– Triangulation: The last word

Jude Hill has been talking about measuring in her Small Journeys on Spirit Cloth … or more accurately, about not measuring. About trusting the process and one’s own internal measure.

Which makes sense. When you think about it, we’re all pretty good at measure. Think of tipping your head while looking at a picture on the wall and saying, “That’s not quite level” … then confirming it with a level, as if you really needed it.
For years I have reveled in clean-the-fridge cooking, where there always seems to be the right amount needed for a pasta or a salad, a soup or a sandwich. I made bread at my daughter’s recently and there was just enough bread flour in the bag for what I needed. I love it when that happens.
But it takes practice to trust one’s gut, to accept the unexpected, to internalize the measure of things.
And so … Triangulation was a huge leap of faith for me. Made without measuring, without a plan … strips of cloth torn and woven together … then stitched and stitched and stitched again until its integrity was sure in my hand … then wrapped around a piece of stuffing that had been free-cut from an old body-length pillow months before … finally safety pinned and ladder stitched together.
Resting at last on the couch, a-side …

or b-side, depending on how it falls …
The top seam more obvious …
the back seam less so (it’s the second from the right) …

There is much to be said for not measuring.

– The passage of time

As James Taylor says, “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time” … whether it’s flying by when spending it with loved ones or dragging by when you’re waiting for news or a special day.

So my solution to waiting for the latest dye trial results was to go out of town. It was worth it in every way imaginable …
Of course, the best part of waiting was visiting the grands in Missouri …
Followed by coming back to our Texas grandson …

But getting to the dye results was definitely a little less sweet. I hadn’t capped the jars tightly enough, so leakage and mold happened over the course of ten days …

Rinsing off the decomposed plant matter was akin to what I imagine a dental hygienist experiences on a really bad day. Definitely not for the weak of stomach! But the results were pretty cool, some more so than others of course (this photo was taken following a preliminary rinse in warm tap water) …
Mordants from left to right (note: all the cloth was pre-mordanted in soy milk, kept overnight in the fridge then rinsed):
  • Copper
  • Alum
  • Iron
Dyestuffs from top to bottom:
  • Lichen (windfall Parmotrema austrosinense)
  • Mealy blue sage (wild Salvia farinacea)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Salvia amistad and S. greggi
  • Red cabbage
  • Red and yellow onion skins

My favorite? The alum mordanted Salvia amistad …

Oh, and I almost forgot! Here’s the B-side of Triangulation, now fully reinforced and worth every extra stitch, although the front looks virtually the same as before (which is why I haven’t shown the A-side here) …

The final reveal will probably be in pillow form, but only time will tell.

– Dyeing to peek

Well, I’m trying dyeing again, inspired by India Flint’s Bundle Book (which I bought in digital form) …

this time using 14″ squares of unbleached cotton muslin soaked in store-bought soy milk (I blush), dried overnight, rinsed and spun through the washer until  just damp.
I laid various dyestuffs (listed below) across the middle of each muslin square …
folded over one-third of the muslin and laid out a second layer of material …

folded it over yet again ..

rolled snugly …
then wrapped each bundle in cotton or wire (detailed below) …
The dyestuffs I’m using this time are fresh rosemary (shown above), dried red and yellow onion skins (combined), chopped red cabbage, windfall lichen (Parmotrema austrosinense), mealy blue sage (wild Salvia farinacea) …
and a combination of cultivated Salvia amistad and S. greggi from Don’s garden beds … 

I made three packets of each dyestuff, then wrapped them in either copper wire, steel wire or crochet cotton. 

The copper wire bundles went into a copper pot with untreated well water from our outdoor tap. The smell of sulfur from our 900′ well is unbelievable and I’m hoping there will be a chemical reaction with the copper. After simmering the bundles for just over an hour some blue is starting to show …
After a couple of hours, I’ll put the copper bundles and the sulfur-rich steeping water into canning jars with used tea bags and seal them up.
The steel wire wrapped bundles have already been put into canning jars with boiling tap water, used tea bags and fine steel wool. However, after one hour the color got so dark (see below right) that I chickened out and removed the steel wool (leaving a small bit behind, no doubt).
Finally, the cotton wrapped bundles were put into a solution of boiling tap water and pickling alum (1 tsp. per canning jar) along with the obligatory tea bags, which are also starting to show color (below left) …
Now the question is, can I keep my hands off of the dye trials for at least a week?
Fortunately, I have a plan. Having finished the kantha stitching on Triangulation

I’m now “design mending” (a Jude Hill term) by invisibly basting strips of cloth onto the back along the intersections since the original cloth weaving strips don’t meet closely enough …
I started design mending with dyed sheeting, then decided to switch over to muslin for the remainder

It’s gonna take a while …

The bottom shows a 1″ strip of muslin invisibly basted across the length of the cloth
which will be the method used for the remainder of the design mending

But my reward for finishing will be the dye trial reveal. Motivation times two!