Silk-dyed eggs

This easter, forgo the candy-colored tablets and vinegar for dyeing eggs with silk neckties. You can always find silk ties at the thriftstore (or maybe this is your chance to free the men in your life from any outdated neckwear). Dyeing eggs with neckties is one of my favorite seasonal projects because it¬†incorporates green-crafting practices and, since you never know which ties will make the prettiest eggs, there’s a delightful mystery to it all.

My best friend’s aunt showed us this when we were kids. I remember the first time I unwrapped my tie-wrapped egg…MAGIC!!! They’re still so fun to unwrap. Martha Stewart featured this method in her online magazine in 2006, but I’d like to think that we beat Martha to it.

Anyway, on with the egg-dyeing!

Dyeing Eggs with silk ties

Materials: raw eggs, fabric shears, sewing thread (white or light colors are best), and 100% silk neckties

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Look for labels that say “all silk” or “100% silk.” Dont guess! It wont work with anything but 100% silk.

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

A word on choosing the ties: Blue and red are a dime a dozen. Greens and browns are rare so snatch them up if you see some. Sometimes the ugliest ties make pretty eggs, so dont discriminate ūüôā

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Dissect the tie, separating the silk from all of the liners and backing

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

With the right side facing the egg, cut a rectangle that easily covers the egg

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Now wrap the egg with thread, carefully tucking the ends in like youre wrapping a present

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Keep wrapping until you cant see any silk. Sometimes this takes a whole spool of thread

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Boil for 15-20 minutes, cross your fingers, and unwrap!

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

My favorite of the bunch – an impressively crisp paisley

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Blue checks with a tinge of pink (I think from the red thread)

Dyeing eggs with silk ties

Such pretty soft yellow dots!

Eggs dyed with silk neckties

All lined up

I hope this inspires you to give the silk-dyeing a try. As for what to do with your dyed eggs, I’ve read some warnings online about not eating them since the dye isn’t technically food-safe. However we’ve always eaten them with no ill effects. Maybe the ill effects are coming…reader Joan who is a fiber artist commented below to remind everyone to a) not eat these and b) dye them in a separate pot. Thanks Joan!

You can keep them in a cool, dry location and after a few years the eggs will naturally dry out inside. As long as they don’t crack (which would be a nasty, smelly affair) you can use them year after year as decoration. My mom still sets out eggs that we dyed over a decade ago.

Several commenters have asked why not hollow out the eggs first. I’ve done it both ways and in my experience, hollowing them out makes the eggs pretty fragile. The pictures transfer best when you wrap the eggs TIGHTLY, which is hard to do when you’ve hollowed them. Maybe I just don’t have a delicate enough touch…you can certainly try hollowing them first and you might have better luck than me! I’d rather just let them dry out naturally over time.

Here are links to other crafty bloggers who have used this method and notes on their variations:

The Magic Onions (weight the eggs down in the pot with a stone…brilliant!)

Crafting in a Green World (use different ties on the same egg for a stripe effect)

Our Best Bites (cover the silk with a piece of plain fabric instead of thread)

Snaps and Blabs (some of the best pattern transfer I’ve seen!!)

Cucina Testa Rossa (suggested by Lisa; rub finished eggs with oil for impressive shine)


Our six cent Save-the-Dates

Save-the-Dates are a great place to venture out into DIY. Invitations have to contain a lot of information, but Save-the-Dates just require a date, your names, and a friendly message. Making your own can save a lot of money too. Forget $1 color copies at Kinkos. We saved the file in a 4×6″ jpeg format and printed it at Walgreens just like it was a photo. Glossy paper, bright clear colors, all for 6 cents apiece. SIX CENTS! Including stamps, we printed and sent 200 Save the Dates for about $80 total.

You don’t even need to own an image editing program because Adobe offers their design suite as a free 30-day download. With that said, here are my step-by-step instructions for how to do this yourself:

1. Take a photo of the two of you together. Make it fun.

2. Open a new file in InDesign (or your program of choice). Set the resolution at 400-600 pixels per inch, and set the size at 6 inches wide and 4 inches tall.

3. Experiment with fonts & backgrounds. I’m a big fan of…anything to break out of the default font rut. And look for backgrounds with a little texture and depth. I had fun searching online free scrapbooking databases, which have lots of interesting backgrounds.

4. Save the file on a jump drive. Save it as a jpeg and print as a 4×6 photo at a drug store or any photo-printing kiosk. If you want to email the file, save it as a pdf as well.

Here’s our Save-the-Date:

I got the idea to write the wedding date on a chalkboard and then take our picture with it in Italy. We took SO MANY pictures…Read was very kind to entertain me on this. The shot we chose was taken in an alley in Venice with my camera’s automatic timer (we set it on a windowsill). I’m wearing a hat in all the pictures because my hairdryer made ominous electrical noises when plugged into an adapter and then an Italian outlet. The background I found by typing “green fabric” into Google images, and then sorting the results so that I could view only the “large” files. I played with the fabric’s brightness and contrast in Photoshop.

Here’s another example that I just did last week for my coworker:

Terrie and Jill used the photobooth at the mall, which automatically added the “old-film” edging (cute!). We originally put the whole photo strip in the design, but after playing around with the layout Terrie decided she preferred just this one. I like how the couple seems to be looking up at the text. I found this background on a scrapbooking website. Terrie and Jill emailed this as a pdf attachment to all of their guests.

What are some fun Save-the-Dates that you’ve seen around the web? What tips and tricks do you recommend for anyone wanting to design their own? Any website or font recommendations?

Cast On: Snowbird cardigan

Late last week my friend and coworker had some crowns put in, a root canal, AND her wisdom teeth removed…all in one fell swoop. Talk about pain meds. I took work off to spend the day with her. I knew I’d be sitting in the waiting room a while and maybe watching tv while she slept. This all led me to one important conclusion—I needed a big new knitting project. And not a stash project. One where I pick out a pattern and go buy the yarn and everything.

Snowbird photo by PiPiBird on ravelry


I’ve been wanting to try a simple open cardigan and¬†this post from barefoot rooster¬†pointed me towards the¬†Snowbird cardigan from Heidi Kirrmaier. I picked out a silk/wool blend and bought the pattern off ravelry (username=foxflat). That marks the first time I’ve bought a pattern online – it was really easy. I’ve never knit a raglan-type sweater in the round so I’m looking forward to it. I¬†may shorten it up some – depends how quickly I go through the skeins I bought.

My other big project this week was trying to figure out how to keep the cats out of our roommate’s houseplants. Their litterbox is upstairs and amazingly, they seem to be too lazy to walk up there. Read says it’s because they probably prefer real dirt to litter. Either way…poor plants. We need to fix it. Do any of you have tried and true strategies? This is what we’ve come up with so far:¬†

Kabob sticks, planted sharp side up


more cat traps


Hope you had an enjoyable weekend! I’ll leave you with two bits of Oregon-themed happiness.

The first is a link to one of my favorite songs–Loretta Lynn is one classy lady. ¬†Portland Oregon w/ Jack White

The second is a photo from a warm afternoon walk around the Portland Rose Garden yesterday. No roses yet…but all of the fruit trees were in bloom. So pretty.

Portland Rose Garden in March

Invitation sneak peek

Here’s a sneak peek at the wedding invitations that our friend Dave is working on for us. My favorite part is the house that he digitally illustrated using a photo of our wedding site. Look! How cool is that?

The wedding site

the invitation

Where do YOU take your knitting??

Last night I watched a commercial where an iphone-owner bragged that he didn’t mind being put on hold anymore because the iphone¬†lets him¬†simultaneously pay bills, watch videos, and play games. It made me think of how when I graduated from high school everyone gave me calling cards for presents so that I could call home from the dorm phones for free. Then I felt old.

One day I’m going to walk into the cellphone store and there won’t be any phones that just call people anymore…which will be okay. I guess it will provide me with additional ways to occupy myself when put on hold. Or waiting for the doctor. Or sitting on a long flight. For now my go-to time-occupier is knitting. Seriously, you can take it anywhere.

For instance, last weekend my friend Emily invited me cross-country skiing in the Oregon mountains. I haven’t been skiing since I was a kid in Ohio, where it was very flat and very cold. I remember that it sometimes involved blisters and very tangled falls, but was fun. So off we went, and wow what a day. Blue skies! Mountains! Sunshine!

Hoodoo ski area in Oregon

A couple miles in and I¬†was feeling the burn. Turns out a “flat” trail in Oregon means “full of little hills” if you’re used to the glacier-flattened landscapes of Ohio. And going downhill kept resulting in wipeouts. Emily and her friend spotted a monstrous hill to the right and got all excited about taking a detour to go up and down it. I respectfully declined, sat down on the backpack to wait, and then remembered I’d packed my knitting in the backpack.¬†Now I can add “cross country-skiing” to the list of situations where I’ve been happy to have my knitting.

So where do YOU take your knitting?

check out the ice-wipeout-knuckles

Our lunches were in the backpack (my seat). Emily thanked me later for turning her sandwich into a panini


emerging out of a several month hybernation ….. the winter makes me become a bit anti-social. TADA! the sun came out today and spring is on her way. i wanted share two baby blankets in the round that my sister, kath, just posted to our family etsy site! hooray!

they are simple and colorful. a perfect size for a new baby to cocoon in. these are just a start to what i know will become a tiny obsession in the next couple of months until i run out of colorful yarn (god forbid!). so please feel free to donate (dump) any colorful acrylic yarn you might have lying about … my yarn box is running thin.

be sure to check out the etsy site:

watch for updates … finished mixed media piece pics and ideas for a new weaving project!

The twice-failed hat

I’m enjoying the posts from¬†Make & Meaning,¬†a relatively new blog whose contributors are out to “celebrate all the ways making enhances our lives, and all the things it causes us think about.” It rounds out the project-and-tutorial based blogs I read. Last week’s post about the wisdom of mistakes¬†ended with the following quote and call to action:¬†

‚ÄúCreative people make a mess, clean it up and make another mess. There are no mistakes in art only happy little accidents.‚ÄĚ ¬†~Timothy Leonard. ¬†So drag out one of your failures (come on, I know you‚Äôve got at least one lurking!) and challenge yourself to see it with fresh enquiring eyes.

Lurking failure, huh? Yup – every knitter has a few of those. Like this black wool hat whose yarn was too thick for the pattern and needle size, resulting in a stiff, heavy, and subsequently itchy piece of winter wear. It’s been sitting at the ¬†bottom of my hat/scarf bin ever since I made it a few years ago.¬†

A pretty pattern ruined by the wrong yarn

I frogged the whole thing, wound the yarn on my knitting noddy, gave it a bath, and hung it to dry (with a jar of change tied to the bottom to stretch it straight). I experimented with a few different needle sizes and settled on sz. 8, then set out to make another copy of my favorite red hat. 

knitting on lunch break


Nice drape, nice shape, wrong size


Only I messed up again. The hat was too loose. My coworker walked in just as I was about to frog it all again…

T: “Katie, what are you doing?!”

K: “This hat’s too loose. I have to rip it out and start again.”

T: “Noooo!! You just made it! Don’t rip it out. Let me take it home to D___. I think it will fit him.”

(Why does everyone always try to stop me from ripping out my knitting? Read has to leave the room when I do it.)¬†I made her promise to be truthful about how well the hat fit D__, because I have NO PROBLEM just frogging and re-doing. She came in the next morning saying that he tried it, it fit, and he liked it. So the twice-failed hat became a success by way of finding a new head to fit. Plus it serves as a gift to the person who’s designing our wedding invitations. I suppose that’s solution enough for me.¬†

What projects do you have lurking in the bottom of your bins?