Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

26. February 2009 22:54
by Jobo

Natural Dyeing Series... Onion Skins

26. February 2009 22:54 by Jobo | 2 Comments

Hi Ho... This is Kermit theeee Frog Here...

Um, oops, I mean, Newsflash! Tonight I decided that it was officially time to try out this natural wool dyeing thing. I have been reading about it for a while, and a few weekends ago, in a moment of wool-weakness, I purchased about 10 lbs of a delightful combed Merino Top... so here we go! From the online reading I've done, it seems that one of the simplest and most straightforward dyes that one can find in ones kitchen is Onion Skin. Depending on the minerals present in the water, and what mordants are used, Onion skin can create dyes that vary from olive greens, to deeper oranges and browns. At home we cook with onions very regularly, in fact I use an onion for most meals... so I started saving the skins some time back. The end result of my onion addiction - about 2 8 ounce jars of chopped onion skins, yellow and red onions in the mix.

From what I have learned so far, it takes a large quantity of natural material to make enough dye to really colour anything.  One reference said you need 50g of onion skin to dye about 100 g of wool.  I'm not sure if I had quite that much, but it felt like a lot.  One of these days I will manage to buy one of those kitchen scales, and then maybe i can be more exact with my measurements.  For the wool, I just held up the roving against another 3.5 oz roving I had in my stash. (Not very scientific at all! I know...)

After chopping up the skins into tiny pieces (yay scissors)  I added them to a pot of boiling water and simmered on the stove over low heat for about 1 hour, then left it to steep for about 30 minutes.  This is the colour that came out:

The resulting colour kind of reminds me of orange kool-aid, though it came out more like a pumpkin orange on the wool itself.  I was really surprised, since I thought I would end up with more of a yellowish beige colour, more like the yellow onions themselves.

At this point, I let the dye cool down a bit.  My wool had been soaking in hot tap water (which in our house is quite warm, but not quite boiling)  and when the dye had gotten cool enough to stop steaming, I poured it into the bottom of a glass/pyrex 9 x 13 inch pan.  Then I carefully added the pre-soaked (in water and white vinegar) wool and swirled the pan a little to allow the dye to mix with the wool.

Using a microwave method, I loosely placed some plastic wrap over the top of the pan, allowing some space for vents.  Then I nuked the whole thing for 2 mintues, then rested on the countertop for 2 minutes.  I repeated this for a total of 6 minutes nuking, and 6 minutes resting, then I let the whole thing return to room temperature, and rinsed the wool.  After the Rinsing, some of the colour seemed to leach, leaving a peachy orange on the natural wool.  I would imagine that if the wool was pure white, the end result would have been very peach, and less orange.

I saved a small sample of the dye so I could try an experiment in "exhaust" dying over the weekend.  The whole principle of exhaust dying is that if you place fiber in the dye and then remove it before the entire amount of dye has been absorbed into the fiber, then there is a portion left... and you can dye a second fiber, and so on until the amount of dye in the liquid is completely used up.  The resulting dyes should have gradually lightening colours.  We shall see anyways.

Pictures of rinsed and dried wool to come later in the week... along with maybe some spun pictures too?  time will tell...  stay tuned!

Part 2

23. February 2009 12:12
by Jobo

1, 2, 3, 4... I think I'll go and Knit some more...

23. February 2009 12:12 by Jobo | 4 Comments

A few years back, in attempts to deal with a stressful job and overwhelmingly busy home life, I did some research into meditation as a way to mellow myself out.  After doing some reading on the internet, and a flipping through a few  books, I realized that my knitting and quilting that  I have been doing regularly after work, and especially during those times of feeling stressed by my life - I already HAVE BEEN meditating.


They say that one of the simplest meditation forms is just to sit in a safe, quiet, silent place, focus on your breathing, and count slowly from one to four with each breath, with the eventual goal of reaching the fourth in-and-out without having an intrusive thought pass through.  In the silence and peace from everyday passing thoughts, we are supposedly more likely to reach insight.  It is also said that this is very difficult, and that many people have to practice for years before they reach that fourth breath without being distracted by some passing thought…  these people have obviously never completed the longest pattern row of a complicated lace project, or finished a pair of double-knit Norwegian mittens.   


I estimate that I could probably practice for years and never sit and breathe and focus and reach that fourth breath, but hand me a needle and thread, or a pair of needles and a ball of yarn… I can spend hours in a sitting – perhaps not counting purely the breaths from one to four, but definitely counting the stitches, K1 P1 K1 P1, up-down-up-down-up-down goes the sewing needle… and no daily distracting thoughts in between.  During that time, I focus on my art, and on creating beauty in a fibery form. 


There is no room in my brain to think about the snarky coworker who was unpleasant at work that day, K1 P1, or the pile of laundry that I should be doing, K across 1 row, or my mom being frustrated that I haven’t visited yet this week, tie in the ends of a finished project, or any of those everyday worries.


I guess I didn’t need to learn how to meditate after all, I just needed to discover it under a new name, already well established as a stress-buster in my daily life.


So Blogsters, with that I leave you with some yarn candy pictures, and a song (which has nothing to do with knitting or meditation, but simply 1 2 3 4)

"Black Nile" Superwash Roving from Fiber Optic...becomes sock yarn 3-ply

8. February 2009 11:32
by Jobo

Custom Mittens - Made to Order!

8. February 2009 11:32 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Want a pair of homemade Mittens?  Something warm, fuzzy, unique, created with yarn and a design that you chose for yourself?  Made specifically to fit you?

 Don't know how to knit?

No Problem!  



The time when every young woman knew how to knit is probably over.  I am really glad that as times change, more and more people are becoming interested in knitting for it's creativity bolstering and stress relieving properties, but many of my friends and family are just unable to knit for themselves.  I on the other hand, adore the craft, to the point of mild obession.  (hey, yarn and fiber are my vices, I could have chosen worse ones!)  So Lately I have been taking on more commissionned projects - knitting specific items for specific people.


This past week, I have knit a custom pair of mittens for a special customer who, not for lack of trying, has been unable to find a pair of mittens acceptable to match her coat.  So I suggested that she go to the Local Yarn Store, choose a yarn that she likes, and let me craft her a pair instead of wandering the mall again.  So she submitted me some measurements of her hands, and I swatched, and pondered, and got to work. 


She had originally liked a pair of mittens that I was wearing, Handmade Thrum Mittens, with billows of soft and airy Baby Alpaca Fiber inside.  For her mittens, we chose a soft and durable sage green yarn, and some combed Polwarth wool top for the thrums. 


Being an experienced knitter, I have probably made about 30 pairs of mittens over the last 6 or 7 years, so making an average pair of adult mittens at this point takes less than 10 hours.  Probably more like 5 hours if I make my standard pair.  These were very straight forward, so I estimate about 6 hours from cast-on to ends woven in - not a very long time committment.


The result:  perfectly fitting, perfectly matching, Custom Mittens!  Ready for a typical Cold Snowy Canadian Winter!



Interested in a pair?  Depending on materials, and design requirements, a custom pair of mittens could be designed and crafted over a period as little as 1 - 2 weeks.  For Prices (unique with contract) or more details, please contact me. 


Toying with the idea of making your own Thrum Mittens?  See my new Make-your-own-Thrums Tutorial


Happy Knitting All !  (It's going to be a long winter, make more mittens)

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