blog indigo

Blue. Yes everyone we are back to our regular programming. Back to wool, silk and cotton. Back to art, fine craft, and handmade.

The last two weeks have been indigo intensive. It is an outside endeavour that needs to be completed before it gets too cold. This week I attacked the scrap pile, small pieces of fabric that I had been dyed colors I didn’t love, pieces of selvedge edge, and remnants that were awkward shapes and sizes. Into the vat they went and out of the vat they came in shades of blue, green and everything in between (with a little shibori thrown in for good measure!). That is except for the brown piece of silk on the left hand side.

I have yet to figure out what has happened with this piece of silk fabric. It is either dyed in cutch or arbutus and it seems to be resisting the indigo dye. It has been dyed three times more than every other piece shown here and it shows just a mere haze of indigo dyeing. I will have to test this in the future to see if it happens again or if it is one of those strange “one off” dyeing experiences.






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More Knitting Finished

Winter weather definitely has it’s good points, one of them being time spent inside to finish knitting projects that have taken far too long to complete. Just before Christmas I finished this infinity scarf. I originally started it just to get an idea of how much yarn (4.6 oz.) it would take to make one so that I could dye the right amount to knit the “proper” scarf. Let’s just say knitting the sample scarf seemed to take a very long time.

blog knit infinity scarf lopi_0302

Infinity scarf hand knit out of lopi (on location at Castle Mountain, Banff, AB, Canada).

It is very cozy. This is shown wrapped twice, but I quickly discovered that on a -40C day it wraps around three times to really keep the chill out.

blog knit infinity scarf lopi_0306Gray tones are perfect for a piece that I am keeping, however I think the scarf would have been a lot more fun to knit if it had involved bright colors.

blog fingerless mitts_9315The other night I also finished a pair of fingerless mitts that have been in progress for months. This pair consists of wool dyed in marigold and madder.

blog fingerless mitts_9323I was so pleased to finish the mitts. Half way through I decided they were “mine” as I love the patterning. I had tucked them away in the knitting basket for a few months as they weren’t that portable to knit. I knit both mitts at the same time so that they match (plus it is boring to finish one and have to start all over!), so it was quite challenging to carry around eight balls of yarn to work on one set of mitts. I pulled the half finished mitts out last Saturday and took them to the knitting program at our library, and between the time at the library and an evening at home, the mitts were done. Rumor has it I need to make another more masculine set as my oldest son now wants a pair.

Knitting by Debra Hunter
Studio H
Red Deer, AB and Pender Island, BC (Canada)


Knit, Purl, Knit, Purl…..Done!

(Please click on the above images to view full size.)

You may have noticed my blogging has been a little less frequent recently. Part of the reason is purely being busy. The last month has been filled with interesting photo restorations, sorting out the cabin (ongoing!), a plumbing issue on the coast (solved by our neighbour Mike!), sorting out a new vehicle after the accident, and a LOT of knitting.

Above are pictures of the latest order which will be on its way to the Whyte Museum Shop in Banff tomorrow. This time a few new items like Coffee Mug Sweaters and Coffee Press Sweaters are included in the order. I will share a few images in the coming days as the pieces are full of stranded knitting fun.

Hand-knit items for gifts and for the home.

Knitting and dyeing by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta & Pender Island, BC, Canada

Shooting Newly Finished Knit Items

 studio shootingLast night I spent a bit of time down in the studio shooting product shots of my most recent naturally dyed hand knit items. I am putting together promo booklets for a couple of local businesses. Last year I did the promo booklets a bit later in the year which left me knitting furiously to fill the orders in time for Christmas shopping. A shot of all the patterns together can be seen HERE on my other blog. I haven’t provided all the details of the items yet as I am hoping to finally get the shop on my website up and running first and then share the items on the blogs. Of course building a shop takes time and also has a “learning curve” according to the support guy at Shaw, so perhaps a task for next week or the week after  once the promo booklets are done and out.

 wood button lac dyed yarnThe latest batch are following my theme of locally produced wool that I dye in natural dyes by hand in micro batches. In the picture above the red tones are achieved by dyeing in lac and the purple is logwood.

blog pomegranate and madder dyes

Hand cut wooden buttons are being featured more and more; they add to the rustic “log cabin” feel of the knitting. This piece has been dyed in pomegranate, marigold and madder, while the piece just to the left has been dyed in cutch.

blog cowichan inspiration

A few pieces also explore inspiration from the Cowichan style of knitting. I love the black, white and gray combination. If you have every been to the coast, this style of knitting will remind you of forest, rocks, moss, fog and sea. Can you tell my mind seems to be constantly living at the coast at the moment?

Once the promo books are done I can finish up the piece I am working on with my first ever hand spun yarn. I think you will find it to be quite interesting.



Art, photography and handmades by Debra Hunter

Hunter Photographics / Studio H

Red Deer, Alberta and Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada



Keeping Busy

(Please click on the above images to view full size.)

I thought I would share a quick little update of what I am working on this week.

The computer has me busy retouching portrait orders including the lovely little newborn pictured above. Some of you may also read my other blog, and have already seen a post showing off this little one.

I also shared on that blog the story behind the painting “Orville’s Barn”. This is another of my quick paintings, this time on a very small scale with it being only 6 inches by 6 inches. Painting was a pleasant way to spend Saturday evening.

Crocheting has taken an amusing turn. First it was a miniature snowy owl, now it is a rather crazed looking beaver………with a hat and scarf ( of course!). The little guy is made out of locally milled yarn and naturally dyed in cutch and lac. The next crazy critter on the hook is a bear. One wonders when the crochet critter madness will end!

There are also three new items on the knitting needles, two for the home and one to wear, I will share the finished products soon. I love the patterns that can be created with stranded knitting. The possibilities are endless.

It is also time to start working on another fibre art piece……or finish a half started one.

There are a lot of creative things happening this week.

Photography, art and handmades by Debra Hunter


A little bit of whimsy…..


crochet snowy owl

A little, yet whimsical , post for today.

This little guy is all the rage in our house at the moment. He is a two inch high crocheted snowy owl. I thought it would be fun for my eldest daughter to learn to crochet making little stuffies, so I thought I would make one up in advance just to see where the problem areas might be. I think it was around the time I had the head and half the body done that everyone was shouting “Make me one, make me one!” This was followed by “Can I have a seal, can I have a dolphin,…..etc.”

crochet snowy owlOur little snowy owl is a real hit. A little bit of whimsical fun.

crochet snowy owlAs you can imagine another owl is in the works as I write. The next little friend is being made out of the wool yarn milled right here in Alberta.


Handmade by Debra Hunter.
Red Deer, Alberta

blog H

Tackling the “Works in Progress”

It always seems like no matter what the project, there comes a time you hit a dead spot, a time where the project is almost finished but it is almost painful to put in the last few hours to finish it up. Looking around my home and down in the studio it is time to tackle these projects before they are simply left as “U.F.O.’s” (UnFinished Objects).

In this post I will share a few of these “works in progress” in the hope of actually finishing them in the next week or two.


From left: Cotton hand-dyed in lac, indigo, tansy (just a little showing through) and madder.

Let’s start with the one that is causing me the most misery. I’ve been developing a few hand dyed, hand knit and hand beaded items as an expansion to the current hand knit items I sell to a few shops here in Alberta. The dyeing is enjoyable, the knitting is fine as is the beading, however throw it all together and it is one hugely time consuming item. If I were just doing it for fun it would be fine, but after years of costing out photography jobs I can’t help but think how unprofitable these items are, and this thought process alone seems to stopping me from completing them. I have 11 more waiting to be beaded, so I really need to finish those in the very least. I could toy with different ways to bead them that might be a little quicker, but I like beading to be bomb proof. I really dislike it when you buy a beaded item only for the beads to fall off in a flash, so cutting corners isn’t an option. I should really just try to finish these this week and then reserve beading on knitting for only higher end items.


The next “work in progress” is a fibre art piece that has literally traveled with me everywhere  for the last few months including the coast four times and the cabin at least six times. The piece, depicting a grain elevator, is hand-dyed in natural dyes, masked, stitched and beaded. It sat in its “Is it done ?” phase for a very long time. Then when I finally reached the decision that it was “done” I had to decide how to mount it. Did it want to stretch it or board it or hang it? Last night I decided to go with hanging it as I have a frame in mind that I think could work with my hanging pieces.

grain elevator pieceSo all is good last night. I iron the piece, cut the backing, make sure everything is square (well square-ish, this is fabric), and get ready to machine sew the backing on. Ah yes, the sewing machine………..that white piece of machinery buried on one of my work tables. No kidding I had to dig through hand-dyed yarn, knit items, multiple chargers for devices, dried marigolds, dried tansy, dried onion skins (natural dyers are all nodding their heads knowingly at the moment!) and driftwood…….an awful lot of driftwood, which is kind of funny sitting here on the prairies in Alberta, but it is there because “I had an idea!“.  An hour or so later the sewing machine was finally in a useable environment, with all that work to sew 60 linear inches. That pretty much explains why some things just don’t end up finished….hassle factor.

This piece is almost finished. Maybe 10 minutes of hand sewing, another 15 minutes to sort out the doweling, and then buzz it down to the studio to shoot. Hopefully I will be sharing the finished piece here next week.

sewingSpeaking of shooting finished pieces, that brings me to the next “W.I.P.”. A painting. A painting that looks fine under natural light, incandescent light and flourescent light yet shows a flaw when I shoot it in the studio. The flaw is in one small spot, but it drives me crazy. Fact is, everything needs to look great on a computer screen so it is important that I fix it. I’ve come across colors recording differently with photography before, bride’s maids dresses are notorious for it, but at least this is a quick fix. I just need a quiet house to focus on it and get it done……”quiet house ” is not happening at the moment with 5 kids running around…..I think this will be a “middle of the night” job.

painting detail (iPhone pic)

painting detail (iPhone pic)


The final W.I.P for this post is a piece that might familiar, a stitched, beaded and lino cut piece. I did a piece late last year that was similar. At the time of doing the previous piece I also started a second one that was similar but not the same. I have started to do this with a few of the fibre pieces, having two to work on that are similar, because usually part way into a piece I start to think about what the piece would have looked like if I had done things differently. I tend to be fairly conservative on the first piece. The second piece I can be more experimental with, use odder colors, or more beading, or whatever comes to mind. I want to get this piece really happening before I get too involved with the skull piece.

Other than that there are two more paintings in progress to finish, coffee sweaters to weave in ends, embellish and package, and a special request  item to knit………oh, and tweak the website again.  Time to get busy and get a bit of this off the books.

Photography and art by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

blog H


I’ve been wanting to do some indigo dyeing for quite some time. I was always waiting for the perfect time and the perfect project. As the months (or maybe more than a year!) passed I realized that the perfect time or project was never going to happen. Instead of simply shelving the idea I chose to tackle indigo dyeing on the busiest possible week ever.

In between shooting, editing, knitting, volunteering and school field trips (including swimming with three different classes in the span of two days) this is what happened……..

yarn waiting to dye

yarn waiting to dye

I prepped some wool yarn, cotton yarn, cotton threads of various thicknesses and some cotton fabrics. Some of the yarn was dyed previously in tansy to create a yellow to over-dye with hopes of achieving green.

into the indigo dye vat

into the indigo dye vat

Into the vat all the materials went. The tansy wool yarn was immersed for about 10 minutes, while everything else stayed in for about 30 minutes.

And then the fun began…..

yarn just pulled out of the dye bath

yarn just pulled out of the dye bath

The yarn only starts to truly change color as it emerges from the dye bath and is exposed to the air. It starts out green…..

indigo dyeingthen turns an aqua color………

indigo dyeingand finally blue.

Luckily Mark came home from work just in time to take these pictures as the yarn was being pulled out of the dye bath.

dyeing on the front lawn

I ended up with quite a variety of blue items which will be a lot of fun to work with over the coming weeks. It is nice to add a new range of colors into my knitting and stitching.

dyed wool yarn

dyed wool yarn


This is wool yarn. The yarn on the left entered the dye bath as natural white, while the yarn on the right had been dyed previously in tansy.

cotton yarnThis is cotton yarn dyed in segments to get color variations. What a disaster this was to get untangled after dyeing and washing. I had preplanned the segments, rather than just a random dyeing, perhaps I need to figure out a better game plan for next time.

indigo scarf detail

indigo scarf detail

Just for fun I dyed a gauze scarf that I had hemmed up earlier. This is a detail. It looks beautiful when it is worn. I think this one will remain “mine”. A perfect scarf to wear while walking a rocky beach lined with driftwood.


knitting, dyeing, painting, stitching ….lots of “works in progress”

We have been having very cold weather. This morning when I woke up it was -42 C with windchill, I’d love to say this was abnormal, but this year we have seen a lot of -30 and -40 temperatures.The one good thing about brutally cold weather is you tend to spend a lot of time inside and this means time to work on projects.

This morning I decided to take inventory of the works in progress, and there are a lot.

start of a new painting

A new painting is up on the easel and just beginning to be roughed in. Another 16×20 canvas. It seems I went on a 16×20 buying spree so there will be a few paintings of this size in the near future before I get to work on larger ones again.

finished canvas - cabin trees #1

I did manage to finish a canvas last week. The prettier version of it can be viewed here.

fulling swatchesI am still experimenting with fulling swatches and seeing just how far they will shrink. Finally a good reason to do laundry!

dyed then knit - before

dyed then knit – before

dyed then knit - after

dyed then knit – after

The ones dyed first and then knit still have a way to go.

dyed then knit on a larger scaleI am also trying dyed and then knit on a larger scale. This piece is about 15.5 inches across. Kind of a wild color combination but the yarn was dyed with another project in mind. Who would have thought natural dyes could be so bold.  We’ll see what it is like when all is said and done. It is definitely not “conventional”. (Feel free to laugh!)

wool dyed in pomegranateOf course I ended up being short 50 feet of wool for the above test piece. At 1:30 this morning another 60 feet of yarn was popped into the dye pot and dyed in pomegranate. It is almost dry now so that I can finish the knitting today.

naturally dyed hand knit coffee sweatersMore coffee sweaters on the go. These are becoming a lot of fun to make.

dyed hand made buttonsI also have been experimenting with dyeing the hand-made buttons.

fish stitchingI am working on another fish piece. Again the fish are hand printed with natural dyes from a lino cut I made. I want to try a few different things that I didn’t try on the previous fish piece. Composition is a little different from the last one. I am planning for the beading and stitching to be quite different. I see continuing with the fish theme as a long-term possibility.

stitching - grain elevator

The final “work in progress” is the grain elevator. Another naturally dyed piece with beading and stitching. The tansy leaves in the piece are keeping me busy.

The next week or so should be mostly stitching and painting as I am almost flat out of the locally produced wool yarn which is now my go to for the knitted projects. Hopefully I will get an order put in today or tomorrow so that by the end of next week I will be back to the dye pots and knitting.

I also have a beaded project in mind, but I need to find my teeny tiny embroidery hoop first………it’s “somewhere”.


Photography, art, illustration, and fibre wearables & useables
by Debra Hunter

also online at:




Dyeing and Fulling

I am at the tail end of my locally milled wool supply from Custom Woolen Mills in Carstairs, Alberta. Trying to eek out as much variety as possible from the last few hundred feet, I spent hours the other day naturally dyeing micro batches of wool yarn.

dried tansy

dried tansy

I started the day tackling the dried tansy that has taken over my desk since about August. I was ambitious in my adventures in collecting tansy out of the ditches in rural Alberta, but I had never though of just how long it takes to clip off every little flower head, and so my desk stayed covered for months.

making tansy dye

making tansy dye

I clipped off some tansy flowers, popped them into the pot to make a natural dye. I achieved a nice soft butter yellow.

soft yellow colored yarn resulted from being dyed in dye made naturally from tansy

soft yellow colored yarn resulted from being dyed in dye made naturally from tansy

In addition to tansy I also dyed the wool yarn in pomegranate, logwood, lac and turmeric dyes. Natural dyes have such earthy tones they almost always go together, so I will be able to knit many combinations from the yarn I dyed.

yarns dyed in (from left): pomegranate, lac, tansy, logwood, lac , turmeric, pomegranate, logwood

yarns dyed in (from left): pomegranate, lac, tansy, logwood, lac , turmeric, pomegranate, logwood

I have also recently decided to experiment with  fulling for a project I have in the back of my mind. Fulling is basically taking a knitted piece and by combining heat, cold and agitation, the fibres start to break down and merge together creating a much more dense piece of knitting.

the knit swatch before fulling

the knit swatch before fulling

After several different variations I eventually found the stitch combination and needle size that will work best for what I am thinking.

the knit swatch after fulling

the knit swatch after fulling – a much more compacted piece

I still have to decide just how much I want the stitches to disappear (how far to take the fulling).

the fulled piece after dyeing

the fulled piece after dyeing

This piece I chose to dye after fulling rather than before. The process is definitely unpredictable and uncontrolled, but that is probably part of the fun.

fulling resulted in a very thick and compact swatch - just what I was looking for

fulling resulted in a very thick and compact swatch – just what I was looking for