fresh start

fresh start

Cleared the print table upstairs and resoaked all the fabrics in a fresh soda ash solution after the last washout disaster.

These are fabrics stretched and ready to print – the near one is a handwoven napkin of 20/2 cotton.  Very stretchy with a subtle texture.  The cloth in the next photo is also handwoven with much more texture and the center square is plain weave with my initials and the date “1984” embroidered in green.  That’s when I wove it.

The dye has to batch for about 48 hours.  You can see reflections on the plastic film that is covering the piece.

Crazy to post this before I know if its going to turn out, but I don’t mind revealing my mistakes.  I’m a little concerned that it looks too polka-dotted.  Too late now to change that but perhaps it can be fixed in the post processing – embroidery.  Going back upstairs to make more print paste from the powder and put dye on a sparkling clean screen to start drying for the next printing session. I’ll try and avoid dots this time!

I don’t usually wash the screens between sessions, but the Clearprint (which came premixed) smelled of ammonia so I think it’s gone bad or at least I can’t stand to use it so it might as well be rotten.   Terrible waste of money, but since I have a poor sense of smell; if I can smell it, it has to be really strong.

Linking up with Nina Marie Off the Wall Friday.

two on Tuesday


Remember this fabric?  I tried all kinds of combinations of Derwent pencils and water and Derwent pencils and aloe and Derwent pencils and textile medium.  Wasn’t happy with any of them – wishy washy looking colors and bleeding were the worst of the problems.

Just got some Derwent Graphic Line Painters and they are working pretty well.  They bleed nicely through the fabric so I know I’m getting lots of paint on there.  The nibs are strong but tiny so it’s time consuming but satisfying.  Like those adult coloring books.

I made a sample color strip on the side.  I”m waiting for it dry thoroughly and I’ve cut it in half.  I’ll wash half and let you know how much I like these pens on fabric after that experiment.


Ironing really well seems to have worked. The left side was ironed, soaked and squeezed it in a paper towel. No color transfer and no smearing. WaHoo!

searching the archives


I was looking for something today and it happened that Craftsy posted a blog today about keeping records and linked to it on the Weaving Facebook group.  I have kept pretty good records for most of my weaving projects over the years.  My earliest notebooks were just cheap spiral ones and at some point I had a big pigskin that I used to cover four of them and dress them up a bit. I didn’t find the entry that I was looking for – even after looking through all the sample notebooks I have from dozens of CHH Swatch Swaps.  I’ve consulted the collective memory of a few other guild members.

But while I was looking (sidetracked you might say), I was pleased to see this rather complete set of notes from almost 20 years ago.  I was taking a workshop from Sharon Alderman on weaving fabric for clothing.  The assignment was to have a concept for the end project in mind so that we could design with our eye on the goal.  My goal was a cool, soft, blue, semi-casual blouse for my sister.

I made notes as I worked, changing notes on things planned to how they actually transpired.  I even kept a nice swatch.  Sometimes there are only taped down samples of the warp and weft.

This was warp # 8603 – the third warp I made in 1986 – and I finished weaving it in mid-February.  I was rocking back then even while working full time and my daughter was still in elementary school.

Conveniently there was  a blank page here for notes added more than a year later!  I used to fly out to visit my mother and sister in Arizona and so was able to fit and sew it there.  Probably one of the nicest birthday presents I ever made for her.

Still looking for the notes on the project that I did weaving on the pin loom and ikat dyeing.  I am pursuing that again now that I know how to tie the plastic really tightly and currently waiting for the yarn to batch, but I sure would like to find the original notes from way back when so I can do and “that was then; this is now” post.

Linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

two on Tuesday


It’s Twos-day again.  Two examples from the year long Bead Journal Project hosted by Robin Adkins on a closed Facebook group.  She accepts new members once a year in December I think.

My plan at the beginning of the year was to just make ATC sized things each month so it wouldn’t be such a big deal to finish. But some months I found other things to bead on. It will be hard to bind these into the little book I had in mind. Each of the journals is stitched on fabric bits from my stash – many of them from my dyeing experiments.

Each month the project is supposed to reflect your interests or activities that month.  This one is about going to quilt festival in November and the other photo is about my trip in October to the Smoky Mountains and Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  I’m really surprised to find that I have kept up with this commitment and only have one more month to go.  The 2015 Take-a-Stitch Tuesday commitment has sort of gotten derailed.  I have skipped several stitches and need to go back and pick up the thread again.

two on Tuesday


Roller printed fabric as shown in the Making of Moda display at the International Quilt Festival in Houston at the end of last month.

Each of the rollers would have been used in turn to complete the design.  The fabric travels at a consistent speed between the screen and an impression roller immediately below the screen.  Ink is dispersed from within the screen.  This continuous rolling process is preferred since it hides joint marks.

Higher production speeds can be achieved over flat bed screen printing.

The entire Moda display at the festival was wonderful and very enlightening.  There were antique quilts displayed along side modern copies made with reproduction fabrics.   I was amazed at the size of some of the old quilts since I believed that king sized bed were modern styles, but then old beds were sometimes very high.

three day weekends


Crazy busy three days.  Started early Friday morning as I whizzed into town to be the audience for a morning show.  Most of us were participants in the Houston Mini Maker Faire which is November 14, 2015.  The weavers’ guild will have a booth with demonstrations and a hands-on activity for kids and George R. Brown Convention Center Area B3 will be full of makers of all kinds – robots and Legos and flashing lights, oh my.

The woman with the notebook was in charge of us and the applause.  I hope someone taped the show.  I was way up in the corner of audience.  It was interesting how well they moved through the process of a live show.  Organized and timed to the minute. Then we did promos for the next show which will be on Fashion and Fringes.  I volunteered my handwoven beaded fringe shawl and I hope they really run them as she shook the fringe for the camera.  Steven Colbert was in the lobby while we waited for the show to begin and even he couldn’t believe how much rain we’ve been getting lately.

Then on Saturday morning, eleven of our Girl Scouts gathered at Long Acres Ranch which is just a short drive out of town. We had Frito Pie as a picnic lunch with salad, mandarins and cookies. A short hike in the woods while we waited for our turn at the workbenches to make birdhouses and nesting boxes. The Ranch expects to open officially in a year or so and will host community events and overnight camping. It will be primitive for a while, you bring your own tent and they provide a few porta-johns. We saw a lot of deer running through their beautiful property which backs up to the Brazos River.

The younger troops made the small houses and our girls broke into teams and worked on nesting boxes for ducks. A lot of gluing and hammering.  Working on their Woodworker Badge.  One more meeting and they’ll have it “nailed.”

Here’s the portrait of the prince, feeling fine after his engagement with the cat on Tuesday.  Such an innocent face; who’d thought he coulda been a contender?

The weekend is not over yet.  Planning a get together tomorrow with friends to plan our projects for 2016 and then a birthday dinner celebration.  I’m gonna need all day Monday to recuperate.

back to printing

back to printing

A while ago, I soaked some cotton fabric in soda ash solution to have it ready for the odd moment when I could print again.  I can’t even remember when, but I had also squeezed out some dye on a screen to dry.  It takes a while to dry, but I really think it was done months ago – definitely dry by now even though we are in the middle of fall monsoon season.  This is how it looked after I used it on two handkerchiefs – forgot to take a before shot of the dye on the screen – but you can see the basic idea.  That pink splotch happened between the first pull and the second.

First pull below, it looked great when it was wet and batching under plastic for a couple of days.  Again, no photos.  I’m really out of practice on the documenting progress thing.

Second pull below, I added some fuchsia thinking that maybe that would help.  I was using Clear Print and it was smelling like ammonia although I had not ever used it before and it was purchased just a few months ago.  It’s a prepared print release and I guess it is heavy on the urea.  Ick.

So for this print, I added my own print paste without urea and added more red to get some color. I tried not to reactivate the smelly print paste that remained in the corners.   This is also on a different cloth.  I am wondering if the handkerchiefs are too smooth to hold the soda solution or the dye or whatever.  This is a wet photo -finally a “before” – so we can compare and see how much color is just slipping down the drain.  The accidental pink dots are kind of nicely arranged.

(Update:  Back to the beginning. Something is wrong. Complete washout. Will be washing and resoaking fabric in soda ash. Then scrubbing all the screens and making new dye concentrates and release paste. No sense wasting time trying to find out which one thing went wrong. Do it all fresh. And cross my fingers. I will pull prints from the screens shown below but will wait till I have freshly soaked fabric. )

Since I always get buzzed by this process, I jump in excitedly and start more.  While the above fabric is batching, a couple of screens with dribbled on squiggles of dye are drying.   The first screen was still pretty dirty with dye from the last session.  The second one which is slightly smaller had a very light residue of yellow.

Dirty screens in this context are not a bad thing.  Serendipitous results are all part of joy.  Out of (my) control.  I like using two different screens with similar dye colors on the same composition.  I will stretch a larger cloth when I start printing from these and, of course, I’ll have to clean off the whole table instead of just 15 inches at one end!

Meanwhile back downstairs, I’m emptying the pantry of out of date stuff and things I will never eat nor expect anyone else will eat.  Does molasses go bad?  There’s no date. Presumably I bought it before expiration dates became a required thing.  O.O  Scary.

Never worked up the courage to open these tiny treasures I brought home from England in 2012. Out they go. I’ll just have to go back there and get more. Maybe even taste it this time. We did enjoy the Spotted Dick.

Linking up to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

two on Tuesday

two on Tuesday

A little success in my bulb raising business. I started seeds in the summer of 2014.

And here is how they have grown in the 16 months since.  I need to give them a deeper pot now.  So proud of them.  A few rain lilies and some amaryllis.  More stones were added to protect the bulbs from the squirrels.

cheesecloth portrait

cheesecloth portrait

Feeling fresh and eager to begin a full day at a workshop at International Quilt Festival.  The ladies room selfie!

The sliding door from the parking garage to the Hilton has a frosted panel – to prevent people walking through the glass.  But look, it’s a woven icon!

Here is the teaching sample for the class taught by Pam Holland.  She was a fashion designer before she took up quilting.

Here is my work in progress.  She took the photo of a wooden sculpture of St. Francis, worked on it in a photo editing program, traced it for us on vellum to use as a pattern.  We traced each white piece on the paper side of the fusible webbing and then ironed it on and cut out the cheesecloth puzzle piece.  Next we ironed it on to a black cloth background by kind of sliding it up under the vellum pattern and holding it in place while we walked to the ironing station.  All would have been much easier at home using my own (clean) iron and my own (clean) protective teflon sheets right beside me on the table.  But that’s the way workshops work.  Group dynamics are difficult.  One person took her pieces to the ironing station and then fiddled with the parts oblivious to the line forming behind her.  Most of us ran to the table with our hands clamped over and under the part to be ironed and hoped it was still in the right place.

Steam-a-Seam Light is the winner for the fusible contest. I had brought Wonder Under and it was fine for the first layer of cheesecloth. But the next step of adding highlights … nope … it didn’t work.  I quit fusing it all and just manipulated strips of cheesecloth and used a glue stick to hold them in place.  My fingers were a mess but I didn’t have to stand in line for the iron anymore.

This was a pattern piece I declined to use.  Just not worth the bother.  I scribbled on the black background areas on my vellum so it was easier to decide which pieces to trace for cutting out the first layer.

Here’s Pam pinning up our pieces at the end of the day.  Mine is the upper left corner.  I practically packed up and left at about three in the afternoon, the fusing and ironing was just not working on the highlighting step.  Once I started working while standing up and gluing more freely, I could see some progress and continued to the end and got some stitching done – which makes a big difference as does the Tsukineko (TM) pen for shading.

While I’m not likely to try another portrait and probably won’t finish the stitching and binding on this one, I did enjoy the class and listening to her tales and history.

The whole class output plus three of Pam’s in the bottom row on the right.  As you can see, we all got the hang of it basically.

The reason why going to the quilt festival is not as much fun as in years past.  What a mess!  The parking lots are becoming buildings and the prices of the remainder of the parking lots have skyrocketed.

This is another of Pam’s pieces that she brought to show during her lecture on another subject. She is re-creating the Bayeux Tapestry on her own using applique, inks, embroidery and free motion quilting. I included another student in the photo so you could understand the scale of the piece and below is a detail of Pam’s tapestry. Amazing work!  If you click on the words Bayeux Tapestry you can read about the original tapestry which was embroidered by many hands to depict the history of the 11th century.