Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Long weekends.

This weekend, while I was in the kitchen making some soup stock, I figured I may as well get out the dye pot at the same time.
I had this many carrot tops, times two, in my freezer hoping to get to this soon.  I have been told that carrot tops make a very reliable green so I thought I would give it a go.  According to my dyeing book, using alum for the mordant would give "chartreuse" and tin should give "deep celery green".  Deep celery green sounded lovely, so I chose to go with tin.
Carrot tops simmering in the dye pot look suspiciously like pond water.

I added the tin and stirred it all up.  No problem so far.  Then I added the cream of tartar, and that is when the whole pot turned cloudy yellow.  I was under the impression that one always has to add cream of tartar to the dye pot...maybe that is just with alum.  I have since looked it up, and it turns out that cream of tartar can be added to the tin "if desired" to soften the wool, and change the colour.  Hmmm.
This is what the colour looks like compared to the daffodil dyed yarn.  It is clearly not "deep celery green".  I currently have some walnut hulls soaking so I might give it a little dip in there after dyeing the next ball of yarn to tone down the yellow a bit.  I'll have to see what happens to the test run though.

Incidentally, I finished the fingerless gloves and have started a second pair to give as a gift.  I used a free pattern from the internet - by Bernat - but try as I might I can't find it again.  I will have to check on my printout and add it here later.  It is on their website and the pattern is "Softee Chunky - Family Convertible Gloves/Mittens".  You have to sign in to get to the patterns.
For mine, I used a bulky yarn and larger needles and then followed the kids pattern.  For the "gift pair" I am using two strands of worsted weight yarn and following the adult (men's) sizing. 

In the kitchen:  I had a pot of beef stock simmering on the stove for most of Saturday.  I bought some bones from the butcher for it.  In the past, I have pretty much stuck to chicken stock as those are the bones I usually have on hand, but I wanted to see if it really was the stock that made a difference between my french onion soup and my mom's.  It is.  I had plans to make a huge pot of soup and pressure can several jars to have on hand in the winter, but by the time I was done and we had some for dinner, I only had 3 pint jars left, so I put them in the freezer.

Here is my recipe:
Put a good size glob of butter in your pan...more than you think you will need.  For this many onions...
 ...I'm guessing about 9 or so (that is a pie plate, heaped) plus this many leeks...
...12 small ones...I probably started with about 3 or 4 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp olive oil.  I added the leeks because I had originally bought 2 bags of onions, but used half a bag over the weekend, so I wanted to top it up.  They are from my garden so as a bonus, they will be the "eat something from the garden" ingredient for the next 3 times I eat my soup.  Little bonus there.

Saute the onions (and leeks) until they start to caramelize a bit.  When they start to stick to the bottom of the pot, add another pat of butter (1 tbsp at a time) if needed and scrape up all those nice brown bits.  Sprinkle about 3 tbsp of flour on top and stir stir stir.  It will want to stick and burn at this point.  When it is all a nice golden colour, add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups white wine and again, scrape up all those nice brown bits.  Now add your stock.  Beef stock.  I have always used chicken in the past, and trust me on this one - it makes a world of difference.  (This is the stock I spent all day Saturday simmering and then dropped a third of it on our back porch steps bringing it in from the garage).  I think I probably had about 7 cups.  Adding more would not hurt at all if you have a really good broth going.  Add a bit of tabasco (sounds weird I know, but it makes a difference) or Buffalo wing hot sauce if you ran out of tabasco (*grin*), 4 bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about half an hour.  Then top it up with bread/croutons of choice, cheese of choice, and broil it until it is all melty and delicious.

From the bookshelf:  I have finished reading "The Far Side of the Mountain" which follows "My Side of the Mountain" and the child in the book is always eating wild plants.  It has peaked my interest enough to check out a book about edible wild plants from the library but it isn't a very good one, so I will be going back to check out some more.  I am also reading the current issue of "Mother Earth News" a little bit at a time on my lunch break at work.  

Linking up with:  keep calm craft on at frontier dreams on Tuesday
                          yarn along at small things on Wednesday
                         the backyard farming connection
                          fiber arts friday at Wisdom begins in wonder
                          creative friday at Natural suburbia 


  1. The yarn is so pretty, but I understand how it is when something doesn't turn out quite as you had hoped. Thanks for sharing that recipe too! :)

  2. Love the color of the yarn! Am fascinated by natural dyes. Do you recommend the book you're using? Would love the title and author if you think it's a good one.

  3. The muted yellow is lovely! Natural dyeing can yield unexpected results, but still beautiful.

  4. Thumbs up for doing the natural dyiny and thanks for the recipe. Made me hungry so I had to take a break and eat one of my homemade power bars.

  5. Wowza, that recipe has me hungry. I love the color of that yarn. It will be interesting to see it over-dyed.

  6. I love that yellow yarn! I have been having fun plant dying myself recently too. I am always interested to see how other people acheive different colours and hues.
    Your recipe sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Natural dying can be so unpredictable but I like it just the same. Your yarn is a pretty color even if it isn't the color you were looking for. Great thing is you can always try again.

  8. I love the yellow. We've just started natural dying and I'm looking forward to trying something like this!