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Archive for the 'Dyeing' Category

Whole Lotta Natural Beauty

Monday, October 1st, 2012
By Twistie

The instant I saw this piece, I needed to know more. I wanted to know more about the artist, the technique, the materials, the inspiration. I wanted to see more of the work.

The artist is Lotta Helleberg. She was born in Sweden and relocated to Virginia in the 80’s. She now lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, making art and loving nature.

The art and the nature go hand in hand at all times. Whether she’s creating wall hangings, pillows, handmade artist’s books, table runners, or sachets filled with organic lavender, Helleberg’s work combines a spare elegance with a profound respect for nature. The result, as you can see, is tremendously beautiful.

The materials she works in most include: antique/vintage linen fabric, natural dyes created from local plants, recycled/handmade paper, and silk. Her dye processes are eco-friendly, and many of the motifs are created with the help of local flora.

If you’re in the Virginia area, you’ll be able to see Helleberg’s work up close and personal from October 12 – December 5 at Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet, VA and in the Artisans Studio Tour in Charlottesville, VA on November 10&11. Helleberg is studio #8.

Or, if you’re up in the Ontario, Canada area (As opposed to Ontario, California), Helleberg’s work will be on display at the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Center in Oakville, Ontario from November 2 – 18 as part of the show De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things).

As for the rest of us, well, we’ll just have to get by on browsing her website and her online store.

You know, I really could use a spiffy new purse….

Fun Crafts, Free Patterns

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
By Twistie

(Magnet available from Zazzle)

Sometimes it’s fun to wander the web and see what goodies we can find to try out for free in the crafting world. Whether it’s a new craft entirely or a new technique in something we’ve done before, or just a fun variation, there’s always something fun and free out there. But don’t just take my word for it! Here are a few examples to whet your appetite for crafty goodness online.

Mosaic Patterns Online features a new free pattern each month. This month it’s your choice of this gorgeous butterfly or a really spiffy dragonfly. Oh, and if you download the free pattern, you can also get a discount on some of the supplies for making it a reality.


The Past Was Colorful, Really

Friday, April 13th, 2012
By Twistie

I always find it kind of amusing that films set in the far, far past tend to show people dressed mostly in shades of brown and ecru with little touches of muddy green or dull ochre here and there. Oh, and the more poor people, the less color in general.

But the fact is that some surprising colors – and surprisingly bright shades of them! – can be produced via natural dyestuffs that would have been found growing by the side of the road.

For instance, I once chatted with a woman who dyed her own thread and wove her own fabric. She only used natural dyestuffs. I admired a scarf that included a rather delicious salmon pink stripe. What created that color? Mushrooms!

I still don’t know what kind of mushrooms they were. I didn’t think to ask and I’ve never met up with her again. All the same, there’s a variety of mushroom in the world that produces a clear, bright salmon pink when dying wool. Somehow, that makes me happy.

Depending on circumstances, using Queen Anne’s Lace as a dye might leave you with purple, green, or yellow. Oh, and dandelion roots can produce red dye.

Curious to know more? I found this handy chart of natural dyestuffs and what colors they produce over at Pioneer Thinking. You’ll also find some good basic information to get you started dyeing for yourself. Oh, and there are pages of tips from readers.

Get Classy

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
By Twistie

As much as we love to craft on our own, there’s nothing like a good technique class to help broaden horizons, pick up new skills, and correct bad habits. Heck, just the chance to be in a roomful of people who enjoy using their hands to create things can be a breath of fresh air!

But sometimes you don’t know where to look to find a class. That’s why I sat down and found some courses where you can learn new techniques and hone old skills.

First up is the illustration above. It’s a quilt. The title is Big Sur in May, and it was created by quilt artist Judith Baker Montano. It’s pretty spiffy, isn’t it? In point of fact, I think it’s pretty breathtaking. Well, as it turns out, Ms. Montano is holding a workshop in quilting land and seascapes in May through the Madeline Island School of the Arts in Wisconson. The class is four days long and costs $620.00. See here for details on the class and how to sign up.


Dying to Please You

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
By Twistie

Mmmm… pretty colors.

It’s fun to have lots of pretty colors of yarn to play with. Whether you plan to knit, crochet, or do massive string art with it, color is an integral part of the charm of your finished product.

But not everyone loves to do the actual dying. Sort of like the way not everyone wants to spin the yarn. And of course there is that learning curve when you’re playing with techniques, but can’t count on the best results, yet.

And that’s where the aptly named Decadent Fibers comes in.

They carry a wide variety of yarns in natural fibers, such as: merino, silk, organic cotton, and mohair. Some varieties do contain a small amount of nylon to help keep the shape of the finished product, but it’s just a touch.

Best of all, every kind of yarn they sell can be custom dyed. Sure, they’ve got a lot of great colors they make every single day, but if you don’t find what you want there, you can request the color you need and they will create it for you.

Don’t want yarn? If you’re looking for roving to spin or felt, you can get the same great range of colors.

Need something to do with all this yarn/fiber? They also carry a range of books, patterns, and kits to get you going, including their one-skein knitting projects.

Then again, maybe I’ll just splurge on a few skeins to fondle when nobody else is looking.

Too Kool for Wool

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
By Twistie

Some years ago, a wool-happy friend of mine showed up with some rovings she’d just dyed and planned to spin. I fell in love with the cheerful, Easter eggy pastels and asked her what she’d used to dye them.

I nearly fell off my chair when she told me Kool Aid.

Yes, the packets of fruity drink mix so loved by small children was the source of those gorgeous colors. Oh, and for those about to make a Jonestown joke, that was actually Flavor Aid. Then again, I imagine Flavor Aid would work, too.

Just don’t choose the grape.


Turns out, dyeing with Kool Aid (or similar drink mixes) is a pretty simple process. the results, however, are fabulous.

If you’d like to learn the method, I suggest going to Under the Desk (which is also the source of the top illustration) and reading through Ana’s illustrated tutorial. I know it’s something I’m bookmarking for future reference!

Berry, Berry Good

Monday, January 16th, 2012
By Twistie

I don’t know about all of you, but I can always use a good tea towel. I like to have a good supply on hand, too, because I use the suckers. My kitchen isn’t just decorative, after all. So I like to have pretty things in it that I can also use.

That’s why I love this pretty screen printed hemp and organic cotton tea towel by jennarosehandmade over at Etsy. It’s  bright, cheery and useful all at once for just $15.00.

Mmm… berries. I like.

Inspiration Gallery: Batik

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
By Twistie

This is the ‘Sidumolyu’ batik pattern. It’s traditional in Indonesia for weddings. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

But one of the great things about batik as a technique is its versatility. So let’s take a look at some less than traditional directions we can take it in, shall we? Yes, we shall!


Herbal History at Plimoth Plantation

Friday, July 1st, 2011
By Twistie

There are hundreds of uses in craft for herbs. From pretty dried sprigs for your wreath to fragrant additions to your potpourri to colors for inks and dyes, herbs are wildly useful to the handmade lifestyle.

The folks at Plimoth Plantation understand this. That’s why they’re holding a series of workshops with renowned English herbalist Tina Stapely from July 14 – 19.

Whether your interest is in historical cookery, planning and growing your herb garden, medicinal uses, or, yes, dyestuffs and inks, there’s a hands on workshop for you.

I know if this was happening on my coast, I’d be there! Let’s see… cooking or dyes and inks….


Inspiration Gallery: Eggs

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
By Twistie

via All Things Family

Between the horrible weather and the fact that today marks precisely one month to Easter, I have decided we need to talk about decorating eggs. Why? Because they’re festive and fun. What more impetus do we need?

While dyed or painted eggs are most commonly associated with Easter, there’s no reason we can’t play with them the rest of the year. Eggs are nicely shaped little canvases. And if you’re uncomfortable working with real ones, it’s easy to find faux eggs to decorate.


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