Saturday, February 26, 2011

Upcycled Cashmere

When I quit my job, I became a bit addicted to thrifting.  Although these days with two kids I don't get out as much, I have amassed quite a collection of cashmere sweaters, most of which have holes or stains or have shrunk.  This is no big deal, as I have been hacking them up and resewing them into baby leg warmers, diaper covers, hats and sweaters.  My most current project is a new sweater for Lola, to replace her "pink apple" sweater she will soon grow out of.  Most cashmere, once machine washed, will felt down a bit and then quit.  It doesn't continue to shrink with repeat washing as does wool.  It therefore makes pretty nice baby duds--though I do hand launder anything with appliques, just to make sure they stay intact.

For the new sweater I selected a pretty pale aqua sweater--the arms already harvested and made into the leg warmers that Lola is wearing in the photo above. I then cut out the pieces based on the pink sweater, but the next size up.  Ribbing which will go on the collar of the new sweater was taken from the bottom of the old.

Next, the hardest part, is trying to decide what kind of applique to put on the sweater.  I'm pretty burnt out on the usual baby girl stuff---flowers, hearts, butterflies, etc.  I love owls but they've just recently been overdone and soon mushrooms will be as well.  

 I ended up settling on a sort of "bunny person" pair.  A parent and child, the big one cut out of a fawn colored brown sweater and the little bunny out of an oatmeal heather.
After going though several button options for the eyes, I settled on some cloth covered, mottled blue ones for big bunny and tiny pink plastic buttons for little bunny.  A little crocheted flower that I have at hand from a previous project  will go in the hand of one of the bunnies....maybe both should have flowers.  I haven't decided yet.

At this date (2/26) the sweater is now assembled and I'm ready to start the applique of the bunnies, which will be sewn on using near-matching embroidery floss with a blanket stitch.   Hopefully I will finish by Easter.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homemade Cowpots

So, I was to buy some of these so-called "Cowpots" because I thought that having a plantable pot with built in fertilizer made from a renewable resource (that being cow poo) is a great idea.  However, with over 50 brassica starts, and at a whopping $.50  per pot,  I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Instead I 
made my own.  

After gathering the "raw material", courtesy my mom's cattle in Kelso, I started experimenting with breaking up and adding water to the manure, which, BTW, was not smelly at all having been deposited last Fall. 
As I started to experiment, I quickly found out,  that not having the benefit of a powerful mechanical press, the poo was not going to hold up on it's own.  It needed some kind of structure to hold it together and what ever it was also needed to be just strong enough to hold up without impeding root growth.  I settled on using sinamay mesh (a coarse woven, natural fiber mesh) which I picked up at Howell's Craftland.  People usually use this stuff for hats, or as ribbon.  I bet I'm the only person who's ever bought this stuff with the objective of covering it with shit (a fact I did not share with the shop owner).  
My first attempt at trying to cover preformed sinamay frames failed, as I couldn't get the poo to adhere sucessfully.  I quickly realized that a layer of moistened manure needed to be pounded into a flat piece of the mesh on both sides.  It worked great, kind of reminding me of wattle and dob construction on a tiny scale (the Masai, of Tanzania actually do build their houses of wattle and dob with cow dung).  I then made cylinders and then pushed a small piece of mesh through one end to form the bottom and then spackled that with more manure.  Wallah!  

After resting on cloth to collect excess moisture, they went into a low (200) oven until dry.
Yes, that's right.  I put them in OUR OVEN.  I have a very tolerant household.  But actually, while "baking" they kind of smelled like cooked spinach!

I up-potted 20-some brassica starts to these poo pots the other day.  Hopefully they will perform well, allowing the roots to penetrate the sides.  They will then be planted, pot and all about mid March.

This red cabbage seems happy so far......

Sunday, February 13, 2011

tiaras really aren't my thing, but.....

I had to make one for a Columbia Sportswear holiday party, last month.  It was a design contest and always having been a careful "brief follower",  I set out to make this dainty tiara, only to to show up at the party where there were huge, elaborate crowns, some several feet high or wide and complete with LED lights.  My elaborate but small tiara didn't win anything, of course but a few compliments.  But, I did have fun making it.  Constructed from the following:  old rhinestone shoe clips, metal cogs, rusty keys, parts of old jewelry, beads, copper wire, a tiny bottle and pansy from the backyard.  Maybe Bea or Lola will want to wear it for something someday....

We Got Sprout!

drum roll........and the winner is, "Apollo Broccoli".

Within 34 hours, (a record I think) the brassica seeds started sprouting.  Apollo broccoli was the first one, followed by all the rest save for the Tyfon, which I think the seed may be too old.
Today, after visiting "Roots Garden Supply" on N. Interstate, to pick up some new coco grow pellets, I started several more seeds.  You may note the soil temperature thermometer in the pic.  I think that things sprouted quickly this year because I was able to hold them between 65-80 degrees.  

In other news, things are awakening around the garden.  First with the violets, which are actually very few in my yard but there is a whole drift of them in the backyard of the hipster flop house next door.  Why, you may wonder, would sweet little flowers do so well when no one does anything but occasionally trounce on them while going out to smoke and drink their PBR?  Well, the funny thing is that violets LOVE neglect and dislike being fussed with by having weeds pulled around them or their soil otherwise disturbed.  Therefore, they do not do well in my yard....
How I love them though.....

What I do have, that would not do well without my care are crocus and my very early blooming pink rhododendron, whose name I've forgotten.  It starts blooming in late december.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Failing to make a complete stop",

So I begin this blog on the day that I receive my first traffic ticket in twenty years .....and the irony is, that while I didn't make a complete stop at the corner of Willis and Woolsey, this incident pretty much brought "a complete stop" to most of my plans for the day, and that is why I sit here, nursing the teething baby Lola for the umpteenth time today, while the kitchen is still a mess from both dinner and my unfinished first seed starts of broccoli, cabbage and kale.  My day was further muddled by the fact that I misplaced my iphone, only to find it after several hours tearing the house apart, between the cookie jar and the compost bin.  I had hid it there from my four-year-old, Bea.  The ringer was turned off.....But I digress already, and I am eager to at least save the day by getting my brassica starts going which will include "Apollo" and "Purple Peacock" broccoli, "Beira Tronchuda" cabbage (loose-leaf, Portuguese cabbage) "Red Acre" cabbage and several varieties of kale.  Most all of these will eventually be planted out on Sauvie Island, where I will be sharing for the third year in a row, a garden co-op with friends.