Bird in Hand Farm

Bird in Hand Farm is an imaginary place.

Friday, December 31, 2010

She really, really wanted to learn how to sew....

Kiddo decided that she wanted to learn how to sew.  She kept asking, so it was more than a passing "I want that."

I suggested that she start with a pillow case because it is all straight lines.  We pulled up the Vanilla Joy Pillow Case Tutorial and wrote down what we would need.  On Wednesday, while picking up white wool yarn to dye, I also picked up 70% off Christmas Fabric.  Score!

We put the foot pedal on a stool for her and we were off.  She did really well controlling the speed.   Sewing the line where she wanted it to go was a bit more challenging, but she hung with it and got a lot better as we went along.

We had some technical difficulties.  Irons are hot.  Really hot.  The bobbin compartment got gummed up with lint and stopped cooperating.  Note to self: clean out and oil the machine.  The thread kept breaking.  Note to self: old (really old) thread dries out and gets brittle.  It got a bit frustrating for a while there.

But check out the results!
I think she likes it.
Mommy and Daddy's

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kool Aid Dying.

If someone had asked me if I would ever be boiling yarn on the top of the stove, I would have been pretty certain that the answer would have been "No."

 I would have been wrong.
On Monday, we bought 8 packets of Kool Aid.  They were 4 for $1.00, so we made a $2.00 investment in dye.   Kiddo and I used the swift to un-skein a skein of Paton's Classic Wool and most of a skein of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool.   I tied each of the hanks in about 8 places so they would not tangle.
We used 2 pots with  2 quarts of water and half a cup of vinegar in each.  In the Fisherman's Wool pot, we used 2 cherry and 2 pink lemonade packets.  In the Patons, there were 2 grape, one cherry, and one blue one.  I was hoping for pink and purple skeins.  The purple looked ghastly at first, but seemed to get better as we went along.  A potato masher worked very well for squishing the yarn down into the dye. 

Wool Festival talks about the dye becoming exhausted.  It really did happen.  The water in the pots became clear.  We boiled them for about 7 min and waited a few hours for them to cool.  Even when I rinsed them there did not appear to be any dye coming out.
It seemed to take forever for them to finally dry.  We used the new ball winder to make them into cakes.  What a great toy!
I'm really, really happy with them.  They have variation in the color but it is subtle.  We are going to do this again!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mine does't look like that.

Photo from the Givers Log
Givers Log has an incredibly beautiful post about hot chocolate on a stick.  I love hot chocolate and on these cold dark winter days, a warm cup is a blessing.  Benjamin Franklin said: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."  I think he is wrong.  Chocolate is proof that God loves us.  Anyway, the Giver's Log's basic recipe has 4 ingredients.  I can make that.  At least I thought I could.
We had all the ingredients in the house and I had the bright idea to use candy canes for the sticks.  Except, when I unwrapped them, I found out that lots were broken.  I didn't want to go buy Popsicle sticks so I decided to use some leftover plastic spoons.  I thought putting marshmallows on the ends would be cool. When I pushed the marshmallow through it left white sticky stuff all over the spoon handle.  I ended up cutting them and squishing them around the handle that way.  I must have still had some cocoa powder on my hands because some of them look pretty grubby.
The Farmer and I melted the chocolate over a double boiler without difficulty.  I sifted in the powdered sugar and coco powder and the stuff stiffened up and got really dry.  We stirred and stirred; which was really hard because it was so thick.  Finally, we added more chocolate and a little oil to get it to the right consistency. 
On the Giver's Log she spent a lot of time talking about quality chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter.  Now I know why.  Wegman's semi sweet chips apparently are not up to snuff.

We put it into the bag and when I squeezed it to get it to pipe into the ice cube tray, the bag broke.  Getting it into the tray at all neatly was a challenge.  The bag broke two more times.  Eventually, we got it in there and shoved the spoons and canes in.  We made a terrific mess.
It looks a little better coming out of the ice cube tray, but not much.  The candy canes broke even more, so they were pretty much a total bust.

And yet, who care what it looks like? What really matters here is how it tastes.  After a long wait for the kettle whistle, we plunked them on out mugs.  They don't melt quickly or smoothly.  We let them sit for about 5 minutes and then stirred.  A lot.  I added some half and half to make it creamy.  It looked better with mini marshmallows on top.  The kid apparently got a hold of the bag while I was not looking and topped hers off.  It is good cocoa.  The best ever?  I don't think so.  But it is  better than the stuff that comes out of little white envelopes.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Canvas Tool Wrap #1

My Dad is a carver.  He sent me the specs for the wrap last May.  I procrastinated.  A lot.

First, the sewing machine was buried.

Then, I did not have the right fabric. 

Then, I was making/doing something else.

Finally, I ran out of excuses and had to bite the bullet and just do it.  

The specs are pretty specific.  The machine had some issues going through multiple layers of canvas, and the corners are not the best, but it will work.  Once again, quilters tools came in handy for measuring and marking the tool slots.  A chalk marker was also really helpful.  I had to make the ties out of denim because there was no way that the machine would handle 5 layers of canvas.  I think they came out okay, and I'm even happy with the stitched initials.  
Happy Birthday Dad!
The back
The inside
The ties

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gingerbread house

Every year we make a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve.  I think we started the tradition when Kiddo was about 2.  Christmas Eve is a very long day when you are a little person.  Making the house can be done in lots of little  steps and takes most of the day.

We made the dough the night before.  The little kid looks through books and picks the kind of house she wants to make.  This year we downloaded a pattern from: Ultimate Gingerbread Elf House.  Google rocks.  You can find anything.

I roll out the dough on the backs of the cookie sheets.  It works pretty well.  But, typically at this point I am really wishing that we had just bought a kit.  Rolling and cutting out pieces is a pain and I usually have a few dozen other things that I need to do.  I invariably forget to cut out the windows before baking and have to do it quick when they come out of the oven.
I broke part of the roof!
Once they have cooled, construction begins.  Last year the icing did not harden and we had a collapse during construction.  This year, I got a tiny bit of egg yolk in there and worried that the royal icing would not come to stiff peaks.  I'm not sure it really did, but it worked.
We use cans to ensure stability during the set up phase.  Once the icing has hardened, we go to town decorating.  I don't have fancy decorating stuff.  I pipe the icing out of the clipped corner of a plastic bag.  I do the piping, she does the decorating.  We use candy and cereal to decorate.  She has a blast.  Actually, so do I.

No matter what happens we always decide that it is the prettiest house we have ever seen.
The Front
The side and back
Dumping mini red hots all over the roof works well.
Gummy Bears are making snow angels in the front yard.
This is a tradition that makes our house a home.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The last present is done!

Favecrafts is a neat site with lots of free patterns and ideas.  I found the Creta lace sock patten in a list of projects that were supposed to be 2 hours or less.  Umm.  No.  They took way longer than that.  Still worth it.  I've decided that I am not a great lace maker.  I always lose my place in the pattern.  Somehow I held it together with these and no one but me will be able to find the mistakes.

I'm done!  Happy dance!
I had to try them on to make sure they would fit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Knitty's French Market Basket

Pre blocking - Looks like a bathing suit
I adore this bag.  It is just the right size, and stiffness/floppyness.  It can be round or square depending on how it is blocked.  It is simple to make.  I knit around and around and around for 6 or 7 weeks on my daily shuttle rides to and from work.  I don't like sitting still, waiting.  Knitting makes it okay.
Blocking - I love how square it is!

The stuff in it is almost all home made.  There is a jar of granola, a jar of jam, a jar of scone mix, a jar of tomato sauce, Christmas soap, and a knit washcloth and bath mitt.  I bought special pasta at the Farmers Market to go with the sauce.  Hopefully, in a few days, the Creta Lace Socks will be done and ready to go in. 
How much stuff can I cram in here?
The basket holds a lot of stuff.  I like it.  I hope she does too.
A lot!