wool dryer balls

I prefer to hang dry clothes.  I do have a dryer though.  I was kind of talked into it.  But I do use it occasionally.  Especially if thunderstorms have rinsed the clothes on the line three times.

But I do not like the dryer sheets or liquid fabric softeners.  It is both the how they make the clothes feel and the smells.  I do not like the smells.

I have been looking at the wool dryer balls and decided to make them.  The easiest way was to take a ball of wool yarn, put it in a nylon, wash it with a load of wash, and then dry it.  I have plenty of wool yarn but no nylons.  I had some napkins I could tie around the ball very tightly so I tried that.

I will say it worked quite well.  I made two, thinking I can make more as I go through my yarn basket, deciding what I wished to use or not.  One worked perfectly.  The other has a bit of a felted cap.  They actually still look like balls of yarn but behave like balls.

I have enough wool fleeces I was thinking I might try the same thing with a lot of fiber packed into my holey napkin.  That would be even easier then making the yarn first.  Maybe the next load of laundry.  

This was incredibly easy.  So easy I may make some for my Etsy shop or gifts.  Easy stocking stuffers are always a plus!


A cinnamon swirl bread with a twist

My Beloved has been listening to a book about brain fog.  Which that type of book always makes my life very interesting.  It means that I may get asked for interesting ingredients added into our diet.  Or more of certain foods that we eat.  So far it has been easy.  More tea.  More berries.  More vegetables.  More cinnamon.  The cinnamon meant that I got asked to make a cinnamon swirl bread.

Usually when I make a cinnamon swirl bread it means that I use an enriched dough.  But there were no eggs in the house and I did not wish to go to the store.  I had seen a recipe for a simple sourdough that had added pumpkin.  I had recently roasted pumpkin in the refrigerator.  Why not?  I find adding oats or fruit or vegetable puree can take the place of eggs.  This time it worked.

I used my basic bread recipe with one cup of milk and one cup of water, one and a half cups of pumpkin, and a half cup of brown sugar.  It turned out really well.  I had one loaf with a cinnamon swirl and one without.  Life is good.

Pumpkin Sourdough

Note:  Use the best flour possible.  Heritage and/or organic if you have access or the pennies too.

sourdough starter

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 3/4 cup blended roasted pumpkin (the smoother the better)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons butter

5 to 6 cups all purpose flour 

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix the sourdough starter, milk, water, whole wheat flour, and two cups of white flour.  Cover and let become bubbly.  It should look like pancake batter.

When it looks like pancake batter, take a scoop and refresh your sourdough starter that you kept back in the refrigerator or add 4 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water to you jar of sourdough.  Mix well.

To the batter, add the pumpkin, the sugar, and the salt.  Mix in 2 cups of flour.  If the batter becomes a soft dough, start to knead.  If not, add another half cup of flour.  Turn the dough onto a clean floured surface and knead.  Knead until smooth.  Then, start kneading in the butter.  I smash the butter on the floured surface with my hand or rolling pin.  Fold it a few times before I start to knead.

Once the dough is a smooth bowl, I put it back into my rinsed bowl and let rise until double.  My day got away from me, so I actually flattened it back, reshaped it into a ball and let it rise again.

I took about two thirds of this dough and shaped it into a simple sandwich loaf.  Place into a parchment lined loaf pan.

The last third, I rolled out into a square.  I mixed the 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon together.  Spread this mixture over the dough and roll into a log.  Place in a parchment lined loaf pan.

Let both loaves rise about another hour or until puffy and almost double.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.

I am now wishing I had switched the larger loaf to the cinnamon swirl.  This week I will.


going for a blue green

As you may have guessed, my life is a bit mad.  But I have missed dyeing silk.  Part of it is I look at my clothes and think I could change that with dye.  Freshen it.  Make it something new.  I have to admit for my clothes I think a lot about black walnut.  A dark brown or black brown.  Or is that brown black.  I like forest tones.

I had a friend message me one night asking if it is true that you can make a blue or even turquoise with red cabbage if you add baking soda.  Yes because it is about changing the pH of the water.  I will tell you that I add too much baking soda the first time.

That is what you get when the water has a very base pH.

But I tried again.  Add some alum to help mordant the cloth.  Add one teaspoon of vinegar.  Add a small (like a tablespoon) of woad.

This is what looked like wet out of the dye bath.

This is how it looked after being machined wash.  I am thinking about picking up some of the aromatherapy laundry detergent I like which has a sea salt and see if it changes the colors when I wash it too.  But this is a silver.  A silver grey.  But I had the piece of silk sitting in the sun before I took pictures of it and it definitely has a blue cast.  I am thinking about what I can try next.  I do have a piece of silk sitting in a mint dye bath.  Currently, it is looking like swamp green.  Okay, really a grey green but it is October!

Koda Bear is helping with these experiments.  Which is pretty cool.  More experiments for me soon.  I do have a Hallows costume to make for this not so small bear.  I am going to make him help!


Continually mending

Life is interesting.  About the time I have found something I really like, I love it to death!  Mending in every form must happen.  But it is also true for the rest of the household.  I chose to work on a sweater yesterday.  A new sweater but my Mondays are usually spent mending if I do not need to be out of the house.  There is always mending or repairs that need to happen.

Mending.  Why mend?  There are multiple reasons.  I make very little now compared to previously in my life but the happiness is much greater.  Going out and buying new is not always an option.  But, buying new does not happen often just because I cannot find what I want in the stores.  Things I like seem to not stay around very long in retail establishments.  Which means I mend or make.  If I can get it back into my wearing rotation faster by mending then making, that is probably the way I will go.

There is another reason.  The carbon footprint of clothes is four or five years per item.  If I can keep wearing something for longer then that, it is a win for my pocketbook and the planet.  I remake and alter many things too.  Not buying new fabric is already a win.  Mending keeps things working and sometime make them even more unique.  Like this sweater.  Like my Beloved's work pants.  

Mending does feel never ending.  I have even mended some of the boyos things.  I stitch well.  But my family and friends play and work hard.  There is a lot of laughter and work but that means that clothes wear.  And I mend.  Mine too.


poncho because yarn

I know people have lots of feelings about social media.  I do have to say I enjoy Instagram.  I find interesting things there.  Like skeins of yarn that are called Tea Cakes.  They just tickled my fancy so I went to Michael's to see if I could find any in person.  

Of course not.  I feel like I live in the biggest small town in the whole wide world.  People talk about yarn that I cannot find.  Oh well.  But Michael's had Latte Cakes that were so soft.  I normally do not work in acrylic or non-natural fibers but I bought some.  I was thinking that I could make a poncho that could be a hug for my best friend when I was not there.  I actually purchased enough yarn for two ponchos.

This is the one I crocheted for my best friend.  She picked the edge color.  The other skein I have is more purple and blue then blue and creams.  The fuzziness of the yarn makes the colors blend together.  Especially since I was using them at the edges where they had to go farther.  

I enjoyed making this poncho.  Yes, by the end I was wanting it to be done but that is how I usually am.  I want to see now!  It is off in the mail so she should be getting it when she gets home.  Whenever that is.  She travels a lot.  But it is one of the reasons I liked the idea of the acrylic yarn for this for her.  She can dump it in a motel washing machine or Laundromat and not worry so much about it.  There is no special laundering instructions.  And in the evening, when she is crocheting, she can be warm and snug.