Monday, February 18, 2013

Puff Update Week 1

Hi Everyone! I've had a pretty eventful weekend with lots of friends, family, and a little much needed relaxation. I've been working like crazy on these little puffs because they are just the right mix of challenging, fun, quick and interesting. I made a few more than I needed to considering the rules. Here are a couple that I made this weekend...
Another yellow one (I have a lot of this yarn left over from a vest I made recently). 
This one was made by double stranding some embroidery floss in two different colors (somewhat in honor of Valentine's day!)
And finally an anchor fair isle nugget! 

What I've Learned So Far:
1. I will probably have trouble limiting myself to one a day! They are so addicting and satisfying... Stuffed with scrap yarn and made out of little bits and pieces... Can't go wrong with that!!!
2. I have a hard time getting the sizes super proportional, primarily because I am using yarn scraps of various gauges. I'm sure I will get a better idea of how many stitches to cast on once I've made more nuggets but for now I am accepting the fact that they aren't all going to be exactly the same size. 

Happy President's Day Everyone :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

365 Hexipuff Challenge


It has been fairly quiet over here at Simply Aware. I've been hibernating and shying away from the darkness outside. Recently though, the weather has perked up a bit and I am feeling more refreshed. I am in spring cleaning mode and I have been wanting to return to the blog for some time... but with what? I grabbed some yarn this morning and went trolling around the internet and found this blanket. I have been wanting to make this blanket for so long that I finally decided that today was the day.

Presenting (drum roll please.....) first hexipuff! And, since I love a good challenge, I thought I would do a 365 project. You know, the kind of project where you make something once a day for a whole year and when you are done, you get to feel so accomplished! I've tried doing this before and it never works out. However, these little hexipuffs are so easy that I can definitely manage doing one a day.

1. I will knit a hexipuff everyday or seven hexipuffs per week (I'm giving myself a little wiggle room in case I miss a day or two).
2. I will post my progress on the hexipuffs once a week so as not to bore myself, my readers, or the internet as a whole
3. I will use only yarn that I already own unless I run out (which will not happen... uhm... I've got a lot of yarn)
4. (optional) I want to attempt to stuff all of my hexipuffs with yarn, scrap fabric, or the fiberfill that I already have before buying new. After all, this is a blog about sustainability right?!
5. I will (try) not to make a habit of knitting ahead of schedule. My goal is to be consistent and make one each day so I would prefer to make extra if I am falling behind but otherwise they will be bonus.

If anyone is interested in joining me, I'm thinking about setting up a Ravelry page so we can keep track of our progress. I'm going to start my count officially on Monday February 18th so that if anyone wants to join me, they can get on board. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cranberry Infused Vodka

Hello everyone! Do you want to learn how to make infused vodka? It's really easy! Just watch (and rock out to) this awesome video that my good friend helped me make and you'll learn. If you need a gift idea, this would be a great option!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tip of the Week: Baking Soda and Vinegar

I know I am a little late posting this week's Tip of the Week, but better late than never right? There are a lot of people spouting the benefits of vinegar and baking soda around the internet and some of the books I'm reading right now (I got some really awesome homesteading books as gifts over the holidays) and I decided to try out a few. I've compiled a list of the uses I have found and loved for these two cleaning warriors. One of my favorite things about these two things ingredients is that there are SO MANY uses for them. I'm not even joking, you can probably do anything with baking soda and vinegar! So, what can you do with them?....


1. Washing Your Hair

I'll admit, I was a little bit skeptical about ditching my shampoo and conditioner (how does it remove the grease and stringiness? My scalp is an oil machine!). When I left my typical organic shower products at my parents' house for the holidays, I decided to try a technique I'd read about several times. First, I took a small mason jar that had previously contained jam and devoted it to my shower routine. Next, I sprinkled about a tablespoon of baking soda into the jar and took it in the shower with me (my jar is a half of a pint so if your jar is bigger, you'll need more soda or less water). When I'm ready to wash my hair, I fill the jar up with warm shower water and slowly drizzle the soda water over my scalp. It's not like regular shampoo because it isn't thick, it's more of a rinse. Trust me though, my hair is typically very oily unless I shower every day and since I've been using soda, I've been able to wash my hair less. I do the same technique (you can use separate jars probably but I just pour right out of the bottle) with a bottle of apple cider vinegar as a conditioner after you're done rinsing out the soda. The vinegar reacts with the residual soda and keeps your hair from looking like you've got major dandruff!

2. Cleaning Spills From Carpets

We had a baby visitor stay in our house recently who contracted some kind of tummy issues (probably a cold or food poisoning) which resulted in a lot of yucky carpet. While the carpet was still wet from the mess, we drizzled a little bit of white vinegar onto the yucky stuff, patted the spot dry with a rag, sprinkled baking soda onto the damp area, and waited for the carpet to dry. After everything was dry, we vacuumed up the mess and it didn't leave a stain! Also, it was really cool listening to the soda react with the vinegar. Until the mess dried, our carpet sizzled!!!!

3. Helping Relieve Nausea and Upset Stomach

One of my best friends taught me this one! Ok, I'll admit that it's kinda gross, but if you can get over the taste, this trick really works. In a little cup, put a small amount of baking soda into the bottom and cover with just enough water so that you can take a shot of soda water. Try and drink it as fast as you can because jeez is it gross. The soda water helps relieve nausea because it bubbles in your stomach, causing you to burp and relieve some of the pressure in your stomach. All around, this technique is a little gross but trust me, it works. 

4. Removing Soap Scum From Showers 

In my line of work, I do a lot of cleaning. Let me just repeat that... I do a LOT of cleaning. Sometimes my clients use harsh chemicals to clean that I don't want to be in contact with or I am allergic to the scent (it's not an official allergy but most artificial scents will give me a sneezing fit and a swollen nose). A really great compromise I have come up with is using baking soda and vinegar for almost all of my bathroom cleaning purposes. For soap scumy tubs, rinse the shower and tub so all the surfaces you want to clean are damp. Using a damp rag, add a little bit of baking soda so that your rag is a little "gritty". The soda acts as a gentle "sand paper" that scrubs away soap scum in minutes. Also, vinegar is a disinfectant and can be used anywhere that you would use bleach. I use apple cider vinegar because it smells better than distilled white. 

5. Drying Out Pimples

Baking soda is very absorbent, which is why it is such a magical substance. By mixing a tiny bit of water with a tiny amount of soda, I've created a paste that dries out zits in no time. Just apply it before you go to bed and in the morning wash off the film. It's best not to use too much of the paste on your face though because it can remove the natural oils that your body produces that keeps your skin happy and healthy. 

I'm sure there are many other uses for these two ingredients (or science fair experiments!), but these are the ones I've tested and have found success with. Do you have any helpful hints for these two wonder substances?

Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

I know I've been quiet lately and I'm hoping to break through the craziness of the holidays this week. In honor of New Years, I thought I would do a "Best of" post so that I can look back on my accomplishments. I just started writing this blog and I have so many plans for the future but it's nice to look back on what I've already done. Here are the most popular posts of 2012:
"Durga" the Wool Scarf Pattern
"Janet" the Lace Hat Pattern
Plant Hanger Tutorial
Green Gift Giving Wedding Edition: Personalized Recipe Book

Stay tuned this week, I've got a fun new project in the works!!! Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hand Felting Tutorial

Recently, I made a new friend that just happened to know how to knit too. He had plenty of family members that knit and had been gifted these really awesome felted clogs that I must say I am jealous of. You see, years ago, I attempted knitting and felting a pair of mary jane slippers that turned out to be just a little bit too short for my feet and provided very little warmth because the majority of my foot was still exposed to the air. 

Instead of pining for said slippers, I decided to try some for myself and see what happens. The particular pattern that I used was Fuzzy Feet and it took me three days to knit and felt these slipper socks. I decided to hand felt them because I didn't want to use any machinery for the entire process. Also, the purple yarn in the socks was an experimental yarn that I dyed with purple juice years ago and I wasn't sure whether or not it would bleed. Since the process worked out so well, I thought I'd make a little tutorial of how to hand felt knitted items. 
First, you start out by filling a sink full of hot water and soap. Soak your giant items ready to be felted in the water bath and prepare yourself for the work ahead. NOTE: If your fabric isn't 100% wool, start over and make whatever you want to felt with 100% wool because it will never work. 

Once your fabric is nice and wet, you'll need to start massaging the fabric together. Most people know that hot water, soap and agitation are the key ways to accidentally shrink (AKA felt) wool garments. Because I wanted to intentionally felt, I used these three methods to my advantage. I made these two gif files to demonstrate to you the kinds of motions that will help in the felting process. The felting process is sped up by rubbing the fabric against itself in small but fast "massaging" motions. I like to think of it as rubbing a little bit of happy into the fabric so that the slippers will be nice and warm, essentially keeping my feet happy!
I felted the slippers one at a time so here is a size comparison for you. Felted garments shrink to about 1/3 of their original size so you'll want to make sure your garment is about 3 times bigger than your finished dimensions. 
These slippers turned out pretty cute and very warm! The pattern was great and the slippers made a good addition to the holiday gifts I was giving. I wish I had more time before the holidays to make a few more pairs but I'm also a fan of giving gifts at random so I might still make some anyway. 
PS, these were a great way to use up some stash scraps of yarn. I want to make a few that have thicker stripes in the near future so keep an eye out in the near future :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Foraging and an Update

Look what I found! It's an amanita muscaria mushroom (you know, the Alice in Wonderland looking mushrooms that are such a popular icon nowadays). Amanitas have a red cap with white spots and I found this one growing a few blocks from my house. I'm no mycologist but these babies are pretty rare and I was so happy to see one!
I did pluck it out of the ground to photograph it but there were several more in the ground so don't worry. If you end up in Bellingham anytime soon, send me a message and I'll tell you where I found them.
And, since I am in the process of reading a super cool book that I want to get back to, I just wanted to post an updated picture of my brown pullover that I sewed an applique to. Eventually, I'd like to embroider something over the top, but I don't want to reveal what just in case I decide not to. Be sure to check back in within a couple of days because I've got a few projects up my sleeves I'll be writing about soon. Have a great day!