Friday, December 26, 2014

Sloe Gin Fizz

I have a dirty addiction - the BBC's historical re-enactments. I've watched historians recreate farms from every era, I'll stalk Dr. Lucy Worsley in anything she does, there's even a show which has Edwardian cooking tips. There goes your afternoon, you're welcome!

While watching the Victorian Farm series, I watched Ruth put together a few bottles of Sloe Gin, traditionally made with blackthorn drupes. She placed it in the pantry for the upcoming Christmas season. If there's two things I like it's foraging and booze!

Unfortunately, here in the western U.S. there is a lack of hedgerows with wild plums in them. Fortunately there is a decorative plum in my front yard! It's got rich purple leaves and bark, and makes small red plums. Not quite the same, but a decent stand in.

I put my small harvest in a jar, covered it in good local gin, and a shake of sugar. Traditional recipes call for a lot of sugar, and I prefer my cocktails less sticky. Plus, watching my weight or something..

The photo above was taken Oct. 1st, this is the end of December, nearly three months! A rich red color and fantastic fruity aroma has occured. It looks really good against that backdrop of fresh fallen snow don't it?

Now, for a Sloe Gin Fizz. A good cocktail must have at least three ingredients - mine has the infused gin, sparkling water, and lime. A Fizz is traditionally done with a whipped egg white, but I am lazy  I wanted to experience the full flavors of the gin.

Full measure of both, on top of ice, squeeze of lime, stir with a knitting needle.

Go outside into the snowy afternoon and enjoy the drink and the sparkling of the sun on the flakes.

Some research shows that sugar is an important ingredient for the chemistry of the whole mess, so I added a bit more and stuck it back in the pantry to infuse more. While it is totally awesome and delicious right now, I was hoping for a fruitier flavor. (I used good Gin, so it's hard to lose, really.) I'll crack it again in January and see how it's doing! Until then, I'll just have to drink mead...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gnomes Part III - Boots

For my army of little woolen gnomes, I'm trying outfit them for a cold winter. Woolen tunics, warm hats, fuzzy leggings, and of course nice leather boots to keep little feet warm and dry!

I rounded up some scraps of leather, I tried to use thin leather so I won't need to poke holes before sewing.
 I used a simple baby bootie pattern and scaled it down. There's a little foot shaped base, and a strip of leather long enough to go around it, with mitered corners. I stitched around the edge of the bottom, then stitched up the front where the two edges meet.
 For extra awesomeness be sure to have each flap cross a different direction, a matching pair!

I stuffed them with a little bit of wool and sewed them onto the bottoms of felted legs. I'm worried that they won't stay all that well, but so far it's working...
My gnomes can stand now! Next step - "Look Ma, No Hands..." (They need little mittens! I have decided against knitting itty-bitty mitts with lace thread and 00 needles.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Blessed Yule!

This weekend was a full 48 hours of lighting fires in the darkness, making an unholy racket, and praising the sun!

The word Yule (or Jul as it's often spelled) is from the same root as "yell". The ancients seem to have gathered at sunrise after the longest night of the year to make a ruckus and wake up the Sun, lest she slip further beyond the horizon. So remember, carols should be sung at top volume and with much drumming and jingling of bells!

No matter which holiday you celebrate, may it be full of light and love!

And if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your endless sunlight you rascals...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Five Awesome Upcycling Projects for Sewers

 I am always on the lookout for good ways to make use of old materials. Unmatched buttons, bits of fabric, broken zippers and old notions. The best of the goods get rolled into my upcycled bags, but let's face it. I have a lot of fabric. A. Lot. 

So here's a sampling of good ways to upcycle those crafty bits, like into something exciting! Like purdy hangers, good for those of us with exposed closet spaces. Also, slippery clothing won't fall off.
From Corrieberry Pie
Or a cute little tree! Perfect for lonely little buttons, and that neat wood spool! (Let's not talk about how many empty spools I have in the craft room...)
From Kitsch and Curious
 Several ways to use old zippers? Yes please! I have an alarming number of busted zippers, and plenty of nice metal ones are available from the fly of old pants.
From Passion Make on Instructables.
Mmmmmm, little wee scraps! Stitching onto paper to give fabric a new life and purpose, and trees! (I really like trees, in case you didn't know.) One could of course branch out into any designs that suit the message... but trees are the best.

From Stitched in Color
 And here's the most practical of upcycling projects for the seamstress - a sewing kit! I find that us four-eyes tend to accumulate old glasses, and as I donate old frames I often keep the case, now I know why. See, just planning! I'm totally not a hoarder...
From Tea Rose Home
Now get out there and re-make cool things!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gnomes Part II - Old Man Eyebrows

 I've been stitching up dozens of little shirts for my gnome project, and after all that small tedious work it's time to stab something!

These are the heads for the gnomes, needle felted for maximum cute. I start out by needle felting a ball of skin colored wool roving (pale if you please, these are men of the far north!) into a roughly spherical shape. I make it a little more boxy and oval as I add details. At this stage it's not super densely packed.

I add the shaping of a face, first the indents for eyes, then the line of the mouth. Connect them with lines around the nose spot. I felted the sides down to make the cheeks round and full, and the brows fairly stuck-out. I then rolled up a very small ball and added that as a nose.

At that point it's time to add details - two little eyes in brown or green. A beard is made from Wensleydale curly locks in white or grey, and the shorter bits make some hair. The fluffy eyebrows are what make these little old men... well... old. (Sorry Dad, but you could shade your eyes with those brows of yours!)

There's no need for hair on top of the head, the tomté's wee red hat will cover it all, and keep them from being accidentally eaten by a friendly critter. Next step will be to put them all together with felted leggings, wee mittens, and leather boots! Stay tuned... same gnome time, same gnome channel.