This week has been all ups and downs! The smoke finally cleared and it feels amazing to be able to go outside and breathe. Every smell seems magnified and just walking Finn around the neighborhood is heavenly.
I am really excited to try dyeing some yarn with black walnut hulls. There is a tree not too far from my house and I stopped and gathered a bagful last week. I stuck them in my dye pot and left it on the back porch where I thought the rain could get at it a little and maybe fill the pot up.
Instead squirrels came and took every last single walnut. The whole pot!
I am almost finished with the yoke of this sweater. The pattern is Cedar Point and I am really liking it so far!
Ta-da! I think this is a nice color, I will name it mauve. Just joking, but if you’re looking for some interesting reading about dye history check out the story of William Henry Perkin and his 1859 invention, the first aniline dye “mauve” here. The color was so wildly popular it became a thing and the 1890s were known as the “mauve decade”, which I think is way more fantastic than “millennial pink”. William Henry Perkin’s dye was replaced by 1873 because it faded too easily which brings me right back to my most recent dye experiment.
After reading mixed reviews about using elderberries as a dye source, my main concern was that the sun may bleach the color out quite rapidly and look not very good within a month or two. I decided to just go for it anyways and if it fades I can just lichen dye right over it right? (I think?).
I’m not sure I should even call what happened a process because it was largely unintentional and more like a train wreck than a process. Shortly after obtaining the berries (about 2lbs of them btw) we went through a crazy heat wave and as soon as that ended the wildfire smoke rolled in and stovetop dying has not really been an option.
Anyways. Intentional or not here’s what happened.
1. I picked the berries and mushed them in my dye pot.
2. I added one cup of water and 2 cups of white vinegar. This sat in the fridge for a couple of days
3. I put my mixture on the stove and brought it to an accidental full roiling boil before I caught it and turned it down to simmer for about 1/2 hour.
4. After the mixture cooled it went into the fridge for a week or two.
5. While it was in the fridge it half froze because our fridge is crazy.
6. I finally couldn’t wait anymore and even though our kitchen fan is taped over and we have no air circulation happening I decided to go for it. I put the pot on the stove, added 100g of Cascade Heritage and fired it up.
7. This time I remembered to not wander away from the stove and successfully brought the dye bath to a low simmer. I let it go for an hour and a half, adding a bit more water periodically because it needed it.
8. I turned the stove off but left the whole thing covered over night and in the morning I removed the yarn and rinsed it out.
If I do this again I will definitely remember to strain the berries out before adding the yarn because all the teeny tiny elderberry seeds embedded themselves into the yarn and it took an excessive amount of rinsing and shaking to get them out.
I like it! I am going to let it sit in the window for a few weeks to see what kind of fading is going to occur before I make up my mind about it though.
We grew up on stories of the Yacolt and Tillamook burns, horrifying and sad stories of destruction and loss, but they were framed as a piece of history, that as sad as the fires were, an important lesson was learned and now we are smarter, and safer. The past couple of weeks has undone that illusion and I’m left with feelings of loss that I cannot encompass or understand.
The air outside is still so smoky it’s hard to breathe and even inside it burns your eyes and your throat. I am sad and worried for the people who have had to evacuate their homes and I’m grieving the loss of Opal Creek and the other beloved wild spaces the fires have consumed.
As it always has been, knitting is solace and comfort and I have been trying to stay focused on this new pattern and getting it typed up. If nothing else, it is reminding me that Autumn with its blessed rain cannot stay away forever.
I’m working on a new pattern for convertible mittens that pop open for finger freedom. My favorite thing about this project is that it needs buttons. Two buttons, which is the perfect number of buttons because I have sooo many pairs of great buttons.
Tbh I have sooo many buttons period. I still have buttons from my extensive childhood collection. I have handcrafted porcelain buttons, henna dyed bone buttons, vintage buttons still on their cards, buttons from the sewing boxes of both grandmothers, my late aunt and my mother. I have sparkly rhinestone buttons, heavy shell buttons, glass buttons, brass buttons. teeny tiny 3mm doll clothing buttons, chunky funky coat buttons, little bags of buttons, fancy tin boxes of buttons, teacups filled with tiny colorful buttons, buttons in bowls and buttons that someday need to be sewn back on from whence they came.
Still when I am working on a project I often end up buying more buttons specifically for the sweater, bag, etc. because I mostly have mismatched buttons in twos or threes, or not the right colors or not child friendly or just because new buttons are also fantastic. Also maybe because in the rare case that I do have the perfect buttons they’re special and I need to keep them in their box or bowl or teacup or wherever.
Anyways! I’m super excited to find forever homes for some beautiful buttons on these new mittens!
This is so much worse than it looks 😦 This tiny ball represents a good hour of work. If I didn’t love this color so much I would definitely be shoving this whole mess into the back of some closet. Finn being super helpful as always.
I absolutely cannot believe that plain old black beans created this color. I love love love it and I can’t wait to try it again. The bad news is that I did a horrible job tying up the skein before dying it and now it’s really really tangled. I unwound a small ball from the disastrous mess and knit up a tiny raglan with a new stitch pattern from my library book. It charts up weird because the number of stitches varies from row to row but I gave it a shot.
I walked to the yarn store today and it felt like such an adventure. Things to see that aren’t in my house or yard! People that I don’t even know! Cars! Trees! I brought Camille and Cecile to do a couple of small photo shoots. We had a blast!