Crochet Along – Join In, It’s Gonna Be Fun

When I was a teenager, I learned how to knit and crochet – nothing fancy, just basic stitches. Granny Square afghans were the only crochet pattern I had learned.  Being busy with classes, I gave up on knitting and crocheting when I was in college. Now, years later, I have decided to take up crocheting again. Along with several friends, also new to crocheting, we have compiled a collection of several patterns (actually about 42 of them) for a Crochet-Along. The plan is to crochet two blocks each month and eventually put them together into an afghan (yes this project will take a while to complete).

For this project, I am using Fingering weight Bamboo-Cotton (70/30 blend) yarn. Specialty dyed yarns sell for $8-25 per skein. I found white yarn on Amazon for $2.40 a skein and decided to try dyeing the yarn.  A trial skein showed that the yarn dyes similar to cotton fabric. Thus the supplies needed were the same as I described in my last posting. Yeah – no need to purchase anything new, just the yarn!

Be advised, synthetic fibers, such as acrylic will not dye with Procion dyes. 

Air trapped between fibers of the yarn will hinder the penetration of the color.  Therefore, prior to dyeing, each skein of yarn must be immersed in dye solution (water with salt and soda ash) to prepare the fibers to accept the color.  For variegated yarn, the skein can be rewound into a larger circle and secured with scrap yarn.

For this project, each skein of yarn was soaked in 1/2 cup of hot dye solution.  The excess solution was squeezed out to leave the yarn damp prior to adding the dye. The desired dye was added, either as a total immersion (for a single color skein), or syringed on (for variegated yarn).  The yarn was then batched for 6 hours. Excess dye was removed by rinsing with cold water, followed by washing in hot water with Dawn dish soap.   Since the washing machine is the easiest way the wash out excess dye from fabric, I wanted to find a way to wash yarn without the yarn becoming tangled.  Tied yarn does tangle very easily when washed in a washing machine (believe me, I tried it and spent about two hours untangling my first skein).  I thought about using a lingerie bag, but worried that the skein may still tangle.  So, instead, I tied the skein in an old nylon – worked great.


Below is a sample of the yarn colors I created:
Variegated Colors:
     Mixing Blue and Custom Green, 20 ml of each color syringed in sections
           One skein using dye mixed at a concentration of 5 mg/ml
           Another skein at a concentration of 2 mg/ml
Solid Colors:
     Golden Yellow, 0.2 mg/ml in 50 ml
     Mixing Blue, 5 mg/ml in 50 ml
     Mixing Blue, 0.2 mg/ml in 50 ml
     Custom Green, 5 mg/ml in 50 ml
     Custom Green, 0.2 mg/ml in 50 ml

Crochet Along Square #1 – Granny Square – pictured above
Crochet Along Square #2 – Big Flower Square designed by Julie Yeager (
This pattern does have a fee, but there are many other patterns on Ravelry that are free.  

My plan is to post two squares each month. I will include information about the patterns. So, if you want to crochet along, please join me.  If you do, I would love to see what you create.

Fabric Dyeing

I love fabrics, especially unique, one of the kind fabrics.  So, about a year ago, I took a class on Craftsy called “The Art of Cloth Dyeing” with Jane Dunnewold.  I was fascinated, purchased a sample kit and gave it a try.  I was hooked!  I loved the results and decided to do more. 

Traditional fabric dyeing, which uses a large volume of water and lots of stirring, creates a smooth uniform appearance to the fabric. If multiple colors are used together, the dyes mix and become “muddy”. 
I prefer the results obtained with low water immersion dyeing.  This technique requires less time and uses as little water as possible.  Since the fabric is not stirred, the appearance is less uniform, with a resulting scrunch or crackle effect. 
Supplies Needed:
100% Cotton Fabric
Procion MX dye
Soda Ash (sodium carbonate, dye fixer)
Non-softened water (or Distilled water)
Measuring cup and spoons
Assorted containers (plastic, glass, or stainless steel, not aluminum or iron)
Blue Dawn dish soap

Fabric can be purchased as PFD – prepared for dyeing.  Alternatively, white cotton fabric can be washed in soda ash to remove any chemicals from the manufacturing process. Pro Chemical Company and Dharma Trading Company carry a variety of fabrics that work well for dyeing and quilting.  I have found that Quilter’s Cotton Sateen dyes well and has a softer feel than some of the other fabrics. For creating my test swatches, I cut 6” x 6” squares that were placed in disposable plastic cups.

I purchased my original dyes from Pro Chem.  The dye solution is made by adding 1 tsp soda ash and 1 tsp salt to 1 cup water and heating for 2 minutes in the microwave (to 110 degrees). From my most recent experiences, sea salt creates more vivid color than normal table salt. 

Using a mask and gloves, the amount of dye to be added to the water is measured. Be aware that soda ash is a color fixative.  So, do not dissolve the dye powder in the dye solution until you are ready to use it. Pro Chem lists their dyes by the number of teaspoons per pound of fabric.  For more flexibility and greater accuracy, I set out to determine the number of milligrams of dye needed per milliliter of dye solution.  Below is a photo of my intensity dyeing. 

Each swatch was soaked (“batched”) in 50 milliliters of dye solution for 24 hours. The excess dye was removed by rinsing in cool water, followed by washing in hot water. Dyeing instructions suggest using a detergent called Synthrapol in the wash cycle to remove any unattached dye from the fabric.  Blue Dawn dish soap works just as well, is easier to obtain, and costs less.

I have small metric scale and graduated cylinder for greater accuracy in setting up these dyeing experiments.  If you do not have a metric scale, I can give you some guidelines.  I cup is a bit more that 200 milliliters.  And, 1 teaspoon of dye weighs approximately 200 milligrams.  So, for the fabric swatch that was soaked in 5 mg/ml, you can dissolve 1¼ teaspoon of dye powder in ¼ cup dye solution and the results should be similar.
The cost of the supplies can really add up.  Pro Chem carries over 135 different colors of dye.  I originally only purchased a few dyes (two reds, two yellows and two blues) and created my own recipes for the other colors I wanted.  Below are the photos of my gradation dyeing experiments using 2mg/ml of dye and 0.1 mg/ml of dye.  I now have the recipe to create a wide variety of colors.

To be able to refer to these “recipes” for future projects, fabric swatch pages were made by neatly mounting a 2”x4” piece of each color to a piece of poster board and storing them in a notebook.  What to do with the left over fabric?  Make a quilt!  Below is the quilt I made from the fabric that was not used in my swatch book.

Peach and Pecan Fruit Pizza

When I was first married, we spent many Sunday afternoons with my husband’s great-aunt Maude. She was a fabulous cook and I acquired many recipes from her.  One of these recipes was a Pecan Cookie Pie Crust, usually made with a peach pie filling.

Aunt Maude’s Pecan Pie Crust

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

1/2 cup Crisco shortening
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup ground pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream together shortening, butter and sugar.
3. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder.
4. Combine creamed mixture with dry ingredients and ground pecans.
Dough will be crumbly.
5. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
5. Press dough into pie plate and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cool completely.
7. Fill with cream filling or prepared peach pie filling.

Tomorrow, September 21st, is National Pecan Cookie Day.  So, to celebrate, I decided to adjust Aunt Maude’s recipe, just a bit, to make a fruit pizza.  I made a half batch of the crust recipe and pressed the dough into a 10 inch circle prior to baking.  After cooling, I spread the crust with 2 ounces of softened cream cheese. This was topped with sliced peaches.  For a drizzle, I heated 2 Tbs peach jelly and mixed this with 2 Tbs Powdered Sugar.

National Linguine Day

Fall in Minnesota is harvest time. With a day off from work, I needed to tend to my garden.  My garden is not the typical garden, it is rather unique. When my boys were younger, I wanted to keep space in the backyard for them to run and play soccer, badminton,  or other sports and yet still grow some produce. So, I created a garden in planters on my deck and in the retaining wall of my patio. This part of my garden is 1 foot wide and 40 feet long. Several trellises create a vertical garden with some of the plants growing 12 feet tall, reaching to my deck.

From my garden, I had a fresh cucumber salad for lunch.  For dinner, I had lots of fresh veggies to use – peas, peppers, onion, tomatoes, zucchini and carrots, and some freshly picked apples. It seemed to me that roasted veggies would be a good idea.


Later, while running errands, I heard that today was National Linguine Day.
Great idea to add to my roasted veggies!  When I returned home and looked in the cupboard – no linguine.  Oh well, spaghetti noodles work just as well.  So, dinner tonight was Spaghetti(Linguine) with Roasted Vegetables, Meatloaf and Sliced Zestar Apples.





Linguine with Roasted Vegetables Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 cup snap peas in pods

1 green pepper, coarsely chopped

1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup baby carrots, cut in fourth lengthwise

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt, Pepper and Garlic salt, to taste
8 ounces dry Linguine
Shredded Parmesan
1. Spread chopped and sliced vegetables on a baking sheet.  Spritz with EVOO and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic salt. Roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of water to boiling, add pasta and cook uncovered on high heat at a rolling boil until al dente (about 8-10 minutes).
3. Drain the pasta, toss with 2 Tbs EVOO and Roasted Vegetables.  Garnish with shredded Parmesan.

Starting Something New

While I have a job that gives me satisfaction in helping others, what I really enjoy is creating things. Whether it is sewing, gardening or cooking, I like to do “my own thing”.  I am not someone who follows a published quilting pattern, or follows a recipe word for word.  I simply enjoy the thought process that goes into designing and creating, from the beginning thought to the final product. Over the years, I have made many things.  When showing them to friends, a few have suggested that I should teach others what I do. Well, it’s hard to fit a teaching job into my professional schedule. But, over time, this blog may become a tool to teach other about the things that are important to me.  I have many hobbies that I enjoy – Fiber Arts (quilting, knitting, crocheting), Flora (gardening and flowers), Food (cooking and baking). Of greater importance is my Faith – I see God’s creation around me and it inspires the creativity within me. Hopefully with time I will have a few good stories to share and some pretty pictures to post as well.  So, you can each have some Fun in reading these postings.
Yesterday was my half birthday.  Half birthdays are big days for many young children.  But, as an adult, we are not supposed to think about our birthday, let alone our half birthday.  I, however, have decided to ignore this normal adult attitude. So – Happy Half Birthday to myself!
It was also a delightful fall day here in Minnesota –  sunny with temperatures in the low 70s. So, to celebrate the beautiful day, I delivered a belated birthday gift to my sister-in-law. Several years ago, I asked her whether she would like a quilt for her bedroom.  In response, she sent me the following image and asked if I could make a quilt to look like it.
B&B idea flippedimage by Sheila Rosamond,
Seeing this as a fun design challenge, I decided to see what I could come up with. Using EQ7, I designed  the following quilt, which was given to her for Christmas that year. It was made with batik fabrics and hand quilted by an Amish lady who lived near my mother.  Overall, a very enjoyable project to do at the time.
As a follow-up, this year I decided to be more creative and make a wall art quilt to match.  So, that is what I delivered to her yesterday.
Happy Belated Birthday Barbara!