Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What if The World Comes to a Halt?

There are a few things that could bring the way we live to a halt and flip our lives upside down for a while. Most people don't want to think about the possibility of that happening and I really feel that is a mistake. For those who are religious, you may argue the point that God takes care of the birds and so on, but then didn't He have Joseph advise the Pharaoh to store enough food for 7 years?
For the more science minded people, think about it on a more basic level of how much you use and what you have.
The main things to consider in an emergency situation is 1. shelter 2. water and 3. food. In that order. Part of sheltering is what you are wearing. Animal hair like wool may be the best thing you can wear. Cotton will kill you. It does not keep you warm if you get wet. If you look at knitting and crocheting as a hobby maybe you should look at it again. You should re-evaluate it's value. Your clothing can mean the difference between life and death when you are subjected to the elements. Frostbite or hypothermia could leave you either needing an amputation or severely incapacitated and unable to perform basic everyday tasks necessary to survive. Tell me when you are stranded in your car in a snow storm how much you value that $2,ooo stereo in you car over a warm wool pair of socks that you wouldn't even pay $40 for.
When there is no machine to make your socks, sweaters, hats or scarves how much will it be worth to you to have someone close to you that knows how to make them? Is your day's wage worth more than theirs when your life could be what is at stake? Will you keep buying cheap stuff that can kill you because want to save a dollar? Why not save yourself instead?
Thank you for reading my post.
Dee Dee

A Challenge

I received this yarn from a friend. It is Kid Seta, made in Italy. 70% Super Kid Mohair 30% Seta/Silk. The price for this one skein is $12.25. I don't know when it was purchased so the price may be different now.

I am using size 4 double pointed needles and working in the round using a stockinette stitch to make a neck muffler. I would recommend that if you are not at least of intermediate level of knitting that you avoid this yarn until you have more experience. A dropped stitch with this yarn can be a nightmare to correct. It is a very fine and thin yarn and enough to drive a person to get their reading glasses. If you have to unravel what you have made that is a problem with this yarn. It seems that when you knit it together the fibers from the other rows grab on and don't want to let go.

The positive about this yarn is that it is so soft and you can feel the warmth that it holds when you are working with it. It is fairly strong for such a fine yarn and not as easy to break as it looks. When I am finished with this project and get it blocked, it should be a very luxurious item, perfect for a gentleman or even a lady. Nice job Italy.

I will post more on that when it is done.
Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Other's Call You

When I was young, the kids in school called me a weirdo. In 5th grade they started to call me an artist and would pay me their lunch money to do their artwork for social studies pictures of the American explorers. So at the age of 10 I was getting paid for my work.
I kept at it as it was very much a passion for me.
At the age of 16 I did a self portrait that astonished my most skeptical critic, my father. He was an incredible musician, able to play at least 40 instruments with such a passion words can not do justice. If I had been raised in a different home though, I might have gone to a fine arts college and went on to be world renowned, but as fate had it that was not the case.
I went on to pursue a clerical career. I kept up with the artwork on the side and people would always ask why I was doing clerical work. All I can say is that it paid the bills, it was steady income. Art doesn't always pay and I have to say that that is a loss to those that really appreciate art. Had it paid better I would have pursued it and given more to my creations. Instead I directed my attentions to that which would have more value later, which is growing my own food, foraging for food, survival skills, back to basics and alternative energy. As many artists before me I try to problem solve for the here and now and look to the future. I have a few things that I want to experiment with that I will be bringing to you within the next few months. I will still be knitting and crocheting and stuff and bring the results to you so bare with me. I am sorry for the glare on the pictures.
Thanks for follow my posts. Your comments are welcome.
Dee Dee

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today's Gold, Maple Syrup and Recipe

I have only one maple tree in my yard and it's not even a sugar maple, but I have tapped it none the less. I have the bags and holders to catch the sap but it has been windy and the bags get holes so I cut a hole in the gallon jugs and hung those on the taps/spiles. I have tied them so they don't fall off.
The flow so far has been on the slow side, but it is still pretty cold out.

After I collect the sap I pour it through a coffee filter and then the boiling begins.

Everyone says not to boil it down in the house or it will make your wall paper peel. So I am boiling it in the house. Hey, if you had my wall paper you would too.
I make very small batches at a time. Usually boiling 2 gallons of sap when I have it and that boils down to about 6 to 8 ounces of syrup. Before it boils down too far I filter the sap again. If you do not filter it the syrup can get cloudy.
At my elevation the syrup is done when it reaches 218 degrees F.

Here is a bonus recipe for those of you that like pork roast or pork ribs.
I love slow roasting and I love BBQ, but at this time of year slow roasting on the grill isn't happening for me, I've got too many other things to do. So this is the next best thing.

Rub the meat with a mixture of season salt and brown sugar, remember more isn't always better. I would say the ratio is 1 part season salt to 4 parts brown sugar. Let the meat set in a large bowl for 30 minutes and then add a table spoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Let that set for 15 minutes.
Get a skillet good and hot and seer the meat on all sides. About 2 minutes per side. Place on a rack in a baking pan that is deep enough to hold a beer of your choice and a few cups of maple sap (not syrup).
Pour maple sap into the skillet to get some of the flavorful drippings and pour that over the pork. For a loin roast bake at 225F until meat reaches between 135 and 145F depending on how done you like it. Let it rest for 15 minutes and pour the drippings back into the skillet on high to reduce for a gravy. For ribs, baste them hourly and let them bake until they are fall apart tender. You really don't need much for sauce on these.

I now have gone and made myself hungry. Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions and I will respond as soon as I can. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting Loopy For Recycling

I know that most of us really don't like throwing things out, but what do you do with a sock that has a hole too large darn beyond tossing in the landfill?
Well, if you really want to give them a new life check out what I did.

I had one of those little looms to make potholders when I was a child so I bought my daughter one thinking it would be fun to work on them with her. The loops that come with those kits are made out of nylons and tights. They can be very hard to work with on those looms and you will find many are too small and thin for the loom.

I used to wear those fuzzy no-shows we used to call booties, and had a few that the heals worn down so I cut them into little loops and used them on the loom, and yes I washed them first! I cut the loops so they were one inch wide and this made a wonderful potholder, which I still use, coffee and spaghetti stained and all.
The white, blue and purple potholder is my old socks. I really like this one.

You can make your own loom with some headless nails and a square piece of plywood if your socks are too big for the plastic looms.

Now if you want to get really loopy for recycling, you can make a large loom for loops made out of old T-shirts or sweat shirts. sewing several of those squares together will give you a thick bath mat or rug for the kitchen sink.
Or connecting the loops together and using a large crochet hook you can crochet a larger rug.

You can even use the plastic grocery bags to make loops for crocheting. Many people have been making sleeping mats out of them for people in disaster areas. I think they would also be a great beach mat and you could make a matching beach bag.
There are all kinds of patterns on the internet that I have found.

I do have to say that I have found working with the larger loops difficult to begin with, but it does get easier after the first few rows. I will post more pictures and some basic instructions using the plastic bag loops or the T-shirt loops. Check back soon!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things From the Past Bring Comfort

  • I adore old things. Especially those that still function. I have several old oil lamps that I keep clean and use when we have power outages. Keeping them clean helps them burn fuel more efficiently and give more light. When it is cold they add warmth as well. I found the cast iron wall mount for this lamp at a garage sale for $5. The lamp was $10 at an antique store. I love how it looks with the old trivets and utensils hanging on my kitchen wall.

Moving into the bathroom I have a chamber oil lamp next to a basket which is holding some more of my work. The two wash clothes were knitted using Peaches & Creme 100% cotton yarn. It is a very easy to use yarn and has a nice feel to it. The pattern for this is one that I made up.
The bath puff is also made with this yarn, but this is a crocheted item. I found the pattern online, I believe, on WikiHow. These are time consuming and I would never make these to sell as it would not pay enough. They do make great gifts though. I have used the wash clothes to wash dishes and I really like them, the problem comes when someone else washes my dishes and uses them on the knives. My knives are very sharp and now my dish-wash clothes have holes.
I have found that the Peaches & Creme yarn that is dyed bleeds in hot water. I would avoid using the colored yarns for bath use.

Light the lamp, fill the tub and enjoy the comfort.
What more could you want?
Slippers and a soft bathrobe.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slippers, or more like Sweaters for Your Feet!

Years ago a dear lady taught me how to make these slippers and I have made over a hundred pairs over the years. These are a favorite of mine and my family are thrilled when they get these for Christmas. It takes about 8 hours to make the lady's size and 10 hours to make the men's. I plan on selling these but I haven't completely decided on a price yet.

All of the slippers shown in the pictures have not been sewn up yet. I use Red Heart Supersaver yarn on most of them. These are something I would like to find a better yarn for. But that would also mean that the price would be higher for the slippers as well. Even so these slippers are so cozy most people don't take them off even when they should!

Using the Red Heart yarn, the nice thing is that you can machine wash and dry them and they go back to their original fit.
If these were made with wool yarn they would most likely be too warm.

I would like to know how much you would pay for a pair of sweaters for your feet. Please leave a comment.

Fans and Lace Blankets

These blankets were straight knitted on circular needles. I found the pattern in a beginner's guide that I bought for that pattern.

The lavender blanket is a twin sized blanket that I made for my youngest daughter. The yarn I used was Caron's Simply Soft, and it really is! It was a delight to work with this yarn. I made two others, one white and one a dark blue, just like this one for my older daughters.

The white blanket is a crib sized baby blanket and was made with cheap yarn that I bought at a garage sale. The skeins had no labels so telling you that I was not very impressed with this yarn isn't going to help you much. I have not done the blocking or tucked in the tails on this one yet.

The light green blanket with variegated striping is also crib sized and was made with yarn that I bought at a thrift store. It is the first of that pattern I made and I will be saving this for my first grandchild. I took a close-up photo to show detail. This yarn had no labels on the skeins so I can not tell you what it was, but it is fairly soft and good quality and really deserving of note. I also use a smaller gauged needle for this blanket which made it a tighter stitch and more suitable for a baby blanket.

  • The next baby blanket like this that I make, I will be using Caron's Dazzle Aire yarn, bought from the local thrift store for 59 cents per skein. It may be awhile before I get working on that as I have many other projects I am currently working on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hooks or Needles

I have been knitting and crocheting for a numbers of years. I have taught others, both right and left handed and of a wide age range.

It seems that making your own clothing is a lost art. Mainly because it is faster and cheaper to go to a big chain store and buy a 6 pack of socks made by a machine in another country than it is to knit them yourself. However, making them yourself will give you a good thick warm pair of socks that are often more comfortable than those thin things from the store.

My Grandmother used to tug at seams when deciding to buy clothing from a store. Checking to make sure it wouldn't fall apart at the seams. People don't do that anymore and I question where the concern over quality has gone.

I plan on testing many different yarns and will post results with pictures. If you have a suggestion on a type of yarn please feel free to comment.

Thank you for stopping by,
Dee Dee