It’s been quite a while since I posted anything. Quite frankly, this pandemic has had me down in the dumps. Studio times have continued with Cecilia, Rachel and Betty through the winter and spring, and that has kept me sane.
It is so good to be able to laugh and cry and tell stories – and stitch. I feel like that was all I did was stitch through the winter and early spring.
We’ve all been vaccinated – some of us in January/February and Rachel (youngster that she is) was finally eligible this spring. But we are all still keeping close to home and with those we know are vaccinated. We’re not quite ready to jet across the Pond to Scotland!
Last Thursday was the perfect day for indigo dyeing – a day I’d been waiting months for. We had a miserable winter and early spring – cold, wet. Lately our weather has been unseasonably hot and humid – with a several 90+ degree days, but Thursday dawned clear and had a predicted high of 70 – the perfect spring day!I got up early and made an 8-gallon vat of indigo in a large plastic storage bin. I had garments to dip and wanted a large enough vat so they could be fully immersed and have room to spread out in the vat to capture as much dye as possible.
And I had an experimental piece I wanted to dip that was quite large.
Betty’s husband, Denis, a New Orleans native, had contributed some large bolts to the Indigo Girls stash of things to wrap and dye, but the piece d’resistance was an very large bolt approximately two feet long. He said he used these when he was restoring old houses in New Orleans to bolt the side-by-side houses together.
I spent the entire day outside in tee shirt, pedal pushers and sandals happily immersed in indigo. That evening I was exhausted, but very happy with blue feet, legs and hands. It seems I just can’t find a pair of gloves that is long enough to prevent some spillage into the glove. At least it is easily removed. And you look like you had fun doing something!
I was certainly glad I did so much dyeing on Thursday because Friday was dark and gray, windy with a temperature drop into the low 50s. Cecilia and Rachel came over dressed in winter coats, hats and gloves – it was an absolutely miserable day! But we enjoyed our studio time. Rachel had things to dye, and I still had more, so I moved the vat under the eaves of the wood shed. It rained off and on all day but we persevered through the raindrops.
Rachel came back on Saturday (it was even colder!) to finish a couple of men’s shirts she was doing for her husband and father. We’ve been seeing shibori shirts, shorts, dresses, bed linens, etc. in a number of catalogues this year. Of course, it’s printed shibori, not hand stitched – but at some point I suppose there was hand stitching involved in creating the original fabric.
Saturday was an utterly miserable day with wind and rain. I made an additional 4-gallon vat of indigo so Rachel would have fresh dye for her shirts. Thursday I had worked all day with both doors open in the studio. Friday and Saturday, we closed it up tight and turned on the heat.
I spent Saturday and Sunday picking out the stitching of my recently dyed pieces. I was really pleased with the results. Some were just simple tea towels with one or two motifs. There were garments, recycled (I guess you could say “up-cycled”) from the thrift store – linen or cotton shirts and jackets; bamboo and rayon scarves and shawls; socks; and a little piece I had stitched during the winter, drawn up the threads and tossed to the side. I found the little hump of cotton bristling with knotted threads and buffers, and honestly could not remember what it was.
I dipped it anyway.