Indigo Days

Woven shibori samples, Monk’s Belt threading.


My second time indigo dyeing included 3+ PFD cotton swatches, nine woven shibori samples (Twill, and Monk’s Belt), and one woven shibori scarf (border area of Monk’s Belt).  I’m using the cotton swatches basically to test color before dipping the handwoven pieces.  

This was my first attempt at achieving shades of indigo (photo above), and had some success and look forward to trying for more (and keeping accurate notes).

Scarf with woven shibori borders.


The last piece dyed this day was my first woven shibori scarf, woven to have a border at each end, and solid blue in-between.  After the first dip, I could see a couple areas where the dye he not penetrated through the cottolin threads, so it was given a second dip, leaving it a very dark blue.  The samples and scarf were rinsed many, many times; after nearly dry they were pressed and hand-hemmed. 

I had hoped to have more scarves woven and be on the porch dyeing again, but have been sick the past four days.  While sitting here, thought perhaps tomorrow I could at least dye a bit more PFD cotton (I’ll do something with those swatches someday), but a check of weather revealed the high will be 44 F.  So, three or so days of weaving, then more indigo dyeing Friday through Monday when warmer and sunny.

My 5 gal. indigo vat is parked in my kitchen on my woodburning range (not in use at present), and even with a lid on, I can smell the contents.  Hoping to move it out to the porch soon, but need the nights to warm up more.  Now, I need to start gathering supplies and begin learning shibori techniques, as well as how to get various mottled, cracked, and other effects on the cotton (non-shibori).  There are 28 yards here to use for learning.   

After a last snow/sleet/ice storm late Mother’s Day night, spring has finally arrived in the WI Northwoods.  Forsythia are in bloom, the lilac has leaves, and my apple tree, too.  Perennial herbs are emerging.  And with windows open at night, I am treated to a symphony of spring peepers, the whippoorwill singing, an owl hooting, coyotes howling, and a couple other unknown nocturnal birds calling occasionally.  And of course, the loons on the lake call to each other during the night.

My yard has turned into a porcupine hangout!  A few nights ago, about midnight, through an open window, I heard a sound I’d heard before, and it suddenly dawned on me what it was,… porcupines chewing on wood.  On my wood sawhorses on the porch!  Last fall they had done this and I’d laid the sawhorses up on their sides up on a long table, but I’d set them down again so I could do my dyeing on the lakeside porch.  Well, what could I do but shout, stomp, and herd them toward the steps and off the porch, then moving buckets aside, hoist the sawhorses up out of their reach.  Sorry, no photo.  But,…




Baby porcupine on the ground, mom trying to climb.


On the afternoon I started to not feel well, I looked out to see a porcupine on the old salt lick (hasn’t had salt on it for perhaps 15 years).  I grabbed my phone/camera and went out, and discovered there was also a baby underneath it!  Mom, in an effort to distract me, immediately tried to climb, bumping her head on the “roof” of the structure, and quickly discovered she could get around it,…

Mama porcupine climbing high.


… and climb much higher.  I snapped a couple photos and went back inside.  Perhaps an hour later, I looked out again,…

Baby porcupine, turn its back to me and raising its quills.

… and the baby was on the empty salt lick, mom was still up the tree.   After a couple more photos, I left them alone.  

As I write this tonight, it is raining, and looking outside,… there is a porcupine on the salt lick.   

My nighttime reading, “A Different Kind of Luxury, Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance” by Andy Couturier (Stone Bridge Press).  The book profiles ten individuals living in old, mountainside homes, living simply, growing their food, practicing their arts, living intentional lives. 

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