January 31, 2011

The Laundry Soap

One of my earliest blog posts, way back when I wasn't actually telling people I blogged and had the worlds worst photos for each post (they still aren't fantastic, but so much better!), I talked about an experiment that Briton and I were doing making Laundry detergent. Or that I ended up doing because Briton lost interest about halfway through. I'd gotten the recipe off of a green living website somewhere and was pleasantly surprised when the soap actually a) congealed into a crazy cool gel that it was supposed to and b) cleaned at least as well, if not better, than the soap we'd been buying. And in the almost two years since that post, we have used, almost exclusively, handmade laundry soap for our weekly mounds of washing.
It sounds very hippie of me, I know. But the reasons we've stuck with it aren't really what you might think. Yes, I love that it is environmentally friendly. The lack of packaging alone is worth it. At some point in the process (when I ran out of washing soda I think) I bought a bottle of Ecos washing detergent to tide us over and have used that jug to mix and store my detergent ever since. So, one plastic bottle still being reused in two years is a nice thing. Plus the ingredients are pretty easy on the planet too as far as I can figure. But that's not the main reason.

I also love that it's cheap. No, really, it's cheap. I'm still on the same box of Borax, am about a third of the way through the second box of Washing soda and have gone through, maybe 4 bars at most of Fels-Naptha soap (you can use any soap, I used Lever for a while but I like the non scent of the laundry bar soap) So again, maybe $20 over the past 2 years? That certainly makes me happy.

But the real drive for my soap making is that I'm lazy. I really am. When I sit on my couch and order my weekly groceries (see, too lazy to go to the store) I don't want to go down to the cave that is our basement laundry area (on the to do house list, move laundry up to bedroom, sigh, someday) and see if we are out of laundry soap. Heck, I don't even want to go look in the panty to see if we are out of beans. Because that would mean getting off the couch. because of this ultra lazy streak, we regularly run out of laundry soap mid week, usually when someone really NEEDS somehting cleaned. So having the ability to make more is just plain awesome.

Since my original batch I've tweaked my recipe, both to accommodate the purchase of a front loading washing machine and the changeover from a bucket to a bottle for storage. And we're pretty darn happy with it. Keeps the clothes clean without having any obvious smells and is quick and simple to make.

Laundry Soap

Grate 1/4 bar of Fels-Naptha into a small sauce pan and add s cups of water. Heat gently, stirring until the soap has dissolved. Remove the pot from heat and add in 6 T Washing Soda (this isn't baking soda, it's washing soda, Arm and Hammer makes it and it looks like a giant box of baking soda) and 3 T borax. Stir until dissolved. Pour into a recycled laundry jug and add enough hot water to fill about 3/4 of the way up. Leave the jug to cool and the soap will turn into a thick gel. At this point I like to shake it up and add a little more water to make it more liquidy. You can also make this in a bucket and just scoop it out with a measuring cup. We use about 2-4 tablespoons per load.

How about you? Do you make anything that most people buy? Anything you'd like to learn to make? I'd love to figure out liquid dishwasher detergent one of these days.

January 27, 2011

Happenstance Mittens or, Her Heart in My Hand

I know, I know, there's been a lot of knitting here lately. What can I say? It's freaking cold outside! What's a girl to do of an evening when her basket is full of new and half finished projects?
A lot of different things led to these mittens. Have you ever had a series of incidents that all push you to make one single happy little decisions? Kismet, I suppose you can call it. It doesn't seem to happen that often, but this week, it did.

First. it got colder and I borrowed the mittens that I made for Will while walking Evie to school. And they were so toasty warm that I started to think I might need to a) steal Will's, or, the nicer option, b) make a pair for myself.

On that same walk Evelyn refused to hold my hand. OK, this wasn't one of those golden shining moments. In fact, it left me rather stressed. But I could see her point. She isn't a mitten girl. She has two pairs (pink, both of them, what else) but she only tries them on and then immediately tosses them back into the box. Instead she likes muffs. Yes, muffs. And no, you can't really buy muffs, but they are pretty easy to make. So ever since she was old enough to no be zipped bodily into a giant fuzzy sack in her stroller, she has had muffs. And they work perfectly. Except when you want her to hold your hand to cross the road or walk a little more quickly than four-year-old-putter pace. Because who wants to pull their hands out of a nice warm muff and hold a cold hand? But roads must be crossed and hands must be held. Something needed to be done.

Which is about when I saw this image. Brilliant. And really, pretty simple to make I figured. And as I happened to be down at the yarn shop buying some beautiful white wool to make a hat for a friend, well, I picked up an extra skein for my mittens. Because I NEEDED them.

And then it snowed, and I got a quiet afternoon where I could actually sit down and knit and knit and finish a pair of mittens.
It was only when I was halfway through the red Evie mitten that I started to remember a favorite book from my childhood. I couldn't for the life of me remember the name but I did remember that it was about a lost red mitten that ends up as the heart of a snowman. The more I knit, the more I thought about that book and that snowman's heart.

Eventually I figured out the name of the book. The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg. Of course. I loved his books as a kid. This and The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash were among my favorites.
We tried out the mittens today on the way to library time. Evelyn giggled and wiggled her fingers inside her mitten the whole way. And she didn't let go once. Perfect.

So just in case you have a little someone with cold fingers, here is the pattern. The mittens are pretty basic but infinitely changeable. If you want to make the cuffs longer, knit more rib. Ditto with the body of the mitten (although not in rib, of course). I've used my favorite Montana once again. It's the yarn I used for both Will's mittens and a pair I made my brother and it was just too cozy to resist. But any super bulky yarn will work. I also only made one mitten with an Evelyn mitten on it because I pretty much always hold her left hand in my right. But you could make both mittens the same if you like.

Keep warm my friends.

Her Heart In My Hand Mittens

Montana by Tahki in Natural
Lamb's Pride Bulky in Red

US size 10 DPN's

Adult Mittens - 3 1/2 sts per inch
Child's Mitten - 3 1/4 sts per inch

For the Adult Mitten:

Cast on 28 sts and split between four needles 6 sts, 8 sts, 6 sts, 8 sts. Join the round and work in 2 by 2 rib for 8 rows. (this is the reason for the 6/8/6/8 split between the needles, keeps the ribs together)

Knit 2 rounds

Round 3 - K 1, K F and B, K 12, place marker, K2 Place marker, K 12
Round 4 - *Knit to first marker, make 1, knit to second marker, make one, knit to end of round
Round 5 - Knit all sts.*

Rounds 6-10 - repeat between *'s (39 sts)
Place the sts between the markers (10) onto a holder.
Knit remaining sts until the piece measures 7 inches or about 1 inch less than the finished length you want.

Shape top

Round 1 - K 2tog, K 11, K2tog, K10, K2tog (this is an odd row but it evens out the sts, switch the 10 and the 11 for the other mitten) (24 sts)

Round 2 - Knit all sts

Round 3 - K2tog, K8, K2tog, K2tog, K8, K2tog (20 sts)

Round 4 - Knit all sts

Round 5 - K2tog, K6, K2tog, K2tog, K6, K2tog (16 sts)

Round 6 - Knit all sts

Round 7 - K2tog, K4, K2tog, K2tog, K4, K2tog (12 sts)

Close with a kitcner stitch

Place 10 thumb sts on two needles and pick up 3 across the join with a third needle. With new yarn knit until the thumb is the length you desire (for me it was a little more than 2 1/2 inches)

Shape end

Round 1 - K1, K2tog to end (7 sts)
Round 2 - K1 K2tog to end (4 sts)

Break yarn and pull through all sts, drawing tight to close. Tie off and weave in loose ends.

Child's "Mitten" - this is the front of the mitten only

Cast on 10 sts ( you only need 3 needles for this one)
Work 5 rows in 1x1 rib
Row 6 - Knit across
Row 7 - P across
Row 8 - K f and b, K to last sts, K f and b
Row 9 - P across
Row 10-13 repeat rows 8 and 9 (16 sts)
Row 14 - K 6, leave on one needle, pick up a new needle and knit remaining sts - these will be the "active sts"
Row 15 - P active sts across
Row 16 - K f and b, K across
Row 17 - P across
Rows 18-27, work in stockinette stitch
Row 28 - K2tog, K to last st, K2tog
Row 29 - P across
Row 30 K2tog, cast off to last 3 sts, K last 2 tog and then cast them off. Break yarn, pull through and tie off. Weave in ends.

Thumb -

Knit in Stockinette Stitch 8 rows
Row 9 - K2tog across
Row 10 - P2tog across
Break yarn, pull tail through sts, tie off and weave in ends.

Now, Put your mitten on and have your child hold your hand. Using their hand placement as a guide and the yarn you worked your child mitten in, sew the child mitten onto the adult one with a whip stitch. Try to pick up the bar between stitches on the adult mitten and make sure you are only sewing through one layer. I found it worked best to start at the V between the thumb and finger and sew around the main part of the hand then to go back and do the other side, but do whatever works for you!


This morning we had a snow delay of two hours for school and with a little extra time on my hands, I decided to clean out Briton's backpack. It is generally in a state of utter confusion, with papers stuffed in at all angles, empty folders falling to shreds, toys gathering at the bottom making the whole bag jingle and clank when he wheels it (not very gently or slowly) down our front steps every morning. Typical boy. Typical kid I guess.

However, To my horror I found two weeks worth of homework carefully folded into a tiny square and stuffed in the smallest pocket and a history test with a totally unacceptable grade at the top. And I'm not talking about a B here. Not even a C. This was a bad test. Now I'm going to be fair and also tell you that there was also a very good test. A very very good test. But still.
In the weeks since school has been back from break, Briton's class has been going through a series of tests. Mid term tests. MAP test, testing review. Too many tests in my mind, but that's not my decision to make. So when he reported that there was no homework, I didn't blink. His school has generally followed that line, no homework during testing weeks or short weeks. It makes sense and is always something of a relief. As a parent I really struggle with homework. I know, from my teaching days, that it is important. The problem I run into is that for my particular child, if he doesn't do homework RIGHT AFTER SCHOOL, it takes hours. If he stops to play, he gets out of work mode and everyone suffers. Trust me, I don't like this model. I would love to have him play first and then do homework. And in theory it should help him to get some fun time in and then settle down to work. But we've tried it. And it just doesn't, not for him. Evelyn will be different. Because that's just the way of things. Every kid is different.

A couple of months ago my House Rules post got picked up by the Apartment Therapy kids site Ohdeedoh and people were pretty awful about the strictness of it. It left me feeling pretty low to hear that I was too strict and mean and that people would hate to be my child. Eventually I felt I had to respond and asked people to please remember that different children need different levels of structure. I happen to have one of those kids who needs a huge amount of structure. I know this about my son. I know that it works for him to have a very specific routine. I don't love it. But I do know it.

But it stuck with me, those comments. And over the past weeks, I've found myself not checking if he really had homework, because it was nice to be a little loosey goosey. I marvel at parents who never have to remind their kid to do homework. Whose children will read and read and read instead of having to be bribed to sit down for 15 minutes with a book. I marvel because I was that kind of kid, and my child is not. I want to be able to trust that he will do his homework on his own, that I can just stand by encouragingly and know that it will get done without any nudges (ok, threats) from me. But obviously, given the lack of completed homework and the bad test, it's not working for us. Which just, ugh, drives me crazy. But there it is.

The best piece of parenting advice I ever got was from a book I was given when Briton was a tiny (well, with a ten pound birth weight, are they every really tiny?) baby. "Love the child you have instead of wishing for the one you don't". It's not always the easiest mantra to embrace, but, really, I think it is the most important. I may want my son to be the easy going good student, but he's not me. He needs structure, and it's my job to give it to him. And don't get me wrong, I know I'm a list girl. I love lists. But I'm not big on schedules, they frustrate me and stress me out. Which may be part of the reason I never really wanted to "go" to work. Too many schedules. :) But back to the boy...

After the bus pulled away this morning Will and I had a long chat about things that needed to change. A lot of it is us. We need to have a more regular routine so that he has a regular routine. And, truthfully, since I started working more and Will began working from home, our routines have definitely slipped. Because it's all too easy to not quite get started until 10 in the morning, to stay up till 1 finishing a project, to laze around or change the plan at a moment's notice. But now, it seems, it's time to have one of those hour by hour schedules that we have shied away from , finding them stiff and hard to follow. To get a big family calender up on the wall to keep track of tests and games and ballet practice, so that everyone knows what everyone else is doing. To have even more structure in our day, even to the point of structuring in play. And then, well, I guess we'll see how he does. How we all do.

Do you do this? Or do you have children who don't need that kind of structure? Any words of wisdom?

January 26, 2011

Letters, Letters, Everywhere

So the thing about teaching your child to write his or her name, is that they can, and do, write their name. EVERYWHERE. Evie has actually been writing her name for a long time, both her "long name" (Evelyn) and her "short name"(Evie) and her other long name (Evelyn Clare). However, because she is a lefty we've been running into problems with backwards writing, so we've been doing a lot of practice over the past few months to straighten that out. And it must be paying off, because the other day I looked around the house and found that she had been helpfully autographing things for us. Walls, benches, books, the inside ends of of daddies rolled up architectural plans (oops!), anything paper that I've left out on my desk.
It's a rite of passage, isn't it. I remember Briton going through this phase. Writing his name on bus tickets and toys and the headboard of his bed (it's still there). And I know for a fact that I did it myself. I still have the copy of Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup With Rice that I wrote my name in eons ago. (I also still remember getting in trouble for writing in it, but it didn't seem to stop me, most of my childhood books have my name and at least a few little decorations scribbled on the corners of the cover. My kids are endlessly fascinated to find my childish writing in "their" books.)
I love to see it. Even when it's on the floor next to her bed. Ok, maybe not there, especially when it's marker. But yes, even there. Because it is a moment that will pass so quickly, something I want to have a physical memory of for those days down the road to come. Lately we've been using the phrase "next year in kindergarten" a lot with Evelyn. "Next year in kindergarten you can't bring monkey/Eliza/four small stuffed cats to school with you, we should practice that now!" or "Next year in kindergarten you cannot have a potty accident just because you didn't want to stop playing and come inside."
I say it flippantly, use it to my advantage. The things she needs to do before "next year". But sometimes, mid sentence, the pang of reality hits. Next Year. Next year she will get on the bus instead of just wishing or trying to sneak on. She will eat in the cafeteria every day instead of just on the special days when we go visit her brother. Next year she will get to go to choir and check out books in the library and have a lunch account and bring home HOMEWORK to do at the table with Briton. Its coming fast.

It doesn't seem that long ago that Briton was scribbling his name. Big B, little T, bubble dot on the giant I. And yet, yesterday he brought home three pages (single spaced!) of, if not neat, at least totally legible writing on the need to protect the whooping crane. He is making the transition to cursive and reading directions off of boxes to me because I haven't gotten my eyeglasses updated yet and I cant read the tiny print without them. (Children are handy like that)

How do we stand it? This growing up thing. It's beautiful and wonderful and gratifying, but oh so fast. How do we stand it? How do you stand it?

January 24, 2011

Planning, Plotting, Dreaming (and a leetle Scheaming)

Briton came home from school yesterday on a mission. A mission to earn money. At first he wanted to pay all of his friends 10 cents to help make cards and then sell those cards (to his friends presumably) for $1 which, you know, from a Donald Trump point of view is probably pretty smart. But from a be-a-good-citizen-in-our-small-town point of view, not so much. His next plan involved mowing lawns (which he estimates will take him about 5 minutes per lawn, humm) or to make belts like the ones we made in the boys sewing class. When I explained how much he would need to spend buying belt making materials though, he moved on to plants. And since I had the seed catalogues out and my gardening notes from last year open, well, plants, I can do. (And yes, I know it's only January, but last year I started seeds in early February so it really is time! Eek!)
He has been more interested in gardening this winter than he was during the summer when the actual gardening was going on. It could be that he'll loose interest once we have to, you know, actually dig in the garden. But he's spent a good amount of time thumbing though my John Seymour book lately - we've gone over the difference between root crops and vine crops and have discussed the possibility of a) bees (possible, if I can talk Will into it) and b) goats (probably not, considering the look on Will's face when we brought it up - oh well) as well as whether or not we could make cheese in our kitchen (kid after my own heart, my boy).
So while I went though the Southern Seed Exchange catalogue (my best luck seemed to come from seeds from them last year - thank goodness for note taking!) Briton looked through the rest of the pile and debated his options. His first thought was roses but he was put off by the cost of just one plant and quickly moved onto seeds, settling on sunflowers and tomatoes, and maybe zinnias, which, you know, I think might be some good choices. Neighbors of mine beware, my son will be knocking on your door come spring. If he can keep up with the watering. ;)

Oh, and storm door? Up. All me. Ok, it needs a little adjusting. But I did get the door up while my husband lay prone on the couch with the stomach flu. And it's so much warmer in here! Yay! I did, however, decide that it's time to get a girl drill. Will's new, fancy drill, which he loves, is a little to crazy powerful for me. I need a lightweight, not a lot of vroom vroom kind of drill. And if it's a fun color, even better.)

January 23, 2011

30 Minutes Or Less (Or WAAAAAYYYYY More)

If there is one thing that I think I've finally learned about home improvement it's that nothing, nothing every goes as quickly as you think it will. Even if you think it will take a long, long time to get something done, most likely it will take even longer. Look at the bathroom. The bathroom that we were going to finish in one work filled weekend, almost two months ago (there has been progress in there. Not a lot, but progress none the less, update later in the week). So it really shouldn't have come as that big of a surprise to find that installing a storm door wasn't the piece of cake we had planned on.
Our front door has always been drafty. We've installed weather stripping. twice, we've used a draft snake and pushed rugs up against it and worn extra sweaters. We've also talked, at length, about getting a new door. The problem with that is that I dislike new doors. Because unless you are willing to spend a fortune, which we aren't, even if we had a fortune to spend, you're going to end up with metal or fiberglass or something that is not wood. And my bungalow lovers heart just can't do it. So when we were visiting friends on frigis night and realized that they had their (old, wooden) door wide open but the house was toasty warm thanks to the nice, new, tightly sealed storm door.

Storm door! My only experience with storm doors prior to this has been the aluminum variety. You know the type. Mostly metal, never latches quite right, sequels horribly when you try to lower the glass and let some air in, if it can come down at all and isn't jammed forever in a half up-half down position. But of course there are all new storm doors with big, open panels of glass and fancy soft closing hinge thingies. We needed one. Soon.
And after checking out all the options we decided that a white full glass style door would blend in with our door trim and keep us at least a little warmer (although, how warm can you possible be when it's 14 degrees outside?) and picked it up Saturday.

Having been told by the oh so helpful Lowe's guy that it would take about 30 minutes to put the door in, we waited until the kids were in bed, opened up the box and found, a black door.


That helpful Lowe's guy had helped us to the wrong door. Which should have tipped us off about the 30 minutes thing.

I actually thought for a minute that maybe a black door would look ok, that's how much I didn't want to go back to Lowes. But considering how much sweat, blood and tears went into choosing the house color, back I went on Sunday to get the white framed door. And once again waiting until the kids went to bed to get started. And two hours in, we had a door that didn't quite fit. Because doorways in old houses aren't particularly square.
So. The house is still cold and the dining room has storm door parts propped up around it and "30 minutes" is starting to look like "not until next weekend". But I keep reminding myself that the door will be in one of these days and the house will be warmer. And in the summer we can try putting the screen in. I say try, because our cat has a bizarre habit of leaping onto screens as high up as she can and just hanging there yowling in a way that sounds more like intense cursing than normal cat noises, so chances are the screen wont really last long, but it will be worth a try.

January 21, 2011

And Now 2011 Can Begin

Oh yeah, the calender is here. Do you ever obsessively check the tracking on a package, even though you know when it will arrive, just to see if maybe, maybe it will come sooner? Well, I do. Not all the time actually, just occasionally I get a little, um, obsessed, with what I've ordered and I CANNOT wait. I remember ordering a copy of a book in college and calling the special orders desk at the school store twice a day (at lease) to see if it had arrived YET? It's almost always books that get me into a tizzy like this.
Now a days I can download a Kindle version for my phone if I'm really that obsessed, unless it's a cookbook. Or a knitting book. Which these days it usually is since I'm not getting a lot of chill out and read time. (I have been making an effort to go to bed earlier to read, but I seem to fall asleep before I've gone a page, which I guess is a sign that I've been living on way too little sleep for the past few years!)
But back to the calender. After a week of checking lulu.com every day (more than once, ahem) for progress and then fedex for three days for shipping updates, it finally arrived and I'm kind of ridiculously in love with it. It's not perfect. The color of the cover isn't quite what it looked like on my screen and even though I went with the smallest hardback size available, it's still a little big. Although it did prompt me to clean out my purse so that it would fit and not get gooed up by things lurking at the bottom (enough change to pay for a full price evening movie ticket was down there too, no wonder I have a sore back!) There is one tiny formatting thing that I would change, but it's not something that is going to make a difference really to how it works. Overall, I'm really, really pleased.

I spent Wednesday evening filling in events on the January calender and on this week's pages. And then yesterday I worked on crossing off this week's chores (clean out under the beds, yuck, haven't gotten to that one yet) Love that I have the menu in there, I almost didn't put that in and I'm so glad I did.

My only concern is that I feel a little bit like my entire brain is all in this one book. If I ever loose it I'll be done for. Even more so than my phone. Although loosing my phone would be pretty bad, mostly because I can not for the life of me remember phone numbers anymore. The number for my childhood house in Idaho is still ingrained in my head but if you asked me to call either of my best friends from a phone other than my own I wouldn't have the foggiest idea. I can barely remember my husbands number. Which is a little sad. I think I used up all of my phone number storing ability in the 1990's when all my friends and I had our own phone lines are spent most of our lives calling each other using the three-way-call function.

In other news. my first column is up over here. You'll see that the whole, calender, chore list idea has been on my mind a lot lately. And there is also a very nice piece about me in one of our local design magazines, ABODE. I'm not sure that I actually said all those things in the sidebar though. It doesn't really sound like me, but maybe I'd had a lot of coffee that day. Or not enough.

January 20, 2011

A Skating Skirt

Evelyn has been growing like a weed these last few months. Quite literally like a weed. All height, not width. It's always been a problem finding things that are narrow enough around for her teeny little waist and bum. There are no pants, really, zip up style pants that fit. None. And even leggings are hard to find to fit her. The reason is that waist wise, she's still in the 18 month to 2T range. At four and a half. But lenght-wise, she's in a five, even a six. Looooong legs. The good news is that she's not really a pants kind of girl so far. Her daily attire rotates between tights, tee shirt, sweater, skirt and leggings, tee shirt, sweater, skirt, with the occasional dress thrown in the mix now and then. But really, it's mostly about skirts. And she has lots of skirts. Except I realized the other day that, on anyone older than, say, 6, most of her skirts would be obscene. Definitely not "dress code" length. She's obviously grown yet another inch lately, revealing a little too much of that cute bum. Not that I don't like to see that cute bum, but you know, we are getting ready for Kindergarten next year, its probably a good idea to learn to cover up a little :).
I've had a few skirt patterns on the sewing table for a while, and I will get to them, but when I saw this tutorial over at Sew Mama Sew, I thought it might be the perfect quick fix, replacing at least one of our too short skirts. The only problem was that it involved knits.
Sewing with knits have never been my favorite. Actually, i can't even say that, I've just avoided them pretty much entirely since the time I tried to make a corset-like stretch faux velvet vest back in high school (Don't ask, I was really into E.M Forrester and Jane Austen). So the prospect of making a whole (little, but still) skirt out of knit had me questioning myself a little. I didn't have a ball point needle, surely it would snag, it would end up lumpy, the pieces looked way too small, even for my tiny girl. I, I, I, ok, I was just chicken. But I forged ahead and wow, I think I'm hooked. I'm not sure what I was panicking about! In fact, I've already promised at least one more form the fabric on hand, another for the beloved Eliza and I'm thinking I might need one for myself as well. My only grumble is that you still end up wiht raw edges. I'm sure the person who wrote it had a serger to take care of that, I really wish I did, but I don't. Might have to work on a way to conceal the seams a little.
For once a skirt is long enough on my girl without slipping down her hips to reveal a little, ahem, crack, a hundred times a day. She has declared it to be "the skating skirt" (skating is becoming a bit of an obsession here) and has twirled and rolled on the floor and she may or may not have slept in it last night and then carried on wearing it this morning. Now I'm eyeing a t-shirt pattern I have on hand as well (and fabric too, courtesy of my Mother in Law who had more faith in my sewing skills than I did and bought it for me ages ago).

Have you tackled knits? What's your favorite thing to sew with them (see, now I'm one of those obsessed converts!)

January 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Playdoh + Food Processor = Love

Peanut Butter Playdoh and I have had a long standing relationship. Long long ago, in a land far away, known as Missouri, Briton and I used to make it several times a week. He would sit up to the counter in his clip on booster chair, which I now cringe to think about (the counter was made of recycled bowling alley - see, we've always been a little odd int eh renovation department - and we installed it ourselves without any real knowledge of how to put in a countertop) rolling and cutting and making shapes while I snuck chunks of dough from the bowl to eat. And then after a while he could catch on the the fact that I was eating up his playdoh and would give up on playing and get down to eating. This was back in the day when I thought he was a picky eater and worried that he wasn't getting enough protein. Of course, now that I'm faced with miss "I only eat beige things" Evelyn, I know what a real picky eater is.
The good news is that peanut butter playdoh is beige-ish and we all still love it. What I don't love though, is mixing it. Sure I do it. But it's sticky, and hard to get really smooth unless you are willing to really get in there with some elbow grease. And frankly, I'm usually sneaking bites and deciding that it will do long before it gets to a really good consistency. Ah-ha, but that was before I got the beloved food processor.
Now, of course, this stuff is just a quick whiz away, which means that we have it around pretty much all the time. Which means I needed to make it a leeetle more healthy. Not that it was ever too terrible. I've always added rolled oats to it to help bulk it out and cut back a little on the sugar, but now we are going sugarless (there is still honey) and no one has noticed the difference. The trick, I think, is that I'm whizzing the dry milk and rolled oats together before adding the playground, chopping them into submission and creating more "dry" to go with the "wet" so the sugar isnt' missed consistency wise. And taste wise, well, I always though the original was a little too sweet. Hence the sneaking of chucks. It's almost candy in it's earlier form.
Just in case you don't have food processor or want to try it in it's sweeter form, here are the traditional proportions

1 cup of dry fat free milk
1 cup of sugar (I never used that much though, more like 1/2)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup honey (again, I rarely used this much, it depended on how dry the dough was that day)
optional - 1/2 cup of rolled oats

I generally add the milk, sugar, peanut butter and oats all at once and then add enough honey to make a good knead-able dough. If you get too sticky you can use more powdered milk as you would flour with regular dough.

Now for the healthier and faster version (highly recommended)

1 cup of dry fat free milk
1 cup of rolled oats
3/4 cup of peanut butter
4 T of honey (more or less)

Whizz the milk and oats to a fine powder and then add the peanut butter. Once that is combined, drizzle in the honey while the processor is on until it starts to form into a ball, just like with pie crust.

Just like with the original, use extra dry milk as you would flour if it's too sticky. Store any extra (this makes a good sized batch) in an airtight container in the fridge. Although you probably don't need to refrigerate it, I just tend to eat it if I see it, so into the fridge it goes. Out of sight , out of mind. Or at least I hope.

Do you have any food-play recipes? I think I might be able to branch out a little with Evelyn's food if it's part of her play. Any suggestions?

January 18, 2011

Sad Hat, Happy Hat

For the past four, no, almost five years, my go-to it's-freaking-cold-out-there hat has been an Irish Tam that Will's coworkers gave him as a going away gift when we moved back home from Dublin. Yes, you read that, they gave him the hat, but I claimed it. I couldn't help it! It's soft and warm and honestly, it looked better on me anyway. I dont wear it all the time. When the weather is not super cold, I have a whole array of hats that I like to rotate though. But once mid December hits and the house starts getting drafty so that I want a hat on all day, this is my work-a-day hat.
This winter though, I've noticed that my beloved hat has become a little, sad. For one thing, it's stretched out and so I spend an inordinate amount of time pushing it up out of my eyes. Which isn't very condusive to getting work done, but whatever, I can deal. But then there are the holes. Although I've lived a lot of my life in Oregon where moths are prevelant and wool is worn for a good chuck of the year (Will wore thick wool socks every day for the first two years he lived there, no joke, even in the summer!) I have never had anything end up with mothholes before now. There's something about Virginia I guess, but I'm finding little chewed through holes in a lot of my favorite wool things, this hat included.

After numerous comments from my husband, my mother in law, and my friends about the sorry state of my hat, I decided it was time to replace it. (Although I'll still have to keep the tam, sentimental value and all) I've been wandering around Ravelry for a few weeks looking for something that was just right, not the same kind of hat, but something warm and fun like it, and finally settled on a this pattern. Unfortunately when I knit it up it turned out to be too big and not very warm. Which led to the creation of the happy hat. It's warm and thick and I love the texture and it knit up in about two short sessions, which was good because my head was getting cold.
I used Tahki Montana for this hat. It's fast becoming my favorite yarn and I've already knit two pairs of mittens and Briton's Elf Hat out of it. This hat takes less than one full skein, including making the bobbles. If you can find it I highly recommend it, if not, I think any super bulky weight yarn would do.

So, once again, I'm no knitting designer, so forgive any mistakes or oddities. It's a pretty simple hat, though, so just go with it and see how it comes out.

Moss Stitch Bobble Hat (or The Happy Hat)

Yarn - Tahki Montana
Needles - US 10 1/2 straights or circulars, US 10 DPN's
Gauge - 2 1/4 sts per inch

Cast on 60 sts on size 10 1/2 needles. Work in double vertical moss stitch* until the piece measures 6 inches. Cast off and block to square up the corners and make sure the sides are straight.

*The best description I've heard of this is to knit the front in K1P1, then knit what you "see" when you flip it over (so P1 K1) then when you flip over again, switch it up and do the opposite of what you "see". So if you had 6 sts on your needle it would go
row 1 k1p1k1p1k1p1
row 2 p1k1p1k1p1k1
row 3 p1k1p1k1p1k1

This makes a double stitch going up but keeps the seed/moss look going across*

Wrap the band around you head so that it covers your ears and comes up over your eyebrows. It should overlap by about 1 inch and be fitted, but not tight. Pin it in place and remove. stitch the back side of the overlap together, using a yarn needle and scrap yarn, leave the rest of the flap pinned in place or tack down with a stitch or two.


Using the DPN's, pick up 40 sts around the top of the band and divide them evenly onto four needles.

Round 1 *K1P1* repeat to end
Round 2 *K1P1* repeat to end
Round 3 *K2tog, P1,K1,P1,K1,P1,K1,P2tog* repeat to end (each needle will have the same pattern)-32 sts
Round 4 *K1P1* repeat to end
Round 5 *K2tog, P1, K1, P1, K1 P2tog* repeat to end - 24 sts
Round 6 *K1P1* repeat to end
Round 7 *K2tog, P1, K1, P2tog* - 16 sts
Round 8 *K1, P1* repeat to end
Round 9 *P1, K1* repeat to end
Round 10 *K2tog* repeat to end - 8 sts
Round 11 *K2tog* repeat to end - 4 sts

Break yarn and pull through remaining sts to close. Tie off and weave in ends.


This yarn basically halfway between yarn and roving, it's very loose. So I decided to make bobbles out of it just as you would make felted beads.

Cut two 40 inch long pieces of yarn and pull each apart into smaller, open pieces. Wad them up into two roughly ball shaped lumps and get them a little wet. Now, squirt a little dish or hand soap into your hands and start rolling it gently. You have to use a very soft touch here or you'll end up with lumpy beads. And who wants lumpy beads, right? Keep on a rolling until the bead becomes fairly solid in your hand and doesn't soak up water when you run it under the tap. Once it's felted, pop it in a colander and pour boiling water over it to shock them into submission and allow them to dry before attaching to the hat. (Hint- I made the beads while the band was drying after being blocked so they were dry by the time the hat was ready for them!)

So there you go, the happy hat. If anyoen out there trys this, please email me photos of yours!

January 17, 2011


When I was growing up, Saturday morning was my favorite time of the week. I woke up before everyone else and had the house, and the TV, to myself, watching cartoons for an hour or two before the rest of my family ambled down for breakfast. I used to make a list the night before of all the cartoons I would watch, consulting the TV section from the paper starting at 6 am, just in case I happened to wake up that early, and going until 12, just in case everyone slept in that long. It never happened, but I liked to dream. Of course, now that I think about it, this may have been the beginning of my list making habits.
The other thing I loved about Saturday mornings was that it gave me a chance now and then to make breakfast in bed for my parents. Yes, yes, it sounds very thoughtful of me and luxurious for them, but I'm not sure they thought of it quite that way. For one thing, I wasn't allowed to use the stove (naturally) didn't understand the coffee maker and was pretty much limited to what I could make with a toaster or pull out of the fridge. This meant that there was a lot of cinnamon toast and "coffee" made with cold water and coffee grounds. Yum, right? But my parents, being my parents, dutifully choked down my early cooking attempts, or maybe then dumped the coffee into a plant while I wasn't looking, either way, I thought they loved it, so I kept at it.

My kids, for the most part, just aren't the go downstairs make yourself breakfast and watch TV kind of children. I've tried, really I have, but they usually feel the need to wake us up and tell us that they are awake and hungry and want to watch TV. They'll do it themselves, but they have to make sure they wake us all the way up first. Which, you know, is nice and all, but it would be nicer to get to sleep in.
So Saturday morning, when they let us sleep in a whole extra hour (heaven) and then came up to inform us that breakfast was ready, I figured I was in for some awful cold coffee payback time. However, unlike his mother who still can't really work a normal coffee maker, Briton had been paying attention to our years of french press coffee production and had actually made coffee. Weak coffee, but coffee none the less. He had also made a pot of tea and had sugared (liberally, very very liberally) a half of a grapefruit for me and loaded up a bowl of cereal and chocolate chips (a lot of chocolate chips) for his dad.

On the off chance that he decides to make this a regular thing, and it is in his genes to do it, somewhere, deep down, oh please let us get some nice sleeping in days, I taught him how to measure the coffee grounds and how much water to pour out of the electric kettle. Of course, the next morning was back to normal with me waking up nose to nose with Evie saying "MOM! I NEED some applesauce!" But, you know, it could happen.

January 14, 2011

Felt Rosettes, So Ridiculously Easy

So, as we know, I love fabric flowers. Felted wool, linen, daisies, carnations...whatever. I love them all. And as Evelyn seems to be ferreting them away somewhere, if the absence of flowers in my jewelry drawer is anything to go by, I'm always on the lookout for a new flower to make and wear. Earlier this week I made a little poppy hair clip for Evie for a column and I'll post a link to that tutorial when it comes out, but I wanted to share the how to on these rosettes because it's almost hilarious how easy they are.
The idea for these came out of a quilling article that I read while in line at the fabric store (gripping reading that!) I saw these little teeny paper rosettes and wondered if something similar couldn't be done with fabric, felt, in particular (no hemming for fraying). So home I went to try it. And yowzer, it worked.

You can make these out of those little sheets of felt but it's not the most fabric efficient way, you really only get one flower per sheet and have lots of scraps. But if you are only making one, well, that's the way to go. If you want to make several however, it's better to buy yardage of felt. It's also sometimes cheaper to buy 1/3 a yard of felt than to buy even one sheet if you hit a good sale.

Here's what you'll need:

1/3 yard of felt
bowl or plate, about 6-8 inches in diameter
fabric scissors
hot glue gun and glue sticks

OK, ready?

First, trace the plate or bowl onto the felt to create a few perfect circles and plug in your glue gun

Next, starting at the outside, cut the circle into a spiral strip about 1 inch wide, almost all the way to the center. When you get to the middle, leave about a 1 inch circle attached to the end of the strip.
Beginning with the outside end of the spiral, start rolling the strip tightly, like you are rolling up a cloth measuring tape. Once you've gone about 1 inch, dab a little glue onto the strip and roll on.
Continue to roll, not quite as tightly, dabbing glue on the fabric as you go, down near the inside edge of the strip. Keep the inner edge lined up and slightly tighter than the outer edge. The curve of the spiral will naturally create the rose shape.

Keep on rolling until you reach the end. Use that circle at the end to cover the bottom of the rosette.
So far I've made these roses into package decoration, hair clips, pins and have covered an entire foam wreath with them for Valentines Day. I'm thinking about cutting an oversized one of wool felt next and then running it through the wash before rolling to get a more wobbly, rustic flower. At least I think that's what will happen.

* Edited to add* Here's the tutorial for the poppy!

January 13, 2011

Derby Girl

Sometime during my childhood, I remember being told that my Grandmother had been a roller derby girl in her youth. At the time I didn't actually know what roller derby was but was aware that it was something cool, and it added to the mystique that was my Grandmother. She passed away when I was a baby and so everything I knew about her came in the form of stories. How she had sweet talked one of the guys who worked on the set of "Lassie" to give her one of the puppies (the one with a crooked noes, but still, Lassie's puppy) for her sons, how Raymond Burr loved her Meatloaf. How, as a child, she and her cousin Harry would wrap pennies in foil and try to pass them off as more valued coins. She chose to join the Royal Air Force at the start of World War Two because their uniform looked best on her. She was a code breaker, part of the landing crew for a famous group of planes, had all the Italian prisoner's of war in the camp she was at in Africa falling a little bit in love with her. So roller derby, whatever it was, was just one more interesting thing about her.

It wasn't really until I saw Whip It, that I really got what exactly Roller Derby was. I had two thoughts while watching it. One was "I can NOT believe my Grandma was doing THAT!" and at the same time "I can TOTALLY see my grandma doing that!"
It seems that after the war an American entrepreneur brought Roller Derby to the UK and recruited my grandmother who was already an avid roller skater and barrel jumper (what!) She was tall, big boned and a natural showman and I imagine also quite fierce on the rink. I wouldn't have wanted to face off with her, that's for sure.

I loved to skate when I was a kid. My daycare center took us two or three times a week during the summer and I loved every minute of it. But I haven't' skated in years. Actually, I think I can even say decades here. But when we drove past the old gymnasium down downtown last weekend to check on the open basketball times and found that it was actually open skating time, I couldn't resist.
Will and Briton decided to play basketball at home (in the freezing wind, crazy people!) so it was just Evie and I heading down to skate. She was surprisingly good for a four year old who had never skated and was wearing skates two sizes too large (I'm on the hunt for some adjustable ones for her) and was cheered on by a group of Derby Girls from our local team who were practicing while we were there.

No, no, this isn't a very long way of telling you that I'm going to join the Derby Dames, I think I'm past my prime there, but I will be getting Evie one of their "Future Derby Dame" shirts, because, you know, I think she just might be.

January 12, 2011

Evie's Doll, a Tutorial

** I've redesigned Eliza entirely for my new pattern company! Please come meet Eleanor!**
Her name is Eliza, unless, of course, Evie is in a name changing mood, in which case her name, and the names of all of her dolls, change by the minute. Most of the time though, she is Eliza. I'm not sure where she got that, maybe it's all the hours of listening to show tunes in which My Fair Lady plays a significant roll.
She goes most places that Evie goes these days. To school, to the library, to wherever- tucked under her arm or buckled into the seat next to her in the car, in their matching shiny red shoes, Evie's from one grandma and Eliza's from the other.

I've been meaning to post a tutorial for the doll I knitted for Evie for a while but my notes disappeared sometime over Chirstmas(ack!). Thankfully they turned up yesterday in Briton's backpack (why? Eight year old boys are such pack rats!) When I started this doll I had a pattern from Pick Up Sticks but that pretty quickly turned out not to be what I wanted. The head was too small proportionally for what I had in mind and even knitting it with bigger needles wasn't going to work. Instead I just started knitting and hoped for the best, changing things as I went until I ended up with a size I thought would work.

This doll needs to be lightly felted to work. The felting both fuzzes the increases and decreases on the head so they aren't noticeable and also allows you to stuff the head without ripping your knitting, the felting shrinks the knitting around the stuffing to create a tight, slightly weighted head and body, much like a Waldorf doll.

*Edited to add*
Yay! The Eliza pattern has been published in the Winter 2012 issue of Living Crafts Magazine. You can purchase a digital copy of the magazine here! Have fun knitting!

Make the hair:
Find a book about 5 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Wrap the hair colored yarn around until you have a solid layer about 5 inches across. Cut a strip of masking tape long enough to tape across all the yarn on the binding side of the book.
Cut along the opposite edge of the book from the tape to create a flat layer of yarn strips with tape down the center. You'll need to create two of these and a third smaller one if you want a side part.

With your sewing machine, stitch down the center of the tape on each piece of the "wig".
Remove the tape and, using the yarn needle, sew one of the larger "wig" pieces down the center of the head. Stitch small bunches of hair around the base of the neck, starting closer to the "ears and working down around the back.

Sew the second layer of the "wig" over the first, without stitching down the back. Setting the smaller piece just off center to create a side part, sew this in place as well. Trim the hair to an even length.

Most 18 inch doll clothes and doll clothes patterns will fit this doll so you can hunt around for clothes and patterns or just jump in and make some simple clothes on your own. Have fun!

January 11, 2011

Bathroom Progress (Hint, There Hasn't Been Any!)

No, really, not anything. Will and I went and stood in the bathroom for about ten minutes on Saturday and then, after watching the dog walk in circles a few times trying to figure out how to get out, we shut the door and went on to other things. Some time I'll tell you how many times I said "oh shit!" when I was putting in the tile floor. It was a lot. A LOT. And probably part of the reason it's been left undone for all these weeks. But now I'm past that and ready to get going again. Except we can't.
Here's the problem. And I'll admit straight away that it's all me. I want this sink. It's not even a specific sink, it's a specific kind of sink. I want an old fashioned, cast iron, slightly school bathroom looking hang-on-the-wall sink. Why? I don't know, I just do! I want something that I can paint the underside the same color as the wall so that the white of the beadboard and the sink and toilet and mirror frame and the tile are a little broken up. And now that the idea is in my head, well, I can't seem to let it go.

It's not that we can't find the sink either. We did find one. For $20 at the Habitat Store, which is a total deal considering the alternative is a pedestal which will run us closer to $100. The problem is that the sink is so freaking heavy. And Will is freaked out a little about trying to hang it up. Well, he's more freaked out about it falling down if we don't do it right. And I get that. But they wouldn't make wall mounted sinks if it weren't possible to install them, right?

So I've been doing a little research and it seems that we can put bracing between the studs where the sink will hang and then attach a bracket onto the bracing and all will be good. Yes? No. Because we have already hung the beadboard over the place where the bracing will need to be. So in order to have my sink we have to pull off that piece of beadboard, which Will is convinced will break necessitating a replacement sheet of beadboard. Now to my mind, this isn't so bad. For one thing, we can re-drill the holes for the pipes and do it a little neater this time since we were a tad off before. Plus it will give Will the chance to use both his NEW air compressor stapler thing AND his favorite tool, the Sawzall (did I ever tell you that I went for years thinking it was called a Za-Za? That Texas accent man, it's not there often but when it pops up I can hardly understand the guy! It wasn't until I saw the actual tool that I got it) So this should be a good thing. But anything that requires a return trip to Lowes bums us both out. And so we do nothing.

Our choices are to
a) suck it up and do what we really want to do (ok, what I really want to do) or
b) go with a pedestal sink which can be found down the road at the Habitat Store. Easy Peasy. Normally I like pedestal sinks the best, but for some reason I just don't want one in this case. Sigh.

In the meantime we can't caulk the seams or paint the beadboard or put the toilet back in because the piece of beadboard in question is kind of central to the bathroom. It's a stalemate folks. I'm on the verge of just going with the pedestal, which I'm sure will look nice and which we won't have to worry about when the kids are in there messing around in the water and hanging on the sink like monkeys. The only thing that keeps me convinced that we should go for the wall sink is that, during the kitchen renovation we waited for what we wanted (except for the faucet which we just bought and which I hate. SEE!) and we ended up with a kitchen we love. Now, I wont go so far to say that we will love a bathroom. I mean, it's a bathroom. Not even a bathroom, it's a powder room. It's so small the dog gets stuck in there. But I would like to have a bathroom that I don't walk into and think "humm, when we renovate this again...." because that would suck.

So, what do you think? Hold out or give in?

January 9, 2011

One Thing

For the past three new years, I've debated with myself over whether or not to go all digital calender wise. And with each year I get a little closer to ditching the paper calender altogether, but I can't quite commit to it. I love the fact that it dings at me, sends me alerts and otherwise shakes into realizing that I have to be somewhere that day. I like that I can enter something once and have it repeat every 1,2 or 4 weeks, which saves me a lot of work entering things over and over. I like that it's on my phone, which means it's always with me, instead of lying forgotten on my desk. I love all of that. But when it comes down to it, I'm a list girl. And not a digital list girl. I'm a jot things down, sketch them out, physically cross them off the list kind of girl.
About halfway through last year I ditched my paper calender for everything except my chores list and started toting around blank books for all my to-dos, reminders and ideas and left the rest to the digital calender. And it worked, mostly. But after looking through the pages of my various blank books from the year I realized that I've been writing the same basic lists every week. Work to-do, home to-do, the week's menu and a slap dash little calender so that I could look at the whole week at once and know what the plan was. Other than the fact that I spent a chuck of every Monday rewriting all of this, I liked it, but having something ready for me would have been nicer.

So now it's time to make that "what calender" decision again. Ok, that time was a few weeks ago, but I can't find anything that's right for me. Maybe my brain works differently than most people because there is nothing out there for the "just need a little weekly calender and then have lots of room for lists" crowd. I was tempted by an Orla Kiely one because, well, because it was beautiful, but when will pointed out that it was tiny and had no space whatsoever for lists, I decided against. It was pretty though...

For now my notebook is holding up but it's pages are numbered and I have a feeling that it's not going to seem like 2011 until I go though my annual ritual of divvying up annual and monthly chores through the weeks and transferring birthdays and special dates in the hopes that this year I will get it together to send cards.

This is my mission for the week. To get my calender ready, which means I need to get myself a calendar, pronto. And unless something magically appears while I'm downtown this morning, well, I think I might just have to make one, if I can figure out templates on that program that used to be called Pagemaker when I was in college but has a different name now which I can't seem to remember. Oh, InDesign. That's it. I just looked on Will's computer. So, yes, if I can figure that out, then I guess I can just make one that fills all my requirements and have it printed and bound. Part of me wants to try out a DIY leather calender that arrived in my inbox via good old Martha, but for sanity sake and because I'm not sure where I could find some nice leather that wouldn't break the bank, I'm thinking of letting the good folks at Lulu.com do the job.

What do you do? Are you all digital or are you still a paper person? Have you found the perfect calender? Any recommendations before I spend my day in template land?

One Thing
A Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!

So, what will you be up to this week?

January 6, 2011

Rockin and Rollin

The slippers are BACK (well, mine) After a few hours of work with the needle felter thing my slippers are back in action, and, actually more comfortable since the bottoms are three times thicker. Nice and squishy and warm! And we need warm since it's been chilly here. Poor Californian Grandma and Texan Mother in law, both visiting during the coldest part of the year here.
Having been without the slippers for a few days while they were being repaired makes me feel doubly bad about Will's slippers. Especially since I took apart the ones he had to put together the ones I made, so now he has none. I feel like I better get knitting to make up for it.

But back to the felting, I'm sure I could look this us somewhere but I prefer to ponder and throw this out into the ether. It's very cool, and a little stress releasing, to punch the needles through the felt and come out with nice, thick material. But who figured that one out? What crazy Northern European (because it would have had to be someone cold, and around sheep, so I'm going to guess Scotland, or Ireland? Just a guess though) figured out that you could stick a barbed needle through layers of wool and get nice thick felt? And where did they get barbed needles from (a plant maybe, if so, nasty plant) I'm just saying, it's pretty crazy when you think about it. But thank goodness they did because I don't think I could have face knitting another round of endless knitting of the giant boots.

January 5, 2011

Slipper Malfunction

We are having serious slipper issues hereabouts. And as I'm the resident slipper maker, well, I guess we know who's fault it is.

The first problem is what might be called catastrophic slipper failure. Will's slipper socks, the very first Christmas gift I finished knitting but farted around when it came time to actually attaching them to the slipper soles and finally did a few days after Christmas DO NOT FIT. Ugg. FAIL! I was so careful to make them long enough to fit his freakishly gargantuan feet but forgot to make the ankle wide enough for said giant foot to make teh critical turn into to. HE can get them on, but only just. ANd sicne they were knit from the top down I have to rip out pretty much the whole freaking thing and start over. I don't have enough of the yarn I used to just start new ones, but since Briton's turned out so well with the soft worsted yarn I used, I may just bag the pair I made for Will and begin again with different yarn. And now that I think about it, I could probably take out the toes and just shorten them for me, I do love wool socks. But still. Uggg.
Which brings us to slipper malfunction number two. My slippers (the kids are still going strong and worn every day, yay!) have holes in them already. Yes, my thick, took-forever-to-knit-practically-killed-my-hands-felting-them slippers. Holes. In both feet.

Ok, so I wore them outside. A lot. And I wear them pretty much all day every day. So, you know, it's not totally the slipper's fault. When I knit the pattern I wondered why the upper part of the slipper had two layers, one of which was knit out of bulky yarn making the felted version really really thick while the sole was just one layer of worsted. But whatever, I trusted the pattern. And to be fair, the patten did suggest adding small leather pads to the balls and heels of the feet. But I didn't want to sew them on because, well, I wanted to get wearing them and stop freaking working on them.

So now they are in need of serious repair because I love them. LOVE them. They are so warm and cozy and yes, a little funny looking. So it's a good thing my grandma is here because she has just started in on needle felting and we've come up with a plan.
Yesterday I bought 1/3 a yard of 100% wool felt (I could have gotten felt with a lower wool content for a lot less but I wanted it to felt up really thick so I went whole hog) and then threw it in the wash. When it came out it was, indeed, super thick and I cut out two soles and four smaller circles for the balls of the feet and the heels. The plan is to felt on the sole and heel patches for reinforcements and then add the whole sole piece for a thicker, all-over bottom. Of course I broke her brand new felting needle on the third punch in (ahhhh!) so it hasn't gotten very far but at least the pieces are felted and cut and a replacement set of needles, as well as one for me, has been found at the nearest Hobby Lobby. So tonight my feet were cold but hopefully tomorrow, or maybe the next day, the dreamy slippers will be resoled again. Yipee!
I'm quite eager to try out some needle felting actually, provided I don't continue to break the needles that is, and I'd like to try out a few new projects using roving and needles. Anyone out there tried it before? Words of wisdom?