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the August studio

August 29, 2016

This month’s focus has been the yukata (summer kimono). After completing a small mock up,  these last two weeks have been about a full-size piece. It isn’t finished, but close enough for the moment.


full length – front & back of one side

The first week was spent dyeing all seven pieces to the garment: 2 front and backs, 2 sleeves, 2 overlaps and the collar. Each piece was manipulated uniquely and then dyed.


Beginning to look like “something”

At this point, all seven pieces are attached, but it is long and unwieldy. It’s bulky (because of the cloth type), wider, still than it really should be…still, I rather like the way things came together with the hand stitching. Yet, in the near future, I may take it apart to make some adjustments.  There’s much more to this garment than anticipated.


nearly there

And as we are now looking into September, I invite you to consider the weekend shibori workshop (Upcoming Workshops page) coming in the latter part of the month. It can be as intense and serious as you want, but I think fun is a necessary ingredient. It’s about indigo, it’s possibilities and beauty, as well as shibori.



all things counter

November 26, 2015


Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things–
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced–fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise Him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)


June 29, 2015

Just a little fyi:  I’ve updated the workshops page for both July and August.  July is devoted to kids – youth (the future!) and August is for the adults.


We’ll cool off up in the mountains in West Jefferson for a couple of days.  It will be delightful.


Wishing you the best

December 31, 2014

Shin nen omedetogozaimasu!
Happy New Year!

Mangetsu - the full moon

Mangetsu – the full moon

Wishing all of my readers, friends, family, and the many in my community, the very best in the upcoming year.  I’m grateful to each of you for making this past year a rich, full-life and memorable experience.  Thank you so much.


June 5, 2014

Here we are in June, one of my favorite months (my month!). The fireflies are out and the Hydrangeas are blooming. The kaki are also growing fatter – much more visible from a distance.


The Hydrangeas though, have captured my attention, as they always do this time of year. They were in my mother’s garden when I was young, I remember them growing full and round in our backyard.  I suspect they also grew in her father’s garden.


So, just wanting to capture some of the essence of the month and the garden, I worked up a small sample piece in shibori, referencing a sashiko pattern – one that represents the Ajisai・あじさい・紫陽花・Hydrangea, on cotton. The focus is based simply on the central motif that is usually repeated many times over.


the backside reveals a square


the front – not so much

The pattern itself is a repeat of diamonds, but also references the square and it changes depending on the perspective. What I bear in mind is the seeming square in that singular blossom that repeats to create that “pom-pom” of a flower.


early dips



Eventually the stitching, wrapping, dyeing and unbinding resulted in this:

Ajisai in shibori

Ajisai in shibori

a detail

a detail

Multiplied many times over, I suspect it would describe my blue June flower.

* Please note:

The word doc attached to the NCMA link has been changed, so if you are attending the workshop coming soon – you might want to take note.

Many thanks!


stepping away….

March 7, 2014

TPA1As I mentioned before…Florida beckoned…visited with family.

TPA5We took walks, some in one of the historic districts – impressive houses and also the trees.

1734BWe mixed it up a bit and checked out the Gasparilla Arts Festival.

photo-56We didn’t stroll the beach, but did have some “sashimi” – pretty tasty.  We did actually have sushi earlier in the week.

perfecthost1And this little guy was a perfect host.

Back home now, wintery sleet outdoors, so I think I’ll reflect on those Florida rays for a bit.

further studies and inspiration

September 21, 2013

It’s finally finished!  It took most of the week to complete this and had a little time to move on to other pieces before the rain moved in.

hana1AWith this small series there were any number of approaches to the pattern I could have taken, but for this context decided to keep it simple and also wanted to keep  that reference to the traditional.   It’s a gift, so I’m looking forward to eventually getting it to the recipient (at the proper time – and I doubt she reads my blog!).

So, now I’m  a little more free (I suppose) to pursue the next thing coming – the October & November classes.  I’ve been going through pieces that might be useful to refer to for technique as well as pattern.  I also thought to introduce some departures from my usual.  In that vein, the detail below illustrates one pattern I’ve been considering.


At the week’s end, I attended the opening reception of Measure of Earth, a collection of pieces (Gregg Museum) on display at the African American Culture Center at NC State. It’s another fabulous, well-considered display and the pieces gave me a great deal to think about. There’s a lot to take in and on this first viewing, I focused on the indigo, The example below is just a small detail of one of the large indigo cloths in stitch resist.


As the exhibit is on view into mid December, I will definitely encourage my students to see it.

unwelcome visitor

April 18, 2013

unwelcome visitor

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

My “dye studio” receives many visitors especially when it warms up. Sometimes there are nesting birds, lizards, a chipmunk or two, but mostly it’s a variety of insects. In general, I prefer they stay away, but it’s the way it is.

Today it was this and I can’t be sure if “he” was a honeybee or yellow jacket. If he was the latter, I would have expected a little more aggressive behavior. It has been my usual experience and I’ve had more than one unpleasant encounter over the years.

This one was curious. He explored and lingered over my measuring spoons then moved on to this spot next to a pot. He stayed there quite still for some time and I came and went, working in the dye vat nearby. He didn’t budge.

Eventually, after allowing me to take a few shots, he finally disappeared – relief! I still am not sure though, whether he was a bee or yellow jacket.

Sun’s out

February 14, 2013

Sun’s out

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Yes! It’s out, at least for a bit. It’s warming things up just enough, making it comfortable enough to do what has to be done. No complaints about the temps or the weather, but there is a job and once it’s in process I like to keep moving.

Yesterday it drizzled, but I could cozy up and stitch indoors. There are “projects” waiting, so it was good to pause on the one and work indoors for a change. Sometimes it makes for a little balance.


July 23, 2012


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Finn has a brother now. I hope it’s the right thing for her. She’s settled in quite nicely and we did have in mind a companion. She expresses a good deal of sadness when “mom” leaves the house, even other humans are about and even if it’s just my going to the garage where I do my vat work.

So, this little guy turned up on the radar – another non-shedding type, which works in my home. There’s a good deal more to him than meets the eye though. He’s as active and physically adept as a Jack Russell (a challenge), but incredibly sweet and affectionate (a hugger).

He and Finn seem to communicate well and she’s let him know through some interesting choreography or “play” what the “deal” is here. I noticed her reinforcing the lesson this morning.

We’re in a grace period at the moment, as we have 3 weeks to decide whether to keep him or not. Even in less than 24 hours though, in spite of the challenges, they seem quite accepting of each other – very affirming! What a relief!

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