in the rush to get to the post office, i literally grabbed a few quick snaps in between getting dressed, so there are no pretty finished object photos on this one. there is a glaring error in my stitch work, which i did not notice until just now. luckily, i happen to be a Ross-tafarian, so i choose to see it as a happy accident. [there is a joke in there somewhere... trust me].
given the ornate lace of this garment, i opted to go with three simple wooden buttons on the front.
i would love to say that i went for the quickest shipping option, but as the postage cost more than all the yarn, it will be a few days before it arrives at mom's door back home in Brooklyn. she better love it, or i am putting myself up for adult-adoption. any takers?
[what follows is a draft i put together a week ago, but never got around to posting. that first photo was taken one week ago.]
there i was, standing in the middle of the street, grasping my camera between icy hands, with a smug voice behind me repeating, "it's the third day of spring". indeed.
in my ongoing crusade to eradicate the eternal gloom of
so, i did a bit of research (in between multiple runs to the market to restock the key ingredient), and it turned out that this was precisely the type of project i would enjoy. i get to eat all the tasty grapes i could find, and the skins can be collected and re-purposed as one of Nature's most potent pigments. not wanting to encourage a business of flies (yay for collective nouns!!!), i stashed my treasure in the freezer... and proceeded to totally forget all about it... until one recent, very cold day.
i collected somewhere in the neighborhood of six cups of grape skins (with a few stems from those days when i was feeling lazy). rather than forming one frozen block, as i had anticipated, they behaved like a large bowl of cornflakes and even made an interesting noise when i shook the bowl. the skins were dumped into a large saucepan and boiled for as long as my patience would allow (which was roughly two hours, thought i was seriously tempted to call it done after fifteen minutes).
by this time, the liquid was as dark as wine. a quick strain trough a few layers of muslin or a large scrap of fabric (i used part of an old t-shirt or something along those lines) was sufficient to remove all the particles that might otherwise get trapped in the yarn. [this was seriously the best photo i managed to get with a boiling hot cup of liquid in one hand. trust me... i am sufficiently ashamed.]
on the fiber front, i opted for two identical hanks of yarn and pre-soaked them in water with a few drops of baby shampoo...
then i took the experimentation one step further. one was left to soak (note the bit of gold yarn tied to that hank for easy identification)...
while the other one was removed to the dye pot and mordanted in a solution of alum (aluminium sulfate, to be precise).
of course, there are situations where the perfect mordant-dye combo requires nothing more than a trip to the grocery store. case and point:
- chop up all the bits that are left over after eating a few pomegranates and dump them into a pot of water...
- boil it to death and strain the liquid...
- stir in some ground turmeric...
- and, finally, toss in some yarn. [i spun this up from either Bluefaced Leicester or Corriedale wool, and it has been sitting undyed in a bin of other sheepy goods for a few years now.]
- the pomegranate produces a light-yellow color on its own, but it acts as both a mordant and a brightener when combined with the turmeric. ever wonder why curry leaves such a powerful stain? turmeric!!!
but i am wandering from the point of this tale.
so... the two hanks of yarn, were placed together into the grape-skin solution...
and heated (not boiled) for about 30 minutes. there is very little discernible difference between the two yarns at this point.
out of the dye pot, and oxidation quickly sets in.
at this point, the unmordented yarn was returned to the dyepot, along with a few teaspoons of citric acid. notice the difference now?
the one on the right was pre-treated with alum, while the one on the left was post-treated with citric acid. despite being dyed together, the choice of mordant had a profound effect on the outcome. notably, the citric acid restored the rosy color that was present before oxidation set in. not bad for a pile of grape skins.