Creating Books

A week ago I took a bookbinding workshop on the “snowshoe” binding. It seems to be a variation of the long stitch with some decorative touches and is used on flexible covers. Thought it was a very interesting look so I went on to You Tube to see what there was on crossed bindings. I found a very interesting one that is deceptively simple. Each stitch group always has 3 columns (signatures). The number of rows can be anything as long as the number is odd. The cover is made of 2 pieces of heavy paper glued together with a piece of tyvek in between for stability. My cover was silkscreened with one of the screens made from my design in the screen making workshop I had taken the week before. The cover is very stiff so perhaps for the next one I may add a closure.

Creating Screens for Printing

Screen Print Creation Workshop 1

Screen Print Creation Workshop 2

Have been playing with some screen printing and it seems there is always a shape or figure I want to use but do not have. My go to guru and wonderful teacher, Ginny Eckley, was having a workshop on how to make your own screens, so I signed up. Her suggestion was before coming to the workshop to send her some ideas that I could play with and use to make my own screens. I had some new shibori resist patterns and thought they would make some lovely screens.  So I sent them off to her to get things started.

On the first day some of us had screens ready to be made and some of us were still finalizing designs.  By day two we were all pretty much ready to go  While waiting for our screens to be developed we did avail ourselves of Ginny’s library of screens to practice our printing techniques.

 Above are the tests I made with my screen designs.  The top picture is on paper and the bottom picture is on fabric.   I do like my screens and am ready to start using them for my own projects.

Making your own screen for printing is not for the timid.  The most time consuming is the preparation of the design and the transparency from which the screen is made.  Once those are good to go you’re ready to develop the screen.  Screen developing also has room for problems but if the design is good, you’re way more than halfway there.

Second Weaving

Second Piece

Finished another scarf. Do like them narrow when made with the nubby yarn; another hand dyed, hand spun. Actually, in this climate, narrow done with any weight yarn is really preferable. No matter how cold it can get, if you can wrap a scarf around your neck several times, you can stay warm.

Now to start a scarf with a finer, even textured yarn. Want to test my my new found selvedge skills.

First Weaving

I have belonged to the Contemporary Handweavers of Houston for a number of years. My interests were (and still are) kumihomo and dyeing. But, unfortunately, I was not a weaver.

In years past, I tried felting (didn’t feel right to me), tapestry (that I’m still trying to work on) and I took a rigid heddle loom workshop. The workshop was interesting but I never really felt the ‘flow’ and never did finish my project. This never stopped me from buying the wonderful yarns I would come across; especially handspun.

This past spring the guild again participated in the annual Fiber Fest; winding, into balls, the skeins of yarn purchased by the attendees. I wandered through all the booths looking at all the wonderful offerings. One of the vendors has a shop not very far from our community and is well know by members of the guild. This was the first time I stopped to see her and the beautiful pieces she was making on one of her rigid heddle looms. She also happened to have some stunning yarn. She and I chatted and, of course, I was ready to dust off my loom. Bought some of the beautiful yarn and decided I had to make a sample with some scrap yarn of equal weight. The sample turned out not badly but I realized I needed more practice.

I pulled out some of the hand-dyed, handspun yarn I had. Warped the loom with a coordinating color (orange is pretty yummy)and started weaving. Pictured in my result. Not bad for my first ‘real’ weaving.

I have just warped and started weaving my second piece. After this one is done I think I’m going to be ready for my wonderful new yarn.

IQF and Advanced Ice Dyeing

The last of my workshops at the Quilt Festival was Advanced Ice Dyeing with Cindy Lohbeck. In the basics workshop we were able to work with fat quarters. This time we were given yard lengths to dye. That’s a lot of fabric to manipulate. At the end of the workshop we were given the option to substitute a few fat quarters for the last yard of fabric and I took her up on that one (my fingers were getting tired!).

Once again, all the fabric was batched together and only 3 colors were used for dyeing. The colors I chose for this project were chartreuse, teal and boysenberry. The first 4 samples are full yard pieces. The last is a fat quarter.

Lohbeck Adv 1

Lohbeck Adv 2

Lohbeck Adv 3

Lohbeck Adv 4

Lohbeck Adv 5

As you can see, more practice is needed. This should not be a problem as the process is addictive.

IQF and Ice Dyeing Basics

The next Quilt Festival workshop was Ice Dyeing Basics with Cindy Lohbeck. It was a half day workshop (afternoon) so I decided to go in early and do what little shopping I had planned in the morning.

I had always wanted to try ice dyeing and had seen several tutorials on You Tube, etc. but decided that I wanted a hands on experience to get me going. Well, I was in for a big surprise. Cindy doesn’t approach ice dyeing like any of the tutorials I had seen. I do like her technique much better and it makes more sense than the other approaches. My first attempts aren’t bad but I do have a bit of practicing to do before I’m really pleased with my results. Cindy had us working up our samples on fat quarters. It’s a good size to play with. Some of my samples are below.

Lohbeck Basics 1

Lohbeck Basics 6

Lohbeck Basics 3

Lohbeck Basics 5

Lohbeck basics 7

Lohbeck Basics 8

All the samples were batched together and only three colors were used for the batch. The colors were clear yellow, red and blue. The next workshop was Advanced Ice Dyeing. Will post soon.

IQF and Indigo

Hard to believe it has been 3 months since my last post. We survived ‘Harvey’ pretty much unscathed. Lots of anxious moments but no real damage. Unfortunately, many of our fellow Houstonians were not so lucky. Spent lots of time getting ready for the annual Houston Handweavers sale. Made more shibori indigo napkins and small lavendar sachets. Also prepared some wonderful cards and bookmarks using my eco print papers. added some wonderful silk eco print scarves to the inventory.

But now the International Quilt Festival has come and gone and this year I took 3 workshops (not sure if I’m prepared to do that again, driving back and forth each day during the worst traffic times takes its toll!).

Monday I always seem to start with a workshop by Glennis Dolce(Shibori Girl). This year we began with a couple of the basic stitches.

Dolce Basics

I sampled a stitch that I had not used in my work before (the overhand stitch – just above the shell). I like the feathery look. Will try to incorporate in a future project.

There were 2 very interesting things Glennis incorporated into the workshop this year. One was providing us with some very different fabrics to experiment with. The first photo below shows a silk organza which I used for the arashi technique. Due to the nature of organza I didn’t expect it to do well in a vat situation. It surprised me. Because of its stiffness the fabric scrunched very definitively and created extreme white spaces but it also dyed deeply. The second photo below is scrim. Once again I was surprised. Due to the extreme openness of the fabric I would have expected a much lighter effect. These 2 fabrics will be on my to do list for future experimentation.

Dolce  Organza Arashi

Dolce Scrim

The next thing I tried was a vintage linen napkin. The kind with the designs all over them. This one had some flowers in the border so I added a small butterfly. After dipping in the vat, I realized this napkin needed no enhancement. Just dyeing it in the indigo gave it new life. The fabric was amazing; it had been washed so many times it felt like heavy silk.

Dolce Vintage Linen

The second very interesting thing in the workshop was Glennis’s collection of vintage Japanese stencils. I played with several of those and decided that rather than the way I was transferring my patterns to fabric using a stencil would be more efficient and cleaner. I transferred a few designs onto some sample fabric to stitch and also made my own stencil. Have stencil making items on order and look forward to receiving them.

Dolce Stencils

That pretty much wraps up my first workshop (and, of course, I look forward to next year with Glennis). Will be writing about the next two soon.

A Kumihimo “Snug” & Fall Leaves

I can’t believe how fast time is flying by this summer. Suddenly, every chore that should have been taken care of over the past several years is perking up and saying ‘do me, do me’! So, slowly, they are getting done but I can’t leave my preferred activities behind.

I found a bag of leaves that I had dried last fall. Decided they needed to be seen. They were printed on Crepe de Chine (as well as silk habotai) with a bit of iron to augment the coloring. Crepe de Chine has become my favorite silk for printing. I tried silk charmuese but it was just too shiny for my taste.

A month or so ago I found myself rummaging through some donated yarns and discovered some yarn that is typically used by rug weavers. Always on the lookout for unique yarns to use for my braids, I decided this yarn looked like a keeper. Not only does it have an interesting texture but it is also soft around the neck (very important). Have some more of this, slightly different patterning, and will be making another braid with it.

Kumihimo and Wire

Typically when I use wire for my kumihimo work, I use 20 gauge plated copper. If you are familiar with wire and done any work with it you know that 20 gauge is right on the edge of the readily finger malleable gauges. Getting ‘perfect’ tension with this gauge is always a challenge and you must be ready to show the wire (after acknowledging it superiority) who really is the boss!

On a traditional maru dai shorter lengths can be mastered. For longer pieces, however, the need to readjust the counterweight often leads to unwanted bends in the wires or a misaligned braid and always a few tension issues. A solution presented to our local weaving group a few months ago for another problem led me to my solution. I just needed a much taller mau dai with a few added features and I was on my way.

I am very pleased with the braids shown. The tension in both comes close to rivaling braids of silk.

P.S. These braids are in the Member’s exhibit at the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas (www.weavetexas.org) June 2nd thru June 4th at the Sugar Land Marriott hotel.

Getting Back To It

May 9 2017 013

Crepe de Chine

Been busy this spring focusing on things other than my botanical printing. Have printed a few since the end of last year but some of them ended up looking like I had completely lost my ‘mojo’. The leaves I had dried or frozen just didn’t look like they were coming through for me. There were a few gems, however, that I was very pleased with.

May 9 2017 012

Silk Habotai

May 9 2017 015

Silk Habotai

May 9 2017 028

Crepe de Chine

May 9 2017 022

Silk Habotai

I just started using crepe de chine. I like the softness of print that you can get with silk chiffon but sometimes it is too soft. Crepe de chine still results in soft images but they are a bit bolder.

Also acquired some silk charmeuse. Have printed one and am very pleased. It is still resting before the wash. Will post the results later.