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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Celery Dye: Make It From Scratch Dye Garden

Hi guys, 

Have you tried dyeing fabric with celery? It works! It's really easy to do, too. I grew celery in my garden this year, so I picked one bunch to dye 3 yards of linen blend fabric. I cut off the root end, which was pretty dirty, and put that part in the compost bin. 

Then I chopped up the rest of the stalks and leaves.

I put it in a stock pot and covered the celery with water. 

Then I simmered the celery and water for 60 minutes. In the meantime, I made a pizza, which was confusing because the celery made our house smell like soup.

I also presoaked my fabric in an alum bath. I don't think you have to measure exactly for this pre-soak, but the recipe is:
4 Tbsp Alum
3 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
1 pot of water that's large enough for the fabric

Mix the alum, cream of tartar and warm water together. Add wet cloth (just get it wet with plain water first) and heat the pot on low heat to a simmer. Stir the simmering pot periodically for 30 - 40 minutes. Then you can remove the fabric (be careful since it's hot!). You can use the wet fabric right away or dry it to dye later (hang it to dry or put it right in the clothes dryer, depending on your fabric and your preference). 

After simmering for an hour, the celery looked pretty wilted.

I removed all the plant material, leaving the liquid in the pot. Then I added the fabric, this white linen blend.

I let it soak overnight at room temperature, and the next day I rinsed it out. It didn't look that yellow, yet. 

I dried it on medium heat in the dryer to help set the color. The yellow became a bit deeper. Then I washed it on cold and dried it again, and was happy to see that the color stuck. 

I started this project when it was still full-on summer, and I planned to make another pair of these Oceanside pants, possibly cropped. 

But now that it's the beginning of fall, I feel less interested in breezy linen pants. I'm wondering if I should make pretty yellow pillowcases instead. 

Or maybe a Lottie dress or a Cabin dress? I can always wear tights with a dress to make them last longer into the fall.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Indigo Dyeing, First Attempt :: Make It From Scratch Dye Garden

Hi guys, 

Stefanie and I tried something new: dyeing with fresh indigo leaves! I ordered the seeds from an Etsy seller and started them inside in the late winter. In the spring, I transplanted the seedlings in the garden and let them grow. 

Here's what the plants looked like:

Here they are in context, just growing in a vegetable bed with dill blooming and broccoli hiding behind them.

In early August, I harvested about half the leaves from each plant, taking them from the bottoms. They can be pulled off easily by hand. I had to get up early to do this without the kids (they are super needy in the mornings! I would never get it done with them in tow). It was foggy and cool and felt kind of magical to have that time alone in my garden.

Here's what they looked like after harvesting. The plants should have plenty of leaves to keep growing and provide another harvest next month (more about that to come).

I soaked them in cool water for a couple hours. Then I simmered them in that same water for an hour. 

Meanwhile, I tied my cotton muslin fabric. I decided to use a shibori tying technique on my fabric. I used marbles to make consistently sized circles, placing each marble under the fabric and then wrapping a rubber band tightly around it. 

Then the leaves and water had to cool. I removed the leaves and added sodium hydrosulfite to the indigo-steeped liquid. Stefanie added oxygen by pouring and whisking the liquid. Foam develops, which is supposed to turn blue. Ours did not turn blue. We were disappointed. We added some washing soda and decided to try it anyway. 

First we soaked the fabric in clean water, then put it in the indigo vat. We soaked each piece for about 20 minutes, then let the fabric sit out in the air for about 20 minutes. The oxygen helps the color to develop. We alternated these steps a few times, which should darken the blue color. The fabric did turn blue!  It got darker a few times and then seemed to stay the same. 

Wet with just water

After the first dyebath

After the third dyebath

After rinsing, washing, and drying, the blue color is extremely pale. I really want that dark indigo color, so I've got to try again! From what I've read, I may not ever get a really dark color from using fresh indigo, but I want to try another technique. I think I can get closer to what I'm looking for. 

My plan is to do another harvest soon and try a method that involves pureeing the leaves in a blender. I've also read anecdotally that harvesting the leaves later may yield more success. So I will try again in October, and I'll let you know how it goes. 

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?