Dyeing Some Silk Hankies

I was running out of dyed silk hankies so it was time to brake out the dyeing supplies. before I started anything I had to soak the silk Hankies. They do not like to get wet the way silk fabric does. They really resist. I soaked them for 24 hours in some water with a little soap.

I used MX dye and a low water technique. I smooshed the silk in the bottom of some small containers form the dollar store.

silk ready to dye

Then I mixed up some dye in little measuring cups using only a small amount of water. Just enough so the silk will be covered after I add two colours.

dye for hankies dye sticks

I added the dye and let it sit for about an hour at room temperature. I mixed up some PHup ( the stuff you use for pools, sodium carbonate) 1 spoon full for each cup of water used in the dye and the water you are mixing it in. I poured some into each container and let it sit a while longer, about 15 min.

hankies dyeing

I then rinsed them in room temp water and then some soapy water then clear water. One was to much all one colour so I did a spot dye.

spot dyeing

And here they are drying on the table.


I will use them  for surface design on hats and pots and to make flower designs on surfaces by folding and twisting them. you can layer them or stretch them out thin. You can spin with them too if you like.

If you want full instructions on low water mx dyeing I learned about it here http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/lowwaterimmersion.shtml



Posted in Dyeing, Silk | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Here’s Norman

I have written several posts about a collaboration between artists which will result in an upcoming exhibition and a coffee table type book. The original sketches that all of these are based on are by Nanci Williams who works at the store with me. We see a wide diversity of people and fashions. It’s getting closer to the deadline to have all the pieces completed and so I’ve finished one more. His name is Norman.

Practicing Free Motion Stitching

I started with Nanci’s sketch and on the left, you will see an attempt to thread sketch Norman without any guidelines. I could have done him that way but I just seem to get the proportions a bit off. So I decided I would try using colored pencil to trace the sketch and then use that to free motion machine stitch over. So that is the middle piece. He definitely looked better than the first attempt. So now to determine size. I increased the original sketch 180% and that is on the right side of the photo. I had some linen that I had dyed naturally and I can’t remember now what it was dyed with. (Note to self – keep better track of experiments.) I backed it with Osnaberg fabric by fusing it down to the back after I had traced the sketch with “Beige” colored pencil.

Stitching Finished on Norman

Then I free motion stitched him on the machine. Here he is after stitching. I actually really liked him without color but I was persuaded that he needed color.

Colored Portrait of Norman in Stitch and Colored Pencil

So I colored him in with colored pencil. And I’m glad I did. He turned out just like I wanted.

Close Up of Norman

So here’s a little closer view. Since I have one more on the list to do, I decided to make the next one with this same method.  But I didn’t have any more of the fabric. So I dyed some heavier cotton fabric with tea and coffee. I dyed more than I needed and I’m sure that was a mistake because now I want to use the rest of the fabric with three extra sketches. Because of course I have nothing better to do! So I’ll see how many I can get done before the March 1st deadline.

Posted in Free Motion Stitching | Tagged , | 17 Comments

What’s in the Box?

Well, it’s not what’s in it as much as what it’s made of. Felt, of course!

A while back I started working on a template to make a box.  I love containers and save all sorts just because.  So, I decided to make a felt box.

I took a cardboard square box I had from a candle and used that to make a plastic template.

I had some interesting batting but unknown fibers.

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Since it was batting I used a nice thick layer.  When I got the general shape and added embellishments on both sides  I started the felting process, then made cuts where the flaps were separate from the box body.

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I wasn’t really sure how I was going to proceed.  The felt was very spongy and kind of delicate even after fulling.  I decided to try the wash machine and put a plastic cube (baseball trophy case) in it and put the whole thing in a nylon then into the machine.

It didn’t shrink or full much more and remained spongy.  Of course, the sharp corners of the cube cut through the felt.  So, I did some needle felting to repair them and tried the machine again, this time wrapping the cube in bubble wrap then into the nylon.

The fiber wasn’t cooperating much to felt the side flaps together. Perhaps it was as fulled as it would get.  I did use resists to make sure the flaps didn’t stick to the top.  I did some more needle felting to hold it together.

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Front with flap and bottom









It’s hard to tell which sides are which in the pictures since it’s a random pattern.

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Side with pins

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I ironed and steamed the edges to try to get a crease on the sides but the fiber was just too spongy.  To finish it off I sewed on a gold button.  I wanted to use gold thread, but couldn’t find it. Sorry about the photos no sun here the past few days.

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Front with button on the flap


Even though it’s not felted  very hard, I like the way it looks.  I may have a go at using the GAC to stiffen it up.  Next time I will use a known fiber and try using a flat resist and forming it on the cube.

Have you ever attempted a box?



Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments


I haven’t had chance to do any felting at all recently. With working on the Wet Felting workshop and trying to work out all the details for outside tutors, not to mention having to move the entire contents of my kitchen into the living room, I’ve barely had time to sit down with a cup of tea! Last week during a well deserved tea break (Russian Caravan) I thought I’d look up some How to Knit videos. I’ve been wanting to learn how to knit for ages. I have tried in the past, but always found it hard to keep the stitches loose enough to force the needles through :) I don’t even know how many videos I watched about casting on, but none of them made sense, it was like watching close-up magic or something ‘so you get this, you do this, and … shazam!’ I almost gave up, but then I found Kristen ‘GoodKnitKisses’ and her How to knit videos. This is the Beginner’s Cast on Video:

I did it first time. I couldn’t believe it! So then I watched the ‘How to Knit’ video. That took a few tries for me to feel like I’d got the hang of it, maybe if I hadn’t used some synthetic version of thick and thin pencil riving, I might have been better :) So, being a ‘master knitter’ now, I thought I’d make myself some needles out of dowelling:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen I went hunting for something to use, and found a bag of raw Jacob I carded not so long ago. I made it into rolags and spun it on my drop spindle. The next day, I knitted it up straight from the spindle. Luckily GoodKnitKisses has a casting off video too. I’m not sure I did the last stitch right, but it isn’t coming undone, so I must have. I was really pleased with my knitting:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had an electrician in the other morning, so while all the electric was off, I found some spare ends of white wools and mixed fibre batts and started some thick, nobbly yarn for my next knitting attempt:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to start learning how to knit, I would definitely recommend those videos!

Posted in Knitting | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Online Class Give Away and Q&A

As Zed announced last month, we are starting a new venture here, online classes. Our first class is Wet Felting for Beginners starting on March, 1 2015.

wet felting FOR BEGINNERS flyer 1ST March

And for all of you who are holding your breath, waiting to see if you won one of the 4 slots for the class in the give away, the winners are: Micah Bach Kinder, Minnie Rapley, Jolanta and Daveen. Congratulations  :)  we’ll contact you soon with details.

If you had your name in for the drawing and you didn’t win, you can still sign up for the class here by filling out the form at the bottom of the page. Be sure to include your Paypal e-mail address if it is different from your usual one. Be sure to sign up before February 22, 2015 as that is the closing date for sign ups for this first session. If you can’t complete the course now, don’t worry, we’ll be offering this course on a regular basis, probably at least once a quarter.

Now since we are new at this entire venture, there were a few misunderstandings I’d like to clear up.

First, all of our classes will be online classes that can be taken by anyone, anywhere in the world. All of the classes will be given in English. Each class will be offered on a set date and last for a prescribed number of weeks. Each class will have access to an online forum and daily access to the instructor to ask questions and also to interact with other class members. The classes will include supply lists, PDF written learning material and some will also include recorded videos. But the most important part is the class forum. This forum will include only the instructor and the students for that session and the daily interaction will allow for a wonderful added learning experience compared to just buying an e-book or self guided course.

All classes will be billed by Paypal. Paypal accepts all major credit cards. You will be invoiced for the class at the time of sign up. Your class information, materials and forum link will be sent to you just prior to the starting date of your class. The supply list for your class will be available on the class information page here on the website. You will have access to all class materials for the length of the class plus the length of extra forum time given at the end of the class. This will vary with each class. All PDF’s will be able to be downloaded and printed out for your personal use. Videos will be available between the published class opening and closing dates. After the class forum closes, videos will no longer be available for viewing.

We will be presenting new class offerings as often as we can and we are looking for interested outside instructors. If you have a fiber art class you would like to offer in this online format, please use the Contact page to let us know. We are currently working on the guidelines for outside instructors and will send these to anyone who has contacted us once they are completed.

I do hope that this answers everyone’s questions. We would also like to thank everyone for spreading the word about our classes. We appreciate it. Thanks to all the students who have signed up and we are really looking forward to getting to know you a bit better and spreading the felting ‘bug’.


Posted in Announcements, Online Classes | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Winter Inspiration

I live in the northwest corner of Montana in the Flathead Valley. Our house is about 75 miles from the Canadian border. Our valley in the wintertime can get kind of dreary. Weather conditions can cause the valley to get covered in clouds and we won’t see the sun for weeks. It’s called an inversion and if you can get up in the mountains, the sun will be bright and you’ll look down into the valley and just see clouds. This is great for skiing but if you’re in the valley, it can get a little bleak. Last weekend, in the midst of an inversion, I was thinking about writing a post about color. I looked outside and all I saw was grey, dull colors. What to do? I took the dogs for a walk and started seeing lots of interesting shapes, line and value changes. Many times, when there is a lot of color, you get overwhelmed by the color and that’s all you might see. But since there wasn’t any color, I could really see value changes in the scenery. Value, is dark and light. So one end of the value scale is black and the other is white with a variety of grays in between. I wrote a post about using a value scale here. 

Frosty Trees

So I went back to the house to get my camera. This shot is from the front of my house.

Because of the freezing fog, ice crystals form on branches and just about everything. This doesn’t happen all the time so it was fun to get some shots of all the ice crystals.

Aspens in Winter

These are the aspen trees covered in ice crystals.

Ponderosa Pines

But then I saw the Ponderosa pine needles and I was entranced.

And the close up shots were amazing. They looked like fireworks.

Lacy Ice

And even the ice under my feet was looking lacy.

Then I turned  a new eye on the landscape. Many times, when you’re trying to work out what values to use, you are told to squint your eyes and see if you can pick out the darker areas in a landscape. Or if you have a photo, then put it into a photo editing program and turn it into black and white. With these photos, I could immediately pick out the dark and light values. Can you?

So why go on and on about value? I think it is one of the most important parts of a composition. If all of your colors are the same value, you end up with limited contrast and the composition isn’t as interesting as it could be. You need to have dark, medium and light values so there is contrast in your composition and your eye will be led from area to area in your composition.

So even in the winter, when it’s dull and dreary, if you look close enough, you can find some inspiration. What’s been inspiring you this winter (or summer if you’re on the other side of the world)?

Posted in Challenges, Inspiration | Tagged , | 21 Comments

This and That…

I had been traveling during the holidays and on the return home I had to start working on baby shower favors for the shower I’m throwing in California for my daughter in law later this month.  It’s an exciting time, but also stressful with additional travels for graduations and birthdays coming up.

One of the first things I did when I returned was to go to The Fold to stock up on fiber.  I needed primary colors to work on the color wheel for our first quarter challenge.

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I also bought some Yak and ramie.

I’m not a pink person, but my first granddaughter will be born soon so I stocked up.  I’ve been making booties for party favors, but I don’t think I bought enough roving.  Thank you to forum member (Tina) Cherry for providing me with the template.

While we were in Hawaii my husband Craig and I  had the opportunity to meet Tina Cherry and her husband for lunch at Duke’s On The Beach.  Thanks for lunch Tina and Stan!  We had a great visit.


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Samples made.

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I wanted one side to be lighter than the other so I proceeded to make batts combining white and pink to lighten the color.

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I made 12 resists. Since I’m not sure how many people will attend the shower, I expect to make extras.  I used two layers. One light and one darker.

Process started.


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Here’s the third side done waiting to put the final layer on.

2015-01-25 16.32.01So far I’ve made 24 experimenting with different ways to speed up the process.  Since we are in the middle of a blizzard here in the Chicago area, I ordered more fiber from Paradise Fibers in Spokane.  I’m hoping it will arrive by Wednesday when I’m sure to be out.  And of course, I have to decide how to decorate and fill them.

Well, back to the resists for round two…







Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments