Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dabbling with dyes

Yesterday Warren looked after Thomas to give me a whole day off to go to the craft and quilt fair - what bliss! So wonderful to be able to browse and learn and absorb the creativity without trying to keep a little one happy.

I went to workshops on all sorts of random things, like making circles in patchwork, stained glass applique, dyeing lace and even picture framing. I also saw the beautiful Canberra quilts exhibition which is always really inspiring - sadly I'd forgotten my camera. There was a spectacular quilt there with an incredibly intricate persian pattern that had taken something like 17,000 hours to finish, and was a true masterpiece - wish I'd had a photo of that one.

I did make a completely unintended and indulgently extravagant purchase of some Noro silk garden yarn to make a shawl/vest after wandering into one workshop on knitwear, where an very elegant older woman was modeling the most gorgeous handknitted garments. I'm not quite sure about my colour choice, it seems to have more mustardy yellow in the blend now that I've got it home, but I'm sure it will be lovely anyway.

I had been thinking about doing some yarn dyeing experiments for a while, as I can never seem to find colours I like (apart from the beautiful expensive hand dyes), so inspired by all this creativity and the various kool-aid dyeing tutorials on the web, I also had a quick go today at dyeing some yarn just with ordinary food colouring and vinegar, as food colour is really the active ingredient in kool aid, and easier to blend this way.

I started with some jars half full of water and a splash of vinegar, then added a few drops of Queen brand food colours, mixing some together. I had the small packet of four colours, plus a rose pink. I also had some old ivory/brown coloured wilton colour. The yarn is a cream merino crepe from Lincraft (100% wool).

I plonked a mini skein of yarn in each one, covered with glad wrap (don't forget this step or you will have dye all over the microwave - trust me!) and then in the microwave for 2 mins off, two minutes on until the dye was absorbed -two zaps each with two jars in at a time.

You can see how the water goes clear once the dye is absorbed. Then you gently rinse in hot water (avoiding shocking the yarn with a sudden change of temperature) then wash in wool wash. I was surprised how little dye came out at this stage - the colour is very colour fast.

Here are the final colours. Pretty bright and garish, but they could be a lot more subtle with less dye (or more wool) and some more judicious blending. You can see on the pink shades how more or less of the same colour comes out very differently. The candy pink was just one drop, and the darker cherry red/pink was a few drops.

The next thing I'd like to try is some variegated blends. Some of these actually have some nice mottling, because I didn't soak the wool beforehand for very long - I like this look.

So there you go, all done in about half an hour - and lots of fun!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not happy mummy

Poor Thomas is having a rough time with a bad cold, a fever that comes and goes and all his molars coming through at once. We went with Warren to the snow again on the weekend, just for a change of scene, and stayed with some wonderful friends, but Thomas wasn't well enough to venture out, so we just cuddled up on the couch most of the day watching his dvds. I can now recite all the adventures of Maisy and Bananas in pyjamas by heart (a very useful skill, I'm sure you'd agree).

He has been rejecting his bottle because it seems to hurt his mouth and it has been an anxious struggle getting fluids into him, but the doctor is not too worried, and I hope he might finally be on the mend.

The snow has been great after a slow start, and Warren has been making the most of it, doing lots of cross country racing.

We drove back through a snow shower, and stopped so I could take this photo looking back.

This was a pine tree I spotted while we were filling up with petrol on the way home, I love all the twisty intertwined branches, it reminded me of a Japanese stencil design.

Craft wise I am still plotting quilts, but waiting on an elusive delivery of back-ordered fabric (the downside of my online shopping addiction) before I can really get started. In the meantime I've finally taught myself to crochet in the round, and have been experimenting with flowers and granny squares using leftover yarns. I'm excited to have mastered the technique, but my early attempts at colour combinations have been surprisingly and disappointingly hideous, so I won't inflict them on you yet.

Spending long days at home with Thomas I have been doing lots of thinking about getting my craft space more organised, and generally freshening up our living area, which has been the same dark colours for years and is starting to get me down. I have lots of ideas but not a lot of energy and no money to splash around, but I think it would lift my mood just to start in a small way, perhaps just clearing up the endless clutter here.

Hope you are all having a better week.