Natural Dyeing

On my list of things to do has been natural dyeing. I’ve done it before a couple of years ago. Once with avocado pits, which produced a very dusty pink/tan which I then ended up over-dyeing a few times. I also tried a few different dyes that I created by placing plants in jars with water and leaving them out in the sun to extract the dye. It was fun to experiment.

This time I decided to try marigolds.

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I will admit I felt a little bad about picking them for the purpose of creating dye. I had read a post on Flora+Fiber that explained the steps for dyeing with marigolds. When I weighed the marigolds I realized I didn’t have enough to make dye for the 50 g skein of wool I was planning to dye. I think this was about 3 grams.

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So I put them on a platter and stuck them in the basement to dry. I had more marigolds that were going to bloom shortly and I knew I would most likely have enough at that point to make the dye.

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They sat and dried for a week or so. Then a day came that the weather was just gorgeous and I had nothing else going on so I decided to go out and snip more flowers and add them to the dried flowers and make the dye. I didn’t weigh the fresh flowers. I guessing they were also around 3 grams since they fit in the same container as the first time. Honestly I was just excited to dye the yarn and approach it with a sense of play. What could go wrong? if it did go terribly then I could always dye it again.

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The wool I had on hand was Patons Kroy yarn in Natural. I only had one skein of it and I had to wind it into a hank on my DIY niddy noddy that my husband made from an old changing table that used to belong to my sister and that we used for our kids!

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You have to soak and mordant the yarn before dyeing. I read that you should use alum or soy while natural dyeing instead of acid while using synthetic dyes. I don’t think I used any mordant when I did previous natural dyeing. A mordant is used to help the dye attach to the yarn. I used 2 TBS of alum while soaking the yarn. I just randomly chose that amount which may or may not of been smart.

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While the yarn was soaking I added water to the pan and placed it on the stove to heat it. The color started coming out of the flowers and stems pretty quickly. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for maybe 30 minutes. I turned it off and let it cool until it was just warm. Normally I would let it cool all the way but I was not patient. I skimmed out all of the flowers but there was definitely still plant matter in the dye. I should of strained the dye but I knew that the stuff would come out while rinsing the yarn so I didn’t worry too much about it. I added the yarn and again brought it to a simmer. I only let it simmer for maybe 10 minutes and then shut it off and let it cool down a bit. The dye bath didn’t exhaust which I think is common when natural dyeing. I took the yarn out and hung it outside to cool down more. Once the yarn cooled off I rinsed. It took about 6 or 7 rinses for the water to be clear. I’m not sure if that is just the nature of marigold dye or I needed to use more alum to affix it to the yarn. It still came out a beautiful yellow color and I plan to knit it up into shortie socks. I guess time will tell if the color will fade and if it does I’m okay with it.

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If you’re interested in learning more about botanical dyeing there’s tons of resources out there.

*I’ve borrowed this book from the library before. It’s beautiful and informative. The author also teaches a class on Creativebug.

*I haven’t read this book but I like how it looks in the previews.

*There’s also this one and this one which I really want to read.

Lovely Things

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done a ‘Lovely Things’ post and I have a few to tell you about.

*Knitting Nellie not only knits beautiful projects but she makes the nicest pieced project bags. She has a small shop and it seems it is hard to snag one of them but I’m hoping to get one soon.

*The Snuggles Project is an exclusive project of Hugs for Homeless Animals providing security blankets to shelter animals. I love doing something good with my crafting. I have one blanket just about done and will be making another one. My mom is also making a couple of blankets and we will donate them soon. I’m sure they have a place that will take your Snuggles if you’re interested.

*Have you ever wanted to create art just for the therapeutic benefits? I have and do. I signed up for a new class taught by Alisa Burke called Journal it Out. If you want to express what is going on inside of you through art it could be for you. Class starts on 9/23 and it is on sale at a very affordable price right now.

*Roots and Refuge Farm has a YouTube channel filled with awesome gardening advice like this one that teaches you how to grow salad greens in the winter.

*I’ve started listening to Tara Brach in the morning. It’s a gentle start to the day. I really enjoyed this one.

*This talk with Marie Forleo was great.

*Do you like homemade tomato sauce? I LOVE it and after watching her make it I feel like I could make my own. She has lots of good looking recipes to try too.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Process vs. Product

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Do you find yourself making things to get the finished product or are you more drawn to gathering your materials and inspiration and slowly working?

Of course there is no right or wrong way. I think I am somewhere leaning more to the process of creating instead of getting the finished item. Of course I want that finished something but I really enjoy the learning and experimenting that goes along with the process. If I’m going to knit something I really love looking for a pattern, deciding on a yarn and a color and sitting with it and letting the rhythm of the stitches work its magic.

This idea has been on my mind having just finished Mindful Thoughts for Makers by Ellie Beck. It’s a tiny but beautifully written book. From the book: “Process-led making is where we focus intently on the work in our hands, and the enjoyment comes from the physical act of making something, without forward thinking too much about what that ‘something’ might look like. “ It can hard to put aside our ideas of what we are making should look like. We can beat ourselves up if the painting didn’t turn out or the embroidery is a bit wonky. That of course can steal the enjoyment of making. She emphasizes making for makings sake. I think that is such a good way to approach making. It’s being kinder to ourselves and remembering the reason we are making something to begin with.

I hope that you take a minute to think about this the next time you start something. And please check out Ellie Beck and her sweet new book. It’s filled with lots of wisdom. I have a couple of her e-courses and she has a very lovely, soothing voice.

September

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Today began with clouds and a dark sky. My children were asleep and I knew in just a short time they would wake feeling excited and nervous for the start of the school year.

They were off without a hitch. The house is entirely too quiet and the dog and cat are keeping me company. Mostly in the way of begging for snacks and pets. :)

While I’m sad to say goodbye to summer I’m so excited for the fall. The cooler weather, leaves changing, cozy nights with my knitting and crochet and all the fall inspired food.

With the change of the calendar so many ideas are brewing in my head. Ideas for a sketchbook that is created around a particular color, carving stamps, exploring the acrylic inks that I recently purchased, finishing up my cardigan that I started nearly a year ago, deciding on a new sweater pattern (lots of cozy sweaters please), continuing to do the exercises for All Shapes and Sizes Watercolor workshop, embroidery and I’m sure there are a few things I’m forgetting.

I hope your month is off to good start with lots of time for creating!

I’ll be back soon to share some of my latest makes.

Rusty

I haven’t been here in some time and I feel a bit rusty. It took me a minute to remember how to post. Ha Ha. Yes, it’s true. Summer has been moving along at record speed. How’s your summer (or winter) going?

In just 3 weeks my children will be returning to school! The light is starting to shift again and you can sense that fall is coming.

Earlier this summer I started All Shapes and Sizes Watercolor Workshop with Misty Mawn. You can see some of the projects we’ve been working on above. Accordion books filled with shapes and making more books to fill. The books she teaches us to make are simple, no glue needed books. She always jam packs her courses with a lot of information. If you’re interested in learning different ways to work with watercolor I definitely recommend her course. I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve also been enjoying going outside every day and picking a small amount of our cherry tomatoes. The plants themselves aren’t doing well but the fruit is. I’m not sure what is going on with the plants. We went to the farm stand over the weekend and bought kirby cucumbers to make pickles (among tons of other veggies). They should be ready this weekend. I can’t wait.

About a week ago my copy of Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon arrived. I was so excited to read it. She seems to know so many of the thoughts that run through my brain. I’ve also just finished this book. I think everyone should read it.

I have knitting and other fiber projects and dreams to share but I will save that for another post. I won’t be gone for so long this time.

See you soon.

Changing Perspective + Lots of Lovely Things

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It’s been some time since I last posted. Lately I’ve had to watch my amount of intake of information. As a highly sensitive person things can get to me quickly. I have to remind myself to not drown in the negativity and craziness of this world and shift to seeing all the good.

I recently read something and I’m sorry to say I can’t remember who wrote it or where it was but it stuck with me. The idea was to change the way you think of the things that you don’t particularly enjoy doing. For example, instead of bemoaning the fact that you have to make dinner you can think of it from the point of view that you get to make dinner for your family or yourself. Instead of thinking that you have to shop, prepare and cook the meal think instead how lucky you are that you get to do that. You have enough money to buy the food. You have the ability to get to the store to buy the food and you’re able to cook the food.

It certainly changes the perspective doesn’t it?

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I’ve been coming upon lots of lovely things lately.

-Jen Hewett has a really cute bag in her shop. She’s also teaching her last online print making class. It starts soon.

-I love Chip and Joanna Gaines. Did you know that they have started their own network? From what I’ve read and watched it seems like it will be filled with lots of positive stories. Coming soon.

-I recently listened to this podcast and found it so interesting. From the Amazon page for his book :“David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.” So if you have started late and/or you aren’t a specialist here’s some encouragement.

Enjoy!

Summer so far

Color everywhere. Summer is in full swing. How can it possibly be July already?

Our yard is sunnier as we are having two trees taken down this week. One is already down. A locust. You can spy it in the orchid photo. The other is a maple that is dying. I’m hoping to do a little garden next year now that we will have more direct light available. Veggies I think. I’m excited to think of the possibilities. I will miss the shade but it was time for them to go. The neighbor was having two dead ash trees taken down and we decided it was finally time to let our trees go too. They were both about 60+ years old and overhanging the house. When storms would come up there was always the concern of parts breaking and falling on the house.

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My orchids are all blooming. I only have 3 but still it’s exciting.

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I cut my knitting! On purpose! The socks you see were knit cuff to heel in a tube and then I cut in the knitting to insert an afterthought heel. It wasn’t hard or scary at all. It was actually pretty fun.

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I’ve signed up for Misty Mawn’s new class that starts on July 12.

How’s summer (or winter) going where you are?

Being You

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It’s a strange thing keeping a blog. The worries of saying too much. Not saying enough. Is anyone reading? What do you write about? Maybe people don’t care so much with all the things swirling around the web. It can be hard to keep up. To take it all in and remain level headed.

Lately I’ve been head over heels with my knitting. Elizabeth Zimmerman books (I’m eyeing this dvd), socks, knit alongs, scarves, shawls and knitting podcasts. I’m starting a knitting/fiber arts group at the library in the fall. The one that used to exist there I was unable to get to. The kids were much smaller and it just didn’t work into my schedule. I’m not sure what happened to the group but a few years ago it stopped meeting. I love the community aspect of knitting among many other things of course.

I haven’t painted in about a week or so and I want to get back to it. My love for abstract painting is growing stronger and I will pull out my abstract sketchbook very soon. School is wrapping up next week and the days will slow down a bit so there will be more time to start the day slowly.

In the past I would feel conflicted about wanting to paint and wanting to do fiber arts. It really isn’t a surprise that I love them both considering that is exactly what I studied in school. Painting textile designs with gouache and learning how to weave. Drawing nature studies with charcoal and using a knitting machine (not fun). So it’s all related.

I’m no longer going to deem it as a bad thing to love both and will follow the energy where it leads me. Maybe this makes me an amateur. Maybe I’m a pro am. I don’t know. And I don’t know where it will lead but I don’t even think that really matters.

So if you love only one creative expression and you are in it fully that is great but if you’re consumed by many like me it’s okay. It’s okay to be you. Come to think of it there are more than just knitting and painting that I’m interested in. :)

Lovely Things

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I’m really enjoying sharing fun, lovely things here. The above painting was done a very long time ago.

*I made this cake over the weekend and it is delicious! If you go strawberry picking and are looking for a way to use some of them up I highly recommend this cake. I didn’t use freshly picked strawberries so I can only imagine how good it would be with them. I’m sure you could try different fruit too.

*I started watching this on Netflix and I’m really enjoying it. I rarely stayed up for the Late Show but I like the mix of guests he has had on so far and that I’ve watched.

*Do you know of Arne and Carlos? They are designers, textile artists and authors. They have a YouTube Channel as well. Here they are teaching how to make a granny square scarf. They have lots of other great videos to check out as well. I enjoy watching them.