Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “arts education”

The Fast and the Fugitive: Pokeberry Edition

It is once again time to play…

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OR

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I sandwiched the samples from each of the original pokeberry dyebaths between heavy cardboard and taped it up against a south-facing window for a month.  All yarn is 100% wool mordanted with vinegar only.  Here are the results:

Pokeberry–First Dyebath

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-25-02 PMPokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-24-25 PM

Pokeberry–Second Dyebath (First exhaust)

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-26-29 PMPokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-26-05 PM

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-27-47 PMPokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-27-35 PM

Pokeberry—Third Dyebath (Second Exhaust):  These are on superwash wool.  Somehow I didn’t test the skein of regular wool from this bath.  Not sure why.

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-29-10 PMPokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-28-43 PM

Pokeberry—Cold Dyebath

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-30-47 PMPokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-30-05 PMSo far, I think everything is as should be expected.  We know that pokeberry is not normally lightfast, but that with proper mordanting and dyeweight ratios, can be made more so.   You can see a substantial difference in the lightfastness between the original dyebath and the two exhaust baths.  Here is the good news.  This lightfastness test was conducted in a room in my house lovingly known as The Snug, short for Snuggery, aka the Sun Room.  It is a very tiny little nook of a room made entirely of mullioned windows.  For the purposes of this post, that means that anything in the room gets not only full south-facing sun, but also east and west sun, as well.  The photos you’ve seen so far are of the side of the yarn which had direct south-facing exposure pressed right up on the glass.  The next series of photos are of the back side of the exposed yarn—the side exposed to normal daily levels of ambient light from the east and west windows.  You can just see the outlines of the direct-exposed areas.  It’s like the yarn has tan lines.  Look at this:

First Dyebath

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-25-17 PM

Second Dyebath (First Exhaust)

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-26-42 PMPokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-28-01 PM

Third Dyebath (Second Exhaust)

Pokeberry Lightfastness Test Results 11-17-2012 2-29-23 PM

Pretty cool, huhn?  The first dyebath had almost no fading on the ambient-exposed side of the yarn.  The exhaust baths had very little.  I think this is a good sign that these pokeberry dyed yarns will stand up to regular wear in normal lighting.  I mean, it’s not like anyone is going to be wearing handknit items when the UV levels are crazy high, so I’m not terribly worried about it.  I’m particularly impressed with the cold dye process.  Not only did it dye awesomely, but it was the most lightfast out of the bunch, too.  The back side of the sample was as purple as the covered section.  It was just hard to get a good picture of it.

Next, I’ve got to get lightfastness tests of the raceme dyelots.  Gotta wait for more sun, though.  Until then,

Live happy, dye happy!

At the Burrow DyeTable # 8: Pokeweed Racemes, Take 3

Here is the third and final installment of this first round of pokeweed raceme dye experiments.  I think the racemes are so beautiful.  I’d say “otherworldly”, but it’s hard to think that of anything born out of Missouri Ozark clay and rock.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Pokeweed (phytolacca americana)

Parts used:  The racemes (the part that holds the berries)

Source:  My yard, the Haggencrone’s yard, my friend Debbie’s yard, and the Farm

Yarn:  Mountain Meadow Cody, 100% wool.  I mordanted a little differently this time, opting not to follow any instructions other than those given by the seat of my pants.  I decided to use more vinegar, and pretty much did a 1:3 ratio of white distilled vinegar to water.  The reason for this is that in lieu of using straight acetic acid, I’m hoping the higher acid content will help with the fastness of this dye.  So I soaked 100g of wool yarn in a pot of 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water.  I heated the pot to 190F and held it there for an hour.  Then I let the yarn sit and cool in the mordant bath overnight.  The starting pH at room temperature was 3.1.  At 188.2F, it was 3.0.

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  I only used half of the yarn I mordanted for this particular dyebath, so 50g total.  I’m not sure of the exact amount of racemes.  I didn’t weigh them out, as this was done on a whim.  But I can tell you that when I pulled them all from the bucket, they easily weighed a pound.   I’m sure most of that was the vinegar that they absorbed., so I’m going to say maybe 100g starting weight, and next time I promise to weigh them out.

Extraction:   Chucked the racemes into a bucket and covered them in white distilled vinegar.  Put a plate on top to hold them down.  Left them on their own for a couple months.   As you can see, these didn’t leach out the way the other ones did.  I think had I put much more vinegar in, they would have.  They were pretty compacted in this bucket.

Dyebath:  After the recent success with the cold pokeberry dyebath, I knew that I had to try a cold raceme dyebath, too.  I strained out the racemes through a colander and reserved half of the liquid for the cold dyejar (the other half was used for the hot dyebath).  I added the premordanted yarn and brought the dyejar inside the house, because I was afraid it might freeze and crack if left outside.  I kept it covered with black cloth (actually, just a black shirt—sorry if that is less poetic) to block out the sunlight.  The yarn sat undisturbed for 9 days.

The results?

WOOT!!!  Slam dunk and SCORE!  Cold dyeing with poke is the way to go.

Here is a picture of all 3 pokeweed raceme experiments together:

Fascinating, don’t you think?  That such totally different colours could come from the same plant, the same part of that plant, on the same yarn, and with the same mordant—just because of a difference in the specific dyebath process.  Very cool.  So does anyone want to hazard a guess as to why the cold process put the red on the wool when the heated baths didn’t?  Next I’ll put samples from these 3 up for a lightfastness test.  Will be interesting.  Here’s to curiousity and experimentation!

Live happy, dye happy!

At the Burrow DyeTable # 8: Pokeweed Racemes, Take 1

When I first started gathering the berries of the phytolacca americana, aka the glorious pokeweed plant, I threw the racemes into the compost heap after carefully removing all the precious berries.  Everyone says to just dye with the berries.  But I do so love to figure things out for myself, and besides, just because someone said so isn’t a great reason for doing anything, is it?  So when my curiousity got the better of me (although arguably, it makes me better, so I’ll keep it),  I decided to see if I could extract any colour from the racemes themselves.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Pokeweed, phytolacca americana

Parts used:  The racemes (the part that holds the berries)

Source:  My yard, the Haggencrone’s yard, my friend Debbie’s yard, and the Farm

Yarn:  Mountain Meadows Cody mordanted in vinegar.  I did the mordanting a little differently this time.  I basically mordanted in straight vinegar as part of an all-in-one dyepot.

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  To be honest, I have no idea how many grams of racemes I had here.  I’d guess maybe 40g or so.  The hank of wool was 50g.  So, I probably did not get a 1:1 ratio.  But I really wanted to dye the whole hank.  It’s hard sometimes to figure out what to do with all those mini-skeins.  There’s only so much end weaving I can handle, lol.

Extraction:  For this first batch, I put the racemes in pure distilled white vinegar to cover and left them for about 3 weeks.

To my surprise, when I took the racemes out to strain off the liquid (and mostly just to see what was going on in there) I found this:

All of the colour had been leached out of the racemes and magically put into the vinegar.  Pretty damn cool.  Presto change-oh!  And all the colour is in the liquid.

Dyebath:  I decided to do this dyebath as an all-in-one, meaning mordanting and dyeing all in one go.  Why not?  After all, it just requires a vinegar mordant, and the dye liquor is all vinegar… just seemed to make sense.  I didn’t want to have to add any more liquid to the pot, opting to leave it just the vinegar dye extraction.  There was just enough room for the yarn to float around, and since the racemes were totally bleached out already, I did not bother doing a heated extraction with them.  The starting pH of the dyebath was 3.4.

I slowly and gently heated it up to a temperature window of 175-190F.  At a temperature of 188.9F, the pH was 3.1.

I kept the dyebath in this temperature window for an hour, turned off the heat, and let the yarn sleep overnight in the pot.

The results?

Not what I expected at all.  Did you see how red that dyebath was?  And yet the yarn came out this lovely soft peach colour.  It’s ok.  I’m sure I’ll find something peachy to knit with this.  :D  Lesson learned?  Waste not, want not.   Not every dyestuff makes a colour that you’d want to repeat, but to me part of the fun of this great dyeing adventure is exploring all the variables, going down all the roads.  It’s not just about the end result.  Yes, a beautiful skein of yarn is a sweet, sweet bonus, but if that’s all I wanted, I could go buy that at any yarn shop.  That’s not why I’m here, though.  So, I’ll keep my dyestuffs extracting and keep my pots simmering and maybe one day I’ll figure this dyeing thing out.  I’m going to have a lot of fun trying.

Live happy, dye happy!

Paleo(ish): Month 6

Alright.  Today is the 6 month mark for my Paleo journey thing.  I already wrote a monster post on “why Paleo” and all that, so I’ll keep this one short.  Let’s start with the numbers.  I didn’t go Paleo to lose weight, I did it out of necessity for my health.  But losing weight has been an added perk to eating right and working out.  Let’s see the progress, shall we?

Jan/Feb 2012:

Height:  5’3″     Weight:  165     Shoulders:  45.5″     Chest:  38″     Waist:  33.75″     Hips:  42.75″     Thigh:  20.5″     Arm:  10.5″    BF%:  35.9

June 2012:

Weight:  145 lbs     Shoulders:  41″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30.5″     Hips:  41″     Arms”  10″     Thigh:  19.5″     BF%:  32

August 2012:

Weight:  138 lbs     Shoulders:  40″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30″     Hips:  39.5″     Thigh:  19″     Arms:  Hard to measure by yourself  BF%:  couldn’t measure

November 2012:

Weight:  122 lbs    Shoulders:  40″    Chest:  36″    Waist:  28″    Hips:  38″    Thighs: 18″     Arms:  11″     BF%:  No clue, but a lot less
Not bad!

The Paleo has been going pretty well overall.  I’ve only had a few mishaps—namely, french fries.  But that won’t be happening again.  Why?  Turns out that simple little food that you thought was just fried potatoes is no longer just fried potatoes.  Most fries are now coated in combinations of wheat, dextrose, rice flour, and sugar.  For realz.  Which explains all of the headaches I’ve had (4) in the last 3 months.  Boooooo!  You know what I think of companies that fill up what should be a simple food full of crap to make it hyper-tasty and cheap?  I think they’re assholes.  The good news is that those 4 headaches are the ONLY symptoms I’ve had this whole time.  Woot!

Drinking enough water is still a challenge for me, but it becomes clearer every day how many elements of health hinge on proper hydration.  So, I’m working hard on it.  The probiotic foods have totally done the magic, however, so all is good in intestinal land.  I’m finding now as the weather gets colder that I’m craving a lot more fat, carbs, root and cruciferous vegetables.  All your brassicas are belong to me!  I also crave sweet things, by which I mean my almond butter and honey.  I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten my bodyweight in apples this fall, but usually only one or two a day.  With some almond butter and honey or maple syrup.  That’s the only sugar I have.  But I’m starting to wonder if that’s too much… but I’d be really sad to not have that little bit of sweet in my life, and my god,  one has got to draw the line somewhere.  Right?  Maybe not.

So, I’ve been thinking about doing a Whole30.  If I start today, I’ll be done by Elevensies, which would be perfect.  (Elevensies is the winter holiday my family celebrates.  It is the celebration during the generally 11 days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year).  I’m already doing everything else on the Whole30 with the exception of the odd potato, the odd carrageenan additive (hard to get almond milk without it), and honey and occasionally maple syrup.  I’d like to know how I feel completely sugar-free.  I’ve been reading Sarah Wilson’s blog (which I love), and it raves about the results of living sugar-(read fructose)-free.  She’s also got Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis like I do, and much of her information relates to how being sugar-free has helped her symptoms.  Finally, I watched this amazing video by Dr. Lustig called Sugar:  The Bitter Truth.  I highly recommend watching it.  It will rock your world.

The only thing holding me back is that I’ve already cut out so much from my diet.  I’m happy for it.  There are very, very few foods that I miss, and most of those have great Paleo alternatives.  I worry about getting too strict, and then I remember how I felt before I went Paleo.  I will not ever go back to that, so strict is a very good thing.  It’s only for a month, and it would give me some good data.  So, yeah.  I’m going to do it.

As for the rest, I told myself that I’d do a strict 6 month baseline before trying to add anything back in.  I’m feeling really, really good right now.  Energy is good, I’m sleeping great, and my mind is clearer than it’s been in years.  This is the best I’ve felt since before I was diagnosed with Hashi’s 14 years ago.  It’s a really big deal.  Because of that, I don’t want to mess with things too much.  The only food that I will consider trying to add back in right now is butter—specifically grass-fed ghee.  I think that’s important.  I’m not going to add in any grains, as I really don’t think I’ll respond well to them.  I’m surprisingly fine without legumes—the only notable exception being chickpeas for hummus (om nom nom). I think I can let a few chickpeas slide now and then.  But for now, that’s it.

So, the one month plan is to do a Whole30 and test out adding grass-feed ghee into my diet.  We’ll see how it goes!

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.

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