Tuesday, 30 August 2011

my dyeing week

I haven't managed a Making Monday this week. My husband, somewhat unexpectedly, had a day off work yesterday (he works for a Scottish company that was taken over by an American company and suddenly gets an English Bank Holiday - ssh, don't tell'em!) so we took the opportunity to dismantle/smash up our daughter's old somewhat wrecked chest of drawers and get her a new one. This was of course flat-pack but I won't inflict another flat-pack Making Monday on the intartubes.

Most of the rest of the day was spent sorting out her outgrown clothes and putting them in piles for the charity shop/textile bank and the odd few which have pretty fabric that can be re-used/upcycled/whatever.

So no making. However this past week has been good for dyeing - I mordanted several skeins last week so have been able to do a quick dye-pot whenever the mood takes me. The 'pot pourri' dye from the other day has turned out a softer, slightly muddier yellow than the anthemis tinctoria one from last Monday, and I followed that up with another onion-skin dye. I love the richness of the onion skin dyes - this was from the big brown onions I use most often - and of course the easiness of it!
It photographs relatively easily too, unlike the yellows - try as I might (and believe me I've tried), I just can't seem to take a photograph that reflects even semi-accurately the yellows I've got. Never mind, here's a picture anyway!

Top to bottom is - anthemis tinctoria, brown onion skins, mixed yellow/orange flowers from the garden. The two yellows are actually closer in colour than they appear in that photo.

For my own notes as much as anything (no, still not started the dyeing notebook yet), they're all approx. 50g hanks of aran-weight wool, mordanted with alum/cream of tartar. Talking of dyeing notebooks we were at Kittochside for the Country Fair on Sunday and the lass doing the spinning demonstration had examples of her hand-dyed wool (fleece that is, rather than yarn) and her dyeing notebook on display. I felt inspired! Though not enough to actually find a notebook... But what an excellent record of her work - I must get round to it, must. I didn't get a chance to talk to her unfortunately because she was so busy. I did get out the drop spindle when I got home and had another go with that, inspired by her (wheel) spinning.

If I get off my bum and get some more yarn mordanted I might have a go at calendula dyeing tomorrow as the marigolds are blooming more profusely this week. I do like that word 'profusely' :-). Excuse the smiley but an exclamation-mark seemed a bit po-faced, like the Rev. I.M. Jolly trying to be cheery!

And on that note, I'm off!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

baroque scones

Miss Mouse and I made scones this afternoon. I'm not a huge fan of them so had never made them before. There was an error in the recipe. Oh dear. It called for adding milk and then mixing to a dough. I added the amount stated and it mixed to a batter. So we added some more flour. And a bit more sugar. And some more flour and a little more sugar. And, oh sod it, the rest of the packet of flour. Eventually it was something resembling a sticky dough. I warned Miss Mouse that it had gone spectacularly wrong and possibly wouldn't be edible - she was prepared for this having made fairy-cakes-that-went-wrong at her friend's house last week.

BUT they turned out wonky and un-scone-shaped but actually quite nice. Not being a sconnoisseur (sorry) I'm not sure if they taste as scones should, but who cares? I like'em! Miss Mouse won't try them of course *mutter grumble*. The Boy pronounced them 'nice' which is high praise from him. I think they call irregularly-shaped pearls 'baroque pearls' so why not baroque scones?

In other thrilling news, I've been dyeing again, this time with a bit of this and that from the garden.

More specifically, a couple of dahlia heads, some tagetes, some calendula, a bit of yarrow, a yellow flower whose name I've forgotten (coreopsis perhaps?), another anthemis tinctoria flower. It's basically a pot pourri dye - any flower that was looking slightly past its best went in. The wool simmered in it at teatime and I'll let it steep overnight and see what happens. I'm hoping for a less wet day so it can dry on the washing-line rather than hanging from the door-handle where the cats think it's a new toy. Not looking at any cat in particular of course.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Making Monday 4

Busy week- I've not had a chance to blog since last Monday.

Little Miss Mouse has started school. She's settled in well so far and seems quite happy about it! Last week she was only in for two-and-a-half hours a day but from today it's full mornings so after a very hectic child-dominated summer I suddenly had three-and-a-half hours to myself. Which feels a bit odd to say the least.

This morning I dug out some felt and fabric I had tucked away and decided to make her a little brooch. I (slightly reluctantly) went for the felt as the fabric seemed a bit too thin to hold the shape. The brooch has come out looking a little like a political rosette unfortunately - it's actually purple, dark pink and light pink rather than red, white & blue though! The purple button in the middle is one that was one an old pair of her trousers - the trousers were absolutely trashed but I salvaged the buttons at least. She likes it anyway!

This week I've been continuing with the garter squares. The soft pinky-brown there is from yarn I dyed myself though I'm not sure what I used for it. It's a fairly recent one so maybe it was my last batch of onion skin dye. I do try to label things but the labels fall off and I lose track! I keep meaning to get organised and keep a dyer's notebook with samples of the dyed yarn stuck in but haven't got around to it. It's the story of my life *grin*.

My anthemis tinctoria (dyer's camomile) has just started flowering so I also took the opportunity this morning to do another bit of dyeing. I used aran-weight undyed yarn, mordanted it with alum/cream of tartar, and the dye-bath was all the flowers that were open - not very many but after a couple of minutes it was a clear yellow, so apparently a little can go quite a long way. Though I should point out I only dye about 50g of yarn at a time due to the limited size of my dye-pot.

The end result is some nice light yellow wool, though not quite as light as it shows up in my photographs.

I'd really love to have as much of my own dyed yarn in my garter square blanket as possible. The muted colours should go together quite well I think.

And that was my Monday - one in which I finally did some making (that didn't involve swearing or splinters)!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Making Monday 3

Squares. Soothing mindless blissful knitting.

It's the last week of the school holidays and my day has been dominated by shades of blue - this..

..and washing school uniform! I've just folded all the light blue stuff and realised that my daughter, who is starting school on Wednesday (*sob*), has ten hand-me-down polo-shirts! My son's (age 7) poloshirts shrank really badly and are now five-year-old size. So add that to all her age 5 poloshirts (also once my son's, and still in good condition) and I'll only have to wash her clothes once a fortnight! Bet it won't work out quite like that.

My husband is back from California (hurray!) so I have a little bit of time to myself again. Or rather I will soon - at the moment he's still looking a bit unsure as to what time-zone he's in. But we're happily watching telly and I've got my soothing garter-stitch squares. Nice :-). Must ask him about the sewing-machine though...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Legolas Scarf

I finished this a couple of weeks ago and have only just got round to updating my Ravelry projects to show it in all its greeny glory. Actually I've found it a bit of a pig to photograph - gorgeous as the yarn is, I can't take a photo that does justice to it! Oh how I love it though - such a relaxing knit, the lace was enough to make it interesting but not so much that I had to concentrate on it all the time (I've not done much lace knitting and have to concentrate and stick my tongue out). I went and bought a second skein (thank you Antje of the Yarn Cake for putting it aside for me) but actually completed it with just under one skein so I have another to make, well, something matching. Mitts maybe? Hat? Jings, crivvens and help ma boab, at this rate I'll end up co-ordinated!

As for the sewing, I'm no further forward with the sewing-machine. I'm a bit mystified. But I'll keep trying to figure it out.

I'll end with some sweet-peas in the rain just because they're pretty. It's been absolutely bucketing down for the last couple of days, which saves me watering the plants at least. And it makes everything smell great!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Making (A Mess) Monday 2

Ah. Well.

I was Not Great at sewing at school. I got by, but I most certainly was not a natural and I was convinced that sewing-machines hated me. Since then I've mostly avoided them, but I'd really love to able to make things - cushion-covers, that kind of thing. So naturally I decided today, Making Monday, was the day to re-acquaint myself with the sewing-machine. Well Miss Mouse/the cats and the Boy were distracted by Scalextric and the Wii respectively so it was a good opportunity.

This is my husband's machine - he used it a lot in our re-enactment days, while I stuck to handsewing. I can't remember what he used it for last, most likely something motorbike-related, but it was fairly recently and it's been sitting underneath the dining-table for a month or two.

What surpised me as I tried to thread it was how much I remembered. I got it slightly wrong and had to Google it but mostly it was right. I don't actually remember using a sewing-machine between the day I dropped sewing at school (1984!) and today so I'm quite pleased about that! Then I realised the needle was bent and had to be replaced - managed that. Then the bit holding the bobbin in fell out and I figured out how to put that back in.. eventually. I even got as far as actually doing a bit of sewing, but all I got was tangled threads and a row of holes. It was just like being at school again!

I've been googling for answers. I think the upper thread is snapping but I can't work out why. I did noticed it had seemed to get tangled down by the bobbin at least once. Maybe that's the problem.

So I've sewn nothing, but I've enjoyed tinkering, googling, and watching Youtube idiot's guides to sewing. And as sewing isn't really possible while watching television (I'm choosing A Town Called Eureka over riot news coverage) I've been doing a bit of comfort knitting. Since I enjoyed making a couple of squares for the Ursula's Donegal Blanket (pictures of the finished objects, two blankets, here - no idea which are my squares though), I've decided that for those times that I need fairly mindless soothing knitting I'll use up my stash making blanket squares and eventually I'll have a blanket. So Square One:

While writing this post I paused to feed the cats and managed to splash cat-food all over the place (Opticat salmon & crab in gravy is very runny, just so you know..) so I smell of cat-food. How lovely. On that revolting note I'll finish for the night.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Making Monday

Yes, I know it's Saturday - this is the story of the Making Monday that didn't happen. Natalie of the Yarn Yard had suggested Making Monday as a blog theme (meme?) on her blog. I thought, that sounds like fun, I'll join in.

As a bit of background, my husband is in California with his work at the moment, so it's just me and the kids. As it happened my mother-in-law was taking the kids out for a few hours on Monday so rather than just blogging about Making on a Monday (something I've obviously spectacularly failed to do) I could actually do some Making on a Monday and blog it. I was aware I'd have precious little time for making anything or indeed blogging with my Beloved away. This would be great! I just had a flat-pack thing to fling together first - this is much easier to do when the kids are out so I needed to take advantage of this opportunity - and then I'd have some time to myself.

Naturally of course it didn't work out that way. I've never had problems with flat-pack before but this time it apparently required brute strength as well as a hammer and two sizes of Phillips screwdriver.

This was the main problem:

It's blurred because I took the photo that night, shaking with exhaustion. The screws just would not screw in fully. I eventually got most of them more or less done but that last one would not budge, either in or out. I physically could not turn the damn thing. In the end I went to bed cursing my weakness and hating to be defeated by a flatpack. It was turning into a feminist issue.

The next morning I channelled my Inner Bloke (i.e. Did What My Husband Would Do) and bodged it. The cross-head screw was no longer cross, more mildly peeved, and was clearly going nowhere. I got it out with pliers, a bit of cloth (to stop it scratching the veneer of the chipboard - stable door, horse etc) and muttered swearing. I rummaged in the garage for the plastic tub of random screws, nails and other ephemera, found a screw roughly approximating, but shorter than, the offending one and used that instead. Ah, it'll do.

I do have this perfectionist streak. I want to do it right. But sometimes you just have to say 'Sod it. It'll do.'

And that's the story of Making Monday. I'm off to catch up on what all the other Making Monday people did!