This week in the studio I haven't had much time for quiet stitching and contemplation. Instead, I've been doing all the prep work it takes to get me to that point -- design work, materials selection, Plan B, stuff like that. For this piece, I needed to paint some fabric. While I was at it, I painted some 35/2 linen thread I need for looping to embellish this piece using the leftover fabric paint thinned with water.
To get two different, mottled thread colors, I leave one thread wrapped on the card and loosely wind another with my ball winder. Then I smush the thread into a Dixie cup and let it soak up the paint. The card takes up less paint, the ball more. Then I stick the card into a crack between floorboards to dry. The ball gets turned several times while drying so the top doesn't get too dark.
I won't heat-set this thread or wash it before I use it. Normally I would try to wait at least a couple of weeks for the paint to oxidize before using the thread, but there isn't time. Past experience tells me I'll have a little color come off on my hands, but it shouldn't come off on the fabric.
I started painting my waxed linen for looping in 1998 after a workshop with Lissa Hunter. Now I paint all kinds of thread. Last year I even did an experiment with some acrylic yarn I inherited, soaking it with straight Dye-na-Flow and leaving the ball in a mesh bag to drip. Once the paint had cured, the hand of the yarn was more like hemp than acrylic.
Now that I know how quickly and easily I can paint thread, I keep more neutrals on hand (including stuff I pick up at thrift stores). Even if I'm not planning something specific for the thread, I'll paint some with whatever fabric paint is left over. While it oxidizes, I have ideas incubating.