Archive for the ‘Other Projects’ Category

Yuletide Experiment, to dye for

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

We’re planning on giving Heifer International’s gift of a llama to our family this year. I’d like to make something, too, and had been thinking about finally getting back to my dying projects and making up some shibori handkerchiefs for friends and family. Dharma Trading Company also has alpaca yarn: #YARN24 Alpaca Lace: 100% superfine alpaca, ~8 oz., 2,480 yds

I haven’t used my fire red dye yet. Hmmm. On the other hand, this angel pattern [Ravelry] is perfect for white yarn. But then there will be over a thousand yards left, surely.

Iowa weaver’s notes about dying wool with procion dyes got my attention. She links to this PDF instruction sheet, skipping the same mysterious special wool ingredient, using vinegar as i would. Dharma’s method is altogether different.

I also think i could stand to experiment with the silk ribbon and the mohops. Perhaps it will be a mistake, but i’m going to give the bias cut ribbon a try first. (Will it pull apart under the tension?)

Links to shibori sites after the cut. (more…)

Rice Crackers: Experiment 1 & 2

Monday, September 7th, 2009

I found a recipe for rice crackers that intrigued me. I knew wheat crackers could be easy to fix, but had never quite gotten around to the trying them. (I had spent time looking for the gadgets that you can use to perforate the crackers as opposed to slicing them into small squares.)

Today i’ve made i made my first and second attempts at rice crackers. I have “commercial rice flour” from the bin at Whole foods. Is this mochiko*? No idea. I’ll assume not.

To scale down, i use 1/2 c flour to 1/2 c of tap-warmed water and then added some more flour and a bit of brown sugar. It remained more like a batter than a dough. Instead of steaming it, i microwaved for 1 min on high. The resulting dough was stiff and reminded me of fimo. I kneaded it a little and then rolled it out between wax paper, placed it on a lightly greased pizza pan & flipped (greasing both sides).

With a pizza cutter, i made squares, and then i seasoned with a variety of sweet (more brown sugar, cinnamon) and savory (salt, cracked pepper, powdered onion).

I cooked it in a preheated oven at 350° for ten minutes (compare to “dry outside on mats in the sun”). The thinner ones at the edge were a bit hard and crunchy, the middle were chewy. Undercooked. One could just see where they might begin to “blister” (think of surface of saltines).

Christine put the remainders of the samples back in at 450° for roughly ten minutes. They turned golden, but were still a little tough.

The second experiment 1/2c flour to 1/2c warm water which i left in a battery state and microwaved on high for 30 seconds. The remarkable thing was the clear ring of where the microwaves heated the batter at the greatest strength: this was stiff like the earlier batter. The remainder was more like a thickened cream of wheat. I mixed this up and had a much sticker dough to which i belatedly added a bit of brown sugar.

Once it was kneaded to a smooth consistency (using more rice flour to protect against the stickiness), i started flattening, spraying with canola oil, folding, and flattening again. I’m hoping for flaky inner layers where the sheets of rice flour are fried by the inner layers of oil.

I rolled out — which was easier with this softer doug — cut and seasoned, and baked at 450° F for 16 min.

If anything, it’s the hotter oven temperature that made for the more successful trial. I’m not sure the oil needed to be incorporated. They definitely satisfy a desire for a crunch, and can be comfortably salty/savory or sweet. The thinner they are, i think the crisper, although i wonder if my small oven just bakes more hot on the outside edges.

I will probably try these again.

* Mochiko flour is also known as sweet glutinous rice flour, sweet rice flour, or mochi flour. —

To Dye For: Experiment #2

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Yesterday i tested the same dye concentrates as in To Dye For Experiment 1, but many weeks older. The statements are that the concentrates keep their strength for a week, possibly longer if refrigerated.

I’ll admit i did not bring the dyes up to room (deck) temperature. Both the azure & the emerald should have better intensity with warmer water. I’ll admit, though, the azure is doesn’t need to be more intense.

A, B, & C are attempts at diluting the dyes to get a pale shade. The emerald C seems almost the same intensity as full strength I.

D, F, & H are from the previous dye sessions, as controls to see how the color changed with time.

G, the orchid, stayed close to true with time. E, the blue, lost its strength, which is actually quite useful. I, the emerald, seems to have not just faded but also drifted some. The emerald dyebath was the first yesterday, so i don’t think it’s a contamination issue.

A, G, & I are also attempts at "faux ikat dyeing," inspired by Linda La Belle’s The Yarn Lover’s Guide to Hand Dyeing.

(Click through to see the threads from experiment #1)

To Dye For: Experiment #2


To Dye For: Experiment #1

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

To Dye For: Experiment #1

To Dye For: Experiment #1To Dye For: Experiment #1To Dye For: Experiment #1To Dye For: Experiment #1

Began making up dye on Friday and dyed off and on on Saturday.

After the cut, reports on the yarn & thread experiment and the glue resist experiment.

Dyeing crochet thread: a plan

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

My general plan for dying samples of each yarn is to explore the variations of two different “prep” methods and graduated variation in dye bath time. (I’m curious about going in dry — i may make some swatches to test that, too.) My hope is that not only will i have a good guide to getting the effects i wish, but also a collection of graduated yarns with which i can make an interesting object. The size of the samples will vary: one size that is long enough for making motifs up, another that is just swatch size. Most skeins/samples will be in groups of six, to measure the effect of dye times over ten minute intervals for a maximum of one hour.

Once “note” for this test is that i am using pre blended colors: i understand from my reading that the components of the colors can have different uptakes with time. If there is a fast reacting color (say red) and a slow reacting color (say blue), the first item in may pull a larger ratio of the faster reacting dye out of the dyebath than later elements. It’s possible i’ll see color shifts as well as gradations.

I’ve been working on this post in draft mode, but now that i’ve ordered the dye, i’ll post & keep updating as i prepare the skeins & swatches.


Resistance is Futile

Sunday, May 17th, 2009


Originally uploaded by Elaine with Grey Cats.

Thanks to Kimberly Swygert’s stained white denim jacket, i spent the weekend researching low-water immersion dyeing with a few excursions into how a simple resist might work.

The start was finding that Dharma Trading Company has clothing blanks — undyed clothing ready to take the lovely dyes. But better than than: much of the cotton clothing is assembled in the USA and the company makes an effort to avoid sweatshop conditions in their Indonesian sources for rayon clothing. They’re venturing to bamboo fabrics (essentially a type of rayon) as well. I found myself imagining extreme projects of wardrobes from bolts of undyed organic hemp and sweaters from the undyed yarns offered. I’ve reined myself in to three pairs of socks, a bunch of bandanas, and a tank top. And two skeins of sport- weight yarn.

Tray dying is a type of low-water immersion dying, where just the bunching of the fabric in the tray creates resists. This shows stitching as a resist — and i realize that the sewing machine could help these more delicate cousins to the ever-present tie-dye scale. I understand batik from the time spent making pysansky. And time is the issue there, oh the effort of melting wax. One fiber artist, Paula Burch, points to electric frying pans and appropriate mixtures of beeswax and paraffin, and then there’s boiling the fabric to release the wax — no thanks. But a little note at the bottom about glue resists triggered my imagination.

I found a workshop description noting that ,”[t]echniques include: oatmeal resist, flour resist, cornstarch resist and household glue resist,” but no photos. A silk painting fiber artist described a bit of using glue but a struggle to get it out. Yet, she was doing oh so gently handled and painted silk. The low-water immersion method with procion dyes requires several rinsing steps (low water is relative). That might mean that the resist would need to be reapplied every time — which actually could be quite fascinating in that dyes could go down on bits of fabric that had previously had resist, producing areas with multiple true dye colors.

The diamond+squiggles pattern is a rough experiment in how the transparent procion dyes might layer in an overdying situation. I have resisted beginning a stencil template laser cut from Pokono (but i spent time looking through my collection of global clip art books, and oh, the Japanese seal designs appealed to me). First, actual experimentation would be needed to see how well resists work to see how fine a line could be kept (without going to harder resists like gutta and wax).

The colors in the diagram are grabs from the digital swatches at Dharma. The transparency is just a guess, and my mouse drawn lines are made with less control than i could with an actual brush or applicator. I left some errors, though, just so i could see the effect. The colors don’t show the potential effects from mottled scrunched fabric. My original vision of subtly varigated solids gives way to explosions of pattern and color.

As a final note, i’m not starting with the warm and cool primaries as often outlined in hand dying tutorials. I get my color blending fix from Golden paints, so spend some time looking at the colors predicted as being in next fall and winter and then realized what i really ought to do is look at the beads i’ve bought but haven’t used. Generally, i find myself thinking, “What will i wear with them?” The emerald and sapphire seem to come close to the green and blue glass beads at hand, and i think the copper cording and wire would work well too.

I haven’t placed my order yet. I stay my hand, thinking about WHEN i could do this, recognizing that i’m not sure when i’ll have time to do this. On the other hand — i’ve spent all weekend thinking about it!

Fiber Reactive Dye 2 Oz. – 30A NEW EMERALD GREEN #PR30A-2 30A StockInfo: 1 $4.50 $4.50
Fiber Reactive Dye 2 Oz. – 34 RUST BROWN #PR34-2 34 StockInfo: 1 $3.95 $3.95
Fiber Reactive Dye 2 Oz. – 56 AZURE BLUE #PR56-2 56 StockInfo: 1 $6.95 $6.95
Fiber Reactive Dye 2 Oz. – 64 ORCHID #PR64-2 64 StockInfo: 1 $3.95 $3.95

The closet makeover

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

It wasn’t exactly a perfect make over. The need was to replace the file cabinet with warped drawers. The cabinet is a more compact solution than the tubs, but the tubs are less likely to develop mechanical failures.

I rarely accessed the archived boxes, so shelving them deep in the corner is acceptable. It does feel neater and less like a jumble, so thats a win.

The biggest win is that getting to the files and finding things, particularly files that were way in the back of the drawers, is much easier with the tubs.

Shelving from IKEA, tubs from Office Max. Outlay was definitely less than a replacement quality file cabinet.

File Cabinet & Closet Project: Before

The drawers were nigh impossible to open.
File Cabinet & Closet Project: After

Moonlight, Cobwebs, and Shadows

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

I’ve a little book of poems and spooky illustrations salvaged from somewhere. It was in my October folder, reminding me i’d planned to do some Halloween something with the book. (Moldy and mildewed, it’s not going in my library.)

Could i scan the images and duplicate them all? It does have a copyright statement (so i’ve added that to the Copyright Evidence Registry). Since it was published between 1964 and 1977, that is sufficient to set the copyright to 95 years after publication. So, no duplication and posting the book on the web. Instead, i’ll use the pages for simple seasonal cards.

Interestingly, the author of the book, Rosalind Welcher, is noted on the back fly leaf as “best known, perhaps, as the creator of the Panda Prints greeting cards, where the excellence of her example has impelled the entire industry to try, not always successfully, to improve.” The book itself is published by Panda Prints Inc.

Garden & Bread Check-in

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

I updated my notes on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day with photos from the first mix and rise today. Still need to bake the pizza stone; not interested on doing it on a warm day like today. Tomorrow is forecast to be ten degrees cooler. (Yay!)

I did stop to take some photos in the garden. I’d planted some chard and spinach on the 23th of August (or there’bouts): the squirrels dug it up. The Meyer lemon is blooming beautifully. It’s definitely been tomato ripening weather. I’m afraid i let the squirrels get too many of those fruit, too.

Today's Garden Notes

While i’m updating, i should also note that months ago, when i was fiddling with printing, i asked the Artistamp folks about acrylics through the mail — too sticky? adhere to other mail pieces? Jenny Groat and Mike (“mikesrgreen”) recommended clear bags from

Adventures in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Here’s a to-do list for starting this project

A. Collect tools & ingredients:
[✓] M get pizza stone
[✓]] M get ingredients (safeway brand flour, cornmeal; Fleishman’s breadmachine yeast)
* granulated yeast (at least 2 packets for first try; jar would be good)
* all purpose unbleached white flower
* cornmeal
✓ have coarse salt
[✓]] identify something that can act like a pizza peel – the small cookie sheet with the bent corners will work, esp if used bent corners down..
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day[!!] identify dough storage device
>>> 5 qt spec, but we’ll do half recipes so 2.5 qts
>>> *NOTE* have two 2 qt tupperware that could work well after first mix — 2008-09-06: well, maybe.
>>> bottom shelf clearance req h <= 6.5"

[✓] M season pizza stone by baking at one hour at highest temperature
>>> requires cool evening, cool day
>>> could be done during steps B, C, D

B. Mix and let rise 2 hours
* water, yeast, flour, salt
* container
* wooden spoon

2008-09-06: approximated 3/4 tbsp as 2 1/4 teaspoons — ha! not an approximation!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

C. Refrigerate at least 3 hours

D. Shape, rest 20-40 min[1], & bake
* dusting flour, cornmeal [3]
* dough in container
* knife to cut free dough, slash top[2]
* “peel”
* stone (in preheating oven)
* cake pan (in preheating oven) Revolving tray holds 1 cup of water.
* 1 c water for cake pan

[1] 1 lb boule 40 min; 1 lb baguette or 2 1/2 lb baguettes 20 min;
[2] no slash on ciabatta
[3] ciabatta has no dusting flour, book specifies sliding flour instead of cornmeal. See below!

Step D questions/experiments:My tiny oven, let me show you it
* We don’t want to bake a pound at a time, maybe a half pound. I think this means 20 min rising no matter what shape, but see below
* It would be delightful to make roll size. Recipe on pp 108-9 divides the 1 lb into six rolls, rests 40 min if refrigerated, 20 if fresh.
* Convection oven, tiny oven — how will that affect the times and temperatures? 2008-09-07: Do NOT use the yeast bread setting (which is at 400 degrees). Takes an extra 10-15 minutes, at least.
* Our grocery’s “ciabattas” have cornmeal on the bottom. Neener.

Step D PLAN to make buns like we like from the grocery:
* half a grapefruit size ball of dough removed with wet hands
* gluten shield maneuver
* quarter dough , shape into squared buns no thinner than 3/4 of an inch
* place on corn meal “peel”
* preheat to 425 (adjusting down because convection oven)
* bake 15-20 min