When winter rears its head and the landscape here becomes a sea of white, what I crave more than anything is a little colour. So, in anticipation of dark December, I found the perfect crafting project to perk me up: dyeing play silks. (And just in time for Christmas!)
In case the name doesn't say it all, play silks are just that: silk scarves for children to play with. They are the perfect open-ended, imagination-inspiring toy and are a staple of any Waldorf-schooling home. I had been wanting some of my own--I mean, some for my children--for years; however, to buy a set of six ready-made would set you back at least $85. So you see why I had refrained.
But my friend and über-crafty mama M. suggested that we try dyeing our own based on the instructions found here. So, we ordered a dozen 35" x 35" white scarves from Dharma Trading, a company in the States, as well as a dozen of the 6" x 24" scarves to use as test strips, and booked a play date for ourselves--I mean, for our kids.
I was a little intimidated at first having never dyed anything (also, I was more than a little afraid of the mess), but M. has never met a craft she couldn't do--be it sewing, quilting, knitting, or doll-making--and she inspired me to confidence.
In fact, nothing could have been easier. With our boys playing in the other room and our babies sleeping in slings, we set to work. All it took was a little food colouring, a little Kool-Aid and a lot of white vinegar--we're talking 14 litres here. The instructions we used were great, save for a few amendments:
If you try this at home, be sure to should use water that is just below a boil.
Use two or three times as much liquid as the instructions indicate and dye the scarves in a large stock pot. We used the recommended amounts in one-gallon yogurt containers but the scarves did not dye evenly. But don't worry, if you mess up the first time, you can always re-dye them.
Rinse thoroughly in cold water, otherwise, you run the risk of the dyes staining your children, their clothes--everything in your house. (I found that out the hard way.)
Finally, a word on dyes: in my experience, Kool-Aid produced the best reds, oranges, greens and purples, and food-colouring produced the best blues and yellows (you will need an entire bottle of yellow food-colouring to dye two of the large play silks, not the 20 drops the instructions recommend).
Then, just rinse and hang to dry. Colin was playing with his play silks that very evening (I couldn't wait until Christmas), and the whole undertaking set me back $45 and an afternoon spent in good company. Now my home is a sea of colour, and I perk up every time I see one of those lovely silks.
And my kids seems to like them, too.
P.S. Check out the awesome "toy" I made for Archer using the test strips ...