Love the Home you Live in

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Welcome in this month of love, charity, hearts, roses, glitter glue, and a few less days to get through.

Do you love your home? It may not be the castle you dreamt up when you were still missing your two front teeth, but have you taken matter into your own hands and created a space that gives you comfort and warm fuzzy feelings inside?

The only perfection happening in our home, is that it is perfectly lived in. So the best way for me to create an atmosphere that stays in harmony with my toothless-age dreams, is to make certain that what surrounds us is both useful, and makes us happy.

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I find this statement to be filled with truth. The things in our homes that don’t belong there are a “burden”, and this burden is added to :“whoever has to care for them”-that would be me, who either cares for or directs the care of the things in our home.

To make our home be in accord with the spirit of cheerfulness, it takes removing of those “superfluous articles” and replacing them with useful beautiful things.

We learn by further reading in this section of the Handbook of Domestic Science (see graphic above for full reference) that we should observe:

…those times in the world’s history when it was consciously sought to make the common things of life beautiful; when the potter, the carver, the metal worker, the weaver, the embroiderer were all artists in their way.

Interesting that May Haggenbotham should mention “the weaver”. I just so happen to be dabbling in the art of weaving-no realm in the fiber arts shall escape me! harharharhar…..

The most recent ornament I created for our home just so happens to be this cozy rug:

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It was made on a very simple loom called a “peg loom”, that we built here at home. A mix of cotton print and denim scrap fabric make up the weft. As an experiment I used some jute string for the warp. It turned out pretty good, and my husband is happy to have something warm for his feet to land on in the early morning and for his knees to have a soft place for prayer at night on his side of the bed.

What will you make to show that your home is cherished? Do you need to fill a box with “burdens” and haul it off to  your local donation center?  I find it easiest to have a box or bag handy every time I clean a room: immediate removal = instant bliss.

Love the Home you Live in. Make it full of glitter and love like your toothless-age dream castle!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

p.s. If the rug weaving and peg loom prick your curiosity, I strongly suggest that you follow this site by email. There will be more to come on those topics in the near future with a fabulous tutorial….and you will want that post to arrive in your inbox so it won’t be missed! Alternatively you can also follow us on FB or Twitter (@knittyheidi) to get all article updates as soon as they publish.

You might also like to read “5 little habits” and “Defining Domestic Science”

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Where Tradition and Modern Meet

As we are learning and preserving traditional skills and arts we can utilize modern tools and resources. Every resource we collect to create our projects need not be brand new and we certainly don’t have to first own fiber animals in order to spin yarn, or be able to spin yarn in order to knit with it. Whatever resource you have to gather your supplies will benefit you. The important thing to establish is the ability to create from whatever life hands you.

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In fact, the skill of creating something new from something “old” is an art in of itself. Some of the products our family have loved most has been made without a pattern and without spending any extra money or time at the store. The above photo was taken to show off the skirt that I made for my daughter a couple of years ago. It was made from a pair of already hand-me-down jeans and fabric I had on hand. The ruffle was a long skinny piece of fabric that had been cut several years before for a quilt that never got made. Same goes for the tied belt. She wore this skirt until just last year when the ruffle was up to her knees and the fabric on the backside became too thin. It was her favorite skirt for almost 2 years! We did create some more that were similar for her and the other girls, but this one remained the favorite while it lasted.

Using what we have on hand allows us to tap into our full creative potential without any outside influence. When you have to shop for supplies, often you are also taking in other’s ideas on how to use those supplies. And then, our imagination center is numbed, making it so that we no longer see what we can create-but what others have.

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These fabric dolls were made by my oldest daughter. I may be biased but I think they are adorable! The flower pattern one was made from a torn toddler shirt and the polk-dot patterned doll was made from some worn pajama pants. She didn’t use a pattern or search Pinterest. The idea just “popped” into her head and she cut them out and sewed them up. They were also hand-sewn because she prefers that to using the machine. I learn so much about creativity and imagination just by watching my children.

Sometimes, or rather I should say most of the time it is my children that encourage me to utilize my imagination center. Such as when they wear out all the knees on otherwise sound pants before out growing them…and they want the patches to be “pretty”…

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Let me just say that the patches were indeed “pretty”…but yikes-they were a challenge! Trying to get those tiny legs around my sewing machine arm to get them fastened on was a struggle. This was over two years ago and it still stresses me out thinking about it. I would rather buy a new pair of pants, but when you have seven children-you do what-you-gotta-do. Despite the challenge, it was a satisfying project and they lasted the growth of the child.

Another time that one of my children inspired me to get creative was when she was sad because she didn’t have as many stuffed animals as the others. So this adorable Zebra was born to cheer up her heart:

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He was made from some old baseball pattern toddler pajamas. I still keep my eye out for these types of pajamas at the thrift stores…I would love to make some more zebras!

Recycling, up cycling, repurposing–it’s all over the web in blogs, on Youtube and on Pinterest. While I am trying to encourage your individual creativity, sometimes it is necessary to be inspired by others. If you don’t know where to start, do a search. I am sure there is something out there that will point you in the right direction. Just don’t be afraid to branch out on your own, go beyond popularity, color outside of the lines….develop your creative talent that has been instilled in us all by our Creator. It may not be in the fiber arts, it may be cooking, woodworking, blacksmithing, mechanics, robotics, writing, drawing, painting, paper, basket weaving, or pottery…an endless amount of skill-sets are available. What ever desires God has given you, seek to cultivate and master them with the resources available to you.

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S.

My new adventure in repurposing is recycling yarn from thrifted sweaters. Hopefully soon I will be able to share my own creative ideas from this practice. If it peaks your interest, here is a good video about how to unravel a sweater and what kinds work best:

 

Who Made That?

How do we get from Fiber to Fabric?

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I can tell you, that what I have learned about the fiber arts these last couple of years has blown. my. mind. When I was just a consumer-crafter that bought yarn at the store and then put it on some needles, the only thought about the handmade process was that something was created from yarn or fabric using various tools and the skill of the crafter.

It goes way, way, waaaay further back than that, before the crafter designs, before the materials are bought, before it resembles anything that is useful. The process that brings the fiber to the point of a yarn or fabric is filled with many steps. The vocabulary alone while learning about the fiber arts is astounding:

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This is not a complete list! Many of the tools, techniques, and materials have their own set of vocabulary and processes.

Just so that you can get a glimpse at each general step in bringing raw fiber from its natural state on the animal (or in the field) to a fabric that you wear or use in other ways, I have chosen a few videos that showcase part of the process.Words can only explain so much and too much technical stuff can be boring, so I have tried to keep them short. Keep in mind there are zillions (maybe not that many-but a lot!) of ways to harvest fibers, process them, and produce textiles. What is outlined here is just a few possibilities out of many:

Natalie from Namaste Farms can shear an Alpaca all by herself!

 

 

Even when shearing our goats, we like to have a helping hand.

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(I should mention, that first you have to catch the animal and that can be a challenge in itself! Natalie has a good video showing her technique for that as well. We have yet to master it….)

Once animal fiber has been harvested it needs to go through a process called skirting where you remove the edges of the fleece that gets the most icky and bleached by the sun. The skirt is not desirable for garments or other things that should be soft, but it is great for rug making and other crafts! During this process vegetable matter (vm-hay, grass, sticks etc.) is also picked out as much as possible.

A lot of raw fibers are sold at this stage to the spinner or crafter. When they receive it, the next step is to wash it:

This video from Blue Mountain Handcrafts is one of my favorites because she washes several different types and I enjoy learning from Beth, she is great.

After the washing step is when some decisions are made on how to prep it for spinning or other crafting. Some, may blend it with other fibers, use a drum carder, use hand cards, or just hand pick it until it is fluffy and ready for use.

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close up of hand carders and alpaca fiber

Last year I wrote an article on our sister-site: Twisted & Plied, that overviewed how I process Alpaca fiber from washing to hand cards to spinning. Read it, or just continue on with the video presentation-the next videos share some of the same info as in this article:

From Wool to Wear: a look at processing Alpaca

If you only take time to watch one of these videos in this post I suggest it is this next one. Lois is a hoot! She teaches us all about traditional spinning from different countries and dresses in period costume for the videos. After this one if you have the time, watch some of her other videos, she has very interesting history to share!

Once the fiber is processed and prepped it can be handspun or machine spun. I stumbled upon this short video of a Tibetan woman spinning with a support spindle. She tells her interviewer that it is so simple there is nothing to explain. But then he explained to her that:

we have forgotton this ancient art of hand spinning wool as we do other chores.

After that she was willing to share. There are lots of other spinning techniques and tools that will have to be looked at in another post sometime, so for now enjoy this “ancient art of handspinning wool” as one example:

Here is a picture of my spinning wheel:

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To bring things to a close, we will end with this talented Fastest Knitter in North America. Speed knitting is a real competition! Not one that I will probably ever strive for, but wow-those who do have got some real talent!

(Yes! She is knitting her husband a sweater out of their dogs fur! Some really interesting things get spun up in the fiber art realm!)

To get yarn transformed into a fabric it can be knitted,crocheted, or woven on a loom. These processes and others can happen with hand or machine or a combination. Most of what we wear now is done by machine, but handicraft artist are making a come back. Many handmade items are now easily found and purchased online.

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every time I see these booties I knit for my last baby (who is two now), I want to cast-on and make some more! They are so cute!

There was a lot to take in as far as information and videos to watch in this article. The goal was to bring an awareness at just how much work goes into that handmade item you bought or was given as a gift as it transformed from fiber to fabric. Or, even if you were the crafter, hopefully it gave you insight into the effort that comes from others to prep your fiber of choice before you work your own magic.

 

If this were a book I could have easily delved into the raising of the animals, the growing of the plants and how they are processed. But it’s not-yet. We did not even discuss the behind the scenes designers who dye fibers, make blends, and write patterns.

Thanks for being a friend!

And thank you to all the shepherds, farmers, ranchers, shearers, pickers, blenders, spinners, designers, knitters, crocheters, weavers-fiber artists every where for sharing your talents with us!

Heidi

I built a support spindle from stuff around the house! Click here for the tutorial!

Intro to Natural Fibers

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The word “natural” constitutes existing without man. It was and is provided to us through this great planet Earth or the creatures that walk upon it.

We have rightfully invented and manipulated other materials and all has its purpose either as a learning tool or a useful product. However, should we replace all that is natural?

Natural Fibers let our skin breathe. Our skin is the largest organ on or in our body. We should take care to put the best quality of fibers next to our skin. Many natural fibers also have anti-bacterial properties that benefit and protect our bodies.

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There are lots of sustainable resources for natural fibers. Several species of sheep give us wool. The most common being Merino because it is the softest against our skin.

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Goats produce mohair (which is most often used in fabrics that cover furniture and is also commonly the choice for lovely doll hair.). Cashmere also comes from goats-who doesn’t love the feel a luxurious cashmere sweater?

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Alpaca, Llama, Angora Rabbit, Camel, Yak, the silk worm-the list goes on there are many breeds of animals that produce useful natural fibers for our use.

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Plants also give a variety of fiber that can be used in textiles. Cotton is by far the most known and popular. Linen, which comes from the flax plant is another popular light weight fabric. Hemp, Bamboo, and Nettle are other plant sources. These fibers are usually best used for lighter garments, whereas the wools tend to give warmth and water resistance.

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All of these natural resources produce wonderful varieties of fabrics for our use. I am a firm believer that when we make a point to use the creations that God put here for us in their appointed purposes-we give glory and thanks to Him. We also allow for those creatures and plants to fulfill the measure of their creation.

 

Just for fun:

Take a look at the clothing in your closet. Touch your clothing, as you do, create two piles: those that feel good when you touch them, and those that don’t appeal as much. Then take a look at the tags on those items. I am willing to say that you will probably find the things you liked the feel of most are made up of a natural fiber. You might even be surprised at what is not made of a natural fiber.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Our little farmstead grows natural fibers on goats! Learn about it here.

Now available: Natural Fibers 101 Workshop  email knittyheidi@gmail.com to learn more about these fibers, see and touch them in person and learn how they are processed.

 

2017 Winter Lesson Schedule

If you are new to being a DSW follower let me give a short intro to what this site is about:

You will notice that the tagline for this site is ” Traditional skills in a Modern World”, this is a one line sum up of what the goal of this site is. The intent is to explore traditional lost arts or skills that can still benefit us today. Some of them are accomplished differently then they were long ago. Such as, today we have modern tools that make it easy to bake bread with electricity and already ground wheat.

There is a special connection we can find with our heritage as we explore skills that modern productions have replaced. Those who are seeking a simpler, greener, more holistic way to live will benefit from learning these lost arts. Others who are just curious will learn that it is possible to do more for ourselves. We might even discover hidden talents and desires!

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That is what has happened to me. Two years ago if someone had mentioned a “spinning wheel” the only thing that would have come to my mind is the fairytale stories of Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin. Now, my wheel is one of my cherished possessions and something that I feel is an important tool. The first spool of yarn that I had hand spun wasn’t pretty, but it made me feel as if something I had lost had been found. It seemed as if spinning was something I had done before.

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Try enriching your life a little by learning some new skills. You can do it on your own or follow along here to see what interest you.

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Local workshops are still available and the calendar is waiting to be filled! This year is bringing with it additional workshops to the knitting ones that have already been available. Check out the drop menu on the top of the page to find a list of new workshop topics! These are offered in the Boise/Treasure Valley area of Idaho. Email to ask questions or set up a workshop: knittyheidi@gmail.com

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

To read more about when I discovered a love for spinning yarn visit the sister-site and read “I Heart Spinning”

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Building a Life Journal (part 3)

Part 1 of this series had us take another look at the importance of words on a page and how our personal histories are import to record. Part 2 was a compilation of different ways to keep a journal, attesting to the fact that even if you don’t enjoy writing there are many ways to be inspired to keep a record of your life. It is okay to “Journal Your Way“.

 

The start of a new year is such an exciting time! Everyone is filled with new hopes, goals, and dreams for what will come. Starting a new journal is a great way to illustrate those aspirations on paper and to see that this year hasn’t been written yet. There are many blank pages waiting to be filled!

As promised, this article is to focus on the way that I have been keeping what I call a Life Journal. Life journaling is keeping a notebook that is essentially for everything that happens day to day. It isn’t just a diary that is kept on the nightstand. It is a book that is carried to the kitchen and to town. It is a place to record not only to-do lists, but thoughts and inspirations as they come. In my life journal, there are two main sections: “Daily Life” and “Scripture Study”. Each section has one page in the beginning dedicated as the index page. This is the best tool that I have ever added to my journaling!

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The dollar store is great place to find fun labels, sticky notes, and tabs to add in.

The “Daily Life” half of the notebook is designated to general list making, weekly plans, notes, quotes, and the like. It is really an “everything goes” section. As I have a need, the page is created and then I can give it some sort of title in order to list it in the index. For example: I am studying some books from the library about eating with the seasons. So on a page of notes for that, it is simply titled: “seasonal eating” and put down in the index. The next time I want to reference something I remembered writing down or I need to refresh my memory, I can look at my index to see what pages those notes are on. It is also likely that between the note pages on “seasonal eating” there will be a grocery list, a thought entry, or even a drawing from one of my kiddos.

Before using an index as a tool in journaling, I  might have saved several pages together to go back and take notes under the same topic-and then one of two things would happen: a) there would be lots of riveting information to record,and not enough pages reserved. Or b)  I was uninspired never again returning to those set aside pages resulting in wasted paper. The creation of an index page solves this problem. Try it!

Something worth expounding on is that I let my children draw in my journal. What a blessing this is! They are constantly  making me pictures that are hung on the refrigerator or walls and eventually trampled under foot finishing their journey in the trash. How nice it is to be able to preserve their innocence in a place like my journal. Because I always have it with me, it is the easiest thing to hand to a child who needs entertained. Here is a picture of a fun art game I did with one of them in church one day:

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I folded the page in half and drew half of the picture. Then instructed the child to complete my drawing. This is a favorite exercise they enjoy.

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Every once in awhile there is one of those special gift drawings that are not already in the journal. In this case, I might tape it in. Such as this paper Angel one daughter made for me at Christmas. It now has a home on the inside front cover of my notebook. Always reminding me that I am loved-both by seen and unseen Angels.

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As discussed in Part 2 of this series there is a multiple of ways to keep your journal and types of notebooks. The one I am liking best right now for my everyday Life Journal is a spiral notebook (made by Mead) found at my local grocery store. The spiral binding allows for me to fold it open which makes it easy to take notes during a study session. The front and back cover is made of a strong cardboard material that seems to hold up well with kitchen duty and being thrown in my purse. The other feature I like is that it is already divided in half. In the center of the notebook is a sturdy page with pockets on either side. This pocket is great for holding loose items I need to keep with me-such as a letter to mail or a check to cash.

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The second half of my life journal is reserved for my personal devotional studies. Where I reflect on scriptures and other inspirational resources. This has truly blessed my life the most. I have before kept a separate notebook devoted to religious studies, and it was wonderful as well, but putting it in a place that I almost always have with me has greatly increased the ability to listen to the council given in Jude chapter one verse twenty one:

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

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(By the way, the above verse did not just pop into my head. I wanted to reference a scripture or quote that described how I feel. So I opened up one of the journals I have stacked on the desk as I am typing this post, and on the front page of one of them this verse is written out. I don’t even remember writing it down or why I did-but it fit perfectly to what I needed today!)

With this notebook always within reach, it allows for constant referral to the things that God has inspired  me to write down and learn from. In this way I can be reminded of the most important goals in my life, be uplifted when feeling low, and also share inspiration with others at the ease of opening a journal. For me, this is the best reason of all to keep a notebook with you always. Such blessing come when you are prepared to record the messages that God has for you.

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(this quote is from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, you can read the article or listen to it here. Such inspiring words!)

Hopefully this series has renewed your goal to keep a journal, has refreshed your mind with the reasons behind it, and encouraged you that it doesn’t matter how you do it-just that you do.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

For more ideas and reasons to journal check out this article from Familysearch.org:

Define Your Dash: Start Writing Your Personal History with the #52Stories Project

To schedule a local Life Journaling Workshop send me an email: knittyheidi@gmail.com or FB message.

Set some goals to learn or progress a traditional skill this year! If you are a local, you can have one-on-one or group instruction from me in: knitting, crocheting, bread baking, journaling or even an intro into natural fibers! Send me a message (links above) and we will get your workshop on the calendar!

Don’t forget to also check in at the sister-site www.twistednplied.com where I keep the farmstead blog, and offer raw fibers, handspun yarn, and custom handmade items for your needs.

Christmas Traditions: Pajama Pants

A quick break from the Journal Series...to share how for the first time ever I have sewn our Christmas pjs myself.

There was a black Friday sale that I just could not resist at my local fabric store this year. Flannel was 70% off, so I decided to dive into a long time goal of someday sewing pajamas myself. If I remember correctly I actually saved $98 on this fabric! If not for the sale, I would have had thrift some flannel sheets in order to afford this grand project!

This tradition was brought into our family via my husband. For Christmas Eve his family always has opened one gift-that is always pajamas. We have kept this alive and our children love it!

Check out the results:

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Count them up- 9 pairs in total!

The pattern I used was so terrifically easy that it only took me about 3 days of afternoon sewing. You still have time to get some done for your family!

Check out this easy method at http://mycottoncreations.blogspot.com

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All of the girls got pretty little lace along the cuffs.

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The boys got a cargo pocket on one leg. Love this print!

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My 7 year old made chain drawstrings with cotton yarn with her fingers. She had a good time “helping” mom. Of course, she was not present when I was sewing up hers.

**The pattern called for using elastic in the waist band, but I prefer quick drawstrings. All I did was use my button hole setting on my machine to make two holes where the from of the waist band would be before it was hemmed closed.

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Some of the pants received a drawstring made with the same trim as on the cuffs.

This method was so simple and quick I plan on recycling some clothes into leggings for the girls…and perhaps some more p.j.’s in the future!

In case you missed it go to http://mycottoncreations.blogspot.com for this free easy pajama pant pattern! All you need is fabric, sewing machine, basic sewing supplies, and a pair of pants that fit the individual.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

p.s. The third part to the journaling series will come soon as promised! I am excited to share more plus share a new one I was inspired to make after my last article.