Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dyeing Here


Have you noticed how bloggers will stoop to almost anything to draw viewers to their blog? With titles meant to make you think they are giving up blogging, facing life or death situations, or have just been nominated for the Supreme Court......anything, and everything is fair game in trying to attract others to one's blog.

Not that I would EVER stoop to such tactics. I scoff at them when I see their titles and think..HA!...I know just what you are doing.

I'll wait an entire day..well, maybe an hour or two...before I visit a blog using such fraudulent tactics ;)

So, 'Dyeing Here' ...well, that's exactly what I am doing today people! I am dyeing...and after decades of fun....dyeing anything and everything....it is still great fun to do that final rinse and see the miracles that happen with color and design!

If you don't remember my story, I grew up in pioneer Alaska and our clothes were ordered from a catalog, and shipped up on a freight boat.....took us three months to get it from Seattle to Juneau, when I was younger, and a month or so travel time, when I was in my teen years.

I learned to sew on my grandmother's treadle and make my own tops and skirts if a school dance was coming up. And then I prayed that my only pair of shoes would not be overgrown by then, so I could still dance! We were still endlessly making do...five kids needing new shoes before new clothes....and I was the only girl, as well as the oldest.

If I wanted something brand new, I made it, myself... but then I discovered that I could dye something old and make it look brand new, again. I dyed too big things from others...and altered them to fit me. I dyed and sewed my way through high school and then, college. I left for college in 1968 ...Alaska to Oregon...it was September and I was proudly wearing my own designed, and home sewn WOOL dress, made it myself, WOOL coat, and tall brand new store bought boots..the best outfit I had ever, ever, owned.

I was so proud of my ensemble....proud it was new, proud I had made absolutely everything...even my entire set of lingerie..except for nylon stockings (no panti-hose yet, ladies!!) and boots. Computers weren't invented yet, and neither must have been out-of-state weather reporting on our tv...how did I know I was flying into an Oregon heat wave? I learned in a hurry. I was not only overwhelmed with instant heat exhaustion but stood out like a sore thumb. I asked for a sewing machine for my very next Christmas gift... to have as my own, in my dorm room in Oregon...I needed to be able to sew and adapt my limited wardrobe to my new environment.

It was the late sixties/early seventies and tie dyed ran rampant. Twisted and turned with rubber bands to make circles and streaks and waves and any fabric I could find, and dyed in super bright colors to make my wide leg pants, long hippie vests and cute embroidered peasant blouses. It was even more fun, now! Oh, I thought I was such an artiste! Those were my major crafting years....I sewed, I made pillows and comforters for my bed, crafted my own dangling earrings and hoop and pendant necklaces to wear, a macrame' hippie purse and wallhangings...the craft movement was skyrocketing back then.

Then graduation, marriage, and raising children. I still made all of my clothes, a lot of my husband's, and almost all of my children's. The dye pot was put on the back burner unless I spilled bleach on something by accident...then it was stripped of color and dyed a new one. Nothing still went to waste in my life. I'd spent too long making do and re-using everything!

Years went by, I'd discovered quilting big time and that is all I wanted to do. And then in 2005, my Alaskan sister-in-law came down to visit with a fabulous collection of Procion and Jacquard and other 'brand new to me' exotic dyes and her $1 a piece silk scarves from Dharma Trading Post...and oh what fun! We created a wonderful steam machine for my stove top (this was before we knew about microwave dying) and using her dyes and resists, and my salt and rice for disperants, we filled my kitchen in Oregon.... and then later on, hers in Alaska, with home dyed/painted silk scarves and prayers flags. And we had a ball!

So, you are wondering... why the photo with the bottle of wine? Well, those neat dyes went back with her in 2005 and we used more of them at her house in 2009. So, now I'm using what I have now. So, what else do you do when you're asked to open a bottle and get the cork down inside? You save it for eco-dying! I've tried dying with flowers, and herbs, and dandelions, and onion skins..but dying with a bottle of wine puts a whole 'nother twist to idea of "use or reuse" ! And for the total teetotalers...grape juice works too!

14 comments:

  1. O you wicked woman you! ;- )

    Egad, three months to get a shipment from Seattle to Juneau???!!! What were they using, a sail boat? a canoe? Have things really improved that much in so short a time?!

    While you were in college, dying and crafting up a storm, I wanted to be you (although I didn't know you then!). I was still in high school, in a very conservative part of the country. I may have had a few more resources than you did at the time but I wasn't having nearly as much fun!

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  2. Ha, I knew exactly what your blog title meant! LOL
    I have only tried to dye macrame' jute many years ago. I loved making hanging plant holders from the dyed jute. I only knew to use Rit back then, no internet with tutorials like now.

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  3. Anonymous1:06 PM

    I love the things you made.And your stories are so awesome.

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  4. Oh what a hoot!!! You are truly a priceless treasure! :D I wish you were my next-door-neighbor---we'd have a ball! :D

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  5. You do love the attention, don't you? LOL I wonder how many read the title of your post and panicked before realizing it was about dyeing fabrics?

    Loved your post, as I always do. But today brought back many memories of growing up in a very large family with few resources and learning how to sew at a young age. I peeled cascara bark to earn money for a couple of patterns and fabric so I could sew my clothes. I purchased clothing from second hand stores and used the fabric to make clothing and accessories to sell at a local consignment store... To earn more money for fabric to sew more clothes. And so people wouldn't know I was reusing the same patterns over and over again, I learned how to alter and detail the patterns. That's when hand embroidery was very popular.

    Thanks for the memories today!

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  6. Growing up in the Army wasn't much better. We learned early on how to make silk purses from sow's ears. Still do and you know what? doesn't hurt me one bit!

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  7. In the early eighties I did play with dying silk scarves and silk painting- that is really the only dyes that I ever worked with- My mother in law enjoyed silk painting with me- and was more accomplished at it too, I might add as she had painted with other medium ( oils, acrylic and watercolor).
    How is it that you ended up going to school in Oregon? I am guessing that is where you met your husband? I did not know that you do not have any sisters- I have one sister and two brothers.
    You do love to experiment with different things don't you!
    Regards,
    Anna

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  8. Thank you for your great story. I remember doing some tie dying in the sixties and seventies. Now days, I want to try and dye some fabrics for quilting, but I have a fear about doing it. I guess I just need to read more about how to go about it safely. Your story was very inspiring.

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  9. My mother made all of my clothes--bless her heart! When I was in college, she would send me dresses (we couldn't wear slacks on campus) without hemming them so I could hem them to the length I wanted. Short.

    Great post, Michele. You came by your skills early!

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  10. This is something I've always wanted to do. Simplifying my life even more, I might get a chance to do it. Love your title and your story. Hugs

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  11. Oh, what fun you've been having! I love dyeing fabrics too. It's better than coloring with crayons. Sadly, I only got to do it once this summer. It's too cold to do it in the winter, as I won't do it in the house. (pale wood floors and carpets, and I'm messy)

    I would have loved to have known you back in the 60's and 70's. We would have had a blast doing tie dye!

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  12. I too knew what your blog title meant.

    Wish I had seen you arriving in Oregon wearing your gorgeous clothes, but finding it was a heatwave.

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  13. Loved learning more about you, Michele. Enjoyed your read. Hugs ♥♫♥

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  14. I can sense your excitement just reading your post!

    Now that the weather is finally warming up here, I can get back to my dyeing. It has been too cold to stand outside on my back patio (where the microwave and dyeing work table are) but the times they are a-changin'!

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.