Friday, November 16, 2007


Actually, it doesn’t really matter to me that it’s Friday, only that I don’t have any pressing engagements today. My neck and shoulder hurts. I’m starting to think I may need to go visit Florence the Torturer…er, Physio. I know what I did to me though — on Tuesday I spent the afternoon sweeping off all the stairs, decks and sidewalks around my house. Then I went to see the kids’ new house and carried Stargazer around for awhile. He’s getting rather heavy but since he can’t yet walk and loves to be in your arms, it’s kind of hard to ignore him. Besides he’s so darned cute! Then Wednesday I did a lot of dyeing with my marigolds, plus 4 loads of laundry, vacuumed the basement and changed the bed sheets. Yesterday I spent the early morning dyeing some more and then went to my weavers’ guild meeting. Just too much stress on an already weak part of my anatomy. It didn’t hurt so much yesterday but last night was uncomfortable and today I’ve got the Magic Bag alternating from my shoulder to the microwave and back. Since we have no definite plans for the weekend (yay!) I’m planning to take it easy. And maybe dye some more, this time with the walnut goo I’m creating. Yes, I cannot just sit. If I did, I’d be knitting anyway which also hurts right now. Maybe I can just read?

The Ninja and Family’s new house is perfect for them. It’s older (built in 1925) but it’s been recently completely revamped. The previous owners had kids too so there’s gates at the top of the stairs in the house and on the deck. They have 2 nice bathrooms, one with a shower and one with a an old-fashioned (but new) claw-foot tub, and the laundry is upstairs near the three bedrooms. There’s also a small office on the main floor for the computer etc. The kitchen is big with all new cupboards and counters and good quality appliances and the dining room is right next to it. There are lots of windows in the house and, even though it’s not large, it’s airy and bright. DIL even has space in the long and narrow enclosed front porch for her painting easel. The basement is accessed from outside and it’s too low for living space but it’s high enough to make an excellent storage space. The backyard is small but it’s completely enclosed with a high gate so kids can’t get loose and there is parking for 2 cars in the back. The front street is only 2 lanes but it’s busy and has a bus route which is good. With double windows it’s actually pretty quiet inside the house. Schools are nearby when the kids get big enough and there’s a great park with playground and extensive trails within walking distance. They’re very happy with their purchase and hope to be there for a very long time. Which is probably how long it will take to pay for it! Since The Ninja is a very-small-business owner, he’s a bit nervous about that part.

So back up a bit — back to the Wooly Pears. I was SOOOO disappointed in them. I put them in a mesh bag and threw them in with T-Man’s dirty jeans. The first 2 pears fulled nicely but two things were wrong: a lot of colour came out and the leaves didn’t full. At all. They just got fuzzy and limp. See?

Complete with laundry lint. Believe me it looks much worse in person. Also the last pear that I made from an ancient fat handspun single needs more fulling. I haven’t shown you that one yet. It also suffered from the Bad Leaves Syndrome. I thought I had chucked that particular yarn when it refused to full in my Mitred Shoulder-Bag that I made a number of years ago. Either I didn’t or I threw out the wrong one! Whatever, it was a bad choice. I quickly dyed up some really old handspun 2-ply and yesterday I knitted more leaves. They aren’t fulled yet. I thought I’d do the ones for the 2 small now-gold-coloured pears by hand and sew them on. And replace the ones on the larger green pear and full it some more. I’m also making a couple more of the small pears that lose their rosy blush in the wash and will use the new leaves on them. It’s a brighter more grassy green than the dark teal of the non-fulling wool, which I already threw in the trash before this happens to me again. Not sure I like it as much but since I don’t have any other green yarn that will work, it’ll just have to do. One of these pears (probably the one with the knitted-in “blush”) is going to my guild for the Christmas Gift Exchange. The other 3 without the blush will stay with me. And I’m not sure what I’ll do with the bigger green one.

Next I want to show the lovely colours I got from the marigolds. Apparently a pound of madder-dyed roving wasn’t enough colours for me, so I dug in the freezer for some marigolds that I had picked a couple of years ago. Two quart-sized Ziplocs full gave me enough to dye 5 different colours and another whole pound of Borderdale wool. Here they are:

From right (darkest) to left (lightest) and all with alum and cream of tartar mordant, that’s full strength marigold with iron afterbath, full strength marigold alone, nearly full strength marigold with copper afterbath, exhaust marigold left in the bath overnight and exhaust marigold left in the bath for a short time. I also overdyed a bit of the madder-dyed wool and also put some into to a copper and an iron afterbath. Sometimes it’s hard to stop:

Left to right in this photo is madder with a marigold overdye, madder with iron afterbath and the madder exhaust that had an iron afterbath with a marigold overdye (that was the rosy beige one in last Monday’s post). I forgot to photograph the copper afterbath on madder because it didn’t really change it much at all. As if all this wasn’t enough fooling around, I also took an ice cream bucket full of Persian (aka English) walnuts with hulls still on out of the freezer. We collected them from our monster backyard tree a few years ago during a rare season of overabundance. For once there were so many walnuts the Evil Imported Squirrels weren’t able to take all of them before we got a chance to get a few. I’ve been soaking them for a couple of days and today I heated them up in the pot and slipped off the hulls (wearing gloves of course) and rescued the nuts. I’m hoping there might even be some edible walnuts there but my hands are too sore to crack them. I’ll get T-Man to help me tomorrow and we’ll see. Yes, I too am wondering why they were languishing in the freezer all this time but I guess I really didn’t feel like dealing with them. The dyebath itself is getting lovely and brown and is just about ready to use on my last bag of Borderdale wool. You don’t even need a mordant with walnut since it’s a substantive dye and will fix by itself. There’s a lot of tannin in the whole tree including in the leaves, bark and nutshells. But the most dye is in the green hulls which often cling to the nuts when they fall off the tree. You can stain your hands for days if you don’t wear gloves when handling them. Ask me how I know.

It might look yukky but it sure smells better than the pungent marigold dyebath. In some cases it’s lucky the wool doesn’t retain the smell, just the colour. But I’m very fond of the smell of walnut leaves when I rake them (though my neck says “ouch!”) and the dyebath smells very similar. It’s kind of woodsy with a hint of spice. Heck. Where’s Smell-O-Vision when you need it? Scratch-N-Sniff? It’s nice anyway. Now I need to control my urge to go down and start putting wool in the pot. It can wait at least until tomorrow. It’ll only improve. Which is more than I can say for myself.

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