Tag Archives: dyeing

Dyeing for a new bathtub

The days of our shitty acrylic almond bathtub are limited.

And I remembered just in time that I had a pound or so of dye to yellowize an old rag rug.

Last Saturday N was out, all current and terrible big house projects were waiting for the plumber first, the dog was deep snoozing, and it wasn’t raining.

I could tell a story about the rug, but it probably wouldn’t be very interesting. But the short version is I got it in 1996 after moving to my former city and setting up an apartment with a few new things from Ikea when all I had before was used – some good used, some pathetic – and it was my first adult-looking space (I later regressed). The rug was originally very peach – in the store it was pale orange, and in my sunny apartment, it was very peach. It was too close to the ’80s and I didn’t want a peach rug, but the room was warmed up for it and I wasn’t going to return it – and – it quickly began to fade.

It was in another apartment, then a house, then in storage, and back to a house – since the first house, it was in my workrooms or places where dripping things on it didn’t really matter. I had been eyeing it for the basement lounge area, but we managed to find a few others new and used and besides, by then it had faded to beige or beige-ish and I had it folded up for a dog bed, but then the dog got furniture privileges and didn’t need it.

It has been washed many times in the big machines at the laundromat, and was still mostly clean, but it still bled a tinge of peach when I tossed it in the tub. (When wet, it was a nice color again…) I thought I had iDye for cotton in a mustardy/saffrony/ochre color, but I think it’s “sun yellow” – not a lemon, but not an ochre.

I didn’t measure the dye, just dumped 3/4 of it in, and I didn’t measure the salt, but it definitely wasn’t enough – maybe just a bit more than a cup, and the water was far from simmering, just tap hot which is almost tolerable to the skin.

It looked like a very terrible chemical spill.

And I muscled it around once in awhile and left it in for a few hours.

I liked the school bus yellow-orange of the water, but knew that could be a bit deceiving.

Then a sloppy cold wash with a little detergent, and likely not enough of a rinse, but that shit was heavy – the water was running a pale lemon though, so it was mostly washed out.

And lugged it out to hang dry off of the high stoop stairs (it’s going to take days to dry).

It turned out both darker and brighter (more intense) than I expected, and it likely could bleed more, but it will most likely end up on the basement laundry floor so that doesn’t matter (but what might matter is that it’s probably too big – 5′ x 7′ in more of a 4′ x 6′ space…)

And since it’s in the basement, it doesn’t really matter that it is a revived yellow instead of just faded beige/peach, but whatever, it will turn any area sunshiney.

(And the tub was actually a bit cleaner in the end, not yellow, but I wouldn’t risk my luck with dyeing in the new bright white tub…)

Leave a comment

Filed under dyeing, home, home decor, recycling

Driving away

I had a full day of good bad luck recently.

The brakes in my car went out while I was driving…

…out of the state car inspection garage.

(Moments later, I’d have been on the highway, instead, I coasted into an uphill parking spot just outside the garage – and still passed the inspection!)

I had many other errands planned that day, but had to wait for a tow truck instead.

But I’d brought some knitting along at the last moment, so I had something to do while waiting.

I’d just downgraded our automobile club membership from the longest towing allowance because we hadn’t used it in years and the yearly fee is much higher now than where we used to be.

But it was still enough towing to get me back to my town.

I didn’t wear a coat when I’d left the house that morning because it was sunny and I would be running in and out of places.

But when I started the long walk home from the garage, it dropped 15 degrees and started snowing.

But I had inexplicably put on walking shoes instead of my usual clogs that morning, so at least my feet were fine.

The garage called to say my entire brake line was rusted out and my car would be in the shop for days.

And N had just left town for a three-day weekend with his.

So I was stranded in the house, which is where I’d normally prefer to be most of the time, but I was unmoored and annoyed to not be able to do the stupid running around crap I’d planned do, so with my thoughts on autos, and mood bend on frustration, I ripped out the van sock and removed the offending skein to overdye it.

van redo-before

I only had violet and yellow food coloring gels and a smattering of stinky drink mix on hand.

I wanted the neon to go away, and I was still going to knit it with the other burgundy/cranberry/orange yarn, so as long as I could turn it into some form of purple or brown, or a favorite of mine, purpley-brown, or at least just all toned the hell down, all would be fine.

van redo-dyeing

I started off with just the violet, but it turned the yarn very dull and almost grey – acceptably muted, but surprisingly unpleasant (I usually like muddy, dull, muted colors). So I jabbed in some yellow and liked that it was heading to a brown. But then for entirely unknown reasons, I tossed in a packet of grape drink mix.

I decided that fake grape is the only drink mix stink I can somewhat, just barely, not quite really, tolerate.

But I got something acceptably purple-ish.

van redo-rinse

And rinsing the whole shebang was fun – the colors broke in the wash, so at first the rinse water was pink, then cyan, and then green when I remembered to pick up the camera.

There was still some color left in the pot so I tossed in some natural white (not quite cream) roving for shits and giggles.

van redo - sop color

And it cam out an intense orchid that I would hate to wear alone, but will be a nice occasional addition in a spin.

van sopped

The yarn came out mildly nasty on its own, and has a bit of that lifeless dullness that comes with food color dyeing…

van redye

and you can see the areas I jabbed in the yellow vs. the violet…

van redye det

 but it’s just what this pair of socks needed for me to take off with them again.

van new sock

(While I’m waiting to get my car out of the shop… and on the water treatment equipment repair guys, and my new tooth, and now possibly the washer repair person or new delivery, and the lumber delivery that we planned before everything else went to hell… this is becoming a helluva expensive month.)

3 Comments

Filed under dyeing, knitting, spinning

Is this lump outta my head? I think so.

I have an old cheap sofa that I’ve held onto longer than I probably should have because it’s so damn comfortable.

I bought it about a decade ago off an old apartment neighbor who got it as a gift from her boyfriend who later dumped her and she decided to move far away. It was a bit of a shame though, I hadn’t spoken to her except for neighborly pleasantries until that point, and only when she was moving did I realize she might have made for a good friend.

But her sofa, ugly as it may be, has been quite the comforting companion.

It was too big for my old tiny living room and one had to awkwardly maneuver around it when entering through the front door. But it made for decent sleeping accommodations when need be, and I had the perfect knitting nest in one corner.

I believe a good sofa must be deep and wide.

It is red, and I never much liked red, except for a bit in kitchens, and N never liked that it was faded red – it’s meant to be of the casual canvas aesthetic sort of thing, completed with cotton rag rugs and denim pillows, likely.

Unfortunately, just when I had the cash to buy a new, better colored cover, the big Swedish store discontinued the sofa and all its covers.

Somewhere along the line, I bought some fabric to make a new slipcover, but it wasn’t quite enough – so I bought some more, which still wasn’t quite enough either, but complemented the other, so I thought I would make it two toned, but then I never made it. (The fabric is still waiting to become something though – probably a slipcover for a chair instead.)

In our first house, it stayed propped on its end and shoved into the corner of the basement for a year or two until N took a job long distance and it once again reigned over a living room – a proper sized one, finally.

But then it spent nearly a couple of years in storage – I thought we’d need to trash it after it essentially stayed in a garage for so long, and who wants a sofa that’s been in a garage (especially one infested with stink bugs)?

But it came out fine.

Except the lumbar pillows.

lump-pillows

They were always a bit too lumpy – I think my neighbor had washed and dried them too often or too aggressively – I’d rather not speculate why, but the rest of the sofa is stain-free, so I’m not too worried. But the lumps made the pillows flaccid and ineffective, so I decided it was time for a revival.

lump-lumps

Should I be ashamed to admit I still kept the lumps? They’ll be good in a future dog bed, right?

I really hate to put anything in landfills.

And I wasn’t keen on stuffing it with plastics again, but wadded-up old clothes weren’t comfortable, leaves or straw too crunchy and a bit too earthy, and wool is too dear, so I got some more of the synthetic fluffy stuff.

lump-stick

It came with a free “tool.” Now I like free shit as much as the next guy, but for chrissakes, it’s just a chopstick – a single chopstick in a paper sleeve just like what chopsticks come in – did a chopstick factory accidentally package only singles and the stuffing company get a bargain?

Not to mention I already had a few random chopsticks kicking around in my sewing box along with a pencil or two with the lead broken off for the same purpose… A stuffing “tool” is probably the one thing people don’t really need…?

lump-during

So I crammed the pillows to their fill and made them a bit lumpy in a fluffy way, but that didn’t really matter. I like some poly fill brands over others but I buy it so infrequently that I forget which I like and I’m not certain this was the one…

But now our lumbar regions are properly supported once again when lounging in the basement – the perfect place for a less than perfect but still very comfortable sofa.

lump-after

A bit ago I ordered a pound of yellow dye to revive an old rag rug and turn this sofa cover orange – I figured the best options for overdying it were brown (but we already have a brown sofa upstairs), purple (meh, purple), deeper red, black, or orange – but I didn’t want to worry about potentially staining our clothes if I didn’t wash a dark dye out well enough, so I figured the yellow was the best option and I wanted a yellow rug anyway. But now I’m not so sure – the red sofa actually matches a rug for once and it is the basement, so a bit of a mishmash is warranted…

But I do like orange much more than red…

Leave a comment

Filed under dyeing, home, home decor, recycling, sewing

A time to dye

I had one of those stupid frustrating telecommuting days last week wherein I couldn’t connect with my work computer…

and couldn’t connect with a person there who could re-connect my computer to me…

So I couldn’t work, but I had plans to work so that I’d have time later in the week to do some non-work work, and I really couldn’t stand not being able to get the work work over and was frustrated and pissy and feeling like I didn’t exist – a feeling probably common to telecommuters, but I don’t know any others so it might just be me, and there are times when in fact, I do not exist…

So I did something I hadn’t planned on doing any time soon to ease my unease.

I thrifted some comfy but insanely red linen pants  last year, and though I like bold color, I have a few red t-shirts, many green t-shirts, and most often wear a pair of yellow sandals, so I either looked like a cardinal (bird), Christmas, or condiments if I wore any of them with the pants.

(And I don’t really like yellow mustard, especially next to ketchup).

I also had a sorry once lavender t-shirt, and a commercially sewn floral canvas bag that served its purpose at the time, but I never use anymore and keep almost getting rid of it…

teal dye-before

I also have a few old boxes of that powdered dye knocking about, so I simmered the threesome in teal (which really was more turquoise).

I wanted the pants to be anything other than bright red, and was hoping for burgundy, purplish, brown, or some murkier variation thereof.

teal dye-during

And now all is well, except for the bag – I’m really ready to get rid of it finally.

I know the dye won’t stick around forever, and I know well enough to only wash these things with darker things, but since the pants and shirt were already old, the dye should hopefully hold up for the rest of their lifespans, or else the yellow sandals might wear out by the time the pants become red again…

teal dye-after

And it also became evident that the pant’s manufacturer made no effort to match the inside button to the outside and/or made the inside button match the outside, but the outside button an odd beige (now pleasingly turquoise) accent piece…?

teal dye-button

Or perhaps the original owner replaced it…

Either way, now I’m either a giant gradient when wearing a red t-shirt, pleasantly almost-complementary when wearing green, and let’s just say I’m enjoying a robust red with something mustard-schmeared…

2 Comments

Filed under dyeing, recycling, thrifting

And yet another thing that isn’t quite what it started out to be…

While I was trying to get my mojo back last week, I was working on a few other things that I hoped were likely to turn out as I expected.

I made a big mess of these Botanic hats recently and was left with one that was a bit on the smaller side.

I know a kid who likes yellow, and his father was one of the recipients of the recent ones, so rather than knit yet another (and buy more yarn which I’m really trying not to do) I got some Wilton’s buttercup yellow food coloring for transformation purposes.

A's hat before

The yarn is superwash, so I went to town without worry, glopping in about a quarter of a teaspoon of color to a liter or so of not quite boiling water and dumping in the room temperature vinegar and water pre-soaked hat.

And as usual, the whole process was already underway before I considered gloves….

A's hat on my fingers

I was expecting to have to use more and more color, but the little bit did the trick.

I’d love to dye more often but I hate how much water it takes to rinse… I suppose water tainted with food coloring would be safe to use watering plants and whatnot, but I don’t want to dye my plants, and I don’t eat anything with artificial food coloring, so I don’t want it on my vegetables…

A's hat in the wash

The color worked in pleasantly surprising ways – the dark charcoal became a shimmery brown with almost navy blue accents and a slight yellow haze.

A's hat damp

And whether it was from the vinegar rinses or hot water baths, it has become wonderfully soft.

A's hat after scrunched

I think it is my favorite version of this hat yet.

2 Comments

Filed under dyeing, knitting

Of veggie weenies and small epiphanies

The growing season has ended for my mutant anthropomorphic vegetable friends.

carrotman

I think a mandrake got a bit randy in the carrot patch…

I’ve been struggling with that large quilt since the summer.

But no longer. 

Though I thankfully received some helpful suggestions on how to finish it in my limited workspace, I still didn’t want to deal with it.  But then I had a head-smacking moment when I realized it didn’t have to be a quilt.  I wanted it to be a functional bed covering to fully realize its concept, but it made no difference whether it was a quilt, or a coverlet, or a comforter, or a duvet cover.  I am loudly sighing with relief.  Though I also went to 13 stores (even thrifts) trying to find a cheap comforter that I could use as filler instead of spending an ungodly amount on 4 or 5 layers of high-loft batting and failed to find one in my budget.  So duvet cover it became out of thrift, necessity, and for the sake of my sanity.

Most of the other things I’ve been working on are finally coming together as well – it will be a welcome relief to stop thinking about the things I’ve been thinking about for the last few months.  So now I’m allowing myself to fall backwards into a bottomless [happy] pit of multiple projects.

My vacation knitting socks are further along, and might even conclude by the end of the year.

nostalgiasockmonster

I’ve gathered some acorns to use as dye (still no luck finding a tree infested with galls).

acorns

While I was in the woods, I saw several really cool vine yarns.

woods-vines

And I’ve started a couple of gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays.

strelka-start

But thankfully I do not fully participate in most holidays apart from cooking and eating (mostly just the eating) so I have none of the pressure that others do to complete x projects in x time for people who might not want/like that hat, pair of socks, scarf, pillow, toy anyway.

As some may say, woot!

Or yippee!

Or hell yeah!

Or yee hah!

Or the excitement is so short-lived it will be over by the time I finish shouting.

Leave a comment

Filed under dyeing, hiking, knitting, quilts, sewing, thrifting

Neck stretches and why I’m not an archaeologist

waneka-no face detI can now reveal my Waneka cowl by the fabulous and fun designer Annie Watts (aka Wattsolak).  I used my recent Kool-Aid dyed yarn for a super bulky version and totally love its gargantuan squooshiness.  The pattern is easily and brainlessly adaptable to any weight of yarn – thinner yarn = more coils, thicker = fewer.  And it looks great with gradient dyed yarn – a perfect one-skein project especially for the thousands of beautiful indie dyed hanks out there at wool shows and in webworld.  I also made a  worsted weight version out of the maligned Lion Brand Amazing, and though I love the colors and the pattern, I still hate the feel of the yarn.

Waneka-with lamb

And I actually prefer my obnoxious-hued, still slightly noxious-smelling version.

waneka-no face

I can even wear it on my head.  Aging old-time Hollywood actress turban-chic.

This has had me remembering my youth (yet again – I guess I’m doing some mid-life thing) and the countless hours I spent traveling via National Geographic magazine.  I couldn’t stop thinking about neck rings worn by Kayan and Ndebele* women while I was knitting.

 400px-Kayan_woman_with_neck_rings ndebele1

Of course Waneka won’t ruin your collarbones or require marriage…

But as a child, I was utterly fascinated about the rest of the world – especially cultures that seemed unchanged or little changed for thousands of years.   When not reading or playing with animals, my other favorite pastime was digging up old sh*t – fossils in the creek, arrowheads in the field, or broken saucers, rusted scissor halves, and bottles in buried trash heaps in the woods.  By the age of nine, I was quite certain I wanted to be an archaeologist.  Luckily around that time, we had a class assignment of interviewing someone who was what we wanted to be when we grew up.  We lived in the sticks; I have no idea how most people were employed around there apart from service and functional jobs – teachers, undertakers, auto repair persons, farmers, and the like.  I don’t remember what my classmates wanted to be (and most girls were destined for early motherhood and possibly marriage anyway).  But my parents actually found a relatively local archaeologist at a university in the closest thing resembling a city 40 minutes away.  I was nervous about interviewing this professor – it was like meeting Indiana Jones or glimpsing into my certain glamorous and fulfilling future.

At first glance, his office was full of books and sunlight was streaming down on piles of Very Important Documents about Very Intriguing Finds.  He was (and yes, I could be making this up) cloaked in a brown corduroy blazer with worn elbow patches, mussed with unclean hair and a lack of a shave, and sporting a timeworn look of fascinating experience and adventure.

Then he opened his mouth.

I don’t know much about children, but I know that up to a certain age you should deceive them into thinking that life is ok.  If you study and work hard you can achieve whatever you want within reason.  Money should matter less than happiness.  It’s best to do something you love and the world will embrace you and appreciate your effort.

But instead of encouraging my little sh*t self, he launched into an epic and exceedingly bitter rant about the profession.  It boiled down to: don’t do it because the pay is sh*t, the days are long, hot, and tedious to the point of self-immolation, your projects won’t be funded or so severely underfunded that you will pay out of your own pocket, you will have to resort to teaching and you will not be respected at the university and will have to sell your soul to campus politics, tenure games, and administrative delirium, you will loose your marriage, your kids will despise you, your dog will run away and you’ll die stinking in the streets.

So today, though I work somewhat in the history business, I am not an archaeologist.

Trash from woods

I still occasionally dig up old broken sh*t in the woods though… (when not knitting of course).

* Pictures (that aren’t mine) yanked off the web from here and here.

1 Comment

Filed under dyeing, knitting, travel