Dyeing for dinner

Fiber in Black bean dyebath

The oval cooking pot (Mom's from the 40's

I just finished making my Taco Black bean soup. It called for black beans, can crushed tomatoes, can corn, taco seasoning, ground beef (substituted shredded chicken), sour cream and chips, DINNER!
The most fun of all is that I used the bean “soak water” to dye wool, silk and bamboo fiber that I will spin into yarn. I will let the fibers soak in the dye bath for 48 hours. I expect to get  purple/sliver/blue color. Each fiber will take the dye differently.

Flowers in the dyebath

Dye for wool, silk and bamboo

I also gathered Goldenrod (only the flowers) and will dye fiber with that. A am expecting a yellow/orange, but who knows. When it comes to dyeing it isn’t an exact science…too many variables.

More about fiber


Dandelion dyeing

A photo essay “Using Dandelions for Dyeing




The purse  is made from 100% post-consumer beverage can tabs  by sjroemer. If you are interested she sells them on Etsy.

Recycled beer and soda cans make up these fashions, shown at a Greek exhibition. A New York-based Greek artist , Nikos Floros has created opera costumes from 20 thousand beer and soft drink cans for the art exhibit in Athens. He spent years weaving together strips of the cans, creating these lovely works of art.

These are not made of fiber… sometimes recycled  and creative have to be applauded. Don’t forget to bring along a box of bandages.


Plastic bags and Plarn

plastic bag dress by mleak

 outfits by Cathy Kasdan of Clevland, OH

     The  1950’s outfit above and the white cocktail dress are made from plarn. Recycled plastic supermarket bags, cut into a long strip and used as yarn. It is then knitted or crocheted into what you see. If you are interested in trying this on a smaller scale. I do mean smaller and simpler. There are totes, handbags and beach bag patterns to be found all over the net. Different bags have different weights. Use all the same weight for your handbag and be creative with color. If you want a bluish green, use the bag the NY Times comes in. Some of the results were very nice. Have fun.


Cotton and the processes that change the properties.

Cotton: mercerized, waxed  Not all cottons are equal. The process that cotton can go through may change the properties.

Mercerized cotton was discovered in 1851 by John Mercer. The cotton was treated with sodium hydroxide. The result was  stronger, smoother and shinier than regular cotton. Mercerized cotton also dyes easier. In 1890 Horace Lowe made the process popular by putting the fiber under tension while submersing it in the caustic bath, resulting in a more luxurious thread.

Pima, Egyptian, and Sea Island cotton are usually used in mercerization as a result of their long fibers. Mercerized cotton is also known as pearl cotton and is pre-shrunk.

Waxed cotton can be purchased on cones. Their ability to shed water is what makes this unique.

Originally sails, for early clipper ships, were made from flax fiber. The  flax plant not only produced the fiber but also linseed oil. The linseed oil is extracted from the seeds of the flax plant. The oil was used as a waterproof for the sails and seamen’s clothing. The problem was the material became heavy and stiff in cold weather and with time turned yellow.

As faster ships were needed the change for a lighter, stronger sail was developed. During the mid 19 century, cotton sails made from 2 ply yarns began being used. The cotton was treated with the linseed oil for waterproofing.

Waxed cotton can be used for crochet/knitting with beadwork. It can be used for weaving. After completing the weaving project, it can be washed and dried in a dryer. The wax is removed and the cotton will plump up. 

Cotton will shrink if not pre-shrunk. It will also pill if the fibers used are very short. Cotton does not have a memory like wool.

Know the parameters of the cotton you are using. Some may be better for a specific project than others.

Knitting examiner

Rotary Sheep

The art was created by Jean Luc Cornec and has been displayed in the Museum For Communications in Frankfurt Main, Germany.

I still have a few of those phones still in use at my house. They just keep on going.

Knitting examiner

Tramp Art

When you think of Tramps you may also think of Hobos.
Hobos were wanderers. You may remember them as hopping a ride on the rails. They would work to earn a meal or a few cents. Tramps didn’t work. They existed by thievery and begging. These two groups lived in different worlds, though shared the same places.

Tramp art is “folk art” chip carving using recycled wooden cigar boxes and a pocket knife.  This art form flourished from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. A technique of notching and layering was used. The designs are noted by the pyramids formed from the layering of pieces upon themselves getting smaller and smaller in size. Geometric patterns (circles, squares, and triangles) were most often used.

The finished items were practical and functional.

Knitting examiner