Grackle & Sun

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

At the Burrow DyeTable # Five: Red Onion Revisited

After seeing the awesome green that my class got from the red onion skin dyebath the other day, I didn’t have the heart to chuck out the exhaust.  I knew that most likely my results from the same bath, which had been sitting on the back porch for 3 days, would be quite different, but I had yarn already mordanted practically screaming at me to go play.  So, play I did.  Husband kept me company, which made the whole thing infinitely more enjoyable, and I really like dyeing, so this was pretty damn good.

And, in the middle of it all, we heard a loud noise, looked up in the sky, and saw this behemoth flying low, low, low overhead.  Unexpected, right?  It had propellers.

Alright.  Back to work.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Red onions

Parts used:  The papery outer skins

Source:  The restaurant where I work, my kitchen, and grocery store onion bins

Ratio of dyestuff to yarn:  The original dyebath was roughly a .75:1 ratio of skins to yarn.  If I were to go strictly by weight for this exhaust bath, it would be about 200g onion skins to roughly 36g yarn, which is a just about a 5.6:1 ratio.  However, since this is an exhaust bath, and I have no idea how one would even begin to calculate how much dye has already been removed from the skins, the weight of said skins is very nearly meaningless.  I wish there was some way to figure it out, but it is beyond my arithmetical skillz, of which there are few.

Yarn:  Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool mordanted with 8% aluminum potassium sulfate and 7% cream of tartar.

Dyebath:  Added just a little glug of white distilled vinegar before heating, thinking that lowering the pH might help me get the pinks that red onion are supposed to give in a more acidic bath.  The pH at room temp. was 3.6.  Once the bath came up to temperature (195F), I remeasured the pH to be 3.4.  Initially, when the yarn was added (at room temp.), it seemed to take in the claret colour.  But as soon as the bath started heating up, it became clear that it was going to turn toward yellow.  Eeeeeenteresting….  Held the dyebath between 175F-195F for 1 hour and then let the yarn cool in the pot for several hours.

The results?  A weird burnished golden green.  Here it is straight from the dyebath:

And here is the skein after being rinsed and dried.  That is NOT pink.

It’s hard to describe just what this colour is.  The picture doesn’t capture just how much of a strange, otherworldly green cast it has.  The best way to describe it would be to call it… tarnished.  I rather like it.  But it is not what I was expecting.

_____________________________________________________

Then later the same day another little hank of premordanted yarn called to me, and I decided to bump up the pH dyebath and try it one more time.  It still seemed to have so much colour in it.  So I added enough washing soda to get the pH up to 9.4 at temperature.  The colour of the bath immediately went from red to green.

In the original dyebath, after we got the pH over 9, we saw the same colour shift of the bath, but then it turned acidic (and red) again pretty quickly.  I assumed this was because I’d left the bag of onion skins in the bath and that they were still influencing the pH.  So this time, I took the bag out before bumping up the pH. I did, however, add a few fresh red onion skins I’d snagged from the restaurant this week.  No more than a couple grams.

But it didn’t make any difference.  Even though the bath stayed green for the hour that I heated it (in the same 175-195F window). after it was left to cool overnight, the next morning it was claret red again.

The results?  Not green.  Or pink.

So what was going on here?  I must begin with the disclaimer that I have no idea.  But if I were to guess, it would be that there are a couple different components to whatever compounds are in red onion skins that make them red, and that the uptake of those components occur at different times.  It is my understanding that if you take red onion skins and make a fresh dyebath with them, and leave the bath acidic, you can get pinks on your fiber.  If you take that same fresh dyebath and make it basic instead, you will get greens on your yarn—even though the bath looks red.   And that is exactly what happened with the original bath.   The kids got green yarn.  Very green.  Clearly, in the first exhaust bath, the green dye was all but gone.  In the second bath there was none left—even though the bath was alkaline.   So, I would venture to say that making the bath alkaline is what extracts the component that dyes green, and that it is taken up before the other components that dye either pink or yellow.  I would like to try red onion again and get pink from it, because I think this would help clarify what is happening chemically in this bath.  I’m really just guessing about all of it at this point.

Any of you have experience dyeing with red onion skins?  What do you think?

Live happy, dye happy!

Office Chair Workouts: Weeks 11 + 12

It was super important to me to leave the METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE Kickstarter information up until the fundraiser was over.  I made the decision not to do any new posts until after the 28th.  Thanks to everyone who supported this amazing program by donating—150 kids thank you, too!

Monday:  No Weights, No Problem

Today, I was short on time and did a quick full body workout.   I did the No Weights, No Problem workout at Angry Trainer Fitness—with some modifications, which I listed below.

Circuit #1

1. Air Squats

2. Pushup alternating forward knee pull  Mt. Climbers

3. Plank Triceps Up Downs

4. Tuck Jumps (which just ended up being “jumps” halfway through, lol)

Rest 1 minute and repeat 1 more time

Circuit #2

5. Alternating Reverse Lunges

6. Pushup T–Square Gladiators

7. Burpee Jax (minus the push-up)

8. Crab Grab

Rest 1 minute and repeat 1 more time

Wednesday:  Simple

Birddogs x 15 (per side)

UnWDL x 15 (per side)

Squats x 15

Sleeper Planks x 15 (per side)

Rest of the week:  

I slept funny on my wonky shoulder and had a hard time with it for the rest of the week.  Yes, I could have done only lower body stuff, but I didn’t.

Monday:  Lower Body Workout

Push Through It Workout at LovingFit.com

part 1:  30 reps at 15 lbs.

part 2:  unweighted

part 3:  unweighted

Wednesday:  Full Body Workout

Was unable to do an upper body yesterday, so I chose to do a full body today.  I did the Bodyweight Madness workout at LovingFit.  Some beginner variations (no push-ups) and some overall variations:

  • Surfee & 2 Kick Backs – 30 reps  (I separated this, because getting onto and up from my knees made me lose the momentum of the exercise.  Instead, I did 20 jumping surfers and then 10 girlie push-ups with kick backs)
  • One Leg Squat & Back Lunge Kick Up – 50 30 Reps ( Switch sides every 2 reps ) (I can do the one leg squat on a chair, but not on the ground.  WTH?  So, basically I did a full squat, reverse lunge and then kick.  I alternated the reverse lunge each time.)
  • One Leg Shoulder Press & Bomber Combo20 10 reps ( both count as one rep ) (Totally girlie, on my knees.  I haven’t got the knack of the bombers yet, so I eliminated this…)
  • Side Lunge Kick Up – 25 reps per side
  • Dynamic Twisting Push-ups Planks– 30 reps (15 to each side)
  • Low Side Step & Twist – 60   20 reps (only because it takes me so long to watch the video and then do the workout, I got short on time)
  • Double Bridge – 60 30 reps ( each bridge is 1 rep )
  • Toe Lift & Sun Combo – 50 25 reps

Rest of the weekSick, like, whoa

Whole family came down with a monster cold.  It sucks.

I’ve had a hard time with consistency lately.  Have been putting other things in front of my workouts and that doesn’t feel good.  I need to get better at putting this first and sticking to a routine.  Pretty soon, I don’t think that will be a problem.  Some big changes are coming for me and my family.  Stuff I don’t want to talk about yet, but suffice it to say that I will soon have no choice but to get myself into a stricter routine.  It’s going to be good.

Please and Thank You

Thank you to all the people who contributed to the METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE Kickstarter campaign and who helped the cause by spreading the word.  We did it!  The $10,000 goal has been met and then some.   You have made 150 kids very, very happy.  You have also given them an amazing opportunity to have a fantastic arts education program unlike any other in St. Louis.  Thank you.

For the last 3 years, MYS has been a very important part of my kids’ lives.   They are ecstatic that they will be able to participate in MYS again this spring. So am I.

These two hams thank you, too.

I go now to do a happy dance.  :D

 

Storm Troopers Love Shakespeare

No, really.   It’s true.  This Storm Trooper totally donated to the METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE Kickstarter campaign so that 150 kids will have a FREE awesome arts education program in January 2013.  Won’t you do the same?  Because it means a lot to this Storm Trooper, who is a volunteer teacher for the program.

We’ve already raised almost $7500.  Only $2500 left to go to meet our goal!  Remember that Kickstarter campaigns are All-or Nothing—we reach our goal or we don’t get funded.  This is urgent!  We are down to the line.   As Shakespeare said, “Better three hours too soon, than a minute too late.”  We only have 3 days left for our Kickstarter fundraising campaign.  Please consider a contribution to this amazing program.

This video gives a wonderful description of what the program is all about.  You can see just how many kids it has benefited, and you might even hear from an unmasked Storm Trooper…

And now for the Storm Trooper quotes.

You can go about your business…  (of donating to MYS!)  Move along, move along.

 

C’mon Internet, We Can Do It!

The only thing better than knowing that 150 kids have the chance at participating in an amazing arts program is knowing that YOU helped make it possible!

We have only 5 days left—until October 28th—to raise the last $4200 for the METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE Kickstarter campaign!    If we don’t hit our goal, we lose the funding.  I don’t want to see St. Louis lose this program.  It impacts too many students to let it slip away.  I’ve got lots of dyeing goodness and workouts to share with you guys, but I’m not posting until the fundraiser is over.  No dyeing.  That should tell you all how important this is to me and my students.

What is $4200 if we all chip in?

If you could have participated in a program that would raise your confidence as a high school student, that would allow you to express your creativity, wouldn’t you have thought that was worth $20?  If you make a donation to this Kickstarter campaign, you are giving 150 students an incredible opportunity to grow as people, to express their creativity, to study with professionals, and ultimately to change their lives for the better—which is what art does.   Theater, storytelling, performance—this is a fundamental part of who we are, of what moves us.  METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE gives the students the chance to be the performers, to be the storytellers, to be the movers.  To be powerful through empowerment.

YOU CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

Each one of you can help make this a reality for all of these students.  Please, please–whatever you can give, I promise it will help.  Kickstarter has a donation button for $1.  Even if we raise this one dollar at a time, that’s cool.  As long as we raise it.  5 days, people.  That’s all we’ve got.  Will you help make this happen?

Please forward the link to ALL THE PEOPLES!  Share this post and the one before it.  Thank you, Internet Friends.

Best regards,

dre

Blogosphere to Bard: Kickstarting METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE

Friends of Grackle & Sun,

I am writing to all of you for help in funding a program that is near and dear to my heart.  I am the Faculty Sponsor for the St. Louis Homeschool Network for METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE, an innovative arts education program put on by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.   SFSTL is an organization that puts on incredible free productions of Shakespeare’s plays in St. Louis’ Forest Park every summer.  The productions draw tens of thousands of people each year to share in the beauty and richness of these plays.  But that is only one part of what the Festival does.  The rest of the year they are hard at work bringing Shakespeare and arts education to young people in St. Louis.   One way they do this is through a unique program for high school students called METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE.

For over a decade, METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE has engaged, empowered, and changed the lives of hundreds of students in St. Louis.  Through the beautifully dynamic language of Shakespeare’s plays, the power of performance, and the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration, these students learn that their creative voices are important and that they can be a force for positive change in their communities.  Because the words of Shakespeare speak so true to heart of what it means to be human, these students are able to make connections with the works that span time, overcomes the difficulty of the language, and creates an abiding understanding of why these works are still relevant today.   Students who may have never even heard of Shakespeare before emerge from the program 10 weeks later indelibly changed by what they have learned and accomplished.

The program provides a valuable opportunity for serious arts education that is not always available to students in their own schools or communities.  It reaches students from a diverse population and multiple backgrounds and brings them together for an amazing weekend of performances.  Beginning in January 2013, students from 7 different schools will spend a semester working with professional Teaching Artists from SFSTL, as well as their Faculty Sponsors, to perform a version of Twelfth Night for Shake38.  Students from an additional 5 schools will perform an original commissioned work entitled Winning Juliet which deals with the challenges kids face today with bullying.  And all of this is FREE for the schools and students.

In order to provide METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE to the more than 150 students who will participate in 2013, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is reaching out to the community and to the world for help in funding this amazing program.  They have asked us, the volunteer Faculty Sponsors, to assist them in raising awareness about this fundraiser.  I am writing to you because you because you are part of my community—my  online community.  As a Faculty Sponsor, I have personally seen the impact MYS has made on all of the students that I have taught.  My own children have performed with this group, and it is vitally important to them, as well.  You can see my children and me talking about the program in the short video in the Kickstarter link below.  :D

We are raising money for METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE through a Kickstarter fundraising campaign.   Kickstarter fundraises are ALL-OR-NOTHING fundraisers, and they tend to be fast and furious.  This means that we have until October 28th to raise the $10,000 needed to fund the program for 2013, or we don’t get funded at all.  I cannot impress upon you enough how much any amount donated will help.  Please take time to click on the link  and find out more about MYS and consider a donation.  Feel free to share this post with everyone you know.  Every dollar counts.

Many small amounts add up to a big amount.  We can come together as an online community to make this possible for these kids.   Thank you.

At the Burrow DyeTable #Four: Forbidden

I have to apologize for my oversights, my rushing.  I like to suss things out.  To dig in up to my elbows for a bit, and then stand back and think on things before I jump back in the middle again.  But this requires time, and life has other ideas about what I’m supposed to be doing.   I rarely find the long, meandering swaths of hours that it requires for me to fully go deep into the Fetch and dance with my creative mojo.  Instead I have to steal minutes here and there and I end up hurrying through steps I’d rather linger over.  I forget my camera.  I forget my notebook.   I lose the flowing narrative and instead piece together fragments and partial thoughts and hope for poetry.

So it was when I dyed with forbidden rice.

This bag of black rice had been sitting in my pantry for months waiting for me.  I finally stole a moment for it.  Haphazard.  Slapdash.  Hardly the way one should treat something forbidden.  But that’s how it happened, and that’s what I must own.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Forbidden rice

Part used:  The grains of rice

Sourec:  Whole Foods bulk bin

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  412g of rice to 38g of fiber; just under 11:1 ratio.

Yarn:  Catnip Yarns Kona Superwash Worsted   38g, mordanted with 8% aluminum potassium sulfate and 7% cream of tartar.  I’m not usually a big fan of superwash, because the processes used to make yarn superwash are typically not terribly sustainable, and they frequently over-process the wool and make it lose its character.  This yarn, however, is absolutely scrummy.  It is super, super, super soft and has a beautiful sheen.  Absolutely lovely.  I don’t know how they did it, but next time I need superwash, it will be Kona for sure.

Extraction:  I soaked the rice in tapwater overnight (about 10-12 hours).  Pretty much just like I’d do black beans.  Didn’t measure pH.  Gasp!

Dyebath:  I strained out all the rice through a colander and reserved the liquid.  It didn’t seem to have as much particulate in it as black bean juice does, so I did not bother with ladling the liquid off the top of the bowl and instead used all of it.  I put the dyebath and yarn in a stainless steel bucket and left it outside.

After roughly 40 hours, I rinsed the skein in plain water and hung it to dry.

The results?  A colour I like to call Sickly Lavendar.  Or Lavendar Lite.  Or Maybe One Day I’ll Grow Up and Become A Real Lavendar!

It’s got a couple spots that lean toward blue.  The overal colour is a little mottled, which actually makes the effect more interesting, I think.  After doing this experiment, I went on Ravelry and did a search to see if anyone has played with black rice.  A few people talked about it, but I only saw one actual result, and it was a very pretty deep lavendar-blue.  The difference?  She didn’t treat it like black beans at all—-she simmered hers!  Clever!  I’m thinking about getting more rice and either overdyeing this skein or dyeing a new skein with the hot technique to see the difference.

It’s been fun these last months playing with dyes from foodstuffs.  It makes me look at everything I eat with an eye for the potential dye hidden under the surface…

Live happy, dye happy!

Office Chair Workouts: Week 10

Notice there’s no Week 9?  Sometimes shit happens… all over your life.  And when that happens you have to do what you can to keep laughing and being a good person and not curl up into a sobby mess in the corner.  Two weeks ago, that meant taking a break, curling up under blankets, watching a lot of escapist television, eating my body weight in apples and raw maple almond butter, and knitting and dyeing.

I’m a day late posting Week 10, but workouts for this week did happen.  And how.  I continued Week 10 doing the awesome workouts at LovingFit.com.  I really like splitting up the upper and lower body workouts on most days.  Then, at least only half of my body hurts.  Lol.  Since I’d taken off Week 9, I didn’t want to start out learning any new exercises, so I repeated the exercises from Week 8 again on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday:  Upper Body

Magnetic Sweat Workout

Tuesday:  Lower Body

Booty Pop Siren Workout (still giggling, but I totally was able to do the One Leg Chair Squats without holding on to anything!  WOOT!!!)

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  Upper Body

Strength Beast Workout (I did the Complete Beginner variations because of the push-ups.  Also, I omitted the pull-ups and did some planks instead)

Friday:  Lower Body

Booty Pop Siren again.  ZOMG.

Saturday:  Meaning of Life Workout

Today I did a regular Office Chair Workout.  Full body.  Good times.  One round, 42 reps (each side if applicable).

And I ended by starting the Booty Challenge.  This is going to be good.
 

 

At the Burrow DyeTable # Six: Poke for Pia

My fiber friend, Pia, asked me to do a little experiment for her.  She asked me to do a cold dye process with the pokeberries.  And so I did.  After all, far be it from me to ignore an opportunity to experiment, to leave our curiousity hanging.  Thank you, Pia, for your request.  I would not have thought to run a cold dyebath with pokeberries.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Pokeweed (phytolacca americana)

Parts used:  The berries

Source:  My yard, the Haggencrone’s yard, a friend’s yard, and the farm

Yarn:  Mountain Meadows Cody mordanted in vinegar as per the instructions in Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess.

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  No clue.  These were some of the pokeberries preserved in vinegar that wouldn’t fit in the original poke dyepot.  So I left them in a Mason jar.  I’d guess maybe 200g of berries.  Maybe more, maybe less.  Hard to tell.  The little mini-skein of yarn weighs 6g.

Extraction:  Mashed the berries in white distilled vinegar and left them for a month out of the sunlight.

Dyebath:  Cold dyed in a Mason jar.  No sunlight.  Nine days.

The results?

The top of the dye liquid formed a white film.  Some kind of funk.  It didn’t really smell bad, though, nor did it seem to effect the colour below.  The funk rinsed off easily and didn’t seem to do anything negative to the yarn.

  Boy, is this yarn purple.  I mean PURPLE, like whoa.

It only got a little bit lighter with rinsing in plain tapwater.  It is a gorgeous colour.  And I am thankful to Pia for asking me to do this little experiment so that I could learn about yet another colour from the poke’s most unredundant bounty.

This is my favourite yet.

We’ll see if the colour lasts.  If so, this is my new go-to way to dye with pokeberries, hands down.  Pia, I hope you are happy with the pokeberry results, too.  :D

Live happy, dye happy!

At the Burrow Dyetable # 3: Children’s Class

Just finished teaching a children’s coop class on natural dyeing for my local homeschooling coop group. The kids were great, the timing went perfectly, and the dyepots were awesome.  In all, it was four hours of fun work. I am very pleased, and more importantly, I think the kids had a blast.

The Prep:

I pre-scoured, weighed and divvied, and pre-mordanted (8% alum/7% CoT) all the yarn, so we were able to jump right in.   Each child (and a couple parents) got a 20g mini-skein of yarn for each dyebath.  There were 9 participants and 4 dyebaths.  It was a lot of divvying and weighing and winding.  I did it in my pajamas in the wee hours.  Good times.

The Class:

We began with an introduction to natural dyeing:  types of fiber, dyestuffs, terms, safety, and a show-and-tell with fiber, dyestuff, and dyed samples.  I even made posters with illustrations and everything.  I love teaching.  I wish I had more time to do classes like this.

We dyed with black tea (English Breakfast, 20 bags), yellow onion skins (.75:1), red onion skins (just under 1:1), and I sent them home with a bonus black beans solar dyeing project. They had fun stuffing pantyhose legs with onion skins and weighing and calculating the ratios. They really liked getting to wear the blue gloves and using the Grackle & Sun super-scientifical gear—you know, the pH meter and temperature probe. Who wouldn’t? Lol. The real winner, though, was the awesome presto-change-oh! trick with the red onion skins. The magic of a little washing soda. Red dyebath, green yarn.  Show-stopper. :D

Quick scientifical aside here:  My tapwater is pH 8.8.  The black tea dyebath dropped to a 3.4.  The yellow onion bath went down to about a 4.1.  The red onion bath was made more basic with 1/4 teaspoon of washing soda which brought the pH up to 9.4, and that instantly turned the extraction green.  But later (after about 45 min.), the dyebath was claret coloured again.  So we remeasured the pH, and it was 3.5!  But the yarn still took the green colour.  Interesting that it dropped back down though.  Will have to play with this again later.  All the dyebaths were done as a combo extraction/dyebath deal.  The yarn and dyestuff was added at the same time.

In the down time, we took a tour of my yard and learned about various native dyeplants and their proper names. We also took a tour of the Grackle & Sun DyeTable (aka, my studio space in the garage). They called it my dyer’s lair. Funny.  And true. They loved all the different extractions and experiments going on.  I love to see the inner mad scientists of 10 year olds being engaged and encouraged.

The best part was seeing how excited they got about their successful dyepots. Mad skillz little dyers. I think a couple of them are hooked. They’re already asking for more classes and planning what dyestuffs they want to try out next. Total success. :D

The results:

Sorry for the over-exposed picture. I didn’t dye any yarn myself today, and so I tried to snap a quick picture before the kiddos had to go.  The green is actually greener, and the peach is actually browner. The yellow is pretty bang-on, though. I didn’t tell them what colour they’re going to get with the black beans though. I can just imagine the surprise when they see blue yarn. Good times. Love sharing this awesomeness we call natural dyeing.

Yellow Onion—Red Onion—Black Tea

Live happy, dye happy!

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