Ward House


Nope, not wandering; roving.  Crochet and knitting are what helps to keep me sane in my crazy scheduled, kids, world.  There is something meditative about the stitches and watching something useful and pretty emerge from the ball of twist.   When it is too wet to be in the garden, this is where you will find me.  Must be something tactile, yes?

I follow Phat Fiber and they have constant giveaways, many of which involve Rovings.  What is Roving?

a soft strand of fiber that has been twisted, attenuated, and freed of foreign matter preparatory to its conversion into yarn.

At Saturday’s farmers market, the local alpaca farm had different colored rovings for sale; the creamy white was $5 a bag.  I snatched up two in hopes of learning to make my own yarn to knit more socks.  They had yarn for sale but at $20 a ball I figured a little labor wouldn’t hurt me.  In case you are interested, the chocolate-brown was $7/bag and black $9/bag.

So back to the creamy white roving.  I do not have a spindle and have read several posts on how to make your own.   There is considerable debate on which is the preferred method to learn – a top or bottom drop spindle.  Since Ronnie was not in a wood working mood this weekend, I made a drop spindle crafted from two cds, a dowel, rubber grommet and a blind well nut.  Mine looks like the one in this picture (compliments of the link). 

One of the better videos I found to help teach spinning is this one:

Yes, this seems like a lot to fit into an already hectic schedule – welcome to my therapy!!  It does not travel as well as a project; however, the resulting product will.

Do any of you spin?  If so, any tips for a noob?


July 22, 2010 Posted by | Crafting, self sufficiency | , , | Leave a comment


I had not heard of this garment prior to reading Mia’s interview over at Aspiring Homemaker.  A Sontag (bosom warmer) helps to keep the chest and midsection warm while allowing arm movement.   Looks like something new to knit up for this winter.  From what I’ve read, both men and women wore this garment, though I am sure the mens was less ‘pretty’.

The popular pattern is found here.  Once the current dishcloth is finished, I believe one of these will be ‘on the hook’.  Pictures will be forth coming.

June 18, 2010 Posted by | Crafting, self sufficiency | , , , , | Leave a comment

Old letterhead

What does one due when the company is going to recycle a boatload full of old letterhead?  You snatch it up and take it home to make your own paper  (unless someone has a better idea?). 


There appear to be many websites with similar information on how to make paper, so if you have a favorite, please speak up!

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Crafting, repurpose | 2 Comments

The lavender mobile

Yesterday, after work and before I needed to leave for class, I harvested the lavender.  These buds are not mature as first thought – these are just before blooming.  schweet!  So I snagged the dehydrator trays, loaded ‘em up (minimal overlap) and set the trays into the back of the van to dry.  Since it was late afternoon/early evening most of the heat had dissipated.  Today will be the real test at the van will be in the sun all day. 

Because this first aid class is two weeks long, 3.5 hours each day, there are no test times; those must be taken on our own time during library hours.  The library has very limited summer hours and, since we have two weeks after the end of class to get tests taken, I took a 1/2 days vacation today and took all the tests up to today’s and tomorrow’s class.  Those tests can be taken next Wed after work (the library will be open until 9pm). 

The garden continues to look good with the cabbages beginning to form heads. 

And, for those of you with a yarn fetish, Phat Fiber is holding a giveaway for Storybook Yarn.  Check it out and enter!

June 3, 2010 Posted by | Crafting | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It is just a dream

A Stitch In Time

There are so many activities I would like to do:  become a successful massage therapist and to own/operate a yarn store, not unlike Wool becomes Ewe < I really enjoy that store; a shame that I live 30-45 minutes south of them.   This little slice of entrepreneurship would be run by just me and my girls – worker’s compensation insurance is too expense, which is a shame cause I know of local teens that would be great in the shop.  Cannot operate a shop if the insurance is too high.  In this fantasy my shop would be named something like A Stitch In Time.

Ronnie operated a successful home improvement/painting/small maintenance business for several decades.  In the beginning the paperwork was manageable and people paid semi-ontime.  As time went on, the paperwork became unmanageable, insurance too costly and long time clients taking more and more time to pay.  Roughly four years ago he gave up his own business to go to work for the Grist Mill Square (one of his clients) full time as their maintenance man and has not looked back; says it is one of the best moves of his life (next to meeting me).

Google is full of articles on how to and not to run a yarn shop.  In this one the author makes some good points including the craft table clique.  I do well with people in small doses – not good for someone who wants to operate a store, eh?  Typing all this out has helped me to realize that perhaps starting a knitting/crochet circle would be a better option.  That way I could teach AND learn from others.  Oh, and the location must have internet – YouTube has a plethora of learning to knit videos.

There is a church just three doors down from me and the local radio station advertises womens aerobics on wed or thurs nights.  Perhaps the pastor would be willing to let me hold a knitting-b there.

Anyone have experience with this type of thing?  I am thinking that having a set of understandings prior to beginning the B would be good: be understanding and tolerant of beliefs other than your own, be open to learning a new way of doing something, etc.  What else?

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Knitting | , | Leave a comment

Chinese waves

I am back into knitting dish cloths and a new favorite design is this one by Maggie’s Rags (who appears to be only 2 hours south of where I am!).  It is aptly named Chinese waves. The couple whose wedding we are attending this Saturday will receive a dish cloth from this pattern, a crochet pot holder, mirror (on their registry list, though hand crafted by Ronnie) and a tea light holder.  I’ll get a picture of the mirror and tea light holder this evening.

Yesterday evening we went to the art show and band concert at the high school;  A16 and K14 had several pieces on display.  As it turns out  A16 had one piece place best in show and another second place.  This collage includes a few of the pieces, not all; the missing art will be published as it is framed and hung about the house. 

May 19, 2010 Posted by | celebrations, family, gift giving, Knitting | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Repurpose crafting

More snow fell last night (just a few inches) and we are under a watch for additional accumulation today.  The girls have been out of school for two weeks and two days.

Watching the snow gives me the time to fiddle with eye candy in the format (note the scrolling buttons) and writing about different crafting what nots I’d like to try (like the homemade polymer clay).  A few others include:

Along with all this craftiness, and since we are still buried under snow, I’ve ‘signed’ the Wardrobe refashion contract for two months.  Who knows, this may become a much longer stint! The opening phrase really struck a cord with me –

I pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings!

Already attempting that with sweaters that we are no longer wearing, clothes passed down that are the wrong size/shape/style/etc.

Along the using what one has theme, All Natural Mama has a great recipe to help in using up those leftover odds n’ ends.  Think I’m gonna make one of these – as soon as we have leftovers!  =)

I do not have class tonite; however, I am headed over to  Warm Spirit Spa for some help with massage techniques.  My class schedule is a little backwards; normally I would have Massage 1 before taking the anatomy class.  The final for the anatomy class is to give a massage to one of the former students.  Ummm.  Help??  Linda and Cindy are gonna help a sista out (thank you ladies!). 

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February 16, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Crafting, Recycling | 1 Comment

Homemade Polymer Clay (that is not Polymer Clay)

polymer_clay_tags.jpgThis picture, from Curbly, inspired me to look up homemade polymer clay recipes. There is debate on which is ‘better’ and from what I gather that depends on what you are trying to make.  This appeals to my crafty, must-create-something tendencies.

Recipes found include:

Cold Porcelain Clay:

    • 1. Combine in a Teflon-coated pot:

1 cup polyvinyl acetate glue such as Elmer’s Glue All 1 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons Vaseline oil (not jelly) – if unavailable where you live, substitute baby oil or pharmaceutical grade mineral oil 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

  • 2. Cook on low heat stirring constantly for 10 minutes or until dough forms and begins to come away from the sides. If you have a gas stove, you may need to use a heat diffuser under the pot to avoid burning the dough.
  • 3. Remove from heat and allow to cool until you can handle it.
  • 4. Knead into a smooth clay consistency.
  • 5. Store in a cool, dark place at noted in tips above.
  • 6. Tempura powder or acrylic paints may be used for coloring the dough.


Hmm. I do not have vaseline oil – where do you find that?  Ok, on to Victorian Salt clay; now these ingredients I do have:

Cornstarch modeling clays containing salt are the most porous, so are only suitable for craft projects that have a rough or rustic finish.

  • 1. Mix 2 cups salt and 2/3 cup water in a pan.
  • 2. Mix 1 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup ice water in a bowl.
  • 3. Stirring constantly, heat salt combination over a low flame for about 4 minutes. Do not boil. If you have a gas stove, you may need to use a heat diffuser under the pot to avoid burning the dough.
  • 4. Remove from heat. Quickly stir in the cornstarch and water. If mixture is too thin, return to low heat and stir constantly until of clay consistency.
  • 5. Store in a cool, dark place at noted in tips above.
  • 6. Tempura powder or acrylic paints may be used for coloring the dough.

There is also a recipe for Pasta Francesa, which is very popular in Latin American countries – it includes formaldehyde as an optional ingredient. This link will take you to all three recipes.

Marie, of Art from my Heart, creates with ploymer clay – can you shed some light on this?

In other news, we are in blizzard conditions at the moment.  Word has it that in the next county up, if you are on the road in anything other than a 4WD, you will be ticketed.

Stay warm!

February 10, 2010 Posted by | Crafting | 13 Comments

a crochet valentines heart

Over the weekend, between bouts of shoveling, I was able to catch up on some reading.  That lead to this little discovery: crochet heart tutorial.  I had to make 8 of them.  Now I need to figure out how to get a safety pin onto the back (hot glue?) to use for Friday.  =)  That about sums up our weekend: shoveling, cut wood, shovel, shovel, shovel.  *whew*  Suprisingly, no overly sore muscles waited for me this morning.  Ronnie had the foresight to get us a couple of the bend handle shovels (ergonomic) and that was a life saver!  So worth the extra $$.

Oh, and you’ll notice a new share button located at the bottom of my entries.  If you are curious on how to add one of these, check out the site.  If you need help, just let me know.  =)  There will be more to come, promise.  Class tonite, a reorg on my schedule and then, hopefully, back full speed.

Stay warm.  Another storm hits tomorrow morning.  I think I am all fun’d out.

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February 8, 2010 Posted by | Crafting | , , , | 4 Comments

Spinning a yarn

In addition to the fab book about Living with Goats, another timely publication arrived last week – a trial copy of Spin Off magazine.  We do not yet have wool producing animals, however I still found this edition an interesting read.   There was one article, in particular, that caught my eye, and it was about Polwarth Fleece and the process Robin Russo (the author) went through from washing the wool to eventually spinning. 

I have read on the net that when people say they are allergic to wool it is not the fiber that creates the allergic reaction but the chemical process that is used to remove the lanolin (greasy coating) that makes wool workable.  Robin mentions that she uses Kookaburra wool scouring formula to clean the wool.  I like this part of the product description:

This plant based, non-ionic cleaner is an earth friendly option for wool processing. Rinsing is optional.  Scour contains no peroxide, alkali, phosphates, or enzymes so it is safe for all septic systems and the environment.

I have to wonder if the “plant based, non-ionic cleaner” is a selling point for this product, do commercial processors use non plant based, ionic cleansers and is that what creates the itchy in wool?  Things that make you go Hmm.

In researching the above question I found that fleece can be ‘damaged’ by everyday particles like dirt, hay, straw etc.  The University of Maine has a great article, Handling and Marketing Wool, that discusses how wool is valued and its grading and classification.  Gleasons has a great article on cleaning wool fleece using your washing machine!  This is all an interesting read yet it still begs the question of why wool is itchy.  Then I found this which addresses the carbonization process of scouring wool and now it roughens up the fiber.  Roughened fibers could definately make someone itchy. 

Another popular thought is that the itchiness of wool is based upon the diameter of the fibers. Sheep 101 states that if more than 3-4% of fibers are more than 28 microns thick, it becomes uncomfortable to wear.   So what about in the ‘olden days’ when wool was it. The schsnizzle?.  Were all those people walking around wearing itchy stuff?  I need to ask my grandmother.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Crafting, economy, self sufficiency | Leave a comment