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Off the needles…pale blues.

Thrifted yarn and easy patterns = two finished shawlettes.   I think this yarn is alpaca.  It’s two shades done in stripes to get enough to make a shawlette.  The knitting is easy, mindless, meditative. This yarn is a wool/alpaca blend.  Simple feather n fan style shawlette.  Wish there had been more to make a larger shawl.  I’m just about done with a larger autumnal shawl in worsted brown and purple with a feather n fan border, and will post pics when I get it finished (maybe next week?) This one is a birthday present for my mom next week

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Little Quilt for Lucky Lola

My dear friend, Trish, from Lucky Lola Studios asked me to make her a little quilt she could use for newborn portraits.  Something pastel and gender neutral.  My local thrift store is the perfect place to pick up bags of scrap fabric for $0.50-$2.  It’s often vintage or good quality quilting remnants from Fabric Depot.  If you’ve got a use for little bits of this and that all the way up to fat-quarter sized pieces, their grab-bags can be a good deal. A while back, I found a bag that was all 5×5 or smaller pieces or strips of Depression-Era reproduction fabric.

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Solar Dehydrator

A friend recently gave me her well-loved solar dehydrator.  I have been chomping at the bit to try it out, and yesterday picked a bunch of herbs (that will eventually go into salves) and set to drying them. I spent some time in the evening gathering calendula blossoms and comfrey (shown here), broad-leaf plantain, raspberry leaves, rosemary, lavender, and costmary.  The calendula blossoms come in an array of peaches, yellows, oranges since I let them freely self-sow around the garden and express their natural genetic diversity. I have two electric dehydrators and make a lot of dried fruit and herbs

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Quick Project – First Aid Kit

A little sewing from the weekend:   There tends to be a seasonality to my craft habits, and summer time is sewing time.  When life gets a little stressful (and I can’t go skate), I can retreat to the sewing machine upstairs, rummage through the scrap pile, and crank out a few quick projects.  And feel a little better. I found this tutorial on Pinterest, and whipped up some little First Aid Kits for gifts.  Bea asked if I’d make her one from scraps of strawberry fabric, so this one is for her. These kits were a great use of scrap

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Healing Salve Recipe

‘Tis the Season to make Christmas gifts, and Bea and I started yesterday morning, making another, larger batch of comfrey-rosemary salve.  (Joining the KCCO today.) Comfrey, also known as knit-bone, is touted as having strong healing properties.   I have used it daily on my broken ankle once the stitches healed (don’t use the salve on open wounds), but it is also commonly used on bruises and other injuries.  It is a soothing salve to rub onto bumps, bruises, sore muscles, etc – all of which are common place in a house with 3 roller derby girls and very active, energetic kids.

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Elderberry-Rose Hip Syrup

A friend very kindly picked me loads of wild rose hips.  These red-orange fruits of fall are loaded with vitamin C, lycopene and beta-carotene.  They can be dried for tea, or used fresh for syrup and jam.  (Take note – the seeds inside are covered with irritating hairs, and if the fruits are cut up, the hairs need to be removed.  The seeds and outside of the fruit are edible.) Late in the summer, when our elderberries were in full production (and I was still out of commission), my husband picked and froze loads of berries for me.    Adding

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Homebodies

Autumn is settling in, and we’ve put the feather comforters and extra quilts on the beds.  My ankle hasn’t healed enough to drive yet, so we spend our week keeping busy at home.  Any moment it isn’t raining, we’ve been in the garden. Some images from our quiet week around the house.  Above: Hops, rosemary, and comfrey drying in a sunny window seat. Collecting columbine seeds for Christmas gifts, and a few to sow around the garden. Baking bread.  The kids can eat a loaf every single day, and I certainly don’t mind baking.  This is molasses-shredded wheat bread (my kids

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Hop Blossoms and Dragonfly Wings

A few pictures from the last two days: The boys helped me pick hops this afternoon, which we will dry for tea.  Usually, we pick them for brewing beer, but I’m told a few blossoms steeped in hot water with a little honey makes a very soothing bedtime tea, so we are going to try it this winter. Baking sesame-oat and shredded-wheat spelt breads yesterday so the kids could have a snack before derby scrimmage. My ankle swells very quickly, and I spent a lot of time with my foot propped up, reading to the children and knitting Christmas presents.

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From the Fig Tree

A cascade of very fresh, very ripe figs the kids poured out onto the kitchen table.  They are from a neighbor’s tree.  She doesn’t know the variety (they are actually her next-door neighbors, but a large portion of the immense tree overhangs her driveway, and no one family can consume the vast quantities of fruit. The figs are pale green with a pink flesh, and very soft and sweet.  I think they may be “Desert King”, which does quite well in our climate, and typically produces a large good-quality breba crop (we have a young one in our yard, and

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Elderberry Kombucha

A few folks have asked for the recipe for a recent batch of elderberry kombucha.   There isn’t much of a recipe – it is simply kombucha put through a secondary fermentation with fruit added.  Here is the process: I am currently brewing my kombucha using the Wild Fermentation group‘s method of 3 black tea bags, 2 green tea, and 1 oolong for each gallon of water.  You can also set up a continuous brew system, which I hope to set up in a crockery dispenser very soon. Once the kombucha has reached the desired level of tangyness, remove the

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The Best Dilly Beans EVER

Lately I’ve been getting back to making home fermented foods, for our health and for simplicity’s sake.  I routinely make sourdough, yogurt, and buttermilk, but had gotten away from cultured vegetables (life gets busy).  But the past several weeks, I have re-discovered how much we love lacto-fermented veggies. Lacto-fermentation is the process of using beneficial bacteria (primarily Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. bifidus) to create lactic acid and ferment raw fruits and veggies into foods that are more easily digestible and have more bio-available nutrients.  The process also preserves food for many months. The garden is bursting with produce, but my

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Yarn Along – Just Barely

Life is so frantic lately, I almost didn’t make Nicole’s KCCO or  Ginny’s Yarn Along this week.  I am having trouble keeping my head above water some days.  It seems to be a constant problem – four kids, busy schedules, deadlines, nowhere to cut back and simplify.  When life gets like this, I’m going to drop a ball somewhere, I just don’t know where yet… This week, I’m re-reading some of of my favorite permaculture books.  I am working on a research project, and while I thought most of my reading would take place late at night (thanks to chronic

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Alpaca and Social Permaculture

I’m tackling spinning for the Yarn Along this week.   Little by little, I am working my way through a 4 oz bag of first-shearing unwashed alpaca fiber (isn’t the coppery color lovely?).  This buttery soft fiber was a gift from my sister some years ago.  She picked it up from Foothills Fiber in Hood River, OR. Originally, I was going to put this on the wheel, but both sets of bobbins are already full of other fibers, so I’ve been working on a drop spindle.  (I have 6 or so spindles going at any one time, so progress on any

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Making Butter

I made a bit batch of beef stew for dinner this weekend – enough to last for two meals.  We rarely eat beef or pork (other than a small amount of ham or bacon to flavor veggie dishes), so it was a real treat for all of us.  All day long, the kitchen was full of the aroma of leeks, smoked paprika, merlot, allspice, and cinnamon. Ruth suggested we make butter and loaf of bread to go with dinner.   I happened to have 2 cups of organic heavy cream in the fridge.  Okay, let’s make butter! To make butter take

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Christmas Preparations

We’re finally getting the sewing cleared away and readying the dining nook for Christmas dinner. (That big bag of oats will shortly become granola for Christmas gifts. ) And putting out some last-minute decorations… and making our traditional holiday persimmon bundt cake while the boys play with dinosaurs at my feet… and putting out the last few pieces of the children’s new Nativity on my grandma’s marble-top washstand. (As much as I’d love to have a Nativity set like this one or this one, I am really enjoying this budget-friendly set – the children can play with it as much

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Yarn Along with Tasha

The past few mornings, I have been reading through one of my favorite books over coffee.  Like so many, I have been fascinated with Tasha Tudor since childhood.   Something about her homespun quality – her eccentricity – is comforting and always familiar. Continuing the theme from last week, this morning the shawlette is being blocked.  It was finished on Saturday, but I have been under the weather, and just now am pinning it out on the guest bed. This pattern is exactly what I needed – simple, quick, well-designed and a relaxing knit (it would also make a good first

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KCCO – Christmas skirts

After what seemed like endless gathering and pinning, the Christmas skirts are finished.  Bea and Ruth are happy with how they came out, thank goodness! The girls chose whatever fabric they wanted from a stack of thrifted Christmas prints my sister and I had accumulated over the past few years.  Ruth asked for them to be double layered for warmth and to feel old fashioned (like a petticoat). And she wanted it long – nearly to the floor – with ruffles.  I tacked on some vintage woven ribbon along the hem for good measure. Bea wanted a drop waist and

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Holiday Sewing

Today is dedicated to finishing up Christmas sewing projects.  A three year accumulation of thrifted holiday fabric was sitting in a box upstairs, and the time had finally come to do something with it all, or donate it back.  So, sewing marathon it is! Some of the fabric is fairly ugly 1980s through mid-90s prints of teddy bears and snowmen, but works just fine for gift bags and such.  More than half the fabric is quite old – 1950s and 1960s cotton prints of holly, ribbons, candles, and I’m pretty excited about sewing with those. We’ve already completed many, many

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Christmas Posey

Our first frost date is October 15, but we have yet to have a hard freeze this year.  Tender plants that are normally wrapped in burlap or provided with wind screens are thriving free in the mild weather. While George was napping, and the big kids were playing quietly inside, I spent a little time working in the yard.  I am grateful for the mild weather, because I hadn’t finished planting garlic (usually completed in October), and the un-frozen ground allowed me to get several rows in and mulched right next to the driveway. Afterward, while picking some Lacinato Kale

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Yarn Along – Upstairs

Every knitting project I have started in the last week has been an exercise in frustration.  Last week’s socks got frogged, so I started knitting a Christmas pebble vest for George, and then decided I hated the shade of green (from my stash), so it, too, got frogged.  A second pair of socks, in blue tweed and pale purple-grey handspun merino got frogged as well. I eventually settled on two handspun stash yarns for stripey socks (above).  (This grey Jacob-sheep yarn looks very handsome paired with red.  I’ve made socks and baby garments with the combo before.  It is one

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Yarn Along – Rhythm of the Home

I have a piece in the new issue of Rhythm of the Home .  It just came out today!   Hope you get a chance to read and try out the recipe – it is a family favorite. The entire issue is packed with beautiful, thoughtful and instructive articles from such talented women.  From felted sweater garlands to meditations on homeschooling in the winter months to Waldorf doll shoe instructions..Rhythm of the Home always puts out a great edition! Obviously, for the reading portion of Ginny’s Yarn Along, this morning I’m reading through the new issue of Rhythm of the Home. 

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Tutorial: How to Waterproof Wool Diaper Covers with Lanolin

Over the weekend, I made a new batch of wool and wool/cashmere soakers from thrifted sweaters.  Some are for George, and some are for gifts, but all needed to be water-proofed, along with some knitted covers. There are many methods of lanolizing wool soakers, and this is the one a friend taught me way back when Bea was a baby.  It works really well, and doesn’t leave spots on the covers, unlike some short-cut methods I’ve tried. Why do you need to lanolize a wool cover?  On its own, wool diaper covers will be somewhat waterproof since wool naturally wicks

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L’Arche Christmas Tree

  Each year, we visit the same tree lot to pick up a little table-top Christmas tree which will sit in the window seat.  It is a tradition we really enjoy, and we’re thankful to be able to support L’Arche in our small way. L’Arche, is a wonderful organization that serves adults with disabilities in many communities.  From the Portland chapter’s website: At L’Arche Portland people with and without developmental disabilities work together to create home and build community. Those with developmental disabilities form the heart of our shared life and invite others into mutual relationships. We welcome each person’s

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Wool Along

Joining with Nicole for KCCO and Ginny for the Yarn Along.  We’re finishing up some Thanksgiving and autumn-themed books this week before diving in to Advent books next week.  I think we’ve read and re-read Wild Child at least a dozen times in the past few days.  It’s always been a favorite in our home. The children really enjoyed The Life and Times of the Apple. Harold is intensely interested in gardening (go figure) and he was fascinated with the section on fruit grafting. Today there is no knitting or spinning to share, but I have been working on some

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FREE Baby/Toddler Vest Pattern

There is something about babies in snuggly wooly vests… Last week’s project is finally finished, along with a smaller version (top photo).  I had originally worked up a 12-18 month sized pattern to fit tricky kiddo #4 (above), but thought a 3-6 month size would be great for baby shower gifts and such, too. I’d love to share the pattern with you.  It’s free, a quick knit, fits great, and I hope to post larger sizes in the coming weeks.  If you use my pattern, please give me credit and link back to this page.   This pattern is intended for

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