Wednesday, 23 July 2014


I really need to get a different picture of this. I am wearing shorts. It just doesn't look like it.

The pattern is Jacket with cables and garter stitch in "Eskimo" by DROPS

This is the second DROPS design I've done. I like both of them. The first ended up too long, but I still like it. The second, since it seemed like it was going to be too long again, I shortened by over 2 inches. It still turned out kind of long. I suppose it is supposed to be long since it's supposed to be a jacket.

It is made with bulky yarn. I used Lambs Pride Superwash bulky in Bayou Blue I had purchased from Little Knits a short while ago. I knew I wanted to do a cardigan in bulky yarn, but didn't have a specific pattern in mind when I bought this yarn. I did a test gauge piece on size 10 needles (12 stitches over 4 inches) and size 11 needles (10.5 stitches). The pattern calls for 11 stitches over 4 inches, so I used the size 11.

I started this sweater June 20th on the train to Chicago for a meeting for work. I finished it July 20th. That's when I assembled it. I had finished knitting it several days before and it took a couple days to get around to blocking it and 3-4 days to get it to dry completely after blocking.

This was the first time I tried blocking a sweater in my craft room. The room is in the basement, but there is a dehumidifier in there. I don't know if it was the weight of the yarn or the location that made it take so long.  It looked massive all laid out on the floor (before assembly) but it seems like it fits nicely.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Laundry detergent

Early last fall, I made my own laundry detergent following a recipe that I can't seem to find again. It called for Fels-naphtha bars, borax, washing soda, oxyclean and crystal fabric softener.
A friend told me that she just uses the naphtha, soda and borax, but by then I had already made it.

For the most part I've liked the laundry detergent, but I didn't like the fabric softener in it. I could hardly go in my laundry room because it smelled so strong.

Last weekend I ran out of the detergent so I made some more. Earlier in the week, my daughters and I grated two bars of Fels-naptha. 
Today I found this website

The detergent has 3 ingredients, the naphtha, borax and washing soda. I have young children, so I like the idea of adding the oxyclean. I had purchased some inexpensively at the local dollar store.

My measurements are rough, but since I had 2 bars of soap, I used 2 cups each of the borax and soda. I used one of the (16 fluid oz) containers of oxyclean and mixed it in a bucket.

I'm curious to see how this goes without the fabric softener in it. I do have wool dryer balls to use in the dryer. I've been using them on and off without really noticing a difference, but the clothes had already been treated with fabric softener.

Overall, I like this detergent, even though I recently heard a relative scoff about someone they knew who made their own detergent. I can't explain exactly why I wanted to do it. I like the idea of making my own stuff to use around the house. Some say they want to get away from the chemicals. Well, I hate to break it to them, but all the stuff in these are chemicals anyway. Some make their own detergent to save money. I've not done the math, but I wouldn't be surprised if making it this way saves money.

When I was buying oxyclean proper, it says to fill the washer, add the oxyclean and then add the clothes. I assume they say to do it this way so that, at higher concentrations when the water first hits it, it doesn't hurt your clothes. I'd like to be able to just put the clothes in the washer, add the detergent and be done, but for now, I've been adding the clothes after the detergent after the washer has filled. Perhaps when the girls get older, I'll skip adding the oxyclean. As it is, I have enough for a couple more batches of detergent. Perhaps I'll try it without when I run out.

Friday, 18 July 2014

And yet more jam

I counted jars of jam a couple days ago. There are 28 pints of mulberry jam in the pantry. That doesn't include the one we've been using and the 4+ I've given away. Some of that will go to my Mom and sister. Some will be given as gifts. The rest means I won't have to buy jam... like ever.

I wasn't all that thrilled with the peach preserves I made the first time around. I tried canning some peaches following this recipe:

I think the method is probably sound, but I think my peaches will be kind of mushy. We haven't eaten any yet. A problem with canning peaches is that you buy them when they're rock hard. They stay rather rock hard and start to go moldy/mushy while the inside is still not really ripe.

I was pretty happy with the next batch of peaches I bought. They seemed to actually ripen and hadn't gone moldy. This time I tried  freezer jam. Yummy! I used this recipe:

I'll admit that I kind of wanted to sit and eat it all right after it was finished. I have tried some after freezing and wow, does it freeze hard. I'm used to strawberry freezer jam where it remains kind of spreadable. The peach was not. I'd take it out and leave it in the fridge to use, but I'm trying not to eat it all in a short period of time. Making jam wasn't the best idea for my diet.

Kroger had some very yummy blueberries for a decent price a short while ago, so I went back to get more and got enough for us to make a batch of jam and some to eat with half and half. I used this recipe (but I forgot to buy a lemon for zest):
I'm not sure I'd add the cinnamon and nutmeg next time. It does kind of taste like blueberry pie though, which isn't a bad thing. I wasn't sure this was going to set as it seemed to take much longer than the other jams I had made. We haven't tasted it since it set (at least I think it set), so I'm not sure what it is going to be like.

I think I have enough jam. The mulberry trees are still going strong, so I may pick a few more times to have lots to give away. It seems to be a hit with those we have given it to.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

More jam

I've been making lots of jam these days. I think I've made 5 batches of mulberry jam, 2 batches of strawberry jam and, most recently, a batch of peach preserves. I've already talked about the mulberry jam. Both yesterday and today I picked enough mulberries for about 2 batches of jam each day. I washed them and put them in the freezer.

My Mom gave me a couple small containers of strawberry freezer jam that my sister made. The jam was so good! The following weekend, I bought strawberries at Costco. They turned out to be not quite as nice as the ones I had been buying there, so I decided to make jam. I much prefer strawberry freezer jam to that which had been canned. It tastes so much more like strawberries spread on the toast.

The recipe I used was this one:

I'd make it again.

Last weekend I bought 12 peaches as per this recipe:

They were quite hard yet, so I let them sit. They were rock hard for a couple days, then the following day they were starting to get moldy. I cut the moldy parts off and used them anyway. I ended up using a couple more that I had bought a couple days later that were still kind of hard. I think the recipe is decent, but I didn't have the best fruit to work with. It is tasty, but I think it could be better.

For pints of peach preserves (there was a bit more, but I put it in a small container in the freezer as there wasn't enough for a full pint) and some mulberry jam.