Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thank you, Australian Sheep

"When in Scotland," free pattern, took less than two weeks to knit up.  Finished size after blocking: 80" x 33"

The wool, again, thank you John, was hand spun from fleeces of sheep that grazed in Australia.  The dyeing was from both natural flowers and acid dyes.

Friend Natalie is knitting her shawl from the natural, undyed colors of the sheep from fleeces John spun:

And this is Dottie's slipper, one she is making.  Again, from John's spun wool:


Yesterday was a stressful day as it was an outing with Julie.  Gene and I wheeled her across the street from Mesa Manor and around the hospice campus to the accessible restaurant operated by HopeWest, Spoons Bistro & Bakery, where most proceeds go back to hospice.  Julie seemed to enjoy getting out, eating under an umbrella, and touring the grounds.  It was a pretty day, very hot and sunny, so the climate added to the milieu of the many flowers in bloom. But I failed to take a camera.

After getting Julie back to the nursing home and settled, I arrived home physically and emotionally exhausted.  Julie's social skills and perceptions are not that of the average; crying on both our parts is generally par.  The husband, as usual, was stalwart.  He suggested I read a book on dealing with adolescent autistic people, of which neither category of "adolescent" nor "autistic" exactly fits into her persona.  But there are certain similarities in both aspects of the terms as to how she deals with life.  I will give it a go and do more reading.  Maybe I can better learn how to deal with her when she is around other people in social settings.  My expectations are apparently too great.  Or maybe just unrealistic.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dyeing with Cosmos Flowers

In 2013, after those delightful, memorable, happy happy summer weeks in Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, I used marigolds to dye white wool from Orkney.  And with good results.

Fast forward to August, 2015.  Again, I have a bumper crop of flowers for dyeing.  But this summer I am using yellow cosmos to see what yellows will result after boiling on John's Australian wool.

Here are the cosmos flowers showing off for the camera in the early morning hours on August 15, just prior to being denuded with scissors:

(on the front porch)

(and this is on ONE volunteer, flowering cosmos plant; note it is trying to overtake the deliberately planted garden squash)

For basic dying principles, refer back to the Polish Granddaughter's post about dyeing with marigolds.  I substituted half cosmos and half marigold flowers, simmering for an hour to achieve this color in the dye pot.

Yellow yarn on the right, derived from cosmos and marigold dye, a bottle of yellow food coloring and half a bottle of citron acid dye. That wool resisted taking on a yellow hue, to say the least.  It is a wonder it did not felt amidst the process of all that stove top simmering.

This is the When In Scotland garter shawl.  It needs more of the lighter color green alternated with the lime green, then ending with the yellow cosmos colored wool. Figuring there is no rush on finishing the knitting (it is to be 97 degrees F today), I will add the new yellow for the last bold stripe, then finish with the teal color. 

On the Julie front, she is encountering a few more medical issues. Nothing is insurmountable, in her mind, for achieving independence in her own apartment in 2016.  We manicure her nails thrice weekly, play Word Chums and Words With Friends night and day via our iPads, and lunch together daily outside at the gazebo at Mesa Manor Rehab and Nursing Home. We also play a card game or two if she can tear herself away from the computer word games.

The husband does his part and brings the dogs to Julie for a pet at least twice a week. Julie has a remarkable and resilient spirit and has continually taught me about the universality of love.  Her birthday approaches in early September, and her abiding life cannot help but be inspirational despite her obstacles.

Bark if You Love Julie!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Outside Art: Painted Fence Update

Last summer was the advent of painting our fences with happy flowers.  Yesterday and today, I decided to update the east fence with a big ol' sunflower.  All acrylic, all half way peeling, and all flowers in need of a bit of fresh lacquer; or in this case, acrylics.

This is how it looks from the patio, not nearly so "in your face."

Except there might need to be a bee on the head of that sunflower.  We shall see how it feels later today.

A year ago in April and the west fence, which also needs a refreshment of paint:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Crochet Bowls, Again

Simply, I cannot get enough kale crisps, cashews, chocolate bites, or crochet bowls.  Luckily, the bowls have no calories, albeit they are addictive once one gets cotton yarns in hand. These bowls I make all the time from a pattern similar to this one on Ravelry, holding contrasting colors of yarns together while doing a single crochet.

Seed packets from friend Carol, who encourages good gardening habits for Mesa Manor.

Mr. Bear, above, was a gift from Auntie to Julie while in hospital.

Several have been given away, and did not have the opportunity to display themselves to my camera before going off to new homes.

These were made in February of this year:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hand Dying Wool

Remember that gorgeous hand spun wool John sent me from Australia? We played Scrabble online the other day and he said he had dyed some of his wool.  He was kind enough to forward me a web site he had used in dying wool.  The instructions were easy to decipher, so I decided to dye up some of the wool he sent using food coloring.

Basically, this is it: Soak wool in 1 quart water per100 grams wool, and a solution of vinegar water: 4 Tbsp. vinegar to one quart water, and soak for an hour.  While soaking, I mixed up colors to dye the wool teal and lime green.

For Teal: 2 TBSP Green food coloring, 4 TBSP Blue food coloring
For Lime Green: 3 TBSP Yellow food coloring, 1 TBSP Green food coloring

Website Australian Organic Wool says:
Soak skein in tepid water with 4 Tbsp of vinegar per quart of water for an hour before dyeing. 
Mix up your colors then add the water and the dyeing solution to the pot. Add the yarn and heat until it is just below boiling point – steam will be coming off the surface of the dye bath.  Continue to simmer and stir gently until all the color in the pot has been absorbed by the wool and the remaining water is clear. This will take less than 10 minutes.
Trouble shooting tip: If your yarn will not take the dye you may be using wool that is too coarse. Coarse wools only absorb small amounts of color. The best wool for dying is fine and superfine classes of wool.  
Allow to cool then pour yarn into colander and rinse with tap water until all residue colour has run out. Dry out of direct sunlight.
 So... Here is the first attempt at dyeing a lime green along with a darker green, hand painted on plastic by the "pour method;" I liked it.

Then on to dyeing a second skein of wool. This one I wanted a teal color, but the first attempt at achieving teal blue resulted in too light a shade, and looked a little muddy; note the right hand skein of sickly blue:

Back to the dye pot it went, and simmered for 40 minutes, not the original ten minutes that was suggested in the instructions.  This is the resulting color blue, which in my humble estimation is much prettier, and more vibrant:

Now I am anxious to knit these two colors into a striped shawl.  It might take a while, but as my brother says, "what's time to a hog or a  (insert your favorite word here)?"  Here, here, what's time to a hog or a knitter?