Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Looking to spruce up your walls?

I've got just the thing. Well, lots of things, actually:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun with Fibers, week 1: Dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid

My go-to guide for dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid is the 2002 article in the online magazine Knitty, which can be found here:  It's got explicit directions, as well as samples of what colors you get from different flavors of the drink mix.  I've tried the directions, and they work well at home and only require standard kitchen equipment.

Additional information for the lecture this week came from

More information and activities for modern dyes:

Craft project for natural dyes:

Yarn: Sensations Kashmira, which is readily available at JoAnn Fabrics.  Any yarn with a high content of wool or other animal fiber could be substituted, but keep in mind that anything that is mostly cotton or acrylic won't hold the dye.   Dyed yarn should be colorfast and safe to hand-wash, but it will fade in the light and will probably felt if washed in a machine.

Dye: One packet of Kool-Aid per 20-yard hank of yarn.  The article says you can dye up to an ounce of wool with one packet, but for the most saturated colors, use more Kool-Aid and less yarn.

Dye pots: We're using plastic leftover containers I bought at the grocery store.  In the past I've used Pyrex custard cups, Corelle bowls, and glass casserole dishes.  You want something that's wide and shallow to make it easy to reach the yarn and have it spread out enough to get good contact with the dye.  It also needs to be microwaveable and something that you don't mind getting a little stained (which usually doesn't happen, but I'd hate for you to be disappointed when it did).

Stirring: We're using chopsticks, but you could also use plastic spoons or other disposable items.

Educators:  when you're dyeing hanks of yarn with a class full of kids, you have to do things a wee bit differently.  Here's what I did:
- Selected inexpensive yarn - one skein of Sensations Kashmira from JoAnn Fabrics was enough for 10 hanks that are about 20 yards each.
- Wound the hanks, then tied each one with acrylic yarn at three places to keep it from tangling when being manhandled.
- Prepared the hanks by dunking them in slightly soapy water and squeezing them gently to get them thoroughly wet.  I did this a few at a time in a basin of water, then wrung each hank out and rinsed it in running water.
- Prepared the "dye pots," which were inexpensive plastic storage containers (shallow, large footprint containers work best), by placing a damp hank of yarn in each and adding a shot of clear water to keep it wet until class time.  Each child has one dye pot.
- Gathered the rest of my materials, including: a plastic tarp to protect the work area, several disposable chopsticks to use for stirring, a few plastic drinking cups we could use to transfer water, one package of Kool-Aid for each child, a roll of paper towels, a large container of water (there isn't a water supply in the classroom), and a bath towel I didn't mind staining.  The children already had smocks at school to cover their clothes.
- Each child got a dye pot with damp yarn inside, and a packet of drink mix.  They took the yarn out of the pot, emptied the drink mix into the pot, then added about 1/2 cup water and stirred the mix until it dissolved.  Then they added the yarn, squished it down into the dye, and added enough water to cover the yarn completely.
- I took the sealed pots to the room with a microwave, and microwaved them until the water in each pot was mostly white or clear - about 5 minutes or so, checking every two minutes.
- I showed the kids the pots before I rinsed them so they could see that the dye had been absorbed, then I took the pots to the bathroom and rinsed each hank separately under warm water, squeezing them firmly to get all the water out.  I rolled all of the hanks up in a bath towel and jumped on it a few times to get some more of the water out, then put each hank in a plastic bag with the child's name on it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

inspired by textures

We spent yesterday at the San Diego Zoo, and I ended up filling up my camera's SD card with shot after shot of the textures you see on all the animals.  I've got zebra zigzags, rhino rumples, giraffe globs, and llama lashes.  I've got hibiscus flowers ad nauseum.  And I have approximately 400 shots of a mother flamingo feeding her chick, thanks to the other birds who would not move their butts out of the frame so I could get a clean shot.

Be on the lookout for new Gsees photos soon, as I am chock full of good material (once I get it edited and color corrected).

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

TGIF - Thank God It's Finished

"Well, Jim, it's looks like this week you've bagged an elusive beast, the Giant Double-Irish Chain of Doom.  Tell us a little about it."

"As you can see, Dave, it's a monster.  And so brightly colored - beautiful plumage on this specimen."
"Right you are, Jim.  Let's go in for a closeup to see if we can see its true colors."

"There, Dave - do you see the characteristic pixelated lines that criss-cross the belly of the beast?"
"I see them, Jim, I see them!  But tell me, are they usually so spotted?"
"No, this one is unusual in both size and coloration.  Let's flip it over and see if the pattern continues on its underside."

"Aaaaaah!  My eyes!  Jim, what have you done to me?  I'm feeling woozy ..."
"Sorry, Dave - I forgot what it can be like the first time you are exposed to a sight like this.  Shall we return the beast to its natural habitat, then?"
"Please, make it go away, Jim!  Make it go away!"

"Off you go, then, Beauty.  There's nothing I like to see more than a magnificent beast like this back in its natural surroundings."
"Arglflarbl ... head ... spinning ..."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Wait, wasn't there something I had planned to do in the past 6 weeks?

Things have been busy around here, but unfortunately, not with stuff that's terribly interesting to anyone other than me.  For example, right now I'm supposed to be simultaneously

- finishing mermaid tail orders #9 and #10 of the fall

- hemming two pairs of my daughter's pants, which currently are 6" too long.  Six inches.  What were they smoking when they designed those?

- putting the finishing touches on a really badly-made quilt for my daughter's room.  She picked out fabric before her birthday - in April - and lost interest in the whole thing as soon as I cut it out.  I lost interest too, and did a seriously half-assed job on the quilting (it's so bad I won't even photograph it to make fun of myself, because oh my god it's awful).  I missed a couple spots with the quilting that I found while binding it, and there are a couple of seams that didn't quite get sewn well enough that need to be reinforced.  And the thing is practically big enough for a queen-size bed, despite being designed for a twin.  It's like the project designed to torment me in as many ways as possible.  I just know I'll finish it, she won't ever use it, and then the cat will throw up all over it one day as it's laying on the floor in her closet.  But at least then it won't be taking up half of my sewing table with its taunting ugliness

- sewing about 48 pairs of legwarmers that are all cut out and waiting on my sewing table

- sewing a new pair of pajamas for my kid.  Flannel-backed-satin feels really, really nice ... I'm sure it's going to be lots of fun to sew with!  Yes, indeed!

- working on the projects for a crochet class I'm supposed to be teaching at my LYS this November

- working on the projects for the kids' craft class I'm supposed to be teaching at my daughter's school this year

- finishing up the pattern for this quilt:
which is also this quilt

And I'm not supposed to be blogging, so I guess that's it for now. Ta!