Saturday, May 9, 2015

- Potholder take 2: Nana Kantha and the Texas Two Step

Well, here's where I ended up on this latest potholder trial (repurposed in August 2015 as part of the Table Series) ...


And maybe all you need to know is that it consists of four layers of tea-dyed tablecloth linen and eight layers of eco-dyed sheeting stitched together with floss. Or you can follow me through the process, since I want to document it before I forget what's hidden in all those layers.

The project started with cotton sheeting from last year's dye trials torn into 7" squares. My first idea was to stitch pairs of the sheeting together, pile them up until I had a good thickness for a potholder, then stitch them all together zokin-style.

Except the cloth didn't feel like it would work the way I envisioned, so I tore up 7" squares from an old linen tablecloth and tea-dyed them so the colors would meld with the sheeting ...

Tea-dyed tablecloth linen on the left, eco-dyed sheeting on the right

Then I tried pairing the sheeting and linen, but it still didn't "feel right" ... so I tore two squares of the sheeting into three strips each, wove them together into a nine-patch, invisibly basted them to a piece of linen and Kantha stitched them. Much better, but still not quite right ...


Next I tore two squares of sheeting into four strips each, wove them together into a sixteen-patch, basted them to the linen and tried the Combination Stitch from the end of this post which I soon began thinking of as "two steps forward and one step back stitch" ...


Not only did it look kinda cool on the a-side, it had a pretty neat effect on the b-side ...


Figuring "nothing ventured, nothing gained," my third take consisted of two squares of sheeting torn into five strips each and woven into a 25-patch ...


invisibly basted and then stitched to the linen square with variegated floss ...


That's when it hit me that the stitches reminded me of Morse Code. Curious, I looked up "dash dot" and "dot dash," which just happen to stand for "n" and "a" respectively. Nana! Nana Kantha! 

And the back? Texas Two Step of course ...


Thoroughly full of myself and my corny word play, I put the three three-layered cloths together. Only to find they still didn't feel thick enough to make a trustworthy potholder. So, one more pass was needed ... but what?

There was a piece of tea-dyed linen that I especially liked, so I backed it with two squares of sheeting woven into a sixteen-patch, basted them together, and started stitching around the edges of the stains ...



When it was done, the b-side was almost (but not quite) as interesting as the front ...


Twelve layers (four cloths of three-layers each) finally felt like enough thickness, so I contemplated which of the eight a-sides and b-sides would become the final a-side and b-side of the potholder.

Since they were the least inspiring, I didn't think twice about basting the nine-patch and the sixteen-patch together to be the invisible middle of the potholder. And yes, I used invisible baste with a backstitch ... not for the sake of appearance, but because I've discovered that basting with a tiny backstitch is virtually impossible to undo and therefore gives the most stability.

It was a given that I wanted the outlined tea stains to be visible on one side of the finished product. But I surprised myself by choosing the b-side of the 25-patch to be the on other side of the potholder ...


It must have been something in the wind(thread) ...