March Means…

…Gardening indoors and thinking plants! The Kaleyard is still under deep snow…so this is a quick little post to remind us all that spring is on the way- no matter how wintery it looks here:


Undeterred by the white stuff (and the hungry bunnies eating the shrubs I planted last year – they have severely “pruned” the serviceberry and the purple sand cherry – will I any have eco dye materials left? ), I have been updating my dye plant page (see sidebar) knowing that readers are ‘thinking gardens’ also and have begun checking on other gardener-eco dye enthusiasts’ experiments.

I am adding native plants to the current list; and even though I garden in Zone 3-4 USDA, gardeners in other zones, higher and lower, can safely try many of the plants that give pigments for me in this neck of the North American woods. (I was very interested to read in “The Founding Gardeners” by Andrea Wulf that Jefferson, Adams and Franklin, the U.S. Founding Fathers,  found inspiration for native American plantings when they saw how well North American natives were growing in British gardens.)

In other biz: Bookbinding experiments! CBBAG gave a workshop last weekend.

We learned the caterpillar stitch. It’s a little tricky to start out with – I found it best to practice making the ‘head’ of the critter a few times before moving on to the body; using waxed thread and two colours helped a lot,  too, and so did YouTube!

IMG_0814 I tried out the body of the critter on some fragments of painted canvas ( from my chair project, reported here): not very neat wrapping of the caterpillar body…but I like the long antennae and tail.



The final effort came out like this: I used traditional book cloth to cover the boards and black waxed lined thread to sew the caterpillar. We punched holes in the boards to make the shape of the critter. Then we stitched across the signatures with a chain stitch first, top and bottom. to hold the cover boards in place; then stitched across the signatures using the caterpillar body stitch.

IMG_0858A close-up of the wrapping: I knotted the thread so that a ridge would form on the caterpillar’s back:

IMG_0861Our awesome teacher, Mary McIntyre, is the Pres of CBBAG and a conservator at the national archives. Needless to say, her caterpillars rock:

IMG_0826Next time, Philip Taafe ands his patterns (I promise)…plus a report on how I am binding the envelopes with enclosures that we made for the annual CBBAG swap last month.

I am experimenting with the Chinese Thread Book style. I have twenty envelopes to bind and I was thinking some kind of interesting container would be nice. I found a lovely blog at whose author mentioned this binding and so I went looking for how-to ‘s. (Not many available…) The structure is actually a needle and thread case devised by the Miao and Dong peoples of China, both famous for their embroideries. Their needle- thread cases held pattern pieces, also, in a series of ingenious folded pockets made in paper and textile.

Meantime, welcome to all the new readers and thank you for joining us.



13 thoughts on “March Means…

    1. Thank you, Pietrina!

      I love your work, too. Isn’t it wonderful to be in this community of textile and paper artists, so much inspiration from every part of the globe and generosity in sharing ideas?

      We bring beauty and make peace through art!


  1. Love your posts. Always very interesting and beautiful. Thanks. I pass them forward to my artist friends. You might like Duckpond Press. Cecelia Sharpley’s artwork. Cecelia makes artists books; leaf prints and Calligraphy.

  2. Dear Wendy, thank you for your inspiring posts. Re the Chinese thread book, I have two small booklets by Ruth Smith, self published, on the making of these books. She calls them Folded Secrets. As a small thank you for all your posts that I’ve enjoyed, if you email me an address I will send you both the booklets from the UK.
    Kit TYrrell

  3. I have rather unsuccessfully tired that caterpillar on several occasions–all thumbs, no patience, but someday i will get it! And those little thread books are fascinating–i want to make one in fabric though 😉
    (And my seeds are here and being started next week for our zone 3!)

    1. I will try to post some links to helpful videos, arlee, and maybe do a report on how I managed the stitch..notice that not the entire caterpillar was put under the camera lens…some “infelicities” occurred that would not be good models..but when I get it right, I will post the steps…As for the Miao needle case, I am trying textile as well as paper for the pockets..experiments that I will report on. I love the connection to embroidery!

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