Vote 2020!

My great grandmother Flo was a suffragette. I’m told that men hit her with brooms as she marched for the right to vote. One threw a brick that struck her head. And yet she persisted.

This year the phrase “the most important election in our lifetime” has been popping up almost everywhere I look. And while this election is absolutely vital, I also think every election is important.

By all means please register and vote in this presidential election. But also I implore you to vote in all elections that you can. Minor elections may seem unimportant but they have small ripple effects that over time, and combined with others, can create huge waves of change.

Politics start in your home and in your neighborhood. I encourage you to get involved in your local community. You could join your local neighborhood association. Josh and I have and recently had the opportunity to hear our local state senator speak and got our questions answered by the current Portland mayor candidates.

And please take jury duty. Getting out of jury duty is an old joke that conveys an ugly truth. People like to bitch about politics rather than participate. Jury duty is a direct way to make change. (Read a definition of jury nullification here.)

Need more information on how to register or where to vote? Portland bookstore Two Rivers put together a resource guide. (Oregon info is first, generalized info second.)

Election 2020 – Resources for Voting and Getting Involved

Coastal Yarn

Last month Josh and I took a trip out to the Oregon coast. We met up with friends who will soon be moving out of state. It was a perfect day for kite flying and for making memories.

Josh found gluten free clam chowder and ordered us take out. It was delicious! While there I visited a local yarn shop. With quarantine I haven’t shopped for fun, let alone for yarn, in months. Coastal Yarns is a lovely store with a fantastic selection of yarn. Masks were worn and everybody was politely social distancing.

Noro released a new yarn! Tsubame is a mix of silk, wool and nylon. There were other luscious yarns but as soon as I saw this new to me Noro I had to have it.

This skein is so beautiful I have it on my nightstand. I’m designing a pattern to show off the yarn and to encapsulate our magical coastal day.

Swift Bag Holder

This post was previously published on Think Crafts!

If you knit or crochet you likely have a lot of yarn. I know I do! Skeins of yarn are pretty to look at but yarn cakes are great to knit with and easier to store. I use my Swift every time I buy new yarn. Swifts are great but they’re an odd shape. How to store them conveniently? Make a swift bag that will prevent it from accidentally folding open on its own. Here’s an even better idea-upcycle an old pair of pants to make the holder! This is a great project to upcycle old clothing that is too cute to throw away but no longer wearable.

Craft
Sewing

Difficulty
Beginner

Materials
Old pair of pants
Sewing Thread
Cat (optional)

Directions
Cut off one pant leg long enough for the swift to fit into.

Sew the bottom part of the leg closed.

Fold over the top part of the leg twice and sew down to make a hem.

Make a tie to close the top part of bag. The old yoga pants I used had a drawstring so I just used a portion of that. If you don’t have one cut a thin rectangle from the second leg of your pants. Fold in edges and sew together to make a tie.

Slide swift into bag and store away until your next yarn purchase.

Craft on!

Upcycled Arm Warmers

I’ve been a fan of the artist Katwise for years. Her coats are works of art! She graciously sells pattern tutorials for both her upcycled coats and arm warmers.

Recently I made myself a pair out of old tshirts. They turned out so cute! I’ll definitely be making more. One of them had the phrase “Enlighten Up” which I positioned over my hand. A gentle reminder during this stressful year.

Ursula loves soaking in the sunshine.

Crochet Cat Bed

An earlier version of this tutorial was published on Think Crafts!

Want to make a special present for that beloved furball in your life? While this cat bed won’t guarantee your cat will stop napping on your computer (mine hasn’t) it will give your cat a special place to sleep all her own.

Craft
Crochet

Difficulty
Beginner

Materials
Fun Fur Yarn
Lily Sugar ‘n Cream Yarn
Crochet hook (Size H 8 or size needed to get desired gauge)
Craft Foam

Gauge
None. Use whatever yarn and needle you want.

Size
Custom

Notes
* Repeat pattern between * *
CH Chain
CO Cast on
DC Double Crochet
RND Round
SL ST Slip Stich
STS Stitches

Pattern

CH 6
Join into a ring, making sure not to twist stitches

RND 1
CH 3, Work 11 DC in ring
Join round with SL ST to top of CH 3 (Each round will end with this type of join.)
12 STS

RND 2
CH 3, DC into first stitch, then 2 DC into every stitch
24 STS

RND 3
CH 3, *DC around row, 2 DC into every second stitch*
36 STS

RND 4
CH 3, *DC around row, 2 DC into every third stitch*
48 STS

Continue adding an extra DC in this fashion: every fourth stitch one round, every fifth stitch the next round, every sixth stitch the next round, etc. Keep increasing until bed is desired size. If the bed starts to wrap, add a round of DC with no increases. This will help it lay flat.

Once you have reached desired size switch to the feather yarn. Crochet making rounds with no increases until desired height. I crocheted until my feather yarn strip was six inches tall.

Fold the feather strip around a strip of foam. Sew down the edge over the foam strip. Weave in ends.

Lure your kitty onto her new bed with some catnip.

Craft on!

Oregon Wildfires

It’s been an intense week for Oregon. Wildfires have ravaged this state-towns have literally been burned to the ground and thousands of residents are displaced. Josh and I shaken but are doing ok. Portland never got an evacuation notice. But our air was hazardous for days on end and the sky was a sickly yellow. The above photo is Josh getting ready to walk to the grocery store.

Thank you to our family and friends who checked in-it really helped! People have asked what they could do and at the time my only answer was to send rain. We did get rain thank the gods and the fires are dying down.

Now I have a new answer. The Portland Mercury has compiled a list of organizations that need donations. That list can be viewed here.

If you can, please donate. This has been a catastrophic week and many people and animals are in dire need. Thank you.

Yarn Dyeing

An earlier version of this tutorial was previously published on Think Crafts!

Want to make a unique yarn in your favorite color? Or want to try hand painting to produce a one of a kind yarn? This tutorial is a great step into entering the wonderful world of home yarn dyeing. It’s fun and a great summer project!

Materials

Natural fiber yarn – ideally wool yarn or roving (Cotton yarn works well with Jacquard dyes but not with Kool-Aid)
Jacquard Procion MX Dye
Kool-Aid
Rubber gloves
Face Mask
Buckets, rice steamer, pots, wooden spoons (Once you use them for dyeing they are not safe for food preparation.)
Sponge Brush
Plastic wrap
Dye Instructions (if applicable)
Towels and sponges for clean up

Instructions

This is a messy project so plan ahead. A friend and I covered her work table with garbage bags for easy clean up. Wear rubber gloves and a face mask to protect yourself.

Wind your yarn into skeins beforehand. Tie them with scrap yarn to minimize tangles. Acrylic yarn works best as it won’t take up the dye.

Kool-Aid dyeing is a lot of fun! We picked up a handful of fun flavors. We heated up some water on the stove. We used thrift store pots-they’re cheap and didn’t ruin our food safe cookware. How much water? How many packets? This is the finicky part since it’s so subjective. It really depends on how much yarn you’re dyeing and what shade of color you want. We added enough water to completely submerge our skeins. To get the desired color we added more Kool-Aid packets until the color we wanted was achieved. Don’t add sugar. We bought a dozen packets of each color.

Soak the yarn until it’s saturated. We soaked our yarn for 30 minutes in hot water. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear. The Kool Aid smell fades over time.

We also tried handpainting yarn.

For this we mixed up small batches of Jacquard Dye. (Instructions are on the jar.) We stretched out plastic wrap and laid out the skeins on top. Using the sponge brushes we painted the yarn. Lift up the yarn to see if you need to turn it over to paint the other side. Firmly push the sponge onto the yarn to make sure the color saturates completely. This will prevent the need for a second coat.

After painting we rolled up the yarn in the plastic wrap. Then we steamed them in the rice steamer for 30 minutes. Afterward we rinsed with cool water and hung up the skeins to dry.

Our Kool-Aid yarn turned out beautifully!

Our handpainted yarn turned out lovely as well.

The yarn at the top of this post was also handpainted.

Craft on!

Gluten Free Cooking

Josh and I have been doing a lot of home cooking this summer. The above is a delicious gluten free pie we made with strawberries, local rhubarb and local blackberries. It was delicious and blackberry season is one of my favorite times of year.

We planted arugula in our garden plot and got so much of it. My friend Helen turned me onto this green back in our NM days and it’s one of my faves. She also taught me how to make pesto and arugula gives this appetizer quite the zing.

We got into a pizza making kick and have been using garden greens as part of the toppings. So yummy!

I treated myself to a new gluten free baking cookbook and the results have been phenomenal. These dinner rolls were tasty and strong. How well did they hold their shape?

Strong enough to be a bread bowl! I haven’t had a bread bowl in years. This was such a delight I almost cried. The soup is split pea with pork belly, one of Josh’s signature dishes.

My new cookbook (review forthcoming!) also has a fantastic scone recipe.

These were cherry almond scones and they did not last long. Scones are one of those baked goods I missed most when I had to give up gluten. It’s such a delight to have them back in my life.

I like to eat a scone with a cup of coffee. It’s a perfect snack.

Bake on!

Mending Socks

An earlier version of this tutorial was previously published on Think Crafts!

Have a hole in your beautiful hand knit sock? Don’t panic, it can be fixed.

Difficulty Level
Medium

Materials
Yarn needle
Thread

Directions

You could use some of the original sock yarn to repair your hole if you saved some. I still had some leftover yarn but as you can see in the photo below my socks had really faded. I decided to go with white thread instead so the repair would be less noticeable.

The key to fixing holes is to catch them when they’re small. If a stitch breaks free it can unravel and can cause a large hole. In that case you’ll need to use a crochet hook to rework the stitch up the dropped rows. Since my hole was relatively small I could skip this step. To start, I knotted my thread on the inside of the sock.

Next I used my yarn needle to draw the thread through the stitch on the top and bottom of the hole nearest my needle.

I worked my way across the hole, weaving the needle through the disconnected stitches on the top and bottom to draw them back together with the thread.

Once all the way across I inspected the hole. It had closed up considerably but there was still a gap. I then worked the needle back across, this time from right to left. I followed the direction of the sock yarn so my thread would mimic a stitch, drawing the hole closed.

The stitches are back together! Time to knot off the thread.

Try on the sock to inspect the work.

These socks were knit with superwash yarn. However, after I repair a hole I always handwash the knitwear instead. A hole means the socks are starting to age and I want them to last as long as possible. Handwashing is much gentler than a washing machine.

One more repair pic:

Craft on!