Monday, October 27, 2008

Nesting

Windy, cold, grey in Chicago. I have become like Ma on Little House on the Prairie: must spend every waking moment preparing for winter. Or, a modern-day version. First up, dyeing a pink linen skirt for the trip to India.

Skirt soaking in the kitchen sink, with reflections of the trees outside:

Kept it super simple: RIT dye from Hobby Lobby. I chose scarlet because I love red, have a favorite pair of wide-legged pants from Antrhopologie in a beet red that I've been wearing lately, and because I'm under the impression that bright, saturated colors are one of the redeeming elements of India. Here, we have my high-tech mixing apparatus of a chopstick and a recycled can from someone's Progresso soup lunch. As you can see, $2.29 for the dye, which I'm hoping will give me an almost new skirt instead of going out and buying something.
Dye stock mixed. One package to 8 oz. of water. Package directions suggest mixing the reds and blacks at a 2:1 ratio, but again, easy, quick, and a bit lazy here. As you'll see, the skirt came out plenty dark.
My favorite pot, I mean part (full disclosure, that was a typo and not a joke): the dye pot simmering, little clouds of heat and moisture rising from the surface, something of one shape or color transmogrifying into something completely new. I should have been an alchemist, but that never came up in the figure-out-your-job questionnaires that I've taken. (Though I believe that my neighbor's daughter scored high as potential chicken farmer on hers.) At this point, it's the somewhat controllable mystery that begins to appeal to me. I selected a dye color, a fiber, followed directions, but have no definite idea of what will come out at the end.

The finished product. Needs to be modeled for a better view, but in the meantime, I'm pretty happy with it. After letting the dye bath cool with the skirt in it, I rinsed it several times by hand with some dish washing liquid, then ran it through the washing machine twice to remove any leftover dye. The skirt feels a bit stiff now, and I'll wash it again and this time throw it into the dryer to finish. Linen likes to be agitated as it dries, or it comes out somewhat like a plank of wood.
For the lazy woman's approach, not so bad. Next time, I'd add a smidgen of brown or chestnut to give the color a bit more depth. Hmm. Maybe I'll overdye it?

Other projects at hand: almost done with the Rainbow Shawl and finally have an address to send it to.
And a friend came over for lunch today and we made Pear Preserves from Edna Lewis' The Taste of Country Cooking, a wonderfully simple book with good, solid Southern American food. We last had these preserves when my friend stayed with us while pregnant and we ate many peanut butter sandwiches with pear preserves. After not seeing the recipe for years, I came across it yesterday as I was trying to find a destination for the last few green tomatoes. The preserves have gone through a first simmer and now sit overnight, to be finished tomorrow. Must make biscuits to go with them!

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