If only I could focus …

My husband loves to point out that I am sporadic when it comes to my hobbies. I go for weeks, even months at a time focused on one hobby, only to let that interest erode into another hobby after I get bored. I think he believes that I do this for fun or something, but I can assure him – and you – that is not the case. In almost every instance, sudden inspiration strikes me and off I go down another rabbit trail.

But there are two hobbies that are constant for me – if not my focus, they are things that I cannot get out of my blood, and trust me, I’ve tried. I sold off a good bit of my sewing equipment (including two machines I kick myself daily for letting go) trying to pare down my hobby obsession. You can see how well that worked out. And I went several years without a camera, but as soon as I was able to purchase one, I had one and was shooting photos regularly. Interspersed in between those two hobbies, I also dabble in genealogy, needlework, fabric dyeing, reading, and various other things on an “ad hoc” basis. Here’s the thing … I don’t particularly enjoy this hobby ADD from which I suffer.

I would LOVE to be one of those people who have one love, one focus that they share with everyone. I’m just not that type of person, and I’ve come to accept and even embrace that about myself. I have come to realize that a lot of my jumping around has to do with things like time of the year, weather conditions, and yes, even my state of mind. For example, my favorite times to pick up my camera and get out to shoot are from mid-September through the end of April. In Texas, in the summer, it’s just too darn hot to get out and do much shooting. But by the same token, in the winter months, it gets dark so early that I turn to quilting more than you’d think. And lately, I’ve just not been all that inspired to get out and shoot. Maybe it’s because of the heat, or maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve pretty much shot most of what’s around here that I find interesting … you gotta admit, there’s only so much you can do with hay bales, cows and open spaces, not to mention how limiting the suburbs can be. And gasoline prices are a bit high to go out just driving around all day to find interesting things to shoot, which is what I used to do when gas was less than $2/gallon. Texas is a HUGE state, and Houston a GIANT city, so it takes me a long time to get away from this area to find anything new.

And that is why I have been spending so much time on quilting lately. I really wish I could be more focused there, turning out a quilt a month (or more!) like some of the other bloggers I see. I also think sometimes I would like to be the type of blogger that does tutorials and give aways all the time, but that’s not me either, or so I think. Maybe it could be, if I was more focused on just one hobby, but that will never happen. I learned my lesson over the last 18 months, when I sold my sewing machine I loved so much and decided to stop quilting. To be fair, I hadn’t quilted at that point in quite some time, but just a short time after getting rid of the machine, I was bitten by the quilting bug again. Lesson learned, and I will keep all my hobby equipment even if I don’t use it for an extended period of time.

But maybe my hobby schizophrenia only bothers me – I have managed to garner nearly 30 subscribers to my blog here, and that says either that people like that I can’t focus on just one thing, or maybe it’s just that they feel sorry for me. I’ve been writing here for just over a year, so maybe that’s not a great following, but I’ve also been a pretty inconsistent blogger for most of that time. Maybe if I can manage to keep posting at regular intervals, I can garner more followers …

What I do know is that I cannot be the only person like me out there. There has to be others out there who are not so focused, so single mindedly efficient as to have blogs that focus on just one topic. I’ve tried, and failed, to maintain blogs like that – where all I discuss is my photography, or my quilting, or my life in general, and they’ve never worked out for me. This blog has done a darn good job of being my “everything” … maybe it’s more like a journal than a blog, because I write about whatever interests me in the moment. And I’m ok with that … I’ll embrace my hobby ADD, schizophrenia or whatever you want to call it and keep on moving. That lack of focus may put some folks off, but I know there are people like me in the world. Maybe they are the ones following my blog, and maybe not, but I know they exist.

Dye run complete

So this dye run is complete and I’ve realized a couple of things.

  1. Dharma Trading Company never seems to have a bad dye color. I think I could love them all, given the chance!
  2. I really need to do gradations in the future when I do a dye run
  3. I need to allow several days for dyeing fabric instead of thinking I can start in the morning and by done by the evening. That NEVER happens. In this case, the fabric sat for two days in dye solution before I could get it rinsed out and washed. I don’t do this because it affects the color process; I do it because I get busy with life and don’t get back to it for a couple of days. Most of the dye solution is activated in a couple of hours, so I could probably get very similar results if I rinsed and washed after two to three hours in the dye.

Here are the results from this dye run …

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From top to bottom, they are Chocolate Brown, Cardinal Red, Grape, Garibaldi, Amethyst, Rust Orange, Ivory and Avocado. I am really pleased with everything except the Ivory, which looks more yellow-orange in person than ivory, but that might be because I used too much dye powder. I will do some further testing on this one to see if I can something closer to a true ivory color. Each of these have varying degrees of marbling, as they were dyed in zip-top bags without much agitation, but I think that I may try a couple of them in buckets with agitation every 10 – 15 minutes, to see if I can pull a more even color.

There’s nothing special in my technique – I used 1/2 TBSP dye powder mixed with a cup of hot water which I poured over the fat quarter that was already in the zip-top bag. I then added 2 TBSP of soda ash solution to the bag and closed it, being sure to press out the air as much as possible. Then, I agitated for one minute in the bag, gently. I used Hefty zip top bags and I will not use them for this purpose again because dye exploded from a couple of the bags when I agitated them – every single bag leaked at least a little at the zipper. I don’t have the same problem with Glad Zip-Loc bags, so I will be using them in the future.

Overall, I’m happy with the dye run, and a couple of these (grape and girabaldi) will be incorporated into a baby quilt I’m making right now. I’ll post photos when I have some ready. 🙂

Now I’m off to work on that quilt … See ya later!

 

Lazy Sunday

Today I’m doing a dye run. I received five new colors from Dharma Trading Company that I ordered earlier this week and I’m trying them out. I’ve never done this before – usually I just throw caution to the wind and dye a yard or more of fabric, but today I’m doing a test run using fat quarters. I’m doing this because a) I want to recreate colors I like, and b) I need to start a dye journal (see reason a).

I’m not really what you’d call an experienced dyer – I’ve done some dyeing but not enough to be “great” nor anything more than a novice really. I’ve had some good luck with colors, and results, but nothing I can duplicate if I want to … mostly because I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants, and I haven’t kept records of how I achieved any of the success I’ve had so far. Well, enough of that!

I’m not really sure what it is about dyeing fabric that I enjoy so much – maybe it’s the process, or the control … no, it really cannot be the control, because at this point, I lack control over my finished product. That’s why I’ve decided that a journal might be my best bet … I am making notes of the amount of fabric, dye, and water, along with any other additives, to which I will attach a swatch of fabric once it’s completed.

I have realized, however, that my master bathroom is not suitable for dyeing fabric. I have access to water, but not a good sized spout (the height on the bathroom sink is the problem) so I’m going to have to take it all back downstairs – I’ve tried several times to make it work and it’s always a hassle. In my dream home, with my dream studio, there will be a “wet” studio and a “dry” studio … I really need to win the lottery. /sigh

I’ll post photos of the dye jobs once I have completed them. I just hope the results are post-worthy!

Fabric Dyeing!

A while back, I began to realize that I’ve gotten away from my own quilting style, but I wasn’t really sure why. I set about trying to figure out what has happened to make me change the way I choose fabrics, and after a couple of trips to some local quilt shops (LQS) I understood what was happening. In short, I’m less than pleased with the current selection of fabrics. That’s not to say I don’t like any of the fabrics – I did see some that I really liked. The problem is more, trying to come up with fabrics to go with the ones that I like; it just wasn’t happening for me. So I decided to get creative. Enter, fabric dye!

I’ve been messing around with a few colors that came in a kit from Dharma Trading Company, as well as some Procion dyes I picked up from a local art store, and I have to admit that I’m pretty happy with these preliminary test runs. In almost every case, I was able to get beautiful, vibrant colors with a minimum of fuss.

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These will end up in a quilt at some point – they are my “test subjects.” 🙂 And now, I think I’m totally hooked on fabric dyeing …