Sunday, April 30, 2023


 I'm out here drying dirty threads,getting some vitamin D, and making sure these clouds don't turn on me. 

the work


I brought these in late yesterday afternoon and let them dry overnight in the studio. 95% dry, give or take, so they won't travel anywhere for at least 48 hours. 

I was a little disappointed in the loss of color intensity, but this confirms my findings that my process requires a minimum of 80 degrees Fahrenheit for the strongest color outcome. 

Still, these have a charm all on their own. I won't use the dirty work pastel.   Heathered is more like it. 

People have often commented that my threads have a shine and ease of handling. I have no science to prove it, but hand washing and rinsing has to have something to do with it.

The hotel pans that Jim rescued from a restaurant renovation years ago have been integral to the process by cutting water use way down.

The threads below spent the night outside on the work table. It rained on and off all night and when I brought them in this morning, it was so cold I could see my breath and my fingers inside my gloves were turning blue. Weather gods, I laugh in your general direction.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Unplanned extravaganza


I spent Friday night up country with Jake, Missy, and Charlie. Didn't get home until nearly lunch. 

The first order of business was tending to the hairy hordes who put on that "NO ONE FED US" routine.

 Typically, I waste the afternoon with a nap but today the sun finally decided to show its face after a string of really shitty cold and damp days.

All I had to do was pull the dyes out of the cupboard and decide on a set of primary colors. A little of this and dash of that and Lawdy Miss Claudie!'

I didn't know how much gas I had in my personal tank so I focused on the thread. There was another dismembered lined blouse and a handful of those beautiful damask napkins from Liz.

I did find about three yards of that midweight linen I bought new last year in closet. Remember how I accidentally cut up all the cloth I'd set aside to make myself some summer wear? I stripped the vinyl cover off the work table and laid out the linen to act as a table mopper. This time, there will be a schmatte happening if it takes enough color this time around.

It's dark. I'm beyond tired, but I have four pages of longhand writing to get into the machine. 

The novel Vladimir by Julia May Jonas has captured my attention, but I suppose a good night's sleep will pay off.

I hope to get both threads and cloth into the store by Monday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023



The weather confounds another run at the primary colors. It was only 61 today midday.
A teal shading to aquamarine from ice water to l'heure bleue.

Bubblegum to raspberry syrup magenta. And sunshine to corn to tiger fur yellow.
And all the ways they can trip each other up. I dream about them. 

In the meantime, Life.
A fresh MRI and a new doctor advised me to adjust my expectations about my back. There will be no surgery.
More treatment, but nothing invasive. We flex.

The Mother Lavender not only survived the winter that killed the venerable thyme and jasmine, she flourishes.

Sweetie persists. She had more good hours than bad. Salmon and sunshine will still get a purr. 

And the drive, the will, and the need to write are back in full force. 

Friday, April 21, 2023



There's a lot of it. And more to come. This is only the first dyefest of the summer. 

At first glance, what a buncha mutts! 
I had no business letting that Mad Raven near the threads, but zoom in. 
Cuddle close and discover that each hank has a complexity and depth of change that makes me want to take up needle and thread and see what some satin stitched eyes or feathers would look like.

I'm going up country in a few hours so all of this merchandising will have to wait. When I get home,  I'll be putting together sets of four and six-ounce bundles of scraps and posting them to the store as they become available. 

And thank you all for your support, your patronage, and encouragement. 
Sincerely, your crack dealer.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Fails or flight of fancy


It's easy to lose focus when it's this beautiful out. 

I'll never get used to the shortness of Spring here. There are no lilacs, forsythia, or weeping willows to ease me into summer. You look up and, BAM, summer is breathing down your neck and the thin-blooded are looking to turn on the AC. I just finished paying off the grotesque gas bill from heating this barn during the deep freeze. grumble grumble.

Oh well. I just reminded myself there were seven years with NO heat or AC, so all things are in balance.

All this to say, I lost track of timing and finishing on half of the cloth I was working on. Cloth and thread can get overcooked resulting in a lot of murky-looking, unhappy crap. 

Oh, I know tastes vary, but I'm still doing this to please my eye first, and if I open the washing machine and yell "FUCK ME", you know I'm not looking for a date.
But, there are lessons, always lessons. Besides setting a reminder, don't forget that the heavy vinyl cover on the table lets liquid pool under cloth and thread. Instead of a quick drain and dry, the stuff is stewing in its juices. And the biggie. A little black goes a very long way, especially when overdyeing. 
The saving grace? Discharging. And if I get really arty-farty, some soy wax resist. I'm exhausted just thinking about the soy wax games. Picture the crone standing over a bubbling cauldron lifting lengths of steaming cloth out of the broth with a gnarly stick. Maybe I'll do it over the firepit in the front yard. That will be something for the new neighbors to write home about. 

On the other hand, discharging with bleach is quick, dirty, and satisfying. Phone booth sex. 
Guess you know which way I'm leaning.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Come What May, round 2


Sorry, I put these pictures up without any words. After the day was done, I was totally out of gas and words.

Don't know what inspired this. I actually started basting the hanks to a piece of heavy linen. After two or three, I slapped myself. The hanks have to be able to be moved a little. I switched to straight pins and rolled it up. The roll went into the sauce first and so was at the bottom of the tank, last on the deck and I had run out of a couple of colors already. 
They are waiting for me to start to clean up. 

Just as I was setting up, Colin appeared with a big bag of crocheted cotton throws from my major scout, Mel. They are gorgeous and in pristine condition and I feel a little icky doing this AND cutting them up.

Well, maybe just this one. 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Fruits, some unripe, some rotten. updated

 I fiddled with that cotton/silk twist and also remembered its provenance. Liz, I am pretty sure you had this sent to me all the way from AU or NZ? Please confirm. Thanks. I found the post about the greasy demise of that original hank. Be glad there were no pictures.

I used a tapestry needle on a piece of heavy linen because I couldn't find my damn glasses and was too intent on the project to get up and find the spares.

They were in my hair.

Weather is going to play a bigger role in this work in the future. I have not retaken the holy BATCHING oath. It's because I'm a lazy bitch and if I have to wait for a red-hot thunderstorm to do the primary rinsing, so be it. There are no elves to help out here. 

I wound off a few because they looked so unappetizing in the hanks and I needed to look deeper. 
Revelation #1: Morton's Kosher Salt gave a new dye delivery option that paid off nicely. Short and abrupt color changes were further enchanted by some clumsy handling with dirty gloves. And yes, the new Black Mix really came through nicely. 

                                                You always wondered about that 'dirty', didn't you? 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Basics...once again with feeling


Lessons learned all over again. Temper that Hot Pink harder, harder I say. Keep it away from that insipid blue and haul deeper on the turquoise, it's a noble color.

Where is my A Little Chaos blue? The granddaddy of long lost Bonnie Blue. Sad. 

And what the EFF were you yellows doing? Sleeping on the job? 

The new black is nicely neutral!

Y'all must think I'm nuts but I talk to the colors while I'm working. Lots of swearing going on.

They are all languishing in the studio. Drying thread and cloth indoors it tedious but the rain has come to stay for a few days.

My absence caused a bit of disapproval. Now I am sharing a queen-sized bed with four cats.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023



The glass jars were neglected on the deck over the winter and picked up a patina of rust that two passes through the dishwasher and hand scrubbing could not remove. I could hardly tell what was in the jars after I mixed colors and decided to not label them.

If this batch has a name, it's Come What May.
Even though (I thought) I had a whole day to work with, I only picked a bundle that I could carry down from the studio to the deck, one handed. Three big sections of that light linen, a few damask and woven napkins. A J Jill blouse, dismembered. A twin percale sheet for wiping up spills. Some sections of heavier linen. One of those silk/cotton threads and about twenty of six-strand DMC.

notes before I forget. The silk/cotton did NOT like the soda ash sauce and may have some kind of sizing. Next time, an overnight in hot water & Dawn first.

the lightweight linen allows for a lot of color creeping. very important to not over handle it. Some of this may wind up being discharged, waxed and overdyed. I'm considering them bases for other things.

Of course, all of this depends on how everything looks after rinsing, washing, and drying.

I made a point of choosing colors that I'd overlooked last summer.

I made a mix for black that looks like it's going to be terrific. It seems so neutral here. Again, results will vary a lot.

Equal parts Raven and 629. a dash of Deep Space and Bronze to counter the blue. They ALL show out in the linen.

The percale table moppers are going to be sublime!

Here's why I cut the day short and why nothing is going to get finished before Friday. 

I may get lucky and the rain takes care of the first rinse or two.

Bonus for small batches handled in a studied rather than a frenzied manner - I was not physically or mentally wiped out.

It was also barely 80 by the time I wrapped it up. 

I feel like I was cheating.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Words & weeds


As in the past, when the words on paper get stuck, stitching some seem to grease the wheels. Even in the face of some heavy-duty adulting, (so appropriate at my age) scenes are starting to fill out. Characters are having conversations that need recording. It feels good, but it's still a precarious state of mind. Like walking on a very narrow cliff edge with no handholds. 

The severe shortage of thread is hampering me, too.  We had frog-strangling rain all day yesterday. Today, the sun is blazing but it's only in the 40s. It's going to be a challenging dye season.

Just before the rain set in, I walked around the Wood Chip Heap and scattered several pounds of flower seeds that I have been collecting all winter. Native perennials. Butterfly and Hummingbird garden seeds.  "Ooooo, that's pretty" Seeds. I got suckered by the seedmen weekly. The seeds fall down into the top chips hidden away from birds and squirrels into the decomposed stuff that will hopefully nurture some of these seeds to blossom. If a quarter of them make it, it's going to be amazing. I have a mix of vinegar and soap to spray on the emerging poison ivy, brambles, and pokeweed to give the flowers some breathing room. Beyond that, the rest is up to nature.

This is right outside my kitchen windows.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Silk & cotton spaghetti (updated)

 The opening day of baseball was usually the opening day for my dye season, but the weather conspires against me.

Warm enough today but no direct sunlight and showers on and off enough to be pesty.
Charlie was here overnight and I would have put him to work, too but...rain and gross humidity. 

Instead, we put down grass seed in some bald patches leftover from the septic work and I broadcast another round of flowering perennials over the wood chip lot, The rain knocks the seeds into the crevices hiding them from squirrels and birds. Hopefully. I'd settle for 25% of them making it to maturity.

Colin planted a third blueberry bush, 'cause plant sex or something requires another type if I want blueberries. I don't try to understand. I just shell out and hope.

I'm going to experiment with a B&W thread. This hank of cotton/silk two-ply has been hanging on the back of the studio door for years. It's already a mess of tangles. IF it takes the dye and IF I like the way it turns out and handles, it's going to get put up on the cardboard spindles like so much long spaghetti. When I'm winding it off the hank (no chair, no swift, no extra pair of hands) when I run into a knot or tangle....SNIP. You were going to cut it anyway, right?

There's a thought. Cut the whole hank in one place! The pieces will be about a yard long. Little speckled balls of thread that you have to tease out to use. It could work. Right?

ON SECOND THOUGHT...I do that a lot. What was I thinking? No way I could dye spaghetti directly on the cardboard bobbins. They'd mold before they would dry. I went ahead and cut the hang leaving me a lot of 30+ inches pieces which I divided in three and tied off like sails. One will be spattered in Raven, another speckled with dirt colors, and the last one is tutti-frutti rainbow cutie. All to be wound onto bobbins when the spirit moves me.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Saturday Blessings


How to be grateful and not gloat? I have two wonderful, capable sons with valuable skills and generous hearts. 

Colin is rebuilding the deck that overhangs the pool. The one where I hang all the cloth and thread to dry. For a long time, it's been treacherous. The floor itself is solid but the railings and roof were rotted. The demolition is done, and the new railings will be up soon. I might even get a chair for out there when all is done.

Jake and Charlie came and set all the mechanical beasts to rights quickly and (luckily) inexpensively. The truck will start and run reliably. A lawnmower only needed an air filter and the AC in my car is once again frosty. 

Next week is Spring Break and Charlie and I will have more time together. Poker, Lego, the Park, and car washing. Pray for good weather.