I used my crock-pot this week! That may seem like a mundane statement. You’d have to know me, I guess. My attempts at using a slow-cooker through my ten years of marriage have all failed abysmally. Just ask Aaron! I’d thought of just getting rid of the darn thing. Then I found out that you could dye yarn in a crock pot… That changed everything.

It all started because I need new oven mitts. I don’t like cheap, flimsy oven mitts. I have burned myself far too many times while cooking, and I like to have very thick, protective oven mitts. With this in mind, I decided to knit and felt a pair of my own. Using thick wool and then felting it to a dense fabric should do the trick. Wool is naturally flame-resistant, so it’s the perfect choice. I went to Knit Picks to order the yarn, and couldn’t find it in the colors that I was envisioning. No matter, I ordered four skeins of the un-dyed yarn and decided that I’d just dye it myself.

Many people use acid dyes to dye their fiber. I have three small children, and the safety concerns associated with acid dyes kept me from trying that particular method. I did find that you can use ordinary food coloring to dye animal fiber, such as wool. Aha! Safe, non-toxic, and I have plenty on hand for use when decorating cakes!

Monday morning I pulled out the crock-pot, wool, and food coloring. I had in mind three colors, robin’s egg blue, buttercream yellow, and deep red. They would match my kitchen perfectly! My walls are a pale, creamy yellow, the curtains a deep, rich red, and my cookware is a lovely shade of aqua that can only be called robin’s egg blue. I set to work and at the end of the day, I had bulky-weight wool in three hand-dyed colors. But they were a bit… off. The robin’s egg blue was a distinctly greenish color, in fact more green than blue. The buttercream yellow was doing a Big Bird impression. The deep, vintage red that I imagined was more of a bright, retro, orangey-pinkish tone. These wouldn’t match my “Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen” look at all! I was quite disappointed.

Then, I started thinking. Then, I started laughing. The hand knit and crochet pot holders in true vintage kitchens were made with whatever leftover yarn our grandmothers’ had lying around. The used it up because they needed a pot holder or oven mitt, and made it out of what they already had. That’s why all of the authentic vintage linens that we search for at yard sales and flea markets have some “unusual” color choices. They made do with what they had. Simple as that.

I had envisioned the charm of a farmhouse kitchen of yesteryear in a carefully coordinated palette. When in reality, great-Grammy’s kitchen was filled with a miss-match of colors and patterns that just worked! After all, it was her that made her kitchen our favorite place to hang out. It was the crazy patchwork quilt on her table, the hand-sewn curtains, the warm muffins fresh out of her woodstove, and the cool sun tea she always had on hand that I remember the most. That was who she was. The woman who could make something beautiful out of scraps, and who would never let you leave her house unless you had eaten SOMETHING!

Turns out that the yarn I had dyed wasn’t what I’d planned for, but it will work. That sort of sums up the past year for me. What I was handed was not what I’d planned, but it will work out. Gram always said, “Bloom where you’re planted.” I don’t have much choice about the circumstances that I find myself planted in, but it’s up to me whether or not I bloom.