Archives for category: Colour


A busy few weeks, but all the same I was surprised to realise it’s four weeks since I last blogged.

One of the fun things I’ve done was a procion dyeing workshop. I had done a little before, but it was much more hit and miss than this.

We all started with two colours and did a gradual run from one to the other (9 pieces). I picked Turquoise and Golden Yellow, knowing I would get some useful greens. We used 10 inch squares of calico and each piece was put in a plastic bag and left for 24 hours.


We had two reds, two blues and two yellows to choose from, a warm and a cool one of each. For the next batch I did equal quantities of two primary colours. So deep oranges, purples and greens, four of each in various shades.


The next few were playing around splashing reds and yellows on one piece, and blues and yellows on the other.

I ended up leaving them 36 hours as I wanted to wash them out in daylight to see the colours better as they emerged from the murky water.


This is the gradual run from Turquoise to Golden Yellow washed out and still wet. I had expected them to be more mossy shades, but was happy with the results.


The middle greens were Lemon Yellow and increasing amounts of black to give more khaki shades of green. The oranges and purples show the variations with the cool and warm mixes of the blue and red, and yellow and red.


The whole stash drying out. I also did a few threads just to experiment.


The whole lot ironed and sorted in to batches. Each fabric was labelled  with a laundry marker and the proportions noted so the shades are re-produceable.


It was a systematic approach which I have not been disciplined enough to do before, but simple to follow. I will certainly use it again, but its also fun to have some happy accidents that are one-offs.

I’ve not used any of them yet, I’m still just admiring them.


Woods near Berkswell, Warwickshire

I haven’t touched any sewing for what seems like weeks. By the time I’ve run out of daylight in the garden I’ve also run out of steam. I’ve taken loads of photos though; just to capture the moment, for later inspiration, and to look back at when I need a fix of green. I just love this time of year. The fresh green of the beech coming out just fills me with joy and energy somehow. I’ve walked loads too, several times with our son in woodland. He handed in his dissertation a couple of weeks ago (he’s studied forestry and woodland ecology) and it feels good to be able to walk and talk with him now he’s not totally preoccupied with that.

I’ve also had a few days out with friends. One to Quarry Bank at Styal, (National Trust), wonderful scented azaleas in the garden, too much to see in a day – anther visit sometime. A couple of embroidery exhibitions, loads of things I want to try. A great garden centre at Reighton (lots of plants to keep me busy, rained off today, hence time to write).

Loads of inspiration, just need to start some work.

Just a few photos for you to have a peep at my green obsession.


Eckington Woods, Derbyshire


Eckington Woods, Derbyshire


?, Quarry Bank, Styal


Underside of Gunnera, Quarry Bank, Styal


I’d got a couple of manky looking pomegranites, some dried up lemons, and a few shrivelled oranges in the bottom of the fruit bowl. I’d read that pomegranites can be used for dyeing, and on further research found that they don’t need a mordant. I boiled up all the fruit for an hour, strained it, split the fabric in half and micro-waved it for about 10 minutes, and left it to cool. I also reboiled the mush with more water for another hour, which gave me a much paler dye bath, and again micro-waved it for 10 minutes. Left them both for several hours before rinsing out the excess. I also did a load of cotton strips in the two baths mixed together as there still seemed a lot of colour left.


First dye bath and fabric on the left, second on the right.


Rinsing of second dye bath.


Second dye bath cooling


First dye bath cooling


Dry fabric and threads


Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble


Dried fabric


Damp fabric from first dye bath


Strained dye bath.


Soaking a mix of cotton, silk, muslin and some cotton thread.


Looks pretty revolting, but smelt wonderful.


The finished results are a pale, creamy yellow, the first bath slightly deeper. The silk has taken the colour better, a lovely warm gold tone. Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but a couple of ideas simmering.


I’ve finished the miniature embroidery, from Alison Larkin’s workshop at Scunthorpe Embroiderer’s Guild from a couple of weeks ago. I needed good light, my reading glasses and a magnifier to see what I was doing. I’ve seen a couple of the other’s finished work, we had all got favourite areas on our own work (mine was the bottom leaf) and bits we weren’t quite happy with (the centre flower). However, several of us found this small scale a challenge, split stitch with a single strand of floss is not the easiest thing to do. I have often admired miniature work in the past and thought I should have a go while my eyes were good enough to see small scale. Whether I will do more I’m not sure, it certainly needs lots of patience as well as good eyesight. I just need to make it up now.


Close up of miniature embroidery


Detail of miniature embroidery


Finished miniature embroidery.

We had a choice of three kits; burgundy / maroon (the bottom image is the truest colour), blue or green. It looks very different in other colour ways, have a peak at Alex’s  green version at‎          



Starting one of the outer sections.

I’ve been quietly working away at this in between other things. I’d not realised how much more I’d done since I last posted about it until I looked back at my blog. It’s gone to several classes since you last saw it and picked up and worked on while talking on Skype, and in front of the telly. Still have to unpick bits when I can’t count up to four. One tutor has suggested working on the diagonal makes it more difficult (but I suspect she’s just being kind!). The colours are being admired and the basket of yarns are covetable (see earlier post). It’s usually me wanting everybody else’s threads. I’m like the kid in the sweetshop with threads and want them all. I just love colour and it fascinates me the variations we pick as individuals. I tend to choose autumnal tones; reds, oranges, rusts, yellows, golds, greens and browns, both to wear and to work with, but challenge myself every now and again to use colours out of my comfort zone. It frees up my thinking somehow, and challenges me to push my own boundaries.


Second corner on the outer section


Third corner on the other outer section, I got carried away here and forgot to take photos.


Considering the overall balance. I’ve left the last bit of border to do when I’m talking – it needs less concentration.


Again worked away without taking photos. The stripes are over differing number of holes, giving variation in the width of the stripes. The threads are all different weights and textures and need a varying number of strands to cover the canvas.


Trying out colours and a different stitch for the bands in between the diagonal sections. I’m not sure if I like it, so leaving for the moment, probably until I’ve finished the outside sections.


The outer sections have more colours than the middle section, slightly more subdued, it’s not so noticeable in reality as it appears in the photo. I’ll have another good run at it on Friday at one of the groups I go to.


I’ve made a doll’s quilt for my great niece’s 4th birthday in some of the fabrics I used to make one for her when she was born.



It was very pink and pretty, including the flower fairy fabric above, completely out of my comfort range colour-wise. I don’t seem to have a photo of the cot quilt, which is unusual. I photograph most of my quilts as they tend to have been for others and it’s good to look  back at earlier work occasionally.

But back to the doll’s quilt. I first started sewing and knitting for my own doll’s when I was very little. A knitted scarf for my old teddy, long since gone, the scarf not the teddy. The lady next door and one of my mum’s friends both made wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses, and they gave me the scraps of fabric, bits of lace and ribbon left over. One doll’s dress in particular sticks in my mind – a beautiful deep red satin, trimmed with white lacy flowers.


This ribbon is about the same colour, and these are some of the flowers left over from the mid sixties in my stash. If memory serves me right, they were cut out and stitched in a ring around the neck. The hem was cut with pinking shears and left as a zig-zag  edge. I had a children’s  little sewing machine which I struggled with and found most frustrating because the top and bottom threads often failed to twist together and the seams came undone,  and the tension was rarely right, but I had enough successes for it not to deter me for long.


This doll’s quilt used some squares I’d cut for the original cot quilt that were left over, so it was quite quick to put the top together and then I put fleece on the back.




It then just needs hand stitching around the edge to finish it off.

I’ve had another play with Brusho powders in the last few weeks. They are lovely to use, well a bit messy if you’re not careful with them!! But give lovely results if you can be patient and let them do their own thing. Working on well soaked damp cartridge paper that was blotted dry, I sprinkled small amounts of individual colours on separate pieces of paper, and left overnight. The powders spread out to produce lovely patterns, some of these looked like flowers. I find the best way to not touch them until completely dry (the magic continues to work until then) is to do use it just before I have to go and do something else. They also work well sprinkling several colours together but beware of using too many or it can become muddy – especially if you try to help!

I then scanned the pieces of Brusho-ed papers, it leaves a little residue on the paper which I didn’t want on this piece.

They were then cut to size, folded and joined together  gradating across the spectrum.

The finished piece was hung from the ceiling where it twists and turns in the draft.

I’ve spent part of the day moving things around in my studio, ready for the first weekend of insight (artists’open studios).

Still plenty to do, but I’ve hung my Colour Spinner. It has had a slight adjustment so that it fits – the ceiling is higher in the dining room where it normal hangs.

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The slideshow shows it during construction in my studio space at uni. It is much better to see in reality and to have a spin of it for real. My idea came from the circles of card we all played with as kids to change the effect of the colours as it spun. The first one I did was CD size and worked, but the next few experiment were total disasters, so it was a case of sorting out the technical problems before I went big. The disc is 500mm diameter and the overall length about 2.5 metres hanging. It has 24 colours changing slightly all through the visible spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet back to red.

The finished 'Colour Spinner' in my space at uni.

I’ve been making cards ready for Insight the last couple of days. They are based on the colour wheel and the effects of how we perceive  colours depending on what’s next to them.

I’m planning on doing some stitched versions of them too. Watch this space!

I’m also working on the text and the image of my Colour Spinner to go on the back of the cards, this may sound simple, but I’m still fumbling along with PhotoShop. It’s a case of two steps forward and one step back. Anything I haven’t done for a while I’m struggling to remember how to do it.

My Colour Spinner I’ll post about another day, I’ve taken a few photographs but none really show how it really looks and for best effect you need to be able to play with it for yourself.