News Jan 2016


Arizona Fiber Arts Retreat, Things I Forgot to Mention, and More

Lately I haven’t been doing as good a job as I’d like keeping you all, lovely readers, updated when I have something going on outside of this blog.  I haven’t wanted to stick random announcements into tutorials or thoughts that will (hopefully) be read long after the news is relevant, but I also don’t want to pepper you with little posts for each bit of “look at this!” type news.  So I’ve decided to do a periodic news round-up when warranted.  Because this is the first one, there’s some overdue stuff as well as some newer items.


Old News

I wrote a few more articles that came out in Seamwork magazine this fall, and the latest one in the December issue.  Although I mentioned some of them in passing, I didn’t really point them out.  There’s one on how fabric is woven, and how to use your knowledge about that to improve your sewing.  It draws on what I learned when my grandma taught me how to weave, and uses a toy loom that belonged to my mom as an example.  The latest article is about five essential hand stitches, and it’s just what it sounds like, a tutorial on my most-used stitches.  I’ve been inspired by all the hand sewing and visible mending going on lately, and I’m happy to add to it!  Maybe my favorite article so far is the one on wool.  It was a total blast to research it, and I’m really happy with how it came out.  It covers some of the history and science of wool, and how to use that knowledge when you’re sewing with it. It also features my favorite (super easy) hand-wash method for all your lovely woolens.

As always, you can read any of the articles in Seamwork for free online.  I’ve also added links to the ones I’ve written in my category page (you can also get there by clicking “Sew” under “Tutorials + Inspiration” at the top of my site) so they’re included with the rest of the sewing info I’ve shared.


wool prep thumbnail


To wrap up the older news, I joined Instagram this fall, and also never mentioned it here outright.  My inclination at this point is to avoid anything that involves more “screen time”, but there was so much going on there, especially in the fiber arts world, that I decided to try it out.  And I think I like it.  It’s nice to have a place to share quicker projects, things in progress, and thoughts that won’t become their own blog posts.  And there was some surprisingly deep conversation going on there during #slowfashionoctober!  Still I’m determined to use it sparingly.  If you too are on this exciting/elitist/beautiful/frustrating/inspiring platform, do come say hi, I’m @frenchtoasttasha.


New News

The winter gathering at Arcosanti has a new name: Arizona Fiber Arts Retreat, and I’m teaching there again this year.  It’s coming up January 22 and 23, and as of this writing there are still spaces in both my classes.  One is on 3D wet felting, and one is making felt cuffs and beads (pictured below) while learning to use attachments, prefelts, and shaping in your felt making.  Click over to their new website for details and to sign up.  Observant readers of this blog may notice my digital fingerprints on the AFAR site, and indeed I’ve been spending a fair amount of time working on that lately.  It’s a bit surreal to be the one in our group with the most web skills, but there you have it!

Knitting classes are also starting up again at Purl in the Pines in Flagstaff.  The first session of my beginning knitting series is this Saturday (complete beginners welcome), along with a “knitting skills lab” where you can get all your questions answered and learn some new techniques.  If you’re interested, head on over to their class page for details.  It’s still snowing like crazy as I type this, but if the forecast holds, the roads should be clear by the time classes start.


Felt Cuffs with Tasha


I have a more contemplative post for the new year in the works too, but (appropriately enough) it’s taking a while to distill my “Slow” thoughts for that one.  In the meantime, if there’s anything you’d like to see in this space, or for classes etc. in 2016 feel free to let me know!


4 thoughts on “News Jan 2016

    • Thanks Alessa! We’ve been cross country skiing a lot with the snow, which has been great, but I also think I need to get on the roof today and chip off some ice … not as fun. 🙂

  1. I keep thinking about your dyeing adventures and pondering a 1-year-1-outfit project for 2016. Any suggestions for a newbie-dyer experimenting with black tea? I know it isn’t at all local to Massachusetts, but I produce A LOT of used tea leaves in any given period of time. Mordants? used tea color Strength? and I’ve ordered a pack of Indigo seeds. I’m all over the place… but having fun dreaming! Looking forward to your posts in 2016. I wish we had your snow at this point- crusty warm is weird for January here!
    all the best, Kimbersew

    • Hi Kimbersew! So black tea is pretty much my favorite for an intro to natural dyes, it’s user-friendly and easy to find, etc. Black tea also contains tannins, which act as a mordant, especially on cellulose (plant) fibers like cotton and linen (I haven’t found a definitive answer to whether tannins work as a mordant on silk or wool, so if you figure that out please let me know!) I’ve had good success using tea with no other mordant on cotton clothes, and the color lasts pretty well. I would definitely recommend scouring your fabric first, since the waxes etc. in the fibers can prevent the dye from absorbing. I’ve also used tea on a lot of thrifted clothes, and it’s important to wash those really well and check for stains, or scour them the way you would new fabrics, otherwise any spots can absorb more dye than the rest of the garment and become more obvious.
      I’ve never tried used tea leaves, you could definitely experiment but you’re likely to need more, and it might be worth doing a little research as to the amount of tannin left after you make a cup of tea—without the tannins the color won’t bond to the fiber (unless maybe you use another mordant). For fresh leaves I use somewhere between 50% and 100% of the weight of the fabric. Obviously using more will give a darker color, although I haven’t been able to get deeper brown colors on cotton at any concentration the way I can with silk or wool (I think that’s pretty typical for natural dyes). If you’re doing a big project I think it’s worthwhile to try a scrap of fabric in an equivalent weight of tea to fabric as you’re thinking about first, and see what happens.
      Obviously, there’s a whole world of options for experiments out there—I think that’s what makes dyeing so exciting. I’m hoping to do some more this year, especially once the weather warms up and I can work outside, I’d like to try some mordants and modifiers I’ve heard about and see what other kind of effects I can get. Definitely I’d say go for it! You’ll learn a bunch and it should be really fun. And I’d love to see what happens if you try growing indigo! I’ve never made my own indigo vat (yet!), but it seems magical, I’d love to try that someday too … best of luck and feel free to reach out if I can help any more.

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