Thursday, December 15, 2011

Handmade Christmas Gift Roundup

Phew! I am finally done with all my planned handmade Christmas gifts.

This year, I ended up doing as much sewing as knitting since I have a new machine and it tends to be much faster than knitting.

I had Christmas colored yo-yos made that were hanging out in a bag in my craft area, so I strung them together and hot glued some tiny clothespins on the back. Voila, a lovely garland for my mother-in-laws' mantle that she can hang christmas cards from. Excuse the 6 identical cards of my daughter that I used as an example. You'd think I'd have cards from some other people hanging around by now but I guess I was on top of mine this year!

I made 6 of these wonderful hot/cold therapy packs from the tutorial at Elm Street Life. These were quick and easy to make and in addition to being cute as heck they are very functional! I also ordered several bars of soap from Luxsoap on Etsy to include with some of these gifts.

Last time we visited South Dakota, my mom asked for a hat to match her winter coat. Whaddaya know....I had handspun yarn in my stash that matched her coat exactly. I used the super cute 'Big Bulky Bucket Hat' pattern from Leethal. I think she will love it!

My family often does gift exchanges at our Christmas get together. Rather than spending the money on a store bought gift, I made an extra therapy pack, threw in one of the bars of soap and crocheted a quick bath puff.

My sister-in-law is a professional photographer, so I was thrilled when I found this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew for this cute camera strap cover. My husband often helps her shoot wedding and large sessions so I know for a fact that she has trouble when having to go searching through her camera bag for extra cards for the camera. This strap cover is perfect because it has a little pocket on the bottom where she can keep her bits and pieces during a shoot.

My dad and his girlfriend are very outdoorsy, and they love the hats I make them. Nikki loves orange, so I made her a Calorimetry out of some orange handspun.

And a cabled, ear-flap style snowboarding hat for dad.

I've made these hats for my two Minnesotan nieces and my daughter, so I whipped two up for my niece and nephew in South Dakota. These are SO easy to make, and the square shape makes it look like kitty ears when worn.

And that is everything! Oofta! Time for baking day with my sister in law on Monday then I am totally ready to relax and enjoy the holiday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Neglect and cormo

My poor blog has been quite neglected the past few years as I have gone through some big events in life; marriage, pregnancy, and this little lady!
Isabel Victoria (aka Izzie) is 5 months old now, and she's just the best baby ever. We are so thankful to have her in our lives.

She is starting to get better about amusing herself when I am home with her on my days off, so I'm finally back to getting some crafty things done! First up today, I worked on some box bags that I sell on my etsy store. I bought tons of Amy Butler fabric before I was pregnant and I'm slowly working my way through it all. I've been working on fine tuning my method for making these bags so they are a dimension I like. I'm hoping to put up a tutorial soon.

Then, wool!

I've had this big 'ol bag of gorgeous cormo wool for over a year now, so I decided it's at least time to make sure all the lanolin gets washed out of it. This is harder than it sounds, as cormo is chock full of the stuff and it does not want to leave! With the help of Ravelry, I think I've got it down now. The secret ingredient? Ammonia.

This is what I do to wash my cormo fleece:

I wash my wool in the sink in small batches and use one of the little plastic bins with holes in the side for washing. This allows water into the container, and enables you to drain the water out by just lifting the bin out of the water. You can also put a larger amount of wool in mesh laundry bags or tulle and use a top-loading washing machine. I use the washing machine method on less greasy wools, but it just wasn't cutting it for the cormo.

I pile 4-5 layers of locks inside my basket for washing. Then I fill my kitchen sink up with hot water and some dish soap. I use generic soap which is pretty basic. You just need to make sure that if you are using dawn or other brands that there are no 'enzymes' as these can affect the integrity of the wool.

When the sink is full, I slowly lower my basket into the water. I use a rubber glove or spatula to VERY GENTLY push the wool down into the water to ensure all the locks are soaked. I let the wool sit in the sink for a few minutes, then drain the water from the sink and lift the bin out to drain the water. Then I refill the sink again with soapy water for another wash cycle.

During this second wash cycle, I add just a splash of ammonia. It stinks to high heaven, be prepared :)

After draining the second wash cycle, I do two rinse cycles without the soap. During the first rinse cycle, I add another tiny splash of ammonia. During the second, a glug of vinegar. This balances the pH of the ammonia. I've never had any lingering odors left over from either the ammonia or vinegar, either.

Then I drain and dry the wool. Laying it on a towel on the floor near a fan works well, but I will often take my laundry drying rack and secure a mesh laundry bag to it as a drying surface. This allows air to reach under the wool too.

The ammonia really is the trick. Without it, I was left with wool that was clean, but still felt greasy from the lanolin and was kind of yucky to spin. Now my cormo is gorgeous, clean, soft, and grease-free! My favorite way to spin it is straight from the lock.

My batch for today is dry - I think I'll go spin some now while the baby is asleep!