Monday, January 27, 2014

Dyeing Tencel Fabric

Apparently acid fabric dyes are not the best to use as a dye for synthetic fabrics like Tencel, according to several searches.  Acid dyes are taken up best by natural protein fibres like silk or feathers or wool. What most dyers use on synthetic fibres is a product called Procion MX.  But what I had on hand was my trusty Jacquards.  No worries, I plunged ahead using Jacquard acid dyes.  What was the worst that could happen?  Obviously I thought it was worth the risk.  The kitchen wouldn't blow up, right?

This link will lead you to a natural dyer of cotton and linen scarves, all with edges left unraveling for that couture effect.  She is French and sells her scarves for a dear price.  And they are pretty.  Go have a look.

Taking inspiration from her naturally dyed scarves, I played with a few colors on Tencel yesterday with interesting results.  Each scarf was dyed with three different compatible colors and set with steam (2 hours steaming in rice steamer), then dried and pressed.  Here are two pictures of the peachy tones and the greenish teal hues.

My husband was unimpressed and said I should hem the edges of the scarves.  What does he know.  He would not wear a scarf beautifully draped around his neck at any cost.

On to other things. I ordered a new scanner yesterday and am supposed to get it tomorrow.  The intention is to scan all the photos in all the albums collecting dust in the closet.  Once scanned, I will upload them to the heavens and see if Google asks for money for all that storage space. We shall see.  I started this scanning process a few days ago, and is it ever slow on the old clunker.  Maybe the new scanner will be miraculous and save loads of time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

Daughter Julie who has had a shunt (since birth) for taking fluid build up/pressure off her brain is again having headaches.  Always worrisome since neurosurgery is no walk in the park for her.  It starts off the same way each time she needs a shunt revision, generally caused from protein building up in the tubing leading from the brain to the heart (or lungs, or abdominal cavity or wherever it happens to be placed from the last revision).  The headaches are intermittent, since the blockage in the tube can often be dislodged almost spontaneously, and with no apparent reason for the build up to be cleared by her body's defenses.  But at some point, perhaps a day or two after a shunt headache begins, sometimes after a week or ten days of intermittent headaches, the blockage will not pass down the tubing, allowing for the CSF to be shunted off.  She has had so many revisions and hospitalizations that we have lost count: over 100 at least.  CT scans are always taken, and the results of these scans, to this point after her entire life, have always shown "no appreciable difference in the suture line", although the build up can be so tremendous that she will be in a coma-like state. Mind you, I am not using medical terminology, because by this point you would have almost certainly given up on reading this post.

Julie and Muggsy, 2008

And for over five years, she has been mostly doing fine with this particular shunt and tubing.  And her breast cancer seems to be at bay.  She has a husband who is very supportive, a dog she dearly loves, and aides and nurses and doctors she schedules responsibly.  She is lucky in so many ways, and has stayed out of long term care facilities for most of her life.

The last time I posted about her shunt problems was the time I went to Charlotte, NC to be with her at the Carolinas Medical Center.  You can read more posts about her at these links:

Like my SIL Charlotte says, "you don't know what you don't know".  And we don't know why or how the time comes for a revision, but it will likely be sooner than later.  But it is a concern, of course. Your prayers and concern are appreciated.

Regularly scheduled arts and crafts will resume shortly.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cornbread, Cardigans and Canines

A few days ago, I shared some cornbread with a friend.  The recipe had absolutely no flour in its list of ingredients, so I figured it would be good for her "no gluten whatsoever" current diet plan.  Warning her that it would be very filling and loaded with calories because of the butter and cheese involved in its makeup, she willingly took it. Click for recipe.

The next day she e-mailed me and said something like "thanks for the cornbread...very light and delicious." Thought that was hilarious as she obviously had not even taken a bite of that dense cornbread.

On to my cardigan knitting, the Delancey Cardigan found here. It has stripes that point downwards with a chevron stripe motif which makes it a flattering style.  Thinking I had memorized the pattern well enough to continue knitting on and on, I later found out (and too late!) that I had missed a "slip two, knit one" at the beginning of the side, so had to rip out an hour's worth of work.

It actually could have been worse, since when knitting the Delancey I was watching the latest episode of "Downton Abbey", not really paying much attention to the knitting.  Friend Jan said the Brits were a bit up in arms about that episode with Anna Bates being victimized.  You can see an interview with Anna (Joanne Froggat) at this link as both she and writer Julian Fellowes discuss the episode. It's a wonder I got even a stitch made since the episode caught me in its emotional and visual grasp.

Of course, I was using my shrinky dink Downton Abbey knitting markers with the tv up loud and clearly empathizing with Mr. Bates.

I do have a few markers left from when I made them last year, so if you want two, I'll send you them postage paid.  Just leave a comment telling me your favorite actor from the series. Will draw from comments for the winner if there is more than one reader interested.

And the canines?  They are an expensive pair this month as BOTH had to have their annual check ups, vaccinations and dental cleanings.  We are not the first to think the IRS should give us a tax break on their medical expenses.

"We are cute and our teeth are clean."

Reading The Gravity of Birds, courtesy of sister Pam.  Sewing on a Vogue Pattern ( 8731).  What are you up to?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Painting Birds on Silk

This just finished, framed and placed in a dining area window today, suspended between two panels of glass in a record frame.  Joining in Paint Party Friday

 14" x 14"

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? 

Silk painting originated in China, going back to 2600 BC. Long before paper was invented/made, silk was a medium on which to paint. Silk is durable, portable, and readily rolled for travel.

Several prior references on the how to paint on silk are described in this blog. Go here or here or here for more information and other displayed paintings.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Honey of a Cowl

This fiber I'm working with now is ornery as a toddler overdue for a nap.  It is colorful, a pretty variegation of mixed colors, but stiff as a board.  Well maybe not quite as stiff as a board, but it definitely could stand up to a fist fight without a bruising.

My hands are getting a bit cramped from putting size 9 circular needles through it, making purl stitches and then slipped stitches, then going back to a row of knitting around on alternating rows.

But it is worth fussing with this 100 percent and slightly tamed wool from Scotland for several reasons of personal intrinsic value, the major one being that it was a souvenir from that glorious summer day last July when we Joyce James tourers visited the Woolshed on Orkney.  Women crofters from that southern Scottish island raise their own sheep for the fiber, then go through all the laborious processes of refining the wool until they can eventually dye it to their own specifications or individual liking. Only then are the skeins wound and marked, delivered to the Woolshed, and made ready for purchase.  In this case we tourists were the ones eager to snatch up wool rugs, jumpers, and those beautifully dyed skeins that were so artfully decorating straw baskets and stuffed into worn wooden shelving in that remote marketplace, a two room working craft producers' cooperative studio.

The one wool skein I brought home from the Woolshed has patiently waited for the perfect small project to make use of its properties (it contains 100 grams).  And so the Honey Cowl seemed fitting.  Honey Cowl, when completed, looks somewhat like a honeycomb with rows of purled stitches and slipped stitches simulating a honeycomb.

See its ridges?  Wye, they practically stand up to salute the eye of the beholder.  Perhaps it can be folded under a collar or over a turtleneck and secured with a scarf clip to tame its less than cuddly fiber characteristic.  Only seven more inches of honey comb stitching to go until it can be bound off.  Am going through lots of hand moisturizers on this cowl.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mouse, Mice, Meece

How can you not think mice are cute?

Not the destructive type of mouse, that varmint type, that eat grain, sneak into your pantry and eat a hole in your Cheerios box ... but the type of mice as portrayed by Beatrix Potter and other whimsical artists.

Let your mind wander to sweet mice, funny mice, darling mice, like these

And even knitted mice!
This is a family of mice I knit from the book Knitted Cats and Kittens by Stratford.  An odd choice for knit?  Maybe.  But I think that one or two peeking out from the brim of a hat might give a chuckle.

 I do think mice are very nice.