Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recycling & Dyeing Yarn

I'm never going to be able to afford nice yarn, end of story. Even if I had money after paying the rent and bills, I'd feel like a horrible human being paying $8 for less than 100 yards of yarn just because it's supposedly "luxury."

So I've decided to start recycling and dyeing yarn. Maybe selling some of it, as well as personal use.

Here we go...

Found a man's XL sweater made of 80% lambswool and 20% acrylic. Probably between sport and fingering weight. As often as I've heard people comment on the internet that only yarns worsted and bulkier make it through the recycling process well, this yarn did pretty remarkable. Especially for a first attempt.

Then we start ripping out the seams to separate the pieces and unraveling the yarn.

Made a homemade diddy doddy to measure the yarn out of an unused desk shelf and pens. Not the best choice because the plastic pens do tend to bend inward a bit if the yarn is wrapped too tight. But my only option at 4 in the morning. I'm sure our neighbor appreciated the use of power tools at this time.

And yes... Sakura is fascinated by this entire process. She was right there for all the action and I couldn't get her out of the pictures.

After measuring out the yarn, pre-wash and de-curlifying.


Hanging out to dry, stretched.

We have very few spots in our apartment that are good for stretching drying yarn. So I had to improvise a bit and move the semi-dry yarn out of the way as I continued to wash.

On to dyeing!

My Publix is lame and only carries Cherry, Grape, and Lemonade Kool-Aid.

Dyeing... drying... and done. Pretty red mix. When the water was clear of the red, I scattered in part of a purple packet and let it settle where it wanted. This made parts of it darker red.

Dyeing... drying... and done. Red/purple mix.

Dyeing... drying... this one is still kind of damp because it's much more yardage than the other two. It turned out really light, so I'm not sure if I should re-dye it or keep it.

So out of a man's XL sweater that cost me $6.99 at the Salvation Army, I got 2200+ yards of yarn that is perfect for shawls, scarves, etc. It's separated into about 10 skeins ranging from 100 to 400 yards a piece.

While this process isn't exactly rocket science, it does take a lot of time and can be tedious. Fortunately we watch a lot of late night movies and I'm fascinated by this process... so I think I'll carry on doing it.

Curse Florida and it's lack of a good sweater selection in thrift stores. Most of the finds are cotton or acrylic, this was a really rare find.

Friday, January 22, 2010

baking and bathtime

I've been messing around with cookie recipes lately. Let's be honest... making cookies from scratch is so much more satisfying than the open-package-pop-in-oven kind. Those are tasty, too, and great if you're a busy person with small children that need instant appeasing... but I'm a pretty devoted fan to sticking my hands in things and getting messy.

And if you ask my mother or Alex or, well, just about anyone that has baked or gardened or crafted with me, I am the queen of getting messy. At 19 years of age, I managed to paint something without getting anything on my clothes for the first time ever.

But the other night I made some damn good cookies from a recipe I made up.

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

2 1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup of shortening
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 - 2 cups of oats, depending on preference
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Mix together WITH YOUR HANDS. Glop on cookie sheets, bake in 375 degrees F oven for 12 - 13 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies, but I've been told my cookies are big. Just remember... the bigger your cookies, the fewer cookies you have to admit you ate.

Variations: You could toss in some raisins or nuts... but why make such a delicious thing healthy-ish? The oatmeal should be enough to convince yourself you ate more than one food group today.

These'll be gone by the end of the night. They're pretty damn good, if I may toot my own horn. Definitely my most successful shooting-in-the-dark kitchen experiment.

In other news... Sakura had such a curiosity over the bathtub that she got her first bath the other night. I just pulled her off the edge of the tub and put her in. She wasn't too happy. I figured that would end her days of playing in the bathtub.

Nope. Just today she's back at it. I'm not sure cats learn cause and effect as well as dogs do... That or the bathtub is just that damn alluring.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sorry, readers, I have sinned...

As financial things get pretty desperate around here (again...) I've had to do all I can to earn an extra dollar here and there. So now you guys get to look at pretty little google ads on the sidebar. I apologize.

Knitting is slow going at the moment. I think I've got the most WIPs right now that I've ever had. Decimal Cardigan, socks for Alex, a Trellis Airplane Wrap that I'm designing for my mother, and a leafy wrap for a neighbor that I've lost interest in finishing due to the incredibly slow increasing...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

the semesterly update...

First week of classes. The usual class update...

Life & Death in Ancient Egypt
The professor seems pretty knowledgeable and nice. I think there'll be a lot of memorization, but it doesn't seem too difficult to understand.

Elementary Spanish Language & Culture 2
Taking it with the same professor as Spanish 1, hoping for continuity. Going to be ridiculously easy, though they changed the online portion in an attempt to make it more difficult. I'm guessing this is because too many dumbasses passed Spanish 1...

Human Origins
This is going to be the difficult class. Lots of memorization of evolutionary theories, people, specimen discoveries, etc. At least the professor is young and interesting and understands the idea that hands-on is so much more effective than lecturing in a monotone.

Sex, Gender, Culture
Interesting topics (one of our books is entirely about Transgendered Prostitutes in Brazil), but as with all cultural anthropology elective classes... it seems like it's going to be pretty easy. Pretty memorable stuff because of its oddness compared to American life, so as long as you can bullshit discuss you're good.

Hoping to get a job this semester. No one seems to want to hire me, but right now my brother's friend (that graduated from the same university I'm attending and was originally hired in the city I'm living in) is trying to get his recruiter in my city to take a look at my resume and whatnot. It's for the bank 5/3.

I think I'd really like a bank job, but so far Chase hasn't even bothered to acknowledge my existence even though I passed their math test with the application. Oh well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

goodbye no-shampoo and lots of small projects

So it's day 7 of no-shampoo... and when I got in the shower I just couldn't do it anymore. I reached for the shampoo. And I loved it.

To be honest, I felt dirty without it. Baking soda and water SUCKS. It made my scalp scratchy and irritated and my hair was coming out in larger quantities than usual with the usual brush-through. No more.

And in other news... my home is a Dark Horse Yarns knitting sweatshop these days. Remember I had two skeins I didn't know what to do with?

I made some gloves... and then had to make a hat with a matching owl pattern around the brim.

Pattern: Owlings Mitts

and then started some socks...

I was worried that I wouldn't have enough in a skein to make a pair of socks... but the first sock barely made a dent. What am I going to make with the leftover?!

It's hard to be motivated to do socks with sock yarn on size 1 needles when socks with worsted on size 7 needles are so much more practical. Warmer and faster.

Speaking of warmer...

We all know the northeast is going through crazy snow, but it's freaking COLD here in Florida. Colder than normal. In fact, here in Orlando they're talking we might get SNOW tomorrow morning.

Of course, Florida's version of snow is more like slush stuff that may or may not even make it to the ground, and if it does it will sit there for an hour tops in tiny, lonely little patches before melting and freezing. But still! SNOW. The last time it snowed in Florida... I didn't exist.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

No-shampoo day 2 & 3

Okay... so for the record, this regiment is officially known as "no-poo" but I am opposed to making it sound like I'm purposely constipating myself. Onward...

Woke up yesterday morning and while my hair was definitely not clean like it is the morning after a regular shower... it wasn't as greasy as I'd heard it would be. Gross enough to make me grab a hat if we went out anywhere. But that's the side effects of the first few weeks (!) of no-shampoo.

Taken without flash for all the glory of natural shine.

But this morning I woke up and couldn't even take a picture, I had to jump in the shower. I was even tempted to use real shampoo, it was that bad.

Look at that Pantene... sitting there all full because I bought it two days before deciding to do no-shampoo. Shameful. Alex doesn't realize how good he has it.

For the record, those are no longer dollar-store bubbles. That's the baking soda/water mix.

And after wash two of this baking soda mess... well, my scalp feels like shit stepping out of the shower. Yes, I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed (because as you can see there are flakes of baking soda in my hair in day 2's picture). But I still feel pretty damn gross.

Oh well... we'll see how long this lasts before I start wasting away with desire for real shampoo and feeling clean. On the upside... my hair not feeling as clean and lovely out of the shower makes me realize just how nice and clean my body feels. Hair does seem to get all the attention in the shower. Not today! Good job, Dove bar.

And of course anytime anyone does anything in the bathroom, Sakura has to figure out what's going on. She even takes bubble baths with me. And by takes I mean she sits on the side of the tub (sometimes my belly if it's dry) and dips her paws into the bubbles and spazzes out when it won't come off her paw.

Sunday (pre-burning down the house) I taught Alex some basic knitting. We had an agreement that I would learn to play Modern Warfare 2 (or was I playing Call of Duty 4? Eh... same difference) and he would learn to knit.

I am horrible at shooting games. I'm not much of a gamer to start off with (though my facebook status at 4 a.m. these past two days would suggest otherwise, as Monday I stayed up beating Kingdom for Kefflings and last night I stayed up beating the first master stage of Peggle). When I play games... I like them to be leisurely. Shooting games are too intense and rush-rush-rush.

Anyway... here's Alex's first piece of knitting:

He actually picked it up much faster than anyone else I've tried to teach. I absolutely hate teaching people skill-building things (like math and knitting and crocheting). All through high school I was the one that people came to in math class and it drove me NUTS.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Burning down the house...

There's no pictures because... well, you don't whip out a camera in this situation. But bear with me anyway...

My hair has always been a frustration to me -- it's not exactly curly, it's not wavy, and it's definitely not straight (despite the fact that EVERY mall I've walked in tells me there's something wrong with me because I don't straighten my hair).

Shampoos and conditioners and products that claim this and that and magic wonderfulness DO NOT WORK. The end. Maybe they're supposed to come with a magic wand and I forgot to venture down that aisle... but shampoo has done nothing for me except clean my hair.

After seeing it mentioned on Dooce Community quite a few times, I also stumbled upon a no-shampoo information FAQ page on Baby Slime's LiveJournal and decided to give it a go.

Basically what no-shampooing hair care is... is just that. You don't use shampoo. You use natural things like baking soda and water for a scrub every few days (because this returns your hair to a natural state, you don't need to wash your hair every day, more like every third or fourth day) and you use apple cider vinegar and water as a rinse.

So I did this... easy enough.

And there's also some recipes on her page for natural hot oil treatment of olive oil and rosemary. Didn't have rosemary... had lemon balm though so went ahead and used that. Added olive oil and dried lemon balm leaves to a pot. Put it on the stove. Heated up the burner.


Side story here:

About a year ago, one of my best friends was displaced from his dorm. Why? Because his roommate decided to fry some chicken in hot oil... the oil caught on fire on the stove, and boys being boys the first reaction was to pour water on it. This led to big fire, sprinklers going off like crazy, and a mildly burnt roommate. Due to some strange building issues that went wrong, half of their floor and the two floors below it were completely flooded. It was more water damage than fire damage, but still. HOT OIL. FIRE.

End side story.

My oil and pan suddenly dance aflame and luckily enough I was making more baking soda shampoo at the sink at the time and just dumped half a box of baking soda on it, putting it out. But not before heavy smoke and one of the most awful smells I've come across (burnt olive oil smells remarkably like blue cheese... which I can't stand) fills our apartment. We also discovered that our smoke detector doesn't really work because it's got a bad connection. Yay!

The windows and doors are opened, the fans are turned on. The pot is taken to the front stoop where it lights itself on fire again and Alex has to make a mad dash for the box of baking soda. Goodbye pot. May you rest well in our dumpster and hopefully you didn't light on fire again after we threw you out.

Cutest thing ever... our greyhound herded our kitten into the bedroom and pushes her toward the open window before getting up on the bed (the nearest perch for him to get near the window) so they can both breathe. How adorable is that? Especially considering he avoids most contact with her that he can -- though she does make sure to get a nose bop in at least a few times a day.

Anyway. I officially nominate myself for a dumbass award.

On the upside, my hair does feel softer. I will continue this no-shampoo experiment for a bit and see if it does good things for my hair. No more hot oil treatment attempts though.

Anyone else tried this no-shampoo method?


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