Wrapping up Maple Sugaring

I can't think of a better way to spend pre-spring weekends. You know the ones where it's just starting to get nice out, but still a little chilly. We had had quite a nice maple syrup production and made a total of five batches.

How did you spend your March weekends and who wants pancakes?


Finding Color with Rust

I've been having a lot of fun dyeing fabric. This particular experiment all started with a blog post I saw on Quilting Arts. The post described that you can use rust to not only add a rich orange tone to fabric, but also unique prints.

My Father in law turned out to have an awesome stash of rusty bits to start with and I'm loving the results!

Take your rusty bits and a piece of fabric that is ready to dye (pre-washed so all the starches are out).  Lay the fabric and rusty stuff on a metal surface like a cookie sheet and spray it all with a 50-50 mix of water and vinegar.  Then cover the whole thing with a plastic bag and set in a warm spot.

This is a peak at the fabric after a few hours of cooking.

Once you are happy with the color, put the fabric in 4 gallons of water mixed with 1/4 cup of salt to cure the color.  I left in there for a few hours, then rinsed out my fabric really well, used a bit of laundry soap on it and hung it to air dry.  And here is the result!

It's so interesting and exciting.  My brain is leaping and jumping with ways to use this!

And so naturally I had to start up another batch.  Can't let all that good rust go to waste.

Have you tried dyeing fabric with rust?


Unconditional Love

I wish I could better explain what unconditional love from a dog feels like. Katie is the pup that is always looking to kiss you, snuggle in your lap or when all other options are gone; just be near you.

This morning, while Katie laid in my arms, I realized just how lucky I am. She loves always and no matter what. She loves with all her heart. And she isn't afraid to show it.

It's like the quote says, "be the person your dog thinks you are." I can only hope to some day live up to that bar.


Spot of Tea?

I've been sewing like a maniac to relax and work through everything going on, but also to meet deadlines for the upcoming guild quilt show (so exciting!!).  For our Art Quilt group challenge we made a Quilted Deck of Cards -- yup one mini art quilt for each card.  It's going to be a real treat to see all 52 together. 
I picked the nine of diamonds to make and began by raw stitch appliqueing this arm from a tiny lone star that didn't work out in a previous project.  Once I had it on the white background, I decided the white was too harsh.  Too bright.  So, what's a girl to do?  How about have a cup of tea?

I rummaged through my tea stash and found some very very old tea that I know was at least 5 years old.  It was pomegranate flavored.  I dunked the tea bags in nice hot water and then a test dip on the edges of the piece.  I say test dip, but goodness me, if it didn't work out I would have been left with a piece that had tea on it.  Next time, I will use a scrap to test with.

Luckily, I was excited by the already changing color and decided to dive right in.  So, I did what any girl would do and dunked the whole piece in the bowl with the hot water and tea bags.  Brave or crazy?  I still didn't know.

I got all the fabric in the tea water and put the tea bags on the top and then walked away for a bit to let it marinade.

I checked it here and there and finally pulled it out after about an hour; once it had achieved a nice brown-like antiqued look.  I'm really quite happy with how the whites took the tea dye in a similar way and how the tea accentuated the embroidery on the background fabric!

I rinsed the remaining tea from the fabric until it rinsed clean and then hung it to drip dry.  A quick press and I was ready to sandwich and quilt it.  I had a little fun quilting it with some of the embroidery stitches from my machine in red and pink thread.

And the last step was to add the nine black diamonds.  I used a piece of Styrofoam to make the diamond stamp and dipped it in black fabric paint to add them.

In the end I feel like the tea really worked to get the look I was going for and I can certainly see using tea dye again!!  Have you ever tea dyed fabric?
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