Workshops


I’ve had quite a summer of natural dyeing.  In June, Nancy Zeller of Long Ridge Farm in New Hampshire conducted a 2-day workshop for my guild on Indigo Dyeing.  It was wonderful!

First she brought samples of indigo dyed textiles.

Then we got to work creating our vats. Nancy inspected Karen and Betsy’s vat to make sure it had the proper pH, temperature, and low oxidation.

My partner Amanda, a biology professor (lucky me) and I had a great time working together at the workshop. She was very adept at using pH paper and understanding the reading.

Before the workshop, I took some cotton gauze fabric and shibori stitched it all over.  I got some great results after I dyed it in indigo and then after removing the stitching, dipped it in a woad vat (another blue dye we got to play with).  I was pleased.

Indigo was magic.  I came home with enough of a vat to reinvigorate it and dye some more.  In the meantime, I spent this last weekend experimenting with the lovely yellow dyes of Queen Anne’s lace.  More about that in the next post.

I’ve been on a learning binge lately which has been fun. Recently I signed up for an on-line class in Shibori techniques. I’ve done some woven shibori in the past, but never the traditional techniques on silk.

I’m in the second week of a 5-week session and it’s been a blast.  Not only is Glennis a wonderful teacher, the class of people from all over the world has been enthusiastic and very creative.  Glennis designed the on-line class to be a weekly uploaded teaching pdf document with embedded videos and a blog where we all share ideas.

The first class was about using clamped resists on silk samples using ColorHue Dyes.  I wasn’t thrilled with the pale results.

The itajime technique was difficult for me with all the clamps and shapes, but fun nonetheless.

Last week in Lesson 2, Glennis introduced three different techniques using hand stitching–mokume (rows of running stitches, similar to woven shibori), makiage (pattern within a motif), and orinui (overcast stitching on a fold).  This was more my style. I love to sew, these techniques give me much more control, and an additional video gave me much more information on how to increase the intensity of the color.

The photos show the initial stitching, everything gathered and dyed, and the unveiling which I’m crazy about!

I’m very pleased that the color was so intense.  The blue sample was simply dyed, but the other two were immersed up to a point and the rest of was painted.  Fascinating how it all works.

This summer I’ll be attended an indigo dye workshop and I’m sure I’ll be bringing plenty of work from the techniques I learn over the next few weeks to place in the dye pot.

I will continue to post with each new technique learned.  Stay tuned.

Goodness.  I’m embarrassed that it’s been so long since I visited with you. The holidays, work, and a variety of factors kept me away from Between the Threads for over a month.  But I’m back with some nice projects to show for it.

During October, I spent some time at the loom weaving up 5 yards of material from Harrisville Shetland Wool cones.  It was a very nice twill structure and I used some handspun for a contrast.

Then I decided to full the fabric as I prepared to make a coat.  I threw it into the washer on hot, just for a few minutes. And then…. uh, I got distracted by my daughter who “needed to talk.”  Let’s just say that when I ran frantically to the washing machine to pull the fabric, it was felted beyond belief.  It was toast!  The part with the purple handspun was thick enough to use for a horse blanket.  Weave structure- gone! The magenta part at the top of the picture brightened considerably, but shrunk significantly so that a coat was out of the question.

Time to make lemonade:)  I needed a new purpose.  The purple accent fabric was cut off, doubled over, and now makes a nice surface for pressing on my ironing board. Then I went to a workshop one night at my local, independent fabric shop.  It was all about working with wool.  I raised my hand.  “Anyone have any suggestions for a this?”  I told my story and got ideas for a vest.

I’m not a big vest person.  They tend to look boxy on my short body.  But with little else to use it for, I got a nice pattern from Kwik Sew and set about making a vest.

The first order of business was making something flattering out of a thick wool felt.  It was all about reducing bulk.  I spent hours carefully fitting the pattern with added darts in the front and back and using ideas from Sandra Betzina on working with boiled wool.  In this picture, you can see one of the back pieces.  I used a diamond shaped dart to create shape, but instead of cinching the fabric together like a traditional dart, I cut out all the fabric.

I did this because Sandra says it takes out all the bulk.  It worked beautifully when I pressed the edges together and zig-zagged the seam after backing it with fusible interfacing.

You can’t even see the seam on the right side of the vest.  The thread is buried in the felt.  It was a cool trick.

Well, I eventually finished the vest before the holidays by putting a nice lining in it.

And I wore it for Christmas, adding earrings and a pin my husband gave me that morning which he had picked out specifically for the vest.

Tim Gunn always says, “Make it work.”  I think, this time, I did.

I’ve got one of her books and a DVD, but there’s nothing like meeting Judith MacKenzie face to face.  I had the wonderful good fortune to be invited to the home of a new friend last weekend, who just happens to be friends with Judith.  While she was visiting this woman, they decided to host a workshop on Wheel Mechanics and Spinning the Diameter of Yarn You Want.  It was that great combination of learning and good fun.

I have found over the years, that the best instructors are those who combine technical knowledge with good storytelling abilities.  Jacey Boggs has that quality and Judith has it in spades.  This woman has had a full and interesting life!  And she shares her tales with gusto.

So you walk away from her workshops needing time to process all her wonderful tips about the science and art of spinning while also smiling about her stories, adventures and passion for history and experience.

It was an amazing day and I will treasure it.

Jacey Boggs taught a 2-day workshop for my guild last weekend. Now I know why she’s the rock star of fiber!  Both in style and technical know-how, this chick rocks it out of the park.

To make people feel comfortable, she wore a sweater at the beginning of class.  Then she explained to the mostly middle-aged crowd that she had tattoos and “did we mind” if she took off her sweater.  Yep, her arms are pretty covered, but the magic of her spinning instruction quickly overshadowed her body art.

Jacey offers instruction on a multiple of cool art yarns.  These aren’t just thrown together willy-nilly.  She has figured out the technical approach to making art yarns that can be controlled and duplicated with any fiber you choose. She also talked about what you can do with the yarns and feels they are particularly appropriate for accents to knitting and weaving projects.

Coils, fauxcle, corespinning, wrapping, attaching foreign objects, you name it, we tried it.  The group was so enthusiastic which made it particularly fun.

We were enchanted with Jacey’s winning personality and her straightforward approach to teaching us all her secrets.  She was a gem of an instructor.  We learned so much.

I would recommend a workshop by Jacey any day.  But book her now.  She is so popular, she is scheduling up to 2 years in advance.  By the way, I interviewed her for an episode of WeaveCast.  I am still editing the audio but when it’s ready to post, Syne Mitchell will be sure to put the word out.