Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Truth About at Least One Window Lit at Midnight

Do you ever pull into your driveway late one night when you normally wouldn't have been out at all and notice a neighbor's lights on at say, midnight? Do you ever wonder why on earth they are up that late (while simultaneously forgetting you are also still up)?

I do.  I'm a curious person. I just make stuff up in my head; silly stuff, stuff that is highly unlikely to be the real reason they are up. I'll decide they have hay that must be spun into golden thread by dawn and the only place they can do it is the kitchen because the spinning wheel won't fit anywhere else.  I'll dream up a midnight feast for fairies in return for continuing good health.  Maybe they only eat at night because they heard there are less calories then.  Perhaps they are sleep eating but they are also super good cooks and they always wake the whole house so everyone in the family just goes with it and eats when they cook at night.

Well, I know there's some perfectly reasonable explanation for it but I know it's not my business either. I really just make a habit of noticing it so I know when something unusual happens... just in case I need to call for help or anything.

The truth is, I'm one of those midnight light users. I am usually up then and seldom ever in bed before 1 AM. It just doesn't happen. My husband works a late shift and I like to wait up for him but I certainly can go to bed earlier if I like. He wouldn't really mind and he would get to bed earlier. No, I wait up for him because every dang night at about 9:30 or 10 o'clock, I get an idea.  It's a different idea every time and I've usually been stewing about it all day really. It's just that it gets to be too much to not act on about then. Usually, it involves dying something or sewing something although tonight it was pasta salad. Well ,and the pasta salad I only just thought of about 25 minutes ago. It was still a really good idea.

I'm a real loose cannon. Yup, a positive maverick. Never know what I'm gonna do next. Please.

It's really only one of three things at that hour; the computer, food, or crafts.  Pretty simple and not at all as fascinating as all the things you could be imagining I'm doing up at this hour.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Okay, Let's Get Started

Even though I fully intend to sell the daylights out of my Etsy wares (so be warned), I thought it might be fun to share an experiment I did.

I like to play with fabric.  Right now, and probably for a while to come, I'm into dying it.  I also sew with or without a store bought pattern.  I love the way it feels and acts and what I can make it do. My favorite kinds of fabrics are made from plant fibers but, of those, my hands down favorite is cotton.  There's just this one tiny problem.

Dying cottons takes time and patience and I have no patience.  I'm learning though.  I find, more often than not, my patience is rewarded, if not with what I expected to happen, at least something I still find interesting.

I'm going to start off our relationship with a gift.  I'm going to show you how I ice dyed a piece of cloth and what happened.  I like to call this "The Black Star Project".

I gathered my supplies:

Tulip Dye Powder (red tie dye and black immersion dye - the kind you use to dye a whole piece of cloth or a garment one solid color - I got both at Walmart.)
An Oil Pan (clean and brand new from the Dollar Tree - guess how much it cost)
A 45 x 45 inch piece (more or less) of washed and dried unbleached muslin
LOTS of ice (I have an ice maker but if you don't you want to get a bag or make a bunch in advance)
A kitchen garbage bag

So, here we are.  You and me and an oil pan and some muslin.  It's not an enormous pan and it could really be just about anything non-metal that you want to use that will not ever be used to eat out of again. It could also be any shape that suits you.  I picked this because I had a plan I wanted to try out.  You just need enough depth to contain the ice once it's melted.

I wanted to try a tie dye pattern I must have done a million times by now.  It's supposed to make a spiral design on your cloth and I've had good experience with it.  You just lay your cloth flat, poke your fingers down and pinch it right where you want the center of the spiral and start spinning.  You might want to pat it down to keep it flat with your other hand and coax the corners to lay nicely along the outside edge.

Now, it doesn't look like much.  You can kind of see how it's all twirled into a spiral shape, right? Normally, for a traditional tie dye, you would bind the spiral into a tight little bundle but we don't need to do that here because we're putting the dye on a bit differently and it's not going to go flying everywhere like it does from those squeeze bottles you use for regular tie dye.

Now, just heap on the ice.  There's no rhyme or reason to it.  No guidelines.  No rules. I generally just try to be sure it's enough until I can't see the cloth and it's an even layer. Even that is just my preference. More or less, flat or heaped in a mound, tiny cubes or crushed, they will all change the finished piece and are totally up to you to choose and play with.

Now for the die.  The black dye I used was this kind in the picture.  It's the kind you use to make a big bucket of dye to submerge a piece of cloth in to give it an all over solid color.  The other dye was actually a tie dye refill packet for fushia.

What looks red here is the fushia powder.  The really weird kind of grey powder is actually the black dye.  It looks so odd because it has a larger proportion of fixative in it than the fushia does.  I don't know why and strangely, it doesn't bother me that I don't.

Okay, I have a cat and maybe you have kids or a spouse or occasional guests or a tendency to drop stuff into your dying projects so I set the whole shebang into a kitchen garbage bag.  This also keeps it from drying out which is important too.

24 hours (a whole DAY) later, it looks like this.  You can kind of see the icky black dye all around it and it looks like it's just swimming in it.  How is this gonna look anything but gross?  I poured off the liquid dye so I just have a soggy cloth in the pan. Then, I literally dumped the cloth from the pan into the washer.  This turned out to be a very unwise move as then I had to spend 5 minutes quickly mopping dye off of the top of my washer and drier.  I set the washer to rinse and spin and double rinse in cold water. I even threw in a couple of sacrificial towels to help it agitate better and to keep the washer from going off balance. After it was rinsed, I just washed it like I do all my other cottons on a regular warm water cycle with a little detergent and an extra rinse. I didn't even peak to see how it came out.  I was feeling pretty virtuous about that.

Is this what you expected?  It's not what I expected.  Not at all. It took me a couple of days to decide if I even liked it. Now, I think it's pretty cool.  There are some closeups of it in the listing in my Etsy shop http://etsy.com/shop/thecoppercoloredcat .

I hope you enjoyed this.  Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.