I was feeling well enough on Saturday night to attempt another dyeing project. I bought a pair of bright pink corduroys back in college, when they were on crazy-sale at J.Crew, but I've hardly ever worn them. They were really garish and didn't go with much, although they fit perfectly. I'd been trying to figure out what to do with them for a while: Give them away? Try to bleach them white? Make a bag out of them?

I finally hit on the idea of dyeing them when I found myself considering a pair of purple cords I found online a couple of weeks ago. I realized that my pink pants + blue dye could give me a custom color in just the shade of dark eggplant I was hoping for.

I wanted a much more saturated color than last time, so I decided to use the stovetop method and double the amount of dye I used. I also used liquid RIT this time, instead of the powder, because undissolved powder (which is very difficult to see in the inky solution) can lead to speckling.

Here's the before shot, when I pre-soaked the pants in hot water. They were BRIGHT.

The dyeing process was simple, but not easy. You bring a huge pot of water (RIT recommends 3 gallons per pound of fabric) to a simmer on the stove, then add the dye, a cup of salt, and the pre-soaked fabric. Then comes the endless, mindless part: 30 minutes of stirring. For half an hour, you have to stand by the stove, constantly agitating the fabric to make sure that it all gets evenly dyed.

The next step is the trickiest: you need to move the fabric between progressively cooler water baths until it stops bleeding color. This is the part where I wish I had a big yard and a hose, because there's great potential for mess-making and countertop-staining, and lot of running to the bathroom for fresh buckets of water. The first few moves are the hardest, when the dye is still pretty strong and the fabric is full of 140-degree water, so you have to quickly move a heavy, steaming, sopping heap of dye-soaked fabric from container to container while your assistant (thanks, Stephen!) dumps the full buckets and refills them with slightly cooler water. It's a water-intensive process. I went through at least a dozen water changes before the water was (mostly) clear. Then I hung the pants up to dry.

Here they are the next day. It's hard to tell what they'll look like when you're in the midst of the dyeing process, because they always dry a few shades lighter, but these are exactly the color I was hoping for.


On Friday, I finally caught some version of the Late Winter Cold that I'd heretofore avoided, despite weeks of exposure to sick co-workers, family and boyfriend. It hasn't been too bad, just a sore throat and a cough so far, but I headed into the weekend with a single purpose: to be really sick and lazy for two days, then return, a least partially recovered, to work on Monday. I armed myself with:

1. 11 hours of sleep each night
2. Moyashi soba at Wagamama
3. Black currant juice (for Vitamin C)
4. Meyer lemon and honey (my mom always makes this for a sore throat)
5. Blueberry tea
6. Homemade masala chai (I like to make it with Lyle's)
7. Pizza
8. Pseudoephedrine-free faux Nyquil

So far, I've definitely succeeded at the being-really-sick-and-lazy part, but we'll have to see about the returning-to-work-recovered bit. I have my doubts.


Rest Day

Ow. I'm so achey. I've been hobbling around all day, groaning about my overworked muscles. I accidentally got to the gym an hour early for trampoline class (that's right, trampoline class) yesterday, so I decided to go to the 6:00 weight-lifting class, too. It hurt. And there was a guy from ABC News filming us for a story as we flailed around with our Smartbells, so I had to work extra hard to keep the immense effort/panic from showing on my face.

I packed my gym clothes again today, but decided at the last minute to scrap the workout and go out to dinner with Stephen instead. A light snow was falling, and our waiter remarked on the beauty of the snow as it fell past the streetlights outside. I think we're all a little sick of winter, but it was beautiful. Eighteen days until Daylight Savings Time begins!


Hope Springs Eternal

Spring has come to our windowsill. These are Morning Glories from a packet of seeds that my sister collected from her garden and sent me a couple of years ago. I came across them while sorting through the living room closet last week and figured they were probably long-dead, but I soaked them overnight and threw them in some soil just to see what would happen. We found an onion left over from last fall's farm share growing in the cupboard, too, so I put that in the same pot.

And lo! just a few days later, we've got a very crowded little Garden of Oddities sprouting in the kitchen. I guess I should have spaced the seeds out a bit more. It's really the wrong time of year to be growing them, and I don't have the heart to thin them, so perhaps the outlook is grim for our seedling friends. But take heart, Morning Glories. I'll string some twine from the curtain rod and see if we get some climbers.

Here's our second early spring miracle. It's a paperwhite narcissus, my birthflower. My parents used to give me a bunch of them every year on my birthday. I've been trying to grow them in my apartment for a few years now, but I keep getting bad bulbs. (Either that, or I'm doing something wrong, but there's not much--that I'm aware of--to go wrong here: Put the bulbs in a dish with rocks, allowing just the very bottom to rest in water. Wait for bulbs to grow.) For the last two years, I haven't even been able to coax them to put roots out. I bought four more bulbs in early January, but after 3 weeks nothing had happened. Finally, one of them (this one) put out the tiniest nib of a root. I threw the rest out and left this one on the windowsill as an experiment. Now I'm so glad I did! It's got a robust tangle of roots and some substantial stems that seem to grow an inch a day. I'm hoping for some flowers later in the month.

It's Getting Hot in Here

50 degrees today! Snow's melting, birds are singing, and the radiators have finally cooled off. We've been out and about more than usual this weekend. We went to IKEA yesterday for some little things--a frame for a poster I got Stephen for Christmas, some fabric for imaginary future projects, random things for the kitchen. The cafe was abuzz with greater-Bostonians of all ages eating chocolate cake and drinking Kristian Regale. I actually don't mind the IKEA cafeteria. It's a lot nicer than most mass retailers' in-house eateries. (I'm looking at you, Poughkeepsie Galleria Food Court of My Youth.)

I'm trying to catch up on school work today, because there's a lot due later in the week. This would have been totally unheard-of when I was an undergrad, when my M.O. was starting papers at 11:30 the night before they were due. I still do that sometimes, but I'm trying to be a little more organized about things this time around.

Of course, the first step to getting any schoolwork done is to clear a space in which to do it. Although I grew up surrounded by clutter (the fight against The Mess was an ongoing, and often losing, battle for our family of four kids and two full-time working parents), I have a lot of trouble concentrating in a messy room. My brain can't work when my fingers are itching to arrange, rearrange, and (most of all) to throw things out. One of my greatest joys after an afternoon of cleaning is taking a huge pile of old papers out to the recycling bin.

Just look at this picture of my desk this morning, and compare it to my workspace a week ago. I don't know how I got anything done back then.