Don’t drop the F bomb!

crochet fbomb

Hey y’all! Hows your week going?

It’s crazy here.

This little crochet project was inspired by Jodie Carlton of RicRacs enamel pin. (I still haven’t bought myself one, I should get onto that!) I’ve been wanting to make one for a while now, so when our copy of “Throw Throw Burrito” came in the mail I was super enthused to make more things I can throw around the house! ( that sentence is such a random train of thought, but that’s legit how this came into existence!)

It’s just one loan “f bomb” at the moment, but I plan on there being a whole basket of them on the kitchen table (maybe two baskets, one for the coffee table too?!) I’m sure we can come up with some kind of game to go with them!

crochet fbomb
Don’t drop the F bomb! (my hands are never a normal colour!)

The pattern is pretty simple to figure out, some day I will try and write it up properly, but for now, here’s an explanation on how I made it.

I started by crocheting a black ball shape. I stopped two increased before finishing a whole ball and changed to grey yarn. I stuffed it about here. I crochet up three rows, before decreasing again to close the top. The fuse was several chains and then single crochet along to give it some body, with a couple of sparkly threads knotted to the top. The “F” was made by crocheting onto the side of the ball.

And to finish off, I’ll leave you with some things I’ve recently tie-dyed.

scale tie-dye
Scale tie-dye pattern. My favorite dye yet!
hearts tie-dye
Hearts tie-dye

oh, and I picked up a couple of boxes of old kimono scraps. Some of it will be silk, and anything white I will try and dye!

kimono scraps
Kimono scraps

Have a tops week!

<3 Cate

Dyeing Alpaca Fleece

dyed alpaca fibre

In the background of all my other goings on for the past week or so, I’ve had a dye pot full of alpaca fleece slowly bubbling away.

There’s a lot of hobby farms (especially around Canberra) who keep alpacas for the animals, and then aren’t sure about what to do with their fleece come shearing time. If you keep a look out on the buy-swap-sell pages (and lets be honest, have all your friends and family keeping an eye out too) you will occasionally find some one giving away bags of fleece. This is how I ended up with a box full of the stuff!

alpaca fleece
A big box of alpaca fleece waiting for me to start processing it. (it is a happy coincidence there is a picture of alpacas in the background, my brother gave it to me last week and I’m yet to hang it up!)

I have been working my way through this box of alpaca fleece. I even gave my mum a big bag full so she can use some.

I had already washed some of it. So I divided it up and started dyeing it. Each day I have been dyeing a little bit more.

firey orange alpaca fleece drying
Today I have a gorgeous fiery orange drying in the sunniest window

I dyed the last of the washed fleece yesterday. So this morning I have just dropped another bag full in to soak and clean. Even though dyeing it takes very little effort, it is quite rewarding to be achieving something little every day.

washing alpaca fleece
Washing more alpaca fleece

I have dyed pink, green, purple, blue, yellow and orange so far. After dyeing, it needs to be carded to make it super fluffy . In the photo below, the pink has been carded.

dyed alpaca fibre
My dye results so far
carded v non carded fibre
This shows the difference between carded fibre and non carded fibre. To the left is the carded fibre, it is super fluffy, and all the fibres have been aligned.

What am I going to do with it all once I’m finished? Well, I have already taken some of it to work, where the children were convinced there are pink alpacas wandering the world, that was until I explained how I processed it and dyed it. I might hold onto it for doing more fibre related workshops with the children because, well, free means I keep the expenses down, and there isn’t usually a lot to spend on resources. It also creates a super valuable intentional teaching moment.

drop spinning
The children at work practiced drop spinning. I’m about to go and ply this so they can use it french knitting this afternoon

I am sure you are all wondering how I’m going with my patchwork chair I wrote about last week. Well, I’ve been madly sewing hexagons together all week. I finally had enough pieces together yesterday to start the reupholstering! I employed Guy for this bit, He has more experience and skill in this area! We have the seat to go, and then the trim to attach.

patchwork chair
The chair in its current state! So close to the finish line!

I hope to have the chair finished in the next day or so. I look foward to showing you the process and results next week!

Have a creative week!

<3 Cate

It’s not always easy…

I’ve spent all morning trying to think of something to share with you all today. I’ve even spent the last few days trying to come up with something.

You see, what I’m working on at the moment is a little bit experimental (for me at least). And I think it has potential. But I also think it just isn’t there yet either.

But I have decided to share it with you anyways. Because, I think it’s important to give yourself the space to experiment, to test ideas, to develop your skill set. And I think we are so used to seeing polished work, that we forget that to get there, there were many hours of experimentation, tears, frustration and things that didn’t work out so good.

So this is my process so far…

I had a pile of black denim. Much of it had bleach marks. In its past life it was worn to work in a night club, and apparently they used a lot of bleach to clean stuff (which makes sense, cos those places are filthy!)

I started with a pile of black jeans with bleach marks

I had a vision. I wanted to make a bomber jacket with some extra bleached detailing. I sourced a pattern – McCall’s M7637. Heck I would love LOVE to be able to draft my own patterns. But I haven’t made many clothes in the past, so working with patterns will hopefully enable me to understand how clothing goes together a bit better before I go down that path!

McCall’s M7637 was the pattern I settled on to experiment sewing a bomber jacket.

I cut up all the jeans. I cut each leg off just below the crutch, then i cut up the inner leg seam, this then opened out into a nice big flat piece of fabric. I stitched these together as required to make pieces of fabric big enough to cut each pattern piece out of.

Once I had cut a back piece out, I jumped right into the bleaching process. I did minimal experiments on a small piece first, the went straight for the jacket piece. I used a white pencil to draw out a design. I filled a small bottle with a pointy bit with bleach gel, and used that to draw on top of the outlines.

This is the entirety of my testing things out before I jumped straight in. This whole process in one big experiment
I used a white pencil to draw out a pattern on the jacket piece before I used the bleach
I used gel bleach which I put in a small bottle with a fine nozzle. I also used hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the bleach was I was happy enough with the results
After bleaching, use a solution of hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the bleach. Any leftover white pencil markings will wash off too.

It’s not that I don’t like how it worked or even the design I did. It’s just that I’m not feeling it. I can’t see it all coming together in a cohesive piece. This is the point I sit on it for a few weeks. Often I have an “AHA!” moment and figure out a way to finish it, others I just knuckle down and get it done to get it off my plate and move on to something else. And there is always the pieces I still have in the cupboard 10 (20?) years later that never came together but I can’t bare to start over with.

The first jacket in pieces
The second jacket pieces. This one the denim has more inherent bleached areas. I’m still brainstorming how to work with these and the best patterns to add. I’ve started cutting out the lining for this one too. I am using an old bed sheet which I will dye after I have semi constructed it.

Some thoughts I’m having at the moment –

Would embroidery add a needed element?

Would applique give it some depth?

Does it just need more bleached patterning?

Am I game to touch the second jacket I have cut out?

Would adding more bleached areas and then dyeing back into it with colours work?

What am I actually going to do with these pieces once I finish them?

Some discharge and re-dyeing experiments. Holds potential.

Anyways, I have a lot to think about. And I’m going to give myself a week to work through those questions before I start more experiments. For the rest of this week I think I will be dyeing. I have a lot of white jeans and fabric to work through. Although, I think that will be another task that will raise more questions than answers! Wish me luck!

Have a Creative week

<3 Cate

Happy Easter

I hope you all enjoyed a safe and happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

I spent mine with my family, painting mum and dads dining room.

We spent three days prepping and painting it.

Day 1 – Wash, wash, wash the walls. And fixing up holes.
Day 2 – We painted the ceiling with two coats of paint!
Day 3 – we painted the walls. We left the architrave for mum to finish.

We managed to fit some down time in amongst all the painting! My mum, my sister and myself had a small dyeing session. My mum dyed two shirts for herself, whilst me and Jodie dyed a pair of converse each.

Jodie dyeing her shoes
Me painting my shoes
Mum dyeing a shirt
results drying on the line
our shoes

Jodie had this amazing pair with iridescent toe and heel. I thought the pink and purple combination went well with the sparkles!

I still have another pair of shoes to dye, but I’m still trying to decide what colours they should be! I think some colour swatching is in call.

Lets not forget about the epic food that always happens when family gets together! Mum had most of the dinners sorted before we even arrived! Tuna mornay, lasagna and roast pork! Whilst Guy had us sorted for breakfasts!

It’s a bit of a tradition to light our mud oven at Easter and to have wood fired pizza for a lunch! We then cooked a pork roast and potatoes in it!

pizza cooking in our mud oven
Dad cooking pizzas. This is always a collaborative effort. Mum made dough, Guy assembled the pizzas and Dad gets the oven ready and cooks the pizza.

Another tradition is drinking baileys out of Easter eggs!

Baileys in Easter eggs – it has become a tradition!

Now for a short week of work for the last of school holidays, and back to a normal routine next week!

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Dyed Converse

Our wedding shoes are complete!

His and Hers rainbow Converse shoes hand dyed by Cate

Guy was adamant that we walk down the aisle in hand dyed rainbow Converse. I’d done a little bit of dyeing in the past, but not a lot. Luckily, my mum had given me a small starter pack some years ago, just enough to play with and figure out that the idea of me dyeing them wouldn’t be catastrophic!

I practiced on two cheap pairs of canvas shoes we had laying around. I had my technique figured out by the second pair! So I ordered more dye, and some Converse. The dye I am using is DrimareneK. It is suited for cottons and silk. I wrote about my first attempts here.

My first attempts at dyed shoes

I ran the shoes through a wash cycle first, to get rid of dirt, dust, sizing etc. Then soaked them in a bucket of soda ash for 20mins. I did them across two separate days, so I dyed the first pair damp straight out of the soda ash solution. The second pair dried before I got to them, so I sprayed them with the soda ash solution to make them damp again.

I didn’t head straight for the Converse, I dyed a pair of canvas shoes to warm up on, then did the Converse.I was hoping to minimize any mistakes, but I did manage to drop a big blue splotch on one of the tongues of my shoes. Luckily this is hidden when the laces are done up!

Using a paintbrush I painted the colour on in sections, blending between colours as I went. I started with yellow then went to red, then to blue, finishing on yellow again. This meant it faded through yellow to orange to red to purple to blue to green to yellow. I used the same pattern for both pairs of shoes.

Getting ready to dye! Deep breaths!

the first colour goes on!

Second colour goes on

Then BAM! rainbow shoes! These then go into zip lock bags and wait until the neck day for washout.

High tops ready to go

rainbow Converse high tops!

They go in a ziplock bag overnight, just to let the dye marinade and really take to the fabric. Then they go through a wash before they are done!

I think patience is important when dyeing shoes. The times I tried to rush through were the times I made mistakes. I also found that the Converse took the dye much better than the cheaper canvas shoes.

a neck tie and hankie to match the shoes

To match the shoes, I also dyed a silk neck tie and a silk hankie. The ties came with a warning that they be painted and not immersed dyed. I found out why when the fabric bunched up. This ironed out well at the end, but the dye took differently in the areas it bunched up. Luckily, Guy loves the effect that it left! The silk hankie dyed beautifully. It is also just the right size to fold up and tie as a head scarf!

Dyeing the tie

The finished tie

And just for funsies, I dyed a batch of socks!

Dyeing socks

The finished socks!

I have really enjoyed dyeing! I have collected bits and pieces to make a more permanent dye set up, so I see more of it in my future! But for the moment, I’m focusing on getting through the ridiculous amount of things I decided to make for the wedding. I have put in my to-do list that my bouquet, along with boutoneirs and a flower crown, will be finished by the end of August, so I’m off to felt the days away! (Lets not mention the fact that I haven’t even started my wedding dress yet)

Dyeing shoes – the first attempt

Last week I wrote about dyeing some nylon/acrylic in the slow cooker with landscape dyes which can be found here.

Whilst the slow cooker was bubbling away, I was also dyeing cotton yarn and canvas shoes! These take a different dye and different dyeing process.

I used Drimarene K dyes. These are fibre reactive dyes. I had a little starter pack my mum gave me years ago. This included a red, blue, yellow, rubinole, and a black. I have since got larger quantities of the red, yellow and blue to further experiment.

Using the fibre reactive dye requires your textile to be first soaked in Soda Ash. After that you paint, dip, squeeze the dye onto your object.

I started out with a pair of canvas shoes. I squeezed the dye out of sauce bottles on the first shoe. I quickly discovered that this put too much dye on the surface and I found it extremely hard to control, and I had dye running everywhere!

Attempt #1 = fail! It’s all part of the process 🙂

Luckily these are just practice shoes, and on the next one I experimented with painting the dye on with paint brushes. Winner!

Attempt #2 was much better! Learnt a few things!

To get the best results from these dyes, you keep them moist for 24 hours before rinsing. I put each shoe into a ziplock bag, and placed them in a nice warm spot for the night.

wrap them up and leave over night

I had another pair of shoes to practice on. This time I painted each shoe. And they looked great!

Getting better at this shoe dyeing thing!

After letting them sit for 24hrs, I rinsed them, then put them through a washing cycle. Using Synthrapol to get rid of excess dye.

Drying in the window

Now I’m fairly confident with dyeing the shoes, we have ordered Converse to dye as well. Guy has high tops and I have ordered low tops. These will be for our “Colourful Wedding” in November.

I also tried my hand at dyeing some of the cotton I wrote about in my last post. For this I layed out a skein of the presoaked cotton on a length of glad wrap. I then squirted the dyes on in a stripe pattern. Then I wrapped the glad wrap around it. A bit of a squeeze helped blend the colours, but not too much as to make a mess of it. I left it wrapped for 24hrs as well before giving it a good rinse. I have to hope a good hand rinsing will be ok for this, as it won’t get a proper washout until it has been made into something.

cotton yarn drying


Yarn balled up. You can see the effect dyeing the yarn like this has.

There will be plenty more dyeing adventures in my future. I still need to dye two pairs of converse shoes for the wedding, and a tie to match! Not to mention how much fun I have dyeing yarn! And I have a massive bag of white roving that needs dyeing too!

Slow Dyeing

I discovered in my dyeing research adventures, that using a slow cooker is a legit way to dye yarn, more specifically, wools and what not, as they need the heat source to set the dye.

Much to my delight, when a neighbor was having a clean out, I managed to grab a bag of yarn! And it was all white and natural colours! Perfect for dyeing!

Inside the bag was 7 and a bit balls of 4ply nylon/acrylic blend (all white) and 8 balls of cotton (half white, half natural). I was happy to find out that my “Landscape” dye would work on the nylon/acrylic blend! This presented the perfect opportunity to try out “Slow Dyed Yarn”

I picked myself up a cheap slow cooker, and set up a “Dye Studio” in the laundry. Some plastic table protector helps keep the washing machine and bench tops clean. The slow cooker sits nicely on top of the washing machine, whilst I have supplies and running water close at hand! (I’ve even cleared a shelf off to store stuff, so it has turned into quite the studio space, but shhhh told tell the housemates!)

Welcome to the Dye Studio!

To dye the yarn, I first skein it. I use a niddy noddy to wrap the yarn around, then some cotton string to tie it together in (at least) four places.

After that I soak it in a vinegar/water solution for half an hour, then gently squeeze out excess fluid, but leaving it fairly wet.

Whilst it is soaking I mixed the dyes. I have “Landscape Dyes” suitable for dyeing wool, silk and nylon.

Lay it in the slow cooker. I manage to get two skeins in at once.

Now apply dye as you wish. I’ve tried laying it on in stripes so far, but its open to a whole world of exploring!

Make sure you get dye right through the layers, as you might end up with patches that don’t come into contact with the dye and get patchy bits. This could be fun to experiment with too though! A gentle squeeze will also help get the dye through the layers, but be careful as this could result in colour mixing (something else to explore!)

Turn the slow cooker on high, place the lid on and let it do its thing. I have left it in for 3 hours whilst I do other stuff. The water should be fairly clear. Then I turn it off, Take the lid off and let it cool. Then rinse out until the water runs clear. If your dyeing wool you’ll need to be extra careful to keep everything a similar temperature to avoid felting, but I didn’t need to worry about that with this yarn! Once rinsed, its time to let the yarn dry. Squeeze it between a towel to get excess water off, then hang on a coat hanger to dry. I tend to hang a coat hanger with a towel on it to catch any drips. This is a habit I picked up from washing handspun, as it helps set the twist, but it works to keep things clean too.

Once dry, you can ball it up on a ball winder, ready to use! And its happy creating time!

And whilst I was doing all that, I was also dyeing up a storm using Drimarene K dyes on canvas shoes and the cotton yarn! Stay tuned to see how they came out!