Tie Dyes by the Grandkids

The grandkids came over on the weekend and we finally got around to doing some tie-dye together. I’ve had the shirts for a while and you’d think I’d get them done in the summer when it was good weather but alas it was not to be. It took about six hours from start to finish. Not only did the kids dye the shirts, pick out the colours but they also helped in folding and tying them as well. Even the littlest one who is 2 1/2 helped to squeeze the dye bottle and she was pretty good at putting the elastics around the swirl shirts as well.

Fuchsia, green (intense blue + lemon yellow) and lemon yellow

Fuchsia, green.

Green, lemon yellow and deep orange.

Intense blue, black and green.

Intense blue, lemon yellow and black.

Deep orange, scarlet and Better Black.

Deep orange, scarlet, lemon yellow and black.

Deep orange, Lemon yellow and a stripe of scarlet down the orange.

Purple, lemon yellow.

Lemon yellow, fuchsia and purple.

There is a bit more intensity of colours off camera but I wasn’t very scientific about making up the dye liquids, I just tossed in the dye and added water, a bit more water than I normally do so it’s possible the blue and purple were washed out a bit but the dyes are now ten years old so it’s possible they are starting to fade a bit. Mind you  I’m still getting good colour for the dyes being that old. I went to the internet to look at colour combinations and it’s a whole new world since I stopped tie dyeing several years back.

I used to do snow dyeing on fabric but now people are doing ice dyeing on t-shirts and some of the effects are pretty neat I’m going to have to give it a go and see what happens. Some other shirts have a water colour effect where the dyes look like they’ve broken (instead of one colour the dye separates into it’s components). One of my favourite shirts is one where I applied dye to a plain shirt and then tossed the dyed shirt into a pail of soda ash water to set the dye. The colours broke and separated much like what I’m seeing on some shirts so I wonder if it’s the same idea.



Cleaning spree 2017

I haven’t posted in a while, here are a couple of items I did while away on vacation this past January.
Better Dorm Slippers knit from a couple of Value Village wool balls.

Fingerless Mitts knit with some of my first handspun yarn that I did on a drop spindle.

Well my husband went off on his annual golf trip again this year. Every year I tell myself I’m going to clean and up until this year I never have. Finally I got my act together and did some cleaning. Since the house was heading towards hoarding stage one, it was about time. I don’t really need to blog my pictures of a cleaned house but it’s nice to go back and revisit what I’ve done over the years so this is more for myself than others. My blog is more or less a diary of what I’ve done over the years so I can look back.

Clean fridge door.

Clean fridge.

Clean table.

Husband’s golf pencils, 66 of them now gone.

What is this and why do I have it on my counter.

Expired condiment bottles.

All the stuff from the fridge.

Fridge after throwing out most of the condiments.

I didn’t take a picture of the freezer at the bottom of the fridge but it’s clean as well.

Family Room

Family room cleaned, note the valence, which was taken down I don’t know how many years ago for some reason. My husband asked me to shorten it and I never got around to it but I noticed it when cleaning the room. It took me about 30 minutes to cut, shorten and hem it and another 30 minutes to arrange the folds after putting it back up. The room looks so much better – 30 minutes vs years, doh!

Husband’s area cleaned, finally!!!

Telephone area, last time cleaned was 2011.

TV – CD/DVD area, looks normal but was stacked mile high.

Laundry Room and Main Hall Closets and Front Foyer Area

Cleaned foot rack.

All the games in the house now have a home in one spot.

Coats with orderly shoes and boots.

Shoes to donate, about three garbage bags worth, more than it appears in this photo.

Coats to donate.

Coats in hall closet.

Clean floor, wowzers, actually it now has the vacuum cleaner in it plus a grocery cart. I’ve never had a designated spot for the vacuum before now and I’ve been in the house over 35 years.

This was so piled up with coats and shoes and other stuff, it just doesn’t look right now that it’s clean. Actually now that all the stuff is gone it looks barren and in need of an update.

I’d say most of the stuff I cleaned has been in a bad way for 10 years or more, probably more if I’m honest. Might be interesting to note that it took me nine days to clean it all and that wasn’t pushing myself. Why does it take so long to make something right especially when it takes so little time?


Minions for Christmas

Last night I finished up a Christmas project that’s been sitting on the shelf for a few months. Being the procrastinator that I am I always seem to do these things just before the Christmas deadline.

My little granddaughter has a thing for Minions so when the quilt kit went on sale at Fat Quarter shop I bought it. My oldest son also has a love for all things Minions as well and I’d originally thought of making it for him but the two year old won out. This was a fairly easy kit and once I got my act in gear it took about a week to finish and that only involved one long day of quilting and another of sewing down the binding.






I machine stitched all of the quilt, outlining the main character’s features and clothing. I then did a meander stitch in the orange background fabric surrounding the minions. I stitched along the borders and then for the inside of the yellow border I did another meander stitch but in a different style of curls. I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. It seemed fairly simple but now that it’s done it makes me happy looking at it, maybe it’s all that orange and the smiling Minion faces.


Heritage Yarn

I guess it’s been a while since I last posted. I have a ton of pictures taken but looking at my last post I realized that I haven’t gotten around to posting anything new in a while.

I thought I’d toss up some pictures of some yarn that I scored from Value Village. I call yarn that’s probably about 30 years old heritage yarn. Value Village will take yarn it gets from a donation and break it up into little bags of about four skeins or balls. Sometimes you’ll find bags with the same colour in them but more often they’ll break up the same colour and put it into multiple bags with different colours tossed in. I figure they do this on purpose so the buyer has to end up buying five different lots just to get similar skeins of the same colour. This is how I ended up buying a lot of wool. Knowing myself I’d probably have ended up buying it all anyhow since it was good wool.

Various colours of heritage wool.

This bucket has the six skeins of the green I was really going after but I also scored three nice skeins of black as well.

I know the green yarn was old because the label on it said Condon’s Yarns and that mill is no longer in business in fact it burned down a few years ago after having shut down. The black yarn also had Condon’s labels on them. The other label on some of the skeins was Briggs and Little, which I was happy to see.



There were also various other skeins that had been wound into balls and they were without labels. I guess I’m going to have to knit swatches out of them and see what weight of yarn they are. What was really neat and I didn’t notice this until I got home was that one of the wound balls was an exact match for five skeins of yarn that my mother-in-law had given me. I was very glad to see it as I didn’t think there was enough yarn for a sweater. She also bought this yarn about 30 years back but didn’t knit with it or she tried but she found out that she’s allergic to wool and it made her hands itch. The green is from Briggs and Little and they still make it today as I just received some sample cards in the mail yesterday and that colour is still offered.

Green heather from Value Village.

The green heather compared to my mother-in-law’s skein.

I got 15 balls of yarn for $22 and so I’m well pleased with the deal. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. The green yarn from Condon’s did smell but it’s funny because the black from Condon’s didn’t. I decided to wash all the green skeins in some Unicorn Power Scour and there was a ton of dye washed out so I’m thinking the smell was from processing and not from being in a plastic container all those years. The yarn washed up beautifully and is gorgeous. The only thing left to do is to try and decide what I’m going to knit out of it. The idea is either a yoked sweater or maybe a hap shawl I’m not certain which to go with. I have an upcoming KAL in January in one of my Ravelry groups so I think I’ll wait until then to decide what to do. There is plenty of Christmas stuff happening at the moment to keep me busy.




Making Rolags from a wool batt.

This is a picture of some Ile de France fleece that I spun into a 3-ply yarn. I was trying to get a bulky fluffy woolen yarn but ended up with a semi-smooth worsted weight yarn.

3-ply Ile de France.

Trying to think of how I could spin a more fluffy woolen yarn I realized that my fibre prep was wrong. I had used hand combed sliver, which is normally used to make a worsted yarn. So I thought I should try spinning from some rolags. This made me think of two batts I had sitting in the closet for some months so I decided I’d try and make them into rolags using my blending board and this is what I came up with.

Rolags made from drum-carded batts.

Single ply on bobbin.

Single plied with gold thread.

Yarn on niddy noddy.

Skeined yarn.

The batts had bits of stuff like mohair and sari silk added to them so instead of coming out smooth they came out lumpy and I realized I could make thick and thin yarn out of them so that’s what I did. I spun a single with texture and then plied it with a gold thread and made art yarn.

I still want to try for a woolen bulky yarn so I decided to drum card some batts of the Ile de France and make more rolags. I’m hoping since these are pure wool I’ll be able to spin using a long-draw method and end up with what I want. I thought I’d show how I made the rolags from the wool batts.

Ile de France fleece.

Drum-carded batts.

Batt on blending board.

Using two knitting needles to start turning the batt.

Winding wool onto the needles.

Rolag pulled away from the board and the loose ends smoothed in.

Knitting needles removed one at a time from the rolag.

Pile of rolags from the batts.

Now that I’ve made the rolags all that is left to do is to spin them 🙂


Twirly Skirt and T-shirt

Thought I’d post a couple of pictures of a skirt and matching t-shirt I made Charlie. I’d made a skirt for Charlie over three years ago Charm Square Skirt and her mom says that it’s getting a bit on the short side but she still loves it so could I please make her another one.

I thought about making the same skirt but decided to go with different fabric since Charlie is a big fan of pink. The matching t-shirt is dyed with Grecian Rose from ProChem. You can find the tutorial for the skirt over at the Simple Simon & Company blog. Easy Tiered Skirt




Bridger Cowl

It seems I forgot to blog about the cowl I made out of the Paua yarn I spun, brain fart I guess, I did post to Ravelry. Anyhow I was looking for a project that didn’t take up too much yarn and I came across a pattern in Ravelry called the Bridger Cowl by Kris Basta

This was an easy cowl to knit up and I did it in one day. The only issue I had was that I could have used a couple more inches in the width for the cowl to sit more comfortably on my neck but that’s my fault for not taking a neck measurement in the first place. I always have an issue with gauge as well. It doesn’t seem to matter if I make a swatch I always end up knitting tighter once I get into a project. I didn’t make the cowl for myself it’s for my more petite sister-in-law so I’m hoping it’ll be perfect. I did block the cowl once it was finished and that helped. Nice pattern though and I’d consider making another one if needed.

I like the pattern because it has the lace bit at the bottom but then goes into plain stockinette stitch for the main body. I did try another pattern but found that the colours in the Paua yarn got lost in lacework so a simpler pattern was needed. Anyhow I’m happy with the cowl and I think I have enough yarn left over to try out another simple cable cowl.

paua cowl with foam head
Bridger Cowl using the Paua yarn I created.

paua cowl with black coat
Not a great picture but gives you an idea of how the cowl sits on my coat (Yes it was very hot that day and it’s a selfie.)

Next on the agenda are some tie dye t-shirts for the grandkids and perhaps one for a cashier who insisted on getting my name and number at the checkout when she saw me in my tank top.


Paua Shell

We went away for the weekend to our friend’s cottage and once again I took my spinning wheel and got in some spinning. The fibre I spun up was some corridale I’d bought from a shop in Auckland while on holiday this past March/April.

Little Wool Co Paua shell corridale fibre
Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Company.

fibre paua shell
Super-wash corridale, colourway Paua Shell.

I decided to spin from the fold to try and preserve the colours in the roving. I haven’t spun from the fold before aside from one attempt to see what it was like, never a project though. I enjoyed the process and it’s easier for me to make a thicker yarn using this method. After spinning two singles I spun them together for a ‘barber pole’ effect.

anna gratton paula shell
Yarn thickness about a double-knit to worsted weight.

corridale paula shell
Closeup of colours.

I’m not sure what I’m going to make with this but I’m leaning strongly towards making a cowl for my granddaughter. The kids are no longer allowed to wear scarves to school but a cowl should be okay. I might make two seeing as how I have four granddaughters, maybe I need to order more fibre to make more stuff since the colours are pretty for little girls.


More Wool

I’m running out of creative titles when it comes to posting about the Ile de France. Not much happening in this post but I did spin up a mini test skein of the Rosewine coloured Ile de France. I also washed another batch of fleece. The difference in washing this time was that I put it outside to soak overnight but then I decided to try and wash the tips. The fleece soaked in cold water and when I went to wash the dirty tips I just dumped what was there and then put in fresh cold water from the hose tap.

Washing out the tips was easier than I expected but it was a time consuming process. The thing that got me was how rough I handled the fleece. I was always under the impression that you were supposed to handle fleece very gently so the stuff doesn’t felt. I know that fleece will felt if you take it from hot water and dump it into cold water and I also know that hot water plus soap plus agitation can felt wool as well. I thought maybe you could felt it in cold water as well but that didn’t happen or at least not with this fleece.

Back to the dirty tips…when washed and dried the tips were cleaner but there was still some staining and I found that the tips were brittle so I’ve been trimming them slightly so I’m thinking taking the time to pre-wash them was a waste of effort. On the whole I’m finding the fleece to be on the tender/brittle side. I think if it was a better quality fleece then pre-washing the tips might be the way to go.

After drying the fleece I sat and picked it apart to get rid of the vegetable matter in the fleece. I have combs and have used them but I wrecked my thumb from doing too much so I decided to pick apart the locks and then toss them onto the drum carder. This worked very well and after four passes on the drum carder I then dizzed off the wool. There is very little vegetable matter in the fleece, my thumb is happy and so am I. It’ll be interesting to see how this roving spins up compared to the combed roving because this roving has lots of shorter fibres in it.

Anyhow here is a picture of the mini-skein and some of the roving I made on the drum carder. The spindle nestled in the roving has some Blue-Faced Leicester on it that I just finished plying.

ile de france single
Rosewine single on bobbin.

wellington fibre mill teal unknown fibre
Skein made of Wellington Fibre Mill’s roving. Part of the spinning I’ve been doing for the Tour de Fleece going on in Ravelry at the moment.

rosewine skein
Mini skein, 18 grams approximately 56 yards.

ile de france fleece 2nd wash
Washed fleece.

Picked fleece locks.

yellow bucket
More picked locks.

Roving made from the picked locks, there is still a lot left to pick and drum card. The nice thing about throwing the locks onto the drum carder is that there isn’t any waste unlike combing the locks. The spindle has some plied BFL on it, it took a long time to ply as it’s very fine. The spinning wheel is definitely quicker but spindling is kind of neat as well.


Dyeing Ile de France – Rosewine and Eggplant

Continuing on with the dyeing experiments I thought I’d post some more pictures of the Ile de France this time using ProChem’s Rosewine and Eggplant dyes.

This time around I decided to soak the fleece for a day before cleaning it with the Unicorn Power Scour. A lot of the lanolin must have come out during the soak because when I used the Power Scour there wasn’t much dirt or lanolin in the water. I decided to only wash it once with the Power Scour because of this. The tips were still yellow because of dirt staining or lanolin, I’m not sure which. I decided any leftover lanolin would come out when the fleece was in the dyepot being heated so I didn’t worry about it.

Anyhow, interesting this time around because I used Procion Mx dyes instead of the acid dyes. I only have two reds, two blues and a yellow in the acid dyes so I decided to go to my Procion Mx dyes for variety. Procion Mx dyes are used to dye plant matter, namely cotton but you can use them as an acid dye on wool if you provide an acid such as citric acid or vinegar to set the dye.

When I used the acid dyes I found the fleece dyed darker in the base of the locks and the tips were lighter because they were dirty. Using the Procion Mx dyes I found the opposite, the base was light and the tips really dark. I’m not sure why, the tips would have been cleaner from the pre-soak but the dye was darker where the yellow staining was so I’m not sure what’s up with that and can’t explain it. The fleece does look pretty this way though.

The first dyepot was the Rosewine and after heating the fleece on low for about 40 minutes the dye still hadn’t been sucked up into the fleece and I was despairing that the whole experiment wouldn’t work. I dumped in some citric acid in addition to the vinegar I had used and turned up the heat. The citric acid didn’t seem to do anything so I left the pot to cook longer. When I came back the pot was bubbling away and all the dye had been sucked up by the wool and the water was clear. I’m pretty sure the heat was the magic element because pretty much the same thing happened when I dyed the eggplant coloured pot of fleece – the dye didn’t get absorbed until the pot actually started to boil so I think heat is the critical factor for dye absorption.

Here is a photo sequence of events.

rosewine ile de france on deck
Ile de france drying on deck, ProChem’s Procion Mx colour Rosewine used.

rosewine ile de france
Rosewine Ile de France

rosewine on comb
Rosewood locks on comb before being combed.

rosewine second pass light colour exposed
Rosewine third pass on combs lighter base colour exposed.

rosewine 4th pass dark exposed
Rosewine fourth pass on combs dark tip side exposed.

dizzed rosewine sliver
Rosewine sliver.

eggplant ile de france
Ile de France dyed with ProChem’s Procion Mx dye colour Eggplant.

eggplant ile de france close-up
Locks close-up showing how dye colour is concentrated on the tips.

eggplant on comb
Locks on comb before actual combing.

eggplant fourth pass dark side
Fibre fourth pass on the combs dark tip side exposed.

rosewine and eggplant sliver
Here is a photo of the Rosewine and Eggplant sliver together. I’d picked the colours from a reference binder I have that contains samples of all my dye colours. Each page has six colour gradations on 2.5 inch cotton squares so when I’m trying to decide on what colours will go well together I can have a look and compare the colours in the binder. I’m really pleased that the colours stayed true when I used them on the wool, apparently this doesn’t always happen.

rosewine on Bosworth spindle
My spinning wheel is currently in use with another spinning project so it occurred to me to get out one of my spindles and test a sample of the fibre. It went smoothly so it should be easy to spin this stuff up on the wheel. It’s pretty much what you’d expect with hand-combed sliver. The colour did intensify with the spinning so I’m happy 🙂

Next time I think I’ll get a green that matches the pink and purple and then maybe just comb some of the fleece and leave it natural. I’m thinking maybe Fair Isle hat or mitts with a flower pattern in the pink and purple and green for leaves. I’ll have to see what I come up with.


Link to ProChem’s webpage on using Procion Mx dyes with wool Dyeing wool with Procion Mx dyes I didn’t bother using the wool assist chemical or the ammonia, everything seems to be working fine without those two chemicals.