Month: March 2017

Twelve: A Pig Named Smudge

We have a few nieces and nephews now, and have decided for their birthday presents that Zara and I will take them on an outing. One of our nieces had her second birthday over the weekend and we thought we’d give her a trip to the Collingwood Children’s Farm (which we’ll do sometime in the future) but we also wanted to give her a little something on her actual birthday. So I made a little farm animal from felt.

After a quick look around online I found a free pattern to work with (here) and then grabbed a couple of sheets of felt from our local haberdasher. Marking and cutting the felt was quick and easy, then it was on to the sewing machine.

I was not sure how I was going to go, as the pieces were pretty small, and this would be the second time on a sewing machine in probably 15 years, but I managed OK I think. I did sadly stitch a little far up one side of the snout, so when I turned the pig the right way out and got some stuffing (reused from an old cushion) it looked more like an anteater than a pig, but luckily Zara came to rescue with a rhinoplasty solution.

After some more fiddly sewing for the ears and a little embroidery for the eyes he was starting to look a bit piggier. Annoyingly, at this point the pen I had used to mark out my pattern had started to show through the felt a little, giving some smudgy looking birthmarks on the belly. So we named him Smudge. I’m very happy with the result and now curious to try my hand at other animals.

 

Eleven: The Pits

I’ve been on the natural deodorant band wagon for a number of years now and managed to nab myself a life partner in that time, so I mustn’t smell too bad. Clogging pores to block your bodies natural byproducts from escaping cannot be good for you (which many store bought antiperspirant deodorants do). Rather than blocking the bodies secretions, natural deodorants neutralise them, keeping your odour to a minimum. Plus, pheromones are the ultimate biological attraction tool, a fact I cannot deny considering it was Simon’s sexy scent that caused me to be interested in him.

My deodorant ran out this week, so I decided to try my hand at making my own. During my time on said bandwagon I didn’t find myself becoming loyal to any one particular brand of deodorant, but really liked the one I have been using most recently; Black Chicken Deodorant Paste.  I’m unsure why, but I preferred the paste to a roll on (or spray) which is helpful as I imagine making a roll on deodorant could be more challenging than the recipe I went with.

For my birthday last year my bestie gave me a book titled 200 tips, techniques and recipes for natural beauty by Shannon Buck, which has a recipe for Unscented natural cream deodorant. So, I jumped online and ordered the handful of items required that we didn’t have at home (from N-Essentials). It took about 10 minutes to make and contains: shea and cocoa butter, coconut oil, bicarb soda, arrowroot flour, vitamin e and kaolin clay. It was simply a matter of measuring out the two butters and oil, melting them in a hot water bath, mixing in the remaining ingredients and giving it a jolly good stir. Quite fittingly, the container my previous deodorant came in fit the quantity I made perfectly.

The texture is a little runnier than the paste I was using (I guess it is a cream, rather than a paste), but it feels nice on my skin. I just hope it doesn’t stain my clothing, even if it does, Simon has made a great stain remover which he may write about later on. As I’ve only used my new concoction for two days so I do not feel that I have enough data to say whether or not it is a success. If you’d like to contribute to my data collection, please feel free to give my pits a sniff and advise me of your findings.

 

Ten: Aftershave

A few years ago I looked in to making an aftershave lotion, as I thought it would be an interesting project. Years later I’ve finally attempted it.

It is far from difficult; I mostly used this article as a guide. The chance to play around with fragrances was fun, however we don’t really use essential oils all that much and the price of them can be a little prohibitive, so I had a very limited palette to work with (I actually used every flavour we have: cedarwood, bergamot, lemon, and a hint of spearmint).

The main lesson I have learnt this week is that while cetyl stearyl alcohol is apparently nicer on your skin than the usual ethyl or isopropyl alcohols included in recipes, it requires an emulsifier to mix nicely.  Consequently my lotion is not the prettiest substance, but with a bit of a shake before use it is perfectly fine.

For those that are interested, a good starting point is a ratio of 1 part glycerine, 4 parts witch hazel, and 8 parts alcohol (which I used a combo of the aforementioned and unrecommended cetyl stearyl plus a bit of highly recommendable gin). Then just add the essential oils of your choosing and shake. Easy.

All in all, relatively easy, but I will probably continue to tweak my ratios in future attempts.

Nine: It’s Hip To Be (Granny) Square

When I started my foray into crocheting I purchased a range of wools from the op shops I frequented to make a granny square blanket from second hand wools. Granny squares are one of the most popular stitches to learn when you’re starting out with crochet and are typically made into a blanket with lots of small granny squares joined together or can be one continuous granny square. No doubt your grandparents had one of the aforementioned styles of crochet blanket to warm their cold arthritic knees at night whilst dunking a scotch finger into a steaming mug of horlicks.

Initially, I started making small granny squares in a variety of colours to join up together to make one mega blanket to cover our leather couch in winter to ease the chill (this is still a WIP). Then one day last year I found myself crocheting a yellow square and simply didn’t stop. Over the year, I would come back to my granny square and kept going until that yellow skein ran out and then joined in a second skein of a different yellow wool.  At the time, I was experiencing stress and anxiety and found the rhythm of crochet soothing and distracting from my chaotic brain.

I wasn’t sure why I was making the blanket, but it was therapeutic so I didn’t see a need to stop. Then, when my brother and sister in law announced that they were expecting in the new year, I knew who the blanket would be going to – my new niece or nephew! There was still quite a way to go on the now baby blanket so as I visited op shops, I collected yellow wools and added them in as needed, continuing on my merry way.

Towards the end of last year as my mental health improved and social engagements increased, I found myself crocheting less. It wasn’t until the new year with the start of this project and the nearing deadline of the baby’s birth in early-mid March that I picked up my piece again. On track to finish the blanket by the due date, we got a call that our new nephew Charles had arrived earlier than expected.

Well, this sent me into a crocheting frenzy, I had one evening and a morning to finish off the blanket before we visited the hospital! I whizzed through my final round of granny stitch and decided to do a different stitch on the edges. Two rounds of double crochet in different tones, followed by a round of picot stitch (learnt from a you tube tutorial) and the blanket was finished!

On the whole, I am very happy with the blanket and it’s been nice to reflect on how the practice of crochet has played a part in managing my anxiety. My counsellor referred to it as my stress blanket, but I prefer to think of it as my healing blanket. I hope that for many years it provides warmth and comfort to my nephew Charles, just as it warmed and comforted me.

 

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