Another completed project

Just a short post today.  In the process of sorting through the unfinished projects I found my tub of class samples and very EARLY indigo experiments.  We built a new deck last summer and this year I am putting the furniture out.  I purchased a cool blue retro metal glider and a couple of metal chairs for the sitting area.  The glider is great, but a bit hard to sit on for long periods.  I purchased a seat cushion in a burgundy color and decided to use a few of the sample pieces to make throw pillows.  They will have to be protected from the sun – so I will store in a bench so they can be accessed easily.   I am inspired to make more. Will post a picture of them on the glider when the sun is in a better place and the seat cushion arrives.

Next post will be the results of my indigo dyeing weekend.


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Spring Cleaning – Not about Indigo

All this Spring weather has me needing to sort, clean and generally get organized.  Why wait so long I often wonder.  One of the things I did was go through each plastic tub stored in my sewing room.  Each tub was carefully and sorted into finish or get rid of.  Harsh, but the reality is I found that I avoid finishing things.  Weird, but after being honest with myself I realize that by finishing something it means it will be subject to comment.  I hate that.  But, the reality is I need to get this stuff finished.

It started with finishing the quilt I started for my niece Kailey over 15 years ago.  When I got it out of the tub – it turned out it was done, except for the binding. Really!!  Took me a couple of days to figure out what my original plan was but then it went pretty quick.  I couldn’t believe it moved with me every place I went for over 15 years!  I even took it to Shanghai with me, thinking I would finish it up there.  Why didn’t I finish it?  Regardless its done.  This pattern is called County Roads and if you are from the Midwest it will bring back some memories.

Next, I tackled the Dresden Plate quilt I started over 20 years ago.  I was downsizing my fabric stash well before we left Kansas and found several calico prints I had purchased in the early 1980’s.  Oh dear – thats way more than 20 years 😦

Anyway I got this idea many years ago that I wanted to make an entire quilt, pieced and quilted by hand – no machine quilting or stitching. Thus the Dresden Plate quilt was born and what better fabric to use than those old calico prints. Took me FOREVER, especially since I would work on it and then put it away – apparently for more than 20 years.  Also moved around with me – however I did, at some point finish it.  When I pulled it out of its storage tub last week, I was puzzled as to why it was in there.  It was bound and quilted – so why wasn’t I using it?  As I got it out of the tub and spread it on the floor I had an epiphany of sorts. I remember that I had decided after it was done that I didn’t have enough quilting on it and I decided to add some full and half circles, quilted in the green thread that I did the applique with.  I only had added that quilting in on three sides – but then apparently, for whatever reason, didn’t finish one long side.  Took me about six hours to finish it up – worked on it in the evenings while watching my Britbox shows.

So, a nice feeling to get at least two things out of the tubs and being used.

So today, I decided transition into Spring and put the winter bedding away.  My husband has been bringing bedding and assorted items home from China over the past few trips and one of the things he brought back was a nice white cotton blanket.  I decided to put that on the bed but it was kind of bland and got this crazy idea to throw one of my indigo scarves onto the top.  Nothing original, I’m sure, but I have all of these Indigo scarves that I have experimented on with different techniques and nothing to do with them.  However, I knew it wouldn’t belong before the scarf ended up on the floor, so I decided to sew it onto the blanket.  Kind of liked it and I think I might explore doing more of this but NOT use a blanket that has a woven pattern in it.  It was tricky keeping the blanket from stretching and in truth it did end up a bit wanky.  But I’m liking it.


So, thats it for today.  And before you wonder – the quilt on the headboard isn’t finshed either!!  It still needs to have a binding put on.  I know, I know – I will get to it but its not the next project.  If you think these are old – the next one was started over 30 years ago – will take me a bit longer but I’m going to keep slogging away at it.

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And now its May!

This year is just moving along – Im ready for real Spring.  We had fake Spring for a few days and it was wonderful – no rain and lots of sunshine.  Spent most of the day out on the deck stitching.  It was amazing how much I got done.

This post is about the pieces I have done since I got back from Japan. I was exploring several different ideas.  The first uses just a single shibori design called Karamatsu – Japanese Larch.  On one piece I combined it with traditional mokume stitching and changed the rows of stitching within the circle.  On the other I added some sashiko stitching.  Sashiko is a Japanese stitch technique consisting of a running stitch to make a design.  It was often used in Japanese patching or as a decoration.  I also used indigo pigment and painted some of the karamatsu in the one piece.


The piece that is circles and lines was inspired by a white on white quilted wall hanging I saw on Pinterest.  I wondered how it would translate to mokume and I liked how it turned out.  I hope you like it as well – very modern looking don’t you think?  You can also see what happens here when a thread breaks in the middle of pulling.  I lost almost one whole row of stitches.  Oh well.


This next piece was a challenge.  It was supposed to be a sort of vortex – where you got the sensation of looking through a curtain into a “black hole”.  Was not quite as successful as I hoped and I will re-visit this technique again.  I did like the pattern developed by changing the direction of the stitches.  Need to improve on my dyeing to obtain more evenness.


The last two pieces were kind of fun things to try.  I liked how my rabbit turned out.  The flowers need more work.  I have a vision of doing a field of flowers and painting them with natural dyes.  I think larger ones with less stem towards the front moving to smaller and smaller ones behind.  Perhaps this summer, I will get inspired again.

The next post will be about the Natural Dye workshop I took at Aya Studios with Catherine Ellis and perhaps my current work – I have 6 pieces stitched and ready for the dye pot. Working on one more and I want to print some of my katazome stencils. If the weather holds will dye everything before the end of the month.

rabbit in moon1karamatsu flowers.jpg

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Oh my its April!

So much for posting twice a month.  Life has a way of interfering with the best intentions.

Today I want to write about the three mokume pieces that I posted in the Shibori 2018 section of the blog.  I did those pieces for the workshop in Fujino Japan, last October.


We were sent a length of fabric to stitch – many did one continuous piece – but I chose to divide mine into 3rds.

I did traditional designs you often see in Chinese brush paintings: koi, cranes and swallows.  I drew out the design and then did mokume stitching across the entire piece.  You can see I was successful in varying degrees.  The swallows have no heads, my koi look more like dolphins and the cranes have messy feet.  However, I feel pretty good about how they turned out and best of all I discovered that I LOVE this type of stitch resist.  The pictures are at a gallery for framing and I plan to hang them in the front living area over my couch (behind UV glass of course).

We also did some Katano pieces, folded into accordion folds then stitched and one piece I attempted to fold and stitch – triangles.  I was not successful and very frustrated, Bryan ended up folding it for me.  Tears were shed 😦  We used these pieces in our book and box making class.  No pictures of my box – it did not turn out well, the katazome stencil I made was cut crooked and the box did not look good at all.  The book on the left I made in class and the one on the right is a photo album I made for my mother-in-laws 90th birthday.


Bryan was a great teacher and I left Japan very inspired to continuing exploring Shibori and especially mokume.  Many of those attending were also supportive and I left feeling really good about where I wanted to go creatively.  Thank you Shibori Sisters!


Here is a picture of the piece I did after returning home.  Check out my next post for the most recent projects.


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Shibori Stitch Patterns

January is almost over  so I decided I had better add another post.  Twice a month is the goal.

Last year I decided I wanted to explore variations of shibori stitch patterns.  I enlisted the help of my sister-in-law who does amazing sashiko.  I decided to use linen napkins and we did a total of twelve.  Some patterns were successful, some not so much.  My indigo vat wasn’t optimum and yielded just a medium blue.

You can really see how uneven some of the stitches are – a good learning experience.  We experimented with large vs small stitches as well as spacing between lines.  I don’t think some of those were successful.  I was also disappointed with the number of threads that broke and have since changed the thread I am stitching with.  Probably should have ironed them before taking pictures – sorry.

A good learning experience and now I have a set of indigo napkins!

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New Year – New Resolve

It is Jan 2018.  I cannot believe it has been two, almost three years since I posted.  Many things have changed in my “exploration” of indigo and textiles and life.  In 2016 we moved from our house in the country to Salem, OR.  We spent most of that year and the next remodeling the house inside and out, so I am afraid this blog took a hit and has been neglected as well as my dyeing projects.  I have two new grandsons, which my daughter and son are willing to share with me – who can turn that down?  The best news, my husbands contract in China ends in July – it will be wonderful to have him home full time so we can spoil the grandchildren together and do some traveling.

However, despite all of that, I have been busy with classes and the past couple of years.   I squeezed in:  Katazome and natural dyes with Akemi Nakano Cohen (at Shakerag) , Shibori and Natural dyeing with Joan Morris (in Vermont at her studio) ,  Shibori with Jane Callendar (at Maiwa in Vancouver BC)  and Adire with Gasali Adeyomo (at the Mendocino Art Center).   I may talk about and post samples from those classes from time to time.  For now, the last workshop I took was a defining moment for me, a workshop from Bryan Whitehead in Fujino, Japan.  I had a creative epiphany of sorts while there and realized that at some point, one has to commit – no more classes – JUST DO IT.  A difficult concept for me but this year I am going to try and embrace that concept. I am posting three images from that workshop under Shibori.

The workshop included Indigo dyeing, Katazome, Shibori and Japanese bookbinding.  I decided I love Shibori stitch resist – especially Mokume but also the other variations.  I will be posting about the workshop in the days ahead – including photos.  I am also going to start a separate page that will contain pictures of my Shibori projects post Japan and onward.  I hope you enjoy them and I look forward to your comments.  I also hope to explore using natural dyes with my Shibori – trying out some experimental things later when the weather in Oregon dries up (or does it ever?).

My goal is to post at least once a week.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a year filled with creative possibilities.



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Fresh Indigo

I harvested my first crop of fresh Indigo last week.  I am going to use 1/2 of it for a fresh indigo vat and am drying the remaining 1/2 for later.  I ended up with 4, 1 gallon zip lock bags of fresh leaves.

Drying indigo1stharvest Evaindigo

I also did some rubbings with the fresh Indigo leaves – using John Marshalls book as a guide.   It yielded a dark bluish green color.  The first and third are stencils I put over silk squares and rubbed through with the indigo leaves.  The middle one is a silk square with the indigo leaves underneath and then I used a rubber mallet and pounded on top.

Will post more later….

rubbing2freshleafindigo Indigoleaf stencil rub with fresh indigo

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