Many moons ago (14 years worth) I leaped off the crazy cliff and decided to hand stitch a quilt for a man I’d barely met. It was to be his Christmas gift. It would be red, white blue and gray. Colors carefully chosen with the recipient in mind. This man was my fiance. And I can honestly say I’d barely met him when I started the quilt as we were first introduced on August 1, 1998 and engaged 5 weeks later. Given that I was hand piecing the quilt, It can’t have been more than, say, 2 months into the relationship when I decided to undertake this project. For anyone who has ever given the handmade gift, you know the risk I was taking here! Yet I was too far gone in love to realize the danger zone I was putting myself into.
As it turns out, the quilt was well received. Mr.Me still loves his blankie and shows it off with a sense of pride. For a good 6 months out of the year, it graces our bed. For another 4 or 5, it’s hauled around from event to event, often more for appearances than actual use- the quilt hides the air mattress during the day so that I can leave the tent open! But this also means the red white and blue theme has produced some heart stopping moments for this fiber artist. The thing about reenacting is, inevitably, things are going to get wet. And when red gets wet, it turns white pink. Doesn’t seem to matter how many times you wash it, it will always happen. So even though I KNEW when choosing the colors for the quilt that I would end up with red bleeding into white, I resolved myself to living with it.
Then we found ourselves in Lolly’s Quilt Shop in Shipshewana IN many moons ago. I don’t even know quite how it came up, but I heard a clerk telling another customer about a product that would remove colors that have bled into others. My ears perked up and I had to see what this miracle was all about. For less than $2, I purchased my first bottle of Synthrapol and took it home to see if it could “fix” the red, pink and blue quilt I’d so lovingly stitched for Mr.Me.
I followed the directions on the bottle, putting a cap full of the product into the wash tub and watched with horror as the water turned a most ghastly shade of red. I was sure I just took my red, pink and blue quilt over the precipice… The product is billed to “float excess dye” out of fabric. Float seemed an understatement at this point and I wasn’t quite sure it wouldn’t float back in, either. But I stuck it out. Closed the lid of the washer, walked away and prayed for a miracle. And I was not disappointed! That horrendously red water rinsed out, the cycle finished and a red WHITE and blue quilt emerged! I was thrilled! And every year since, when the rain comes and our bedding gets soaked, I know a quick trip through the wash with another cap full of Synthrapol and all will be right with the world!
Not one to keep things like this a secret, I’ve spread the good word to the world. I told my favorite quilt shop owner about it and soon enough, Ye Olde School House stocked my little miracle in a bottle. I told my mom about it and she’s used it to get ink out of khakis. I’ve sent bottles of it to other friends in the fiber world so they could see the magic for themselves. Wonderful stuff, I tell you!
Then a month or so ago, my quilty friend Dina brought a bit of show and tell to quilting night. A gorgeous (yes, Dina, it’s GORGEOUS, even if you don’t love it!) hand appliqued wall hanging done in various batiks. She wasn’t loving the piece, especially since she washed it and the dye from the backing fabric bled into the off white background of her applique blocks. It was pretty significant bleeding. So I dusted off my Super Fiber Artist cape and told her about my little miracle in a bottle (not to be confused with the Pinot Noir we would normally give this title to, of course). She was skeptical and, perhaps, a tad bit Type A and not prepared to do the miracle working herself, so I, ever confident in the wonders of Synthapol, said I’d do the dirty (Clean?) work for her. And promptly forgot about it. Until she texted me asking if it was done cuz she was hoping to enter the piece in the county fair. My bad!
So a couple weeks back on a Sunday afternoon, I set about washing a sink full of finished yarn and watched that water turn 50 shades of interesting from all the different colors, none of which affected the final product at all thanks to my favoritiest product, so I gave her quilt a soak next.
And I watched the water turn 50 shade of interesting. Remember, it had already been washed BEFORE it went for a swim in my sink…
And I rinsed a couple of times, squeezed out the extra water and hung it up to dry. Check this out!
My skeptical friend has deemed her piece fair-worthy. And I realized I needed to tell my little corner of the world about one of my favorite products no one’s ever heard of. If you work with fiber of any sort, you need to get a bottle. Its cheap. It lasts forever. It works miracles. So go. Get some. NOW. You won’t regret it.