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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Spray Dyeing

Hi guys! I tried a new method of dyeing that turned out pretty cool. I just sprayed the dye on instead of immersing the fabric in a pot of dye. What do you think? 

Here's how I did it. First I chose six colors of procion dye: Indigo Blue, Black Cherry, New Black, Lemon Yellow, Fuschia Red, and Charcoal Gray. I order mine from Dharma Trading Co. and have always had a great experience with them. 

I used an old measuring spoon to scoop the dye powder. It's safest not to use any equipment with food after using it to dye! I didn't measure the dye, but the small measuring spoon fit inside the spray bottles so it made the process much less messy. 

I scooped about 1 - 2 tsp of dye into each spray bottle, plus 1 - 2 tsp of table salt (this helps to fix the color). Then I added warm water, put on the lids, and had my helpers shake them up.

I used cotton jersey knit fabric, presoaked in a mixture of water and soda ash (one cup of soda ash per gallon of water). I soaked it for about 20 minutes before dyeing, and used the fabric wet. 

I laid out the wet fabric in the shade and my helpers and I started spraying. 

The particular bottles that I got dripped, which is what made all the spots. I love how they look, especially mixed with the airbrush-style mist the bottles make.

I started with the lighter colors and sprayed until I was happy with each color. I used the darkest colors next. I wanted to leave some white space and some lighter spaces on this fabric. After I was done with the black, I went back and added a little more yellow and fuschia.

I think it would be fun to try different spray bottles to see if I could eliminate the drips sometime. It could look really cool to just have an airbrushed look. I think wrapping a rag around the spray bottle, right under the nozzle, would help with the ones I already have, but they dripped so much, I don't think the rag would eliminate dripping. I may try bottles more like this next time. I use something similar around the house and they don't drip at all. 

When working with procion dye, it helps the dye set if you keep it wet for about 24 hours. My fabric was large, so I folded it up and put it in a garbage bag. I tied the top and brought it inside. The dye will work better if you keep the fabric warm (room temperature will do). 

The next day, I rinsed the fabric in the sink with a little Synthrapol detergent, then washed it in the washing machine with Synthrapol. This detergent is amazing. It removes all the excess dye so the fabric looks the same after washing as it does before. Without it, red dye may spread and make all the white areas pink. Black dye could make all the white areas grey, and so on. Synthrapol keeps everything where it belongs and takes away the extra. After washing with it, you can wash dyed fabric with other laundry without risking color transfer. (This post is not sponsored in any way. I just like these products.) I have heard that blue Dawn produces similar results, but I haven't tried it myself.

You can see below how bright my colors are and how white the white areas stayed. This is after washing and drying the fabric.

My plans for this fabric are to sew a Marianne dress (pattern from Christine Haynes).

Then I should have plenty of fabric left over for a second project, so I'll probably dye it again, using more dark colors (and maybe a different technique) to get a different look.

Have you tried spray dyeing? Do you think you'll give it a shot?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Minty Strawberry Orange Juice: Make It From Scratch Herb Garden Recipe

Hi guys! So far, my most-used herb has been mint. It's so easy to pick a few leaves and add them to all kinds of drinks. Mint makes everything taste fresh and cool. Here's a really tasty juice that I whipped up: Minty Strawberry Orange Juice. 

4 oranges
6 strawberries
10 mint leaves

Process all ingredients through a juicer. Pour into a glass. Decorate with a sprig of mint and enjoy.

* If you don't have a juicer, you can blend the ingredients in a blender and then strain through a nut bag or fine mesh sieve. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Minty Salad: Make It From Scratch Herb Garden

Hiya! Today I have a great summer lunch recipe that uses our fresh spearmint leaves. It's got a complex flavor profile and is refreshing, light, and delicious.

Minty Salad
Serves 2

1 orange or 2 clementines, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/8 cup spearmint leaves, washed and chopped
1/2 cup rotisserie or grilled chicken
1/4 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently stir to mix. 

This has so many great flavors and they complement each other perfectly. The vinegar and red onion are tangy; the fruits are sweet. Cucumbers and sunflower seeds add crunch and texture. The fresh mint ties it all together and makes it taste like summer. 

Let me know if you give it a try. I'd love to hear what you think. 

How are you using your herbs this summer?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Grainline Tops Sewn: Scouts and Larks and Linden and Penny

Hi guys! During Me Made May, I sewed up a few shirts using the Scout and Lark patterns from Grainline Studio. Scout is designed for wovens, and it's a little different with each different fabric. 

This one's made of rayon challis, and I love the drape.

And here's one in double gauze, which is very breezy and comfortable, and suprisingly opaque for such a lightweight fabric.

And this last one is made of quilting cotton. I followed Jen's tutorial to lengthen and add cuffs to the sleeves. I love this cloud print! I only wish it didn't wrinkle as easily as it does.

I added a couple inches of length to my Scout pattern, since I'm 5'10". I think that's perfect for the rayon challis and quilting cotton versions, but the double gauze would have fit better without lengthening it. It sometimes gets bunched up and wrinkled at the bottom. It would be easy to shorten it a bit if I ever made that a priority.

 And now for a couple of Larks, the knit t-shirt. Both of mine are the scoop-neck version, with short sleeves. The pattern comes with four neckline possibilities: v-neck, boatneck, and crewneck, in addition to scoop-neck. You can also choose between four sleeve lengths: cap, short, 3/4, and long.

Here's the striped one:

And the floral one:

I lengthened this pattern too, and I don't think I needed to. Next time I may try it in the standard length.

In June, I whipped up this pink and white striped Linden. My on-hand white ribbing didn't match, so I debated for a long time and finally chose to use red. This is a really lightweight french terry, which is great for summertime. Some mornings and evenings are cool, and we've even had the occasional chilly, rainy day this summer. Plus, it's always chilly in the basement, where I sew. A sweatshirt comes in handy down there! 

I did okay at matching the stripes on the side seams!

And now I've made a Penny Raglan top, from green jersey.

Gratuitous cat inclusion. 

I lengthened this shirt by about an inch, and I really like the length. I don't want to flash any stomach skin right now, and I don't have many high-waisted bottoms, so I don't want true crop tops. This length gives the idea of a cropped top without showing any skin. Unfortunately, I didn't mark my pattern after making this and I made a second shirt, which is, of course, shorter than I'd like. In cooler weather, I can layer it over a tank top, but for now, I'm probably not going to wear it.

Lesson: mark changes on the pattern right away! 

Have you used any Grainline patterns? Are they TNTs for you, too?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hand-Dyeing Wool Yarn with Procion Dye

Did you ever fall in love with a colorful yarn, but it was out of stock, or see something that was almost perfect and wish you could make your own special color mix? Well, I decided to try it for myself. 

I had a bunch of procion dye already in-house, from tie-dyeing and Shibori dyeing last summer. I loved the colors and wanted to use what I already had! But the tie-dyeing method I'm used to uses soda ash as a fixer and activator for the dye. Soda ash can break down and even disintegrate wool fibers, so I had to use something else. It turns out, white vinegar can be substituted as a fixer when dyeing wool. With vinegar, procion dyes act like acid dyes; pretty cool!

The yarn I chose is Cloudborn Superwash, which is Craftsy's own brand. It's soft, squishy, and does not break off. I'm knitting with it now, and I've handled it a lot and I like it so far!  For this project, I got both DK and Bulky weights, to go with two sweater patterns that I'm going to use. 

Here's what I did:

* Keep the yarn tied up in skeins! If you cut the threads that hold them together, the yarn will get all tangled up. Swish gently and try to keep the skeins neatly in tact. You'll be glad later, when you're ready to wind the yarn into balls!

* I recommend wearing gloves, to avoid dyeing your hands. 

1. First, I soaked the yarn in warm water with about 1 tsp of Synthrapol added. After about 30 minutes, I squeezed out the excess water. 

2. Then I soaked it in an acid solution: equal parts water and white vinegar, plus 1 tsp of Synthrapol. After about 15 minutes, I squeezed out the excess water. 

3. During the soaking times for steps 1 and 2, I mixed up my dyes in little squeeze bottles. I put 1 tsp of salt in each bottle, then added 1 tsp of dye powder (I used a plastic spoon that I keep with my dye equipment - please don't use anything that you will use for food later!). Then I filled up the bottles with warm water, put on the lids, and gave them a shake. I refilled them a few times during the dyeing process. 

4. I put the yarn into plastic tubs and squirted on the dye, working on two skeins at a time, moving the yarn around. If you don't shift them around, the centers of the skeins will stay un-dyed. 

5. After applying the desired dye, I kept the skeins in the tubs and covered them with plastic wrap. The yarn and dye should stay wet for 24 hours or longer, so cover it somehow.

6. After 24 hours, I rinsed the first batch. I filled the plastic tub with warm water and Synthrapol, letting the yarn soak for a couple hours, swishing and draining the water periodically. When the new water stayed clear, I knew the rinsing was done. 

7. For the final rinse, I added 1 cup of vinegar to the water and swished the yarn around for a few minutes. Then I squeezed out the excess water and draped the skeins over my laundry rack to let them dry completely. (I dried them inside, in the bathtub - it's better to keep them out of the sun so the colors will last longer).

I waited another 24 hours to rinse the second batch of yarn, just because I didn't have time to do both batches at once. It is fine to leave the dye on the yarn for longer than 24 hours and rinse it at your convenience. 

Here's how my yarn turned out:

For the orange batch, I used the colors Orange Crush, Watermelon, Clear Yellow, and New Emerald Green.

To dye the blue batch, I used Turquoise, Clear Yellow, Sky Blue, Forest Green, and Blue Gray.

The orange DK yarn will become a Martine sweater, designed by Julie Hoover. 

And the blue bulky yarn will become an Il Grande Favorito sweater, designed by Isabell Kraemer.  

Have you dyed your own yarn? What process did you use? How did it go?  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lavender Iced Coffee: Make It From Scratch Herb Garden

The lavender I planted this year is still small, but the plants from last year are blooming. I decided my first lavender recipe of the summer would be a flavored iced coffee. Yum!

 I cut a handful of sprigs and removed all the buds. This turned out to be twice as much as I needed, so I saved the rest of the flowers in a basket where they could dry out to be used later. 

Then I made lavender simple syrup. Here's how:


1 cup water
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 tsp lavender flowers (fresh or dried)


 Place all ingredients in a pot and simmer on the stove.

Stir occasionally, watching for the syrup to turn clear. Below, the water is cloudy since the sugar is just floating in the water. When the water starts to simmer, the sugar and water will combine into a syrup (the sugar won't fall to the bottom anymore). When the syrup is clear, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. 

 After the syrup is cool, strain out the lavender flowers and pour it into a bottle for storage. 

Then get a tall glass.

Add ice cubes. I made ice balls using leftover coffee and this mold.

Pour in 1-2 Tbsp of syrup, depending on how sweet you like it.

Add cold coffee. This time I used cooled drip coffee, but here is how I like to make cold brew concentrate, which would be perfect in this drink.

Then add almond milk, or your creamer of choice. 

All it needs is a straw, and a quick stir, and it's ready to drink!

Store the rest of the syrup in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will last for a couple of weeks.