Monthly Archives: May 2016

Solar Dyeing

2016-05-11 12.22.13 It started so simply.  A few mason jars, filled with warm water, some dye and put out in the sun.  Then I added a dark metal pan for the base.  And stacked up some paving stones to make a wind shelter.  And aluminum foil for a collector & solar oven v.1 was born.

When it was warm & sunny, the set up gave good results.

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But when the wind picked up or the temps dropped, it didn’t.  (sorry- no picture of the sad yarn.  I threw more dye on it & put it on the stove right away)

Solar Oven v.2 was a black plastic storage bin, foil and a dry cleaner bag for a seal to trap the heat.  The wind took it apart before it ever had a chance.  Also, it seemed like the outside box was nice & hot, but the inside stayed cold.  Not enough light collection into the center.

Which led to some websites on designs for solar ovens.  I decided simple & durable were my main project guidelines.  Cheap would be nice too 🙂

Here are the pics of Solar Oven v.3 in progress.  It’s made out of basic pressure treated lumber & assembled using a circular saw, drill with bits & a screw driver attachment.


The lid is a simple piece of plexiglass that was precut to 30 x 36″ and supported by some 1 x 2 strips. It sits inside the box on rails to make a nice tight fit.


The day I got the wonderful idea to build a solar over, it was 68F and sunny.  The day we started building, it was 41F & raining.  Below are my not-approved for work gloves that I threw on when things got ridiculously cold!


We’re ready for spray painting things black, but we need the temps to climb first.

There may be too much space inside the oven for it to heat well. If so, I’ve got the start of a wonderful garden box!

More updates shortly.


Author, Author! SciFi & Fantasy

This is supposed to be a blog about stories as well as yarn, and I’ve been slacking on the book reviews and lists.  So-  ta-da!  Here is the beginning of my “I love these authors” list.  Why authors instead of titles?  Because the people on this list are so good at what they do that I can’t pick just one title or even one series.  I’ll start reviews by picking books/series from this list.


(yes- sci fi.  The old fashioned abbreviation.  I’m old, and I break out in hives when I see it written as SYFY)

  • Neal Stephenson
  • Ian Banks
  • Peter Hamilton
  • Julie Czerneda
  • Sheri Tepper
  • David Brin
  • John Scalzi
  • Brandon Sanderson
  • Connie Willis


  • Robin Hobb
  • Patrick Rothfuss
  • Jim Butcher
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Tad Williams
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Brandon Sanderson
  • Tanya Huff
  • Tom Holt
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Scott Lynch

Urban / Paranormal Fantasy

  • Jim Butcher
  • Kevin Hearne
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Shannon Mayer
  • Patricia Briggs

Classics Sci Fi/ Fantasy

  • L’Engle
  • McCaffery
  • R.A. McAvoy
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Roger Zelazny
  • Susan Cooper
  • Phillip Pullman
  • Margaret Weis
  • Katherine Kerr

Before you say- wait- What about Benford, Bear, Gibson, Robinson, Scott Card, Modesitt, and all of the authors I love?!  How could this list not include Tolkien!  What about Asimov and Bradbury & Heinlein?!  Alan Dean Foster, Robert Asprin, Piers Anthony.

Peace!  I love these authors too.  I’ve read most of their work.    But for a bunch of capricious reasons. they aren’t on the list.  Most people on the list are actively publishing.  Not all.  Some are important to me for personal reasons.  It’s the joy of having my own list.   And in case there is any doubt:  Terry Pratchett will always be at the top any fantasy list I write.

This isn’t to say that more authors won’t be added along the way.  Maybe I’ll add  lists based on the publishing time period.

Spring Garden (continued)


More handpainted garden yarn.  Spring is dragging it’s feet around here, and I’m doing what I can to throw color around.

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The two skeins above have the same four dyes blended in different ways.  They look similar, but they will be quite different knitted up.

The top one has pink and green blending together which add a brown/earthy color to the yarn.  The repeats are shorter- 2-6″ long- so that the colors will be more random in the finished piece.

The lower one has pink blending into yellow which adds a pink/orange color.  The lower one has longer repeats that are dominated by the pink.  This will be fabulous in a shawl because the long repeats will show as color lines rather than dots.

  • Technique:  handpainted in skein form, wrapped in plastic and steamed.
  • Dyes: a mix of acid dyes from Greener Shades, Dharma Trading & Jacquard
  • Fiber:  80% superwash merino/20% nylon sock yarn