Naturally dyed Easter eggs: a tutorial

I have always used artificial food coloring to dye eggs in the past, but as my family has been transitioning away from highly processed, artificial ingredients, I started to think that there must be a better alternative. The following is the result of our expiramenting with natural dyes:


1. Gather your ingredients. We chose (clockwise from top) beets (approx 1 cup), grape juice concentrate (1/2 cup), yellow onion skins (1 cup) , red cabbage (1 cup), And turmeric (2T). You will also need vinegar, water, small saucepots, and a seive or colendar. Oh, and eggs :)
Beets = pinkish beige, grape juice = blueish lavendar, onion skins = deep orange, red cabbage = light blue (I know, right?), and turmeric=yellow.

2. Make your dyestock. For the beets, onion skins, turmeric, and cabbage, add each to a small pot with one teaspon of vinegar (important to set the dye), and three cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 20-30 minutes. Pour through a seive to remove any veggie bits, and cool. Yes, the cabbage dye looks very red. The eggs will be blue, I promise! For the grape juice, just add the concentrate to three cups of water. I added 1 tsp vinegar, but you may wish to try it without first. It seemed to me that the juice was acidic enough on its own that the egg shells became a little bit pitted after a long soak in the grape juice dye with additional vinegar.

3. Prepare your eggs. You can either dye hardboiled eggs or raw eggs, which can later be pierced and blown out to use as decorations.


4. Optional: for botanical eggs, gather a few bits of leaves, flowers, etc… from your yard. Cut a small square of pantyhose, place your flower/leaf on it, set an egg on top, wrap the pantyhose around the egg, twist and secure with rubberbands. When you dye these eggs, be sure to let hem dry completely before removing the pantyhose, or the design may smudge.


5. To dye the eggs, carefully lower them into a cup of dye so that the are completely submerged. It will take MUCH longer for eggs to dye with natural dyes than artificial. Be patient. Have another activity ready for the kiddos while you wait. I let my eggs soak anywhere from 20 minutes or so to an hour. With the exception of the onion skin dye, any longer than that didn’t seem to make much difference (Onion skin eggs will get surprisingly dark, rusty orange if left for a long time!). Just lift them up with a spoon and peek every now and then until they look good to you. They may not be quite as bright as what you are used to, and thats okay.

6. Carefully remove the eggs from the dye and place them gently on an old towel to dry completely. Don’t try to wipe them, especially if the shell looks a little pitted. You will wipe off some of the color!


Resulting colors, clockwise from top: onion, cabbage, turmeric, beets, and grape juice

Expirament with other fruits and veggies to see what colors you can come up with. Try berries, carrots, anything with a deep color. Anyone have a good green? I’d love to hear! You can also add designs to the eggs by drawing on them before dying with crayons (the wax will resist dye. I like to write a “secret message” egg for Miles with a white crayon, the message appears like magic!), adding stickers, rubberbands around eggs for stripes, etc… Have fun.

PS. Don’t throw out that cabbage juice yet! Have a bit of science expirament fun by adding a bit of baking soda to see what happens. Then a bit of vinegar. Then a bit more baking soda. I won’t ruin the surprise, but it is pretty neat! This entertained Miles for a good half hour ;)

A St. Patricks Day sweater and an afternoon drive in the country

It wasn’t intentional that this sweater would be finished just in time for St. Patricks Day. Or that it would be so green. I have a bad habit of being distracted by pretty little skeins yarn and not really invisioning what it will look like all knitted up in a big sweater… surely I’m not only one? Oh, and did I mention it was on clearance?

Other than my less than ideal yarn choice (verigated for a sweater? really, Jodean?) and some color pooling in a few places, I am very pleased with how this sweater turned out. The pattern is the Trust Pullover from Kristen TenDyke’s Finish-Free Knits that I checked out from our local library (which has been rocking the new aquisitions lately, btw!). The patterns in ths book are wonderful, all but eliminating the dreaded “seaming up” and all the bulky, weird seams I invariably end up with in knitting more traditional patterns. I over-lengthened the arms just a tad, but better that than too short, I always say :) A very classic, well fitting pattern that I may just have to revisit someday with a more subdued yarn. Thanks to my husband, Stephen for helping me photograph it.

Details on my Ravelry Page.

These photos were all taken on a Sunday afternoon drive (sort of a tradition for Stephen and me; we fell in love over long Sunday afternoon-drive conversations many years ago. Now, the kids nap, and we drive, and talk, and enjoy the scenery of this breathtaking little corner of the world (aka Arkansas) we are lucky enough to call home.)

Bridge at the Baptist Ford church north of West Fork, AR. On of my very favorite magic-light spots

See that little house at the top of the mountain? Ahhh, what I would give to live there…

One lane bridge south of West Fork, AR.

For the birds

Anyone else have a few of these around left over from the Thanksgiving/Fall decor?

Anyone else ever feel bad just throwing them out? (Funny story: one year I came across a clearance bin after Thanksgiving and these were being sold for a penny. A penny! Frugal me decided that for a penny, I would take a chance that they were good to eat and bought a cart load and cooked them up. For the record, the solid orange ones aren’t bad. The stripey ones? Not recommended!)

Anyways, this year we didn’t have a cart load, but we did have a few. What to do with them?
I remembered seeing some pumpkin bird-feeders floating around the internet, and figured mini pumpkin bird feeders would be even cuter. After all, aren’t most things cuter in miniature?

Just slice off the top and scoop out the seeds (you can save those for the birds too if you want, or if you happen to have chickens, they LOVE them!). Poke a few holes in them (I started the holes with the tip of a knife, then punched through the rest of the way with a chopstick) then string them up with twine. Have the kiddos pour in a couple scoops of birdseed, and hang them out for your little feathered friends.

A quick, easy and cute nature craft for kiddos. Miles has enjoyed watching the different species the have been showing up in our yard. You could check out a field guide or bird drawing book (I’m digging this one- It’s really meant for adults or older kids, but don’t tell Miles that!) from the library and make a whole nature lesson out of it!

Gnarled Oak Cardi- finished!

I finished knitting my Gnarled Oak cardi at the beginning of the summer, and finally got around to weaving ends/adding buttons/ blocking etc… In August (so I could enter it in the county fair. It won a blue ribbon:) )

So, the middle of a heat wave is not the best time to finish a cozy, warm alpaca sweater, but this past weekend it actually cooled off enough to get it out and wear it for the first time. Woo hoo! Here it is:

Details:
Pattern: Gnarled Oak Cardigan by Alana Dakos from the book Coastal Knits
Yarn: Knitpicks Andean Treasure in Prairie Heather (mmmmm, baby alpaca! so soft!)
Modifications: almost none. I did lengthen the sleeves by a couple of inches since most patterns tend to run a bit short on my arms.

I love how it turned out! The stockintte stitch knit up fast, and the leaf pattern on the yoke was a lot of fun and just enough of a challenge to keep it interesting. This one will get a lot of wear this fall, for sure!

A beautiful day for a quilt fair, and other randomness

Last Saturday was the annual Ozark Quilt Fair at the Shiloh museum. We have gone every year since we discovered it a few years ago, but this was the first year that I actually entered a quilt. I was a little nervous displaying my work with so many seasoned quilters around -this was only my second quilt after all! It was a lot of fun though, and I got some great feedback. I just love the folksy, laid-back atmosphere, and it is always inspiring to see so many beautiful quilts (I especially loved the vintage quilts!)


Zeke knows how to take full advantage of a cozy quilt!

LOVED the music by Shout LuLu! After listening to them play all morning, I briefly considered adding “learn to play banjo” to my list of things to do before I turn 30. That list is growing short on time though, and is still rather long on things to check off. I think I’ll save the banjo for 31. ;)

And the weather?!? We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful weekend! It was actually cool enough in the morning to break out my oak leaf cardigan for the first time since I finished it (horrible timing to finish a sweater during a record-setting summer heatwave!) It really does deserve a post of its own after all that work, but I’ll throw in a little sneak-peak:

This time of year is always so busy, and while I love this season and all the activities it brings I know it is also important to balance the craziness with plenty of intentionally quiet family moments too. We have been trying to make a point to do just that, and Labor Day weekend was a refreshing break for all of us (I know, I know, I’m all out of order here!). Time off work is a rare treat for Stephen lately (have I mentioned lately how much I appreciate my amazing, hard working man? ‘Cause I do!) so we decided to make the most of it with some much needed down time at home. We just hung out- I did some lovely sitting and quilting while Stephen and Miles worked on one of their guy projects in the garage, and Zeke was content to scoot his way around the house getting into all manner of mischeif (yes, he’s army-crawling now, and he’s into everything! Apparently realizing there is a dish of cat food and water on the floor in the kitchen was all the motivation he needed to get moving!) We finished out the weekend with an impromptu picnic and swim at Lake Wedington, so I leave you with a few pictures of our weekend:


On the move!


what better way to finish out the summer than with an ice-cold glass of homemade lemonade?


sharing. makes my heart happy:)


Zeke LOVED the water! I don’t think I have ever seen him so excited!

Hey, I’m almost caught up on posts now ;)

Finished!!!

Just in time for the Ozark Quilt Fair, Miles’s airplane quilt is finally finished! It took several late nights quilting and binding, but I was determined to have it done. The pattern is from a 1987 Better Homes and Gardens Patchwork Quilting book my Grandma picked up at an auction with a bunch of old books and magazines, with the only change being the single red airplane block that I added. The plan is to give it to Miles when he graduates to a “big-boy” bed, probably around his 4th birthday in February. He has seen me working on it though and is pretty excited about snuggling up with his quilt, so we shall see if I can wait that long ;)

A few projects…


a refurbished $5 yardsale bookcase for the boys’ room (and don’t you just love Miles’s art wire?!? I love my little artist :) )


I told you I just had to make the Oliver & S penguin backpack! Just in time too, as Miles’s latest animal fascination happens to be with penguins!


I came up with this idea for a growth chart that can move with us (did I mention we are hoping to sell our house now that Stephen has a new job? YAY!) based on one I saw here. I like mine better though;) It will, btw, eventually hang 1′ off the ground.


it’s about time I had a decent pincushion! bonus: I can show off my vintage wooden spools of gorgeous silk thread that have just been sitting in my sewing cabinet

Jocelyn

I recently finished my first commissioned doll. Meet Jocelyn:

She’s a soft, cozy, Waldorf style doll made with natural cotton and wool. I worked out patterns for a few different outfits for her as well: a sundress, jeans and shirt, pj’s, and undies. I am getting much better at assembling the heads and bodies and was particularly excited at how well the neck area turned out on this one. No “ghost neck” at all. Woo hoo!

I hope the real Jocelyn enjoys her very much :)

A seat cover for Zeke

We recently got Zeke a Bumbo seat after his physical therapist recommended it to help him sit upright and stregthen his core muscles. Soon after getting the Bumbo, I decided that I must come up with a cover- both to make it a little more comfortable for my sweetie in the sticky, hot summer weather, and because it is, well, ugly and purple.

I do love the internet :) A quick google search landed me on this free tutorial for a foam baby seat cover. My first attempt (with the cute fabric I picked out) unfortunately ended up in the scrap-quilt pile, but I was determined to figure it out, even if it meant sacrificing a couple of old flannel receiving blankets!

A little pattern tweaking was involved (It was probably my mistake in tracing/cutting the pattern, but my first try at the base piece did not fit the seat). I decided that with something intended to fit so snuggly, it was probably better to cut the pieces a little big, then assemble them one at a time with lots of trying on, trimming, and pinning in between.

And so, Zeke’s foam baby seat cover came together:


{please excuse the poor lighting in the photos, I was to excited that it actually turned out to wait for better light! I mean, this thing has curves, and weird angles, and strange sticking-up parts… and it fits!}


{the original pattern doesn’t have a seam in the front- the blankets I used just weren’t wide enough to cut the base in one piece}


{I could just eat up those baby toes!}


{side view}