Tag Archives: Stuff

Slippers–and camellias–again!

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Every time I think I can’t make another pair of Bev Galeskas’ Felted Clogs… I turn out to be wrong.  I made two purple pairs and a blue pair… one purple pair were felted as dinner entertainment in order to be a good fit for the recipient.  One blue pair await felting.  And this pair await a recipient.  I think the kicker is the number of people who speak to me about slipper love when it’s cold!  And perhaps, how quickly I can whip out a pair of these nowadays.  Long gone are the days when row 2 took me twenty minutes and I had to lie on the couch for the rest of the evening afterward.  Have I said before that I hope Bev Galeskas is a rich woman?  When I went to the web to get that link to the pattern, Ravelry said ‘Would you like to see 10525 projects made from this pattern and much more?’  I hope Bev did a great deal on royalties and that she isn’t facing the difficulty of some of those songwriters whose work only made other folk rich!

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And, not to be deterred by the comedy of errors of my recent camellia experiment, I decided I may as well pick up the remaining fallen camellias and preservation dye with them (the first such jar is looking good).  Some days, my goals have to be small!

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Dyeing with camellia flowers

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It’s camellia season here.  We have two camellias, a red flowering variety and a more compact white flowering variety.  I put up a jar of camellia flowers a while back using the Stuff Steep and Store method… I couldn’t resist trying!  For those who don’t know what I am talking about–this is a method of ‘preservation dyeing’ developed by India Flint and published in this book.  There is also a rather wonderful online pantry of people’s dye jars to peruse and become inspired by, should you wish.

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However, I had no idea whether camellia flowers give reliable dye when I stuffed those blooms in the jar.  So I felt heartened when I found Aphee showing her camellia dyes on Ravelry.  She has posted about them on her blog a few times, too.  She was inspired by a Japanese blog.  My French is not very good, but my Japanese is non-existent: I enjoyed the pictures though!!

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Aphee’s posts suggest that camellia flowers give colour, that the contents of my jar are a promising combination, and that the nature of the dyestuff is exactly the kind India Flint says Stuff, Steep and Store works especially well for.  This, I had hoped for, but not expected.  I decided that while the camellias were blooming, I may as well try dyeing by more usual methods.

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I gathered all the fallen blooms and tried to rinse the mud and mulch from them.  Meanwhile, our chooks were out wandering the yard–and the camellias are their favourite dust bathing spot.  The edge of the bed must be in the rain shadow of the verandah, so the soil there is still dry while the whole garden has been generously rain watered lately.

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They left big circles of earth on the paving where they shook out the dust once they were finished!  The camellias soon turned brown though I kept the heat low.  This is one of the reasons the preservation dyeing method seems so promising for dyestuffs like these.

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Well… the result in this case was not impressive.  This test sample was barely nudged out of the cream and white it was before dyeing.  Longer heating didn’t change that at all.  So–let that be another example of the mysterious in natural dyeing for the time being.  Aphee is doing something differently to me and I have no idea what it is!  I’ll put the next clutch of fallen blooms in jars until I have a new thought… who knows what I might learn between now and next camellia season?

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Opening some jars and filling others…

Once upon a time, I used to make ginger beer, recycling glass beer bottles for the purpose.  We had some with us one time years ago when I was travelling by (even-then-antique) Kombi.  We stopped at a wonderful national park, near Hattah Lakes.  There was a long walk in intense dry heat.  We walked much further than we planned, perhaps having failed to fully understand the map on the sign before setting out.  The water in the lakes was so low that we eventually realised we were not seeing eels in the lake, we were seeing the spines of large fish as they swam in water so shallow that it was barely as deep as the fish were tall.  We got back to the Kombi, and since we’d been walking for hours, and we were on holiday, opened up the back of the van and lay down on the bed for a nap.  We’d been there a little while when there was an almighty bang.  We sat up pretty quickly, because to our untrained ears, it sounded like a gunshot.  There were no other people in sight and only one car in the distance.  All fell quiet.  No dramatic action.  Eventually realisation dawned on one of us, and the three way (gas–electric–car battery) fridge was opened.  Inside it were the remains of a bottle of ginger beer which had exploded under the pressure of its own contents, sprayed though the vegies and suchlike.  Three cheers for the fridge keeping the glass shards safely contained.  Long story short–all bottles of ginger beer stashed under the bed were emptied right there and then, and I never put ginger beer in glass again, except once the lid was off!

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In case you can’t tell, this is a sideways introduction to my circumspection about the state of my steeping jars of dyestuff.  I’ve had some difficulty getting a good seal with with the Stuff, Steep and Store method.  The first time,  I think I raised the temperature too quickly.  It’s a vice I’ve been known to indulge in (or a problem I’ve suffered from, depending on source of heat) when preserving fruit, too.  I resealed some jars and took additional steps to ensure a good seal.  But several of the lids began to dome up again (or just plain leak). This one (pelargonium petals) leaked, as you can see.

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Luckily I had stored it on top of another jar.  Ahem.  So much dye lost!

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The very reverse of a vacuum seal (which is the intention), all of this suggested to me the contents were fermenting.  Perhaps the lids were damaged.  Perhaps my thermometer was actually faulty… I went off and checked when I had this thought on the weekend.  Yes, the thermometer was faulty–the little glass blob that should have held it in a fixed position had clearly broken away unnoticed, allowing the whole business part to slide down by about ten degrees.  So… back to the drawing board.  I am glad I didn’t use that thermometer for preserving peaches and plums!  The jars of fruit all came out just fine, which leads me to think that Stuff, Steep and Store should work for me, as it undoubtedly does for others.  Clearly I can manage a vacuum seal under favourable circumstances.  The good news on my jars of dye is that it looks like I got colour even though these jars haven’t steeped as long as I planned.  Here they are wet from their baths… and not smelling especially fermented.

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From left to right, pelargonium petals (greyer and less blue than the image);  dyers’ chamomile,  brown onion skins, and E Scoparia exhaust dye bath on various silk threads.  Since it’s my patience and my thermometer and not the method that are at fault… I decided to try again.

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From left to right (below): red hibiscus flowers, dried prunus leaves and fallen flowers from an unusual, purple-leaved hibiscus I found almost at the end of its flowering season when I visited the Himeji Japanese gardens on the weekend.  Each with vinegar, sea water, silk/cotton thread and aluminium foil.  Wait and see!

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