Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Cap

When I was in Albuquerque, NM a few weeks ago and found my pretty in purple wool, I also found this gorgeous organic wool by O-Wool called Balance.  It is 50% Merino wool and 50% cotton.  When I saw it I thought of my mom who loves the color blue.  It's a blueish gray with specks of white and although I didn't know what I wanted to make with it I knew I had to get it.  I ended up going on O-Wool's website for ideas and they had a free pattern for a cute little hat called In-Between Seasons Cap.  I had never done a cable stitch but this was a good time to try.  This pattern also had a few other stitches I had never used before like twR and ssk.  The cable band was somewhat easy but as the hat went on I found it to be somewhat difficult, however the end result was worth any frustration I had.  Mine came out somewhat small like a beanie so if I were to do it again I would make it longer.

In-Between Seasons Cap from O-Wool:

Yarn: 1 skein O-Wool Balance, 130yd/50g 
Color: Lapis
Needles: Circular 16 inch size US 6, 1 cable needle, set of 5 size US 6 dpn's
Gauge: 20 st = 4" over Stst  30 rows = 4" Stst
Size: Woman's M (20" circumference)

Directions can also be found on O-Wool's website along with other great free patterns.

Using either circular or two dpn’s, CO 19st.  Do not join.

Work back and forth as follows:
Row 1 and all WS rows:  p4, k2, p8, k2, p3
Row 2, 4:  k1, twR, p2, k8, p2, twL, k2.
Row 6:  k1, twR, p2, sl 4 st onto spare dpn or cable needle and hold in front, k4, k4 from dpn or cable needle, p2, twL, k2.
Row 8, 10: As Row 2
Repeat Rows 1-10 until piece measures 20” (13x total).
Work Row 1 once more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Robin's Eggs Cupcakes

My mind is on eggs.  Spring is in the air and we've had spring visitors lately like the Mountain Bluebird and soon we'll see hummingbirds again.  The Egg Show starts this week and things are gearing up at the Bear Mountain Gallery.  Kids have been coming in with their eggs to show and all I can think about are eggs.  So on my day off today I decieded to make Robin's Eggs Cupcakes.  I got the idea from Recipes 4 Us and put my own twist on it.  They are so perfect for spring, aren't they adorable?

For the cupcakes:

Marble Cupcakes via Martha Stewart Cupcakes

For the icing:

1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temp
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Mix these together until smooth.

I used a Wilton 199 frosting tip and with a piping bag made a 'birds nest' on every cupcake.  Then I sorted my Cadbury Mini Eggs so I had just the blue ones and topped each cupcake with a few. 

Happy Spring!

Spinning Class #2

I finished my spinning homework!  My pink ball of fluff turned into pretty pink string.  This will be plied with something else toward the end of my spinning classes so I can't wait to see what it will look like with another color.  It wasn't hard to spin it but it took patience at the beginning and now I have come to really enjoy spinning and see it as a relaxing thing to do.  Yesterday was my second spinning class and JoAnn taught me to wash wool! 

Every time I've been in class all I can think about it someday owning our own sheep.  I really find it fascinating and it's leading to more things I'm interested in like sheep shearing school.  Now I know the basic's the spinning, how to wash wool, how to care for wool and yarn, some of the history behind spinning and the correct terminology.  In the next class I will be practicing combing and brushing wool as well as maybe starting on a spinning wheel. 

My homework for this week is to spin some of JoAnn's hand dyed wool that is a lovely lime green bluish color.  This will be much thinner then the pink fluff I spun so it may be more difficult but I will post pictures when I get it done.   

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Purl in the Pines

I have a new obsession with checking out any fiber store that I haven't been to when my husband and I are traveling.  This week we were in Flagstaff, AZ and I couldn't resist going to Purl in the Pines.  I believe it is the only fiber store in Flagstaff and it is connected to one of the only quilting stores as well.  They carried a few things I haven't seen before including Berroco Peruvia Colors.  Maybe because the coat I was wearing matched it so well or because it was just so wonderful I ended up leaving with two skeins of it in the Raku Glaze color.  It is big, chunky, single and 100% Peruvian Highland Wool.  I've been busy knitting for other people so perhaps these skeins will become gloves and a hat for my coat?  We'll see!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sneak Peak

I taught myself how to do a cable stitch today!  It's easier then I thought it was going to be and it looks so nice - see the blue yarn above.  I'm working on two knitting projects now and I'm not going to reveal what they are until they are done, although you might be able to tell.  One project is being made with the yarn I got from Village Wools and I just love it.  The other project I'm working on is with O-Wool and I also love it.  Spring officially started yesterday and I know when it gets warm outside I'll put the knitting aside so I'm trying to get these two projects done within the next month.  Just thought I'd give you a sneak peak!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I haven't bought laundry detergent for a year and it's been wonderful - not shelling out cash for the expensive store bought laundry detergent that doesn't last long or having to wash our clothes in the chemical wash that is suppose to smell like something but instead makes me nauseous.  Instead we've been making our own detergent.  We got the recipe at The Simple Dollar and haven't looked back.  I love it because it's way cheaper then buying the store bought stuff - they figure about $0.03 a load - and because you control what goes in it.  After using our own stuff for a year now, I highly recommend it.


• 1 bar of soap
• Borax
• Washing Soda (I use Arm & Hammer)
• 5 gallon bucket
• 3 gallons of water plus 4 cups
• Cheese grater

1.  Shave your bar of soap with the cheese grater until you have a nice pile of soap.  You can use any soap - we've used left over bars from the tub, Zote's Laundry Soap, Levers 2000, and many more - they all work great, however I tend to like Zote's Soap because it's the best bang for your buck.  It's nice to be able to make your own detergent because you can choose to use soaps that are made from goats milk or soap that has little additives like sent and color.

2.  Boil 4 cups of water in a large pan.

3.  Add your soap shavings to the pan and stir them until they melt.

4.  Turn your heat off and add 1 cup of washing soda to the water and 1/2 cup of borax.  Stir.

5.  Add 3 gallons of hot water to your 5 gallon bucket.

6.  Add your pan of soapy water to the five gallon bucket and give it a stir.

7.  Cover and let sit for 48 hours.

8.  Your soapy water will turn into a gel of sorts and this is your new detergent!  I use 1 cup for every load of laundry.

It's better for your wallet, the water, the environment, and your clothes.  Combined with our own detergent we also use Nellie's PVC Free Dryer Balls instead of dryer sheets.  They last two years and cut down on drying time when I can't dry clothes outside.   They also don't add chemicals to your freshly cleaned clothes. Making your own laundry detergent is fun!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spinning 101

Yesterday was my first spinning class.  Since moving to New Mexico I have become very interesting in fibers of all kinds and feel like I'm in the right place to learn more about them.  There are fiber guilds all over the state and many people that have been weaving, spinning and knitting for decades.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to one of these people: JoAnn.  Yesterday was my first spinning class with her.  She has been spinning for over 30 years and holds an intense one-on-one class for those ready to learn to spin.

Spinning school consists of eight, four hour one-on-one sessions.  Yesterday was day one.  She is a wealth of information and has an extensive fiber library.  I was able to see and touch cultivated worm silk, tussan wild worm silk including unprocessed cocoons, alpaca fleece, wool, spun copper, soy silk, flax, mohair and many more neat fibers.  Like my teacher, I find wool the most interesting - there are over 900 breeds of sheep and each breed has different wool as well as each flock in those breeds as well as each sheep in that flock - every fleece is different from another, no two sheep are the same.   What I also find interesting is cotton.  Did you know that cotton comes in over 40 colors naturally including blue?  My husband and I try to be as environmentally friendly as possibly and try to strive for self sustainability so the thought of having our own sheep and goats and growing our own cotton for spinning some day makes me very excited.

This is the basic:  learning to make thread and yarn.  Being able to control the dyes used in our clothing is so important to me.  We have both been reading Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber and realizing the importance of small things like this.  According to her book, "Elevated cancer rates are also found among painters, welders, asbestos workers, plastics manufactures, dye and fabric makers, firefighters, miners, printers, and radiation workers."  This is another reason why I use organic unbleached cotton in my items for Ash Tree Organics.  The chemicals used to dye clothing these days are carcinogenic.  Raising our own sheep and growing our own cotton is just the next step for us.  It's our way of getting one step closer to being off the map.  Besides wool and mohair,  sheep and goats are good for making milk, soap, and cheese.  It's a long way off, but for now Spinning School is teaching me a whole new world about wool and fibers and I can't wait to start showing you what I make.  My homework assignment is to spin the pink fiber (pictured above) onto my spindle before the next class.  Wish me luck!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blank Egg Canvas

I received my first eggs today to decorate for The Egg Show - 2010 Eggsibit.  They are ceramic eggs that are the size of about two chicken eggs and very intimidating.  I have until April 1st to decide what I will decorate them with and complete them for the Eggsibit!  The Egg Show is a local event that happens every spring headed by the local egg artist, Yvonne.  I am pretty excited about it because last year we moved here right as The Egg Show was ending and I didn’t get a chance to make one.  In one sentence, The Egg Show is a celebration of art on eggs.  Visit The Egg Show’s website for more information:  It runs the month of April Wednesday-Sunday 10:00-5:00 at the Bear Mountain Coffee House and Art Gallery.  Now that I have my eggs by brain is racing with ideas - fabric, paint, pencil, clay.... I have no idea what I’m going to put on my eggs but I will add a post when I am done!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chemo Cowl

A woman in my crafting group (known as The Vixons) is part of our counties fiber guild that knits/crochets scarfs and cowls for the chemo patients at our local hospital.  I asked her if I could make one and started on my first cowl.  A cowl is basically a scarf that is closed.  It’s big enough to slide over your head and rests like a big fancy necklace around your neck over your shoulders.  They are incredible easy to make and fun! 


Yarn: Red Heart
Color: 59
Needle: Circular 29 inches Size US 8

  Cast on 70 stitches or desired length
   Join round and knit in round until hat reaches  desired length
  Bind end

That’s it!  Of course this pattern would be really easy to change and I think if I was going to do it again I would have used a more chunky yarn and maybe tried something other then just a knit, but that’s what is so fun about a cowl, they are quick enough to make a second one in no time!  I hope that a chemo patient enjoys the cowl I made and that it keeps them warm and fashionable!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pretty In Purple

Two weeks ago my husband and I made the big journey up north to Albuquerque.  I was more then excited to see what the city had to offer in terms on yarn and wool.  I stumbled upon a cute little store called, Village Wool.  I was lucky to leave with a few dollars left.  They have such a large selection of wools from around the world I didn’t know what to do.  I ended up leaving with two skeins of the yarn pictured above.  It’s Happy Feet DK in a lovely purple/brown color.  Isn’t it wonderful?  I can’t wait to start on some socks!