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February 2021


Not a lot of finished work this week. Actually not a lot of work.  But I am up to making my book cover from my Ecco Dyeing. 

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I hem stitched the edges of the wool so that I could use the whole piece.  Time consuming  but it did the job.  I highlighted the design with seed stitch around the edges, random cross stitch and running stitch to highlight the centres of the leaves.  The French knot beetle was an afterthought but I think very detailed embroidered insects would work well against this background.

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It is a beginning but for the moment I think I should put this away and get on with some other work.  I enjoyed the workshop with Caroline Nixon and will certainly do some more of this kind of work.


The weather here has been hot and steamy with huge storms that roll down in the after noon.  This makes for some spectacular sun sets.  We had been to the mainland for dinner and the skys were amazing coming home.   I say skys because one can see in 360 degrees and the vista changes as one spins around.  The island looked wonderful against the clouds that were gathering and seemed to glow.

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In other places there were double rainbows but over the islands they looked like portals to other worlds.

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As the sun began to set the sky was on fire and as the ferry arrived at the jetty everyone had their camera out to catch a memory.

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As we pulled out into the bay a slither of bright sky broke through.

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We arrived home to just catch the end of natures wonderful display.

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I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

RIP old camera

It only seems like yesterday that I bought this camera but looking at my records it was 2005.  It has been around the world several times.  Up mountains, into the desert, been repaired twice and now it is dead.

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They don't make spare parts for it anymore.  So, I HAVE TO buy a new camera.  I have a lot of lenses for this one so I will buy another Canon that they can be used on.

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A big purchase but it is about the same price I paid for the dead one 16 years ago.  How can that be?

Ecco Dying Experiments

So the experiments have begun.  Monique and I collected a range of leaves from the garden and the bush close to home.  I had problems finding the wool and silk fabrics recommended but finally found the 10cm X 160cm strip of wool.  No silk unfortunately.  I had prepared the cotton shirt I had bought and decided to add this as an afterthought, knowing that I might not get any results from it.


As I was working with a child I had to be very careful about safety, so we put on gloves and masks when working with the iron mordent.  I also set up the cooking station on the back verandah.  I had bought a Chinese steamer at the Op shop and found an old saucepan and bowl that I will only use for this purpose.  Working on the verandah keeps those smells and anything else nasty out of the kitchen.

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I also bought an old T shirt at the Op shop and cut this up to make wrapping for the bundles along with the string.  We were both surprised by the  iron mordent results.  We got some really clean prints along with some not so clear ones.  The highly coloured leaves were not a success and the best results were from the Geranium and Rose leaves.  I am going to make this piece into a book cover.

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I haven't decided how I will embroider it just yet.

What was surprising was the cotton fabric.  We got some really good results.  These are now going to be added to all the experiments.

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The native plants also gave good results.

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We left the fabric overnight and then wrapped and steamed again.

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This time the prints were less distinct but still useable.

I did an embroidery experiment with a small piece and made it into a card.  This was using the cotton shirt material.  Lots of potential here.

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 I have a very keen assistant.

The next day we did both the copper and allum and now I see why people are not happy with the cotton.  Very poor results here but I'm sure I can find a way to use some of these.

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There was one piece of fabric that had been put into an iron wash and then allum.  This gave an interesting result.

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So overall iron seems to work best if you want a dark colour .  Now it is time to go back to the chemistry books and do some proper research, in amongst everything else.



The hexigons continue, need I say anything else.  Still a long way to go.

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The terrible hat is finished.  It is only to wear out walking when the weather changes.

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The dyeing has commenced.  A long way to go here but this is a beginning.

On cotton.

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On wool.

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I am in the middle of these experiments so I will write about them to momorrow.

Making Pom Poms

Because I am now an old woman, I had over looked pom pom makers and always cut my two rounds of cardboard to make my pom poms.  But whilst in Lincraft the other day I found a pile of pom pom makers for sale.  Very cheap and I thought "these look flimsey" but I bought a packet anyway.  There were 4 different sizes in the box.  I also took a photo copy of the instructions which were on the back because I knew they would all be ripped up when I got the packaging off.

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I wanted the smallest size and found them easy to make, with a few reservation.

The wool had to be put on tightly.  Having a good tension on the thread was essential.  I also made 70 twists on each side with the maker open.

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The little clip on the side is the week point in the construction, it took no time at all for it to break but I could still secure both sides together.  I will just have to be careful that I don't loose the clip.

The next step is to close both sides together, you need the clip for this.

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You can hold it closed with your fingers but it isn't as good.

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I then prepared my thread with a slip knot for putting around the pieces after I had cut the wool.

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It was from this point that things were different.  The wool is twisted around one mold not two like the cardboard and when you come to cut the thread it becomes uneven.  I found that small very sharp scissors were needed at this point and I had to keep a firm hold on piece.  One time I was so focused on keeping it together I cut my finger as well.  (I won't do that again!)

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You have to trim up the finished piece because of the uneven nature of this type of construction.  This is best done over the bin.

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On balance though after it is trimmed this is a far better way of making pom poms. So a thumbs up.

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It is a great way to use up the ends of those tapestry wool threads.

Last couple of weeks

The last couple of weeks have been a challenge.  Health issues myself and my husband along with the start of full on home schooling has rattled me.  My routines are all out of wack and I find myself having to change how I do things all the time.  The bag challenge I stitched was done as I supervised lessons.  I just can't sit and do nothing and this allowed me to stitch.  I do have other stitching but it can't be done at this time.  But I did finish this piece.

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The fabric was really difficult to work with and sewing the bag together and getting the fabric straight was not easy.  The good thing was stitching those Sydd Toff balls.  I do like that stitch.  I have always known it as "Turkey Stitch" but I like the Swedish name better.  Mary Corbet has a great video tutorial.




Life has hit a road block at the moment and there is little progress on anything.

I bought all the equipment for the dyeing BUT sourcing fabric is a BIG problem.  As I live in the sub-tropics, where it is hot and humid, the kinds of fabric needed are not readily available.  There are plenty of cottons and cotton mixtures.  Some linens, at $40 + per metre.  No silks and wool is almost unheard of.  I have looked in the fabric and Op shops, no luck.  I have found 10cm of wool fabric, that cost $5,( that seems expensive to me), but it is now in the wash and I will try that.


Keeping my eye on Monique for home schooling seems to take most of my time and she hasn't been well so I have had to nurse her most of the time as we do our lessons.  Despite this she is wanting me to get on with the dyeing and can't understand the hold up.  She also has a technology assignment she wants me to help with, designing something to help the wildlife in our backyard.  She thought she might like to work with the seagulls but there are not a lot on the island.  The reason, all the big eagles.  I don't think she has looked up before but as luck would have it they made an appearance.  We are now thinking maybe something for the little birds.

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Those hexigons, go on and on.

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As does the knitting.

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And when I was at the Embroiderers' Guild the other day I took home a stitching challenge, on impulse.  This is actually an interesting piece.  The fabric made me think of needle weaving but that isn't what I ended up working on. 

At the same time I was at the Guild I bought a selection of the tapestry wools that was on the sale table. 

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This was sitting on my desk as I was teaching so I have used this.  I also had the "Simply Stitched " by Yumiko Higuchi book there so I have adapted one of her designs and I think it is coming together.

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I had to look up how to do the knot stitch.

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Trying Eco Dyeing, Again!!

I have just finished watching my last "Textile Design" class with Dr. Caroline Nixon and this has inspired me to try Eco Dyeing again.

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I tried once before with India Flint but the results were so patchy that I put it away.  I intend to go back to India's work again because I'm sure the problem is me not her.

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I think my problems were caused by not using a chemical mordant.  The chemicals are now ordered and are coming in the mail.  As the island is a flora reserve I have an unlimited suppy of leaves to work with.  I am going to make this a project that Monique and I can do together.    The right fabrics are a bit of a problem and I think this will be more trial and error.  As a science project I think it has potential.  Writing up what we did, where we went and what the results were will be interesting.

At the moment I am preparing an old shirt I got from the Op shop.  I have cut off the buttons, these will be used in my toy clothes.

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And after cutting out all the seams etc. I have a nice bundle of well washed, pure cotton fabric pieces.

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I was going to put the scraps in the bin but they look so interesting I think we will have to do something with them as well.

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I might end up just as frustrated as I was before.  But then again I might not.