Monday, November 24, 2008

Dye Job

As the seasons changed I was grateful for the colder, wetter weather that would allow me to spend more time with fiber, either spinning it or knitting with it, whatever. I was also looking forward to time with the recently reorganized beading supplies and semi organized craft closet. I managed to get a list together of all...and I do mean all...of my yarns. Turns out there's more of that then I thought, but not really an unreasonable amount. Most of it has a destination point in its future, so that's a good thing, not an obsessive compulsive collection thingy. All this is a good thing. Sadly, the weather has turned somewhat cooler and wetter, but not really approaching winter closed-into-the-house-never-see-the-light-of day crafting weather yet. Sadly? Why you ask? Because it's cold, too cold to ride a motorcycle in my opinion, but no so cold that you can't get chores done. It's wet, but only wet enough to be fall in WA St. and not so wet not to get chores done. See what I mean? I can't say...."I sat on the couch and knitted all day cause there was nothing else I could do. It was too cold/wet/snowy, etc." So the weather I was looking forward to hasn't come yet, but I am enjoying this dryer than normal (I don't care what anyone else says....60 in November in Washington State is DRY!) and just starting to feel like fall weather. I am getting a few things taken care of before the bad weather sets in. Things like cleaning out the shed and inventorying the freezer, cleaning out the pantry and cupboards, etc. I took advantage of the dry sunny day we had today and either fixed the leak in the cars sunroof or made it worse. I'm waiting for the next rainstorm to make a decision.
One of the "winter time" urges that's taken over is the baking/cooking urge. I profess on a daily basis that I cannot cook and do not like to do so. It's useful in some situations, but to the people that really matter (example, the husband) the facade is thin. He knows that I can, when inspired, cook. It's not really a "can't", or even a "don't wanna", it's more of a "hate to do the clean up" and a "really needs to be inspired." I'm not sure what happened about 3 weeks ago, but I got the inspiration and the urge and the clean up is not even bothering me. I think it started when I was grocery shopping. Let me preface this with an explanation. I do not handle our household budget anymore. About a year and a half ago, Don took over the "joyous" job of paying the household bills and what not. He's never set a budget for the grocery's but I try to keep our weekly amount down, as it's just the two of us. I have increasingly been trying to better our home menu and make the nutritional value count more so that we can still have our special Sunday breakfast out and eat what want when we go out for meals. About a month ago I grabbed the normal loaf of bread at the grocery store and gasped when I saw the price. I try to buy a higher fiber, lower calorie bread as the husband takes a sandwich everyday, I love bread and we both have some health issues. The price for decent healthy bread was insane. My first thought was of the supplies I had at home and could I make it myself cheaper. I did a bit (very little) research and decided I could. I dug out the bread maker and have since been making our bread. It took a bit to get it down to how many loaves we needed in a week, but I think I've finally gotten it down. I make a loaf every other week and two on the in between weeks. This may change as I've started making dinner rolls too. I've gotten a bit out of control though as I'm using the heck out of my bread machine right now. ;) Case in point? I've been craving Pizza but cannot justify $30 for a pizza to be delivered, and I've yet to find a frozen one that can be doctored to taste as good as our local delivery. Tonight? Right now I have Pizza dough in the bread maker and the fixing's ready to top it with. If this comes out right I may never order pizza again! (Thanks Barb!) This weekends baking included two batches of cinnamon rolls, one for each of the stores we work at, with some for us too. I was going to make cookies for Don's lunches, but he's got enough to get him to Thanksgiving, and I'll make more next weekend.

With all the holiday cooking and cleaning going on this weekend, I decided to take the plunge and do something about two of the floor rugs that I own. Most of my throw rugs are woven cotton and in blue tones. There are a few that were given to me by my mother in law years ago and they are now showing their age. They are still in good shape but with having animals and being outdoorsy types, they are stained beyond stain removal. I've had the thought that I could dye them a darker color and disguise the stains that way, still being able to use them. So, not having enough going on in the kitchen what with the bread baking and the cinnamon roll baking, I decided to dye the rugs on the stove. (Yeah, don't stop me now, I now know there is an easier and faster way when you're not dealing with wool! But I was in fiber dyeing mode, therefore the stove had to be involved!) So I filled my big dye pot, mixed a dye bathe from a new dye lot I bought at guild last week and off we went. We dyed for hours. For one cotton rug. In desperation, I checked online, read the manufacturers instructions and realized....crap! I could have done this faster in the washing machine! Oh! And that rug wasn't getting any bluer.
So I give you the rug I started with in pink. Here it is in the "soak it down stage." At this point I knew it was cotton and therefore could run water on it. See? See the water running on it? I had yet gotten to the point of saying, "Maybe dyeing cottons different from dyeing wool!" A Eureka moment to be sure. But alas, not to be had yet. This poor thing went into a specially prepared dye bath on the stove and was simmered for an hour. Amazingly enough it wouldn't take up anymore dye! It was at the point that Don mentioned the darn thing had been simmering for an hour that my mind clicked a chink over and I thought, "It's cotton. There's something different about cotton." So I turned off the stove and let it set, hoping it would exhaust the dye in the over night cool over.
During the late night laundry folding the brain turned over another half a crank and I remembered that cotton could be dyed in the washer, which meant that if it hadn't taken up dye on the stove after an hour, it wasn't taking up anymore of that color. At this point I put the other semi-white rug in the dye bath to soak up the dye. It came out dandy!
The original rug, however, was unacceptable. I just couldn't stand the color it came out. So this morning both were spun out in the washer. The add-in rug came out a fine baby blue and was dryed and immediately pressed to service.
The original rug was put back in the washer with some Rit dye and went through a cycle to come out a much better blue. I'm quite happy with the results. I've had the thought that my dingy white towels could be dyed to be "almost new" but I've been afraid to try. Both of these came out so well and will serve for many more years, so the old towels may be in for a dye job soon. It kind of tickles me to be able to custom dye my own linens to match my needs. It also tickles me no end to be able to "recycle" old linens and make them "new" again! This is an unexpected money saving outcome to the fiber arts I'm learning. It also makes me look at the linens at the second hand store differently. ;)

There have been other fiber pursuits as well. There's the ever present x-mas pressy that I'm working on. I'm happy to report that the body of the shawl is done and I am to start the boarder anytime. Just as soon as I figure out how to, I'll start it. I'm currently distracted by the thought of making a shawl pin as I was unable to find one I could afford or that I was willing to pay for. I may regret that. ;) I'm slowing working on Maria's skeins as well. I'm not working on them full bore, just when I cannot stand not to spin anymore so they are not progressing quickly yet, although I'm almost done with the gun metal blue. As soon as the above mentioned xmas pressy is finished, I'm sure I'll be spinning full time for awhile. This project monogamy is death I tell ya!

Today marked an unusual day in our household. It's the first annual storing of the riding gear. It appears it will only be happening in my world, as the hubby only stops riding for snow. It was a bit of a somber time none the less and was a bit ironic as the sun was shining today. It started with the gutting of my helmet, for washing. Next followed a complete washing of the helmet and removal of small bug guts. Small bugs, guts aplenty. Next step is the washing and re waterproofing of the jacket. That will have to wait until next weekend. I only have so much energy.

I'm definitely looking forward to "after holidays" when I am able to work on what I will, when I will and when the snow is in drifts on the ground so the motorcycle is not calling me to ride. ;) Of course at that time I'll have to deal with Hubby's P.M.S. Parked. Motorcycle. Syndrome. Ah, the trade offs we make.

Hope all is well with you and yours!


Cindy said...

You may not post often, but you sure do make up for it when you do! So chatty and newsy. Love it. Your rugs look wonderful and bread baking is such a joy, isn't it? I love doing it myself, but have a machine, too. Just that pesky wheat allergy thing;--) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and give my Tucker a hug and keep one for yourself!

kim* said...

that is awesome