Oct 30
Meet Dylan
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 A Little of This, A Little of That | icon4 10 30th, 2011| icon36 Comments »

At about 11:00 last night, Scott heard a car stop outside our house.  This morning, we found this outside our back door (less the collar).

Unfortunately, we were on our way to the grocery store, so we gave him a bit of tuna and a bowl of water and hoped he’d still be there when we got back.  He was!

He is the sweetest, most loving little fellow (and yes, he’s definitely a he – I could show you that picture, too, but this is a family blog).  I have no idea why anyone would have wanted to dump him, but their loss is our gain.  He has a loud purr and soft fur and he loves cuddling and riding on your shoulder. He appears to be about 8-10 weeks old (our guess, the vet will tell us better).

Why Dylan?  Well, we’ve had a BB (after BB King), and Eric (after Eric Clapton) and a Neil (after Neil Young), so now we have a Dylan named after Bob Dylan.

Of course, this means we will be looking out for a second kitten about his age so Dylan can have a playmate.  One kitten can be destructive due to boredom, but two kittens play together better, and if they are raised together, they should be life-long friends.  At least that is the theory.

Oct 26

Every once in a while you get a cartoon about knitting, and I have posted several of them here for your own enjoyment.  But, you rarely get cartoons about dyeing, and never about a specific natural dye.  So, here you go!

Lord have mercy, I’ve told the same story to people many times just to see their reaction.  I know, very wicked of me, but I still do it, so this is one round of wickedness I’m not repenting in the near future.

Oct 25

This past weekend, Scott and I were in Columbus, Ohio, for the last comic book convention of the year.  At this point, there is nothing like this planned until sometime next year, and my next big thing is not until May 2012.  That is good.  I have so much I need to get done around home, both for Scott and I and for others to whom I have made commitments that I intend to keep.  With nothing planned away from home over weekends, I have a better chance of getting these things done.

The Mid-Ohio Comic Con this past weekend was fun.  They put us in Artist’s Alley in alphabetical order by first name, so we had an entire section with artists named Scott all in a row.  That was funny and it got a lot of comments. 

This is a great picture of Scott, me and Scott Simmons, the creator of The Wannabes.  Scott has become a very good friend to us and it was so good to see him there.  We reconnected with lots of friends, made lots of new ones and talked to lots of comic book fans.

Unfortunately, because of that post you see in the middle of our booth, I was not able to set up the spinning wheel.  Instead, on Saturday when the convention was so full of people it was hard to move through the crowds, I talked to lots of people and helped sell lots of books.  Sunday, I took my knitting, which was perfect because Sunday the crowds were a lot lighter and very few people were buying anything from anybody. 

The hotel we stayed at (I can recommend the Double-Tree in downtown Columbus) had a refrigerator and a microwave, so we packed all our food and took everything we needed with us.  It was really nice being able to eat healthy foods for a fraction of the costs of eating out every meal.

See, this was much better than restaurant food, and the portion sizes were just what we needed, so there was no food waste.

While we were there, I took the time to start a new shawl that Sandy and I are writing together.  There will be two variations to this pattern, one with beads and one without, depending on your taste.  I’m not normally a bead person, so Sandy is knitting this one, but I have to admit, the beads really show the pattern off to its best.  It is fun writing a pattern together, because we both have ideas, and together, I think the patterns will be better than if only one had input.  For one, I would never have thought about adding beads, but as soon as Sandy said it, I could totally see beads in this shawl.

Of course, this is all you are going to see of it until it is done.  But I do like the color in which I am knitting the plain version.  It is very restful on the eyes.  I’m nearly done with the first ball of yarn, so you’ll get an idea how much knitting time I had on Sunday.

And, better still, I have an idea for a new scarf, too.

As fun as the weekend was, I’m glad to be back home and back into a normal schedule so I can get things done.  It is time to buckle down, get through my to-do lists and accomplish things before this entire year gets away from me.

Oct 18

What is cooler than a new pair of Birks?

You got it!  Two pairs of Birks!

I have to send out a very heart-felt thank you to my friend and fellow fiber fanatic, Barb, for the great gift of these sandles.  She had bought them, didn’t like them and has passed them over to me.  They fit great and I absolutely adore them.  I wore them while I worked this weekend (excpet for the scrubbing the table part as I didn’t want to get them wet) and they are so comfortable.

It’s now official – between the Birks and the tie-dye – I am now a (belated) hippy.

Oct 17

I like it when, at the end of a weekend, I can see all that I accomplished.

For starters, I met Sandy at Stitches and Scones in Westfield Saturday morning.  Molly has decided to close her wonderful yarn shop in order to give more attention to her growing family.  While I cannot fault her priorities, I am sad to see such a wonderful business close.  Sandy and I were there looking at some fixtures for our booth for next year.  We ended up buying collapsible wire cubes for T-shirts, yarns and whatever else we need to put in them, a set of 12 shopping baskets with stand for our customers’ convenience, a small, table-top spinner rack just perfect to hang our tie-dyed scrunchies on, and a new manekin.

Meet Molly.  Yes, we named her after the Stitches and Scones owner, but that will remind us, years from now, where we got her.  And yes, she is wearing one of our tie-dyed sports bras.  She was buck nekid as she rode around with me on my errands the rest of Saturday, all strapped in the front passenger seat.  And you know, I don’t think anyone gave her a second glance. 

Here’s the back of the bra, by the way.  We will be making more of these.  They are just too much fun.

While we are doing a short show and tell, …

…here is Lucymodeling another new addition to our tie-dye line.  Summer PJ’s!  Sandy did a wonderful job matching the tank top and boxer’s shorts set, don’t you think?

We had gotten lots of requests for boxer’s shorts, but finding 100% cotton, white boxer’s to dye has been very difficult.  Most 100% cotton men’s underwear are the close-fitting, knitted type, and that isn’t what we wanted at all.  When I found these, I bought all the store had.  And, yes, all of these will be in the store just as soon as I can get them there.

Oh, yes…  Back to Saturday.  My final stop Saturday was at the Apple Family Farm in McCordsville to get some meat.  I ended up getting a 4.75 lb, whole chicken, a rump roat (I don’t remember what it weighed – maybe 3 pounds) and a dozen eggs laid just a couple of days before.  The roast is from the Scottish Highlands cattle they raise, and it is completely grass fed beef.  The color was much darker and richer than any of that stuff you get at the grocery store.  The chicken was pasture-raised and as plump as could be, and the eggs – oh the eggs were delicious cooked with uncured bacon for our supper.

The rest of the day was split between cleaning up from all the prep work for Dye Day and resting.  Sunday, on the other hand, was very busy.  I put the rump roast in the crockpot after rubbing it down with Penzey’s Forward! spice blend, placed a chopped onion in it and let it cook for about 6 hours.  I ended up with 4 weeks worth of cooked beef, of which I froze three containers for later use.

Then I cut the skin off the chicken, and rubbed it with spices and put it in the oven to roast for a couple of hours.  Needless to say, soon the house was smelling very good.  The chicken gave me three week’s worth of meat, plus I froze the carcass for later use in making stock.

While those items cooked, I tackled this!

This is an 8-foot, stainless steel, restaurant prep table.  I have had it in the barn for a couple of years waiting until I had a place to put it.  And now I do.  Since Sandy and I are definitely in the dyeing business, I am going to replace a folding table in what should be the dining room of my house with this.  It is the same length as the folding table, but it is taller (and will be easier on our backs), plus it has the added bonus of being easier to clean and maintain.

Of course, being in the barn meant that it was filthy.

SOS cleaning pads are my best friends.  I even flipped the table over and scrubbed the bottom side of the top and shelf.  Goodness, I’ve wanted to use this for such a long time and I was almost giddy yesterday getting it all ready for use.

By the time I got everything done (I didn’t mention the umpteen-million loads of laundry and dishes I washed as well), I was tired, dirty and smiling to beat the band.  Oh, if I only had about a week of this type of work I could get so much done!

Oct 13

Well, it took two whole days to get over the effects of four days on my feet, cooking down dyes, setting up, the event itself and tear down/clean up, but today I feel like myself once again. 

I want to thank everyone who came and made Dye Day the absolutely fantastic day it was.  You guys are what makes all the work more than worth it.  I would like just to give all of you big hugs. 

A side note:  If anyone accidently took home a red bag made out of ties with a zipper that contains among other things a pair of scissors and an allen wrench for a spinning wheel, please contact me.  Ann Rockwell is missing it very badly.  With all the quick clean up and packing up, I’m betting it accidently got swept up and packed in with someone’s supplies, so please check your bags and baskets to see if you have this bag.  Thanks!

The autumn colors this year have been a bit subdued.  I’m thinking that the extraordinarily dry summers this year and last have been the cause, but we are getting mostly golds, yellows and browns this year.  Those sugar maples that usually have the glowing oranges and reds were much duller in colors this year.  Still, I have revelled in the soft air, the cool nights and the glorious days. 

I hope everyone has a lovely day!

Oct 11

Yesterday started out at 5 AM when we got up, got ready and headed over to Susan’s and Mike’s to start the fires and get the pots set up.

We used a new fire starter material this year, which made getting the fires going much, much easier than in the past.  With very little effort, we had roaring fires.

Personally, if I hadn’t had so much to do, I would have enjoyed just sitting and watching the fires.  Lovely flames!

But there was plenty to do, so we kept at it.  This year, due to the dryness of the trees, the fire pit area was set up as a T rather than all straight.  This kept any sparks from catching the trees on fire, and gave us an area to put the volleyball net to use as a yarn drying line.  Some people still used the trees to dry their yarns, but the volleyball net got used the most as you will see.

All said and done, we got everything set up about 45 minutes before people were due to arrive.  I went ahead and stuck my small samples into the pots because I thought that if mine were done, people would be able to see what colors we were getting.  Besides, it would let me know if I had any failures this year.  It seems as if there are always at least one or two pots that fail to give the proper (if any) color.  This year was no exception.

I placed all my samples in well-marked baggies for people to look through.  I’m glad I did this, because we had several first-timers here and showing them the colors they could expect helped them very much.

The dyes this year include (from left to right): Turmeric with tin (awesome colors from yellow orange to nice soft yellows), purple onion skins with annatto seeds with tin (terrific brass color), cherry bark (disappointment – pale peach), purple cabbage with alum and washing soda (sweet blue greens at first, then petered out to nothing), alkanet root (got too hot and turned an interesting gray with green overtones (teal on wool fabric) then turned yellow as the day wore on).

Logwood with alum (started out as purple with brown overtones, then went to the best purple ever!  And gave color all day long), madder, 2nd soaking with copper (started out as an interesting pink/lavender/peachy color before shifting to brownish peach), and madder 1st soak with alum (oranges to orangey-brown).

Osage Orange (awesome yellows), cochineal with tin (pinky reds to nice pinks), cochineal and black oak bark with tin (good warm reds to salmons later), Brazilwood (wonderful magentas to pinky reds – pot still had color at the end of the day and I jugged up the rest to bring home), walnut ( great browns), and nettle (interesting gray-ish green, but petered out pretty quickly).

Interesting note about the Osage Orange.  This was a quart jar of sawdust soaked in Everclear left over from last year.  It has set soaking in that sealed jar for over a year.  When I opened it and dumped it into the pot to cook out on Sunday, I had to open the sliding glass door.  The whole house smelled like a distillery.  It was quite strong.  But, it paid off very well, because that pot of Osage Orange dye gave color all day long.

I will never bring madder, cherry bark or nettle again, but that’s okay, it’s a learning process for everyone.  Really, madder is best as a long soak dye bath anyway.  The cherry bark and nettle were just blah in my opinion.  Even though the alkanet didn’t give the purples I expected, when I added some baking soda to the dye pot, the colors did become interesting if unexpected.  One lady liked the color so much she wanted to know how I did it so she could replicate it at home.  I had to break it to her that it was really a failure pot and I doubt if anyone could ever replicate it.

The last dye bath was a cold copper vat that gave some sweet grays and people really liked it.  For some reason, it is always a popular vat at Dye Day.  I think the fact that it starts out as this really great blue, but dries gray has a lot to do with it.

Of course, I had two indigo vats going that I replenished for more.  The colors coming out of it were the sweetest blues and no one got tired to watching that magic as it changed from greeny-yellow to blue.

I’m showing off this line from two different times in the day.  Quite a few of the yarns and fibers rotated on and off the line as things dried.  The temperatures, while a bit warm for standing over fires, were perfect for drying everything pretty quickly.  You can see some of the great colors people were getting.  But the best colors of the day belong to the hookers.

Of course, you knew I meant run hookers, right?  I had spoken with these ladies at the state fair and had left one of my cards with them and invited them to come and play with us.  I am so glad they came, too.

See that lovely teal in the foreground?  That came out of the alkanet pot.  Honestly, it did!  Not what I would have expected out of a pot that was supposed to give purples, but you sure cannot complain with that as the result.

Get a load of that gorgeous red in this picture.  That came out of the cochineal/black oak bark pot.  Next time, I’ll add in more black oak bark to see if we can get hunter orange out of it, but that red was nothing to be ashamed of.

I think the best part of the whole event is the fact that Dye Day is becoming a wee bit of a fiber festival.

Anita and Sabrina came down from Fort Wayne to sell some of their fleeces and fibers (it was from them that I got the lovely colored Lincoln fleece that was sent out in the fiber binder club a few months ago) and Robin brought her sheep’s milk soap, wonderful sheep cheese and beautiful fleeces for sale.  Susan had the shop open for the day, so there was lots of purchasing as well as dyeing going on.

Here is a closer look at what Robin brought.  I noticed that her lavender soap was the best seller of the day and she took home only two bars out of a couple dozen.  I bought a new to me scented soap called Black Currant Nectarine, although it was a toss up between that, the Honeysuckle, and the Rosemary Mint.  With both lavender and peppermint being natural moth repellants, both soaps have double uses – just set them out with your wool to age and it will keep away the moths until you are ready to take baths with them.  And I am lucky in that I have a husband who doesn’t grumble at scented soaps.  🙂

Most of the festival atmosphere, though, came from the people.  Even those who didn’t come to dye anything, came to sit, visit, spin and knit.  The happy, contented buzz that filled the air all day was contagious and just made one’s heart sing!  So many nice, happy faces and lots of laughter filled the air.

Everyone pitched in and helped one another, too.  Brittany and Kaitlin worked together to get samples ready for dyeing.

All that creativity going on even got to Scott as he got out his sketchbook and did what he does best.

And I want to show off what Susan’s husband, Mike, found for me.  He loves going to sales and auctions, and he picked up several pots for Dye Day, a few of which were put into immediate action yesterday.  But this huge pot above was a bit big for the fires (it must be close to 20 gallons), so I brought it home to use for a fermentation indigo pot.  Man, oh, man, I cannot wait to put that lovely pot to work.  I have a couple of indigo vat recipes that I have been looking forward to trying and with this pot, I’ll be able to try my hand at some shibori.

This morning, Scott and I went back over to Susan’s and Mike’s and took down the canopies, picked up the pots and finished cleaning up everything from yesterday.  I am so thankful to the two of them for allowing us to use their farm to have Dye Day each year.  Also, I want to thank everyone who made donations for next year’s Dye Day.  The costs of natural dyes have climbed to scary heights (if you can even find some of them), and these donations help keep this event going.

So, remember, the second Monday in October is Dye Day.  I hope to see you next year.

Oct 10
Dye Day is done
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 10 10th, 2011| icon33 Comments »

Today went wonderfully well.  I am one tired lady, though, and will download pictures and let you know how it went…tomorrow.

Oct 8

Today, I have cooked down the following dyes and have them all jugged up and labeled for Monday: Nettle, Purple Cabbage, Madder 1st soak, Madder 2nd soak, walnut, logwood, purple onion skins with annatto seeds, and Brazilwood.  The cochineal, black oak bark, Osage Orange, cherry bark and alkanet root are soaking.  Tomorrow, I’ll get the indigo all ready and cook down the Osage orange, cherry bark and alkanet root.

Also, today, I have scrubbed all the dye pots I own and have them lined up drying outside.  They and the canopies will head to Susan’s tomorrow afternoon and Scott, Sandy, Susan’s husband, Mike, and I will get the area all set up and ready to go.  We even plan on getting the kindling and fire starters all in place and the wood we will need for the fires all hauled over and stacked for tomorrow.

We could still use a couple of helpers for Monday morning.  Please contact me if you are interested.

Right now, though, I’m going to take a shower and sit at my spinning wheel for the rest of the night.  I deserve it.

Oct 7

Okay, I’ve been working all day going through all the natural dyes I have, reading through all the books I have on the subject (okay, glancing through all the books I own, since reading all 20+ of them would take waaaay too much time), and picking and choosing the ones I want to include.  Here is the final list of natural dyes that will be available for you on Dye Day.  This way you can get your own lists done, tag your fiber, and be prepared for the day.

Drum roll please……

1. Cochineal with tin mordant – bright scarlet

2. Purple onion skins with annatto seeds with tin mordant – bright brassy yellow (new this year)

3. Purple cabbage with alum mordant and washing soda – soft blues and blue greens (new this year)

4. Wild Cherry Bark with alum mordant – pinks to lavenders (new this year)

5. Brazilwood with alum – soft magenta

6. Alkanet root with alum – purple

7. Nettle with alum – gray-greens to dark olives (new this year)

8. Osage Orange with alum – slightly greenish yellow (great for overdying with indigo for grass greens)

9. Turmeric with tin – scream yellow

10. Copper cold dye – This is for wool only (it will dissolve silk) – green/gray (back by popular demand)

11. Logwood with copper – purple/blacks

12. Cochineal and black oak bark with tin – supposed to be hunter orange (new this year)

13. Madder 1st soak with alum – good orange

14. Madder 2nd soak with copper – pinky purple (new this year)

15. Walnut with no mordant – nice warm brown

16. Indigo (2 pots – one for blues and one for overdyeing)

So, there will be a total of 17 pots to play with for a very wide variety of colors and ample opportunity for overdyeing to get even more.  As you can see, there are several new dyes this year.  Rather than always do the same thing each year, I thought we’d throw in some new ones for the fun and experimenting of it.  After all, we are all here to learn and play, right?

I still need a couple of set-up helpers for Monday morning.  If you are willing to help Scott and I get the fires and pots going, please let me know at indyweaver@yahoo.com.  I will need the volunteers to be at Susan’s at 6:00 Monday morning.

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