Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's for the Birds

It was beautiful out today. Although I was pretty lazy this morning, I did putter around the yard for a little bit this morning. It's still to early to put out flowers, but I washed out the birdbath and filled it up.

It's the first mosaic project I ever did. I wondered how long this birdbath would last, and to tell you the truth, I've been pleasantly surprised. I made this probably at least 9 years ago. In the winter we take the top off and lean it against a tree so water does not freeze and thaw in it. With that little care, I expected it to fall apart long ago, but it's still looking pretty good!

Little by little, I've been saving snippets of yarn and tucking them in a jar. Today I put the yarn and some lint from the dryer in the bag some oranges came in, and hung it out for the birds. We did this last year too, and when we cleaned out the birdhouses it was fun to see all the nests with woven with twigs and bits of wool.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hardware and Softwear

This is the hardware. My son moved out this weekend, to the home that he and his fiancee will share when they are married. I was looking around the empty room, being sentimental and thinking about all the changes....and all the work I want to do to this room in the next month! I noticed again one of the things I love about this house...the hardware. I like the little x's and o's on the hinges.

I get aggravated about how the old stuff doesn't latch quite right, but isn't it charming?

And this is the softwear....I'm making a new felted bag from some beautiful Malabrigo yarn. It's such lovely stuff to work with. So soft! We went to see Cirque du Soleil in Champaign, IL and while we were there I visited Needleworks and Klose Knit. Both are lovely shops with a nice variety of yarns and supplies.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn

Last night I dyed up some yarn. I just started doing this last year when Tracy showed me the way, and have had so much fun with it. I like to use Kool Aid or food coloring because I work in my kitchen, and this way I don't have to worry about toxins. I'll tell you a little about how I did it last night, but if you really want a good tutorial you can find one here on Knitty.com.

I started with Knitpicks Bare superwash sock yarn, but you can also start with any yarn that is high in animal fiber content...the higher the better! I've used yarn from my stash and dyed over lighter colors I wasn't crazy about with good results. I left my yarn in the skein it came in because I was lazy last night, but if you want longer repeats you can reskein it into a much longer skein. Put the skein in a tub of water to soak. Let the fibers really soak for a good while (go watch some TV and knit!). You want all the air out so it will take up the dye nicely. When the yarn is good and wet, gently squeeze the extra water out so you can transport it to your bowls.

Next, I boiled up a big pot of water and poured boiling water into 3 bowls. I dissolved 3 packs of unsweetened Kool Aid to each bowl and immediately draped the yarn into the bowls. If you are using kool aid there is enough citric acid that you really don't have to use vinegar, but I added a splash to each bowl anyway...never hurts. I want that color to stay! Move the yarn around a little with spoon so it all gets a chance to soak up the dye. Pretty quickly I shifted the yarn so the white parts were dyed too. If you feel your water cooled too much, you can wrap your yarn in saran and microwave it 2 minutes to make sure the heat has set the dye. My water was still extremely hot after the yarn soaked up the dye, so I didn't bother.

You can see here that the yarn has taken up all the dye and the water is clear again.

Let it cool a bit in the sink and then rinse. I like to add a little dish soap and give it a light wash at this point. No dye came out at all, so I knew the dye was set well. Then squeeze the extra water out gently (you don't want to felt it!) and put it in a towel to blot the extra water out.

Finally, hang it up to dry......and in the morning you have some nice new colors to work with!

There are all sorts of variations on the technique...you can dye in pots on the stove, handpaint and then microwave, or even use a crock pot. Fun!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Did we draw in Hawaii?

Ok...so maybe this drawing doesn't count! I did love this little toy I found in a Hilo shop though, and I bought one. I'm weak. It's called a Buddha Board....paint on it using just water, and as it dries, it disappears...and you are ready to start over! Great way to learn to enjoy the process and not obsess. Or so I hear.

Anyway the answer is, "Yes, we did draw!" We did find that sometimes, despite our determination to slow down and draw, we got carried away with experiencing the island and didn't leave enough time. So, we'd finish up in the evenings or sometimes work from photos we took. The drawing I was working on above is almost done in the pic below:

Jennifer saved bits and pieces of wrappers, napkins and tickets to make postcards to send home. It's a fun way to use all those great little scraps, and would work in your sketchbook too. Here's one all done:
We had a wonderful time one day, trying to draw this waterfall. Neither of us was successful, but we had a great time and we went swimming in this pool when we got frustrated. It was very cold water...and lots of fun!

We took tons of photos to work from in the evenings and after returning home. I've started working from some since I've been back. We tried to take close ups of buildings and foliage, as well as broad views, and this has helped quite a bit. I did this watercolor from a photo we took earlier in the day.

Monday, March 01, 2010

On the Road Again in the Puna District of the Big Island

One day Jennifer and I decided to drive to the end of the road in the Puna district. Literally ...the end of the road, because the road was obliterated by lava flowing over it. We passed through a mesmerizing forest of monkey pod trees.

And very lush rainforest areas.

Then lots of palms...

under tunnels of vegetation (the ocean is just off to the left here)..

Under trees trying to touch the road...
with ocean vistas at every bend.

At the end of the road is a nice little restaurant where we had some ice cream.
On another day we had dinner here and it was very good.

After eating, we walked out over the lava field to this beautiful black sand beach. The theme of this island seems to be variety and contrast....rainforest, snow capped mountains, desert, grasslands, beaches, lava fields, crystal clear brilliant blue waters, and white foam on jet black beaches. It's amazing really.