Thursday, June 25, 2009

Goodbye Scruffy

My dog died today. His name was Scruffy. He was very old and had been sick for a while. He was a lovely dog, very good natured and friendly. We adopted him 3.5yrs ago when we found him as a stray and couldn't find his owners. We are really going to miss him.

The second picture is a picture of him taken 3 years ago when he was still active and healthy. His life was long and mischievous (that's probably how he ended up a stray dog in the first place!) and often ended in getting muddy and dirty. He was more often a grey dog or a brown one rather than a white one. His favourite thing was to bark at the dogs going past and race back and forths in front of the fence. Then he ended up tearing his knee ligament racing around too fast and he had to have an operation. This picture was taken on the way to the vet that time after he tore his knee ligament. He got to sleep inside after that and started having breakfast as well as dinner (not to mention the frequent massages!). After his operation he slowed down a lot and stuck to sleeping and exploring the yard and enjoying his two meals a day (often warm, sometimes I made him porridge!). His favourite food was probably french fries. I used to feed them to him one by one and he usually tried to take my fingers too! He liked all kinds of fruits and vegies too though, including frozen peas, raw carrot and apple. He would even eat raw mushroom and capsicum! In his old age his favourite activity was sleeping. He would spend a long time picking just the right spot, usually in a strange corner or under the table or beside the washing machine. He often slept with his back end up on something looking very awkward, but sleeping soundly and peacefully.

A few months ago he had a stroke and then more recently another one. He had been getting frailer, having trouble standing and walking as well as controlling his bowels. Then today, he just stopped breathing and he was gone. We are having him cremated and will scatter the ashes in his favourite part of the garden, where he had fun exploring. We remember him as one who taught us how to be better people, to be more patient and compassionate. And in his last weeks, he taught me how to love, without getting anything back, and despite pooing all over the place. Its a powerful gift he has given us. So, yes, we will miss him a lot. He remains in our hearts, the stray who came to stay.

Monday, June 22, 2009


The top two pictures are those taken shortly after dyeing. The bottom two pictures show the same pieces months later (top left and top row of the images).

Images of some more of my previous dye experiments. These were dyed with blueberries and different mordants were added. The more red had vinegar in the mix, while the more blue had some alum in the mix. Colour differences probably also come from where the fabric was above the juice a bit. They were cold processed in the fridge for a week or more in glass bottles of the liquid. Each length of fabric was wrapped around a plastic straw to keep it flat and the colour penetration even. The problem with these colours is that they faded pretty dramatically. The rich pink here is a pale shadow of its former self. So it seems the colour is not fast. Even though I have stored the fabrics in a dark box, they still faded. Its a great pity, as it was such a beautiful colour. I'm yet to find a good way to extract and then keep colour from berries and fruits bright.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Weaving

Here are some images of the first complete woven project I made, a table runner for my ma. I think she uses it as a scarf because she says its too nice to put on a table. But anyway, I wove all the little rectangles and blanket stitched them together in order of their tonality. The wool was a shaded one so the runner/scarf has a gradient of red from deep black red to bright red.


I saw a version of this simple loom in a book and made a small one (picture 1). It produces a roughly 8x15cm rectangle (pictures 2-3) quite nicely, but I wanted to make bigger pieces, without having to join millions of little squares together. So I used this scavenged frame (pictures 4-6) and made a larger loom. I'm about halfway through the piece so far and its turning out nicely. Next time I'll use a thicker pure wool so I can felt the piece once its done and close up the gaps. I hope then to have a sturdier piece of fabric. That said, I'm happy with the colours for this one and they way the mustard livens up the grey and black. It's my eventual dream to use my own dyed yarns for a piece. I'm planning on using this as a table runner or centerpiece for my dining table when its done, or making it into a cushion cover front.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dyed Silks

These are the before (pictures 2-4) and after pictures (5-8) of the naturally dyed silk sample pieces that I made. The happiest results are probably the purples of the blueberry and the mottled yellow of the spanish onion. I got the pattern from the blueberries by arranging them in rows and tying the bundle tightly (first picture). The spanish onion skin was placed on the silk and folded up small and left to process in the sun for a few days in a zip lock bag before I peeled away the onion. The green and other silks did not produce much colour change in their dye baths.

Beet Flower

Remember the beetroot dyed wool from the other week? I used a little to make this cute little flower brooch for my ma. Its a simple crochet flower with an extra circle to give the centre a more three dimensional quality. The colour seems to have faded/settled a little on the wool giving a slightly duller but deeper pink with a reddish quality. It will probably continue to fade over time to a duskier pink.

Bird Paparazzi!

These two were cleaning their beaks on the chain link fence after a meal of rambutan from the tree in the neighbour's garden. Despite hanging out together and having their mid-afternoon snack dates, the two are subtly different. One has a red beak, the other an orange beak. One is all green, the other has grey and black cheeks. There is also another variation that stops by for rambutans with a longer tail. All are lovely, though a little noisy when they fight over rambutan real estate in the early morning!

The one with the red beak is a female Rose-ringed parakeet while the one with the orange beak may be a male grey-headed parakeet. He looks more like a juvenile grey-headed parakeet but he has the wrong colour beak! Looks like some birdy romance is going on!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dove Love

This fellow was poking around in my garden while I was taking pictures of yarn. I think he's very handsome and regal. I believe he is a Spotted Dove. He certainly has spots on his neck and wings. He was keeping an eye on me while I snapped away papparazi style about 10 pictures of him! This is one of at least 3 different species of Dove I've seen around my garden.

More Dyeing

I was trying to capture the variety of shades even of beige that I have achieved with these natural dyes. I went a little snap happy but I think my yarns are beautiful.

More Dyes

I'm in love with my new dye colour - beetroot pink. It's so lovely I could eat it!

Mordanted with alum & cream of tartar for two hours, then cold processed in a juice of beetroot skins for a week in the fridge. I also made a darker brown-yellow from onion skins and some nice pale beiges from coffee and balsamic vinegar.

The wool worked out better than the cotton again, giving deeper colours. So I will have to experiment with different mordants and times on cotton.