In Which Criquette Rediscovers an Old Friend

Today's special guest is an old friend. We last visited about 7 years ago. Although she looked a little, well, dusty, she really hadn't changed a bit (wish I could say the same about me!). But, you know how it is with old friends, as soon as you get past that initial awkwardness, you settle down into the friendship again, and this is just what we did.

Since she was here to help me with a project, we got down to business right away. No messing around, that's how my friend Elna is. She was helping me make something special for a couple of swaps I'm in. I had already prepared everything the night before, so we could get started first thing in the morning. Can you guess what we're making?

If you guessed small project bags, you guessed right. And here's my friend, Elna, hard at work:

Didn't know I could sew, did you? My mother forced me to learn when I was in 5th grade. Our family had 4 kids at that point (the 5th came along the following year), and so money was a bit tight. I was going to have to make most of my own clothes. Which I did until shortly after college, when I had enough money of my own to finally afford a wardrobe that someone else had already made for me. That was what I considered a luxury. To this day, I still cannot stand the thought of making clothing, but it is somewhat reassuring to know that if I ever did have to resort to sewing clothes or going naked, I could make the more appropriate choice.

By the time Mr. C and I were on our 2nd home, I asked Santa to bring me my own sewing machine. I had taken an intense interest in making my own comforter because I couldn't find one already made that I liked. After that turned out much nicer than I expected, I made a couple of easy quilts. Then I decided to tackle lined drapes with an upholstered valence, which I loved, which led to me re-upholstering some chairs I picked up at an estate sale. I also made lots of fancy pillows for myself, family and friends. I was really into the sewing thing, and that was about the time I was getting bored with crochet and cross stitch, which had filled my time from college to the "sewing era".

Then we entered the 5 years from hell, during which we lost all 4 parents, a SIL, and our first kitty and our wonderful dog, KC. Our house was struck by lightening, which started a fire and fried all of our electronics and caused some moderate water damage to our second story. Right after the house was repaired and all of the electronics replaced, we had a robbery. The thieves stole the usual stuff (TV's, computers, my grandmother's silver) but also stole my sewing machine. (They were actually nice burglars, because they filled the cats' bowls with food, and left a big lipstick kiss on a mirror, and they didn't trash anything so we were lucky).

I did replace my sewing machine, with Elna. But I had lost the time and interest for sewing. We built the house we're in now, my practice boomed and best of all, I discovered and fell in love with knitting. Elna sat in the back of the coat closet, collecting dust and cobwebs.

But that all changed when I saw some cute little project bags on the 'net and realized that I could make my own. Then a couple of weeks ago, I did something that clinched the deal. I had my first quilt shop experience. And let's just say I might have come home with enough little piles of fabric to constitute a tiny stash. And last night, I cut out the pieces for 2 cute little bags, pulled Elna out of the darkness, cleaned her up and put her back to work. It's like we never lost contact. It feels good to see old friends.

There is something about autumn that really revs me up and gets my creativity overflowing. Here are some of my FO's from the last 2 weeks:

This is a clever little bookmark that I made to fit an oversized paperback. While you are reading, your can wear it on your wrist and when you're ready to save your place, it's right there. Now I have no more excuses for dog-earing.

I made some stitch markers for a recent holiday swap. I also made the fall dishcloth.

I got a jump on Christmas by making these 2 little sheepie ornaments while catching up on some tivo'ed Grey's Anatomy on Friday night.

Criquette, as usual, goes looking for mischief when the weather turns cooler. This time she found this ribbon and dragged it out of my craft closet to the dining room where she proceeded to create a "Happy Autumn" greeting to all of her fans.

So from all of us here in Criquette World, Happy Autumn!


Part 3 The Wilton's Dyeing Experiment

This is the rest of my Wilton's Supersaturated Dyeing Experiment. The next colors I tested were the Ivory and Brown.

Both dyes behaved very well. I didn't have any problems with breaking or exhausting for either.

Now for the surprises. Here are the Juniper Green and Cornflower Blue. If you are looking at these thinking they look black, you are right. Both of these turned out black at high saturation. The Juniper has a warm cast to it, and the Cornflower is a true, deep, cool black.

I also tested Wilton's Black and a new dye I found in the cake section at Michael's, called Duff's. The Wilton's behaved well and did not break at all. It has a slight brown cast to it, though. I really like the Duff's. It is a thick, smooth liquid that dissolved immediately in warm water. The color turned out a solid black without any breaking.

Here is a comparison of the 4 blacks I got. As you can see, the Juniper and Cornflower more than hold their own against the Wilton's Black and look as good (to me, at least) as the Duff's Black.

My conclusions are that I can get really beautiful, deep colors using 1 1/2 tsp. amounts of Wilton's dyes. However, using this amount of dye requires letting the yarns sit for longer periods of time because most of them take longer to exhaust.

At this amount of dye, it was easy to get dark, true blacks. Of the 4 blacks, I would probably use the Cornflower Blue if I were looking for a true, cool black. I would also prefer to use Duff's Black over Wilton's in terms of the ease of mixing as well as the nicer color. The only downside to the Duff's is that it comes in a 4-pack. If you don't need the other colors, it is not cost effective.

So after the big experiment, I took the leftover white yarn and mixed up a test batch of brown, royal blue and a mix of lemon yellow+a bit of orange. I was not paying close attention and added too much vinegar at the wrong time, but I really like the resulting mess. It actually comes very close to matching a skein of hand-dyed yarn I purchased some time back at my lys.
It's going to be made into either toddler socks or a hat for the next afghans4Afghans campaign.

In other knitting news, I volunteered as a first-time test-knitter for someone in my Malabrigo swap group. I am making the cutest hat out of alternating skeins of Malabrigo worsted. It is so cute, I can't wait to finish it and then be able to show it off. As always, I have way too many projects on the needles, but sooner or later, they seem to get finished.

Finally, I have a couple of pictures of the cabin. We are going down next weekend for the inspection. I plan on doing an inventory of what is already there and what we will need to get. It's furnished, but not accessorized and I don't remember what has been left with the kitchen. Since I didn't get pictures of the inside, I'll be sure to that as well. And of course we are taking Chloe and Abbie so they can check out their new playground! Once it's ours, we also plan on taking the kitties down with us for long stays.

Isn't it cute? I can't stand having to wait until the end of the month for it to be ours. But it will be just in time for my birthday!