Pysanky Day!

This was the first Pysanky Day we’ve done for this year. We’ve got another one scheduled on April 14th since we didn’t finish.

Pysanky are traditional Ukrainian decorated eggs, a craft that has a 4,000 year history. I enjoy them because it’s a chance to play with something three-dimensional but using two-dimensional techniques – drawing and writing.

Essentially, you start the design on a clean egg in pencil. Then using a stylus called a kistka, melted wax is applied onto the egg. Successive dye baths add color, and using the wax-resist process, the design accumulates. When finished, the egg is covered in wax which is melted to reveal the design. Many artists then cover the egg with a polish to bring up the colors.

One of the cool things about this is that you start with a raw (uncooked) egg and just paint it. You don’t have to blow out the innards, though some artists do. I don’t, because it gives me a headache. After a few months, the egg will naturally dry out – no other preparation is required.

Figure 1: Applying wax to raw egg.
You can see the outline from the pencil under the stylus. The stylus is filled with wax and melted using a candle, then the melted wax is applied to the egg. It’s a little tricky to keep the stylus from dripping; I’ve found that if you only heat the tip then it melts more slowly and doesn’t goop.

Figure 2: Second view of wax application.

On the paper towel in front of the artist, you can see the yellow and black cake of beeswax used.

Figure 3: First dye bath, in this case yellow.
Eggs are left in the dye for ten to fifteen minutes. Dyes can be preserved from year to year, and remade when they don’t dye as brilliantly. My yellow was made three or four years ago and only now needs to be replaced.

Samurai Armor

Okay, this is a showcase for the man of the house. Michael is making himself Samurai armor from six cow hides we bought last summer. He’s cutting them into 2 inch by 1/2 inch segments, punching eight holes in each segment, and then sewing them by hand. Then he laquers it. Then he laces it.


Figure 1: This is the torso piece. The red area is a beautiful Asian-patterned upholstery fabric we found at Hancock Fabrics. It is cut to fit, sewn to the leather and then glued; then lacquered.

Figure 2:

Figure 3: Detail, skirting piece with lacing.

Project Design – Berocco Silk and Lion Brand Incredible

I was naughty and found two yarns last week that I bought on impulse (meaning, with no specific project in mind). The irony is that I think I may make something with them both together.

Berocco Ultra Silk is 20% Silk (Soie), 40% Rayon (Viscose), and 40% Nylon (Polyamide). It is soft and springy and reminds me a lot of jersey fabric.

Lion Brand Incredible is 100% nylon, but has a crunchiness reminiscent of silk. It calls for size 15 US needles, but I did my swatch with 7 US (4.5mm).

I’m thinking a shrug or vest would look nice, with the Incredible as a border and the Ultra Silk as panels down the center, maybe with a textural pattern like vines and leaves. I’m just in the swatching stage right now, so we’ll have to see.

Here are the swatches:

Figure 1: Berocco Ultra Silk

Figure 2: Lion Brand Incredible

Eden’s Project

Set of Four Coasters with Carry-All

I started this project for Eden with the intent of making coasters. Just a modest set of four coasters. This expanded into a carryall pouch for the coasters, based on a pattern from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson – the cover pattern, as a matter of fact. The bag knit up very quickly, only taking about four hours on the train. Knit in the round starting with 90 stitches, knit for about 3 inches and then do an eyelet row. The eyelet row came out very nicely; I like the way the stitches architecturally arch from one to the next. YO, slip 1, K2tog, psso, all the way around. This leaves 60 stitches. Knit in the round for about 6 inches and a three-needle bind-off means no sewing at the bottom! The two-stitch i-cord was actually difficult because it’s hard to keep the stitches neat, but it is coming out in a cubicle tube. Very cool.

Image I: The bag itself. The colors are from a Worsted-Weight (double DK in the U.K.) acryllic, washable in warm and dryable (although it may fuzz, so to avoid that, just lay flat to dry). The colorway was chosen for a volunteer event to tie in with the Museum of Modern Ice in February of 2008 in Chicago. Our knitting guild participated and this is one of the examples we had for people to play with.

Image II: Eyelet Row Detail. This picture is a little blurred, but I like the way the eyelets came out. They look like little arches.

Image III: I-Cord: Two stitch i-cord, size 7 US (4.5mm) needles. I like how it’s coming out as a square tube, but it’s a challenge to keep the stitches straight.

Image IV: The coaster itself. I like how these look; they’re very bright and festive. The base is a plastic disc and the yarn is the same Worsted Weight acryllic.