Last week, I met a stranger on the side of the road to score some weed. Devil’s Beggarticks is the weed, by the way. The stranger was a friend of a friend who was offering up some of this aggressive plant to anyone who wanted to dye with it. I’m so glad I tried it out.
Two batches: the first was flowers and leaves and the second batch was leaves and stems. I don’t think there’s much of a difference: the wool from the stem batch is a little lighter.
I soaked one piece of cotton and one hank of embroidery floss in milk and water for each batch to see if it made a difference. All of the fiber is mordanted but milk supposedly acts as a binder and I wanted to run a little, unscientific test. I think it made a difference. The darker pieces are the milk soaked ones. Really specifically, it was a little milk and mostly water.
The wool is overdyed, I used the batch I had solar dyed with Curly Dock seeds. It’s so vibrant!!
I had a great day visiting my indigo plants out on the farm. That’s right. I have some indigo plants out at a farm in Brodhead. I am the luckiest person in the world!
It’s a long story that involves a possible Burning Man Global Arts Grant that was interrupted by the pandemic. N’uff said. I don’t like to dwell on the story because when I tell it, I sound like I’m complaining (because I am) and I don’t like to sound that way.
ANYHOOO! Today I harvested a bucketful and decided to try out the blender and ice method of dyeing.
I cheated in a huuuge way in that I measured nothing. I eyeballed it and it seems to have worked out fine so far.
I took a small bucketful of plants and removed the leaves. Then I filled a blender with ice water and the leaves and blended it all up. It reminded me of the green drinks I used to try to choke down during a very short and ill advised health food jag. I do love the smell of indigo plants, though.
Then I strained the liquid into a bucket. I froze the mush that didn’t go through the strainer to play with later.
I put some silk that I had scoured into water and then threw it into the juice. I don’t know what types of silk I used. A few months ago I bought a grab bag of silks from Dharma Trading Company to play with. It’s a variety pack of off cuts. Awesome for experimenting with.
Anyhoo, I didn’t stir it around. I wanted a cool looking chaotic pattern and that’s what I got. If I had moved the fabric around more the color would have been more solid. I let the fabric sit in the juice for about 30 minutes.
After I pulled it out I gave it a quick rinse.
The color is so vibrant, I’m very happy with it.
I really like this one, it’s soft and the pattern looks ethereal to me.
You don’t really need to be perfect to dye with indigo plants, you can play and have fun sometimes.
I made a little sandwich bag and then, by mistake, I made three more. It’s just such a sweet and simple pattern and the bag is so gorgeous in indigo. I played a little with the sizes and shapes.
The pattern is from the book “Linen, Wool, Cotton” by Akiko Mano. It’s an older book full of really cute patterns that are easy enough for a beginner. That said, I totally cut the pattern wrong but they are adorable anyway.
Today was a cool fall day but I still got out and made some Shibori and Indigo dyed samples for my upcoming indigo dye classes at The Electric Needle.
Fall is coming again. Dang it. I thought summer would go on and on. For some reason (hope related) I always think summer will never end, not this year. But I was wrong again.
I’ve either sold or quilted many of my arashi samples so I knocked out a few more. I just love arashi shibori. All of these were made by sewing the fabric into a tube that was then put around a PVC pipe and then NOT wrapped with string (ummm…if you’ve never done it before, trust me, that makes more sense when you see the process). I love how organic and watery they look. The wider guys are half yards. One was a tight tube and one was loose, which makes such a dramatic difference!
These skinny dudes are actually called “skinny quarters”. They are 9 inches wide. Each one was sewn into a bias tube and put on a tube. Only one was a tight tube and I’m embarrassed to admit that I can’t remember which is which. They are hanging on the line right now. I’m pretty durn sure that it’s the one with more white.
I also needed some Itajime samples. I met some amazing dye artists last weekend at a Circle of Life Studio event in Eagle River. They were all so inspiring. I followed the lead of Yukako Kadono of Slow Stitch Studio. I moved my blocks around and got these great color changes. I love this picture especially because you can see the green from the color change that indigo goes through on the left side of the star.
I did play a little but with some Katano Shibori. It’s done with a sewing machine and can really look dramatic. I haven’t done this one very much but I really enjoy it and plan to do more.
And finally this big one is a blank from Dharma Trading Company that I wanted to test out. I think this size cloth (about 42 X42) would make awesome wrapping cloths for presents.
I dyed till I ran out of light last night. If you scroll through all the pictures, you can kinda see the progression of the sun going down.
As much as I’m bummed that summer is ending (NOOOOoooooooOOOO!!!), I’m glad to get back into the Electric Needle Studio to teach. We’ve scheduled classes on the first Saturday of every month from October to May (not including January) and it feels like I’m going home again. You can check my events page or just head over to the Electric Needle’s class page to learn more and sign up.
I’ll post more about last weekend in another post. I’m still kinda processing how awesome it was.
The air is crisp, and twinkle lights are out all around the city lighting up the dark nights. True winter means you’re wearing a scarf ALL THE TIME! So, why not rock an indigo-dyed infinity scarf! Perfect for keeping the chill off.
Are you wishing that Santa helps you get your Christmas wish of a hot summer weekend of indigo dyeing in 2018, but want to know a little more first?
Here are some FAQs about the retreat:
Q: Can I bring my own fabric to dye?
YES! While the retreat price includes all your materials, including fabric, tools, and access to prepared dye vats, you can bring whatever you want (as long as it’s natural fiber) to prep and dye during the retreat.
Q: Will I learn how to prepare different types of indigo vats?
YES! Jen will demonstrate how to do both natural and synthetic vats.
Q: What is included in the cost of the retreat? Deep Into Indigo is an all-inclusive retreat. That means you get your lodging, meals (including wine and cocktails), instruction and all indigo dyeing supplies & tools. You can bring your own fabric, but only if you want to.
I’ve been dyeing like crazy to get ready for my December 3rd Sale at the Aldo Leopold Center in Madison. To be honest, I fear that I made too much. I’m going to bring a bunch of stuff, display one or two of each type of dyed thing and keep some under the tables. But you’re in the know, so ask me to bring out more patterns when you stop by my table.
I had a lot of fun dyeing atOne One Thousand but only shared pictures through Instagram so here are some collaged screen shots
I’ve been lucky enough to dye in all of the publicly available dye studios in town: Blue Bar Quilts, The Electric Needle and – though it not officially a dye studio – One One Thousand. They are all my favorite places to dye. All of them.
So if you are a local dyer, I recommend that you call one up and reserve some time. They are all equally awesome. I was treated to a beautiful sunset when leaving One One Thousand so I’m sharing my blurry picture of it with you. I hope I see you tomorrow!!!
I recently acquired a box full of itajime blocks. I plan to have them available at the Deep Into Indigo Retreat. The Retreat is a blast. This year, to ensure our sanity, we have decided to ask for a $150 deposit due by January 30th. If we get 10 people by then, the Retreat will run. If not, we are going to focus on other events. But we reeeeeally want the Retreat to run. So if you plan to wait until the last possible minute to register, that minute is coming up really soon.
You don’t need access to acrylic blocks to make gorgeous work, simple rubber bands will do the job very nicely. Itajime is a very simple, yet beautiful and sophisticated technique. Like all shibori techniques, it has a bajillion possible variations.
First you accordion or fan fold your fabric. Then you do it again. I like to use a triangle fold but you could totally use a square or rectangle. My favorite triangle fold is the equilateral triangle. You make it using a fold and a flip.
As you fold it, you need to go on as you began…finally that advice makes sense to me. Meaning, if your first fold is away from you, after you flip it, all of the folds need to go away from you. Not that “away from you” is the only way, any way is right as long as you are consistent. Now, that’s some good advice.
It’s easier to show than to tell, though, so I made a quick video about it. It’s less than two minutes long.
Once you have made your triangle bundle, you get to pick how to place your resists and which resists to use. This is also half the fun. Every slight variation you make in where you put it, will totally change the look of your pattern. Mighty cool.
Let me know if you have questions about the technique or the Deep Into Indigo Retreat. Happy dyeing!
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