The end of September already. October tomorrow. It really will be Christmas before we know it. No use getting ahead of ourselves here though.
I think the hag stones thing turned out OK in the end. Berries, apples, or pears would have worked equally well.
I think of the little unstitched space in each shape as a tiny bit of welcome silence. The world always seems very noisy to me.
Our house has recently gone up for sale, and we are looking for quiet. Not remote, as I don’t drive and I need a good post office within walking distance. But some quiet would be nice.
It still surprises me how much thinking time and reflection time there is in daily stitching. There is nothing to do except focus on needle and thread while you let the thoughts come and go.
The entire page has turned out to be a visual record of our decision to look for a new home. Not in any literal or figurative sense, but I can see weighings-up, imaginings, letting gos, and looking aheads. There is a kind of loss as well as a potential gain, because every beginning is preceded by an end, and every end is followed by a beginning. It’s just one continuous line really.
Next month (sing along if you know it) – the falling leaves… drift by the window… those autumn leaves… of red and gold…
I’ve been having a go at designing next year’s stitch journal template. A bit early to be thinking about that, I know, but the way this year is speeding by I thought it best to make a start.
It will be slightly different from the last two years, in that next year’s daily stitching will be a big square (ish) rather than a long strip. I’ve designed it across twelve pieces of A4 paper that all have to fit together to make the whole thing, so it’s a reasonably complex task that is still very much in progress. I’m imagining that it’s a map of the coming year, in the form of an aerial view of fields.
I *think* it will work. I have yet to print it, to try cutting and re-assembling the separate pieces for myself, but once I’ve done that I’ll aim to make the template available before the end of the year.
As I was looking at all twelve pages glued together to make the 36″ square, I found myself imagining how it would look in fabric as patchwork.
These things often start out as idle wonderings but sometimes they gather momentum while you’re looking the other way and before you know it, you’re cutting out tiny bits of green fabric and the thing has begun.
The thing about English paper piecing (piecing fabric over paper) is that you can do it with any tessellating shapes, however irregular they might be, and I had a whole tableful of tessellating shapes waiting to be something.
I took a photo of the master template and added colour on Procreate, a digital drawing app. I envisage this as fields through the seasons, so the outer edges will be greys and browns, while the central area will be more vibrant greens and golds. That’s the plan so far, but the best thing to know about plans is that they can change completely at any moment.
I used to do a lot of patchwork, and it’s still one of my favourite things. I love the way it holds the connections between fabrics, time, and memory. I can identify every fabric here as the old friend each of them is – some from clothes that wore out; some from an old bed sheet that became a dust sheet and was later torn up and dyed; some vintage fabrics, found and dyed.
What started out as a map for next year has gone sideways into a whole new adventure.
It will still be a stitch journal template as well, but what fun to make two different things out of the same design.
I’m often asked whether I can guarantee that my hand-dyed threads are colourfast.
The short answer is: no, I can’t. Domestic dyeing is different from commercial dyeing and the results can never be guaranteed.
The longer answer is: with due caution they probably are, if you’re careful – by which I mean (obviously, I hope) no boil washing and no bleach. A gentlewarmhand wash will *probably* be fine, but no promises.
I dye my threads with Procion fibre-reactive dye, and after dyeing I wash them in the machine, on a mixed load setting, at 30 degrees with regular laundry detergent. I don’t use Synthrapol, and I don’t use a hot wash. Silk threads are delicate, and agitating them at temperatures over 30 degrees could be damaging. I set the machine to do an extra rinse after the standard mixed load wash.
Incidentally, people sometimes express disappointment that the threads aren’t dyed ‘naturally’. The reason I use Procion over natural dyeing is that Procion is quick, easy, reliable, and doesn’t require additional energy resources, as in simmering or steaming, to set the colour. I don’t own a microwave, and at today’s gas and electric prices, I’m not willing to simmer/steam several pans of thread for an hour each time – as well as the environmental impact of using additional energy for heating. All dyeing takes energy and resources, as does all textile production, but if I can keep the energy use to a minimum I’d prefer that. Many people do great things with natural dyes; I’m afraid I’m not one of them.
Anyway: back to the Procion, and I did a little experiment of my own.
I made two (awfully rough) stitched samples with various silk and cotton threads, all hand-dyed with Procion, on white brushed cotton. I soaked the lower sample (in the above photo) in hand-hot water with regular laundry detergent for half an hour, and then rinsed it in hot water. I can’t see any noticeable colour escape. I don’t know whether water quality affects colourfastness – the water in our area is very hard indeed. Soft water might make a difference.
And exactly the same process above, with this DMC cotton floss. I’ve listed a few of these in the shop, just to see how they go – as usual, unique and unrepeatable colours, but I’ll hope to make some more soon. Ish.
I did expect some trouble with the magenta sections of this space-dyed thread (above), but no – not as far as I can tell. Red and magenta are notorious for leaching colour, and which of us has never accidentally dyed a load of washing pink because of an errant red sock?
So there we are. I still don’t guarantee colourfastness, and if you really need to wash something that is stitched with my hand-dyed thread, then I would advise testing it first. Mostly my threads are intended for purely decorative work, which will rarely, if ever, need washing.
And if you have washed anything that I’ve supplied, I’d be interested to know how that went.
It’s taken some getting used to, thinking of myself as a business. It’s bothered me for a while that my single-skein hand-dyed threads don’t carry any branding at all, just a hand-written label. Nothing wrong with hand-written labels, of course; I like the personal touch.
I’d already printed my own thread wraps for the thread collections, which I think look ok.
But there’s nothing on the individual skeins to say they’re mine.
So I had a look online and designed some custom labels, and I’m really pleased with them. These are from Avery UK:
Existing threads (everything currently in the shop) have already been labelled the old-fashioned way, but the new labels will be on my next batch of threads later this month or early next month. Avery can supply biodegradable and recycled paper labels, which I’d rather have where possible.
It won’t save any time, as I’ll still have to punch the circles and write on each label individually – in fact it might take a bit longer because now I have to try and get a sticker in the centre of the circle – but I think they might look a bit better.
I also have labels for packaging threads:
Always a slightly strange experience to see your own name printed on something…