textiles · exploration · misadventure


Please Let the Blue Wash Out

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When I started my first rumpled project, I initially marked all the stitching lines with yellow chalk. By the time I’d stitched four or five rows, the chalk was wearing off. A few stitched rows more, and I had to re-chalk.

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So, when I marked this light-colored wool in blue, I figured it would rub off as I stitched, and what was left would easily wash out.

oxalis-dyed hand-stitched wool

Well, it didn’t rub off. Not on this grabby wool, the opposite of slick and slippery new cotton. And I got to a point where I wanted to ignore the markings and just freehand the stitching, but I couldn’t see the design for all the blue.

oxalis-dyed hand-stitched wool

The problem is, you CAN’T scrub wool roughly. You CAN’T soap it up and rub it against itself to get a stain out. Because water, soap, and agitation are three of four ingredients of felting (the fourth being heat).

oxalis-dyed hand-stitched wool

And even just rubbing wool gently can cause it to pill, especially with softer wools like Merino or Cormo. Sometimes picking off the pills can affect the structure of the fabric—pucker it, or weaken it. Other times the pills separate easily, without detriment. Hard to know which will happen.

oxalis-dyed hand-stitched wool

Well. It took patience, and slow and careful cleaning, but I got it out. It did pill a little, but I was able to pick them off without bad effect. And it did not felt.

oxalis-dyed hand-stitched wool

There has been nothing in my life,ever, that has built my practice of patience like working on textiles.

oxalis-dyed hand-stitched wool

Here she is, blue washed out, ready for a little more freehand stitching. She’s wet, and hanging on a line outside, so the sun is shining through her and bringing out more golds and ambers than are visible when she’s dry.

Beastly grease stains still top center and left.

But she’s nevertheless a beauty, and I love her.

She’ll rest a while, while I figure out what’s next.