February and March were very busy months for me, I worked on a lot of different projects, some of which were completed, and I’ll go over in my Finished Object Roundup. But first I’ll give the update on the Yo-Yo Quilt—still working on the top with only 8 tiles to go!
The first thing I made in February was this delicate beaded yarn, which I wrote about and actually made a video about too, so I won’t go on about it.
I continued my natural dyeing explorations with cherry, onion, red cabbage, pomegranate, and spinach on cotton fabric. I also branched out into dyeing wool roving (with red cabbage). I pre mordanted the wool in tannins and mordanted in alum, the same as I do with my cotton fabric, however, the color did not saturate very heavy on the wool. I’m interested in trying roving again with a different dye material, but I’m also interested in using acid dyes. I have used those before with yarn, but I’d like to see how it works with roving.
Before I dyed my wool roving, I had to premordant and mordant it. For the mordant, (second,) I did my usual alum soak, and for my premordant, (first,) I did my usual tannin soak (which is a many step process). First step, gather materials with tannins. Sometimes I do pine needles. However, when I tried them this time, I remembered there are actually better sources of tannin in my daylily spent leaves. So I added in some of them, and some spent Iris leaves too (for good measure). Second step, take this time as an opportunity to do some basketry (Possum, my cat, helped). Third, when done basketing, remove the rest of the material to dry, and go ahead and soak your material to be dyed. I let it soak for 24 hours, then let it dry thoroughly before going ahead and mordanting, then after 24 hours, again let it dry completely before the dye process.
In getting ready for selling at farmers markets, I did dye up some yarn with acid dye, in turquoise (and overdyed with Copenhagen blue), in a dark green and turquoise (overdyed In purple), and in magenta and violet (overdyed in purple).
I got to some knitting, finishing my very own Hermione’s Everyday Socks in Jems Luxe Fiber’s Texas Wildflowers, accented with what is seeming to be my favorite, Malabrigo Washted Fortaleza. I liked the cast on number that I went with (56), and think after wearing them for a bit, I could go even smaller. I have a whole lot of fun knitting on double pointed needles, and honestly can’t wait to do more socks.
After my socks, I focused on a new hat for myself, I did both as birthday presents to myself, and was really happy that I did. It’s nice to treat yourself for your birthday, and why not have a dual purpose gift? The feeling of accomplishment as well as the item. I did another Hat For Joy hat pattern—this time one section smaller (on accident) but it just fits different. My first hat is pretty big and slouchy, and this one ended up a close fitting beanie. I think I could go even fluffier on my yarn poms. This time around, the pattern was much more in my mind, and it took less brain power (and since it was smaller, less time!) I loved the colors I went with; a cobalt, Ziggy Stardust from Miss Babs, and Malabrigo Fortaleza again, and for the body, Miss Babs Smurf and Turf in their sparkle base, Estrelita.
I explored a little more into my pagan craft (I am exploring pagan practices through my January’s book club book, Sacred Actions: Sustainability through the Wheel of the Year. A common Imbolc or Candlemas ritual is making candles. Two of the common candles made are a blue or black weather candle (to be lit during storms) and a red woman’s candle, for fertility. I decided to make these two (though, I haven’t lit the weather one yet, and don’t expect to light my woman’s candle for some time ahead. They are both sitting on my Matriarch’s Altar.)
For my Ostara, or Spring Equinox celebrations, I did a little more candle making with sun eggshell candles. I made a little hole in two eggs blew out the contents of them, and set them where they stood straight up. For some reason I had a cutting board out, and the handle was absolutely perfect for this. So I got out another cutting board that had the same style of handle, and my eggs were perfectly held up. I melted some beeswax in a plastic cup in my dye pot—still planning on getting a pot from goodwill for beeswax use only. The plastic cup was 1000 times better than cans, because I could hold it with my fingers rather than pliers. I added turmeric and calendula petals, which were really on theme and gave a much more natural look than crayons. I’ve come to the conclusion that beeswax pellets are probably the better option for melting, rather than a brick (which I smashed apart with a hammer on my garage floor.) After a really long time melting, I placed a wick in each egg, and carefully poured in the wax. Lessons learned, don’t poke a hole in the bottom of the egg as well as the top. The wax will pour right out that hole until it hardens. (I did that with the first egg, but not the second, which worked much better.) Let harden, and gently break the eggshell off, trim wicks and they’re ready to go! Now, my eggs had a bit of membrane that left the bottom of the candle flat. If yours come out rounded at the bottom, melt the bottom a little in your beeswax pot.
Also for the pagan holiday Ostara, I did a little magic weaving with some foraged willow, I made a hoop and warped around it in preparation for some circular weaving. I spun a little thick-and-thin, spring green yarn on my louet drop spindle, and wound it onto a knitting needle to use as a weaving bobbin. I’m not completely done with the weaving, but I’m kind of extending my Ostara celebration until May, when we hit Beltane.
And finally, I started making prototypes of little quilted bags to sell at the markets. The end goal is to use hand dyed fabric, but while I’m figuring it all out, I’m using some fabric I bought—chicken fabric! I did my best to match the pattern so the chickens look good on the actual bag. The whole thing was really a learning process, and there were several key takeaways. Make the snap button bigger, make the flap longer, make the seam allowances bigger, match the pattern more closely on the width panel.
That’s all for now! Let me know what you’re working on, any type of craft, or recipe, or whatever you’re proud of. I’d love to hear! Blessings, blessings, AugustLee
Homemade vanilla is so easy! My Aunt Terry made some for our family a few Christmases ago, and ever since then, I have felt so spoiled with my “real vanilla” at hand. And the upkeep is simple too! Anytime I wanted a refill, all it took was to refill with plain vodka, shake, and wait a few days to a few weeks for it to reach the strength I like.
The way vanilla is started is simply by splitting a vanilla bean or two open and putting it in a bottle with plain vodka.
Anytime it starts to get weak, I just swap out and add a new vanilla bean, and it has lasted years.
It is price effective for the amount of time making your own vanilla will last, and I have found that making things myself gives me a really special feeling and a healthy pride in the work and artistry I put into my kitchen. Magic!
A food roundup from February and March
As a quick roundup of February and March, I thought I would talk about the new recipes I tried. Cooking has been a big activity of mine so far this year. In a move to be healthier by eating less fast food, but also less processed foods from frozen meals all the way to little things, like crackers and chips. Not only are these not the healthiest in general—fried food, things with a lot of sugar, but they also have a host of preservatives that I would never use in my food, and I bet you wouldn’t reach for those ingredients either. So, it just makes a lot of sense to make my own food.
One recipe that is less new (I found it in September 2022) but I haven’t talked about yet, is Cider Brined Pork Chops. I’ve tinkered with the recipe a bunch and tried some different techniques, but every time it turns out amazing. It is relatively easy, although it does take a little bit of planning, as it is best to marinate or brine the chops for 24 hours before pan searing. With my latest addition to the recipe, adding oranges to the cider brine, the flavor is intense and complex and mouth watering. Highly recommend.
Another recipe I tried, as mentioned previously was a cracker recipe, or rather two different ones.
With my first go at it, I was aiming to make a cheese-it type cracker, and started by attempting to dehydrate some cheese. That, however, was a big mess, and was hard to clean, and did not produce the desired effect at all. The cheese was melted from the heat, and oily all over, but it did cut. From there I both sprinkled it on top of crackers (I had premade the dough, rolled it out on a floured surface, and cut it out with cookie cutters) and also mixed some in with the second half of the dough. The cheese mixed into the dough ended up better, because with the cheese-topped crackers, the cheese crumbled everywhere.
I liked the second cracker recipe better, as the crackers puffed up. With one batch I mixed in rosemary, and with the second I mixed in shredded cheese. Again, rolled out thin on a floured surface—the key was to flour often, at least once each section of dough. The dough batch made a lot, so I only rolled out a little at a time. On the parchment paper, I spritzed the cut outs with water and sprinkled salt on top. After a day of work, I had a box full, and they were delicious. However, I don’t know if it was the cracker recipe, or the storage method, but the crackers became stale within four days.
I also enjoyed my crackers with homemade edamame hummus.
In my quest to use what I have already in my freezer, I thawed out a mystery roast, which I think in the end was a pork loin, rubbed it in fajita seasoning I had in the pantry that needed to be used, covered it in lime slices, laid it over a bed of cherry tomatoes and onions, and roasted it.
I love getting packs of frozen berries and using them for smoothies with other frozen things, juices, and yoghurt. For this one, I utilized the berries and a superfood pack with açaí berry mix, aloe Vera slices, strawberry kefir, and cranberry juice. Tart and delicious.
I tried two different bread recipes; one from King Arthur flour for yeast bread, and the other a no-knead bread from Melissa K Norris. While the King Arthur recipe was easier to work, the Melissa K Norris recipe was not only more flavorful, but also more beautiful—albeit harder to handle.
I only made the Melissa K Norris dough once, as it makes three loaves’ worth, and thus let the dough rest for two days, and seven days respectively. By the seventh day, the dough I baked made the most flavorful and delicious loaf—almost sourdough flavor—we ate it immediately.
Something Momma and I tried over the holidays was Shaker Lemon Pie. We had it first at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, and then I tried my own hand at making it the week of Christmas 2022. When I made it, the lemon peels ended up quite chewy. I had marinated the peels in sugar for 8 hours, but it wasn’t enough. In addition, I learned not to put too much filling in the pie crust, as it will spill over. So, I learned some things. I gave it another go this month, and marinated the lemons for a full 24 hours, and was much happier with the results. Additionally, I split the filling into two crusts, and had two very nice pies. Perfect for sharing. Right now, as I write, I have a special shaker lemon pie filling going In the fridge—30 hours now, to be baked at 48 hours, with a homemade crust.
I have been perfecting my mashed potatoes recipe for the last few months, and tried this time with purple potatoes, which made the most gorgeous lavender colored mash. I always leave the skin on, as it contains wonderful vitamins and nutrients. I’ll have to share my recipe!
The latest roast chicken!
We had been hankering for some deserts, so I pulled up a random chocolate chip cookie recipe. Usually I’m not too picky about recipes, I always end up altering them anyways. With this recipe, I decided to sift the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar longer than usual, and to let the dough rest after it had been incorporated, as I had with the cracker dough and my bread doughs. It made the fluffiest, softest cookies I had ever had, changing forever my views on the dough making process. Definitely skills to reuse.
I took those skills and put them into making a pumpkin bread, which turned out spongy and soft and velvety, the best yet, proving my point.
At the end of the month, we had a lot of blooms in our community including Japanese maples, dandelions, and violets. I made a collection of different foraged treats—pickled magnolia buds, magnolia syrup, dandelion jelly, and violet syrup. A lot of the online sources seem to say it is hard to get the violet color with the syrup, but I found it very simple. I just made a tea with the petals, and let it sit for 30 hours before making the syrup. The color was rich.
With both the violets and the dandelions, the prep took a very long time and was extremely tedious. It took me trial and error to find the best way to pick out the dandelion petals, (scooping them out of the center of the flower, outward) and the violets made so little progress with each flower although it was less difficult than the dandelion.
More recipes will be coming soon as I actually write down what I do, stay tuned, and blessings!
Cream together for 5 minutes:
Add to creamed butter and sugar:
Add dry ingredients to creamed, spoonful by spoonful until totally incorporated.
At this time you can add 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I like the Enjoy Life mini chips), or craisins (or both).
Let batter rest 40 minutes
Preheat Dutch oven at 325 F
Grease and flour Dutch oven (I like the combination with the product “Bakers’ Joy”)
Add batter, and sprinkle with
Bake 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean crumb and not gooey. Let sit 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy with yoghurt and maple syrup for a hearty meal.
Disco Chicken of Love
sTate fair ready!
seed starting 2019
ky state fair quilt
A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.