I have often thought how lucky we braiders (and rug hookers) are in that we can pick up our projects with just a few minutes to spare and do a little more, enjoy a little more. Unlike pottery which is messy and needs a commitment of certain time. I have encouraged new braiders to look for a designated place in their homes where they can devote to their braiding so that it is out, visible and ready for those few minutes to spare.
Well, now that I have gotten into dyeing (first wool, but lately more and more stretch velvet) that is not the case. Unless we have dyeing studios (lucky few), we dyers take over spaces for periods of time. I had been dyeing velvet outside on the back porch since I don’t usually use the stove for velvet but do need multiple plugs for the assorted frypans, crockpots, prestopots, etc. which I use in the dyeing. And water to rinse.
This weekend was stormy in California and so I decided to use the kitchen as I used to when I dye wool. I will blame my husband who was watching at least 10 football games in the same room, fixing a sardine(!) sandwich in ‘my dye kitchen’ then cleaning up etc. that made the dye experience less than pleasant. Perhaps it was also that I did not have enough velvet and am running out of dye AND had a small commission to try to dye some velvet for a hooking friend to hook car chrome silver, not as easy as it sounds. So I frenetically dyed, did all the cleanup and dried the dyed velvet.
I had an epiphany in the middle of the night: why not commander the unused upstairs bathroom for my dyeing…not permanently but could keep it set up for several days at least. Water in the sink, not a deep sink but will work; 4 plugs; and next to my upstairs laundry room for drying. So I checked it out with the sardine eater who I am sure is happy he won’t be barked at in the dye bathroom like yesterday in the dye kitchen and I began moving a card table and dye things upstairs.
I wasn’t too pleased with some of what I dyed yesterday, so set up some reds, yellows, browns in two pots and redyed some patches for an autumn hooked/braided piece I will start soon. It was wonderful!
Here are a couple of the pieces I dyed and a hat I am braiding from hand dyed velvet for a friend who loves hats. Velvet of course is not sturdy enough to use exclusively for walked on rugs but gives a unique shimmery contrast to wool in hooked and braided mats, baskets, hangings, etc. I have used velvet sparingly in floor rugs for emphasis and it is wearing well. Hooking and braiding only velvet is special too and can show off the randomness or patterns of the dyeing. Maybe it is my pharmacist background but I love dyeing!
I am giving a class at the Valley Forge Braid In in May called
Venturing into Velvet with the project a basket braided from hand-dyed velvet. Check out the website or contact me for information.