Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin Faces & Pumpkin Cake

It is time to Get Pumpkin!
Bing has a few faces displayed, but a more fun look is my goal.  It is to gild the lily on my fall front door wreath that we used last year that now needs a little update.


Take a look here at Attic Clutter to see some airbrush art with cute pumpkin faces.  I'll try to paint one on a blank oval canvas and put behind this door wreath:

Here is the canvas, an oval with a rust colored acrylic prepped on it and ready for its pumpkin face.  The craft store did not have a circular canvas, so this one will have to do.

Now to paint the pumpkin face and figure out how to attach it behind the wreath.  Duck tape?  Duck tape can do anything, right?

Here it is.
August Flowers
For an easy and delicious autumnal cake with pumpkin, Pinterest has this cake!  The Food Critic forgot to say to add the eggs to the wet mixture, but otherwise the cake directions are straight forward.  It was delicious, although my brother said it was not sweet enough to his liking.  It makes a firm, dense cake with just enough sweetness for me.

September 2013 Flowers
Enjoy your last days of September!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Making Different Colors Work in an Established Knitting Pattern

Gosh, do the H and I love being retired.  Besides the usual ADL (activities of daily living, in the vernacular of my past working life), we get to do so many fun things.  One of which is knitting.  Are you surprised?

Since I learned how to do a bit of colorwork with Fair Isle knitting, I am adapting the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing pattern for the younger dog, who is a bit smaller.  To dimutize dogmatize the pattern for the smaller animal, I took out one row of sheep knitting and one row of rams in the pattern.  It is almost completed, so that one crafty project for a Work in Progress on Wednesday.  Check in with Tami for others' blog postings and pictures.

Now you know about my obsession with knitting.  And granted, this new project may be taking it to the extreme, but first, let me explain.

See this wonderful Fair Isle pattern tam created by Sheila Joynes (remember, only two colors per row, and changing colors every second or third row, perhaps)....

Very pretty colors of wool, but they are not in my stash.

What I do have in my craft room are the Jamieson & Smith Ronaldsay wools, dyed by Pam Murray on Orkney, Scotland.  They were previously earburned here.  (And again, you can find Pam here on Folksy, but she seems to currently be out of stock.)

The Ronaldsay wool yarns in colors I'll be using to make that tam:

To begin, I had to create a chart on a spreadsheet that took me for...eee ...vvvver.  The learning curve was an hour, seriously.  But it is done now and if I want to chart the colors again for this tam, the spreadsheet is saved to a working document.

That show off yellow ball of wool at the bottom right of the picture was one that I dyed using marigolds from our yard ... and it took several tries to make those yellows that I complained about here.

So now I can get to work with my colored pencils, matching the wools to the colors of the pencils, to see what effect each of those colors brings to the table by coloring in the squares.  I plan on coloring in two or five spreadsheets to see how the colors work together.

If my math is correct, there could be 7x6x5x4x3x2x1 = 5040 combinations of colors knitted up in that tam pattern, and using just those seven colors shown above.  But then again, each row could be changed up in various other ways.  My math skills are not up to figuring out how many more variations that would mount up to!

And how is your Wednesday going?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another Shawl Completed

 The Seriously Simple Shawl (version 2) is finished!  Ta da!

Specifics:  31" deep, 70" wide

Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Shetland Wool purchased in Lerwick, Scotland, held double while knitting; warm!

Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927), Impresssionist painter known for his intense colors, is most famous for his landscapes of Paris, Creuse, & Esterel areas.
Linking with WOWD!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Great great grandparents

Texas, the central area, is where I have been the past few days visiting family.  My bother discovered the graves of our maternal great great grandparents, the Shaws, as well as some of the graves of their eight children.

He has been working on genealogy research for over twenty years, and transferred all his research onto my iPad using the Reunion app.  He has over 600 families and over 1200 names in his database. Somehow he has gone back to the 7th century in his documentary work.

This is the grave marker for our great great maternal grandparents who were buried in the Austin, Texas area.  Some of my great great grandmother and g g grandfather's children are also buried in this plot.

Visiting family and touring the Bullock Texas History Museum in Austin filled the afternoon yesterday

Always interesting to learn more about your home state.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Let's Do This Again

Since last week's dyeing concoction did not go so well (previous post), a few corrections to the marigold dyeing process were made yesterday with very differing results.  New process was to
  • cut off flower heads (check)
  • simmer flower heads in 1/2 gallon of water for an hour (check)
  • strain flower water, discarding the flowers and retaining the water for day (again, did that last week)
  • mordant the wool in 1/2 tsp. alum and 1/2 gallon of water for one hour over simmer (different than last time as I used vinegar for the mordant)
  • place wool skeins into the dye bath and simmer for one hour (same as last week)
  • over-dye that ugly skein from the first dye bath last week by re-dyeing it in this week's concoction (check, but with rapidly beating heart)
  • retrieve wool from dye bath and rinse under cool water several times to remove dye left over in fiber
  • enjoy the scent of the marigold water and marvel at the color of the golden dye bath water
  • delight in the resulting pretty colors (different from last week)
Here are the results, with plenty of seeds saved for next year's garden:

The skein on the right was the prior seaweed color.  Now it is a deep golden.  The wool on the left is a pretty and bright yellow, having started out as a virgin white wool.

Another picture of the bright yellow wool:

Yea! I am happy, happy, happy!

This will be used to knit a Fair Isle tam, using one of the patterns used by the Scottish women in the knitting guild whose pretty hats are shown below.

Thanks to the commenters last week who said to look for alum in the spice aisle. I HAD looked in our largest local grocery chain in our town and could not find it, but then went to the local Safeway and BEHOLD! There it was. Thanks for nudging me to look for it again!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ronaldsay Wool and Dyeing with Marigolds

Wool from Ronaldsay in the Shetland Islands is unique.  The sheep there eat seaweed!

 Our friend Wikipedia says...
The North Ronaldsay is a breed of sheep living on North Ronaldsay, the northernmost of the Orkney_Islands, Scotland. They are one survivor of a type of sheep formerly found across the islands of Orkney and Shetland (the other is the Shetland (sheep), belonging to the Northern European short-tailed sheep group of breeds.

They are notable for living almost entirely on seaweed for several months of the year, except for a short lambing season – this is the only forage available to them, as they are confined to the shoreline by a 6 feet dry-stone wall which encloses the whole island. The semi feral flock on North Ronaldsay is confined to the foreshore for most of the year to conserve the limited grazing inland.

The sheep have evolved a somewhat different physiology from other sheep, due to their unusual diet – their digestive system has adapted to extract the sugars in seaweeds more efficiently, and they have an increased susceptibility to toxicity to the trace element copper.  he grazing habits of the sheep have also adapted to their peculiar diet: instead of grazing during the day and ruminating at night as other sheep generally do, the North Ronaldsays graze as the tide reveals the shore (twice in 24 hours), ruminating at high water. The sheep's source of fresh water is limited to the few freshwater lakes and ponds along the seashore.
Eating seaweed, adapting to copper in their diet and drinking pond water must make fleece of the Ronaldsay sheep different in some way.  Just by handling it, I found it difficult to feel or see the difference in wool from this particular breed of sheep on Orkney.  But one thing I did find on Orkney was that retail stores generally stocked only the natural color of wool.  It was obvious I had to buy some of the natural colored wool (posing below with marigold flowers).

This 100% Ronaldsay wool (100 grams) is almost white.
I was so happy to bring back natural colored wool and also some pretty dyed Ronaldsay wool, hand dyed by Pam Murray.  You can find her here.

So now I have not only bits of colored Ronaldsay yarn from Pam Murray, but also some white.

But wait, there was no yellow or golden yellow or any other type of yellow Ronaldsay in the color palette. 

So after I came home from Orkney, I decided to dyed some white Ronaldsay wool with marigolds to see what yellow hues came out of the natural flower petals.

Thank you, Polish Granddaughter, and Blue Castle Fiber Arts for good information on dyeing with natural dyes and mordants.

Remember that 100 + gram of natural wool?  Here it is wound up and divvied it into four unequal amounts.  The first two balls shown from left to right are the smaller amounts of wool that I used in dyeing for yellows; hopefully the first larger amount (1 oz.) will result in a darker yellow and the smaller ball (.6 oz) will result in a lighter shade of yellow.

Here are the flowers, which were then slowly boiled for one hr.

The white wool, that one ounce shown above, was lightly skeined and tied at intervals to keep it together while being dyed.  It had previously been submerged into hot vinegar water.  That was the mordanting process (mordant: to assist in accepting color,  meaning that the dye will "bite" into the fiber and hold on).  Then it was submerged into the marigold tea and again simmered on the stove for another hour.

After soaking overnight, this ugly color resulted:

Kinda brown, kinda puke color.
But I will NOT be defeated.  Friend Natalie says I can have some of her marigolds.  This time, I will go to the medical supply place and buy alum for the mordant instead of using vinegar.  Then the process will begin again. Sigh.
Hint to the wise: unlike what the internet told me, alum in not available at pharmacies.  At least, not at the new Walgreen's in our fair city.  The nice pharmacist said it was not used anymore (for what purposes it is used beyond dying is beyond me), so Walgreen's does not stock alum.

Stay tuned for more of "AS THE WOOL TURNS COLOR", maybe tomorrow?

Linking with Tami at Works in Progress Wednesday.  Go visit some other people who can actually SHOW you something pretty!