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1000 Yards of Fabric Looks Like This:

Hundreds of yards of PFD fabrics


The FedEx Ground guy stopped by the house today and delivered my winter’s work. It’s 500 yards each of Pimatex and Kona in PFD bleach white. For comparison, if this was on 15-yard bolts, there’d be 67 of them.
The next step – moving them to the storeroom on the third floor. And if you wonder – the three boxes these came in weighed 341 pounds all together. Who needs a gym membership?!
PS – praying for snow next!

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400 yards in 30 Days – ????

Monday I did something I have never done before – I ordered ten pounds of dye powders from Pro Chemical. Only eleven different colors – I got two pounds of two of the colors, and eight ounces or one pound of the rest. I’m about to embark on a solid adventure – dyeing 400 yards of fabric in about a month.
Now, lest you think I’m completely out of my mind, I’m not talking about dyeing 400 different colors. To give you a little perspective, I’m starting with just twenty colors – ten yards of each. For inspiration, and to help me narrow down my choices, I went to the Robert Kaufman Kona (R) color story page, and picked summer, ’cause it’s on its way. That group is shown at right. Then I thinned that down to just the twenty colors that I’ll be dyeing. That’s my first, firm goal – 200 yards. And, as projects involving color often do, the concept has grown. Since I’m going to mix up those 20 colors, if I mix up just a little more than what I need for ten really saturated yards, I’ll be able to dye the same colors in a lighter value. So the next couple days will be spent preparing and documenting my progress – and getting some orders filled as well.
Sue Reno’s project “52 Ways to Look at the River” has inspired me to track and share what I’m doing, plus it adds a degree of accountability. If I know people are watching, I’m going to have to keep at it! I hope you’ll follow along – and comment on the blog. I’m going to give something away — but I’m keeping that under my hat. #400yds30days

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End, or beginning of the year musings

Well, I promised Morna, my coach, that I’d put my CEO hat on and think about where I’m headed with DippyDyes. To inspire me, I took a look a look at her blog, and posts tagged planning, found here. One of the ideas mentioned includes focusing on a word for the year.* So for now I’m writing down every odd, inspirational word that comes to me, and later I’ll be selectively surfing synonyms. Did I mention I like alliteration?

Itty-bitty socks

Work in the studio recently has been on Christmas presents, so I can’t post pictures until they are delivered and opened. I do have a lot of adorable baby socks to dye too – it might be a good time to plop them into soda ash solution to soak. Probably one size at a time would be smart! I also have a couple pieces of fabric being hand-stitched ahead of dye or discharge work, and I have been having way too much fun looking at inspirations on Pinterest. Take a look here if you like, and if you have work that you have made, I’d love to see it. I have a board for quilts and one for dye classes, and I love to see what happens after you leave my booth or my class, so send me a picture and be immortalized, at least in the DippyDyes manner!
 A long time ago I realized that I did a lot of my dyeing in January, and I suspect it’s to battle post-holiday depression. This year that will be a good thing, because I need a lot of nifty new work for the February and March shows. I have a file labeled ‘Dye Ideas’ and it has 78 notes in it. I won’t soon run out of work direction. And I’m going to block out a ‘pulling out all the stops’ session on my calendar now! That also means I should do some cooking in advance, or dinner will end up not happening.
One thing we’ve been doing at home that has shown up in the newsletter but not here on the blog is working on our kitchen. I’m thrilled to announce that my 1985 refrigerator is gone off the porch, and its replacement is actually indoors. Woo-hoo! The cabinets aren’t finished and there are no counters, but they are coming. Thursday I spent almost all day shopping – and not for presents. Well, one present. I need to settle on the laminate color for the countertop, in- and under-cabinet lighting, some plumbing decisions, backsplash material and color and make sure everything goes with the paint and the brand-new 18-year-old green sinks.

Interesting combination of textures seen on a recent walk

Well, enough rambling – I’ve somehow gotten away from thinking business-centered thoughts. If I don’t write again this month, I hope the holidays are wonderful for everyone, and that you have a super New Year!
*Finding a word for the year led me astray, naturally, to discover that a word that originated in 1957 like I did is oenophile. Sometimes too apt, but mostly I’m an oenophan. And did you know that droid and frenemy originated in the 50s’ too? Check out this link: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2013/12/oed-birthday-words/ for more information.

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Making changes

A fabric I thought was amazing, and so did someone in New Jersey!

Well, I’ve been thinking about the business of DippyDyes a lot recently. That’s because of the coaching, and a side trip learning about ‘My Why’. There seems to me that there’s a lot of overlap between the why and a mission statement, so here’s what that looks like as of today (updated 10/30/14):

As DippyDyes, I promise to make amazing hand-dyed fabrics for you that I’d love to keep for myself. (Sometimes I wave goodbye to my fabrics when they find a new home.) I will make unique fabrics that will speak to you, that fulfill your wildest fabric dreams, that are colorfast and made of the highest quality greige goods available, and that you’ll be proud to incorporate in your own amazing work. I’m crazy nuts about dyeing and because I really enjoy all the steps in the processes I use, it makes me happy to make these creations for you.
Thanks very much for looking – it would be great to hear what you think! – Lisa
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Mixed news, mostly good

Well, where to start? The big news – the Kickstarter campaign was a success, and my first coaching call happens next Tuesday! I’ve been shaking things up around here in preparation – it’s time to get

One thing I realized in writing this post is that I share different information on different sites. One thing that never made it to the blog is that I entered two works for jurying into “Material Matters” at the Union Street Gallery in Chicago. Neither was accepted, but that means I have them here when I speak to the Denton, Maryland Heartland Quilters tonight. Here’s the new work:

Impaired

One thing that’s not too visible is the needle felted distressing on the fabric. This was an upsetting (or distressing – grin) work for a lot of boring reasons, but it was also fun to make. Nothing like focusing on process to get through the tough stuff.

detail, Impaired

And I’m working on stenciled painted polka dots on a polyester organza for a wedding gown. Sounds nutty, but the piece I’ve finished so far is fun! Using paint is a little outside my usual comfort zone, and using black paint on white fabric requires real diligence in the cleanliness department! So far, so good.

And we’re getting ready here for the show in Oaks, PA. If you haven’t signed up for my mailing list, click here, or follow the link at the upper right, and you’ll receive a coupon to use at Oaks in the next newsletter. Preregistration ends tomorrow, 9/5, and is available online. I’m teaching the pipe wrapping class again, on Friday afternoon – it would be great if you could join us! And I will be teaching next March at the Mancuso shows, so I have been working on samples for those classes.
Show and tell at pipe-wrapping class

We’re also returning to Chautauqua, New York at the end of the month. The day we head home is our 35th wedding anniversary – where did the time go?! There will be another newsletter and coupon for that, so click the sign-up link if you’re not already on the list.

One thing that has resulted from the Kickstarter campaign – I have folks coming here to dye. Candy will be here for a week to play, and Gail will be here the following Monday. Margaret and I have yet to set a date. I’m so looking forward to all of those visits! 

Now I need to stick price tags on some items before they go with me to Maryland. Thanks very much for reading!

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Home again, and some news

Last night I spoke at the meeting of the Berry Basket Quilters in Medford, NJ. My usual speaking engagement is a trunk show, starting with some early quilts, and ending with the latest quilt in the works, with lots of hand-dyed fabric in between. It was fun, because I can always talk dyeing!

PA Guild of Craftsmen logo

My friend Karin is in the guild, and I stayed the night with her, and we talked quilting, fabric and dyeing most of the time we were awake. I also spoke about my business and the recent craft show experience. One goal with a real deadline was applying for state-wide juried status with the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. So, the deadline is tomorrow, November 15, and I got my submission done today! And, by the way, I have already been juried at the Lehigh Valley Chapter level.
One of the quilts I am submitting for jurying is not currently in my hands. It is with Shannon Shirley, and it is going to be included in an upcoming book to be published by Schiffer Publishing. But if I am selected for the jurying session (no guarantees) I’ll be able to get the quilt here in time. And the really cool part is that Shannon told me it will be included in the exhibit at the upcoming Quiltfest Destination Savannah in the end of March, 2014. Keep your eyes open for it, and I’ll post a picture of it on this site when the exhibit is unveiled.

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Vision?

How do you work? Do you spend time planning and thinking about your art, or do you just dive in? Do you make samples or studies for larger pieces, or plot it out ahead?
Since I have two months before the next quilt is due, I’d like to invest some time in the process. By nature I’m not introspective, don’t journal, don’t read for inspiration; this post is as introspective as I’m ever likely to get. My work is created for me to enjoy the process and for the finished piece to make me, and hopefully others, happy. There’s no meaning or message to be found. I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry if that makes me shallow – some of us are owls, and others are goldfinches. (That link is a great image of a goldfinch that’s copyrighted. You should go take a look.)
OK, I’ve run out of introspection for now – maybe this has helped me focus on the next quilt.

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Another experiment, craft show & Coursera

I’ve been working on the quilt that’s due on November 15 (no pictures until later), and today I went to the local chapter craft show and took pictures of other vendors booths, and had a good chat with a number of the vendors. This was first thing on Sunday, when it wasn’t too busy. I’ll lose any potential fans/friends out there if I hit them when they’re busy with customers.
Here is a picture of my resist experiment on polyester faille:
PB040033
It compares thickened disperse dye with no resist on the right, and with the following resists (from top to bottom) on the left: print paste, laundry starch, blue school glue and wax. I was very surprised by how little the print paste resisted the dye, and by how much the starch acted as a resist.
Finally, here’s the results of my homework assignment. I asked several groups of on-line friends, and the members of my quilt guild to finish the following statement:
A gizmo that helps feed fabric into my machine would . . . .
Then I organized the results and submitted them according to the assignment guidelines.
The feed guide improves material handling
The feed guide can be adjusted to hold various seam widths in relation to the needle
The feed guide keeps seams at a consistent width
The feed guide shields my fingers from the needle
The feed guide aligns the edges of multiple layers
The feed guide keeps the layers from shifting
The feed guide trims loose thread and provides a clean edge
The feed guide presses out wrinkles as it feeds
The feed guide feeds layers of fabric equally
The feed guide flattens out ruffles as they are fed into the machine
The feed guide keeps long, pinned seams from getting tangled up before they get to the feed dogs
The feed guide keeps the weight and bulk of the project off my lap
The feed guide keeps the fabric running straight
The feed guide will not allow the edge of whatever I am feeding into the machine to get caught up on the presser foot or anything else
The feed guide reduces frustration with fabric
The feed guide enables sewing a truly straight line
The feed guide keeps the fabric entering under the foot straight
The feed guide keeps fabric at an even tension
The feed guide works with one layer of fabric
The feed guide works with many layers of fabric
The feed guide prevents lighter fabrics from jamming in the dogs
The feed guide ensures an even stitch length
The feed guide is well made
The feed guide is stable
The feed guide is see-through
The feed guide sets up easily
The feed guide is lightweight
The feed guide is available in many colors
The feed guide packs easily for portability
The feed guide will not damage the needle or machine if hit by the needle
The feed guide donates a portion of sales proceeds to charity
The feed guide can be returned to position very quickly
The feed guide works with different types of machines
The feed guide works with a sewing machine or serger
The feed guide works with different brands of machines
The feed guide works with different size machines
The feed guide stands on the same surface as the machine
The feed guide will not interfere with electronic machines
The feed guide works with cabinet-mounted machines
The feed guide acts as a third arm / third hand
The feed guide fits all the way up to the needle
The feed guide works with single- or double-needle setups
The feed guide works with straight stitches
The feed guide works with wide stitches, such as zig-zag
The feed guide doesn’t damage the machine when installed
The feed guide works with different types of fabric
The feed guide works with different thicknesses of fabric
The feed guide works with fabrics with different surfaces (slick, napped)
The feed guide works with dissimilar fabrics
Thank you very much to everyone who gave me their input!

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Feedback from one reader

The author of this ran out of characters in the comment option, so she has given me permission to post her words here. All I can say is ‘wow.’
Lisa- I applaud your choice to put voice to your considerations. Before I chime in, can you bear with my story? It will illustrate WHY I am going to give you the opinion that I do….I was, until Sept of 2006 a police officer, mother of 8 and 9 year old boys, and a quilter – oh yeah, wife too. :0)
Thanks to a 19 year old I tried to arrest for his 4th (? can’t remember) OWI, we ended up on the ground, and I ended up with 5 back surgeries: spinal fusions and now, a morphine pump. In one year, I went from being 145 lbs at 5’9”, running 5 mi a day, weight lifting etc, to a complete, bedridden invalid, unable to quilt for over a year, or care for myself. That was Dec 2006. Now, with a morphine (internal) pump, I can quilt for 60 to 90 min at a time, if I am lucky.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to buy $750.00 worth of dye/supplies for $145.00. My DH was upset, as we are middle class and I cannot work, no $ coming in etc. I thought dyeing would force me through the pain and give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning (which it does). I also hoped, in time, it would make me stronger (which, apparently, it will not). I also wanted to learn to dye so that I could make the colors for my art quilts, now that I cannot afford to buy the fabric.
My DH applied immense pressure for me to make money through dyeing. In the beginning, I was dyeing for the masses. I was physically straining myself because of his desire that I make more money, since I can never work again. I felt guilty, so I was doing as he wished, and eventually, in more pain and hating it. Because I can only be “active” (including standing) at total of 3 hours a day, I had to make a choice: dye for myself, for the love of playing with color, discharging, shibori, etc . . . or dye items to sell at shows. I had people to sell it for me, but my time would mostly be making for others.
I chose to dye for me. The odd thing is, I will make 20 yards, really enjoy the process, and it must show in my work. I go to the 2 quilt guilds I belong to, hold up a piece at show and tell, and people ask to buy it out of my hands. True, dyeing and selling this way will never make me enough money to get to Carol’s class – and I have accepted that. I only HOPE she writes a book someday.
Our circumstances seem similar to me in that, if you do dyeing for profit, the schedule and activities of it will take you away from the creative process and maybe your family. For me, dyeing for profit was wearing me out so much that I could not physically dye for me OR quilt. I had some money coming in (a very small amount of cash compared to being a cop), but I was creatively dead, unmotivated, uninspired and uninterested in my art quilting.
My house is 1100 square feet, my kids, now teenagers, have a lot of second-hand things, but they know the value of a dollar. We drive older cars that we own, we have no credit cards, no big family trips on a plane, but even though I spend every day in pain (I am laying down to write this right now), I LOVE to plan my next project and dye the fabric for it. I even felt “unchained” enough that I am starting a local dyeing group here in Sept. Not everyone can make this choice: art full time. I happened to be living frugally, so when forced into the choice by the limits of my injury, I was able to convince DH that the bit of extra money wasn’t worth it, for me to starve creatively.
Not sure if this helps you, but I think “making art” is most successful – if not the most enjoyed – when done for oneself, not “arranged” to fit a financial plan or roadmap. If you feel free to create, you may make better art, which in turn, may have its own better financial reward, later. I still get requests for my fabric, I just couldn’t imagine missing the weekends with my boys, while vending at a show. The oldest is nearly 16. If h*ll freezes over someday and I can do it, great. But until then, DH and I are happy to live with much less, with my quilting and dyeing making up the difference. How could I spend $40 on eating out…all I could think about is “You know how much dye/silk/fabric I could buy with that?” :0)

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Choices and decisions; rambling on

Some choices are easy, and others are harder. I recently chose to sign up for the Visions and ReVisions class at the Crow Barn. Carol Soderlund is the teacher, and I already know how good she is, so it was an easy decision to make, except for the money. The class format is sort of independent study, and the size is very small, so my next choice was what to focus on. By chance I found out that a small piece of paper helped me narrow down the choices. I ended up deciding on polyester.

A decision I’m trying to avoid is whether I should just give it all up and try to find a regular 40 hour a week job. Lately I have been doing odd jobs for another quilt show vendor, so that will take care of the short run. Then the seasonal retail jobs are just around the corner. A motivational poster I saw once said ‘Not to decide is to decide.’ So until I can’t put the decision off any longer, I will chose not to decide.

A quilt or cloth as artOne thing I’m starting to explore is more venues to sell my hand-dye and surface design fabrics. (Because, if I sell more, I don’t have to decide to give it up.) So far I have lost money at shows for garment sewers. Now I am considering putting my toe into the fine craft show waters. I have chosen not to do that before now, because I have been selling only yardage. So I need to come up with something that can be well-made quickly and easily from my yardage that will sell. I’ve seen some fine art painters that are selling works in a 5” – 6” square size. A small wall hanging that isn’t square is a possibility. (I found out when I made my first miniature wall hanging that the square format looks like a pot holder.) Another option is a jacket. There’s plenty of room to research the possibilities, and to go to a lot of craft shows to see what else is out there. (A tough task, but someone’s got to do it.) And I could include fabric in my booth, so that I could offer a jacket or quilt or cloth as art on commission.

Finally, I have chosen to spend some time talking to Morna of the IAPQ about her business coaching program. That call will be taking place next Tuesday, so when it’s over I will have another decision to make. At least she has a payment plan. Now I am going to chose to post this and not spend any more time on it. Thanks for reading!