Monday, October 6, 2014

Dyeing with Avocados!

A neighbor and friend once told me that you could dye things with Avocados. I had heard of it before and so I started collecting pits and skins. I made a lot of guacamole and it was good. Then I put the pits and skins in a baggie in the freezer until I had many many small sandwich bags stuffed. What prompted me to get them out and finally use them was a bush in my backyard. I was out in the yard where my husband was trimming some bushes and noticed one of the bushes had some berries in it and so I decided to see if the berries would dye anything. I have a large plastic bin full of dye-ables that I have collected over the years -- some vintage crocheted pieces, silk ribbons, various threads, rayon ribbons, fabrics, etc. So out it came. These are all natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk) or a rayon mix. I searched online about dyeing with Avocados and got some great ideas from this website:

I have a fair amount of dyeing experience and dyeing supplies myself, so I added some steps. First I cleaned anything that I was worried about taking the dye. Some fabrics have chemicals on them that prevent the dye from taking to the object you're dyeing. To clean these items I used a few tablespoons of soda ash in some water in a pan on the stove. I let the water get nice and hot but never boiled it. I stirred my fabrics and fibers in this concoction for several minutes. After the wash I put all the fibers and fabrics in a large bucket filled with a gallon of water and 1/2 cup of soda ash and soaked it for 30 minutes. Soda ash acts as a mordant and makes the dye somewhat permanent. I say somewhat permanent because some of the dye always washes out. It will look like it is going to be much darker than it will actually end up.

I got several plastic containers for the large pieces of fabrics and used mason jars for the smaller fibers. I decided to do 3 batches so I had 3 pans of water on the stove -- one with pits only (cut in half), one with skins only and one with pits and skins. I also had a 4th with the berries. At first I put the pits and skins in with the materials, but I noticed they were staining the fabric darker in places; some looked great and some not so great. This would be a great experiment later to purposefully make a batik type fabric and some of my fabrics did turn out like this. Eventually I removed all the pits, skins, and berries. I let them soak in the sun (or a warm place) for about 24 hours. I brought them in at night. The sun was too hot and evaporated some of the dye. It also burnt the fabrics on top where the fabrics were exposed to the light. If you don't live in Colorado and the sun isn't too bright you could probably get away with this. I ended up putting paper towels on top of the fabric to protect it, but I'll probably keep them inside next time.

After soaking for a day I took all the fabrics and fibers out of the dye and rinsed them in cold water. I let them sit in the cold water for a couple of hours and then rinsed them again. I did this over an over again until the water ran clear.

The berries turned out a nice grey-blue, the pits a pale pink, and the other two I am confused about. I'm very good about performing my experiments scientifically, but not so good about writing them down! One was slightly darker than the pale pink and another slightly darker than that one. I think the skins were the darkest. For some reason some pieces in each batch turned out pale peach. Also, some items really took the dye and were comparably really dark. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. So many people are surprised that avocado dye things pink and such a nice victorian pink at that! I did not test the pH as it suggested on the link I referred you to.

I saved the dyes and added more fabrics to them and let them sit for another 24 hours. I added more soda ash to see what would happen. The fabrics-fibers turned much more peachy. I don't think I quite got the right colors in these photos, but they're somewhere in the neighborhood. (-; The first one is really more pink than that, a little more like the last one, but brighter. Maybe I should take pictures during daylight hours!

I liked how they turned out pretty well so I decided to put some together for a gift exchange we did at the Crazy Quilting International (CQI) Retreat.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finally finished my "Angelina" Italian Drawn Thread Work Piece!

I have been working on Barbara Kershaw's Italian Drawn Thread design called Angelina. It is a fingertip towel that I turned into a placemat by working the design at both ends. I worked it as part of an EGA (Embroidery Guild of America) group correspondence course. Happiness is a completed project.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Schwalm Class Completed!!!!!!!!!!!

Yay! I took a couple of EGA courses by Barbara Kershaw. This one was to learn Schwalm whitework embroidery. The finished piece is a cover that fits over a pillow. The class was understandable and fun. I'm just very glad I'm done because I've taken on a bit too much and don't like projects hanging over my head. Here's the finished product, one a picture of the cover on a pillow and the second is a closeup of the stitching. You can click on the photos for a closer look.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Is this cool or what?

My friend Maggie and I went to estate sales yesterday and we accidentally stumbled across one that was phenomenal. This gal must have sold antiques in her day because her house was full of wonderful things right up my alley and probably many of yours as well. Right now I'm just going to post about one thing that I was looking at and put down. My friend Maggie saw my interest and bought it for me. I thought she was interested in it too, but then she gave it to me - what a sweetie! I had no idea what to do with it and now I have some ideas. I did some research online and it turns out it is a wall hanger for an oil lamp. It has a patent date on it of June 1881 - I thought that was pretty cool.

I think it could be useful for a number of things if I can find a wall bracket for it. 1) I could actually use it for an oil lamp. 2) I could use it for a candle, 3) I could put a plant in it, or 4) I could put a pin cushion in it (my answer for nearly everything's use). I hope you will share any ideas you have. It clearly needs some cleaning up or I could leave it all antiqued like it is complete with spider webs. (-;

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yummy Stash

I got these wonderful items at the last estate sale I went to. Do you not love them? I especially am fond of the velvet leaves. The sheer pink with gold edges do it for me also though. (-; This person had 4 rooms of fabric. It was so much stash that I became overwhelmed. It was like a store full of quilting supplies. It was one of the first estate sales that I've been through that I couldn't look through all the stash. Just overwhelming.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Romanian Point Lace

When ever there is a lot of driving to be done on a long trip I always bring something to work on. On our last vacation I decided to try Romanian Point Lace. It was really fun and surprisingly easy. I got this pattern off of a tutorial online:
If you've ever wanted to try some lace, this is not a bad place to start. It doesn't require a lot of materials to do and isn't too difficult.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cool Tool

I'm am a big fan of tools -- tools that make life easier. My favorite tools are sewing tools -- of course! When I was at an estate sale the other day I was leaving the house by way of the garage and checking out the garage merchandise on my way to the checkout, not really expecting to find much to interest me in said garage. I spied a little grungy corroded tarnished tool that caught my attention. I walked on by (just like the 60s song -- picture me breaking out into song here because we sang this song when I was in 7th grade music class). After making my way around the garage, picking up a plant hanger, putting it back down, I made my way to the cool tool table and picked up the cool tool.  $2. OK - I still have no idea why I think it is cool, but on pure intuition and a $2 gamble I picked it up and headed to checkout. While there a woman confidently told me it was a seam measuring tool.  heh heh.

I am home now and have cleaned up the cool brass tool with a little brasso. Here it is! This is 3 photos of the same tool at different positions. I would hope my crazy quilter friends might see the instant attraction that I had to it. Looks like I need to get the rest of the brasso off of it. lol. I might have blended the photo a bit too much too because I see a corner sort of just fades away. Ha ha.

Anyway, I looked up the tool on the internet to see what it was and lo and behold it is a Combination Paper-Cutting Tool, Rule, and Dafting and Measuring Tool that was patented in 1924 and granted in 1928. It was meant to be an advertising gimic for businesses - they would have this tool made up with their business name on it. Mine was from the Indianapolis Paint & Color Company.
Photo from

Further research found a site trying to sell it for $125.00. A bit more than I paid for it. Of course, that doesn't mean I could get that much for it if I tried to sell it, but it is hopeful. Apparently there is a market for antique tools. I will play with it for a while to see if it is useful and if it doesn't pan out -- to ebay it goes! I can buy a lot of stash for that kind of money! But, it could be wonderfully useful -- measures angles and lengths, has holes for even marking of seam treatments. Think of it's value in marking triangular CQ shapes ...