blogging women have Dachshunds or Dachshund mixes? Coincidence or just great taste? ;)

Well, I need to go dig out fabrics for the Thimbleberries Christmas quilt... so I'm off to root through the stash.

If anyone has done dyeing and has any 'wise' words, please let me know.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Trip around the weekend

I needed to have my design wall so I could work on the Halloween quilt so I sewed up my trip around the world quilt. So here's a picture of my finsihed top.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Soft as butter

Today has been quite the interesting mix...

I woke up at my usual time (3:45am), did my morning routine, checked the web, got dressed, walked the dog, fixed my breakfast. Now, I'm an amazingly boring individual. Every morning for breakfast I have a bowl of cereal. I like to delude myself that the oaty goodness of Cheerios cancels out the fatty goodness of things I eat later in the day.


Anyway, back to the morning.

When I pulled out the milk I noticed something distressing. It was about the same temperature I like my butter when I'm getting ready to spread it on bread. :( This refrigerator is only about 1.5 years old. My ex cheaped out when he bought it and paid $300 for a no name refrigerator. Now, I'm all for bargains, but I like sensible ones and I had a bad feeling about this from the beginning. It never closed right and never really kept stuff cold. Jason and I had been debating what to do about the fridge last month. We both wanted a better one but we felt that it was foolish to spend money when we had a working one.

Well, it isn't working now!

So, I headed to work where it was just blazingly busy. In between work stuff I had read my email and had a wonderful suprise from Yvonne. She told me her local quilt shop had the Thimbleberries Christmas books and she offered to get them and ship them to me.

When I moved up from Los Angels the I missed my son and I missed my friends. I was sure it wouldn't be hard to make new friends here, but I hadn't counted on a few things. I worked long hours and I didn't get out much. So I didn't meet as many people as I'd hoped... In Los Angeles I'd had a group of four friends that were like gold. We did lots of stuff together and I knew there was always someone there for laughs or to lend me a shoulder if I needed one. I missed that here... I've got a few friends here now, but I'm finding that the best of the best seem to be on the web. Yvonne you are a gem!

After work I ran by Sears to catch the end of their Labor Day sale. I ended up getting this.

Now I'm home...relaxing with the dog.

Hectic day but good in many ways and wonderful in at least one. Thank you Yvonne!

Dog gone days...

While I was busy sewing away over the weekend, here's what Bentley was doing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


This morning as I was getting ready for work, I caught a brief glimpse of a woman in the bathroom mirror and just for a second I wondered who she was. The fleeting moment left me with an odd feeling.

I don't look in mirrors more than necessary. I brush my teeth, wash my face and brush my hair and I'm used to the woman who stares back. I check to make sure clothes look as flattering as possible and I won't embarrass myself when I head out, but I don't spend a great deal of time on my reflection.

Somewhere in my mind I stopped aging and gaining pounds years ago. Please understand that I am not obsessed with eternal youth and I am not interested in being younger, it's just that somewhere, the person in my head that is 'me' stopped getting older and chubbier some time ago. And so, the pudgy silver-haired woman staring back at me took me by surprise.

As I looked at the woman in the mirror I thought about where I am in my life now. I have lived a full life, much more diverse than many people, less diverse than others. I'm not ready to pack it in for a long time yet and I hope I have many more interesting and educational times.

Do we all do that? It made me think a lot about how many people I know who have an odd view of their own looks. They feel they are too fat or too skinny, their nose is too long or they are too wrinkled. They aren't perfect enough. Are they really seeing their own flaws reflected truly or is this just a distorted image built up somewhere in their own mind?

It made me think again about how I hate how I look. I am not a pretty woman and I've done nothing to make 'the most of myself' as some would say. Perhaps that view I have is as distorted as the other, where I saw someone else staring back at me in the mirror.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Weekend sewing

Well, I spent most of my weekend sewing on the Halloween quilt.

So, it took me several hours to cut out all the fabric. Believe or not all that fabric you see there is the leftover. Since I wasn't cutting from a pattern but creating my own it appears I have cut out enough for two quilts.

I got all of the cutting done on Saturday. One thing I find irritating when I'm cutting fabric is how much we end up losing sometimes due to the way fabric is on bolts, or the way it was cut off. I'm not blaming the quilt shop owner, I know it's just a by product of the way things are, but you can see in the photo the waste from cleaning up a fat quarter. On that fat quarter it was over an inch. I guess it sounds cheap to think that it's only an 'inch' but when I think of all the fabric I've cut that adds up to a lot of inches.

I finished up sewing all the blocks yesterday and today and below is an idea of what I am doing with the quilt. I've never done a scrap quilt before and I'm not sure this one is very good but I guess I'll see how I feel when I'm all finished.

Below is just a small section, I cut pieces out of the panels and I'm going to applique them done on the black squares. This is just a small section of the quilt. It's going to be a large lap quilt so this is about a third to a quarter of the size it will finish.

God only knows what I'm going to do with all the leftovers. I guess I'll make a second quilt.

I'm terribly disappointed that I didn't win the auction for the Thimbleberries Christmas quilt books. It was down to the wire and I was oubid by $4. I will just have to live vicariously through Vicky and the others!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Unexpected gift

Yesterday I was given a chance to take a look at myself and realize something I need to change. Something at work upset me a great deal and I had to think about why I was bothered. When I really looked at what happened and my reaction to it, I realized my distress was caused by my own fear and insecurity.

I've always been the 'odd man out'. It's made me rather lonely for a lot of my life. I've also had problems with people at work on a personal level. Whether or not it takes two to create a situation, I can't control what someone else does. I only have control over me.

If all of this seems rather vague, it's really just a case of me not fitting very well with the other people I work with and managing people is probably not my forte. I've learned to be better over the years, but I always am impatient with the fact that most people won't ever admit, even to themselves, that they are at fault in a situation.

Yesterday I spent time thinking about why I was so upset about the change that's happening at work and I came to the ugly conclusion that I'm jealous and fearful of what it means for me. I'm 50 and I've lived a relatively hard life, some of that my own fault. If I let this situation poison me, it will only get worse. I can't change what is going to happen but I can change how I react. Instead of reacting with fear and having that cause me to be negative and grasping, I can open myself up to react with generosity and kindness. It won't be easy, I have to fight the most tenacious enemy I know....myself.

It was uncomfortable yesterday realizing all of this, but I look at it as a gift. Even if it's one I didn't particularly want, the realization is the first step to change.