Some success!

Well, bleah.  I’ve moved on.  Last Saturday I ordered some Rambouillet (sheep breed) wool from an Etsy seller, which arrived today.  I ordered three kinds – one, a solid wool batt; one, a 50/50 silk/wool batt; one, a half-pound of wool roving.  It was all undyed.  I had this idea for spinning it, which was to dye each one a separate color and then spin them to work together.  The roving, however, is a big bump, much too much for me to efficiently paint in my laundry room, so I’ll probably spin that first and then dye it.  I did dye the batts, though, with a ‘why the heck not’ kind of technique.

People on my Rav boards have been talking about gradient dyeing.  I decided to try my own version of this, as follows:

  1. Fill the dye pot with citric acid and water.
  2. Mix up the dye and add it to the water.
  3. Place the rolled-up “all wool” batt into the pot and allow it to sink in and absorb as much as possible.  Wait about 10 minutes.
  4. Place the rolled-up silk/wool batt into the pot on top of that, and allow it to sink in and absorb as much as possible of what is left in the pot.  The idea here being that the wool batt would have soaked up ‘most’ of the dye, giving the silk one a lighter, gradient tint.
  5. Nuke ’em and proceed as usual.

Did it.  The batts are drying on the front porch.  The two things that didn’t turn out as I’d expected is that first of all I didn’t blend the dye perfectly, so there are some yellow splodges on the wool batt.  Secondly, the silk/wool one probably should have sat in the dye bath a while longer (to soak up dye) before I microwaved them.  The center of the silk/wool batt is still completely white.   But since these are going to be spun anyway, it will make an interesting combo.

One thing that surprised me quite a bit is that using 75% Jacquard’s “Brilliant Blue” and 25% “Sun Yellow” resulted in this deep teal color.  I was expecting something more turquoise.  Jacquard claims the Brilliant Blue is their primary blue, but I’m thinking their Turquoise would have been a better choice.  (But I don’t have any of that on hand.)

Here it is, drying on the front porch.  Guess which is which.

So much to do, so inefficiently…

It’s been one of those weeks where I have had a ton of crafty ideas and can’t settle to any of them.   Last week I’d had this idea to make short dress bodies out of sewn fabric and then attach a knitted top (and possibly a ruffle) to them, for summer wear.  I can never find short, casual, summer dresses that look fun.  So this seemed like a plan.  Butterick makes a skirt pattern (for longer skirts) that is basically just a tube with an elastic waist.  This was just right, so I got it.

Saturday we went to Jo-Ann’s and bought some fabric.  Some cream cotton and some denim, plus the notions for this project.

Sunday I sewed the skirt.  It came out much too long (floor-length), the cotton was see-through, and the ruffle looked a bit funny.  So that was a thumbs-down project (although it helped me figure out what to do for the next time around).  This was so depressing that I went off and dyed a skein of Crystal Palace ‘Party Ribbon’ (bulky weight 100% nylon) from Dharma Trading.  Came out beautifully and I was quite pleased and decided to use that for the bodice & ruffle of the first denim dress that I would make.

Monday I cut out and sewed the body part of the first denim dress.  Then I did a gauge swatch with the Party Ribbon, calculated my needs for the bodice and ruffle, and realized that one skein of Party Ribbon was not going to be enough.  So I dyed another skein.  (There were orignally six undyed skeins.)

Naturally the second skein didn’t even come close to matching the first.  So, here I am with a failed cream skirt, 2 skeins of yarn that don’t match, and the body for a dress.  The rest of the day on Monday I just worked on an old knitting project that hasn’t been seeing the light of day much.  It was a grumpy day.

Tuesday:  took two of my remaining undyed skeins of Party Ribbon and dyed them in the same dye pot.  Yeah!  Now I have enough to do the bodice and the ruffle on the denim dress.  Both these skeins came out a little clowny, or Carmen-Miranda-ish, but they looked good and rainbowy.  Now, this ribbon is nylon, and the idea of wearing a 100% nylon sweater in the summer worried me.  So I spent a lot of time looking for silk ribbon yarn online, and not finding any.  So…the next idea was to take a square of silk fabric, dye it, and cut it into bias strips that would then be sewn together to make a silk ribbon yarn.  Went to Dharma’s website and ordered a yard of silk to experiment with.

Wednesday:  went to the yarn stores and bought some Shetland wool yarn to make a double-knitted “something.”  (Not sure yet what it’s going to be, but when I figure it out, at least there is yarn here to do it with!)  Spent the rest of the day swatching, thinking about what I could make with it, and watching the Carmen Miranda yarn dry.  The Shetland yarn is probably a knee-jerk reaction to nylon ribbon!

Thursday:  started knitting the bodice with the rainbow yarn.  It really didn’t look that bad in the skein or even in the ball form, but now that I’ve started knitting with it, it does look very ‘little kid.’  Not really the look I was going for.  And I also discovered that my gauge calculations were off…this is going to be a bodice for a lady gorilla.  But I can adjust that while finishing the knitting.  I polled Chris, Alex & Mom, and both the boys said “it doesn’t look too clowny, it looks good, it looks like the stuff you like” and Mom said “it looks too bright for ME to wear” (meaning herself).  But I still can’t get into it.  I’m thinking of overdyeing it with a weak black dye bath after all the knitting is done.  So, not much progress has been made there. 

This is the Carmen Miranda project in progress.

With my brain still musing on the Shetland thing I started thinking about spinning again (because I can’t get the colorway I want in a commercial Shetland yarn).  Spent a bit of time thinking about this and looking at spinning fibers on the internet.

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, the silk fabric arrived from Dharma, along with a sample kit of no-heat-needed fabric dyes.

Today’s Friday.  I cannot make myself knit that clowny bodice – it’s sitting there taunting me.  Found some of my old spinning fiber and spun one length of singles intended for a 2-ply yarn (and about 2/3 of the second singles).  But then I stopped spinning & decided to dye the silk fabric (which wll be cut into bias strips).  Remember there is the silk fabric AND a pack of no-heat-needed dyes?  Well, I forgot all about the no-heat-needed dyes, and dyed the silk fabric in the microwave as usual.  When the microwave was done I saw the no-heat-needed dyes sitting on the shelf and yes, I did do a facepalm.

The silk dyeing didn’t take long, and there were still 2 skeins of Party Ribbon that weren’t allocated to anything.  Seems like a good way to experiment with the no-heat dyes, right?  Wrong.  First of all, since there is no heat or other procedure needed, I could have – and probably should have – taken everything out back, in the sunshine, to work.  But my default place to dye is in the crampy little laundry room, so that’s where the work was done.

The jars of dye were already liquid and only .5 ounces each.  The instructions do not say to wet the fiber, or any other kind of prep, so I put a dry skein of Party Ribbon into my dye pot and started randomly applying dyes all over.   Since the yarn was dry, it sucked up this liquid dye like crazy.  I ended up using all six tiny bottles of dye on this one skein and STILL had undyed sections…so I put a little water in the pot and swished it around.  This helped get the whole skein dyed, but that made it muddy.  The skein (and the silk fabric) are hanging out back to dry now, but the laundry room was a terrible mess from these no-heat things.  (By the way, the brand name of these is Colorhue Dyes.)  It took about half an hour of scrubbing and mopping to get the Colorhue dye stains off the sink, floor, etc. of the laundry room.

<I’m trying to insert a picture of the Colorhue-dyed skein here, but the program keeps trying to put it at the top of the post, and it won’t allow itself to be moved down here!>

Now I’m sitting here blogging, looking out the window at the silk fabric and the skein of Colorhue Party Ribbon, and feeling somewhat miserable.  The Carmen Miranda bodice is hidden from sight.  The denim dress body is up in the sewing room, the spinning stuff is in my bedroom, and the Shetland is in my knitting basket.  And I’m NOT HAPPY WITH ANY OF IT!!!!  (Yes, this does warrant four exclamation marks.)  I don’t even know where to go from here.  I’ll finish the spinning, but am in such a bad mood I just might skip all crafting for the entire weekend.  BLEAH!

Final Bit of Landscaping

Today we finished up the back yard.  There was one superfluous “Amadeus” rose, which we planted in the corner (to hide the fence corner), although it will sort of be hidden by the crabapple until the crabapple gets taller.  We also finished putting up the rest of the rose netting support and took all the labels off the new plants.  There is one dead ceanothus we have to remove and replace with something, and two dead euonymus we need to do ditto, but I’m not sure what we will put in there, so we’re leaving the dead things in situ until we work that out.  I really, really, REALLY wish we could get some ceanothus going and STAY HAPPY, but every year for about the last four years we’ve planted ceanothus which end up dying over the winter.  So I think we will not bother with that anymore.

Suggestions?  Something that does well in sun/clay, and that doesn’t dwarf a Doublefile Viburnum.