Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Two Bags Full Of Ideas

Here’s the update on the bag I introduced last week, and another recycling project.

The Indigo/Walnut Tote
Last week while I was giving the indigo vat a workout, I overdyed a tote bag I started last summer. I was cleaning up after a slapdash experiment to use a Rubbermaid bin as a solar oven for Mason jar dyeing. There was a bit of walnut dye left in the bottom of a jar. I think there might have been some vinegar or something else in there too (did I mention I didn’t take notes?). Anyway, I didn’t want to put that liquid back in the walnut dye container. So I scruched up a pre-made canvas tote bag and shoved it into the jar. No scouring or presoaking. You can see it didn’t dye evenly (just the way I like it). 

Walnut dye on canvas tote bag

I took it out of the jar a couple days later, hung it up to dry, and it’s been oxidizing since. As a lazy dyer, I’m a big fan of oxidizing — except when it happens to stains in my wardrobe because I didn’t wash them out right away.

Last week, I finally washed the bag. After rinsing it, I kept it damp. Then it went into the indigo vat. Here’s what it looked like after oxidizing this time (a quicker and more dramatic process with indigo).

Walnut dye then indigo after rinsing

My walnut dye has been “saddened” with a bit of iron, and I love the way it warms the indigo.

Over the weekend I added a couple of outside pockets to this bag.

Pocket fabric is my Doodle Leaf design from Spoonflower

Now I need some advice: Is this guy-ish enough for a college-age man who shops at the farmers market to appreciate as a Christmas gift?

The Doorknob Bag
While cleaning this fall, I ran across another natural dye experiment from a few years ago. This week, I used it to make a bag to hang on the doorknob in my studio. My fantasy intention is to tuck receipts, packing slips and other documents that need to go into the office here instead of scattering them amongst the debris on my work table.


The fabric is huck toweling I stained with tea and turmeric, then mineral printed with vinegar and nails. For the bag, I also used a woolen necktie I from the thrift shop and a swatch of my Spoonflower fabric.

The bag is a bit wide for a doorknob hanger because I wanted it to fit a notepad as well as receipts. So it doesn’t flop on the knob, I snipped the ends off a couple of electrical cable ties and threaded them into a casings at the rim.

I used the necktie for the hanger and edging and a flap over the top. As I was working on it, I wanted to keep the necktie-iness with that little tab at the lower left. Naturally, that break in the line is the first thing my eye goes to and it’s annoying me, but probably not enough to change it.

While working on this bag, I tried to remember why I never did any more dying on huck toweling. I love this stuff with or without traditional huck darning embroidery.

So now I’m thinking of other ways I might use huck toweling. Feel free to chime in!

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Being The Boss Of Me

Swatch sampler — designs by Donna Kallner
Spoonflower has free shipping on orders through 8 am Tuesday

Technically, while I am self-employed I’m not really the boss of me: That would be a guy at the bank that holds the paper on our house, as Michael Perry says. On a day-to-day basis, though,  I’m the one making the do-do to-do list that keeps me on track. This week, all bets are off. It’s play time.

I’ve been a good girl this month, and got a bunch of non-studio stuff done. My web site needed work in a big way, and I would love to get your feedback on the makeover (hit the comment button below this post). It’s been workshop proposal time (I still have dates available, hint hint, but I’m caught up with those for now. My winter studio class series is scheduled. There are no yellow sticky notes on the bathroom mirror to herald impending deadlines.

So this week, I get to spend in the studio playing and possibly making some holiday gifts. I try to use gift projects to explore technique, sample products, and use up stuff I already have.

I’ll be using my Spoonflower swatch samplers to make some small projects. I need to get images posted on Spoonflower to show the fabric designs I have for sale “in action.” I don’t think it will spoil anyone’s Christmas surprise to get that done. Just in case, I invoke gift amnesia: My family knows what that means.

I already got started on a few things. For one project, I used Dharma pigment dye to alter a fat quarter of one of my black-and-white Spoonflower designs. I like to have neutral fabrics stashed so I can color them as needed for the project. Dharma’s pigment dye produces a mottled, stone-washed look I like and it couldn’t be easier to use.

Since the dye was already out, I mixed a bit more and used my gloved hand to brush it onto pre-quilted fabric left over from a play day with my sister-in-law last spring.

A while back I got a few gift bags made from the other stuff we painted that weekend.

And this week, I want to get some aprons made for the fire department auxiliary to wear at the community open house in a December. It’s a small department and an even smaller auxiliary. I got a design done this weekend for an image transfer, now just need to sew up three aprons to iron it onto.

While we’re being thankful for things this week, let’s give thanks for these people: 72 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers like my husband. He spent Sunday evening at a traffic accident and Saturday morning on a backcountry evacuation for a hunter who fell from his tree stand.

Hopefully, I won’t be seeing those guys this week when I get out my heat gun. I have an idea…

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Supply And Demand

Any true magazine junkie will understand why I would pick up an old copy of Guitar World from the share table at the library (no, I don’t play), or haul away the unsold periodicals from a garage sale. You also know that nothing feeds an addiction like the excuse, “it’s research”. This explains a number of lost hours at newsstands and a whole expense category in our accounting system.

Recently I bought a copy of Mark Lipinski’s Fabric Trends For Quilters. I felt like a poseur, because I’m not a “real” quilter. Real quilters piece and organize their fabric neatly by color, right? But it was research, and I’m an avid learner.

Here’s what I found particularly fascinating. In Mark’s editor’s letter he writes that all of the fabrics featured in Fabric Trends are currently on their way to shops, and photos of actual quilts:

have been traded out for computer-generated designs, but that compromise means you can now actually make the quilts you see.

So here are the thoughts that swirled around in my head while I stitches this week.

  • Making projects that exactly match the pictures in a book or magazine isn’t my style, but I can appreciate why people do it.
  • How much is tied up in inventory in my local fabric shop? Yikes! And yet what they probably hear the most about is what they don’t have in stock.
  • How long can a manufacturer afford to warehouse and sell last season’s fabrics (or book titles, in the case of publishers) when it’s no longer the newest / latest / bestest thing?

And finally:

  • How long will it be before print-on-demand technology changes all of this? 

One day, will I be able to walk into my local fabric shop for needles and thread, browse racks of fabrics that reflect the current trends, then step up to a kiosk to reorder fabric from a year or two before? In the store, so the store owner who answers my dumb curious questions gets some benefit from the sale?

I am totally in love with Spoonflower, and have my own designs for sale there. You can upload your own designs or pick one from another designer and choose the type of fabric. Spoonflower will print the design, and it comes to you in the mail. But will this option kill the desire to buy fabric in person? No more than methadone alone eliminates the desire for other addictive substances. No more than e-readers will eliminate books you can flip through with pages you can dog-ear.

Stop. Rethread. Make a cup of tea. Resume stitching and pondering.

Earlier this month as I was working on the redesign of my web site, I debated what to do with my bibliographies. Some of my old favorite books are out of print, and some of my new favorites won’t stay in print for long, it seems. Perhaps in another decade, print-on-demand technology will make it possible for another generation of artists to obtain some of these titles without waiting for the yard sale that will begin shortly after my funeral. Perhaps it will be possible for me to get a copy of Toshiko Horiuchi’s From A Line without hocking the car. I can’t see any possibility, though, that the option of obtaining old titles would keep me from wanting new ones, too. That includes magazines as well as books.

For what it’s worth, I moved an abbreviated bibliography to this page here on Two Red Threads.

As for the rest of it, I’m curious about how you would use today’s print on demand technology to shape the world of tomorrow. What are your thoughts?

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