Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spreading the Gospel of Indigo

VMQG hosted this year's Pacific Northwest Modern Quilt Guild meet-up, and we had a fun-filled weekend of fabric, food, and general quilting camaraderie.  As part of the festivities, I offered two "quick dip" mini-workshops that gave people an opportunity to try a specific shibori technique and go a couple of rounds in the indigo vat.

In addition to VMQG members, quilters from Seattle, Portland, and Victoria came to my backyard dyeing sessions.  In the morning, participants had a choice of either pole-wrapping or tesuji, while the afternoon was devoted to stiched shibori.  I was too busy teaching and took no photos, but fortunately, I have some from the workshop participants:

prep work (photo by Terry)

The first dip!  (photo by Karen)
Varying degrees of oxidation (photo by Terry)

A successful morning! (photo by Terry)
I loved seeing everyone's excitement and wonder at watching the dipped fabrics turn from green to blue, and their delight at first viewing their final results.  Karen captured the latter moment particularly well in her photos:

Holly is so excited to see how her bomaki turned out!
Terry happily unwraps her arashi sample
Janet shows off her tesuji willow variant
I don't have photos from the late afternoon nui shibori workshop.  Everyone was pretty beat by then, after all of the day's fun and jaunting about Vancouver!  We also ran out of time, so people took their pieces away before undoing the stitches and will share photos later on.  (Note to self: in the future, don't expect to do a nui shibori workshop in 90 minutes.)  Karen attended both workshop sessions and kindly sent a photo of her two pieces drying at the end of the day:

Other meet-up activities included a Friday evening picnic and optional craft apron swap, a visit to the Common Threads Indigo Quilts at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, a Saturday night Lebanese feast at Nuba, and a Sunday of good eating and shopping.  I didn't do everything, because running the indigo workshops left me feeling completely wiped out.  I did go to the Friday night picnic and the Common Threads exhibit, plus a little bit of fabric shopping on Sunday.

I managed to participate in the random apron swap, and the wonderful apron I received, made by the fabulous D. from Seattle,  couldn't have been better if she had designed it specifically for me:

My happy apron, but not my photo: I found it posted online.
I am extremely partial to the Etsuko Furuya Echino prints, as well as the combination of green, blue, and purple.  The apron has loads of compartments, including slanted pockets designed specifically for a rotary cutter and scissors, and it came loaded with a generous selection of fabric (what could be better for a quilter?) and a big spool of Mettler thread.  Friday happened to be my birthday, so I felt extra happy about the unintended birthday present.  I have already used the apron: I'm stitching up nui shibori fabric for dyeing, and I'm trying to break myself of the bad habit of sticking needles in the comforter on the bed, so that purple pin cushion attached to the apron is just what I need.

The Common Threads Indigo Quilts are the truly fabulous and gorgeous result of a communal project and a must-see for anyone quilter who visits Vancouver.  Definitely recommended!  The Sunday shopping included Fabrics, Etc., a new place that just opened a little more than a week ago and that carries all sorts of tempting quilting cottons, textiles for garments, and home decorating fabrics in a roomy, warehouse-style space.  The person who manages the store (I don't know how to spell his name, but it sounds like "Tian" (rhymes with "Ian")) is extremely nice, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.  He arranged a brief Sunday afternoon opening just for the meet-up and provided a warm welcome to the group.  I hardly needed more fabric, but of course I couldn't resist.  I also found nice, sharp John James needles, and they are already helping with the nui shibori.

Next year's meet-up will be in Seattle, and I hope to be there!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced and on The Needle and Thread Network.  Cheers!


  1. I've always wanted to give indigo dying a try. I love the results:)

  2. the weekend was fun! Thank you for doing the mini dips - they were great!

  3. I loved my first indigo dyeing experience! Thanks so much for organizing this!

    1. You and Janet are most welcome! I had a lot of fun as well. I'll have to try and organize a full-day workshop through VMQG next year: you have not heard the last of indigo!