Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Me and the Muse - Part I

Let sleeping dogs lie, I say . . . past furry distractions
The muse sometimes reminds me of my late husband, how after I would finally get the current young dog settled down so I could get some work done, he would come home, wake the dog, get the dog all excited with some rough play, and then make his exit, leaving me with said dog now bugging me for attention again. The muse is a bit like that, showing up with all these great ideas, getting me all excited as she ruffles my brain, then going off to relax in a comfy chair in the corner, sipping wine and paging through a magazine, leaving me to sort through the wreckage and figure out how to calm myself enough to come up with some sort of a plan and do the actual work. That's what it has felt like these last few weeks as I've started in on all those tantalizing ideas she's left in her wake. 

My giant 16-1/2 inch blocks

I've made good progress on the baby quilt, finalizing fabric choices, cutting out all the strips and starting to sew them into blocks. As I studied the photo of the quilt I'm using for inspiration, I realized there were two sets of fabrics with a slightly different color combination in each set. This idea works to my advantage since I am using up what I have on hand. Look closely at the photo above and you should be able to see a subtle difference in the background fabrics used in each block which is due to having to use several values of the gradations of two slightly different purple hand-dyes. And while the prints in the long rectangles may at first glance look identical, the two blocks only share the same fabric in the center strip. It is only dumb luck that the one on the right ended up with the directional fabrics and will be arranged in that orientation in the quilt. The other blocks will be turned on their sides (I think) to make a giant nine patch. I have 3 blocks left to piece.

3 different methods of folding plus some machine stitching. The one in the middle was clamped with clothespins.

Those would have gotten sewn over the weekend if not for the weather forecast. It has been raining quite a bit, and although our temps have hovered around freezing, the new forecast was for rain and high 40's. All that snow stacked up around the house has been slowly melting and I knew if I didn't stop sewing and start snow dyeing, I would lose my opportunity. I wanted to try some folding techniques and see if I could improve (refresh!) some disappointing pieces from last year via snow dyeing. The top piece is the really ugly color that resulted from mixing leftover dye from the mustard yellow and lavender dye runs last summer. The other three are from the parfait snow dye method tried almost exactly a year ago. They've not presented any ideas for using them in that time, so let's see if we can improve upon the lot.

Those lines are 3/8" apart. What was I thinking???

There was one more fat quarter from the snow-dyeing last year that because of the way I folded it did not kaleidoscope and left lots of open areas of white. I wanted to try a shibori method requiring gathering on rows of running stitches, but after chalking in some lines, I realized I didn't have time to fool with it right then. It can always go into dye stock, no snow required.

Ugly duckling ugly no more
Because the snow was not fresh and had been rained on, it was very granular - a bit like snow cones. Not sure what affect that would have (some say the amount of water in your snow can make a difference in your results), but since some people use ice cubes and some "make" something between snow and ice by pounding away on a bag of ice cubes with a hammer, I decided it didn't much matter. Because these had color on them already, I decided to limit what I would add to one or two dark dyes. I already had some "better blue-green" dye powder in a salt shaker, left over from last year, and wanted to use cobalt blue because I liked how it worked on last year's folded fabrics. I also had maybe 1/4 cup of mustard yellow dye stock saved from summer, first in the refrigerator and then in the garage when the weather turned cold. I decided I would pour that on first, then shake on the blue-green and finish off with the cobalt blue. The exception was the half yard of ugly fabric. After doing the folding, I loosely rolled it and stood it on end so the dye would seep into the folds and only sprinkled cobalt blue over its snowy cover. Holy moly! It was the transformation star of the group and I am totally in love with how it turned out!

No medallion shape emerged from the folding and stitching on this one

The seafoam one was folded and clamped with clothespins, you can barely see the effect of it in the bottom portion, nothing at all in the top half. Click on the photo for a larger view.

As for the rest, I did manage to knock back the bright fuchsia in one, tone down and improve the green in another and instill a better blue over a third (it was laid in the bottom of the dishpan to soak up all the dyes as they dripped through the others on the rack above). The photos above show what each piece looked like before and after the over-dyeing. (Colors in the photos are a tad iffy, especially the reds.) I did give them all some time in the microwave as I did last year and I do think that may help set the dyes. These still aren't pieces that inspire anything on their own, have any hidden images to tease out. But I think I like the colors better now and may be more apt to cut into them and put them to use. Is the muse pleased? Hard to tell as she still has her nose stuck in a magazine. Maybe she's withholding judgment until I gather up and dye that last fat quarter . . .


Charlton Stitcher said...

Hopping through missed posts on your blog (my return to blogging just before Christmas seems still to be patchy!), I found these lovely pieces of fabric - what delicious colours!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Margaret! I rather agree about the colors. As always, beautiful to look at but how will they be used? ;-)