Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Making color work for me

I am fascinated with dying now.  One of the drawbacks to dying is walking around with colored hands, because I keep forgetting to keep my gloves on.  I am playing around with wool fabrics, embroidery threads and wool fibers.  The most fun is the stitching with hand dyed embroidery threads.  When I first embroidered the Crazy Sheep quilt, as I ran out of a colored thread, I would pick up another color or at least a different shade, and continue on with my stitching. Now I am able to use one thread and with many color changes in my embroidery without so many starts and stops.  The dyeing process is addictive.  I can't wait to see what colors emerge.  I have been using my acid dyes (which work well on wool) for my pearl cotton embroidery threads.  There are special dyes for cotton, that probably work better than the ones for wool.  I will experiment with them later, as it requires buying more stuff. 

Once I found that they didn't need to be heat set, I've been putting damp thread skeins (that I wound off the ball of white thread around my 24" ruler) one end in one jar of color and the other end in another jar of a different color, sometimes adding a third jar of a different color.  Then I rinsed the thread till no more color ran, then I set it aside to dry.  The "spools" that I wound the threads on, are hand cut from lids from yogurt containers, coffee cans and the like. They are much easier to work with than the balls of thread which have no way to keep the threads from tangling.
This is how I've stitched my sample blocks of felted appliques.  The backgrounds have been hand dyed the embroidered blocks machine stitched on, then I embroidered the edges in the hand dyed threads.

This cat is solid black felting over an wool applique.  The eyes were created by making a stencil with the pattern for the correct placement. The embroidery stitches around the edge do not need to be perfect.  The next row of stitching will make the work more complicated, and a third row finishes off the piece.    

It looks like these blocks will be sewn together to become a sampler quilt, so I don't loose my samples at shows to sticky fingers.