Did you know that you can get a beautiful natural dyed RED from bugs?Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) grows on cacti of the Opuntia family (prickly pear cactus) and is native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico.
Recently, I sponsored a Cochineal Dye Workshop at Meridian Jacobs Farm with owner, Robin Lynde. Rocio Mena Guitterez (our gal from The Natural Dye Project: see her blogs) came from Mexico City to share her knowledge of the process of turning dead bugs into RED!
First we tried our hand at stamping fabric with varying concentrations of mordants and then immersing them in the cochineal dye bath. Note that the background on these remain white because the fabric was not pre-mordanted prior to stamping and when immersed in the bath only the stamped areas took the dye.
Cochineal is grown on farms in Oaxaca, Mexico. The males are separated from the females and discarded since it is only the females that give the red dye. (No one could figure out how they knew male from female!)
Lots of tiny Cochineal bugs ready for us to grind up into a fine red powder.
Traditionally, a mortar and pestle is used to turn the dried cochineal bugs into a fine powder, but these modern-day gals resorted to their handy coffee grinder to do the trick in a flash!
Once the water is hot, the fine powder goes into the pot along with a few natural chemicals and is simmered for about an hour. Although we were all anxious to get our cotton and silk scarves into the dye bath, we took a lunch break and patiently waited for the magic to begin!
Ah, pure gold, but this time it’s pure RED! The bath is strained, removing any residue cochineal powder.
We goofed, and dropped the strainer and cloth and had to start all over again, but the results was well worth the extra labor! Now the fun of dyeing our pre-mordanted silk and cotton scarves, that Rocio provided, is about to begin!
At the end of the day, we were all very happy cochineal dyers, thanks to Rocio!
If you don’t have time to dye your own cochineal yarns, order our Friendship Towel with Tintes Naturales kit to make towels, vests, jackets, baby blanket and more! The cotton yarns are dyed with cochineal, osage orange, madder and indigo!
Cotton Clouds has Bundles of Baby Blankets!
Blankets are wonderfully practical items to give as gifts and CottonClouds.com has a great variety of knitting, weaving and crochet kits from which to choose!
They say that babies love to be swaddled, so tucking in a little one with a handmade blanket is like giving them a little extra hug!
So Soft for Baby’s Delicate Skin!
Cotton is soft on a baby’s delicate skin! Moms love the oh-so-easy care that comes with cotton fabric, no matter if it is knit, crochet or woven! Looking for a few great ideas? Check out the Modern Cotton Baby Blanket Kit, Knit Blankets book, and Organic Cotton Baby Soft Blanket Kit!
Warm in winter, Cool in Summer!
With their internal temperature regulation still developing, a cotton or cellulose-based yarn like bamboo blanket will help keep the wee one warm in winter and cool in the summer. Our Bambu baby blanket kit includes Bambu, grown without pesticides or fertilizers, making this an ideal all-natural gift. Don’t you just love these two-tone color choices!
Blankets Come In All Sizes!
Blankets are fabulous projects to make because you don’t have to worry about the fit; any size is useful! Having a fun colorful blanket also makes a great space for the baby to play with their toys and observe the world around them. The kits shown above come with everything you need to make a gift that is sure to be cherished! Clockwise from top right: Panda Silk Waffle Weave Baby Blanket, Sprout Baby Blanket, Sweet Honeycomb Waffle Weave Baby Blanket, and Pakucho Organic Cotton Baby Blanket.
Help Children Around the World!
With our newest kit, the Friendship Baby Blanket, you can help others help their children as well! The Friendship Baby Blanket is part of a larger project: The Natural Dye Project that allows the women to earn a living wage. When your favorite baby is snuggled in one of these blankets (each kit makes two!), hand-dyed and handwoven with love, know that a child in San Rafael, Guatemala will have a richer life!
It Takes a Village!
We invite you to share them with us by posting to our Facebook page or our Ravelry group, tag us on Instagram when you snap a quick picture, and join us in the Cotton Clouds Kit-of-the-Month Facebook group!
Inspire someone today to make a wonderful baby gift! Here’s to many snuggles and cuddles with a cozy blanket!
~ Irene & Jodi
Got BABY? Need Blanket?
Make square after square for a collection of washcloths for Baby, or stitch them together for a cuddly blankie!
Looking for a simple yet beautiful gift for that new one? Look no further than this baby blocks collection. This book includes instructions for 10 easy-to-knit blocks, each featuring a different textured pattern. Also included are instructions for a block with a slip-stitch pattern; this block is worked 10 times, with each block using different colors for the stripes.
Worked in soft Cotton Classic, 100% cotton yarn and sewn together, the 20 blocks create a lovely baby blanket. Knit individually, they work equally well as washcloths for bath time.
The textured patterns are very geometric—diamonds, squares, basket weaves, circles, zigzag and more. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the variety of stitch patterns as you work each 8-inch block. Special consideration was taken that the blocks do not have any lace holes or strands of yarn to catch little fingers or toes.
So grab your yarn and needles and get started on this fun, portable and always interesting project! It’s easy to order this all-in-one BABY BLOCK AFGHAN KIT with all the Cotton Classic yarns and instructions you’ll need!
Meet the Designer
My mother taught me to knit when I was 9 or 10 years old, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I picked up the needles again, and I haven’t put them down since. What started out as a hobby, knitting for my three children, has become a full-time career. I began knitting model garments for the yarn industry, and at the same time working on some of
my own designs.
I then began doing freelance designing, and my patterns have appeared in the collections of Classic Elite, Fiber Trends, Tahki Stacy Charles, Lion Brand Yarns and others. They have been published by Annie’s and Interweave Press. In 2001,
I launched my own business, Lisa Knits, a line of knitwear patterns that are available in yarn shops across
Basic Block & Afghan Information
Block: 8 x 8 inches
Afghan: 32 x 40 inches
- Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic (DK weight; 100% mercerized cotton;
108 yds/50g per hank):
- 6 hanks butter yellow #3548 (A);
- 2 hanks each coral #3473 (B), leaf green #3716 ,(C) soft turquoise #3816 (D), light denim #3847 (E) and light wisteria #3915 (F)
- Size 7 (4.5mm) needles or size needed to obtain gauge
- Stitch markers (optional)
The afghan consists of 20 blocks made with Cotton Classic yarns: 1 each of the 10 different-color textured blocks and 10 slip-stitch blocks that are worked with 1 main color and 2 contrasting colors that vary with each block.
Each textured block requires approximately 70 yards. Each slip-stitch block requires approximately
50 yards of A (main color) and 14 yards each of 2 contrasting colors.
Each block begins and ends with 41 stitches.
The borders are worked in Seed stitch and the centers are worked in the different pattern stitches. If desired, place markers between the 4-stitch
Seed stitch borders and the main pattern stitches. See each block for the pattern stitches.
With A and using whipstitch or mattress stitch seam, using Cotton Classic yarn to sew blocks together create a 4-column, 5-row checkerboard of textured blocks (Blocks 1–10) and slip- stitch blocks (Blocks 11A–11J) in any order desired.
Order BABY BLOCK AFGHAN KIT now and save $12!
Make 20 practical and soft washcloths for baby or yourself!
Create a luscious baby blanket afghan for your favorite baby!
Made with 100% mercerized Cotton Classic cotton yarn!
Machine wash and dryable!
Baby will love you for their blankie and so will the happy parents!
Enjoy, Irene & Jodi
What Makes Your Heart Happy?
During February we’ve been talking a lot about doing things to keep your heart healthy, and we shouldn’t forget that an important part of heart health is doing what you love! This commercial for Equador, with the stunning photography and wonderful Beatles tune, certainly made our heart soar when we saw it! It’s a beautiful world out there, we should get out and enjoy it!
Our Ravelry Group Responds
We posed the question, “What Makes Your Heart Happy?”, to our Ravelry group and had a wonderful variety of answers that we expected, and some we didn’t. Weavers, spinners, knitters and crocheters all responded, where you one of them? Feel free to join us! Here are a few of the responses that really struck us:
- …when that idea becomes a project just the way you imagined it.
- Right now my livestock makes me happy… baby ducks next week, and baby goats not too long after that!
- When my husband helps me warp my looms.
- Those breath-taking moments in nature like watching a raptor soar on a thermal make my heart sing.
- Color in the winter!
Crafting a Happy Heart
A fabulous way to brighten up the drab winter days is to bring the color RED into your next project! Red is eye-catching, energizing, and is the color of energy, passion and action! Creating and giving are two of the most important parts to keep your heart happy.
Cotton Clouds will donate 10% of all Stitch Red kit sales (through March 1, 2015) to Heart Truth, an organization that promotes women’s heart health. Join us, and together we can save lives … it could be your own!
A Chuckle A Day…
Everyone likes a good laugh, but in all seriousness, more women die of cardiovascular disease than all forms of cancer combined! Too many of us have family members dealing with heart issues. Take good care of your heart! Give your heart lots of love, with laughter and smiles, exercise and a healthy diet!
Need a New Plan for Your Healthy Heart?
If you need another little boost to help you get started, check out the #4MyHeart campaign from the Heart Truth! They have a 4-week action plan that will educate you, inspire better eating, lower your heart disease risk, and take the next steps to put you in control of your healthy heart!
Cheers to Happy Hearts, Living Creatively, and Following Your Heart’s Desire!
– Irene & Jodi
“One out of every four women will die of heart disease”
Cotton Clouds is sponsoring Stitch Red to raise awareness about the dangers of Heart Disease in women. We’ll donate 10% of sales through March 1, 2015 to The Heart Truth on all Cotton Clouds’ exclusively designed Stitch Red kits.
“Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of American Women”
There are early warning symptoms and ways to prevent this disease from devastating our lives. Click Here to download “The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women” and Click Here to watch the video “Heart Attack Warning Signs”. For the story to really hit home , Click Here to view the video “Just a Little Heart Attack”, by Emmy Award Winning actress Elizabeth Banks, dramatizing our lives as women to to hilt. Don’t wait till it’s too late. Please do it now!
Our Stitch Red kits are quick and easy to knit, weave, crochet or spin .
Remember that “National Wear Red Day “ is on February 6 . It’s a great way to show your suport for women’s heart health issues. Let’s all dazzle them in red!
We asked our weaving designer, Robin Lynde from Meridian Jacobs to design us a soft and luscious chenille scarf kit that would really say red, the color associated with warmth, power and passion. Here are her notes on how she designed this scarf.
I love having a good supply of reds on hand. Scarlatto, Show Off Red, Scarlet all have subtle color differences. Although I used only Scarlatto in this chenille scarf I also sometimes like to blend them all in one warp. Gypsy Chenille Mini Cones are a great way to get small amounts of a variety of colors.
Whether I’m winding a mult-colored or mulit-shaded warp I use an easy method that keeps everything in order. Click Here for my easy warping method.
Click Here for all our TIPS on Weaving with Chenille. Once the Gypsy Chenille scarf is on the loom, it’s easy sailing to weave it off. I warped and wove this Stitch Red Scarf Kit in less than a day! And this kit is designed to weave either one thick & snuggly scarf or two narrower scarves, so you can weave one for yourself and give the other as a way of promoting women’s heart health to someone you love!
The best way to finish and full this scarf is to put it in the washer on gentle with a very mild laundry liquid. Throw it in the dryer and remove just before completely dry. Complete warping, weaving and finishing instructions included with your Stitch Red Chenille Scarf kit!
Be sure to check out all our Stitch Red Kits. There’s here something for everyone…knitter, crocheter, spinner and weaver. Plus watch for our cute new Cotton Classic Lite Stitch Red Beret kit coming soon!
RED is truly the color of love, passion and a way of reminding us to STOP, smell the roses, take care of ourselves and do what we love for ourselves and all we love!
How big is your creative community?
Our lives as fiber artists are woven together through a common thread of passion for color, texture, technique and purpose.
This community is bigger than you might think! Right now, around the world, people are weaving, spinning, knitting and crocheting!
Thanks to the internet, we have more options than ever before to learn and share our different techniques, styles and cultures as we manipulate our favorite fibers. Cottonclouds.com is pleased to be a common thread between you and the global community of fiber artists!
Sari Silk: Helping women earn a fair wage!
Sari Silk is a 100% recycled multi-colored silk spun from recycled “saris” that women South Asia wear. Silk sari fabric is shredded and then respun into a vibrant silk yarn.
This industry helps support the many struggling economic regions of Nepal and India and mainly benefits the women and women’s development groups there.
Whether you choose to spin your own sari silk yarn from the silk fiber, purchase the sari silk yarn, or one of our sari silk kits (click on kits above, to learn more) , you’ll be helping women around the world as well as creating a truly unique product. I love Sari Silk!
Folk Series: Bring the world to your fingertips!
For the worldly-minded knitters, travel the world and explore the culture with the Folk Series of books from Interweave Press. The history and traditions, folk stories, and regional histories from the countries of origin are presented in each volume.
What a wonderful way to connect to these folk traditions.
You too can Weave a Real Peace: Join WARP!
Remember the phrase, Act Locally, Think Globally? Weaving a Real Peace (WARP) is an international networking organization based in the United States that delivers. Founded in 1992, WARP offers a forum for those interested in supporting individuals and organizations that strive to maintain long-standing textile traditions.
Come join me at WARP’s Annual Meeting May 29-31, 2015 in the Bay Area and feel part of the global “tribe of fiber artists”. Rocio Mena Gutierrez (read her blog) will be giving a presentation on the Importance of Textiles to Grassroots Economies in Guatemala.
Travel to Guatemala from the comfort of your loom!
Mayan Hands, a fair-trade organization The Natural Dye Project brought the ancient craft of dyeing cotton yarns with local plants to the women of San Rafael, Guatemala and to produce these Friendship Towels with Tintes Naturals that you can now weave!
As you weave these gorgeous naturally dyed towels, you will not only be creating a set of four all-cotton towels, but you will be giving the women of Guatemala a chance of better life and honoring the skills they have spent a lifetime learning.
Over 150 kits have been sold; the women’s annual, fair-trade income increased ten-fold from the sale of these kits. A joint community effort of dyeing instructors, towel designer, graphic artist, and Cotton Clouds marketing of this kit has all been done through volunteer work.
Join the community of our Kit-of-the-Month Members!
In the spirit of continuing the community, Cotton Clouds has created a new group on Facebook: the Cotton Clouds Kit-of-the-Month Club. If you have participated in any of our monthly Kits or Clubs, please join us!
Creating Community one post at-a-time!
This group is a place to ask questions, share your projects and be inspired by the work of others. Our kits are easy and affordable, and there is something for every fiber artist! Now is a great time to check out the variety we offer and ensure that 2015 will be your year to feel creative and accomplished!
Insta-Community on Instagram!
Say Cheese! You can now connect with us on Instagram, we’re @CottonCloudsYarns. We’d love to see what you are doing with your cotton and natural fibers: spinning, knitting, weaving, crocheting or even dyeing!
It is truly rewarding to feel connected to the thread of fiber artists all over the world whether here at home or half way across the globe.
Irene Schmoller, Cotton Clouds’ founder and owner.
Stumped on what to give your favorite fiber artist? Gift Certificates $100 or more come with FREE SHIPPING when redeemed! Hurry offer ends December 23! We’ll deliver certificate right to their email! http://ow.ly/G1EpR http://ow.ly/i/7YaDl