Friday, 6 November 2015

Gwlana 2015 Part Two: Wanting to Turn the World Blue. . .

It was extremely grey and damp yesterday and my thoughts turned towards blue skies, cocooning and crafting, so it was a good time to reflect on some of the ideas/projects that came out of my recent Gwlana retreat.

I was so excited about all the different techniques and so eager to try them all, that I went a little crazy (read clumsy and haphazard) with my tea towel and napkins, instead of methodically trying to work out a proper pattern. The end result was that taken as a whole, each dyed piece of fabric didn't look that great, but there were little patches where I quite like the final result. These lines for example, were formed by wrapping the tea towel around a pole and then tying it tightly with cotton string.

What did turn out well were my individual solid charm squares in various shades of blue and beige.  So at about 10pm on the Saturday night as I laid everything out on the bed, I was inspired to start madly cutting up the best bits of my tea towel and napkins into squares to add to my dyed ones.  Originally intending to do a 40 square wall hanging, I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide on the perfect layout before realizing that many of my squares were just too pale to fit nicely with the tone of the darker ones.  In the end, I found a nice 5 x 5 combination that I was happy with.  It was now midnight and I really should have gone to bed but instead, I started hand sewing the squares together. This is the finished piecing and yes, I realize some of the squares don't line up that neatly, but somehow it seemed okay at two in the morning. At any rate,it's a great souvenir of the weekend.

The plan is to use my dyed cotton yarn to weave a backing and border for this wall hanging and then to quilt it.  I'm quite happy with my dyed scarf. Most of the other participants meticulously ironed theirs; I crumpled it up and stitched a few chevrons on the edges.  This photo isn't great at showing all the depth of blue shadows that resulted, but they are there.

On the Sunday morning, we all had a bit of a show and tell and I couldn't resist taking some snaps of the other participants's work.  It just goes to show the endless possibilities both of pattern and colour.

But see that cotton skein below in four different shades of blue?  I was chuffed when Alison asked me (trusted me really) to dye it for her.  She wanted four distinct shades; I'm going to do something similar when I set up an indigo dye bath in the back yard next summer.  Yes, I will do it!  It's so much fun.  I also love her napkin pattern - those white marks look like knitted stitches.

We were asked to bring a man's white dress shirt to dye.  Monday morning's class was all about turning a man's shirt into something more feminine by cutting away the stiffer parts around the collar, button bands and cuffs, changing the shape and reusing discarded bits. We also learned about the Japanese boro - the art of mending with decorative stitches.  I love the look of Sarah's shirt when she unstitched the darts.

Catherine used reverse applique on the back of her shirt, using bits of her silk scarf. I think it looks amazing.

Here's my shirt in progress. I shortened the sleeves and will use the dyed cuffs as tabs to keep the sleeves rolled up. I removed the stiff interfacing from the collar which I had dipped in the dye bath and I cut away part of the tail of the shirt at the back.  That material which is dyed the darkest will form a pocket.  I also added some darts on the front of the shirt and purposely made them visible.

This was a really fun project and I really need to finish it off - I should have the perfect work shirt for next summer's dyeing.

It was a great and productive weekend.  I met so many interesting and inspiring people from all over the UK, one woman from Minnesota and another from Switzerland.  And it was so refreshing to be able to take out the needles whenever I wanted; we knitted at breakfast, during workshops, at lunch, in the pub, watching Downton Abbey on Sunday night - my fingers actually were quite sore by the end of it, especially as I got quite a lot of knitting done on the train ride home too.  But it was so marvellous to be able to completely absorb myself in creativity and craft for five days and to share that enthusiasm with a group of like-minded obsessives.  The next Gwlana will take place in May 2016 - a different location and set-up, but it should be as equally enjoyable.  More information as it becomes available will be posted here.

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