{BORROWED POST} How to dye 100% Cotton

How I hand dye fabric: a dye tutorial

I’ve received several emails requesting more information on how I dye fabrics. Let me preface this post, then, by disclaiming my expertise! I am by no means a chemist nor even a particularly well-schooled dyer. I have been dyeing by the seat of my pants for about 13 years, but I do end up liking most of what I dye. I am very loosey goosey, and if that technique will bother you, I suggest you click out of here before I bug you too much!

Much of my dyeing knowledge comes from reading the Dharma Trading website and catalogue, the Prochem website and catalogue, and many blogs, in particular, Paula Burch’s site.

I am particularly enamored with the low -water immersion technique of dyeing, and if you’ve seen the dyed fabric I’ve posted recently, you’ve got an idea of what this looks like. If you’re new to my blog, here are some sites to check out: my Etsy shop , Judy Rys’ blog, Lora Martin’s blog, and Deb Lacativa’s blog.

What you need to get started (the Wild Onion way):

Procion MX dye powders. Buy a couple of pretty colors to get started. If you like dyeing, you can buy more! I buy from Dharma, since it’s nearby, but you can buy Procion in lots of places, including some craft stores. Soda ash (aka sodium carbonate). This is not baking soda or baking powder. It is 100% pure soda carbonate, and you can buy it at most hardware stores or pool supply shops. Urea. Or not. I usually don’t. Adding a few spoonfuls to your dye water helps mix the more recalcitrant dyes. It also acts as a wetting agent, but that is useful for a different dye technique…. Urea is your call. Salt. Plain old table salt. Rubber gloves. You can use a pair of dishwashing gloves (don’t use them to wash dishes after you’ve used them for dyeing!). I finally bought a pair of rubber gloves made for chemical use at the hardware store– they are thicker rubber and longer than the dishwashing gloves. You can use the type of gloves used by the medical profession, but you will probably end up with dye on your hands. Dust mask. Buy one. Use it. The dust produced by the dye powder is very fine, it spreads out without your even noticing it, which means you will breathe it. Once the powder has been stirred into the water, you can remove the mask. Plastic cups and spoons. Don’t use these for food after they’ve been used for dyeing. Plastic tubs. A shoebox type will hold about 1/2 yard of cotton fabric, to give you an example of sizes you’ll need. Fabric! I dye cotton and silk with Procion MX. I dye white fabric, and I dye light -colored fabric– keep your color knowledge in mind if you’re going to dye light colored fabric!

Okey doke. You’ve got your supplies. On to the fun stuff. Remember, this is loosey goosey, and not meant to do anything other than give you a taste of dyeing in a relaxed environment. You will absolutely get some wonderful fabric that is permanently dyed!

1. Pre -wash your fabric. Known as “scouring”, which sounds very forbidding, but you do not need to get out a washboard. Just wash your fabric in the washing machine with regular detergent if you don’t have any Synthropol around. I don’t use Synthropol, and now I’m sure I’ll get emails about what a bad dyer I am…. 2. Wring out your fabric. You don’t need to put it into the dryer! 3. Make some soda ash soak. The soda ash “opens” the fibers of your fabric, in preparation for your dye molecules to permanently bond with the fabric. Ooooo, chemistry! To make soda ash soak: put on your mask and gloves. Dump 1 cup of soda ash (aka sodium carbonate) into 5 quarts of water. Don’t dump the water onto the soda ash– it’ll clump into a hard mess. Break up any clumps of soda ash, mixing the soda soak. 4. Add your damp fabric to the soda soak. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes while you mix up your dye water. Swirl it around a few times. 5. Mixing dye water: put on your mask and gloves. Mix up a bucket of warm water and a cup or two of salt. You will use the salt water to mix the dye water. Don’t ask why– it’s chemistry, and we’re doing fun, not chemistry. 6. Into a plastic cup, mix 1 tsp of dye powder with a small amount of warm water–about 1/4 cup. This will make a bit of a paste, but your plan is to make sure that the dye gets wet and doesn’t clump at the bottom of your cup. Top up your pastey dye with a cup of salt water. Stir stir stir. Hey! You made some dye!! 7. Continue making cups of dye until you’re bored and have enough colors. You can mix up your own colors, too. Drip a little bit onto something white– a coffee filter, a paper towel, etc– to figure out if you like the color you’re making.

Now for the fun!

To get a one color fabric that is kind of mottled, add your fabric to a plastic tub. Pour enough dye water over it to get the fabric really wet. Knead and mush the fabric. The more you mush, the more the color blends out into the fabric, making the color application more even. Some people do this in a baggie. It’s not really my thing, so I’m only briefly touching on it, in case it’s something you want to do.

To get fabrics like mine, or Judy’s, or Lora’s, etc. you will use the low -water immersion technique:

Take your damp fabric. Scrumple it into a tub. The looser you scrumple, the less textured your color will look. I scrumple about a 1/2 yard of fabric into a shoebox sized tub:

You can pleat, twist, swirl your fabric to get different looks:

Experiment and play. You can kind of direct how your fabric will end up, but mainly you have to let go and let the fabric and dye decide.

You don’t need to immerse the fabric in dye water, but you do need to get the fabric “wet” with dye. There will be small puddles of dye at the bottom of the tub, and the longer the fabric sits in the tub, the more it will wick the color around.

The size of the tub is determined by the amount of fabric. If you stuff the tub totally full of fabric, then there’s not much room for the dye. You will create a resist (think of it this way– if you twist fabric really tightly, then run it under water, the inner parts of the twist stay dry. You’ve created a resist!). Experiment with how much color to add. Sploosh dye only around the outsides of the tub. Sploosh dye over the top of the fabric. Create splooshed spots of dye. Play and have fun. Resist the urge to handle the fabric, and you’ll wind up with fantastic textures.

Let the fabric sit for at least 4 hours. After about 24 hours, the dye has been exhausted and won’t do anything, but you can leave it in the dye longer if you need to– you won’t hurt the fabric.

Now comes some important washing instructions:

1. Rinse your fabric one by one in COLD water. You must get the soda ash out of your fabric! Warm water might re-activate any loose dye molecules, and you could end up transferring color where you don’t want it. You don’t need to rinse until the water runs clear, just rinse until you get impatient to rinse another piece of fabric. 2. Soak your fabric in cool water. The soaking really loosens up the excess dye. I used to rinse and rinse and rinse. I’d rinse until the rinse water ran clear. Then when I was soaking the fabric in preparation for washing, I’d notice more dye running out. Now, in deference to the preciousness of water, I rinse less, soak more. 3. I soak like colors together. Or I soak each piece but use smaller tubs, not a whole sinkful of water for one fat quarter. I also do 2 soaks– one in cool water, one in warm. 4. I have a top loading washing machine, so this is how I wash the fabric. If you have a front loader, please research how to complete your final wash! Set the water to the highest level (unless you have a very small amount of fabric). Add some detergent (I don’t swear by Synthropol, but some dyers do.) Dump your fabric in, and let it soak for about half an hour. Close the machine and run the Knit/Delicate cycle. Repeat. I check the machine at the second wash’s rinse cycle–if the water is clear, I’m done. If not, I’ll wash again. 5. To save even more water: if I notice that the rinse water is pretty clear on wash #1, I will take out that fabric, and wash load #2. Then the two (or more) loads all get washed for the second time together. I usually wash all my fabrics together for their third time through the washing machine. 6. Dry as usual. Iron as usual. A note: ironing your hand dyed fabric is a visual treat–enjoy!

I hope this helps. I really do dye loosey goosey with usually great results. I will throw dye baths together in between stirring spaghetti sauce (if you do this, make sure that you don’t use your dye spoon to stir your spaghetti sauce).

Let me know how it goes for you!

Posted from my Android ~ Ami

I’m For Sale. {Borrowed Post}


Creative ambition is lovely, but what happens when you need real money?


When I was 26, my then roommate was a great scavenger of furniture. One day, she came home with a daybed frame: a twin-size wooden box with only three legs, which is likely why someone had left it on a curb in the first place. The frame sat propped against our dining room wall for the next year, until I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband), and she let us take it. My husband made a fourth leg out of salvaged wood, and we found a cushion that more or less fit the frame in the “as is” section of IKEA. The back was constructed from a mattress pad rolled up and stuffed into a homemade pillowcase, and the whole ensemble was eventually covered with some black corduroy fabric that we bought for $10. All told, I think we spent about $40 on the “couch.” That was six years ago. At the time, I thought of our jury-rigged furniture as a temporary arrangement, a way station on the path to adulthood. Now it serves as a reminder of how slow and grueling the road to financial security can be.

Which brings me to a second anecdote, one that occurred about a year ago. Over a plate of pasta one night, my husband told me that I needed to make more money. I don’t remember what prompted it, whether we were discussing saving for a down payment or planning a vacation, but regardless of the topic, it was hard to argue with his point. If I really wanted the things I said I did, we’d need more than we were bringing in, than I was bringing in, because, as he implied, I was the one who wasn’t really holding up my end.

My husband and I both chose careers in so-called creative professions—he in architecture, I in magazines. Both are fields in which the prestige often outstrips the financial rewards, but for years that was fine by me. Beyond the fact of having a paycheck, I’d never really thought it mattered how much I actually brought home. Instead, every major career decision I made I’d decided with my heart, not my bank account. My first job, at a nonprofit, paid $23,000 a year. When I decided to pursue journalism, I got a job at a glossy financial magazine, but a year and a half later, I happily left it to work at my favorite publication, accepting a $31,000 salary—and a $20,000 pay cut in the process. Four-plus years passed, and, at 30, I still hadn’t closed the gap on those lost wages. Still, I had no doubt that I’d made the right decision. I loved the work and my colleagues, and I thought of my relative poverty as the price I had to pay. As a friend said of her own professional choices, “I cared about career success. I didn’t care about security.”

But then something began to shift: My thin resources started to bump against some serious pent-up consumptive desire. I wanted to buy things, mostly shoes, but also vacations, a dog, organic produce, dinners out, drinks. Eventually, I grew tired of our used furniture, IKEA shelving, Chinatown bus tickets—the couch. I didn’t want to feel this abject guilt every time I swiped the credit card, a sense that I was pushing our dreams of children and a home further away with every discretionary purchase. What I didn’t understand when I graduated college was that following your passions wouldn’t always be enough. Sometimes you’d want those other things, too.

Occasionally when I look at my spotty financial history, I wonder if there isn’t something self-defeating in my attraction to underpaid work, if perhaps all the talk of fulfillment is just masking a deep-seated unease with being in the driver’s seat. Even if I can’t always identify it, I can sense there’s some insecurity that would be left untouched as long as my income never reached an actionable amount. “Maybe I don’t like money on some deep subliminal level. I’m really bad at getting paid to do what I do,” was how the 31-year-old writer Emily Gould put it to me over dinner one evening this past fall. Gould had written candidly about going broke after publishing her book of essays, And the Heart Says Whatever, at 28. “I spent a lot of the past year trying to figure out what, besides writing, I could do to make money,” she wrote on her blog. “I had lunches and informational interviews. I found out about the viability of selling my eggs (I have one more year!)…. Mostly, though, I wrote things no one paid me to write and borrowed lots of money just to be able to live.”

She scraped by with temping and occasionally teaching yoga. “I was really rolling the dice,” she said of her failed experiments to reinvent herself. “People are loath to hire a 30-year-old who has to be an assistant.” Eventually, she came up with an idea for an independent e-bookstore, which she launched in 2011 with the help of her best friend. It might be only slightly more lucrative than being an essayist, but, as she wrote at its announcement, “just realizing that there was something I am capable of doing besides writing was enough to give me hope that I will, piece by piece, begin to figure out the rest of my life.” She’s also suggested a recasting of the adage “Do what you love and the money will follow,” which, she writes, “is great advice for people who love neurosurgery or filing briefs. ‘Do what you love 70 percent of the time and spend the rest of the time doing various things you hate, or that are difficult for you, and see what happens’ might be better advice.” But it was also clear as we talked that she still held fast to the idea that if she kept writing, the money would somehow follow. “I’m aware that my plan, which is to be an exception, is a bad plan,” she said. “That’s my dream. I can’t make it not my dream. I want to own a brownstone and have a baby, and right now I have $12,000 in credit-card debt and haven’t had a paycheck larger than $100 since July.”

Women’s working lives have long been shaped by their attempts to navigate these conflicting aspirations. And yet, it hadn’t occurred to me until recently that the main tension isn’t a two-way tug-of-war between work and family so much as a pile-on of family, money, and ambition. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist who studies female career trajectories, women are stretched in even more directions than that; she and her collaborators at the Center for Talent Innovation studied the motivations of men and women at work and found that while men’s primary incentives are relatively simple—money and power—women are motivated by seven discrete factors. “It’s not just time for family. Women want meaning and purpose in their work. They value great colleagues. They also like to give back to society in terms of the work they do, some healing of the planet, and they want flexibility, which is not the same as family stuff—it’s so that they can have a life,” said Hewlett. “Women have much more complex goals, but they also do want money and power. They recognize you’re likely to have much more control over your life if you have those.”

Hewlett herself is evidence of women’s complicated calculus; she’s written 11 books and founded a think tank, all while raising five children. “There’s been a lot of failure along the way,” she told me. “The most difficult period for me—I was a professor up for tenure and lost twins in the sixth month of pregnancy.” In the months that followed, she failed to get tenure, lost her job, and was forced to reinvent her career. “Dig hard into any woman who appears to have done it all and you’ll find some of those stories,” she said, before adding, “I’m very glad I’ve stuck with an ambitious career.” Sometimes when I’m wrestling with these issues, I’m reminded of my dad, who had a noble if not particularly glamorous career as a public servant for the federal government.

When I was 12 or so, I was snooping through my mother’s drawers looking for I don’t know what, secrets I guess, and found a small green leather journal. Inside, I recognized my father’s neat, blocky script. A date at the corner said 1971. The entries were from a hitchhiking trip he had taken from DC, where my parents lived, to New Orleans, where his brother was living. (My parents’ car was stolen during a road trip they’d taken and turned up in New Orleans a few weeks later, so my dad was heading down to retrieve it, or so the family story goes.) Some of the entries described the people who picked him up, many were about missing my mom, but the thing I remember most vividly 18 years later is an entry in which my dad wrestled with whether to become an artist. At 12, I had only ever known him to get up early, wear a suit to work every day, come home at six. I had never imagined him another way, despite the weekend trips to art museums, the watercoloring, the etching classes he sometimes took. A few of his friends had gone more bohemian, but my dad was the first person in his family to go to college, and I think he probably felt the weight of that. Whatever the reason, at some point he gave up the dream and, as far as I knew, never looked back.

I recently asked my dad if he ever regretted not following those early ambitions. No, he told me. Even though he’d toyed with doing a more commercial craft like silversmithing or pottery, he realized how hard a life that would be, always having to scramble to keep the money coming. So instead, he found a career that drew on something else he cared about—helping others—and that would also, in later years, allow him to support a family and have enough time to be active in raising them. “I was never out to make a whole lot of money. My whole goal was balance,” he said.

Since that reckoning at the dinner table a year ago, I’ve struggled with how to find that balance in my own life. Like Emily, I’m not quite ready to give up on the dream or to scale back my ambition, but I’m learning to be less dogmatic in how I define success for myself and to stop thinking of low-paid work as a badge of authenticity. In fact, I even took a new job at another magazine, one that finally freed me from my gnawing fiscal anxiety.

When I saw my dad at Christmas, he handed me a photocopy of his journal. It wasn’t the same one I remembered. This one was from the original road trip, which wove through the western United States. He even included photocopies of pictures from their travels, he in a wide-brimmed hat and Fu Manchu mustache, my mom in red bell-bottoms and a red poncho, staring out into the desert. Between artistic notes (“Remember to let the sky show through on paintings of trees”) and hippie meditations (“I think that when stoned in the wilds it is best to be in costume”), there was much consternation over what to do with his life. “I would like to develop a skill in which I could use my artistic abilities (meager as they are) to earn a living,” he wrote. “I’d like to sell some of my paintings on the side, but I don’t think I could rely on them as bread and butter articles. Maybe I could try pottery. The whole idea is very titillating, but also scary. I hope I have the balls to go through with it.” Later he decided that developing a craft skill should be “a medium range goal,” which he thought should be attainable in “two or three years.”

Now in retirement, my dad paints almost every day, and I think often of that dream deferred, or at least set aside, for the practicality of making a living. Looking at his decision, I realize that the trade-off that women now face isn’t all that new. It’s one men have always shouldered, and so in some ways, our own struggle to redefine fulfillment is just another sign that we’re inching further toward equality, just not quite in the way we expected.

Posted from my Android ~ Ami

“Gardening – Under The Turf” n’ “Garden Me Pretty”

Whoooooo!! SPRING. IS. HERE. !! The weather may not want to behave, but Easter has come & gone, and that, in my book, means SPRING!! Have you noticed that EVERY-THING is thickly covered pollen??? Another sign that SPRING is here. FINALLY!

So, you know that a number of weeks ago, My dream for a garden came true, Thanks to my Dad; I love ya, Dad! X0!

I have a washpail full of Gardening Boards on my Pintrest account – Slap full of ideas, loves, n’ all kinds of stuff! I have several moc-ups of future projects for the the Hubbys & I’s Estate Garden. I have a few I’d like to feature here, tonight… Can you guess what my next few projects are?? I’ll give you a hint… It has something to do with Red Wigglers.

Here are some of the ones I just pinned a few min ago, to my boards. . .

Oh! n’ P.L.E.A.S.E. check out MY PINTREST ACCOUNT & Check out my 147 Pintrest Boards {& Climbin’!}

I hope all of of Ya’ll enjoy the weather, despite what temperature. If its warm & sunny GET OUT AND ENJOY IT!! Rainy or cold? Park yourself infront of the laptop or in a chair with your favorite book, and some #Skittles. { @YouFoundPickles  n’ @Lizlarg on @Instagram }

I am going to call it a night. Tomorrw is a big day for me, my Hubby is comming back home. I have missed him so much!! I am going to tackle him in bear hug & lots of kisses when I see him! LOL! {I did that once @ an airport, one year… I nearly knocked him over! He totally didn’t expect it,  It was hilarious!… I wonder if a video of it is floating around YouTube somewhere..?? If ya’ll find it somewhere on YouTube, Tag me in it! #VolpeLife}

“Happy, Giggly, Bubbly Sisters in the Morning”

  Good morning!! I hope al of you are having an absolutely lovely Thursday morning!! Are you happy that the weekend is almost here?? Yay!! [Giggles}

  I am sitting here in, next to my sister, Little Rose Bud, {@Semikee – Ask her later what it means} n’ we are surfing the web, giggling at all of the cute and funny looking things that we see on the www, talking about how dorky people can be, checking out each others blogs out, giving critisizing advice on each others blogs, having a good ole’ time. {Inbetween my high pitched “Awwweeeeeee’s” & “Ain’t that so darn cute” squeals.} 

  Early, early this am, I was looking around Pintrest, getting caught up on my every day Inspiration, when I came across a post, that I absolutely fell in LOVE with… You just HAVE TO stop by, and see her page, as well as her blog! Don’t forget to mention that you found her on my page!!   

  I want to share a few other blogs, that I have found along the way. Different topics and such.

  • Go By And Visit My Sisters Page: {Little Rose Bud}
  • Please Go By And Check Out My {Other} Blog: {My Photography Blog, Since I deleted all of my facebook accounts. Just got to be too much, Yes, I am a bit of a multitasker, but hey, I can only do so much at one time!! {Okay, enough of that.On to the next link.}
  • I found this siteby going to my dashboard and clicking “Freshly Pressed”, and scrolling down to something that I found Interisting… Like… PHOTOGRAPHY!  
  • On to Gardening!! This blog has a place in my heart, and my garden!! Want to see my current favorite post, from this blog?? I origionally found this particular post on Pintrest, Small world, isn’t it?

Well…. Now that I shared a little happiness, this morning… I am going to rub in a little l♥ve… And work on updating this blog, My JFox’C Photography blog, and maybe even update the themes on each, just a bit. I’d love to hear your feedback!! Hope ya’ll all have a blessed day, and an awsome weekend!! ~ Ami