Thursday, January 05, 2012

Dying Play Silks With Kool-Aid

A friend and I recently purchased some silk scarves from Dharma Trading Company to use as play silks for our children.  There are many places to purchase play silks from, both plain white or pre-dyed, so if you're looking to get some yourself, do your research and get something you love!

We decided to go with the Habotais because they came well recommended from another friend who has some and they were affordable.  When we opened them we were impressed with the softness and beauty of them.

We looked into dying options and decided to use Kool-Aid.  There are lots of options out there so I suggest you do your research on dyes, too, if you decide to dye at home.  The Kool-Aid appealed to us because it was cheap, readily available, offered vibrant colour choices and only needed boiled water and vinegar to use.

We used this site and this site to help determine the colours we chose.  You'll notice both sites show a noticeable difference in the shades of red but we tried to do one long play silk in a fade effect with three shades of red and the colours look almost exactly alike on the silk.

The process we used was easy enough, we boiled a large amount of water, added a cup of vinegar to it and then poured it into the bowls with the flavour crystals (I guess I should mention that you don't add the sugar to the mixture).  Stir to dissolve the crystals and then submerse the silk.  If you want a uniform colour all across the fabric, us a lot of water and crystals for each colour.  We used about 1-1.5 litres (4-6 cups) of water and three packages of crystals per two silks and our colours are strong but came out mottled and tie-dye looking.  We like the look, ourselves, it's very natural and hippy-ish, just like us!  When you place the silk into the mixture, you can literally watch the colour leave the water and enter the silk.  After only a few moments the water is clear or nearly clear.  If the vessel isn't large enough and there isn't a lot of water in it, the silk can't open up enough to get even colour absorption all over so the outer layers get more colour and the inner layers are lighter.  With a larger bowl and more water, you'll get more even results.

I recommend using a pair of tongs or other device to work with the silks in the water as the Kool-Aid will stain your hands.  Keep in mind that it can also stain other stuff, like porous rock surfaces, woods, linoleum and laminates, among others.  You'll want to put several layers of newspaper and/or some old towels over anything you don't want getting stained.  If you do get a stain on something, bleach may help get it out if you get at it quickly.

Once the colour has all or mostly left the water, remove the silks and wring them out.  It seems that once the colour has taken to the silks the colour is not as likely to transfer so your hands should be okay at that point but please, wear gloves if you have a fancy dinner date later or are getting married the next day or something. No point risking purple fingers!

Allow the silks to hang dry, making sure they're not touching or hanging in a way that drips can fall on other silks as the colour may transfer.  Once dry, you can iron them if desired (this will help set in the colour a little more, too) or just leave the wrinkled texture that results after wringing and hang drying.  Only hand wash wash them if necessary using a very mild detergent and hang to dry again.

Now, the moment you've been waiting for!  Pictures!!!  I have photos of the dying process, the drying process and the dried scarves but none of us playing with them.  That's not for lack of use, though!  It's because we were having so much fun I couldn't be bothered to stop and grab the camera!!  The Smiler absolutely LOVES these things!  He was playing peek-a-boo, wearing them as capes and hoods, pretending they were food, putting them in a pile and just sitting in the middle, kicking his legs among them and squealing with glee, putting them on the cats and the dog, on his Uncle James, hiding his toy cars under them and then saying, "Boo!" and just running around with them all bunched up in his arms.  It's adorable, quite frankly.

The colours we used, from left to right, were Kool-Aid Cherry, Kool-Aid Orange, Crystal Light Lemonade, Kool-Aid Lemon-Lime, Kool-Aid Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Kool-Aid Grape.  We used the Crystal Light because we couldn't find Kool-Aid Lemonade.  And when I say 'we' I mean 'my friend's husband who walked back and forth between two grocery stores late at night before being told to give up and come home by his wife and then my friend who went out after that to find another solution'.   It's also worth noting that Kool-Aid Tropical Punch has a dark turquoise package but is not blue, it's deep red.  The aforementioned husband got Tropical Punch to use for blue and the aforementioned friend had to run to two more stores today mid-dying to find the Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade.  I got to play cars with the boys while she was gone :)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Shampoo and You

I haven't shampooed my hair in nearly two years.

There.  It's out.  Now you all know my little secret - I'm 'poo free!  That's right, I don't use shampoo or conditioner at all.  Instead, I use baking soda to wash and apple cider vinegar (ACV) to condition and I am sooooo glad I made the switch!  You may think I'm crazy but I assure you, my hair is far softer, more manageable and my scalp is healthier than ever before since I made the switch.

Here's the deal: washing your hair isn't bad for you so much as the chemicals in shampoos are, specifically drying agents like SLS.  These are not just bad for your skin, they're bad for your whole body.  But, hey, they make more suds and are a really cheap filler, right?  Right.  Even most products marketed as 'natural' contain this ingredient and it's probably one of the first or second things on the list.  Anyway, I won't go into too much detail on that because I'm sure my seven readers are more than capable of researching the topic if they so choose but what I will tell you about is how to transition to 'poo free and get hair as awesome as mine.

To wash your hair, take about 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a container and mix it with about a cup of water.  Stir it up with your fingers (I do this right in the shower, myself) so the baking soda doesn't just sit at the bottom and then pour it all over your head.  Firmly massage your scalp for 1-2 minutes.  You should feel the baking soda while you're doing this.  Don't be shy to add more or to do a double wash if you don't feel clean enough.  I would like to point out that the goal here is to clean your scalp, not your hair, so don't worry about the lengths during this part of the process.  Clean scalp = clean hair but clean hair does not = clean scalp.  Rinse well and repeat if necessary.  Your hair should feel like it's been washed.  Mine actually squeaks a little as I rinse it, just like with shampoo.

My hair, right after a wash.

To condition and re-balance your hair, take about 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a container (same one is fine) and mix it with about a cup of water.  Pour over the lengths of your hair and gently rub/squeeze it into the lengths.  Now, here is where some people differ in opinion.  Some people don't use the ACV at all while others think it's important to rebalance the pH of the hair and scalp.  Some people use straight ACV while others think it's a waste of money to use that much when a dilution is fine.  Some people leave the ACV solution on without rinsing while others rinse it out.  Some people avoid their scalp (ACV can be a little bit irritating to very sensitive skin, for example) while others just dump it on willy nilly.  I fall into the latter group on all these points.  I find my hair feels better and is more manageable when I use the ACV, I like it diluted, I rinse and I don't worry about getting it on my scalp (disclaimer: I have pretty short hair so it's nearly impossible not to get it on my scalp).

A lot of people jump at the idea to go 'poo free and I commend them but many of those same people give up quickly because they're not ready for the adjustment period.  Now, likely since birth, you've been cleaning your scalp with harsh chemical shampoos and doing it far too often, as well (think more than once or twice a week).  That harsh chemical shampoo has been sucking every last drop of healthy oil off your scalp every time you use it, for years.  Because of that, your scalp has been waaaaay overproducing oils to compensate for being dried out so often (I shudder to think about people who shampoo daily).  For most people, it will take a while for their scalp to bring its over production back to normal levels and this is what I call the adjustment period.  During this period, lasting from 0-8 weeks (most people say 2-3 weeks on average) your hair will feel greasy, it will be limp and luster-less, it will be hard to manage and you won't have much body.  I know, I know, very convincing, right?  But I promise, if you stick it out and don't get drawn back into the shampoo downward spiral, it will be worth every bandanna, pony tail and hat day you have to have.  Seriously.  It will be.

Once you go 'poo free, your hair will be healthier, softer, shinier, more manageable and sexier (yup, sexier, 9 out of ten 'poo free-ers agree).  Now, I hear some of you out there saying things like, "But *I* have really oily hair." or, "But *I* have curly hair." or, "But *I* have dandruff and need special shampoo." and the like.  I swear to you, YOU people are the ones who are most in need of going 'poo free!  Shampoo is doing that to your hair and scalp, not the lack of shampoo.  Just give it a try and I swear, you'll love it and never want to go back.  What have you got to lose, save for reputation and dignity, walking around with greasy hair for a few weeks?

You can still colour your hair, as well as blow dry and heat style.  In fact, colour seems to last a lot longer using this method.  You can still use styling products, though you'll likely have to double wash, depending on what you use.  Baking soda is actually recommended by a lot of stylists for getting rid of product build-up.  If you love scent in your hair products, add a drop or two of essential oils to your rinse! 

One more thing: I often get asked about things like frequency of washing and what to do about the hair dresser.  I do a 'no poo wash 2-3 times a week and that works for me.  Others only do it once a week and still others do it every second day or more.  The great thing about this is that you're really just cleaning the dirt off your scalp and hair and absorbing excess oil (not all oil) so you can do it as often as you feel comfortable with.  As for the hair dresser, you can either bring your own little container of baking soda for them to wash with or wash at home before you go.  

Happy washing!  

PS: I want to hear about your experiences if you decide to take the plunge!