Friday, January 30, 2015

Dried Orange Peels

My brother sent us a large box of Honeybell Oranges for a belated Christmas present.  The kids loved the oranges and ate quiet a few simply peeled.  I was throwing away all the peels initially, but after about the third orange, I thought there has to be some good to these peels.  I decided to save all the future peels and put them in the freezer until all the oranges were gone. I ended up having a filled bag of frozen peels.  

I turned to the internet to research these after a few minutes I learned that Dried Orange Peel is wonderful at many things like:

  • as an additive to food - sprinkle it on your oatmeal, onto sandwiches or add to cookies - apparently the good bacteria in your intestines love it!  They grow and thrive.  I also learned the opposite is true when you eat sugar...this helps the bad bacteria grow and thrive.  
  • Dried Orange Peels also make a good tea - sprinkle a tablespoon into boiling water, let steep and strain.  I assume it works in a similar manner.   
  •  Then there are the uses as skin benefits....helps with acne if you mix with yogurt to make a mask, many people use it to help with mature skin and as a skin brightener.  
  • And the one use that peeked my interest is to use Dried Orange Peel in soap as an exfoliant.  Which is what I plan to do  

So here is what I did with my this space to see the SOAP I make!

I laid my frozen peels on the counter to thaw

Then put them into a warm oven (200 degree) for a few hours.  You will need to check them somewhat don't want them to burn and some will dry sooner than others.

I let them cool overnight.  Then ground them with my spice grinder. 

After grinding all of the peels, I spread the powder out onto a cookie sheet to sit overnight before I placed in a sterile glass jar.  I did this to ensure everything was dry to prevent mold.  There you have it!  Dried Orange Peels to do with what you may......ENJOY the health benefit from something you typically throw away!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Natural Dye Series #5 - Black Beans

 This is probably one of the simplest ways to dye yarn and fabric.   Get a large bag of dried black beans, find a recipe for black bean soup (because you will probably want to eat them after they soak), place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with water.  Soak overnight.  Add more water if necessary. 

In the Morning, drain the liquid.

The bean are ready to be cooked into that recipe.  May I suggest this one.  Easy and delicious.

Place your yarn into the liquid you drained from the beans.  I used unmordanted unknown wool yarn that I found in my local thrift store on a big giant cone.  It is super rustic and scratchy, but perfect for little dyeing experiments.  I've been making a few different naturally dyed colors and am planning to knit a cowl.

I placed this is a sealed jar and put it in the fridge for about a week.  I stirred and check it every once in a while, but I left it alone.  It got kind of stinky so I'm glad I put it in the fridge.  I was afraid of mold.

Here it is...nice and greyish blue.  The yarn on the left was dyed previously and blogged about here.  I heated the black bean mixture which you shouldn't do unless you want a murky brown.

Here is another go with black beans....

I knit the Meadowsweet Shawl.  Out of JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk blend in the daffodil colorway.  I'm not much of a yellow type person so I thought I'd try and dye it with black beans.  
Yellow + Blue = Green!

I put the knit shawl in the black bean liquid.

I was a bit concerned during the soaking (which was about 3-4 days at room temp) that the color was a tad bland and not very vibrant, so I pulled the shawl out and stirred a few tablespoons (about 2-3) of baking soda in the liquid.  After this dissolved, I returned the shawl.  It soaked for additional day. 

The after.....

and all three black bean dyed items together for your reference.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Natural Dye Series, Part 4 -- Black-eyed Susans and Coreopsis Verticillata

No particular reason I grouped Blacked-eyed Susans and Coroepsis together other than I harvested and dyed them on the same day, since they were in full bloom and raging with flowers in Late August.

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia)

I plucked many blooms straight off of the plant and placed them in a jar with some rubbing alcohol to soak.  I placed this in the sun to warm for a few hours.  It really didn't take that long to extract the color.  I also placed two large handfuls into a pot with water and simmered for about an hour.  I added the extracted color from the alcohol to the simmering water mix and cooked a bit longer. 

Freshly plucked pretty little flowers

Into the alcohol

and into the sun

flowers simmering away on the stove

and both solutions...alcohol added to the mix on the stove

and the two strained...look at that dark color!  What color do you think the yarn will be?

Did you guess green?  Here is the pre-modant (alum + CoT) in the pot on a light simmer

Here is the skein after a full soak on the stove and  a rinse

and after a post iron mordant...a wee bit darker

Coreopsis Verticillata

Most people dye with Coreopsis Tinctoria, but that isn't the variety I have in my garden.  I have verticillata which has a pale solid yellow flower with very wispy delicate greeny.  I absolutely love this plant.  Super easy to grow + I've divided my one plant into a few that I've scattered around my perennial beds.  

So I really didn't know what to expect when I harvested this plant in the fall.  So I dyed some yarn on a whim.  My thought was 'well it is still in the Coreopsis family so maybe I'll get some sort of color.'  The Tinctoria variety has a dark orange center to the flower while verticillata is solid yellow so I was thinking I'd get a green or maybe a yellow.

I placed my cut foliage into the pot and simmered for a few hours.   
I got a murky orange!

In went the pre-mordant yarn (alum + CoT).  Soaked and simmered for about an hour.

The skeins out after a rinse

and the before and after on doing a iron post mordant ... everything is a bit darker and more intesne

Here is the before and after on all the skeins

I didn't dye the skein on the far right and I added one at the last minute that didn't make the before shot.  The unknown stash skein on the far left really didn't produce any type of promising results. 

Rebatching soap - Haste doesn't always make waste!

A while back I made a batch of my Lavender Chamomile soap and it didn't come out very pretty.  I was a bit short on time and I added my lye solution to my oils when it was too hot...I knew at the time that something like this might happen, but I just went ahead and poured it in and swirled.  You can see in the picture below the effect this gives on the soap.  The edges are a bit lighter than the main body of the bar.  It is a perfectly fine soap...I used a bar and it had a nice stable lather and it smelled amazing, but it was ugly.  So I decided to try and re-batch it.  I got out my cheese grater and grated away all 12 bars and added the shavings to my crock-pot.  

I let this cook on the lowest setting for about an hour.  I added 1/4 cup water to help soften it a bit and mixed.  This continued to cook while I added a bit of water every 30  minutes of so.  I had to resort to using my potato masher to really mix the soap.  In the end it cooked for a few hours and I added about 1 cup of water. I did add a bit more Lavender Essential Oil too.  It looked like really lumpy mashed potatoes.  You might want to add less water, but I wanted to make sure it didn't stick and burn to the bottom of my crock-pot.  (I re-batched a different batch of soap and hardly added any water...I really didn't see any difference in cooking, etc - maybe this is personal preference and trial and error depending on your initial batch).  Once you are done cooking, you have to act quickly to get it in your mold.

Here is the before and after soap - both excellent qualities, but a bit of an enhancement in look.

And here is the other batch of soap.  It is all the shavings I've been saving when I trim the edges on my bars with a veggie peeler.  In the crock-pot they went...cooked and mixed with a potato masher for a few hours.  I added hardly any water and scraped into my mold.