Using Up Yarn Scraps

I went to sleep after a lovely sunny day of working in the garden and pleasant outdoor time with my kids, in full expectation of doing some of the same tomorrow – but woke up to sounds of rolling thunder. This means a day of staying cozy inside, reading, many cups of tea and cocoa and, of course, crafts.

Speaking of which, pop over to read my latest Mother Earth News post, full of ideas on using up those little odds and ends of yarn that you surely have in your stash:

“If you are an avid knitter or crocheter like I am, you will inevitably at some point end up with a stash of scrap yarn, left over from various projects, which you cannot bear to throw away. Fear not, however – those little odds and ends can be used in a variety of creative ways which will leave your craft cabinet looking a lot more orderly.”

 

I’m hooked!

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When the weather is cold, cozy cuddly yarn projects are a wonderful way to keep busy while options for outdoor exercise are limited. I’m now working on a vest made from alpaca wool blend – I love the warm natural feel of it. I will be sure to share the final product with you when I’m done, and then I have some lovely thin mohair in my yarn stash I can’t wait to work with.

Since I’m really pleased with how I keep my hands busy at times when I would otherwise be fiddling with my phone (and I really mean fiddling – with no good purpose), and since I don’t want to go on a long crocheting break when the weather gets warmer, I’ve also ordered some lighter cotton yarn suitable for warm weather, and have some very cool ideas I’d love to try.

You know what I’d really love to do, though? Learn to spin wool. I do hope I get a chance to do that someday.

Busy as bees

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Lately, I challenged myself: instead of fiddling with my phone whenever I have a spare moment, what if I whip out the crochet hook and work on some little project? The result: surprisingly quickly, I completed this adorable (if I do say so myself) tiny dress for Hadassah. It’s made of yak wool blend and is very soft to the touch, cozy and warm.

I didn’t follow an exact pattern, but I can say that I started working from the waist up on the front half, then went back to work from the waist down on the skirt, and in the end stitched front and back halves together on the sides.

Also take a look at this latest little video on my YouTube channel: honeybees busy at work on the mustard flowers in our garden. With a nice sunny spell, we’ve finally been able to do some weeding (not enough) and planting (somewhat haphazardly).

 

Writing with my children

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The exciting day is here! Dragon Diplomacy, my first Middle Grade novel, is available in print and on Kindle, to my immense joy and satisfaction.

Let’s face it, with how little time I have, writing is often a guilty pleasure for me, and I go back and forth a lot on how long I can allow myself to spend it without neglecting my family. This book, however, had a different birth process. It was written with my children’s active contribution, and the reading aloud of each chapter was beautiful family time I can fondly look back on. We also drew the characters and made maps (not included in the book) and thought of ideas for sequels (working on that now).

The most important lessons I learned from writing this book are probably, 1) Kids love dragons, and 2) Kids are a brutally honest audience. My daughters had no qualms to say, “this is boring” or “change the ending”. I followed their advice, of course. What choice did I have? 

Cold process soap: an introduction

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I’m on a soap-making roll! These cuties were made using a combination of wheat germ and almond oil, and enriched with rosemary and mint essential oils for a fresh, invigorating smell. They are supposed to be very gentle on the skin, and I can’t wait to try them.

For a detailed introduction to making cold process soap, read my Mother Earth News post:

“Many people approach soap-making as a creative venture or micro business of its own, and stock up on supplies specifically for this purpose. For me, it was more about using up old oils that were not much good for anything else, whether it’s non-food-grade olive oil we had tried to use for lighting but couldn’t because it smoked, coconut oil that had gotten an off taste from sitting on the shelf too long, or almond massage oil left over from my first pregnancy a decade ago. I love the satisfaction of putting something to good use rather than throwing it away!”

 

Bright and cheery

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I just love how bright and cheery the garden looks after some heavy rains and with a nice bit of sunshine and warmth. Yes, the tomatoes are actually blooming! It feels like spring.

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The garlic is growing at amazing speed too. The fresh green leaves are delicious in salads.

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Almond tree in full bloom – quite seasonable for the month of Shvat in Israel.

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This gorgeous little fellow was darting to and fro among the flowers, and I managed to capture it during a moment of rest.

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Beautiful winter roses. What can be prettier?

Making Coconut Oil Soap

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You guys know how I love to make something out of nothing – or, at any rate, something useful out of something useless, right?

I had some very old coconut oil that had clearly outlived its fitness for human consumption. This gave me the all-clear for doing something I had wanted to try for a while: making coconut oil soap. Coconut oil is pricey, so I wouldn’t use it for soap when if we can eat it.

Unlike the previous time I had tried my hand at soap-making, I now have a digital kitchen scale, which made it a lot easier to follow this simple recipe. I also added a few drops of rosemary essential oil for a refreshing scent.

I used the cute little silicone molds I also use for candles. In the photo above, you can see my freshly unmolded pure coconut oil soap bars, which are now set to cure on a rack on top of my kitchen cabinets. I can’t wait for them to get ready so I can use them.