Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My smoky kitchen

Hi Alene! About 10-15 years ago, I decided I didn't want to become a weather curmudgeon as is easy to do in this climate. I've always loved fall but had gotten to complaining about spring (too mucky) and summer (too humid). I'd started noticing other people complaining a lot and thinking they were never happy about the weather. Gradually I saw some of that in myself and decided it was silly: no place was perfect and what a waste of my energy being unhappy about it. Once I looked for the good in each season, I was richly rewarded. I still find weather fascinating and love to talk about it but now I love the rhythm and events of the seasons even more. No wonder I embraced CSA and gardening and food preserving so much. When I saw the articles on solar dyeing in Knitty antd Spin-Off, I thought 'what a great way to celebrate the long northern days.'

After studying this article in Knitty, I decided to use up some of my leftover tie-dye on the Wensleydale I recently finished spinning. Since I got a late start that day, I figured a teapot of hot water was needed to get the dyepot going. So I put on the teakettle and headed downstairs to wind the yarn off my wheel and collect my other supplies (old canning kettle, dye, etc.). By the time I came back up with DS on my heels my kitchen was filled with smoke! I had turned on the wrong burner. Then there was several frantic and comic minutes while I took the very hot smoking dirty frying pan outside, we were serenaded by both smoke alarms, and the kids kept saying things like "it's hard to see across the living room" and I kept saying "there isn't any smoke downstairs, can't you play down there for a while??" I turned off the AC, opened windows, turned on every fan we have, and pretended it wasn't 95 degrees out. The irony that I would have been saving electricity by using solar heat if I hadn't tried to heat up the water an the stove and ended up running all sorts of fans and later needing the AC to run like crazy to catch up? Nope, not lost on me although it almost made me snicker as I was running around throwing windows open and apologizing to Farli for the chaos.

Eventually I got microwaved hot water in the pot in the sun, yarn & vinegar in and dye put on. The pic above shows that stage. It came out a pretty blue and purple but it must not have heated enough because the dye washed off a little as I started rinsing it the next day. So I put it on the stove top and overdyed it purple (still from the tie-dye leftovers).

I decided that I am definitely going to try solar dyeing again but with a homemade reflector (cardboard & foil) and maybe around the summer solstice when I have the longest hours of daylight.

I bet with your sunshine you could do it almost any time of year! Cindy

1 comment:

Alene said...

We've talked about making a solar cooker for years but never got around to it. We have an old solar system on the roof (like my telemarketer job the summer after high school) but it doesn't track any more. It still does a bang-up job on heating water in the pm.
I saw the Knitty article too and want to try it one of these days but I haven't done much dying, just Rit dye several years ago. Knit Picks has a starter kit and undyed yarn that I'm thinking about.