After a break of around two months I finally fired up the indigo vat and did some dyeing yesterday.
The first experiment was to see if I could do something with the sample of smocking. Unlike shibori, where the stitches are pulled tight to create the resist, some of the stitches in this type of smocking are left loose. I knew that just dipping it in the indigo as it was would probably result in just a blue piece of cloth, as the dye would be able to penetrate all areas of the cloth.
So in the end I bound it to a pipe, as in arashi shibori, but left it flat, without compressing it. I knew from previous experiments of dyeing paper overlaid with cloth that the indigo won’t fully penetrate more than one layer of cotton.
This was the result, front (top) and back (bottom).
You can vaguely see the crossed lattice pattern in the top photo, but the bottom one looks more random. Back to the drawing board on this one for now.
More successfully, I dyed a linen pouch in a mokune pattern.
And threw in a few scarves for good measure.
It was so lovely to be able to hang them out in the sunshine to dry. Seems like spring may be on the way at last.
I’ve been doing quite a lot of knitting over the holidays, probably as a change from all the felting and embroidery I did before Christmas. But I don’t have the patience for big projects like sweaters any more, so I’ve been looking out for quick items that are still challenging or unusual, like the pinwheel purse.
So when I came across these felted entrelac fobs, I had to have a go. Not just because I’d never knitted entrelac (a stitch that looks like basket weave), but also because I could felt it afterwards.
The knitting instructions looked complicated but were actually fairly straightforward. The biggest problem I had was finding a set of five 6.5mm double-pointed needles – in the end I used four double-pointed needles and one circular one.
To felt, I put it inside a pillow case and washed it with a load of bedding at 60°C. Although it felted slightly, it wasn’t enough for my taste:
So I tried again, this time putting it in the machine with a large bath towel, without the pillow case, at 60°C. Much better result:
And here it is with the cord, made from twisted wool (I haven’t got hold of a key fob attachment yet). I think I might try felting the cord at some stage as well.
The beauty of doing an experimental and creative textiles course is that you don’t need to be able to sew (if you don’t count machine embroidery!). I’ve managed to get through three terms of dyeing, weaving, making felt and knitting without having to go near a sewing machine.
However, I’ve now got a pile of shibori samples that I’d like to turn into something practical, so it was time to blow the dust off my mum’s (ancient but very solid) Singer and try to remember my needlework lessons from school.
Luckily, these days, you can find online instructions for how to do practically anything. So after ironing some interfacing on the other side of the calico to add a bit of body, I followed this tutorial on how to make a lined zippered pouch. For the lining I used a remnant I picked up in the furnishing fabrics department from John Lewis.
It was surprisingly easy to do, though I was distracted halfway through by someone trying to attack Rupert Murdoch with a shaving foam pie on TV! The shibori spider webs on the sample weren’t lined up straight to start with, so the pattern on the bag isn’t regular. But I’m still pleased with it!