Archive for April, 2010

Black Bean Dye Day 3

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Today I was up early checking on the wool that was hung out to dry overnight.  It was surprisingly blue!!

left: sock weight superwash, right: aran weight 100% wool

Here, just to compare the before and after shots:  the middle skein is the original cream coloured “just off the sheep” look.  The one to the right is the lichen coloured result of dyeing with black beans then dipping the wool in ammonia afterwards.  The one on the left is the slate-blue colour that is just the black bean dye.

I have yet to try an acidic after-dyeing treatment, I wonder if it will make it purple.  Perhaps black-bean juice could be used as a pH indicator!  Who said chemistry class isn’t useful….

I couldn’t think about chemistry for very long though, because under that bench, the pigeons were making a bit of a flap.  Bernice has learned to use her wings….one at least, as I quickly learned.  Here’s the video:

Future videos will be taken from slightly farther away!  Who knows when I’ll end up with a face full of pigeon….yikes!

Dyeing With Beans (DAYS 1 & 2)

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Ever since I saw Yarn Piggy’s lovely colours achieved from Black Bean Dye, I decided I HAD to try it for myself!

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Can you imagine that these lovely colours came from BEANS?!?!

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The instructions seem easy enough….

Soak the dry beans, drain the murky purply dye water off, dye the wool (no heating or anything required!)  Plus, you can eat the beans while you are waiting for the perfect colour.  There’s a bit of experimenting with fiber types and after baths of ammonia or vinegar….but I’m game to give it a go!

black beans

soaking the beans for 2 days

skein of 100% wool

mordant bath of alum for an hour

soaking in bean juice

I decided to try an ammonia dip after taking the wool out of the bean  mixture.  It turned the yarn a greenish colour.

yarn drying in the sunshine

lichen green yarn compared to the original colour

I’m really impressed at how green the yarn is!  When I did a great deal of natural dyeing 2 summers ago I always struggled to get a good green.  This is a method that will work year round and end up a great green colour.  It’s making me curious about what would happen if I dyed it first with onions and second with beans with ammonia, it may turn an even brighter green.

More yarn is in the bean juice for a longer soak.  Fingers crossed for blue this time!

Surprise Revealed!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Let me introduce you to my newest buddy!

The lego man that I knit earlier this month (Some Assembly Required), is now decked out in WAFFLES and K-Botics gear!  I had such fun making the teensy tiny clothes….that once I made a hat, I couldn’t stop!  The WAFFLES shirt was knit from yellow baby weight yarn (very light fingering yarn) from the top down with raglan sleeve shaping.  The shirt needed a row of ribbing at the bottom to keep it from rolling.  The WAFFLES motif was stitched on later in chain stitch.

I used acrylic yarn (bits and pieces left over from knitting robot hats) to make the purple and blue clothing, but I needed to split the yarn up, and use a single ply, and sock needles (2.0mm DPNs).  The hat was knit from the crown to the brim in stripes incorporating the K-BOTICS and 2809 colourwork section before a row of ribbing and casting off.

The sweater is knit from the collar down, raglan style ending with a row of ribbing.  Sleeve stitches were picked up and knit to the cuff, then I picked up the neck stitches and improvised a hood that would fit over a lego head–significantly different proportions than a human head!  I embroidered K-BOTICS and our logo on the sweater using light blue, to match our team hoodies.

This little guy is looking for a new friend.  I may have to make one or two more when I get a bit of free time!

What should his name be?

Bernice and Bernie

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

There is currently some top secret knitting on the needles in sock weight yellow and purple…it will all be revealed when the project is completed, but for now, more news about the pigeons.

Today I was given an excellent suggestion for pigeon names–Bernice and Bernie….do you know of a pigeon named Bernice? Do you remember Sesame Street?? Bert named his pet pigeon Bernice. While searching youtube for this videoclip I realized again how much I love vintage Sesame Street–here’s a videoclip that is older than me!

I’m not going to play checkers with my pigeon…I don’t know that my pigeons will put up with me photographing them for much longer. I brought the camera out today, and Bernice puffed up and stood up and started to almost unfurl her wings. This was the first time I saw some little pigeon feet!

Here’s another Sesame Street pigeon reference–this one is for you Mom!

Percy The Pigeon

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

These days I’m talking a lot about pigeons… a friend of mine noticed, and found this great knitted pigeon pattern for me.

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Percy The Pigeon Pattern available for download from the “” website.  I think I may have to make one to keep my pigeon buddies company.

Pigeons on a sunny Monday

Pigeons on a snowy Tuesday

What should I name my pigeons?


Colourful Weekend (and a pigeon video!)

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

This weekend I got a chance to wander around in the woods for a while and look at the flowers and the leaves as they burst forth from their buds.

Red Trillium

lacy maple leaves

White Trillium

birch leaves

It was nice to get a chance to be outside on such a lovely day!  I can feel myself getting inspired by the delicate colours all around me.

In spring knitting…here’s the first of one of the strangest mittens I’ve ever seen.  They are called “pogies” and are for rowers.  There is an opening for the oar to go inside the mitten.  I’m following a pattern, but I’m not sure how well they will fit this particular rower or their oars.  One down, one to go!

I got home to find my pigeons are getting fluffier these days

saturday pigeons

And for those of you who don’t believe that they click at me…. here’s proof!

Now…is that an angry clicking noise?  What do you think?

Pigeons Attack–Almost

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I came home, and checked on the little ones to see what’s changed today.  The first thing I noticed was that I can tell the birds apart!  Physically, one is growing white feathers on the tail, and the other is growing grey feathers.

The bird with white on the tail is much calmer, and quieter.  It doesn’t seem bothered by me being there.  The other one, with the grey tail was making itself tall and puffed up when I was taking photos.  It started making clicking noises too.  I wonder if it is a scared reaction, or if it thinks I am its mother and it is calling for food.

bird on the right is standing up and clicking

Maybe it is the one that hatched first, and the other one will become scared/hungry and puffy tomorrow.  No flapping yet, but that will be exciting when it happens.  They look softer now that the feathers are more than just quill-stubble.

Any bets on when they start to flap, or make pigeon noises, or venture out of the poopy flower pot?

Inspiration Found!

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

It’s amazing how inspiration sometimes comes from yarn, or from a serendipitous email from a knitting site, or sometimes from diving in the stash….it didn’t take long for inspiration to find me!

100g of soft wool....from the stash

While walking downtown I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.  She reminded me of a knitting project that I had promised to make and hadn’t yet started. I went home and looked through the stash to find the right wool–I think there might even be enough there–weekend knitting project here we come!

In pigeon news:  They are getting more feathers each day….and apparently pooping a lot more too!  They still seem oblivious to me being there taking snapshots daily–tonight the flash even went off!  Maybe they know that I am one of their biggest fans.

Nothing on the Needles

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

There’s something nice about finishing a bunch of projects: the feeling of weaving in ends, sewing on buttons and putting packages in the mail, or giving them away.  These days I have finished so many projects, but I haven’t started anything new in a while.  My needles are bare, and I am waiting for inspiration.

In the mean time…pigeons are getting wispy little feathers…

…and I have bits of green popping up out of my little indoor garden.

What inspires you?

Knitting Is In The Mail

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Today, I went with some of the robotics team to do inventory of the metal that’s left after our build season, and to my great shock and amazement, one of the boys pulled something out of his backpack to show me.  It is an almost complete hat, that he knit!!  I am so impressed at his skill and dedication.  Not many grade 9 boys would take on that kind of a project–he’s got talent too.  I didn’t get a picture, but there were lots of different stripes in our team colours.

lego man with scrap metal

In knitting news, I sent off two packages in the mail with little baby sweaters in them.  I hope the little ones will enjoy wearing them!

In pigeon news, I came home tonight and watched the mother pigeon feed the babies.  They were pecking at her and eating regurgitated stuff I think.  I watched through the window for a while, then the mother took off for a bit

I snuck up to see the babies, to see if they were still pecking, but nope…they were as quiet as usual.

Eyes open…bellies full…what a life!