A Retreat for Crazy Quilters

The First national Crazy Quilt retreat is in the process of being organized by Annie Whitsed with the assistance of Canberra Crazy Quilters and a Cyber Committee from the Southern Cross Crazies discussion list. It is to be held on the 1st – 4th October 2004 in an absolutely beautiful bush setting. The location is ideal for a retreat. So if you are heading to Oz in October and have an interest in Crazy Quilting you might like to join us.

Brewed corn as a textile?

Its not only beer that is fermented these days but fabrics as well! Ingeo means “ingredients from the earth” and it is from these that an artificial fiber made from fermented corn is produced. This means not only is production kind to our world as it is a 100% renewable resource but at the end of the fibers life it is compostible. Now we can not only eat corn but wear it too. Another man made fiber that comes from and edible source is soybean fiber. Of course Tencel is a well established fiber in the market which is derived from wood pulp which means it is also environmentally friendly.

Although there is a move to grow cotton organically there are many problems with the production of fibers such as cottoin. Organisations such as Greenpeace point out that in countries such as China cotton pests are becoming resistant to pesticides. It should be remembered that cotton still uses approximately 25% of the world’s insecticide.

This is not a simple black and white issue for instance corn farming also uses pesticides which undermines my comments about Ingeo and I could not find anything on their site to indicate that their corn was organically grown.

For a brief overview of the issues visit the Danish Environmental Protection Agency which covers many of these questions.

I have barely touched this complex subject but being aware of environmental issues associated with textiles in all the phases of its life from production, manufacture, use, and their disposal is a step forward.

Many textile practitioners live by a blind manta natural fiber good, man made bad, but I for one question the use of both and try to make my decisions accordingly. So for me sometimes it is a case of wrapping up in a man made fiber and saying cheers as not all man made fibers damage the environment.

I am interested in links on this issue. So if anyone out there has information on textiles and environment let me know.

Oyster and Rosette chain

Just as other things in our life run in and out of fashion so do the use of a particular stitch. A particular stitch that is popular in one decade sometimes falls out of favour and is rarely used in the next. I have no idea why this happens. Perhaps people tire of it and move on to using other stitches.

Oyster stitch has been enjoying a renewed popularity in the last few years but it does have a poor cousin called Rosette. I have no idea why Rosette chain is not as popular as oyster stitch but at the moment that is the case. I only see it being worked occasionally but Rosette chain was very popular in the 70’s and 80’s as it produces a great braid like appearance which can be used in both contemporary embroidery or traditional work. You can often see rosette chain used in borders and perhaps that is one of the reasons that it is not used as often. What is referred to as border stitches were often used on domestic linens such as table cloths which few people embroider today. There is still a place for border stitches however as they can be used to outline larger motifs or create an interesting linear element to contemporary designs.

Oyster stitch is based on Rosette and can be useful in floral motifs. Contemporary embroiderers can also find it useful as produces a raised nobly spot. Both stitches are worth exploring as experimenting with different weights and thickness of thread yields interesting results.

To add extra sparkle both stitches can be combined with beading techniques. Rosette chain looks great with seed beads embedded in the braid and oyster stitch lends itself to beads at the base of placed in the center.

Contrasts in texture is one of the key elements in contemporary work so both these stitches are highly useful. Both look complicated at first glance but are actually not difficult to work. Needless to say I have added them both to the Stitch Collection today.

The illustration on the right is a detail taken from a crazy quilt block of Oyster stitch tucked between the prongs of feathered up and down stitch. Both are worked in silk.