Monday, March 26, 2007

A Dye Weekend

I did a cochineal dye bath this weekend as well as start an indigo vat and knitted two pair of socks. So, I feel like I got a lot of stuff done. I didn't get my taxes done though despite it being on the top of my to-do-list (I have only a couple of more weeks to get them done). Dyeing and knitting is always better than taxes right?

The cochineal recipe that I used uses 1/3 less bugs than the last recipe that I used. That will certainly save me money. The color turned out just as strong. However, this dye bath was a lipstick red rather than a scarlet as last time. But the color was so beautiful, I didn't want to mess around with it and possibly ruin it.

After dyeing a pound of wool yard, I then put in a pair of socks that I had knitted this weekend as well. The second dye bath turned them a wonderful rose color. I bet I could have dyed a few more articles and they would have come out a wonderful pink. I put a small batch of indigo dyed wool into the second dye bath and it came out a strange mauve color. I say strange only because it didn't dye evenly. I am going to try to sell the rose colored socks on eBay.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Linen Sock, 18th Century Touque Pattern, and Madder Red

We had a new visitor to our bird feeder. He's the middle one in the photo. We had to get out the bird book to find out what it was - a fox sparrow. It is bigger than a house sparrow with a lovely dark brown color, blue feathers on the head, and a lovely stripe pattern on the chest. I had never heard of one or seen one in my entire life. My bird feeder this year has certainly brought some new visitors.

I finished the 18th century toque pattern last week and knit up a sample in a dark red wool. My intention is to take this pattern, knit it up in hand-dye madder red, add in "Liberty or Death" in natural wool, and sell a couple. Mike loves his and he says he gets comments about it all the time.

So, now that I had the pattern, I just had to dye up some madder red wool. I started on Thursday night with a Tin and Cream of Tarter mordant bath for one pound of wool yarn. I also ground up the madder root (from Pakistan that I purchased from Aurora Silk) in the blender, added water, brought it up to about 180 degrees and then turned it off for the night. Friday evening I blended the madder again in the blender then put it in a dye bag made out of linen (I make my own by making a large tube, sewing up the sides with a small machine stitch, and then tying off the top). The wool then went in Friday night around 160 degrees for 90 minutes. I then let the yarn soak in the dye bath until Sunday afternoon. It is a beautiful red - not too orangey. But I am still partial to the cochineal red. But, the colonies just wouldn't have had a large access to cochineal and their reds would have been closer to Turkey Red or Madder Red, both of which come from Madder Root.

Saturday, I knit up a linen sock with 7/5 natural linen I purchased from R&M Yarns. The yarn smelled just like a fresh hay bale and brought back memories of haying in the summer in Northeast Ohio. Anyway, back to the yarn and the sock. I am finding linen hard to knit on the machine mainly because it is hard to weigh down enough for the needles to pass easily up and down. I believe next time that I will be trying the 7/2 linen thinking that it will be easier to weigh down. I ended up moving the stitch size up to 6 which made the sock much bigger than I wanted. But I am going to use this knitted sock to do some experiments. I have already washed it in the machine in hot water and it has shrunken and turned a lovely gray color. I am letting it dry on the sock stretcher and we will have to see if it will fit me after it is completely dry.

I also finished up a dye display that I had been working on to use at our 1st Virginia Regiment functions with the public. I believe that I will be able to open this up and lay out for the public to look and touch.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Hampton Virginia Quilt Show

I went to the Hampton Virginia Quilt Show last weekend. There was so much to see (and buy). My favorite quilt was really a wall hanging - a quilt made to look like a Crayola Crayon box. Very original and very nicely done.

I purchased some linen yarn at the show - bright red - and knit a pair of stockings. I definitely had the wrong weight of yarn. I have never worked with linen before and found that even though a wool of this weight (sport) would have gone through my machine easily, the linen didn't. The biggest problem was the fact that it didn't seem to care how much weight I attached, it just wouldn't hang sufficiently to let the needles work properly. I will definitely do more of these however. The stockings are beautiful and I know will only get softer with each washing. The color is striking and the sheen of the yarn is fabulous. I have ordered a lighter weight linen to try in the future.

The last picture is of the Giant Fern and Ti plant that I brought back from Hawaii. I brought the fern back last trip and it is really taking off. I know it will look terrific once the fronds unfurl. It is already 20" high.