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The Dye Project .. again!

my updates on the yarn I (finally) dyed.

1) Soaked the alpaca for 2.5-3hrs in vinegar to mordant
2) after letting it semi-dry, put it into cochineal dyebath:

3) after around 3 hrs, i moved into a steel vessel and put it top heat on gas (no micro here)

4) I let it cool in the vessel itself. and once cooled, washed it with running water and hung to dry:

5) So when it dried it looked like this:

6) and finally got it ready to store, to be used for some future project

What I learnt:

* It’s great fun!!!
* It is work.. do not take shortcuts, the results will also be a shortcut.
* if you use expired/really old dye, dont expect the original color to show up. be prepared for surprises
* Learn to live with the surprise πŸ˜‰ (I’m NOT a pink person)

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When I Dyed….

A few days back a dear Ravelry friend piqued my interest in a post when writing about dyeing acrylic yarn. The reason why I was interested is that till date, I’ve been told that you cant dye acrylic: the color doesn’t hold. So how was this going to work?!

Acrylic mainly needs acid dye in commercial quantities to be viable, and to hold the color the way it does. However, HodgePodge Crochet mentions the use of acrylic colors. Seemed interesting and do-able. So the moment I was alone at home, I got to work!

The first hitch came at acrylic paint. The blog doesn’t really say wall paint, but if you read carefully, you’ll understand that that’s what she meant. Now the problem here is that I get a massive headache with the smell of paint. The only paint I was willing to work with was the children’s acrylic paint bottles. The difference: the paint is more diluted and therefore has not significant amount of smell. One more: I don’t need to burn by hands with turpentine if it does manage to get on me; soap works just fine!!!

I did figure I probably need a lot more color than the “squirt” the blogger mentions, but I decided to go ahead anyway.

The reason I was comfortable to go ahead was a stash of “natural” color yarn lying in my stash, and I had no clue how to get rid of it. Ta-Da! Solution found! So out came the hanks (which I hadn’t bothered to wind, Thank God!)

The starting point
The starting point

Step 1: Wash the yarn in hot water. Since its summer, the Solar Heater in my bathroom works just fine. So the moment I turned on the tap, nice hot hot water came rushing out. The yarn got soaked in this.

Step 2: I had a spare steel vessel I had used last time for dyeing. In this I added Leaf Green, Lemon Yellow and a dash of Burnt Sienna, all being in 15 ml bottles. I was dyeing 3 hanks (approx 150 gms) of acrylic.

The pic here isn’t great. I was conducting the process in my bathroom, which had no access to natural light ( a fact I realized only after dunking the yarn). So please don’t mind the neon shade of green! πŸ˜€

Dripping away...
Dripping away…

Step 3: I put on a pair of gloves and got to work ensuring the color reached every bit. Then I let it sit in the color for about 15 minutes, and then hung it over the tap to drip into the vessel. This was finally hung in the balcony to dry out for the rest of the day.

Later that evening
Later that evening

Step 4: I washed the acrylic to check for color fastness. Unfortunately it was not color fast. I remembered to put in salt to hold the color. And surprisingly it did hold. The yarn went back into the balcony for drying out.

The final effect is an ombre-like gradient in green. But without the flow of color. It simply became patchy where the darker color settled at the base…

After the wash, the colors lightened up
After the wash, the colors lightened up

I wanted to try once more to check for the amount of color required. So I dyed a single skein in Magenta. The experiment wasn’t really a resounding success. Apparently you need the amount of color concentration for it to hold onto the yarn. πŸ™ The pink almost seems faded…

Drying out in Pink
Drying out in Pink


The skeins together
The skeins together

By this time the original skeins had dried out, and so I wound one up to see how it worked for a project. I made a doily and a knit swatch to display the colors.

All rolled up!
All rolled up!
a quick doily
a quick doily


A knit swatch
A knit swatch


Finally I would say that, if you can manage, go ahead with wall paint. Else acrylic colors aren’t bad at all! πŸ˜€

Have fun! πŸ™‚


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DIY – Flower Vase

With all the roses blooming in my home garden, I’ve always wanted a nice flower vase to show them off. Unfortunately, commercial stuff has either been too delicate or too bland. I just haven’t been able to find the one I wanted.

In the meantime, this has mean that all my flowers get shown off in glass bottles. I had an idea for dressing up the said bottles, but somehow I hadn’t gotten around to getting my supplies.

Recently on a grocery run, I managed to pick up all the stuff I wanted. πŸ™‚ So here’s my DIY Flower vase

completed flower vase
completed flower vase

You need:

  • A glass bottle – I used old ketchup bottles
  • colored thread – you can opt for paper, cotton or plastic wire. I used a chinese brand macrame plastic wire.
  • Glue – use any multi-purpose glue. I used Fevicol‘s All-fix.
  • Any decorative sequins that you may wish to use.

How to do it:

  • Gather all your supplies
The supplies
The supplies
  • Apply the glue in a ring at the top of the bottle where you will start sticking the thread. Thereafter, draw lines along the length of the bottle. For a small bottle i drew 5 lines which covered most of the bottle
Notice the lines of glues along the bottle length?
Notice the lines of glues along the bottle length?
  • Stick the start of the thread and hold it in place with your thumb and proceed to wind the thread around the bottle. This may be a bit messy, but is the most effective way. You need to hold the starting point only for a few seconds as the glue will act fast.
  • Keep winding around till you reach the end of the thread. Attach another string in the same manner as the start point and continue winding till you reach the end.
  • The lines of glue will hold the thread in place while you are winding. This makes the entire work less messy than if the whole bottle was covered in glue.
  • Cover the joins with sequins if you wish (I did!)
Sequin overload! :)
Sequin overload! πŸ™‚

Viola! You have a brand new flower vase! πŸ™‚

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Works of Art: Midori OBI Bags

Hubby has just returned from the Land of The Rising Sun, and got me this wonderful gift. When thinking of Japan, we think Kimonos, kokeshi dolls and goegeous hand-made fans. But this was a gift a totally unexpected surprise!

The main reason I’ve mention this gift here, is because of the beauty of this handmade product.

OBI bag
OBI bag
The back panel in self-design silk
The back panel in self-design silk

This is a OBI Paccetto in handmade pure silk, made from vintage sash belts (obi). The upper pane features the design panel, while the rest of the bag is made in handmade black silk. The back of the bag is done is self-design black silk that feels absolutely decadent.

The Midori OBI Arts in Japan specializes in kimonos, and gifts made from the same materials geared towards tourists. So the bags are made from kimonos or, in this case, from the sash belts worn in the traditional japanese dress.

So now I’m off the enjoy my gift! πŸ™‚

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The Nosty project – II

Well, when I blogged this morning, I didn’t know I’d follow-up with a new blog in the afternoon!

What I did different with this last Skien was that instead of winding in one direction and then the next, I simply continued with one direction. I just kept turning the tube!

Let me explain. I held the bottle in my left hand, and was winding the yarn from the left top to the right bottom. I tried to ensure that most of the thread lay against each other without overlapping.

winding in a straight line! ;)
winding in a straight line! πŸ˜‰

So when I pulled out the ball of yarn, the gap at the center stayed put without collapsing! Now the ball looks even neater that the previous ones. The ball is taller, and thinner than the previous ones, but hey! I’m not complaining! πŸ™‚

The neat center with thread visible
The neat center with thread visible
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The Nosty Project

A few days back I stumbled upon a page (literally, from which was a tutorial on how to use a nosty, or nostepinde. This handwinding tool is used to wind wool from skeins into fancy balls, without the used of bulky yarnwinding machines. The concept was very nice. But where one earth would I find a nosty here in Bangalore? I left the idea at the back of my mind, just in case I came across a nosty in a shop here, and wanted to buy.

A couple of days back i came across another article where an enterprising young lady (not sure who though) used her lotion bottle as a nosty. Very nice idea, I thought! and promptly pulled out my own lotion bottle and got winding. The result of that exercise would probably give competition to a bird’s nest. πŸ™

The Bird's Nest Yarn
The Bird’s Nest Yarn

Last night, however, I was struck by the idea of using my deo bottle. The idea was that I probably got the type of container wrong. While it may have worked for the other lady, the fear that I may squeeze the bottle too hard while winding, and thereby spray lotion all over myself and the yarn prompted me to hold the yarn a little too loose. With the metal container I was now planning, I would get a better control on the yarn, and be able to wind it firmly.

The idea turned out to be inspired! I now have lovely looking yarn balls, with a lot less effort!!!

The process is this:

  • Take a deo bottle, preferably one with a lid to hold the yarn.
What you need!
What you need!
  • Wind the end of the yarn to the top, and place lid over it to hold the yarn. This allows you to have a center-pull ball of yarn.
Wind a bit to the nozzle
Wind a bit to the nozzle
  • Wind the yarn neatly around the bottle up to the width required. I normally keep it to 2 inches.
Wind neatly for a couple of Inches
Wind neatly for a couple of Inches
  • Now start winding the yarn at an angle, from the right top of the base threads to the bottom left of the base threads.Β  After a few times, change direction to right bottom to left top.
start winding at an angle
start winding at an angle
  • Be sure to wind firmly, but not tightly. Tight will only ensure your yarns stretches, and that’s never good!
  • Once done, remove the lid, and unwind the inside end from the top. Gently slide off the bottle.
Lovely balls of yarn!
Lovely balls of yarn!

And viola, you have a lovely ball of yarn! This method takes a bit of practise, but not that much.. you’d get the hang of it after the first ball itself!


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The Dye-ing Experiment

After my last post on thread on dyeing the cotton yarn, I had a couple of people ask me to note down the entire process. So i took that as an excuse to finally dye the last hank of yarn I had. This also meant that it would have to be green because that’s the only dye I have left… any more would mean a trip to Commercial Street, and I really don’t have time for shopping now.

So here goes:


  • 4-5 ltr vessel that you wont ever use for food again
  • a pair of tongs or a spoon for turning the yarn
  • 10gms of acidic powder dye
  • 1 hank of cotton yarn
  • 2tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

Step 1:

  • Ensure the cotton yarn is tied neatly into a hank. This is necessary to ensure that you can manage the yarn while dyeing.
  • Though you are tying it in 2-3 places, ensure it is not too tight. The dye will not reach the inside yarn otherwise

Step 2:

  • Heat about 3 lts of water to lukewarm and add the vinegar. Add the undyed yarn to the water and set aside until cool.
  • Keep turning the yarn intermittently to ensure that the entire yarn is washed well in the vinegar. Drain and set the yarn aside
  • The purpose is to wash off all impurities in the yarn and also traces of other dyes. This especially helps when you’ve tried with food coloring, and it didn’t work. I did this, so I know!
When I put the yarn into the vinegar-water
2 mintues later (check the color of the water in the background)

Step 3:

  • Drain the vinegar water, and replace with clean water.
  • Bring the water to boil, and then add salt and dye and mix well to ensure no lumps remain. Here I added a 1/2 tsp of turmeric just to see if it affected the final green. The last time I’d used the same dye, I got a forest green, So I wanted something different.
  • Let the water boil for a few minutes more and then add the cotton yarn.
  • Turn off the flame immediately. This I learnt with trial-and-error. The dye shop guy told me to boil the yarn with the dye. When I did this, the yarn kinda crinkled up. Not sure why, but when I don’t boil it, the yarn remained smooth. Boiling didn’t affect the softness of the yarn, but just gave an odd look to the yarn.
  • Keep turning the yarn in the dye every 2 minutes to ensure it reaches all parts of the yarn
  • Once the dye has cooled off, and while turning, you feel that the yarn has caught the color properly throughout the yarn, take it out
When I put the yarn in the dye
When the color is catching on the dye

Step 4:

  • Drain the dye and wash the yarn thoroughly until it stops bleeding color.
  • Add a bit of detergent to water, and wash again till it stops bleeding color.
  • You may also soak the yarn in fabric softener to help it maintain softness (I do this)

Step 5:

  • Dry it out πŸ™‚
My Dye Results

Here is a pic of all my experiments side-by-side. Note the difference in the green yarns. Apparently turmeric does change the color, But I need to wait and watch if this effect is permanent. Turmeric isn’t really known for permanent cotton dyeing properties. In fact I always manage to get it off my cotton clothes when I have a cooking accident…

Also note the slightly less crinkly nature of the center yarn. Thats the lastest one that I’ve written about.

Most of what I did was a mix of what I learnt through various websites on dyeing, and a bit of experimentation on my part. Had some hit, and some misses… but that’s what learning is all about!

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Hand-Dyed Cotton Yarn

On a recent shopping expedition to Commercial Street, I found some undyed cotton yarn for knitting. I was supposed to be looking for lace weight yarn and mohair when I found this. Actually, I found the others as well, just added this also to my basket. But as I’d never dyed anything before (school days don’t count!), the shop keeper kindly helped me out with the name of a dyer nearby.

Undyed Cotton Yarn

When I reached the dyer’s shop, he was very clear that all he had were acidic dyes, and they just wont work on cotton. He did give me instructions of how to use it though, always ending with the disclaimer that the color wont hold! πŸ™

Anyway, once I got home, I gathered by supplies: vinegar, food coloring (just in case it works), salt, and a large vessel that I was sure I would never use for food ever. And finally courage: to be faced with something that might not work.

The food color experiment was a dud. But am very happy with the way the acidic dyes caught the color. After repeated washing (including in detergent) it stopped running color, and now looks bright and fresh!

Maroon and dark green cotton yarn

So i now have 2 gorgeous hanks of cotton yarn: maroon and dark green! And I still have 1 hank remaining… gotta see what to do with it! πŸ™‚

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Personalized Coffee Mugs

I bought these mugs sometime back from a nearby department store. What I’d most about them was that the color was limited to the inside of the mug, and the outside was black, not white. Major plus point for them! I was kinda fed up of the plain white mugs.

I took a couple of photos of them, and then though I’d personalize them… kind of before-after snaps. But I hadn’t got around to actually painting on them. Firstly I’m not the most artistic person on the block. Secondly, the black required metallic colors, which I didn’t have in stock at home. So the project, and mugs, went onto the back-burner.

Recently, on a shopping trip, I finally got myself some metallic colors. Now the design was pending. This time, I wasn’t spending time on trying to paint. Also metallic colors come in bottles, not tubes. So i decided to go with ear-buds. Easy to use, and great to dispose without the mess of cleaning and storing! πŸ˜€

The items needed

For the first mug,I stenciled part of a design from a kiddie’s stencil sheet. Using a ear bud, I filled in the color. The remaining decorations were done in dots and curls, so it wasn’t much of a hassle. YAY!

The second mug got its design from a terracotta pickles jar in my house. The wide curve with dots was simple, and eye-catching. The remaining design was again dots.

The “Before” Pic
The Finished Pieces

The net result has been worth the effort, with minimum time spent on the actual painting.

The mugs need to be dried out in the sun for a couple of days to let the color settle down. Else its likely to get washed off the first time you use the mug.

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The Yarn Bowl

This was made on a lazy afternoon, when I was fed up with knitting my shawl.. Well, not fed up per se, just majorly tired of doing it! πŸ˜‰

So out came the superglue: Fevicol MR, stock of which had been left over by my carpenters. Followed by peices of knitting yarn left over from various projects.

The problem with this project is that I should have used embriodery thread instead of wool. And glue, instead of Fevicol. Fevicol is too stong a glue for this project. And the wool fibers kept getting stuck to my hand mnore than the bowl, which made a simple exercise a real pain.

So what I actually used was:

  • 3 colors of woolen yarn of varying lengths
  • a salad bowl for shape
  • clingwrap for the bowl, to prevent glue from getting on the bowl.
  • 1/2 cup of glue/fevicol
  • a lot of patience πŸ˜€

After covering the blow with clingwrap, I tried dunking short length of the yarn into the glue and then wrapping them in the bowl. This was a bad idea as the fibers were sticking more to my hand and less to the bowl. So strategy changed, and the glue was applied to the bowl, and i delicately laid out the wool over it.

My delicasy lost patience after half the bowl was completed. And the bowl was DONE! πŸ˜‰

I kept it in the sun for a day to set properly. The next day i removed the salad bowl and left the yarn bowl to dry for 1 more day. Here i expected the clingwrap to come off. But since it stayed on, I just trimmed the edges to give the bowl a neater look.

It is now my ‘water-proof’ trinkets bowl! πŸ˜€

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Beaded Bag Handle – DIY

I’d made a cross-stitch mini-satchel for my sis-in-law. I had originally put in a handle using seed beads and ribbon. But that didn’t last too long :(. So the bag came back, and I need to think up something new and fresh for this bag.

Recently, while (finally) organizing my junk jewellery, I came by some old bead chains… the kind that look hip-n-happening if you’re wearing it in your early 20s.. which I’m not. So I decided to put it to work as the new handle.

The main problem with this is that the thread used in these chains are usually poor quality, and also there isn’t much leeway to attach it as a handle. So I re-threaded it.

The Effort

What you need:

  • Long embroidery needle
  • Thread – I used cotton crochet thread
  • scissors
  • Bead chain of your choice
  • Patience

The entire process took not more than 30 mins. You can also glue one end of the crochet thread to the end of the chain. Then you can simple pull the other end of the chain, and the whole chain will get htreaded automatically. This will work only with thick beads through. I had a lot of small beads filling between, and so couldn’t do this.

And here is the new look bag! πŸ™‚

The Bag



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Butterfly Pen Stand

This was originally a spoon-stand, meant for my kitchen. But the sides were open grilles, through which the spoons kept sliding out. So I covered it up with paper and thread, and decorated it into a pen stand.

The shells are from the beaches of Pondicherry, and the flower center is an Kundan-work patch meant for a sari from a craft shop.