Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dyeing Red Coats

Spinning classes have started again for my next level in the course. And since this is fall, we did some dyeing again, using natural dyes.

This time, we used only one dye-pot and with the addition of a couple mordants, and modifiers, we were able to get 25 different shades! Doesn't that just blow your mind? There are so many variables that can give you different results, so we wanted to explore all of them, and make note of the effects. This way, we can have a better idea of what we can obtain, should we follow a couple of steps. Quite fun!

We used cochineal, which is a pregnant bug. Honest!! These are already dead, and dried, and we just ground them up to make more of the dye available, and then cooked it for a bit to get all the colour out of them. We had pre-mordanted our small wool skeins in a couple of different mordants, and then dropped them all into the pot. After about an hour, we removed and rinsed them, and then dropped a few of them into other pots with a few different modifiers to get all these lovely colours.

I was told that cochineal was used to dye the red coats of the British forces during the British-American war. I was rather disappointed when I didn't get any red! The dye in the pot was a glorious rich red... and yet it didn't come out that way in the wool. Another lesson learned! The mordants and the modifiers each had their effect, and the result is a wide range of shades in the reddish-purple-maroon range. Nice, but not quite what I was expecting. Ah -- the joys of nature dyeing!

Here, you see the pre-mordanted skeins just before they went into the dye-pot. (some people will take a pic of anything, won't they?)

And here, I'll show you a few of the skeins I got, and once I get them all displayed properly, will show you them again, but more organized. These are all my handspun yarns, a 3-ply all done on my CD spindle.

The weather has been absolutely wonderful this week! Well, not quite. The weatherman had predicted +21 on Tuesday. Of course, he was wrong. But today was probably that high! The sun was shining, and it was too warm for a jacket at noon, or on the way home after work. I kind of like this fall weather, if it stays this way! However, Hallowe'en is next week, and we have had all that white stuff around in other years. Weather here can change in the wink of an eye, so I have no idea what we might yet get. Stay tuned!

Edit: Thursday 10:36 pm
I looked out the window. Remember that white fluffy stuff I mentioned earlier? Yep, it's here!

Saturday, October 13, 2007


During all those years growing up, making wishes about what I wanted and not getting them, I realized that sometimes they come years and years later. There are no timelines in regards to promises by the universe! They don’t always come quite as expected.

One thing I’ve learned is that wishes normally do come true, but in a very literal sense. You have to be very careful what you wish for – because you will get just what you asked for! You have to be very specific in making your declarations. And so I’ve tried so very hard NOT to express any kind of wishes, for sometimes you get a whole lot more than you bargained for. Such as all the responsibilities that come with owning a dog, for example.

But sometime in the not-too-distant past, I made a slight slip of the tongue, and made a wish for something that I didn’t have a remotest chance of getting. But I did! The question now is do I have to accept it.

One thing that I was told some time back was that when the universe hands something to you, you are being given the opportunity to show that you can take responsibility and ownership of it, and make good use of it. If you refuse, you are showing that you are not worthy of anything at all, and you will not receive anything again. If you accept, you have to show that you are mature enough to handle all the pressures that come with it, and that you will share your fortune with others. That’s an awesome choice to make.

Now, I have to make choices every day -- difficult choices, requiring hours of examination of all the facts and all the outcomes -- choices that I must make in a matter of moments. Things like what tie to wear today, which street to take to work, where to go for lunch today. But that is all part of a day’s work, and I do them without too much agony.

However, there comes a time in every person’s life where a major decision must be made, a choice that will have life-changing consequences, and there is no way to know for sure what the final outcome is going to be. You can gather all the facts, follow it through several scenarios, you have to consider the pros and cons, weigh them all, and then make an informed choice. In my case, the scales always seem to be equally balanced! How do you make choice based on that? You can’t always rely on emotions, for they have led me astray before; and logic doesn’t seem to be enough to make the choice. What else can I go on?

So my friends, the question is: Do I or don’t I?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Knitted Winterwear

Across the street from my office is a small grassy area. It's a small park, I guess, and I think it belongs to the office building at the other end of the block. At one time, this belonged to the local school board, and seemed to be very appropriate. In fact, the board used a depiction of this sculpture on their letterhead. But after they moved on to larger quarters, this place was taken over by a business, and so now the sculpture looks out of place. This sculpture, called Brotherhood of Mankind, was created by Mario Armegnol in 1967 for the Montreal Exposition and was donated to the city by a private firm about 1989.

There was quite a big controversy over this at the time since these statues were all naked! It represented the family of man, with male and female figures, some holding a child in their arms. They are all very tall and thin, but definitely naked.

However, a local artist recently decided to cover these poor creatures, and clothe them. So now I feel that I can post some pics of them here. I wouldn't be able to do it otherwise! hehe

They are only wearing leg-warmers, and that should help a bit in our cold, severe winters, and they aren't naked anymore. These were all knit or crocheted flat by Suzen Green and friends, and then seamed on the leg. The artist has said that it was too difficult to do them in another way. Not that it hasn’t been done!

And with the cold winter arriving tonight perhaps, these certainly are well-appreciated by the recipients! See here: