Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Hello!  If you have called by once or twice over the last few weeks to see if there is anything new going on, I apologise, it has been a bit quiet.  But I've been making things, learning some new skills, as well as knitting, sewing and spinning.  But the one thing that has got me most excited after a fabulous Gwlana weekend is Indigo, mixing it, dipping and dyeing, and then making things with what comes out of the dye-pot..  Like shibori, decorated with sashiko. So, after much cutting patching and many many running stitches here is my first finished object

White cotton jacket shibori dyed with indigo and decorated with sashiko stitching
But first a little report on the wonderful weekend I spent in Wales at the latest Gwlana workshop (my fourth!) As always there was lots of knitting, friends (new and old) all in a lovely comfortable hotel.  But there was also something new, this time it was all about the blues, not sad blues but happy coloured blues.

Caerthan explains how to mix up the dye pot
At this weekend Brenda paired up with Caerthan Wrack the colour wizard responsible for the wonderful saturated colours of  Triskelion Yarns

Brenda describes the techniques to use to achieve the different shibori patterns
We dyed fabric as well as yarn.  To get the different patterns we tied, twisted, and masked parts of various fabrics and used dye pots with different strengths of indigo

At first the contents of the depot look an inky blue

Add de-oxygenator and the liquid turns clear green (if those flakey bits stick to the fabric or yarn they wash off later)
yarn is lowered slowly into the dye pot...
and after a few minutes gently lifted out again. As it meets the air it gradually turns blue

Some of our yarn
So back to the fabric and how I got from this...

to this...

Firstly I took one £10 Primark cotton shirt and after wetting it, scrunched up the lower half, securing it with twine and lowered it up to its armpits in the light solution and again the lower third in the dark pot. I dyed other pieces of fabric and four skeins of yarn as well

From the top, lace hankie, silk scarf, 4 skeins of yarn, scraps of linen (some embroidered) 4 cotton napkins and a linen tea towel

I then set about cutting off the collar and cuffs and covering the shirt with patches fixed with running stitches.  Sashiko is an old Japanese way of patching men's working shirts and is now valued for the wonderful work(wo)manship of the men's wives. (did the men without wives or daughters patch their own shirts I wonder!).

Traditionally sashiko is worked only in running stitch using white thread with very small amounts of red here and there.  I allowed myself some attitude and to use some blue thread as well the occasional French knot.

the ends of the sleeves trimmed with scalloped edge fabric, decorated in a clam shell pattern

reverse applique with habotai silk behind

circular patch with flower pattern

sashiko stitches following the pattern of the shibori and covering up the join in the hem binding

I didn't want any of the modern stitching to show so where I could not actually cut off bits, like the run-and-fell seams at the shoulders, I covered them up with strips of blue fabric.

The Gwlana weekend was nearly three weeks ago, the stitching of the jacket, though wonderfully relaxing, does take time and takes a toll on ones fingers! But I'm so happy with the final result!



PS The next Gwlana event is 20-22 May 2016 at The Centre for Alternative Technology, Powys, Wales.  Keep an eye on the Gwlana Website for news of the amazing classes (and famous teachers) that will be there