Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wagon Wheels on the Road

The wagon wheels I refer to are buttons - namely Dorset Buttons in the wagon wheel design. I've blogged about these beautiful little buttons before - how they were created in Britain in the 17th century. Button makers in Dorset, England, became so expert and productive in making these buttons that an entire industry developed, only to collapse in the 19th century when button-making became industrialized.

Dorset Buttons, specifically the wagon wheel style pictured above, can be highly elaborate and beautiful, almost like jewelry. I love to make them. And what's best about this technique - for people who make garments - is that you can create one-of-a-kind buttons using the same yarns that you used in your garment. (I don't think it's unusual for textile nuts like me to spend hours on the Internet - even worse, wandering around JoAnn's or traveling to New York or Toronto to visit one of those wonderful stores that sell only buttons, scouring the store, and then buying only ONE button.)

They travel well, too. All you need is a plastic ring, yarn, a tapestry needle, and embroidery scissors. And beads, if you choose. All of which can fit into a purse.

On the road back and forth to Philly to visit family for Passover, I practiced my buttony. (That's what the British call it. Sounds British, doesn't it?)

Here's my favorite.

This one was made using beading thread: Micro C-Lon Cord, in purple (doesn't show up well in the photo), orange, and chartreuse, along with matching seed beads. If you look closely at the photo, you may be able to see that the purple beads and the orange beads are iridescent, which I really like.

Here's another wagon wheel. This uses hand-dyed 20/2 spun silk yarn in navy and fuchsia. I embellished it with French knots in pale pink silk. Flowers for spring!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wool, Silk, Stainless Steel, and a Bad Cold...

For the past nine days -- nine days! -- I've had that cold everybody's complaining about. I've been out of the house twice for my job and, well, to look for my own shadow, like Punxsutawney Phil.

Staying home can be great, however, if you keep at your fiber work. So I've completed and/or photographed a lot of pieces that are now posted on Etsy. The scarf above -- I call it my "Taos Pueblo Scarf" -- plays with colors of adobe brick and pale turquoise, using two different fabrics.

The base fabric is a scarf of wool and silk, a blank purchased from Dharma, which I dyed in aqua, then overdyed in brick, and then shibori-folded and clamped and immersed in a discharge vat.

The upper layer is a machine-knitted scarf in wool/stainless steel that I purchased from Habu Textiles in Manhattan. (It's a really fine yarn, 70% wool and 30% stainless steel -- just one of the many wonderful fibers you'll find at Habu. If you don't know about this supplier, you need to! Click here:

Honestly, I wasn't really pleased with the wool/silk base scarf on its own -- when, to my delight, I realized that the knitted scarf matched it really well. I sewed the two layers together, using a zigzag stitch on my machine, tracing the shibori patterns on the base scarf, like so:

This scarf is one of my favorites! But so is the single layer, using just the stainless steel/wool. Here's what it looks like, on its own, machine-knitted using a knit 5, slip 3 pattern:

When you stretch this scarf, it stays in place, creating a wonderful crimped and lacy effect.

I hope to publish more posts soon, highlighting some recent work and upcoming classes. Thanks for visiting!

What's on the Loom?

More accurately, what's going on the loom? At this writing, I'm in the process of winding on a painted warp for a Jin design on 28 ...