Thursday, August 31, 2006

Natural Dyeing 2

Well, Siobhan and I did our first experiments with natural dyes today. After some research on the internet, we took our basket and went out to gather plants for our dyes. I had a list of plants that I found here:, and armed with Siobhan's knowledge from the class she took on plants that grow in Illinois, we came home with quite a haul. We ended up with sumac; both fruit and leaves; goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace, and some purple/blackish berries that I thought might be elderberry but Siobhan thought not, and when we looked them up on the internet, she turned out to be right. She was so exhausted from the walk she had to lay in the hammock while she picked the berries from their stems! I decided to try the sumac fruit first, and decided to use salt as the mordant. I've used salt before and although I think vinegar gives more brilliant colors (at least with chemical dyes), I was looking for a more muted red. I cut up the sumac and put it in my dye pot and simmered it for a good hour. After 15 or 20 minutes I was thrilled to see the water turning red! After the first hour, I put in my piece of cream wool that I had already prepared with a salt and water soak, and simmered it for another 45 minutes or so. After about 15 minutes it looked like it was taking on an orangey reddish hue, but I continued to simmer (like the directions said) for another half hour, and what I ended up with was a very nice shade of brown.
I tried it again with the purple/black berries, only this time I used vinegar, and I did things a bit differently. I simmered the berries for an hour, and the resulting liquid was a dirty grey color. However, I had first soaked the wool in hot water, and then in vinegar; when I put the vinegar and wool into the dyebath, it turned a pretty shade of purple. However, instead of taking the wool out, I left it for another 20 minutes, and this time got a nice tan.
In spite of not getting the colors I was looking for, I still enjoyed the experience very much, and am looking forward to trying the sumac at least with some other mordants to see what happens. I am thinking alum, and maybe baking soda. We found several stands of sumac, and one is really big, so I can go and pick a few more pods. I think tomorrow I will try the goldenrod.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Natural Dyeing

I've been doing a little research, and I think I am ready to do some dyeing with natural materials. The three that will be easiest are goldenrod, which should give yellow to gold shades, sumac which I can use for red, and Queen Anne's Lace, which is supposed to give green. All three of these are growing in the field behind our house. I've wanted to experiment with natural dyeing for awhile now, so it should be fun. I'm off all weekend so if I can get Siobhan to go for a walk I will see about gathering both goldenrod and sumac and try some dyeing then.According to what I've been reading, I need a fair amount of plant matter, for the goldenrod the directions call for a peck. However, I think that's for a fair amount of fabric, and I really only need to dye a quarter yard or so.Maybe I can dye enough colors of wool that one of the chair pads can be all or mostly all hooked from natural dyed wool. I have to see what the resulting colors look like, they may not be as bright as the colors from chemical dyes.Whatever, it should be a lot of fun.
On another note, we are planning a fishing trip for the 15th-17th of this month. John, Chris and I are going to Lake Shelbyville. It was so hot on our last trip, and fishing was so bad, that I'm really looking forward to this one. If the weather stays in the mid 70's like it has been lately it should be a nice trip. We haven't fished much this last month, we've only gone out once I think, but with cooler weather the fishing should be a lot better. Maybe we'll get out this weekend for a bit.
I am sewing for E-bay today, a backpack with an applique pocket. I might post a picture if it turns out nice. Since it's not patchwork maybe I can get it done in time to do a bit more hooking on the chair pad before work.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another chair pad update

Ok, after spending a couple of hours yesterday, and another one this morning, I have the boat finished, all of the foreground (which does look like water), the grey road up into the hill, and a house done. I started hooking one of the hills; I really enjoy hooking with strips that fade from one color to another; in this case from dk. green into a greenish grey into grey. I think the boat does look like a boat, and will look even better after it's surrounded on all sides by other hooked things. I'm actually more than half way finished. I am going to do more craft show/E-bay sewing for the rest of the morning, and maybe hook a bit more before I go to work. I have to just say that John has been very encouraging, he's always telling me I should try to sell my own stuff and get out of Hancock. And I think I really would like to do that.
On another note I find myself listening to a lot of the Carter family lately. So many of the younger bluegrass bands that I listen to go back into the old Carter family recordings and re-record them, and they are just as good now as they were before. When I was young, I never thought I would be listening to the old recordings done by the Carter family, Flatt and Scruggs, etc., I hated everything that wasn't rock. Now I rarely listen to classic rock, it really doesn't do much for me anymore. I also love traditional Irish music, but mom says that when she was a young girl, not only did she hear Newfoundland songs like Lukey's Boat and I'se the Bye, but she can remember her dad and other men singing songs like Will the Circle be Unbroken in church. The connection between bluegrass and Irish music is pretty fascinating to me, I think you can hear it in the really old songs like Shady Grove and Salt Creek and Soldier's Joy. Anyway, there seems to be a continuity between more traditional forms of music and more traditional forms of needlework for me, and I think that it shows up in the needlework. My very first hooked rug was inspired by an old sea song called The Diamond, about a whaling ship. Tradition has always been pretty important to me, maybe because it provided some sort of roots when we moved around so much when I was young. Plus I think mom really inspired it, it was a big part of her growing up. Dad did too, although I'm not sure that it was something he was conscious of doing. Sometimes I think it's funny, that mom, who says that as a young girl she couldn't wait to get out of a small outport community; married someone who's own roots/traditions were so similar to hers even though dad was from the south. She could have stayed at home and married some one from Georgetown or Brigus or Cupids. Anyway, I'm rambling from the point, which is tradition more than anything else inspires a lot of the stuff I do, and I hope some of the stuff I do will be around in later years to help inspire some other woman to work in traditional ways.
Siobhan and her Chris have stolen my extra bed quilt that I use on really cold nights. She said she really liked it, and I told her that when she gets her own place she can have it. I guess she took that to mean it's hers now. So I need to make John and I another quilt big enough for our bed. But not til after the chair pads are finished.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Newfoundland Pride!

I did something unheard of for 'organic' knitters--I swatched for this one! I knit it side side to side rather than up and down, and, being myself, I figured I would undercompensate. Boy was I wrong on that one! Both sides wrapped around my neck still go fairly far down. Chris took the picture, and I know it's a little fuzzy, but in the other two I looked like I was a crazy clown. These are the colors of the traditional Newfoundland flag, representing the Irish, Scottish and native peoples of Newfoundland. Or so says

Another E-bay item

I have to say that this is my favorite bag to make. Being a quilter in addition to all the other things, I have lots of small pieces, and this is one of the best ways I can think of to use them up. I just open the scrap bag and whichever colors predominate, that's what I use for the bag.I have made it 8 or 10 times now, and I never have one on hand. If I haven't planned one for a gift, then they sell, usually fairly quickly. They are not as much work as they look, I figured about 3 to 3 1/2 hours from start to finish. This one is destined for E-bay. I am thinking of making another out of a solid piece of corduroy with a band of Seminole patchwork at the top, and then the applique pocket.But not today. Today I am doing a bit of visiting with mom and Carla, and then I am spending the rest of the day on the chair pad, between loads of laundry. I haven't done anything for a few days, so I hope to get a fair amount done today. I'll post pictures later.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hanking for losers 101

This is posted by Sio: Love knitting? unsocial? well look no further! with just a spinning backed chair you can be hanking by yourself in no time!


Ok, this is totally off the topic of needlework, but I just have to say how much I love the internet and my computer. John just found a program that will find lyrics to mp3's that you put in winamp. How cool is that? I have to say that my computer is first and foremost my stereo and the first thing I do when I get a new cd is rip it so I can play it on the computer.Then I rarely touch the cd again, unless the lyrics are printed in the literature that comes with it. Now I don't have to do that, they come up automatically! There are some that there are no lyrics to, but there is an edit function where you can add them if you want, or if you notice that some one else's lyrics are wrong you can change them. I think this is a really cool program, especially when listening to people like Kurt Cobain who screams more than he sings sometimes. There are Nirvana lyrics that I've never known, I've wonderd if Kurt's really singing or just screaming things that are made up words. Now I can find out. I know Melissa and Sio will both post about what a nerd I am. Oh well, whatever.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Siobhan's scarves

Siobhan wanted me to post pictures of her scarves. Most of them are destined for the homeless shelter in the area. They are all pretty nice, and I know they'll all be appreciated.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Shawls and Hobby Lobby

My first post, how exciting ;)
I've put away baby hats for shawls. I feel kind of guilty, but I've made ten or twelve, as well as a hat that turned out too big and is destined for the homeless shelter. I did finish anohter shawl last night, and started mom's. I can't find a link to the yarn I'm using, but it's a yarn bee and it's only five bucks a ball. I hope i can make some money from this, it's very fun, very easy and *very* fast. It's also very cheap since it only takes one skein and one fourty percent off coupon ;) At my hobby lobby we are regular customers and so know the woman who takes care of the yarn. I'm one of those people who just doens't have enough money to be picky, so i've gotten varios deals from her on dirty or tangled yarn in the past. She has a basket of tangled from over the past year at least that I stumbled upon yesterday and told her I'd buy if she packages it for a good deal. I also am making a double big shawl for mom, so i need to get over there to get anohter ball. It's one coupon per person per day, so...;)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Siobhan's Shawl

Here are a couple of pictures of a shawl/large scarf Siobhan knitted last night in just a couple of hours. She used a very soft Yarn Bee yarn, and size 13 needles I think. It only took one ball of the yarn.

E-Bay Pillow

Well, this is what I'm doing lately for E-bay. This is probably the last pillow picture I will post because although they are cute I find them to be uninteresting and generally don't want any of the ones I make. However they seem to be popular, and a bit of extra money is always nice.

Another scarf

I finished another scarf last night. This one is crocheted using Yarn Bee's Icelandic Jewels, which is one of my favorite yarns to use, it's so soft. It's on sale this week at Hobby Lobby for $1.99 a ball; usually it's $5.22, so I am running over there today.I guess the buying no more yarn isn't working all that well for me either.I also finished another baby hat, but I'm not posting anymore pics of those unless there is something really different or special about them.
I am involved in craft show sewing today, I have a pillow almost done, and then I am going to start a bag. I'll list them both on E-bay and what doesn't sell I'll put aside for the shows. So far I'm committed to 3 shows, and might sign up for a 4th; we also decided to do Kane Co. again in October. I told John that if I wanted to I could probably do something every weekend til Christmas.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Baby Hats

Ok here are Siobhan's hats, she's made 8 so far. I also finished another one, and I put a little pom pom on it. It's the first pom pom I've ever made.

Chair pad update

After spending some of Saturday, and odd moments here and there on the second chair pad, this is my progress so far. I might take out the boat and redo it, as I don't think there will be enough contrast to show the shading of the seperate planks that it's made of. Both Chris and Siobhan think the green looks like water, Melissa thought I should have hooked verticle lines instead of horizontal to make it look more like grass, but I don't know, verticle lines look so geometric to me. They all said it looks really good, though, so I'm not taking it out. I think I'll spend as much time today as I can before work and get a nice amount done.

Baby hats

I feel a little less guilt over the fact that the girls are really into the baby hat thing when I'm not, since I now have these 2 hats finished and am almost done with a third. The striped one looks pretty small, but it stretches, it will be a good premie hat. The bonnet should fit newborn to about 3 months.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Warren Dunes

I had a few things on E-bay and came home to find I had sold 2 of them. Very nice, I think I may list a couple more things today.
Well, we had a nice day at the beach. The weather couldn't have been better, it was in the upper 70's and sunny. It was really windy though, especially early on; I can only remember the waves being that high once before. It was a lot of fun just jumping in the waves. I was sitting on the very edge, and some of the waves were so big they splashed me in the face. Chris played guitar instead of getting wet, and he found the perfect place to do it! On the way out we stopped at the farmers market and bought pears and corn, and a couple of peaches for Chris and Siobhan to eat in the car. I crocheted a baby hat and will post the pictures later, I have to take pics of Siobhan's hats too.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I got quite a bit done today on the chair pad, Chris is here and it's nice to sit outside and hook while he plays guitar. Some of the nicest moments I have are just listening to Chris, he plays stuff I know, like the Dead and the Black Crowes and the Allman Bros., and then he plays some pretty amazing stuff that he writes himself. I have terribly talented children, it always amazes me how much they all can do.
We stopped at Salvation Army again, and I scored another really nice bag 0f $1.50 fabric. There were 3 pieces of white wool totalling 3 and 1/2 yds, plus several yds of muslin. I have a rule to NEVER turn down white or cream wool, and so I had to buy it. I came home and tried to dye some wool in 5 graduated shades of grey, the shading worked fine, but the dye is pretty old and I got shades of purple instead. I have a set of swatches in a bluish grey I dyed last year, I think they'll work instead, but I need to order the grey dye for the fish chair pad.
We are going to Michigan Dunes tomorrow for the day, so I'll bring the scarf I'm working on and maybe finish it.

Merino Lace Scarf

It's a little fancier than I'd expected, so I'm not sure what to use it for. The lace pattern is a 20 row repeat variation of Mrs. Montague's Lace, knitted with a lace weight merino from Knit Picks and size 4 needles. It took about a week.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Well I certainly was thinking of a salt box for the second seat cover, but when I sat down to draw it, after looking at several photos, other rugs, etc., it wanted to be this. I have great faith in going with what ever seems to be floating to the top of the creative process, so it's a boat pulled up in the grass. The whole thing was inspired by a photo I saw on the internet, taken by a man from Newfoundland named John Jerret. I also think that whatever I'm listening to at the moment plays some part in what ever I create, and in this case it was a Scottish band called Capercaillie, and some of their music is sad, which maybe had a part to play in the pulled up/ abandoned boat theme. Music and creativity is something I want to think about in depth one of these days, but not now. Unfortunatly, I have to go to work today and so I am going to hook for an hour before I do. When I pulled the greens out for the ground I wasn't sure how they would work out, but I think it will be ok. The photo I took really shows the hoop marks, sorry about that.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

frugal shopping

Well, the errands didn't take nearly as long as I thought they would, and while we were out, we ran into Salvation Army. I found this bag of fabric, it has 2 pieces of wool, 1 camel, 1 greenish blue, totaling 1 and 1/2 yds., a yd. piece of a dark olive wool blend, a yd. pice of oatmeal aida which will come in handy for any Christmas ornaments I cross stitch, a nice piece of a pretty finely woven burlap, also a yd piece, and 2 pieces of cotton. One is a yard of an off white with navy blue stars, the other is 2 pieces of a farm animal cotton, which I can see becoming placemats for the craft show. The only piece I don't think I'll use is a brown light weight upholstery piece. It was only $1.50 for the whole bag. Plus I got home with a couple of hours to spare, so I can design and maybe start my next chair pad. Siobhan suggested a house, so I think I'll do a salt box. My aunt in Newfoundland lives in one that's painted cream, but for years it was green ,and I just may hook her house in green, with the hills behind it.

The puffins are finished! They are not stapled to the seat yet, I can't find the staple gun, but I think they will fit fine. The burlap will stretch over the front and sides and not show, even though it does a bit in the picture. I think it's a nice chair cover. Now on to # 2. Hooray!

Almost done with the puffins chair pad, I just have a bit of beach in the lower right hand corner and a bit of sky along the right side and I will be finished. I started another scarf, too , for the craft show I'm doing next month while I was watching TV last night. I was planning on spending the evening up in the sewing room hooking, but Siobhan came home really early and wanted me to watch Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network, and since I don't like my chair for hooking, I started a scarf. I need a few more anyway. Siobhan knitted this tiny hat and put it on the lovely Jasmine, her long haired guinea pig. I think she looks really cute.
I tried the shaving cream dyeing with no better results than the first time, so I think I'll just let it go for now. I may experiment some other time, but for now I am going to do some traditional dyeing. I'd like to dye 4 or 5 shades of Cushings silver gray, as I'm planning on putting one or more fish on one of the chair pads. I was going to design my own, but Deeanne Fitzpatrick on her excellent site has a pattern of fish already drawn for a 14 inch circle. If I can adapt it to my chair, I think I will just buy it.
I updated the links column and have added two yarn stores, Knitpiks and Elann. I'm going to see if I can finish up the chair pad now as today looks like it will be busy. Maybe I'll post pictures later.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Adventures in Dyeing

I read about dyeing with shaving cream on one of the rug hooking lists I belong to, and I decided to give it a try. It did not quite turn out the way I expected (it rarely does the first time). It is a bit of a messy process involving mixing powdered dyes with a teeny bit of water to form a paste, and then mixing the paste with shaving cream. After that's done spread a thin layer of shaving cream in the bottom of a disposable aluminum pan. I used the old pan I use for casserole dyeing, I lined it with aluminum foil. Then the colored shaving cream is spread and swirled and dolloped on top of the cream in the pan. My youngest, Siobhan, wanted to do that part. That being done, the fabric, in this case a small piece of cream wool which I soaked in 1/2 c. of vinegar and water and then wrung out, was laid on top of the shaving cream. The leftover colored cream was put on top. I put the pan in the oven at 250 degrees for half an hour.

I think with more swirling, less spreading, and maybe a tiny bit more water in the shaving cream mix the results will be a little better. I used Cushings dyes in 3 colors: aqua green, green and blue, and the colors certainly are pretty intense; however there are quite a few specks from unmixed dye. They were very apparent in the shaving cream mix, and as much as I stirred, I just could not get rid of them, but the water may help. I'm going to try again after dinner, with more earthy color greens, and see what the result is. I wonder how it would work on cottons? Do the whole process with fiber reactive dyes minus the heat and wrap in a plastic bag for a few hours. Hmm, I may try that as well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Next on the Project List...

These socks from Knitty:

The heel on this pattern doesn't look very comfortable so I'll alter it, but the lace pattern is pretty cool. I love how the waves flow smoothly from the ribbing at the top.

I pulled out a small hooked rug project I had been working on. It's 4 Atlantic puffins standing on a beach, with the sky behind them. I started it quite awhile ago in the early spring and then put it away for a bit. I measured it against the seat on one of the chairs, and if I take out the third puffin I started, square it up and just finish hooking the beach and sky, it can be my first chair pad. I didn't have quite enough of the blue for the sky, I miscalculated a bit when I did the dyeing, but I managed to dye another piece that will do, so I think I will finish that up in the next couple of days.

Aug 15, 2006

I also finished a scarf I had been working on. It's the Windy City pattern from "The Little Box of Crocheted Hats and Scarves". The scarf as originally made used Wool-Ease, but since I am trying to use up before buying more, I used a skein of Red Hearts TLC, which I had bought for some other project but never used. Unfortunatly, one skein was just shy of enough, so I had to buy another one. I went to the local Hobby Lobby, and only bought the one skein of yarn I needed,and will use whats left of it to crochet a hat. I'm proud to say I resisted the urge to buy any of the baby yarn they have on sale this week. My youngest daughter wasn't quite so lucky though. She's been knitting scarves and hats to give to homeless shelters and she bought a ball of one of the Yarn Bee baby yarns. She came home and knit a baby hat and is now working on another. I guess buying more yarn for charity projects is ok.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I decided to start this blog to write about and post pictures of the various fiber arts projects that I am always working on, as well as the occasional contributions from other family members. I am currently involved in trying to use up some of the yarn my daughter and I seem to be drowning in. I also quilt, embroider, sew, do some traditional rug hooking, and knit a bit from time to time, although I'm not really good at it. We also have acquired a 24 inch floor loom, and eventually I hope to learn to weave as well. I see a spinning wheel somewhere in the future, too, when I have saved a bit for one. I am also involved in the planning stages of some hooked chair pads for a set of garage sale chairs I picked up for really cheap ($1.50 each). They are nice sturdy wood chairs, but have been covered with ugly yellow vinyl. I'll take pictures and post them later.