Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dyeing more yarn (Kool-Aid and mordanting).

Last week I did some more experimenting with dyeing yarn. Mostly I wanted to test out some of the other Kool-Aid flavors I had bought a while back to see what colors I ended up with. I made a few tiny skeins from scrap yarn to test so I wouldn't be wasting good yarn if something went wrong. :)

This was my first attempt at different colors within the same skein. I basically put the skein (in loop form, not wrapped up as below) on a piece of plastic wrap and poured some different colors in stripes on the loop. I used Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Orange Kool-Aid. As you can see, the colors kind of pooled up and blended in spots and made a greenish or yellowish tint. Then I took it off the plastic wrap and put it in a container in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Obviously I didn't plan this out or do it properly. The colors didn't set very well, but I think the result is still pretty. :) I'm definitely going to try dyeing self-striping yarn sometime.

I used two packs of Lemon on this little bit of very strange yarn. One pack was a very pale yellow, but adding more made it this nice shade. I couldn't see myself ever using this yarn for anything, but after I dyed it I realized it would make perfect curly blond doll hair. :)

For this bit of bulky yarn, I used Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade...two packs, I think? I also added a bit of grape, trying to darken it up a bit. Which didn't work. But there are nice subtle purple-ish parts now (though I don't think you can see them in the photos).

This was my only "real" Kool-Aid dyeing project of the day. Remember this white yarn that became this bright green yarn? I decided to overdye it because I would probably never knit anything in that shade of green.

So I mixed up some Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Grape, and a few drops of blue food coloring, and this is what I ended up with.

No, I didn't mean for it to be this inconsistent and variegated, but I actually really love it. It's a dark green color with bits of teal and light green and purple tones. I will definitely use this color of yarn. :)

I also finally got a start on natural dyeing. With natural dyeing, most people mordant yarn before they actually use it. The mordant helps the color from the plant material stick to the yarn better. The book I'm using says that you get the best results if you've mordanted the yarn a week before you dye it. So I went ahead and did a mordant on three yarns, so they'll be ready to dye whenever I am (that last bit sounds weird when you think about it too much :).

This is the most recent Corriedale that I cleaned and hand carded. I'm planning on dyeing it with fennel, so the book recommended using iron as a mordant, since it helps bring out the green more. The mordant actually turned the yarn this light tan, so it looks like it's already dyed though of course it's not. :)

I used alum to mordant about 100 yards of this purchased yarn.

I also mordanted this Hobby Lobby: I Love This Wool! Naturals in alum. I'm not sure what I'll use to dye these two. I've been saving zinnia blooms from the garden, but apparently most people have a hard time getting anything other than brown from zinnias. They're so bright and colorful you wouldn't think that, huh?

Kool-Aid dyeing is so easy that this natural dyeing thing seems really intimidating to me now. I used the burners on my dad's grill so I could do this outside (I bought an electric hotplate to use, but with two huge pots it made more sense this time to just use the grill). The alum and iron mordants are technically naturally occurring substances, but they still put off odors when you're boiling them...especially the iron. And it's still not good to pour them out on the ground without diluting them. I decided to reuse my mordant baths, so my dad helped me save the water when we rinsed the yarn along with what was left in the pots, and we stored it in plastic buckets to use again next time.

Most of the dyeing herbs I planted in the garden this year didn't make it. We do have a bit of fennel that I'm hoping to use. My indigo never did much (it definitely never got to the point where it was big enough to bloom!), only two of my dyer's chamomile made it to the garden and they've since died, and the hopi red dye amaranth got eaten to bits by some horrible little worms. My hollyhock is the only thing that, so far, has thrived, though they currently do have some bug holes in the leaves. The black hollyhocks won't bloom until next year, though, so they're not doing me any good right now!

So I'm resting all my hopes on the wild plants that are native to my area. And most of them can't be used until late summer or fall, so I'm still waiting. There's tons of sumac, and I'm saving my first ever spindle spun yarn for that. I'm also planning on dyeing with pokeberries and maybe black walnut hulls. We'll see!

Until next time,

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Am Understood? {Music Monday 5}

Relient K has consistently been one of my favorite bands since I was about 12 or 13. I bought their CD "Two Lefts Don't Make a Right...But Three Do" about that time. I remember sitting in the backyard listening to it on my portable CD player while trying to get a bit of sun because I was going to be the guestbook attendant in my cousin's wedding and didn't want to blind everyone with my paleness. :)

I decided the song this week had to be Relient K because apparently they recently released a new CD and I had no idea!

Though apparently it has gotten not-so-great reviews because there's a lot of co-writing, and the lyrics don't live up to Relient K awesomeness. That worries me a bit. And I have to admit I didn't buy their last album of covers, either (mostly they covered a Justin Beiber song...oh dear). So even though I worry about the state of Relient K currently, I can block it out and pretend to live in ignorant bliss, loving their old albums. :)

I really do love Matt Thiessen's voice. But my favorite thing about Relient K is the lyrics. They have some incredibly goofy, random nonsense songs that make me smile. But they also have some of the most honest, heartfelt lyrics I've ever heard...ones that make me wonder if they've been reading my mind because they're writing exactly how I feel.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite Relient K songs, as well as one of my favorite songs in general. (I read a while back people assuming this song was talking about a girl. That surprised me, because I never thought it was written towards anyone but God, and I still think that. :)

Until next time,

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Project 360: Week 30

{203} I finally got to finish Divergent after having to return it to the library and eventually buying my own copy. It was...not as good as I had hoped or expected. Not worth the hype, in my opinion.

{204} Started knitting a new pair of socks.

{205} I picked up two books that I've been wanting to read for a long time and a very popular one that intrigues me.

{206} Old sign.

{207} This butterfly just wouldn't stay still, hence the off-centered photo.

{208} A peek at some experimental Kool-Aid dyeing from this week. :)

{209} After a thunderstorm.

Until next time,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Blue polka dot Hawthorn.

I have wanted a blue polka dot dress for the longest time now, mostly for two reasons: Lucy Ricardo and my grandmother. I Love Lucy is my favorite show, and I've always admired the polka dot dress that she wore so often. And we have a photo of Nanny (my mom's mother), and she's wearing a satiny navy and white polka dot dress. Whenever she sees that picture, my mom always asks Nanny why she didn't hold on to that awesome dress. :)

So I finally have my blue polka dot dress...

I am much more excited about it than I appear to be. I was actually a bit grumpy about this photo shoot, to be honest. :) I was planning to get some wonderful photos outside amongst flowers or something. Then when I wore the dress to church last week, I forgot to get pictures while I was wearing it. I had planned all week to get some photos this afternoon, and wouldn't you know it was raining?? We only had one room that was easy to take them in, but it was still rather dark and dreary so forgive the bad lighting. And thanks to my mom for putting up with my grumbling and taking the photos. :)

Anyway, on to the dress. You probably remember me swooning here on the blog when Colette Patterns released the new Hawthorn pattern several weeks ago. I love shirt dresses, though I didn't own any (until now!). I decided to not only order the pattern but also to participate in the sew along, though I didn't exactly stay on the schedule. I had to fit in the sewing when I had time...so even though I got a late start, I finished the dress in two days about a week apart from each other. :)

{In case you're wondering, my (crooked) brooch is Mary Poppins, and it's from this Etsy shop.}

I did make a muslin first. The fit was okay but not perfect, and there were a few things that needed adjusting to make it look less frumpy. :) Here are the alterations I made:

-Shortened the bodice by one inch so the waistline hit at my natural waist. (I had to do this with the swing dresses also, so apparently I'm short-waisted?) Because of that, the bust darts and buttonholes changed a bit, too. And I added an extra button at the bottom because I wasn't comfortable with the approx. 6 inch gap at the hem.

-Lengthened the skirt by two inches (because shortening the bodice obviously shortened the whole dress).

-The bodice was very loose, especially near the underarm. So I took in a bit at the side seams, adding about 1 inch to the seam allowance at the top and narrowing down to a 1/2 addition at the waist.

-My collar is a bit more narrow than it should be because I used a bigger seam allowance while stitching it. I didn't like that 1/4 inch seam allowance at all...if you're not extremely careful you'll have basting stitches and maybe even raw edges showing if your cutting and stitching isn't perfect. Mine wasn't. :) So I had to use a bigger seam allowance to hide all of that.

-I also didn't do the hem as the pattern called for, but that was more laziness than alteration. :) I folded over 1/2 inch, then 1/2 inch again and hemmed it on my machine instead of by hand.

I used cotton lawn from the Lisette spring line at Joann's. It was a breeze to work with after I switched out to a thinner fabric needle...a lot like just regular quilter's cotton except better suited for apparel. :)
I'm really proud of these sleeves. There's not a lot of easing in the pattern, so they fit very nicely at the seam. The band at the bottom turned out horribly on my muslin, and I nearly just hemmed the sleeves. It seemed like a lot of work for a not-so-nice result. But I tried it again with my real fabric and it fit in perfectly (though with my the polka dot print it looks a bit chaotic :). Also, I really like the length of them. Even in the summer, I feel more comfortable in longer short sleeves. Maybe because they help hide the farmer's tan on my arms...
The buttons are vintage ones that came from Nanny's button tin. She gave it to me when I started sewing several years ago (she used to sew but doesn't much anymore other than the occasional hemming project). I searched through dozens and dozens of these small white buttons that appear exactly the same until you get them in good light and notice that some are darker/more yellowish/thicker than others. :) Finally I found 14 of them that matched enough for nobody to be able to tell the difference.
{Buttonholes make me so paranoid, even though the machine virtually does all the work for you. There's something incredibly nerve-wracking about putting tons of stitches and then holes in something you've worked so hard on.}

I'm so pleased with how this dress turned out. It's so light and comfortable. It's fitted enough to be flattering but loose enough to be comfy. I love the little collar and the full skirt. It's probably my favorite dress I've made so far. :) And I will definitely be making more versions...I actually already have the fabric for the next one.

I sort of regret not adding pockets, though I think with this thin fabric pockets might be too much of a strain on the seams. I can always add them later if I want to, of course. I'm also planning on making a belt for this dress covered in the same fabric. I've bought the belting but I'm still looking for the right buckle, so unfortunately I couldn't have it ready in time for this post!

Just for fun, because this dress feels so 1950s to me, here's a vintaged up photo. :)

Thanks so much Colette Patterns for designing this lovely dress and hosting a sew along! :)

Until next time,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The perfectly purple baby sweater.

I know things have been a bit quiet around here lately. I have my new Hawthorn dress to show you soon, and I've started a few new knitting projects (including my first sweater for myself! Yay!).
But for now I have two knitting projects that I've been working on for the past month or two and recently finished. First up is another baby sweater for my future niece. :) I'm saving it to give my brother and sister-in-law at the baby shower, but I feel pretty safe posting it here because neither of them read my blog (as far as I know).
Can I just say for approx. the hundredth time that making clothes for babies is so much fun?? It's so satisfying and quicker than adult clothes. And just admit it...baby clothes are pretty much the most adorable things ever. Besides actual babies, obviously. :)

I used this pattern, and it's a bit more fancy than the first sweater I made her. There are decorative stitches in a yoke around the neck, at the bottom, and at the ends of the sleeves. I like that the decorative bits look complicated though they're really easy.

The only difficult thing about the pattern was that it's a bit vague. I read some of the notes from others on Ravelry who made the sweater for information like how long to make the sleeves. I made the larger size, which I think was 3-6 months.

I found these adorable wooden buttons at Joann's. I decided they looked better sewn on horizontally rather than vertically, though they were almost too wide for the button band.

The yarn is one of Hobby Lobby's acrylic baby brands. It's really a much nicer, richer purple than it looks...the lighting washed it out when I took the photos. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of pink (even for baby girls), so I couldn't resist using purple instead. :)

For more details, you can see the project page here.

I also finished this cowl. Though I had originally planned on using the skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Light that I bought earlier this year in a pair of socks, I decided to use it for the Chickadee Cowl instead. This pattern was ridiculously easy, but the yarn is fingering weight so I felt like I worked on it for the longest time.

I think the color is gorgeous and I'm pleased with how it turned out, except for my sloppy bind-off at the top. I'm too lazy to go back and fix it. More details on the project page here.

What have you been making lately?

Until next time,

Monday, July 22, 2013

Somebody Sweet To Talk To {Music Monday 4}

I nearly forgot about Music Monday this week. :) A week or so ago, I bought two new CDs: Michael Buble's To Be Loved and She & Him's Volume 3. I've been listening to both CDs almost nonstop since then. I keep thinking that I'm going to get sick of them, but I haven't so far.

She & Him is so different from the music I usually listen to (either oldies or folk/bluegrass inspired stuff). It's very poppy and 60s/70s sounding. Bouncy and cheerful and fluffy, and even the sadder songs sound upbeat. :) The lyrics are generally either about love or love lost or just random nothings. It's kind of irresistible.

This is probably my favorite song from the new album, Volume 3. I don't know why I love it so much...the lyrics don't have much meaning. It's just ridiculously catchy. (Though I really love all but about two of the songs from this CD.)

Until next time,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Project 360: Week 29

{196} I didn't notice the bit of spider web until I put this photo on my computer. :)

{197} Color in the garden.

{198} I've been reading this Beatrix Potter biography, but it's huge and there's no way I'll finish it before it's due back to the library (on Tuesday).

{199} Speaking of Beatrix Potter, I think she would have liked this little rabbit we met on the way to feed the chickens.

{200} Some gorgeous spinning fiber I ordered from Etsy arrived!

{201} Me and Mom took a little trip to the mountains for a fiber and yarn sale at the Greenberry House. We had to stop at Lovers Leap, of course.

{202} Sorting through and measuring yardage on some of the yarn I bought at the sale.

Until next time,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cheap book finds.

I have mixed feelings about book "hauls." I love seeing them on blogs or YouTube videos. I love a good bargain, especially when it comes to books. And I have this weird fascination with seeing what books other people find for cheap prices!

But when I share pictures of books that I've bought myself, somehow I'm afraid of coming across as materialistic or like I'm bragging. I hope I don't seem that way. Here's the thing: I don't work a public job. I do child care a few days a week for family members and have a small Etsy shop. I don't make much money, but living at home, I also don't have too many expenses. Though I occasionally splurge on things like pretty yarn or handmade brooches on Etsy, I consider myself a pretty thrifty person. As far as books, DVDs, and craft supplies go, I never pay full price if I can help it. I love coupons, sales, and thrift stores. :)

I've found some really good books at various places over the past month. So I thought I'd give you guys a peek and maybe inspire you to find places that sell cheap books! {By the way, these are in random order, not in the order I purchased them.}

First up I have some books I found at a local Goodwill. This isn't the Goodwill I usually visit, but it's near the library, so when me and Mom were there recently we stopped in. I've found some neat children's books there before, and this time was no exception.

I found The Story of Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting, which I've never read. I think I've seen the remake of the film but not the original one. I also found Eva Ibbotson's The Secret of Platform 13. Yes, my mind did connect Platform 13 with Platform 9 3/4. :) But I've heard good things about this author. And the thing that really drew me in was the fact that I think there's a knitting needle-wielding villain in this book. You know I couldn't resist that. {I'm fairly certain this is the book, but I could be wrong. Also, this was one of my library books that I hadn't been able to read yet. Now I'm glad to have my own copy.}

These books cost 50 cents each.

Also, at that same Goodwill, I found this sewing book. It's from 1959, and seems to be sort of like a textbook. I don't know anything about the Bishop Method, but I love the illustrations inside and the way they explain how to fix many common fitting problems! This one was $1.50, which brought my grand total to $2.50 plus tax.

Last week while returning and renewing some library books, I just happen to glance at the little table just inside the library where they have books for sale. I found these two...

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler. I didn't realize that another book comes before this one, but apparently this one is sort of parallel story rather than a sequel. So hopefully it won't matter that I haven't read the other one yet. :) I also found the second Nancy Drew book (I have the first one but haven't read it yet). The Austen book was $1.00 and the Nancy Drew one was 25 cents. They're not former library books- they're both hardcover and in perfect condition...basically brand new!

I've already shared these in a Project 360 post, I think, but I'll share them again. :) Have you guys ever heard of Ollie's Bargain Outlet? They have very good prices on certain things, but I generally never make it out of the book section. The book part is amazing, you guys!

At our Ollie's, they have general categories, but when they get new books they basically just seem to put them wherever there's room. Shelf after shelf and whole tables packed with books. It's a magical place. :) The thing is...you have to be willing to look and dig. If you just skim, you probably won't find anything.  But if you take the time to shift books around and look through stacks, you can find some amazing bargains. I can't even begin to tell you some of the finds I've had in there...books that I've been looking for forever. There have also been instances when I've paid $10-$15 for certain hardcover books only to have them appear in Ollie's several months later for like $3. That part's kind of sickening. :) Sometimes I'll go a month or two without seeing anything new, and then sometimes I'll find something I've been looking for every time I stop in. They have picture books, children's books, YA, cookbooks, and tons and tons of Christian fiction/historical fiction (our local one does, anyway). They're all new, though they're bargain books and sometimes have scuffs or bent edges.

I found Summer and Bird, by Katherine Catmull (in hardcover) for $2.99. Blue Skies Tomorrow was $4.99...most of the Christian novels are. I got the previous two books in this series at Ollie's, too. Five bucks isn't bad, but I don't see why the paperbacks cost more than most hardcovers when it comes to religious fiction. The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic was $3.99 (it's illustrated by the same man who illustrated the Series of Unfortunate Events books).

A couple of weeks ago they were having a big group yard sale at the farmers' market. I bought a 1940s copy of Misty of Chincoteague. I used to be obsessed with horse stories, and I loved Marguerite Henry's books. I remember loving this one especially, but I only owned Brighty of the Grand Canyon, so I was so happy to find this one. :) I also found a book that contains two of Agatha Christie's mysteries: the first and last of Poirot's career, I think. I've read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and I just love Agatha Christie's stories. And then there's the book about Sinatra. Let me add this to the pile of other Sinatra-related memoirs and books I own and haven't read yet. I have a love-hate relationship with celebrity memoirs and biographies.

Since this was the second week of the sale, everything was 50% off. I can't remember exact amounts, but I think these three books came to $2.00 or maybe $2.25.

My last two additions were also from Ollie's. :) I've already mentioned this gorgeous copy of The Adventures of Robin Hood. I also got Scumble, which is the sequel to a fun children's book called Savvy (which I also found at Ollie's a couple of years ago). These were both $1.99 each, but since they were on sale the total was $3.63.

So...over the past month or so, I've found 13 cheap books, for a total of approx. $21. Not bad at all, considering you would pay that much for 2 new paperbacks on Amazon. The only bad thing about inexpensive books is that I can justify buying more of them. :)

Until next time,