Thursday, July 30, 2020

Harvest time

It's been a while since I was excited by first peeks at a thread batch. Over the past months, I've caught myself thinking "Overdye for this bunch" or "just because I don't love you...."  and hoping for the best.

This time, I'm thinking about dumping out my own stash so I can start fresh with 20 or 30 from this lot. But I won't. I have too much else to do now and soon, those responsibilities will double. 

Now comes the hard part. Cleanup and processing. When I call these Hand Dyed Threads I'm not kidding.  There is no part of this that can be automated. Each skein goes through about a dozen steps between the first measure&wind, to the final wind off. 

Then, since I'm selling most of these, there's photograpy, posting, and processing orders. Now, the added terrors of the post office. I'm still sad about the fact that International Shipping is so out of reach. 

I've washed and rinsed two groups, laid out on the deck rails here in hopes of some sun, but it's looking pretty shitty out.  

I've been thinking about writing a DIY book - "Doing the Dirty Thread Boogie". I can teach you the steps, but I cannot teach color sense which is the magic at the heart of this process. Something I can't even explain to myself.

What do you think? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Color in cold blood

I have the time and the weather is with me, but I confided in a friend that, although everything was ready and right, I had no feel for color today. Vacuuming floated to the top of my to-do list. A very deep level of ennui.

Instead, I downshifted, no clutch, and found a place of hard, scientific analysis. Instead of frenzy, I measured. Wiped up spills, protected myself, gloves and masks, indoors.

Then I remembered...
All in all, the dyes don't care.

It was overcast and mid-80s when I was setting up. The moment I sat down, the clouds parted and the sun got really harsh. Right after he took this, Colin brought my hat down. 

At this point in the process, I worked the way I always have. I got a chip of kosher salt in my eye. That kind of slowed me down.

There was a lot of thread prepped to dye. A LOT. More than a hundred skeins. I lost count.

At the same time, some smaller pieces of cloth joined the fray. 

The colors evolved as I worked. Looking over the results, I can't see a trend. But I was too tired and overheated to do any peeking.  Everything is out there, cooking in the heat. 

I'm hoping it will rain tonight and save me a lot of rinsing. 

As soon as the last piece of cloth hit the deck, I jumped in for some emergency cooling. I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes from this batch. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

As summer should be

...taken up by small pleasures.

A little morning stitch with the first light, sometimes too bright.

The mailbox garden riots, out of control. The morning glories clam up the minute the full sun leaves them. 

I'm sure the mail person disapproves of this madness.

And who planted those sunflower seeds in a pot?? I'll have to carry water out to them every day for a while.

Overnight company is good and whenever possible, we are in the water.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Thunder, and finally, rain

Detente in safe harbor.

While I fool around getting lost in the work. All of it.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

the conversation

I need this activity to focus on the story the way I used to need walking. Not the best substitute for me, physically, but this is how it's always been in the summer.

Thursday started like this. The plan for a substrate for words already written took the process away from me, in its sharp teeth. I said, "Okay, but not now." It came down off the wall for another day. 

Then it was time to be with Charlie. We spent a careful, long half-hour at the optometrist, selecting replacement glasses. His folks agreed he could have his choice. He had been chattering about Neon
Yellow. I was grateful There was no such option. He didn't dither and chose a rather Captain America look of blue, red, and silver. Pictures when they come in, of course. He very solemnly listened to advice about how very important wearing them and caring for them was. A privilege.

Then there was this. Another attempt the next morning, while he was still asleep, it fell flat but pointed me back in the direction of color. I parked it and started over.

Jackson Pollock would have been proud. My studio looks like a cyclone hit it. If I had tried to make a video of my process like Dee's, people would have been screaming at the screen. 
"What? Again with that damn shape? A quarter-inch to the right? Are you kidding? Put it back. No! " so the dialogue went.

Finally, Saturday morning early, the page is ready for the messages and I'm reminded that every choice- thread, needle, color, shape, line, spacing - have meaning and I want to say so much. 

My thoughts reaching into the future are with the protesters in Portland and in terror for schoolchildren in red states. The GOP only wants strong, stupid cannon fodder. 

Thoughts reaching into the past about a life of consequence. Rest in power, very honorable John Lewis. That bridge should have been renamed in his lifetime, but I can imagine he was not a man to hunger for that kind of acknowledgment.  

ps. this bit of sweetness:

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Spell

 This piece of cloth is from an exquisitely made Brooks Brothers shirt. I used a magnifying glass to examine the stitching around the tiny little buttonholes on the collar and the places where French seams overlapped with no visible gain in thickness. Miraculous. Every seam perfect.

I put it on to see if it could ever be something I would wear. No. Not quite roomy enough for comfort. Perfect if I had to wear a suit and tie to work each day.  It was hard to decide where to start with the scissors. Ripping it was out of the question the cloth is so tight, so strong.

I'm glad I decided to do this post because I can already see that I don't care for the font or the layout. Too studied. Too tight. Too....Brooks Brothers.  I'll look for another piece of cloth and another hand for the lettering. The spell is the thing.

"He watched as she stalked a wide, slow circle that took her all the way around the car. She was wearing something short and black. Magic again? Without taking his eyes off her, he took off his St. Christopher and hung it from the rearview. Gripping the steering wheel, he leaned forward, mesmerized.

She stopped a few paces in front of the car. Her hands reached for the stars, then she crouched low and brushed the wet grass with her fingertips. No candles, no incense. She spoke into the darkness like it was listening.

Hear me sisters, Fire, Wind, Water and Earth, in all your names and guises.
Light the watchtowers for us. Hold back the night.
I ask cover from all quarters.
Bless us this circle and we within."

from "Prophets Tango"

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Words later

Be my touchy.

don't text 

don't call 

no tweets

I want face to face

hand to hand

cheek to cheek

back to back.

But sometimes, words are not necessary.

Thursday, July 09, 2020


In an effort to escape real-life turmoil, I'm prepping for a dye fest this weekend.  I have several dismembered linen and silk blouses (thank you, Joanne) and a few garments that will stay whole for now. 

The thread I ordered six weeks ago was finally delivered and, in time, will be carded for dyeing in smaller batches than usual. I need some blues, golds, greens, browns... 

A gift of vintage linen napkins (thank you, Nancy) will be transformed. I can't recall doing this "bundling" thing before.
Each will yield cloth and thread. Still thinking about how the dye should be applied.  Under these bundles, a circle of heavy, supple linen with all the wonderful fringe that I hope I can "creep" color onto.(thank you, Kitty)

Last, this cloth, strange and wonderful (thank you, Mel). A king-sized flat sheet of some unimaginable thread count.
At first, I though that is for my bed, but as I took it from the dryer it turns out to be the noisest cloth, natural or otherwise, I've ever encountered. What is that crackling? It  sounds almost like it's made of kraft paper. I have no idea how it's going to take the dye. Don't you love a mystery?

And what would I do without all my faithful cloth scouts? I really miss the hunt.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

back to the garden

Earlier in spring, there were a few puny buds that barely opened before browning and falling off. I gave up getting any gardenias. 

I went to the library for the first time in three overdue notices only because there were also notices that "Varina" and "Regrets" were finally available. 

The new library guy looks just like Justin Trudeau. What I could see over his mask anyway.  

As I pulled back into the driveway a flash of white caught my eye. There they were, three in bloom and more buds waiting. 

Gardenia. The sexiest flower in the garden.

Those feathery leaves are Red Cypress Hummingbird vine. I better go back up there tomorrow with some tall sticks to give them and the morning glory something else to climb on before they all choke each other. 

It's a Jungle up there! 

And in keeping with yesterdays post about keeping our eyes on one another, 

How are you doing? 

Where ever you are in the world, what's the thing you cling to for keeping an even keel to your day?

a week away

Not from home, but here. Many things were happening and I just let the days unfold without thinking about documenting them or sharing.  Nothing dire. Most of it beautiful, engaging and pretty mundane. 
Gifted cloth transformed

Then I started thinking about how I feel these fraught days when online friends go "missing". A vague ache that pushes me further away from the imaginary realm.  
The pool is finally open, to the delight of two of us, so far.

A whole day spent stitching to music. High as a kite on last year's harvest was capped in miraculous fashion by Hamilton. 

I hardly have words to describe it. On reflection, I realize part of my intense emotional responses, rivers of tears both bereft and joyful, were about how much Jimmy would have loved it. 

There have been gifts and letters in the mail and I'm frustrated by not being willing/able to go to the post office. I need to find a way. Putting Colin at risk by having him do all the grocery shopping is bad enough. 

Georgia, along with the rest of the South is a pesthole. We circle our wagons, masking and handwashing like starving raccoons. 

Smoke still in the air after the bombardment of the 4th.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Wednesday is my Friday and

....the new anchor of my week. Writing to prompts with Dee Mallon. She who has suffered my manuscript from nearly chapter one.

We give each other a phrase, then we write for 30 minutes. Then share and assess the results. "It's like licking a nine-volt!"  

Yesterday,  the sun called me to the stitching chair for a few minutes.
First, I had to dish out one minute of love. That's all he wants then he springs up and goes about his business.

As I'm still debating whether to shadow the lettering with a brighter color, I started backfilling the openwork with bits of color. 
I did this years ago when I used a whole tablecloth with cutwork to back "Ocean Homes". The minute I started it, I regretted it. Not this time. This piece small and the horizons of "done" are close.

And this from the river basket. Just Juicy! Plain old muslin...not!