Monday, August 19, 2013

Yarn Dyeing, and Those Crazy Gnomes!

My daughter and I had been looking forward to this project for some time.

Dyeing wool with food coloring!

I was pretty intimidated to try it out until I came across this tutorial

It was easy.  And it was one of the most fun things I've done in a long time.

First, if the wool is in a ball, it has to be wound into a skein.

Then we soaked the wool (has to be a protein-fiber) in a 50/50 vinegar water solution.
We covered the work table in Saran Wrap.  We were later very grateful we did this.
Then we put food coloring and a little water in cups.  This was pretty much random guesswork.  How much food coloring, etc.  The kids enjoyed the experimenting.

We put together cups of different colors, and labeled them all.

 Then we dumped the color on, and worked it in with gloved hands.

After that, we put the wet yarn into a dish, loosely covered with saran wrap, and microwaved the whole thing for 5 minutes.

And voila!  That was it.  I never imagined it was so simple.  When the wet yarn came out of the microwave it was VERY HOT, but all the dye was completely taken up in the fiber.  Any remaining water was clear.  The colors were so vivid and bright!  Food Coloring, really??  Crazy.

After drying, it was ready to skein.

I love the color combinations kids come up with.  They are much more free about putting colors together. 

For a project with the new yarn, we decided to knit some more Gnomes.  This was to go with a wooden playhouse we purchased this summer at a street fair.

 The Tree house was handmade by a company called Manzanita Kids. When we saw the tree shape, we knew it would match our branch blocks and our gnomes.

 Here's the Gnome pattern for ye fellow knitters.  It is from a wonderful blog, Plain and Joyful Living.  I'm so glad she shared her pattern!  We've knit up a bunch of these guys now.  
And here are two new more gnomes, both knitted with our newly hand-dyed yarn, one being a bit of an experimental success:  a baby gnome.  I love the tonal color variations in the hand-dyed yarn! Why do we love these gnomes so much? I really can't say. But sometimes I feel this sudden urge to put one in my purse and carry it around with me......


Sharing today with:

Frontier Dream's Keep Calm Craft On
Ginny's Small Things
Natural Suburbia's Creative Friday
Wisdom Begins in Wonder's Fiber Arts Friday
Tami Ami's Finished Object Friday

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Oh, the Blueberries.........

It took us a long time to find a house big enough for our tribe, out in the country, and on our budget.  It took a couple of years of searching to find our current home. 

I dreamed of a pretty white farmhouse. 

Instead we found this brown 1969 house. 

I actually cried a little, thinking, "Is this the best we can do?" 

Then, I saw the blueberry bushes. 

Then, I looked inside, and around, and fell in love with the lot, the country, the creek, everything. Even the brown house.   

But it all started with the blueberries.  It was late August then, and there were only a few tiny ones left clinging to a bush.  This July we found our buckets overflowing!  It became a frenzy of blueberry everything:  blueberry pie, blueberry scones, blueberry sauce with cheesecake, blueberry pancakes, and our favorite, a Blueberry Dutch baby.

Though one of my kids has of course, (there is always one) decided he does not like them, the rest of us have been in heaven. 

Not all the cooking was great.  My blueberry pie was more like blueberry soup.  But there were a few winners.  Ina Garten's blueberry sauce was divine.  It went over cheesecake and made it scrumptious!  The recipe for blueberry scones from the America's Test Kitchen is pure perfection.  Better yet, they freeze ahead so that you can bake them up anytime!

But our favorite came from Mommycoddle's blog.  The Oven-Puffed Blueberry Pancake.  When it comes to breakfast, I tend to favor things that are ready for all of us to eat at once.  I'm hungry in the morning, and I tend to not like slaving over individual orders of anything:  pancakes, eggs, etc.  When I can pull something out of the oven and feed everyone at once, myself included, I am a happy person.  This recipe is the easiest breakfast in the world. 

The blueberry season here is definitely at it's end. It's been a busy summer of day camps and scout camps and girls camp and running around. I had a long list of house projects that never began. 
I will look forward to blueberry season every summer, but I will always remember this first season of gorgeous blueberries and the magic of it all.