Sunday, 24 February 2013

day of rest? que?

it's been a rather hot Sunday here
fortunately not too much smoke in the air
i decided that the waterbag i am making for the 'muddy waters' exhibition
needed more embellishment
which [because i usually work in white] meant dyeing some thread

my little grandmother and my great-aunt Rose both stored odd lengths of thread
on paper spillikins
and so of course i did that too
my friend Roz is the clever bunny
who began slinging such thread-and-paper spillikins into the dyepot
[while i was still winding thread and leaves together around popsicle sticks or around the outside of dye-bundles]

they all four went into the same pot.
the two on the right are wool, clearly still wildly in love with eucalyptus
the far left is Japanese silk and the next one toward the middle is Chinese silk
all protein fibres but responding differently to the one brew

 to keep myself from pacing like a tiger while the dye was being absorbed
i decided it was time to start making a new cardigan
- i have a few woolly ones but need something cooler to
keep the mosquitos at bay and snuggle into on long flights

so i dug out some nice American-grown cotton knit fabric that my friend Claudia
had sent to me in a care parcel while i was enjoying my residency in New Orleans

i also ferreted out a pattern from the last century.
eighties, i think.
i wanted the cardigan to be loose and quite short, with three-quarter length sleeves

so i simply folded the papers a bit
and took a few corners wide
[and at speed]
naturally Martha decided to supervise proceedings

after all, her paws tone in so nicely with the general arrangement

 i stitched the pieces together by hand
making sure to "love" the thread [thank you Natalie Chanin]
and [perhaps unusually] using a quite thick pure silk floss [thank you Rachelle]

 it occurred to me that i could use a scrap of this cloth
to have a quick play with a stencil and some milk and that hot eucalyptus dyepot


but i am not going to stencil on to my cardigan
much as i love Natalie Chanin's exquisite work
my gut feeling is that it might be a little formal
for scruffy old me.
my friend who lives over the rainbow has shared some of her interpretations here
i think she is very brave.

for now i am adding a button or two [from a moth-compromised silk thrift-store blouse]

and what i fondly think of as an "Isobel" pocket
[in case someone needs to discreetly slip me a note while we are dancing cheek to cheek]

i shall be enjoying a few more weeks of stitching on this cuddly garment
making snailtrails with that lovely silk
before it goes anywhere near a dyepot

clearly though, this post has been far too long
so Martha has gone back to sleep.


  1. Not finished yet and already beautiful.
    Dont you think sewing with cats is the best way of spending time.......

    1. i love my cats. Martha has just gone to bed. i had better follow, if I know what's good for me.

  2. ahh, Very Easy Very Vogue. i was soooooooo there in the 80's . whilst i do not have this exact pattern here , i have this one's sister :0)

    1. did you get yours at the Bridgewater CFS [that's Country Fire Service not Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] op shop?

  3. stitching and old linen biiiig dress !! with 'secret pocket' of course!! and lengthening the hem with cunning indian applique... but I think when I put it on I look like a small pale brown paper parcel tied up with string!! fun though x

    1. Isobel dear - you could wear a brown paper bag and make it look fabulous. not like a parcel at all.

  4. oh, india, that stencil pattern is sister to one i made for silkscreening in the 70's...i like much better where your wandered. i got weary of the yardage i made (of course with procion dyes).
    your martha is so photogenic.

    1. it was an amusing experiment but i can't see myself wearing it! nor can Martha.

    2. i figured it would hide and morph under eucalyptus or other magic...

    3. well...i was thinking that the technique might emerge
      somewhat transformed
      a little less rigid.


  5. Enjoyed photos and reading Pet your sweet Martha a littile for me, she is cute.
    I was at your workshop in London in August 2012. You told me that you were inteested in dyeing in a hot pring in nature.
    I told you I would try to find a place. I have been working on it for a while and now a friend has joined me and I think there will be some news,
    (I hope)in a short time.
    May be you could wisit in between workshops this summer? or next summer.
    And I think that you could easily have a workshop in Iceland.

    1. yes Bryndis i would love to come to Iceland...especially if there's a chance of offering a class!

      this summer is rapidly filling - although there might be an opening if i don't get into Haystack as a student [will know by April 15th]

      summer 2014 has a few possibilities left.

    2. I will keep you informed :) and you let me know after April 15th.

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  7. Ha.. a day of rest... are there EVER days of rest for you?

    I love Martha's careful overseeing of the project. And the pocket. Nice touch. Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

    Pasha is out running around in a snowstorm, and luckily, I have a day to hang out by the fire and read books!

    1. fire + books

      bliss [providing not in direct contact]

    2. unless of course, altered books was the project!

  8. Oh my gosh. I'm swooning this!

  9. I enjoy the pockets on my frocks too. Love the stencil.

  10. I am so looking forward to see how your design in the cardigan develops with your stitches...and poor Martha...she did work so hard today! Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

    1. Martha had to have a special strengthening refreshment after her hard day :o)

  11. oh my! love the red thread..... love the little buttons.... love the handsewn line.... as if i need MORE inspiration to make my own 'something'.... swooning.... chomping at bit....

    1. from what i read on your blog you are making handsewn stuff all the time
      it's just
      that wearing books is a little impractical
      could reveal too much information.
      [giggles and scuttles off stage]

  12. I am swooning over the spillikins ... squishy, smushy, soppy, swooning. xo

  13. Looks like it will be a cardy to find sanctuary in. I amazingly have continued to stitch since my return from Nelson! I'm riding the catalyst wave. Many thanks still. xx