Monday, December 22, 2014

Solstice Giving & Making

Solstice is a special day for our family. Just as we live within the rhythms of the seasons, solstice time is significant for it signifies the changing course of the year. The darkness will now become lighter with each passing day and with that we will soon start anew with plans for planting and putting forth our energies onto the land and away from the home. However, the light comes slowly (fortunately!) and there are many weeks left of hibernation. There are knitting projects to be completed, baking to be done, nooks to be cleaned and organized. Our family is in the thick of gift-making for one another, friends, family, and neighbors. Lars is into it as long as it includes really. big. messes. Which, for the most part, I'm pretty much okay with. I've got a thick vinyl tablecloth to hold all the glue art and puddles of paint. A necessity for any mother with a little one I'm finding out… Lars is also really interested in drawing and is able to make some of his very own presents this year with his new skills of concentration and dexterity. So sweet.

In addition to crafty endeavors, I have accomplished, what I consider a great achievement in the gluten-free world: sourdough bread from my own starter. And it's really, really sour. I can't give an accurate account of how this came to be since I stopped following the directions from Taproot magazine's latest Bread edition. There was no discernible fermentation or yeasty action going on when following the first few steps of making this gluten-free sourdough starter, so I gave up for a few days and low and behold, it started to rise and smell, well, like sourdough. Many more days passed with some feeding of our starter. Lars named it Hunka-Hunka (as is the custom to name one's starter). And finally, it was ready for the ingredients, of which I also did not follow. I will make a few more batches and find a good recipe of my own to share someday in the near future. I'm thinking sourdough cinnamon buns? Is that weird? Not sure, but it sounds like a worthy experiment.

For the sourdough starter:

1/2 cup of warm non-chlorinated water
1/2 brown rice flour
A Tablespoon of whey was added after 4 days or so...

I kept adding these same proportions at random. Maybe once in the evening and morning. Once every few days. The specificity of feeding a new starter is just too difficult and so I found that haphazardly feeding Hunka-Hunka worked just fine.

A very content boy eating warm sourdough after a warm bath.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sacred Sunday…and a Merry Solstice

A day of rest, family, connection, and friends while relishing in the sweetness of life.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Guest Post: To Make a Yule Bock (Yule Goat)

i decided to try my hand at building a yule bock this holiday season.
materials used;
2 bundles of wheat and rye straw from the garden.  about 36 inches long and as much as i can fit my thumbs and fore fingers around.
a spool of twine and scissors.
red kid skin (red ribbon would work well too)

i began by evening out my bundles of straw, flipping half of each bundle then evening em out and tying them up.
next i soaked them in hot water for about 5 hours to soften em. i placed a heavy baking sheet and full gallon jug to keep them fully submerged.
after soaking i stood them up to drain for half an hour.
i laid a towel on my work table then decided upon the length of legs and torso by sliding the string around. i settled on 13ish inch legs (both ends) and 10ish inch torso (middle section).
next i separated one end into two even sections and tied em off (this is now the hind legs) and pulled a few pieces out on the top center backside to braid into a tail.
once the hind legs where each tied off i hung them over the edge of the table and carefully bent them down.
now, on the other end (front legs and neck) i separated a quarter of the bundle nearest the top back (spine) to bend upward and begin forming the neck.
next i separated the rest into thirds-ish, tied off and bent the front legs and laied the 2nd bundle in place along in front of  legs and neck.
i separated the bottom half of the 2nd bundle into roughly thirds and tied them to the existing 3 bundles of front legs and belly. then i bent the middle belly bundle back up under the two front legs and tied it to the main torso part of the original body. i also tied the top part of my 2nd bundle to the existing neck of the original body.
after evening out the front legs/belly/neck area and re tying it’s time to move on the the head. first i bent down and tied off a small bunch of straw to create the under chin area. i also lashed it to the neck in order to keep it held at an appropriate angle.  i think attempting to bend the head down all at once wouldn’t work as it’s too thick.
now i bent over the rest of the head just a little higher up and tied it all together.
now, with scissors, i trim the nose flat and clean.
and the feet.
adjust the feet to make it stand solidly.
i used a little strap cutter to cut a long kid skin ribbon.. any sort of ribbon would work here.
after adding some braided sweet grass for horns i made up a nice pattern of criss crossed lashing around the yule bock with my red leather ribbon. you could set aside some straw early on to braid for horns..
just about done and looking pretty good but i’m not happy with how the legs are at slightly different angles..
so i tied em up to hold the legs in appropriate position and will let it dry in this position.
all done! notice the little cock and balls i gave him… i just braided it and tied off and bent the ends of the belly bundle from the step when i made the front legs/bell/neck.

Visit one of my favorite friend's website for hand-crafted leather shoes and really beautiful old world crafts….Laughing Crowe Leather Works 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hats: Our Cottage Industry

My husband is a hat-maker, and really, he's quite exceptional at what he does. I've been wanting to introduce his little cottage industry for a while, so welcome to our garage studio fully equipped with sewing machines galore and a whole lot of recycled wool.

He started this business over ten years ago back in Portland, Oregon where all the hip cyclists reside. It was easy to sell these fit-under-your-helmet caps, made from recycled wool garments, with this kind of audience, but slowly the other hat makers crept into the scene while Shaun was busy learning to build shelters in Forest Park and tanning roadkill squirrel hides (you gotta start somewhere, right??) So, although many folks in Portland own a Deller hat, the market there is pretty much maxed out. But! he's just getting started on the rest of the world. Deller Designs has an Etsy shop that has been doing exceptionally well this year as people are realizing, like every year when it gets cold, that they need a warm, wooly cap while riding their bikes around town.

This year, for Deller Designs, is one of birthing new ideas, new patterns, new hats. It is expanding beyond the cyclist scene to anyone, really, that likes to be outdoors and has a sense for the old-timey look. Shaun has been doing more lined hats, children's cashmere caps, Sherlock Holm's and Stormy Cromer (sp?) hats, and Irish and English-style hats. Just last week, he made a waxed-canvas baseball cap with beeswax from a local beekeeper! The material is an old pair of Dockers lined in a red merino wool sweater. It's really something…

This is one of the many projects we piecemeal together to live this homestead-y lifestyle. Production sewing can often times be challenging and it really is feast or famine with products like this…but we've held onto it, in varying degrees, for over a decade and it still's here. So Shaun will keep making hats, I'll scrounge for wool garments and we'll make it somehow, as we always do.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Some small enterprises of friends and loved ones that I think are gratifying to wear and look at. Also worthy of passing on to your loved ones:

I love Arrowyn's designs. They adorn our mantel and various shelves throughout the house. Her art feels warm and meant for those who like traditional art. 

Who wouldn't want their own custom leather shoes and better yet, make them yourself!? If you live in or around Portland, Oregon or plan on traveling there sometime, this is definitely one of the better investments you can make for pair of shoes that could possibly last you a couple decades. Seriously…

Ok, I'm biased because he's my husband, but I really do think his hats are wonderful for this season and so do many others! What's not to love about recycled merino wool that fits snug on your head?

Our neighbors started this business with a few goats and a little basement studio. Today, they are able to work from home, spend a lot of time with their children and always seem to be around to lend a helping hand cutting wood and fixing cars. A rural dweller's dream I should think! With just a few ingredients, including coconut, these chubs feel and work wonderfully. 

Probably one of the most brilliant parent/child collaboration ideas out there. Pan and Quinn, 5 and 6 years old, will sketch out a hat design and mom knits it. Can't wait to see how Dad fits into this all…

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

As the days grow shorter...

...we are spending more and more time indoors. It's been years since I've spent this much time inside now that we have a house with rooms and space to move about. Our yurt only occupied Lars for only so long and we were bundling up, this time last year, every few hours. 
So with all this newly acquired space there is plenty of room for friends, dinners, knitting parties, and bicycles! Really though, I need to get out more. A hike, an outdoor project, anything that will fill (what's starting to feel like) this void of fresh air and sunshine. Despite my eagerness to get out there, our home seems to be filled with children, new adult friends, and crafty present-making almost everyday!