We’ve had extraordinarily benign weather for the last 10 days. Daffodils are blooming – normally they don’t start to flower until late March in this part of the world – and the garden is full of birdsong. All of this unseasonal warmth and sunshine has motivated me to make a start on the cushions for our new window seat, because I’d like to be able to use it on sunny days.
I bought a remnant of pale green velvet from The Shuttle just before Christmas. It’s just the right shade to go with the remains of the striped linen union I used for the curtains in that window, which has been stored on a cardboard roll since about 2001 or 2002. The leftover curtain fabric is enough to cover one side of each box cushion but not enough for the other side or the boxing. I thought I had plenty of the velvet, but I’d forgotten how much fabric piping takes up when you cut the strips on the bias. Having cut everything out I have just two small triangles left, and it took an awful lot of planning to fit everything in. I didn’t make life easy for myself by choosing a fabric which not only has a pile, but also a slightly ribbed appearance, meaning it has an obvious direction and every piece had to be cut with that consistent direction.
I spent all of last Sunday afternoon marking, cutting and then making the piping, all 15 metres of it …
and then applying it to the top and bottom panels of each of the three cushions. But I think the end result will be worth the effort, I like the contrast between the furry piping and the smooth linen union.
On the subject of cushions, I’ve continued my experiments with onion skin dyeing. The aim is to match the colour of the cushion cover fronts I knitted recently. I want to make use of some white cotton fabric that I already have for the backs, rather than buying yet more because, let’s face it, I already own more fabric than is good for me.
The dyebath was quite impressively red but the colour it gave was a good, deep brown. That’s it top right in the photo below.
I will definitely use this brown again, but it is too deep a shade for my cushion backs. I diluted it right down for the next attempt, which is top left above. That, I decided, was close enough – cream coloured without any of the orange tint produced by the brown onions on the swatch at bottom left.
I dyed this small swatch in a glass bowl in the microwave, but neither the bowl nor the microwave was big enough to accommodate the fabric for two cushion backs. (It’s important that the fabric has plenty of room, or it will dye unevenly.) Instead, I used my largest saucepan on the stove. The result is not great – the colour just isn’t the same as the swatch and doesn’t look right against the cream yarn. The reason might be that the red onions were a different variety from the original ones, or were grown in different soil and so picked up different minerals, but I suspect that the main cause of the colour difference is the aluminium base of the saucepan. Glass vessels won’t taint the dyebath, and stainless steel is safe too, but my pans are stainless with aluminium bottoms. I should have thought of that.
Now I don’t know what to do. I might try bleaching the fabric with ordinary hypochlorite bleach to see if that removes the colour and then start again, or maybe using very dilute bleach to see if it will end up a better shade without the need for re-dyeing. The problem with dyeing the fabric again is I don’t have a large enough inert vessel to do it in. I may have to see if I can borrow a fish kettle from someone.