Simple Stitches that Surprise: French Knots

What would we do without the French Knot? Throughout this series of simple but surprising embroidery stitches, the French Knot awaits in the wings for its glamour shot. And here it is.

What a difference that pop of orange color makes when you scatter French Knots between the spikes of the Fern Stitch! I’m using a size 12 Oranges thread that gives high contrast with the green background to liven up the design.

The lower parts of my design are stitched and I’m moving on to the upper part. It was so entertaining making up stitch combinations and playing with color, pattern, and texture using thread. Stay tuned to see what I have in store!

Loose Threads at the Fine Line

It’s so wonderful to have a local arts center! The Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, IL has offered encouragement and support to artisans for decades. Classes include weaving, ceramics, jewelry making, painting, and more. They also have a gift shop and gallery.

The Kavanaugh Gallery at the Fine Line offers about four different exhibits each year. And on October 12 the exhibit, Not Your Mother’s Quilt, opens with an artist’s reception from 6 -8 pm. I plan to be there along with my entry (above), Loose Threads.

These three silk baskets hold thread ravels from fabric and stitching thrums collected over decades. They are a reminder of all the colorful textiles that pass through my hands. Gathering these loose threads together gives me great joy and connects me to my artistic life.

Dyeing for Color

Here is what I do to make my art. I dye. I iron. I cut. I sew. We are now at the dyeing stage of my artwork. For the next few weeks, I’m dyeing thread for the Artfabrik shop and myself.

My list consists of 31 Artfabrik colorways to dye. The process begins with taking an inventory of the size 8 and 12 pearl cotton threads needed to restock the Artfabrik shelves. Then I begin the process of mixing Procion MX dye powders with water to make the dye stock. (Remember to put the lid on the blender!)

Next is painting the white pearl cotton threads. Each colorway has its own color sequence. (This one is called October Fest.) Sometimes I mix the basic dye stock colors together to get a secondary color. At other times I dilute the dye stock with water to achieve a lighter value of the color. It’s a lot of measuring and whining when I get it wrong.

Then there is the whining about washing them out by hand. It’s a bad idea to throw thread into the washing machine to rid it of excess dye. I know, because I’ve tried it.

So the thread is washed by hand. I collect buckets of water from the washer as I wash clothes or fabric using that water for the initial rinse of the threads. After 5-15 buckets of water or so, I can use clean water to rinse it out. This is usually my morning work out.

The thread bundles must air dry before I begin to twist and label each skein. So you see, dyeing can take weeks. But the colors are worth it!