Friday, February 18, 2011

A Crow in the Sunrise

We had a beautiful sunrise this morning and we've had constant flocks of crows lately. This is a shot of a crow in a tree behind our home.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Felted Balls Tutorial

You know, I think this is my first real tutorial!
I got one request for it (Thanks, Holly!), and one is enough for me, so here we go!

The first part is making a felt ball using roving. Using roving makes felting go much, much faster. But if you'd don't have roving, that's ok. Just skip on down to Part 2 where I show how to do it using wool yarn.

Part 1 - Felted Ball Using Roving
1. Start with your cat/ferret jingle ball found at pet stores.

2. Hold the ball in one hand and start wrapping the roving around it.

3. Keep wrapping while trying to keep the wool even all around.

4. Keep wrapping...

5. Wrap enough roving around until you get the size of ball you want. Keep in mind that it will shrink some while felting, so you might want to make it a little bigger than what you want the finished product to be.

6. Get an old nylon stocking. It's easier if you cut it so it's only about 12" long. Gather the nylon in your two hands until you get to the toe.

7. Then shove the ball in, pushing it as far into the toe as you can.
Make sure the end of the wool is facing the toe or it could come unraveled a little.
We don't want that!

8. Get out your dish soap.
I promise this is not an ad placement!

9. Drizzle the dish soap on.

10. At this point you might want to get out some rubber gloves. I didn't which is why my fingers are red.
Twist up the end of the nylon like shown above, so that it helps maintain a round shape and hold the ball under hot water. You may also need to pull and tighten the nylon around the ball throughout this process. Scrub with one hand while rotating the ball in the other hand. Continue to get it wet, scrub it, get it wet again, and scrub it, etc. After awhile you'll need to add more soap. You'll notice the ball will get lumpy and uneven. It's okay! The wool is shrinking. Keep up the scrubbing and soaping and wetting under hot water for about 5 minutes. Then rinse and squeeze repeatedly to get as much of the soap out as you can.

11. Remove from stocking and you're almost done! Run the ball under water, perfecting the shape as much as you can. Squeeze out water as best you can. Set on an old rag or cloth to dry. If its dyed wool, there may be some staining to the rag. Let dry over night in a warm place.

Part 2 - Felted Ball Using Wool Yarn
Make sure you use 100% wool yarn that specifies that it is good for felting like the "Fisherman's Wool" line of yarn which is what I used in my project below.

1. Hold your yarn in place and start wrapping.
It may be a little difficult as the surface is slippery plastic.

2. Keep wrapping...

3. Try to keep the yarn evenly distributed as your wrap until it's the size you want.
I wanted a little one.

4. Finished ball.
5. Now get that nylon stocking (12" long), stuff it into the nylon (making sure the end doesn't come unraveled), and duplicate steps 8-11 above except increase the scrubbing/soap process to 10 minutes.
There will be some shrinkage, but not as much as the roving ball.
The yarn ball will hold its shape much better than the roving one too.

Aaah! A completed set. I'm so excited!

Can you tell I love these things?

*Note: If you'd like a crinkle ball, replace the center jingle ball with a big wad of cut out bill envelope windows. What a great way to recycle!
*Another note: You don't have to put anything in the center at all. If you want just a plain ol' wool ball, just wrap the yarn or roving around itself in a tight ball and wrap to the size you want, etc.

Good luck and have fun! Let me know if you try this out and send pictures!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Felted Balls

Finally, some of the apples are on the stove, simmering down to soon become applesauce. It's a good thing too, because we've gone through half our applesauce from the last canning adventure. It's giving me a really realistic picture of the volume of applesauce I would have to can in order to feed our applesauce appetite around here. I truly think an entire wall of our basement would be dedicated to applesauce and we'd need to have at least 3 apple trees.

Okay, so on to the felted balls! I've been eyeing felted balls as they've appeared on various blogs I follow and the library books on felting I've checked out. It was my goal to make some for my daughter's first birthday which is next week. 

I bought some jingle balls at a pet store (The balls are meant for ferrets, but I'm sure they sell them for cats too). Last night I tried the felted balls for the first time and I was totally thrilled with how easy they were! I tried two balls with dyed roving and they, by far, felted up the easiest and fastest, although they did end up with some creases. I tried one with thick, one ply wool yarn and that felted up pretty well too, were very even all around, but the yarn lines still show. Not a big deal, though. It's for a baby! One of the balls also has a bunch of bill envelope windows wadded up inside, so when you squeeze the ball it crinkles. I'm really happy with the way these turned out! I'm planning on making a few more since I have some jingle balls left. If you'd like a tutorial, just let me know and I'll take step-by-step pictures when I make them next. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Apples Again??!

I think it's a little strange that apples keep finding me. Right now I've got a case box full of bruised apples that came my way and they're waiting to be turned into applesauce and apple pie filling. Or maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment?

I held a canning class for some ladies from my church last Saturday. It went really well! We canned most of the cranberries I had sitting in my freezer from Christmas time. Hooray for more freezer space! It was my first time making whole berry cranberry sauce and I was delighted with how easy it was. 8 cups cranberries, 4 cups sugar, 4 cups water. That's it! And I loved how the finished product is this luscious, glistening ruby red. I was really thrilled to be able to share my knowledge and expertise with eager students. Anything I can do to help other be more self-sufficient just makes me happy!

I also had some grape tomatoes come my way and decided to try my hand at tomato sauce. I was surprised that it was a lot like making apple sauce. Cook the tomatoes, run them through the food mill, strain them in the sieve to get rid of seeds (an extra step applesauce doesn't have), cook down to 1/2 the original amount (another extra step), and put in your jars with some lemon juice. Imagine my surprise when the jars came out of the water bath and the sauce was orange! I'm really curious as to how it tastes... :-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Baby Food

As my daughter has gotten older I've been wanting to expand my homemade baby food repitoire from purees to baby snacks like teething cookies. And since her 1st birthday is coming up in two weeks (already!), I wanted to research out some baby-friendly birthday cakes that didn't have a lot or any sugar in it at all. I stumbled on this great website that has a lot of homemade recipes for baby foods from meats, to birthday cake, to snacks. Perfect!

Here it is: Wholesome Baby Food
And here's the link about the birthday cake.

I've avoided pureeing meat like the plague because of the hassle, but looking at their recipes I feel pretty dumb. It looks like it was never that big a deal!
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