Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolution

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Learn how to shear sheep.

Get your resolution here.

I'm not one for making resolutions for the New Year but this one caught my eye. Heh! For the wishy-washy ones like me, you can get your resolutions made for you.

We'll see about the sheep shearing.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

How to Make Your Own Lip Balm & Recipe

Making your own lip balm is incredibly easy and fast.

1 part unbleached beeswax
1 part carnuba wax
5 parts liquid oil

essential oils (optional) - teatree, lavender, orange, peppermint
Vitamin E oil (optional)

First thing to do is put a small metal spoon in the fridge - you'll see why.

Microwave method
Measure out the carnuba wax into a microwavable container. I like using glass Pyrex measuring cups. They're easy to clean up after. Measure out your preferred oil. I like jojoba oil because it's a liquid wax and it keeps longer without your product going rancid. Sweet almond oil and avacado oils are really nice in lip balms as well. You can use olive oil or any cooking oil. Keep in mind that some cooking oils have a stronger oil scent.

Microwave on medium for short burst of time (20 secs each) until the carnuba wax is almost completely melted. Stir between microwaving. Add in the beeswax and microwave the same way. You don't have to microwave the container until all the wax is melted because the rest of the wax will melt as you stir. Carnuba is a harder wax and takes longer than beeswax to melt.

Bainmarie method
Measure everything into a heatproof container and heat over a hotwater bath until everything has melted. Stir gently as not to get water in your mixture.

The rest...
Take the metal spoon out of the fridge. To test your lip balm's consistency, gently touch the mixture with the bottom of the spoon. You'll see how hard or soft your lip balm will be. At this point, you can adjust by adding more wax or liquid oil. If you're using lip balm containers, you'll want a softer consistency. For lipstick tubes, you want something a bit harder but not hard enough to rip your skin off. Adding more carnuba wax will make your mixture really hard. I like adding beeswax instead.

Once everything has melted and mixed, you can add in a few drops of your favourite essential oils. Teatree oil has great antiviral properties and great for winter use. Lavender is really soothing for chapped lips.

One excellent combination is a few drops of sweet orange and a bit of cocoa powder. The only drawback to this combination was that it made me hungry all the time.

Vitamin E can be added at this point for extra moisturizing properties. Make sure you get the real stuff (100% alpha-tocopherol) & not the synthetic stuff (d-alpha-...).

You can also leave the balm plain and enjoy the nice honey scent. That one is my favourite lip balm.

Once all the extras have been added, pour into lipstick tubes. Those can be found online if you do a search. Cranberry Lane sells them locally and online. Magestic Mountain Sage is another good place.

I usually make a large-ish batch and fill only two or three tubes at a time. If you let the mixture cool, you can keep it in the fridge for later use if you store it in an airtight container. Just remelt the balm the same way and pour into your clean tubes. You can reuse the tubes if you clean and sterilize them beforehand.

Clean up
Cleaning up is easy. Wipe your utensils and containers with a paper towel to remove excess balm. Wash with dishwashing soap and water. Your stuff will still be food safe. You're not using anything that you haven't eaten before.

Last bit of fruitcake

This is the last of the fruitcake. Martha Stewart came through - the cake was delicious! I've always wondered if the people who make fruitcake jokes ever tried REAL fruitcake? Not the quasi stuff with the red and green plastic fruits. But the ones made with REAL dried currents, raisins, dried apricots, figs, dried bing cherries, and real candied ginger? I believe in garbage in, garbage out. Despite my misgivings about making this cake so late, it turned out really well. I've been dousing it with my vanilla rum about once a week and you can really taste the vanilla flavour.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ah! Time to think of the Challenge project!

Presents have all been opened, lots of good food and drink consumed and now it's back to business...knitting & crafty stuff.

This year was a book year. Lots of books & a few odds & ends. No fibre. That's ok because I ordered all my fibre stuff before the holidays so I'll have lots of new stuff to play with. And it's not like I don't already have loads of fibre anyway.

As usual, I refused all offers from my sister to join her in Boxing Day shopping. I think it takes an insane person to wake up at 5am to line up at Future Shop for the 6am opening. There is nothing - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING - I want from Future Shop that will make me do that. Not sure I would do that for yarn either but it really depends on how good the sale is (Lorna's Laces at 80% off would be an enticement).

Challenge Stuff

It's not sunny outside but certainly much brighter than the last two weeks have been. Bright enough to take pictures outside anyway. This is the first chance I've had to take a good close look at the yarn. I liked the colour of the batt but not the yarn. I thought the colour was grey and drabby until I looked at it outside. It's a nice pale mauve with specks of colours. Sorry...can't tell you the yardage. I "misplaced" the little piece of paper I wrote the info on. I really should start using one of my books to keep track of things.

I had no idea what to do with this skein until I flipped through the latest issue of Spin-Off. The idea of crocheting bobble yarn intrigues me. This yarn is thicker than what those women used but it might be interesting to try.

As Ms. Frizzle always say - "Take chances, get messy, make mistakes!"

So, bobble yarn is next!

Edited to add the pithy details...
Spun long draw & then plyed back on itself to make 2-ply. I haven't set the twist yet.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Banananananana Book!

This book is made with unbleached recycled paper ~ 136 pages. The signatures are separated with the same paper as the covers - Thai kozo with banana fibre inclusions. It's machine made but really is a beautiful paper. I used the deckle edges on the inside so the paper blended in with the outer covers. I used cream coloured waxed linen thread to go with the linen tapes. I'm quite pleased with the cuts this time. I punched them with the chisel from the inside and it gave the outer covers a much smoother look, without exposing the inner board. The cuts are just a tad smaller than the width of the tapes. The linen tapes were definitely much easier to glue down than the grosgraine ribbon from the first book.

I think this may be my favourite book so far. The coptic binding allows the book to lay nice and flat when opened. Not only does the spine fatteners separates each signatures nicely, it gives the outer spine a nice uniform look to show off the binding.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Fleece On Earth

*photo courtesy of Geek Philosopher

Fleece On Earth
Good Wool Towards Men!

Things are starting to get pretty busy here. I wanted to wish everyone all the best for the season - whatever you celebrate. Stay safe and hope Santa will bring you lots of fibre goodness.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Not that I'm counting...

...but I have 11 days, 15 hours, and 29 minutes to go until my next holidays. Christmas! I have my request signed and returned and I have 2 weeks off over the Christmas break! Jackpot!

This weekend was one of those "stop & think" ones. We have presents - roomful of presents, a warm house, a fridge & pantry overflowing with food for the holidays, and family and friends all around us. The only thing we didn't have is the tree. We went to look and was appalled by the cost of getting a decent tree. Not a pencil sharpened tree but a REAL tree. One can pay $100 or more easily for a decent looking tree. It just felt so wrong to buy a tree, put it up for two weeks and then send it to the chippper. Seems like such a waste. So we took a vote and decided to donate the tree money to the local Food bank. That felt so right.

My husband had a brilliant idea of us making our own tree (translated to ME making the tree). A search on the internet provided a few interesting ideas like these (not sure about the feather tree, though). Some were mildly odd like this tree made from baby food jars. And some where downright bizarre like this tree made from Mountain Dew cans.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fibre Challenge

I spent the last month or so looking at the fibres we got in our Fibre Challenge bag. It really is a mix bag of different stuff. I had all sorts of ideas but nothing definite.

My first thought had been to blend EVERYTHING together to see what the results would be. But I wasn't sure how the brown alpaca would go with all the other colours. In the end, I took a chance & everything went on the carder. I love it! I have to admit, I never thought the results would be this nice.

I was going to take the batt to show everyone on Wednesday but I'm so tempted to start spinning it to see what it will look like. In case I give in to temptation, here's a picture...

It was really difficult to take a good picture of this batt. The silk gave the batt a silvery sheen and reflected the light. The actual colour of the batt is more silver-mauve than the purplish colour in the picture. This had gone through the drumcarder twice. The first round left a lot of streaks of colours. I did like the effects of that blending but decided to go for the second carding.

Can I just submit my batt as my fibre challenge project?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Another ARRGH!!

The knitting portion of the BPT is finished but not blocked and no zipper yet. The bad news is that it's a bit snug on me. It just fits but I don't like sweaters that fits like a second skin. I was pretty sure I got gauge on this one but just remembered that I did the swatch using straight needles and knitted the sweater with circulars. I was in too much of a hurry to start the sweater. The good news is that I'm pretty sure it will fit my niece. The other bad news is that I got my sister to discreetly show her the picture of the BPT over at Knitty to see what she thinks of the sweater. Her reaction was less than favourable. She thinks it looks like an old granny sweater. Huh?! Whatever.

So now I have two options -
1. Block the sweater and hope it fits.
2. Reknit the sweater in larger size. This won't be the first time I've reknitted a sweater at the last minute. Probably won't be the last, either.

For now, I think the best thing to do is to put it away until after Christmas.

Monday, December 04, 2006

No more room in my brain...

Ack! If I don't get this out of my head, I won't be able to sleep tonight! I just got a great idea for an advent calendar tree. Inspired by the little stuff button tree at WhipUp (btw, she has a link to a PDF template for the tree) and the Shrinky Dink pins at Wee Wonderfuls.

The idea is to make the little stuff tree and then make the ornaments with Shrinky Dink pins. You can number the ornaments and poke one on your tree everyday. And if you have kids, they can help you make the shrinky dink ornaments. It's so simple and quick!

Ok. Now that it's out of my head, I'm off to sleep now. Sometimes I have so many things running around in my brain that if I don't write it down somewhere, I'll forget things. Sometimes writing things down doesn't help either because I'll forget where I've jotted things down. I guess I could use one my books for that. :D

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More sewn bindings

I can't help myself!

I'm expanding my bookbinding skills and have been trying different ways of attaching the covers. has lots of great tips on using the tapes as hinges. He made it sound so easy. really wasn't that hard but I did made a few mistakes.

I used my carving chisel to set the holes. It does give a nice straight cut, as Dennis suggested but I cut my line just a bit longer than my ribbon. This gave the ribbon too much wiggle room. Next time, I'll cut the line just a tad smaller and cut from inside to outside. The bevelled cuts exposed the inside board. Also, I didn't plan my stations well. I had to double back a few times to keep the pattern consistent. It made some of the signatures a bit bulkier than the others. The ribbon is a polyester grosgraine and it does not hold glue well at all. In order to attach the inside paper, I used a bit of book binding tape over the ribbon so the glue would have something to grab onto.

Here's the book for the Duulan contest...

I wanted to create a journal that knitters can use. Something small that you can toss in your knitting bag. The finished size is roughly 4 3/4" x 5 3/4". There's 160 lavender graph pages inside so you can jot down schematics as well write notes on your knitting. The sheets are acid free and contains 30% recycled wood product.

The coptic binding allows the book to open flat, making easier to make notes while knitting. The thread is red waxed linen. There will also be a ribbon closure on the outside but the ribbon I had planned on using didn't match the cover. I'll have to head over to the fabric store in the morning.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Measuring the speed of Meme

In the name of science...

Measuring the speed of Meme

The knit bloggers are starting to find their way there.