online stitch class news

I’m going to teach online again, now that my deadlines are met and passed!  No “samplers” (not that i ever expected anyone should do only that in previous classes!), no project(s) per se, though i will give some direction with a choice of subjects–or choose your own—but a definite serious time commitment is needed from students.

class pan A

This isn’t a beginner class, though you don’t have to be an expert either. You must know basic embroidery stitches as there won’t be lessons for each stitch, however sidebars may be added for experimental use of each stitch.The biggest requirements are patience and time. I ask you too that you be familiar with editing pictures and posting to a blog. Supplies needed will be small amounts of fabric and thread, depending on your project’s size.

class pan B

Classes will be taught through a dedicated private blog, so you have to let me know which email you will be using when you purchase the class, even/especially if you have a different email for your Paypal–this will be used for your “invitation” to the blog. A great amount of administrative work goes into these classes, things you don’t see as a student, so please make it easier on me and tell me the email you will be using–there is ALWAYS a space for notes like that when using Paypal for anything.

This is a class for handwork, no machines required. It will teach you how to add more dimension and tactility to an already textural art, and to look at shape and line critically to implement design and mood. Supply list, blog invitation and pertinent info needed to start will be sent out at the end of September.

The listing for this class is now active.


Wada workshop

Our local SDA “chapter” was fortunate enough to be able to bring Yoshiko Wada in for two workshops this August end. I participated in the first one, a two day intensive Natural Dyes and Pigments class.

the best teacher

Above, Yoshiko talked about how complex — or SO simple– cloth can become with natural dyes, with so many different application processes and defined tested knowledge used. In other words, there really is no need to re-invent the wheel with the traditional methods. (Experimenting with lesser known possibly indigenous materials is a bit different and more experimental, but the basic PROCESSING workings are the same.)

And OMG i am totally enthralled and smitten by her teaching methods, her persona and her knowledge and sharing. I’ve had few such engaging teachers in my life, but she takes gets the cake! Clear explanations and actual SCIENCE, i just fell in love with her and her style :)

first day no messAbove, the first arrivals, and a very very clean and quiet room :)

And then it was abuzzz and awhirl!

the action startsYoshiko is a dynamo, though calm and focused. Soon there were dyepots bubbling, ingredients being measured and added, and a lot of curious and excited faces peering through the steam.


madder lake pot and madder dye pot

Above, two madder pots, one a lake extract, the other a dyebath. Below, Yoshiko pours the extract for lake making.

the first madder extract bath

With the classic natural dyes, we learned about madder, weld, indigo, and osage orange, first using them as dyes, then concentrating them into lakes for painting with. The indigo vats were a 123 organic and one with henna.

indigo stomp 2Above, the Indigo Stomp :) Squishing the cloth pieces between newspapers made sure that a lot of moisture was pulled out, then we all madly flapped and flailed to get the blue happening!

I hadn’t got much better results with the madder in the workshop than i got at home, so decided to overdye in indigo:


arlee indigo over exhausted madder doughnut technique C

arlee indigo over madderAlas, the photo above is wet, so i knew it would dry lighter, and BUT more “alas”, my silk hadn’t been washed properly so most of it washed out!!!!!!!!!

I was absolutely thrilled though at what an indigo dip did for an ecoprint! Yoshiko was appalled that i would sacrifice such a beautiful piece, so i tore only a small section off, suddenly realizing that if it didn’t work, i would regret it:

indigo overdyed ecoprintI wouldn’t have!!!! The chemical reaction between the indigo and the previously deposited leaf pigments made magic magic! Of course since we had talked about the colour of an indigo vat, i asked if it would be squeakingly impossibly possible to rev up a vat of my own that had frozen through two Calgary winters, but that still had a clear green liquer evident. It might!!!! I’m still looking for my chemicals long packed up since it was fresh, but i know they are in the house somewhere!

Below, Mahira’s delicate lovely shibori from the henna pot–we noted that it gave a greener blue than the 123 organic type.

mahiras delicate shibori

Then Yoshiko made real magic! She told us about Maya Blue, a mystery ingredient in South American frescoes that wasn’t properly analyzed until the 50’s. Containing sepiolite clay and a type of indigo (Indigofera suffruticosa), heat is applied to a mixture of the two, resulting in the most gorgeous aqua colour!

yoshiko making maya blue

making maya blue

Because this is a pigment, it must be “carried” using a binder–we used egg and made a tempera mix for painting on paper.

maya blue in egg tempera

I tried my small dish on silk,and stones (!) and then threw in a skein of thread.

thread maya blue 1Being a pigment, it is of course not that durable on fibre, but i still ended up with a lovely pale blue. I’d show a photo of it, but it’s lost somewhere in the stoodio!  Plenty of indigo threads to work with though once i get them untwangled:

indigo threads


Because we had also made “lakes”, more concentrated extracts from the dye baths, we each got a tiny amount of each to paint with:

my work tablebAbove are silk and linen with ferrous sulphate and gallnut.

I also used the indigo and the Maya Blue on silks and cotton:

painting with maya blue and indigo lakes

At first i was thinking “i’ll never paint fabrics”, but given my love of fine detail now and my continuing use of asemic writing, well, never say never. The technique may show up after all.

Our organizer and facilitator, the redoubtable, inimitable powerhouse Karin surreptitiously collected small pieces of work from all of us on the second day and disappeared during lunch to stitch them all into a long scroll, which she fastened to a wonderful old spool. It was presented to Yoshiko as a thank you from all of us:

the thank you scroll book

And that dress Yoshiko was wearing? That was an inspiration as well :) Naturally dyed and discharged by a friend of hers, it was gorgeous:

yoshikos dress

Due to the short time, and the number of participants, we had to content ourselves with small pieces, most being 10-15″, with some slightly larger, but that’s okay–i intend to use mine down the road somewhere as “components” in future work. Hopefully i learned enough to make up the larger backgrounds needed to base them on! Fifteen excited artists jostling for position around small dye pots could have been accidents in the making :)

I had gathered up linen, silks (twill, charmeuse and habotai) and cotton, but no wool, except for some wool yarn. (I’ve never worked with wool, and due to the short advance notice we got for supplies, was unable to source any.) A bit of needling in linen on silk over cotton– i had wanted to do more stitching first and then dye, but added threads too so i can later! I stitched this feverishly the day and night before, then realized i can do during and after class as well. Turns out i was so involved with possibilities and sampling that i totally forgot about this! But i DID get threads in…except for the wool yarn.

And nope, i won’t be sharing methods–not because i am keeping close to the chest what was done, but because the “recipes” we used are classic and easily available everywhere on REPUTABLE sites. (Don’t fall for those stoopid “kitchen scrap” dyeing sites–very few have truthful facts, or sound advice on how to or how things work.)



my work table

listenNow i really must get to doing things!


purple is on my mind

I enjoyed working with colour so much in the last piece, that i have dug through the fabrics and picked out two precious pieces of hand dyes created by my dear Deb.

fabricsI’m torn between using the yellow one as the background, or using a “natural” behind–i love both pieces above, but i also love pairing the natural and  Procion. Dilemma, dilemma! I’ll work the elements first in the forefront fabric, and then make the decision.

I’m thinking of poppies–the season, the tiny ones in my garden, the shape and lines, the evocative nature this flower has now. i *might* add the flower itself, but the pods are so sexy!

the ubiquitous poppy

This is also the piece i will be using to teach the online class i will be running at the end of September.


111 apples, and still counting

sept 10 am

sept 10

Above, first one in the morning of 4 days ago (the 10th), the second in the afternoon. On the 7th, it was 24C and gloriously sunny and green, today the 14th was 18C and gloriously sunny and green. This is why Calgary gardening is so unpredictable!


sept 14The 2 long branch sections will become fencing of a sort for a new vegetable patch next year. We cut some up for firewood for camping and Thomas the Ecoprint Cooker, picked as many apples as were good, and the last of the debris will be mulched by the city. This tree is venerated by this household and we want little to be “wasted” in whatever form!

Well, i have a LOT of sunflowers in the house now, something i normally wouldn’t do as i like them outside to pretty up the place, and to welcome the bees, and later the birds.

sept 14 veggies

sept 14 b


When you look at the tree, you can see there are literally 1000’s more–we’ll never get them all picked, because of height and because a lot of the blossom ends were invaded by wormy things. This apple tree will never again produce large apples: we figure it was probably a small variety anyways, planted some 90 years ago by the father of one of our neighbours. She remembers when she was a child and one was planted in their yard and one in ours–and she’s 90 something now herself! Over the past 5 years we have been here, we have babied, watered and fertilized and had the tree pruned professionally. The fruit is 4 times the size it was the first year we were here :) and in the spring, the blossoms and bees are stupendously spectacularly beautiful and wondrous, awesome in the truest sense of the word.

I figure there are at least 1000 apples in this bowl!

a thousand apples or more

It took me a good while and a stiff neck to cut up 111 of them.

babiesThose teeny 111 cores filled a one litre measuring cup.

one litre  equals 111 applesThe rest, the remaining picked 1000, are in the fridge for other batches, a lot of work but OH SO WORTH IT!

And oh my goodness,the prettiest pink applesauce, one litre of it, shared out over french vanilla frozen yogurt.

pretty sauceNo sugar added and it was the sweetest most perfect taste of summer becoming autumn.


We need more frozen yogurt :)


Posted by on September 14, 2014 in dangerous mouth of the rose, not so ordinaries


part 2 of wintember

i may be out of action for hours, or days in the next little while–these are going to snap and take out our power lines-our little house is 100 years old and i want to be here if anything happens!— and more of the apple tree went……..

going to snapthis weed tree (manitoba maple) will be no great loss as they’re alwasy breaking, but it does shade the yard…..and usually it stands straight up another 10-12 feet

power lines soon

my poor apple tree–tried to shake snow off the branches, but even whacking with a shovel did nothing because i just don’t have the power to smack it hard enough

the rest will go too

the 60 year old lilac too is usually tall and straight–half if it will probably go too

lilac will break soon


no more sunflowers, no dye plants

no more sun

no more sunflowers here either


no more vegetables

no more veggies




-if you’ve sent me a message, or signed up for the stitch class, please be patient, and keep your hoofies crossed!


Posted by on September 10, 2014 in not so ordinaries


(S)no(w), my dye garden may not survive…………..and stitch classes notes

In recorded history, there has not been one month where Calgary didn’t get snow………… started Monday morning, and is still falling……………..

sept 8

sept 8b

I have a lot of sunflowers in the house now…yesterday i cut half of them…this morning, i looked out to see the last of them every single one bent, cracked and broke…..

sept snow sunflowers


the weight of snow on suntoday

snow on sun b

snow on sun

And the poor 80 (90?) year old apple tree has lost a third of its branches…too much snow weight for the poor old thing to bear up under…..

broken apple b

broken apple


I harvested a few tomatoes and one more cuke the day before this hit—probably no more will survive, nor will the zucchinis or squash. I have no idea what these temperatures and the heavy load of wet snow will do to my dyeplants.

I LOVE gardening, but i get my heart broken more times than i could count, gardening in Alberta. Of the 6 “i can garden!” summers here, i have had TWO good ones–the others were hail, too much rain, more hail, cooler temps, floods………..



The registration for the Embroiderer’s Association of Canada has opened for Seminar 2015 classes—–and still no photos of the handwork i will be teaching in conjunction with Karin Millson’s part of the course, extreme machine embroidery…..


That being said, if you can’t make it to the conference, you can still take advantage of lessons from me, in adding more dimension and tactility to an already very textural art.   Registration is now open for that too :)


Posted by on September 10, 2014 in not so ordinaries


official Embroiderer’s Association of Canada announcement–and i’m teaching there

hey nice birthday present of sorts– EAC -Embroiderer’s Association of Canada has just announced the 2015 seminar, and look at this one— They don’t show my part of the class, but suffice it to say, that ours is completely different from the traditional offerings :)

official EAC announcemnet


Posted by on September 3, 2014 in embroidery, hand embroidery


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