Spring Cleaning & WIPS (Part 1)

Lately I’ve been noticing cobwebs–no, not the ones in my brain.  The kind that form around light fixtures, ceiling corners and picture frames.  So I decided to begin spring cleaning today, although outside the ground is covered with snow and ice.  Thought I’d get a jump on the season.

As I began swiping away cobwebs, my mind wandered and ended up on WIPS, you know–those works in progress that never seem to get finished.  Like my slow stitching collection.  I have so much natural dyed cloth that I am constantly beginning new backgrounds for slow stitching adventures.  As I begin to construct cloth scraps and re-arrange them on a larger background, I can’t help beginning to take a few stitches.  And you know how that goes.

So I pulled out some of the WIPS to share with you and left the cobwebs to continue growing. There are more…stay tuned!

International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day today, I read some old and new blogs about various forms of needlework.  I found something new and old about the history of quilting, but was most captivated by the Dutch history of the resistance movement during WWII and the creation of the patchwork skirts.  Hope you enjoy!


Hand-dyed Slow Cloth: The Inter-Stellar Hand

There is some progress being made on the 8-patch Inter-Stellar Hand.  The cloth is all hand-dyed and includes six harvest moons (see earlier posts).  Unsure where I am going with all of the moons but they may become suns or stars along the way.  I was intrigued by a drawing of the interstellar hand I saw somewhere in the world wide web.  The question mark was inspired by a recent Jude Hill blog post.

Hand-dyed slow stitching:  Inter-Stellar Hand
Hand-dyed slow stitching: Inter-Stellar Hand

Thoughtful Recycling

One of my big wishes is that people did not throw away so much stuff:  like clothing, paper, food–just to start.  We do have legitimate garbage, but do you ever ask yourself if the stuff you are about to throw away could be used again?  Re-use, recycling, repurposing.  Donations.

Brown paper bag rolled to protect homespun yarn.
Cutting selvedges from decorator fabric.
Cotton selvedges rolled and ready for rug weaving.

I made some curtains this week and had to trim the selvedges.  What do you usually do with selvedges?  Throw them away.  Me, too.  But not anymore.  I carefully trimmed the selvedges then rolled them to be used in my weaving.  Then there are those folks who really know how re-cycle and have been doing it forever.  I recently purchased some hand-spun yarn online and discovered that the spinner had used recycled paper to band her yarn.

I admire people who have made businesses out of recycling, such as Rose and Penelope, who both have Etsy shops selling reclaimed yarn.  This is a labor-intensive business, and because I love the idea and the yarn they offer, I am a repeat customer.  Top in photo is linen and below, cashmere. What are you recycling?img_3423

WIP: Inter-Stellar Hand Embroidery

The cotton backing was attached to the 9-patch, which is really an 8-patch square, technically speaking.  I used the invisible glue method as shown by Jude Hill.  Since it was difficult to photograph those teensy tiny stitches from the front view, I am showing you the back instead.  The idea is to bind the two pieces with only small dots of thread showing on the front.  In theory, it’s great; but when I become impatient with the process, my dots are really visible as running stitches.  But no worries, this is just the background for what will become a heavily-stitched work of art.

Ahem. Still working on the hand.img_3409



Interstellar Hand and a Nine Patch

Looking for a focus for my newly-made 9-patch, I came across the Interstellar Hand design.  It seemed to fit with harvest moons and the wider topic of SunMoonStars Circle (Jude Hill).  I drew the hand with a blue water soluble pen free-hand style but noticed there was some bleeding if I didn’t move along quickly enough with the pen.


I was looking for a backing and discovered an older naturally dyed piece of cotton Pellon interfacing from the 70’s.  That was before I started taking notes, but I think this was the avocado skins/pits dyed cloth. Next step:  using the invisible “glue” stitch to attach the 9-patch.


Natural Dyeing Takes a Winter Break…

Yes, Chicago in the winter is not a good place or time to be natural dyeing.  It’s 17 degrees F today. I use my townhouse deck for storing pots and kettles and freely use the iron balcony bars for dripping and drying my fabric.  When the wooden deck boards get warm in the summer, it’s a quick dry for naturally dyed cloth.

So what do do?  Branch out.  Use pieces you made this past spring, summer and autumn.  Make nine patches.  And embroider.  Did you know that February is National Embroidery Month?  That’s according to DMC, the longtime maker of gorgeous floss and threads for embroidery.

So I grabbed my harvest moons, which I shibori-dyed this past summer, and although I intended to make a 9-patch with them, I discovered I only had 6 moons.  No problem.  Add a previously dyed scrap of the same lightweight cotton batiste.  And add an un-dyed mordanted similar scrap.

Then draw your own design.  But what?  I’ve got my water soluble pen ready.  So stay tuned.  img_3365