Thursday, May 13, 2010

Labor of Love

Here's my most recently completed jacket - a combination of Judy Robertson's hand-dyed cotton sateen, a pale green remnant with corded and textured stripes, and couched threads--rayon and cotton gimp and a sparkly metallic.  It's a size small because I didn't have enough of the corded stripe to make anything bigger and I just loved the combination of these two fabrics.

I called this one Tranquility because of the soft colors.  As I was sitting here the other day hand stitching the binding and listening to some of my favorite music on my i-pod, I realized that the name was  apropos for other reasons than the colors.  It was such a lovely, relaxing way to spend an afternoon that working on it certainly enhanced my tranquil feelings. 

Oh I know that many people recoil in horror at the thought of hand stitching, but it's one of my favorite activities.  Unless I run into an unruly thread or other problems I find stitching quite soothing.  I almost always have a stitching project ongoing and I almost never watch television empty handed.  As I get ready to go to QSDS, one of the things I have been thinking about is what stitching project I will bring along to fill the quiet times.

I am on a roll with couching lately.  My daughter, Sonja, definitely has my number on this one.  For Mother's Day she bought me two skeins of gorgeous Italian "yarns" in my favorite cool colors.  They have a wonderful sheen and great texture.  I've been looking at them now for a week and mulling over what fabric to put them with and what styling would best show them off.  One idea is putting it with a soft raw silk/linen fabric that has a subtle woven stripe and the other idea is using it with a shiny pale green silk.  In the first combination the yarn would primarily add textural depth, while in the second it would add both line and texture.  The first would have a softer more casual look, while the second would be more dressy.

I'm leaning toward starting with the second combination, but the silk hasn't been prewashed yet.  I'll either have to wait until tomorrow to get started or begin with the raw silk/linen.  I always prewash my fabrics in the washing machine in cool water and a delicate cycle.  Then I dry them in the dryer, again on a delicate cycle.  Since most of my fabrics are remnants, I often don't know for sure what the fiber content is and I never have care instructions for them.  By prewashing them I can make sure that my jackets will stand up to a careful wash when they go home with someone.  Legally I have to provide care instructions for my jackets, so I need to figure out what I can recommend.  If I can't wash the fabric, I don't want to use it.

With some of the fabrics, that first wash is a bit nerve-wracking, but so far I haven't had any disasters.  Overall, I have been quite surprised  at what I can wash without problems and often I am happier with the hand of the fabric after washing than before.  I'll be anxious to see how this silk washes.  It has been laminated to a lightweight knit to give it body, so I'm curious whether it will stand up to a wash.  Better to find out now if it won't.  I'll let you know my results.

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