December 27, 2010

Dyed Christmas Gifts

Everyone is starting to expect gifts of dyed shirts with matching bamboo socks all the time. I did it again this Christmas. Last Christmas, besides the shirts and socks, everyone got a tie dyed apron. This year besides the shirts and socks, all the couples got a Bidet! For the Grandsons I dyed shirts, and warm rompers, matching bamboo socks, and then some hats. I was going to dye ties for the guys, as the girls got machine felted polar fleece purses - but I didn't get to them. I'm feeling a little daunted with silk ties, but will do them eventually.

The munchkin hats are adorable!

Hand-dyed had from Dharma Trading Company

December 16, 2010

December Color/Design Challenge

"TEMPERATURE" was the next classes' challenge. Heather Thomas said, "we want to feel either hot or cold when we view your piece!" Visual temperature is controlled by color. The color wheel can be divided in two halves, one warm and one cold. The cold colors tend to recede behind warm colors. Red-violet, red, yellow-green, and green are temperature neutral colors, tending to behave like their neighbors. Adding black to colors warms them. Adding white actually cools colors down. Colors have moods.

I initially printed some of Dawson's photos and photo-image-transferred a white deer with it snowing. I heavily thread painted it and it puckered. My teacher of the class, Heather, said, "when I'm going to stitch the hell out of something, I print two, cut out the heavily stitched image and attach it to the background." I still need to do that and finish it. I want to frame it and give it to Dawson.

What I did was look thru all my stash of material and lots of unfinished stuff. I chose a weaving project I did, feeling it cold. I'd previously knit and felted a black bag I didn't like cuz lint and stuff showed too much. So I attached my woven piece to the purse. I also looked thru my stash of trims and ribbons, hoping for something to embellish the purse. I found some daisy trim that could have come from my Grandmother. Over the years I've collected lots of trims and buttons from yard sales. Sometimes at a second-hand store I'll buy a shirt for it's buttons if they're cool. Then I found some coordinating material for lining and making some buttons. I wanted a brighter lining material as I've found it's hard to find things in a dark bag!

Felted purse with attached hand-weaving, trim, and homemade buttons

December 3, 2010

Knitted Dishcloths

Knit Dishcloth - a pattern from an old-timer's homestead home
In the wool felt over homemade soap bars post, I mentioned I knit round dishcloths, and the need to post a picture. So I took a picture this morning of my current knitting. An artist friend is having an ongoing open house for a week for gift shopping from a variety of artists. I've given her the felted soap bars and dishcloths, felted purses, ornaments, necklace earring sets, and tie-dye shirt sock set (I've posted about all these but the felted necklaces).

I usually use size 10 short wood needles
YEARS ago while visiting Monte's parents in Wisconsin we were in the home of one of their friends. These people, folks, were old-timers living on their homesteaded land, having come from Sweden. Much of Monte's relations still live on their homesteads and we've been handed down some of this land (I don't know if we'd ever live there! ... ). I might have been knitting something  while visiting (I've always got a knitting project along where ever I go, from small to large). Myrtle pulled out an old sheet of yellowed paper with faded scrawled handwriting for the knitted round dishcloths that I've now been knitting all these years and giving away as we visit people, and selling. The pattern is ingrained in my brain (as well as the socks I'm forever knitting).

Laid on napkin so you can see the BO3s and YO pattern
The circle is made up of 7 triangles. Starting with 15 cast-on stitches, and always knitting (no purl). It's always K3, yarn over, for the 'hole' pattern - then knit 11 and back. Once three of these are done you bind off three and begin next third of K3, YO, K8 three times. Bind off three. Last third is K3, YO, K5. Bind off three, K to end and back and start over with next triangle made up of threes from the 11 to 8 to 5. Leave a tail and whip stitch circle closed, closing center circle too.

Cotton is so absorbent and they are my favorite kitchen washcloths. Sometimes I've used the cotton yarn varied colors to dictate cotton thread colors for weaving matching dishtowels. I've got some, in a very absorbent honeycomb pattern on one of my looms now. Should finish them.

Occasionally I stick my wet dishcloths in the microwave - on high for 3 minutes - to disinfect them of any bacteria build-up. But DO regularly change out your washcloths, towels and sponges - like every couple days, depending on your usage.

December 2, 2010

Needle-Felted Christmas Wreath, etc.

WOW!!! I've not posted in a long time. But I've been busy and taken pictures of lots of doings, so I'm going to back-date posts from here for catching up with projects closer to their date. For awhile there was lots of garden/yard clean-up as Fall carried on with a longer growing season before frosting out. And I've now got tomatoes, lettuce varieties, radishes, beets, carrots, green onions, herbs and snow peas growing in the greenhouse that's connected to the house.

We have XM Serious Radio in our house (alone - we don't have Dish or Direct TV - only Satellite radio) and I'm currently listening to Christmas Classics as I'm typing this post on my Macintosh computer, eating a Macintosh apple.

The MOPS group of which I've been a Mentor Mom for ten years had it's Christmas Brunch fundraiser yesterday. I dyed some long-sleeve T-shirts with matching bamboo socks for it. I also made a Needle-felted wreath - all a part of an auction. Now I need to make a felt wreath for ME!

The wreath is about 12" made over a styrofoam wreath form. I've found needle felting over foam does not work on the smooth foam. I learned that last Easter when I did some egg shapes. I made some ornaments I'm back posting about, and going to make more.

At my weaving guild once a year is a large sale and I pick up varieties of wools. What I used for covering the styrofoam was some junky dyed green wool - still with lanolin that's gone sticky and I'm betting dyed with Koolaid - well I'm finally putting it to use. Then I wrapped it with some yarn. I separately needled the leaves and then needled them onto the wreath. I wet felted the berries quickly with bar soap and my hands standing at the sink, squeezed them out in a towel, and almost immediately glue-gunned them onto the wreath, straight pinning thru some. (Running out of time ... last minute stuff.)

November 30, 2010

Homemade Soap with Wool Felted Over

These are called several things - like even "wash cloth covered soap".

I make homemade soap every year (I need to make more soon) for our bath/shower/hand washing needs. I even make a shampoo bar soap too. I've not bought soap in years, nor shampoo. I could use it for laundry too, but don't. (I even make my own face lotion.)

I used older leftover soap for these felted soap bars. I knit circular washcloths (most people use them as doilies)(I need to take a picture of them) and chose colors of wool that would coordinate. I wrapped wool tightly around the soap, dipped it into a basin of hot water I'd put Dawn dish soap in. I had a sandwich plastic bag for initially rubbing the wool covered soap in - it sticks to the hands too much until it starts felting. I have a handmade bar of goat soap at the sink and would add it to my hands for further felting of the bars, adding more hot water to my hands. Using the sandwich bag for rubbing all around the soap works great!

November 18, 2010


Emery and Bea awaiting Mom's return home!
I've been getting pics emailed me from my kids of their kids and wanting to get them off my desktop and posted.

A year ago on my old blog, Karey's Contemplations, I'd written of being often in Wisconsin as Monte's Father Emery was in the hospital. As Em was leaving this world a baby was born and our son Travis, and Sarah, named him Emery. So now Emery is approaching his first Christmas and birthday.

Also on my old blog I posted lots about Heather and her eHarmony found husband Bill, and on to their son Will. I posted about Bill being deployed for his fourth time (he's now a major and hopefully retiring with no more deployments!). So I was there for the birth of my first grandchild. Then Heather and Will came and spent most of that year living with us. So go to my old blog for more pics and stories.

Will wearing a shirt I dyed for him
They'll all be here for Christmas.

November 12, 2010

Luminescence - Shiva Paintsticks; & Needle-felted Ornaments

My November's color/design class challenge was luminescence.

I've been buying shirts and jackets at Goodwill with the plan to over-dye them, creating whole new creations (I've done this since high school, on into having babies, and now for whole family). One shirt was bright yellow with stripes, so I thought it might be good for this project. I originally did a lot of basting along all the centers of each stripe strip, pulling the stitching tight. Well the over-dyeing didn't turn out as I was wanting - should have used a waxed string for a better resist. I over-dyed it some some more.

I've been wanting to use the Shiva paint sticks ... I have some pieces of textured wallpaper I saved. That was the under texture for rubbing a black Shiva stick over. Then I used another flowered texture made for using with the paint sticks rubbing an iridescent gold over - that created the luminescence! I used the paint sticks stenciling leaf designs on the back yoke and down the button placket.

I'd also gone to Hobby Lobby looking specifically for luminescent possibilities. I wanted to make Christmas ornaments using styrofoam balls and needle-felting wool on. I came home with ribbons, embroidery floss and sequins.

I'm going to make more, trying different sizes. These are the largest I'd make. Monte wouldn't mind a tree full of these!

November 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Tree & Needle-Felting

This day at MOPS was "Share Your Wares" with tables set up around the room perimeter for anyone wanting to display/sell whatever it is they do. So I set up a table with all the variety of felting I do - from my sculpted people, landscape pictures, purses, hats, slippers, etc ... along with selling my cookbook.

I also did the Devotional for the day, showing one of my Thanksgiving Tree posters from a past Thanksgiving, and talking about it -

I often get frustrated at the Thanksgiving table when I ask what people are thankful for. Usually someone says something silly and then everyone else does. So now on a large piece of paper I draw a tree, with lots of branches and no leaves, to hang on the wall. I cut a variety of leaves from colored construction paper and leave them sit on a counter with a pen and glue stick. If this is done a week or so before Thanksgiving everyone who comes to our house can write something they're thankful for on a leaf and glue it on the tree. Then by Thanksgiving, we've had time to think beyond tangibles like food, family, God, friends, pets etc to intangibles like Truth, Love, integrity and then beyond to firemen, police, doctors ...

The rest of the time I sat felting wool flowers to go in a vase I made from 'material' I made with my needle-felting machine. The vase's foundation is craft felt with dyed cheesecloth needled on - the design is created by needling from the back and the front. Needling from the back forces the black felt color to the front or whatever colored felt piece I put on the back. I added beanbag pellets in the vase as a weight. At home I'd wet felted green wool around pipe-cleaners, then I could just needle the flowers to them.

I'd put together some needle-felting kits to sell too. The purses I was selling used fleece material as their foundation material I used their design as the guide for machine felting yarn on for more textile interest, creating a whole new fabric. Some had purse handles made from braiding fleece strips and yarn together, sewn on. Some smaller purses had zipper closures.
Fleece/Yarn machine felted purse (holding my knitting)

Machine needle-felted material from yarn on craft felt - made into zippered purse

One of the fleece foundational designs with yarns to embed by machine felting
One of the finished fleece machine felted purses
Needle-felted flower added to a wet-felt hat with crocheted edging

October 31, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with fruits

Everyone raves about this brussels sprouts dish. Though I tend to make all recipes my own with my twists and variations, I rarely tweak this recipe from The Splendid Table, an NPR weekly radio show - I subscribe to their free weekly recipe email from (have gotten a lot of great recipes from them!).


I so crave this dish, that I make it often. We especially like it with grilled, smoked salmon. Monte dumps it on top of his salmon.

2 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved if small or quartered if large

(A key when roasting vegetables is to have a lot of the ingredients chunked about the same size)

1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 apples (any kind, I tend to use Granny Smith), cored and cut in 1-inch pieces

2 firm ripe Anjou or Comice pears, cored and cut

2-3 slices bacon, cut in pieces

1/2 tsp each thyme and sage (fresh is always best if you have it, and use more)

5-6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup good tasting extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp spicy red pepper flakes

1 Tb brown sugar (I use Sucanat - unprocessed sugar cane)

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Toss all together. Bake in a 450 degree oven on a very large shallow pan (I line it with foil). You want the mixture to spread into a single layer. Stir it a couple times - baking about 40 minutes to an hour till nicely browned.

It, like the smoked salmon, is great leftover cold on lettuce as a salad.

Grilled Smoked Salmon (&/or Chicken)

I often grill and smoke, with wood chips, a large salmon fillet. When Monte is out of town, I always grill either salmon or chicken breasts to have leftover cold on salads. I could eat this way all the time - simple, and GOOD!

After preheating the grill and getting the soaked wood chips going, I like to grill the flesh side of fish quickly on the hot grill. Then I turn it over with the skin side down, sprinkle with pepper seasoning and spread with mayonnaise. Then turn the heat down and let slow cook with the smoke flavoring it. The skin protects the fish from burning and it gets crispy.

If the fish isn't very fresh (which is most often since we don't live near fishing areas), I always do a presoak in the sink with some salt and milk and sometimes some sugar. It seems to help draw out anything 'fishy'. Then rinse (pull out any bones with needle-nose pliers, if any) and dry.

When grilling chicken breasts, I cut them in fairly thin pieces and marinate them in an Italian salad dressing for a bit (like at least an hour, or all day, or even overnight) before grilling. And brush them with the marinade while grilling, so they don't dry out.

Like I said, I will often do this just for me, but have also done it when we've got visiting scientists here for many meals. This will be one of the lunches along with bread and sandwich makings and a large bowl of salad. We usually have most of our meals buffet style with everything around the kitchen island for people to create their own plate's meal.

October 23, 2010

Halloween Costumes

Monte and me were going to be going to a birthday party - one of his geology comrades. I "Thread Painted" (free-motion machine embroidery) a Serpentinite picture for him over a photo transfer and matted it for him. But then the party was canceled, which was a good thing ... Dawson along with Splarah and her sister Abby came wanting me to help them sew their Halloween Costumes.

I can't tell you their character names: TV/Movie characters I don't know about. Dawson pretty much sewed his own. Splarah was making Christmas presents - sewing double layer fleece blankets on my sewing machine. And there's no way Abby and them could have made her costume - it was even challenging for me! and I'm an expert seamstress, having made my own clothes since I was a teenager and used to make Monte's jeans, and suits, shirts, etc.

They found a picture on the internet - Dawson blew it up to proportionately fit the front panel of Abbey's costume and we printed it in pieces and iron transferred them to material. Anyway, come evening, we got everything done. Whew!

I don't think I've taken a picture of the Serpentinite thread painted picture. This is the second one I've done - the first for Monte, which we gave to Jensimil who was returning to Norway and really wanted it - so we gifted it to him. I need to do another for Monte's partner Stan for Christmas, and then another one for Monte.

October 19, 2010

Fun Food Books

I just listened to and read some fun food reads.

Every night before going to bed I have a fun book to be reading. Sleep has never come easy for me since I was a teenager. Maybe I don't need much sleep. I've read bios of people who function quite well on little sleep and my uncle is in that category. Over the years I've tried every technique I've heard/read of. Monte thinks I'm funny, saying "my body is willing, but not my brain", a dichotomous statement! - aren't I one whole being?! Oh well ...

My bedtime book I just finished is The Butcher and the Vegetarian - One Woman's Romp through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis. It was fun, and sometimes thought-provoking, and eye-opening. Tara Weaver (she has a blog - Tea & Cookies) grew up in a vegetarian family. As an adult, she found herself in poor health, and trying cures of every kind, a doctor finally ordered her to eat meat. This book is about Tara navigating around this foreign new world.

A fun novel I listened to is Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews (I've listened to several of her books - good - love the reader). A Southern food network chef Gina Foxton ends up having to compete with a rival food network chef, handsome Tate Moody (a hunter, fisherman chef) and his dog Moonbeam - paired up by the network for spice for the network. It's packed with Southern flavor and humor.

Then too I listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life, read by the authors: primarily Barbara Kingslover (read her Poisonwood Bible), along with bits by her husband Steven Hopp and daughter, Camille. I bought the book when it came out in 2007, but wanted to listen to it. They left the sunbelt of Tucson Arizona, paddling against the then tide (not the current green tide) to Stephen's dilapidated farm in Appalachia country. It's part memoir, part journalisic investigation, and a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet. Good humored and poetic - I like her writing style. I had to laugh at the chapter on turkeys and their sex life, since we have had turkeys in the past. For one year they vowed to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it - tho each family member chose one item they couldn't live without. I've not gone to their website yet (the book's title), but want to - supposedly lots of links, recipes etc posted there.

Bleach Painting T-shirts

Painting with bleach on T-shirts - Dawson, Splarah, Sarah, and Travis
My sons just posted pics on Facebook of an activity they did yesterday. I suppose we'd have been invited too if Monte wasn't needing to work. But I'm always glad to see family togetherness. I shared the painting with bleach technique with them awhile back. I've overdyed (bleached), like tie-dying, an already painted Tee to great affect too and stamped with bleach. I sometimes use my dye thickener, sodium alginate (sp?) added to bleach. Do this in a well-ventilated space - like outside! Rinse well and wash. If left too long bleach will eat at the fibers.

October 18, 2010

Early Fall Happenings

Fall has hit. It's been an extended season this year of warmth, so tomatoes, peppers, and beans didn't freeze until the other night. I had them extended for ripening warmth with the white "floating row covers" (remay cloth), and occasionally covering with blankets on borderline nights. Other than kale, chinese cabbage, and chard, my outdoor gardening season is done. Now for mother nature to do her thing with tucking in the scattered flower seeds for new growth next year, and stronger root development for the perennials.

Torkel, my felted tree-hugging Tomte
My last color/design challenge for my class was using Tetrad colors of the Color Wheel. It was a busy month with garden harvest, readying the greenhouse for winter, and LOTS of company! Needless to say, at the last minute I decided felting was my thing I could do, producing something! ... Thinking ... I looked at my favorite sculpted needlefelted head, still needing a body and finishing. His skin colors chose my tetrad colors: blue-green, violet, red-orange, and yellow. You'd think the face is orange, green and gray, but no, not when compared with the 4-in-1 color tool. Since tetrad is a square of double complementary colors, I was thinking square - like plaid, for his coat. So I finished Torkel, my tree-hugging elf (or Swedish Tompte).

In the above picture are vased zinnias, brought Saturday by my friend Marty. We had a houseful that day. Various peoples have come to help cut wood, taking some home for themselves, so Saturday was the Johnson's day. Dawson and Splarah came, Gary, and our house guest Michael, who cooked the supper main dish (he's now in a place of his own closer to his new job). I've not gathered many flowers to dry this year, not thinking I'm making anything with them, but did gather some, so that's pictured, along with the "pumpkins?" behind (volunteer squash we don't know for sure what they are, but as I posted on my kitchen blog, I'm still roasting the seeds and using them as pumpkins).

The round circle is the broken glass.
I was just upstairs checking on my home brews and heard a crash, expecting it to be something in the greenhouse. SHOCK! The middle window in the dining area was broken - the outer one of a two-glass window. The culprit still there, most likely stunned, so not flying away. His victim lay dead. So what happened?  What I've identified as a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk was chasing a chickadee for it's meal, and they both bashed into the window. Because it was stunned it stood around for a long time for me to capture many pics!

The hawk and broken glass fallen between two-glass window
Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk?
Wood cutting. We like burning aspen - our "hardest" wood for longer burning
Cleaned the back porch corner for extra wood storage
Wood storage by front door with ore buckets, etc
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...