Thursday, June 22, 2017

kitchen busywork

It's been gray, humid and depressing for days and I'm sick of it so had a little kitchen table dyefest to get on with making up skeins of embroidery floss to sell.

Now, my problem is what the heck to charge?  These are each 10 (not 8) yards of hand dyed, DMC 6-strand cotton floss.  No two of these are alike so if you are project oriented, I can't help you.

Clues anyone?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

the Haunted dyefest

It was stewish out Thursday - hot and humid like we have not yet had so far this year. I will soon invent a word to describe weather that weird because of climate change.

I was distracted. Thunder muttered just beyond the horizon.
I am also taking two different medications for back pain and when they overlap, strange things happen. Let's just say, I haven't been driving as much as I like.

I play music through a small wireless speaker and the playlist randomly chose Jimmy's chili cookoff tunes. I already had on new and very sticky rubber gloves so I let it roll.

He used to love sitting on the living room couch and watch me work the dye deck while he watched TV from the cool darkness. Every now and then, I'd hold up a piece and he would applaud and comment.  I felt his presence strongly this time. He would also keep time for me. "Come inside before you get boil over."

Every conspired to go too quickly. Get it over with. I couldn't get my head into the work too deeply but the mechanics kept me moving. The results are more than half Providence and the Stars.

In every dyefest there are always one or two stand-outs. I can't even think about cutting this one.'s the new shop banner now..

There is a lot of gauze that I will be parting with one way or another. Something in the finishing process kept it from taking the color too harshly so it has a dreamy, blurred quality.

that woven, ribbed sheeting takes the color in amazing ways.

I'm picking through the remaining white good with focus on the cloths, like this, that won't let me down as I sneak up on some really vibrant colors on the next go round.

A number of these pieces will be worked on again. Discharging, soy wax and overdyeing and other process things are all in the wings waiting.

Friday, June 16, 2017

stitch this! Updated

These ten-yard skeins of 6-ply DMC cotton have a heather thing going on.

What you can't tell from this picture is that the opposite side of each of these is a different color, most of them a darker version of the one facing the camera. The color transitions are short and sharp which can be problematic.

What I do with these is split the six ply in half and reverse direction or just "color jog" half and then put them back together. Does anyone but me get that? I recently joined the Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists on FB...this stuffs looks right up their alley. Glorious, dirty string.

update - I ran to HoAnn's and scored those cardboard bobbins. You can see below the variations better now and the deeper you go into each bobbin, the less white there is.  Lessons learned. 
Still they are quite tasty. I'll be selling some of them in the shop soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Storm, still

 Another rinse. I left them to it.

In the semi-dry state, I could see that several of these pieces turned out to be a cotton blend that took the color in a strange, blurred fashion. This happened because I was too lazy to do a few burn tests. Lesson learned.
I won't be using any of it. Other pieces got muddied by my over anxious manipulation of the bundles. I foresee discharging and over-dyeing in their futures.

The threads turned out so tasty. Need to find a packet of these cardboard holders. Fresh out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

thunder, lightning and rock & roll!

I was in a mood. I wanted to flush the world away today.  Things got a little dark right from the start. Turquoise and Sunshine rode in to save the day from the darkness.

It got really hot and the pool behind me beckoned but I pushed on. Things got messy and out of hand quickly. Serendipity and Mayhem were having their way with this session.
Salt is in play. I haven't fooled with the crystals in years but the heat and humidity were perfect.

The sky went dark just as I was finishing and the thunder, lightning, and rain are putting the polish on this set of threads and cloth. Heavy blessings. It's all going to just be at the mercy of the elements for as long as that takes. Days maybe according to the weathermen. We hunker down.

my kind of Just Going

It's late. late for everything. Dyeing, swimming in the pool, staying out late to see the fireflies.

Better late than never.

The 2017 season at the Lawrenceville Frankenstein dye works commences.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

the new week begins

Mondays with Charlie are getting more entertaining now that he has a fair grip on the language. I can no longer claim Nana dumbness.  I just have to listen to him with an open mind because he says exactly what he means without the qualifiers and filters that grownups have built into verbal communications. 

Miscoms still happen owing more to my deafness than his experimental approach to English. We pat each other on the head and try not to get exasperated. I said, "take my word for it, you do not want to watch that TV show." He focused on which word of mine he was supposed to take and where was I hiding it.

This scrap of cotton sateen has been rolling around the floor with the dust bunnies and this morning I washed and dried it and decided it was a message that I should take seriously, so I took it for a ride in the car. I know, you were hoping for something else - something stitchy or dyeish, but I'm working up to it.

The water and air temperatures finally conspired to get me into the pool...the latest date since we put it in back in '98. My friends and family in the Northeast have been sweltering with our summer. It may finally be here.

Because there was no killing freeze this winter the level of organic activity in the water was off the charts...I have a lot of scrubbing to do. This will be my outside office until it gets too cold to get in.
This year, maybe Thanksgiving.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Where have I been? More properly where will I be going? Anywhere and Meet Jumpin' Jack Flash. He is a 2010 Honda Accord Coupe that has only 81K miles on the odometer, which, if you know anything about Hondas, is barely broken in and I would say by his physical condition, his former owners gave much love and attention.

I have not had a new car since I bought my friend Cliff's off him when he got deployed in 2002. That's right. I have been driving the faithful frog, a '01 Civic for sixteen years.

It was time, the price was extremely right,  and JJF is the car I have been hurting my neck over for years. You know, when it goes by and you crank your head around to follow it's progress? Well, maybe it's just me. But a certain combination of line, design, color, and action gets my full attention and now I'm driving it! I feel like I'm piloting a space ship.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017


The screen is not big enough for the wonder of this. Colin stopped and took it on the way to work just now.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

digging in

A line from "Almost Famous" came to me this morning while I was trying to thread a needle with two strands of rayon, one 12wt cotton and a flashy Madeira metallic..."It's a think piece..."

but the truth is, it's a not think piece. I want to do something and not think about it so much that it doesn't matter what that thing is.

I've been too distracted to focus on anything that needs close attention like - who did what to who and when, and when, exactly did she know about it - the kinds of things that drive readers crazy when writers don't get them right.

I was planning a short vacation to the gulf coast, but now those meager funds have been diverted to handling this potential disaster before it becomes a reality. I can't even speak ill of this sweet gum tree until the guys get here and take it down. Then I will throw a damn party.

The joys of home ownership continue.  Yesterday I found out that the flooding we had on the lowest level of the house is not covered by the homeowners insurance. Busted pipes? No problem. Deluge from above coming in/around/through the foundation? Sorry.

First order of business is having the massive boxwood hedges that run the whole front of the house cut down and dug out. That is going to look like shit for sure. I'll get that estimate on Saturday. New gutters...of course. then the demolition downstairs.

I get it that there are people in the world who don't even have a roof over their heads or a place to tuck their kids in at night.  Bitching about my house feels bad, but it's all I have so I have to hang on to it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


The day started well enough. Coffee with an insistent kitty. Stop petting her and suffer the hooks.
The view of the pool that soothes and encourages me even if it's too cold to get in and clean yet and there is a tree looming over it threatening destruction that I have to have professionally removed as soon as possible, but I can't afford to sell a kidney.

And an hour of stitching on these dancing devils that I have been fooling with since forever. Someday I'll call this one done. Not today.
I went to the park to walk and stretch my miserable aching hips. Saw monsters from the deep in the turtle pond. That's another story.

Then just after I got home, things took a bad turn for some too close by neighbors. An eviction, heartbreaking enough, turned violent when shots were fired.

Before you know it, SWAT had the neighborhood locked down and all I could do was watch from the studio window. Although the house is two down and one over, I hardly know the people. No children, thank goodness. Snipers in camouflage were posted up and down the block and if you poked your head out the door you were warned back inside. Bull horn pleas to surrender went unheeded. Armed robots rolled up and down the block. Concussion grenades went off repeatedly. I watched and waited here alone. with cats. He surrendered a few minutes ago.

 No one was harmed.
my front yard

Thursday, May 18, 2017

the habit

It's very easy to let this habit of reporting slip away when nothing creatively shareable is going on. Writing is like that. Raw first drafts are hard enough to share with other writers in small groups. You are lucky if you can find crit partners who will be both straight with you and instructive. I've recently been that lucky and have been giving most of my free time over to the first draft, which is morphing into its first major revision.
my peonies have bloomed and gone!

Stitchers, imagine, if you will, a piece you've labored on, mostly in secret (shades of Quilt National!) - an epic piece, say 8 feet by 22 feet - that's right, I said FEET, not inches.  And so the powers that be have let you know that No Way will it ever see the light of day in that form and you have to make a triptych out of it. Somehow hacking it into hangable pieces.

At first, the rebel in me said, "Fuck you and your pony!" but after looking at this steaming pile of  222+k of words for a while, I think I've found a way to serve both the muse and the commercial masters, namely, publishers. Only time and whole lot more writing and rewriting will tell.

In the meantime - Life!  All these wonderful things and more.
Charlie and I steal his Dad's car and go the park and Publix for lunch!

I don't know what I would do without him, the Pollywog Savior of L'ville.

Partners in crime.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


Packed up four very tasty fat baggies just now including chunks and bits of some of the recent dye+soy wax experiments and more from my personal stash.

They will go fast! As ever, first come, first served but rest assured - there is no shortage of fabulous hand dyed cloth in the House of Lacativa.

It's going to hit 80 today with a stretch of the same weather promised for the coming week. I'm anxious to get started on some texture work - buggy oatmeal and rice, so huge-grained rock salt and even beach sand as dye carriers - but first I have to evict and relocate a couple thousand tadpoles from our pool. It was hot times at Froggy Club Med this year!

ps- Karen....I just got you email and am walking out the door to the PO with your fat baggie.!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

heart felt

Thanks to Jude for reminding me of the shape of my hearts. My heart has been pinched up a lot by the world lately and I need to make some fences.

There are a few to finish and some not yet made, but going forward, the messages will be my words from the book I've been writing.

"It's the heart that makes the heat."

color salvage

It's so shitty and cold out, 65 degrees and raining.  I've dug my heavy cotton sweater out of the closet. Didn't think I'd get to wear it again until winter. Yesterday we were running the AC, I will not put the heat on.

To combat the dreariness, the shitty news from Washington, and to keep from going back to bed, I decided to follow through on transforming this Vera Bradley bookbag
my sister sent me earlier this year - amazingly useful, with a myriad of sections and compartments, but hideous. I was going to just plunge it into one color, dark gold maybe, and overdye the whole thing, but I got industrious and found my paintbrushes. It's in the washing machine right now...I'll post the finish pictures tomorrow when it's dry.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

soy wax frenzy

You know how it is when inspiration strikes. Common sense, experience, and even safety get left in the dust.

Well, I didn't damage myself or anything else so far today. Give me a minute, it's only 1:19.  Checking glove failure even!

This scrap has been floating around the studio and this morning it got to me. I've been a two-week long total immersion getting ready for a competition - a writing thing, but you textilians all know about getting a last-minute, down-to-the-wire entry finished, shot and shipped.

This was pretty much the same thing. That last minute heart-lurch before you hit the send key, wondering if there was something you forgot or screwed up and so kiss your entry fee goodbye.      

So, by way of recovery, I dipped into the stash of white goods that has been hanging around so patiently and set up shop in the kitchen. It's muggy and overcast out and didn't want to waste any personal energy on fighting the elements. (AC has ruined me.)

I layered the cloth right on my kitchen table, trusting there were enough layers to catch the soywax as it steamed it's way on down to the wood.  Anyway, a light skin of soywax on pine feels a lot like bacon grease. It'll work it's way out over time.

I started with the Raven, but it had a bluish cast under my white light and I over-warmed it, I think. Won't know til everything has been washed and dried. I forgot what a monumental pain in the ass soywax work was.

My hot water is blistering, but it still takes three or four washes on the more dense cloth. I won't trust the machine with this, it all has to be done by hand.  My mind keeps coming back to my biggest fail, especially since the author of the drawing tool took down his website. So far, I can't find Scribbler anywhere else. I sincerely hope he got a really good price for it.

 I'm out of personal gas now and I have to nap before the day job so the rest of the baker's dozen piece down in the sink are going to get a good long steep in the color. I just had to see how the black turned out. greedy I am.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

fat baggies

Picking from these tubs all week. If you ordered since Sunday, your order will ship tomorrow.

Some great stuff, I might add!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

breathing color

You would think the dyefest would be underway by now. It just hasn't been hot enough. All revved up and nowhere to go....

Saturday, April 22, 2017


These were from the marked down cart at the grocery store. touched with today's sunrise. They may only have a few days of glory left, but I will appreciate each minute.

Same day I rescued a half dozen snapdragons and a gorgeous Boston fern from the "less than perfect, less than half price" aisle at the big box store. I'm really glad that people are stupid this way.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Several times I've picked this piece up and couldn't find what I wanted to do next. Generally, that means, done. finished. I need to back it, square it up and set it free.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


mostly because I had housework to NOT do.

This is post wash, rinse and dried in the sun. Gives me a good idea of what it in the jar, no matter how it thinks it looks. Some need doctoring but I rarely use them straight anyway. The black, Raven, by Dharma, is rich and promising.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

a new stitcher

Spent the day with Charlie again. As ever, he was intrigued with whatever I was putting my hand to. After we got back from our maiden voyage to the park, he gobbled his lunch and napped.

I was working on this when he got up and he was full of questions and anxious to get "hands on". First, I showed him that needles were sharp. With some healthy respect for the tool, I let him pull the needle and thread, setting the stitch. He understands 'slow and gentle' and the thread behaved. After a few stitches, he was content with playing with the spools of thread. I just remembered that these are the same hoops that my grandma Nell put in my hands when I was four or five.

I need to find out about making sage smudges before this plant takes over the pot