Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Watch 2008

Keep an eye on where Santa is tonight with Norad's Santa Tracker!

I'll be taking the next few days off from the blog for the Holidays.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Platter Tutorial - Don't look Mom!

If you have small children and are in need of a "Brownie Point" gift to give the grandparents, here's an easy fun one for you:

1. Get a blank platter or tray - a fairly large rectangle shape.
2. Coat their hands in green paint, then place them on the surface with the base of their hands facing each other and the tips of the fingers spread out.
3. Start at the bottom with the older children's hands. then have the smallest hand print on the top. Good luck with the smaller children, it took a small army to help me get the Youngest's handprints on the plate.
4. Next, fill in the top of the tree with green to fill out your Christmas tree shape. Simple squiggles will do. There's no need for perfection, Go for the Folk Art look.
5. Add garland, ornaments and star. Feel free to change the colors!
6. Then write Merry Christmas across the top and add your year.
7. I added a coat of clear sealant to protect it after it was dry.

Simple and Guaranteed to impress the Grandparents!

See, my brother and I have an unspoken contest every year. the one that can get Mom all choked up and crying (she's very sentimental) over their gift, wins. Guess who's going to win this year? She does love her grandboys! :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fleece to Fluff

Sunday was a most productive day. Not Christmas project-wise, but fun-wise.

Right after Thanksgiving, I got a package from a wonderful lady that I met through Ravelry. She was giving away some of her Corriedale fleece. She sent me three pounds!

I finally got around to doing something with it. I was surprised how well it had been skirted. There were no tags (poop) at all, just the normal dirt that a sheep collects in the year between shearings. So, no poop, but lots of dirt.

Here's a pic of some of it:

This time, I decided to use my washing machine to do the cleaning. I didn't want the sink or tub filled with dirty sheep since there were children to bathe and feed, so the washing machine was the best alternative.

Here's how I did it:

I filled the machine with hot water and then turned it off. Then, I added Dawn dish-washing detergent to it. I did not measure the amount, just did two long squirts until the water was tinted a light blue. I prefer Dawn to the commercial fleece cleaners. I like the smell and it gets all of the grease and dirt out quick. Next, I added half of the fleece.

Some of the fleece, I separated it out lock by lock and put them inside lingerie bags to preserve the lock formation. As an experiment, I put some of the fleece in "as is" just to see how it would do.

Here's a pic of it soaking.

At this point, the hubby complained about how the house smelled like a beauty salon. That's better than the barn smell that I expected him to complain about!

I let it soak for 20 minutes, then set the washer to spin cycle and let it do it's thing. I did this step twice. Did I mention that this fleece was dirty? Check out the inside of the machine after the first soak:
I wiped it down after each soak to get rid of the dirt. It came right off, no problem.

On the rinse step, I filled the machine again and then added a couple of teaspoons or so of Odor-ban to the water, mainly to help get rid of the smell of wet sheep. Yes, it's safe for fiber as long as you only use a tiny bit. It's concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

Check out the difference between each step:

Before 1st wash
After the second wash

After the rinse

It turned out so soft and lovely! I didn't see enough of a difference in how everything turned out. Not enough to spend the time separating the locks out in the future. This method did very well.

I'm planning on combing it out and pulling it into roving, then I'm going to dye it up. I haven't a clue as yet what color it will be, but that's a decision that can wait until after Christmas Holidays.

Now I desperately need a drum carder. I really don't want to card three pounds of fluff on my tiny dog slicker brushes. I have got to figure out what I can sell around the house that would bring in enough cash to get one. How's the market on selling husbands? :)