Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wool Sweaters

For those who don't know, yes, you can wash wool. The trick is to do it gently. Veerryyyy gently.

So, I've been starting a pile of sweaters to wash all at once. Sweaters are definitely one of those items that does not need to be washed every time it is worn, unlike underwear. One sweater had lipstick on it (yes, I smooched myself somehow), one had gotten damp from the rain and had a faint "funk" going on with it. So, on and so on. Two of the sweaters being my new favorites that my sister gave me for Christmas.

So, I prep the sink of water with Ivory Snow, and slowly start adding sweaters and waiting for them to sink. Because wool sweaters should be soaked and laid flat to dry. Meantime, I start up the washing machine for a load of dedicates. Slowly, sinking sweaters. Sigh. I get to the one sweater that my sister gave me that is my cool, soft fav and wonder if the wool has been blended with anything to give it the silky feel. So I check the label.

100% Acrylic.

Into the washing machine it went.

'Cause I have a Cool mom!

She is standing just to the right of the machine in the group picture.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I'm making cheese! Why? Because, why not? I can bake bread and make butter, so let's add cheese making skills to the list. A basic skill that was once known by every farmer and housewife in the not so very distant past.

So I went online and found a website that teaches you how to make cheese. The author is a professor of Biology and Chemistry. This is the recipe for basic 1 pound of cheese from 1 gallon of milk. I went to the health food store and got fresh goat and cow milk for my experiment. The point was to try to make it as natural as possible.

First, we must warm and inoculate the milk. Which is funny, because we are adding sour milk(buttermilk) to do this. Then we add rennet. I used the vegetarian instead of the stuff from a sheep's intestinal track, simply because, ewe! (hee hee)

We separate out the curds and whey. This is whey.

Then the cheese must be pressed and formed into a round or a cylinder for shaping into wheels. Since this is a small batch, I am using a quart size yogurt container with the bottom cut out.
Then we have cheese. This is fresh farm cheese here. It will then be refrigerated to 2 weeks while the rind forms. Then dipped into wax to be aged more for a sharper cheese, or used for a mild cheese.

When I was in the Netherlands, in the grocery there are 3 types of cheeses essentially. New, regular, and aged. I was told that regardless of the type of cheese, it all had to be labeled with how long it had been aged, by law (or so I was told). New cheese is aged under one month. Regular cheese is aged around 3 months. To be considered aged and the expensive stuff it had to be aged more than 6 months, but usually more than a year. This was how they were graded.

So how long should I age the cheese? I realize that people have been making cheese for thousands of years with out the benefit of refrigeration, exact chemical formulas, or anything closely resembling a sterile environment and man kind has survived. Still, I think it would be safer to divide the cheese in half, use one as new cheese, and age the second half.

I also think that I will be eating samples of both cheeses before serving it to anyone else. If anyone is going to be poisoned in this endeavor, I'd rather I go down than have all of my friends cursing my name as they hang over toilets!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Project-Brumbaugh Fleece

Fleece (from sheep)
Carded fleece

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cashmere and Corsets

AH, My sister's wedding grows closer. I have decided to ditch knitting her the cashmere shawl. She wouldn't appreciate it. And she certainly wouldn't understand the amount of time that would have gone into it.

So I'm knitting a cardigan for ME to wear to her wedding instead. She has proclaimed that she must approve it before hand. "Because she doesn't want anything tacky." So, she thinks I'm tacky? Or knitting is tacky?

Lace weight cashmere cardigan in cream. Ecologically friendly cashmere. I don't think it is possible to MAKE it tacky on purpose. Now, if I wanted to be tacky, I would knit a nice Merry Widow in something like yellow with red hearts. With fun fur. And bedazzle the nips. But I will be wearing it under the dress, so I could actually go as tacky as I want in that area. Provided there is no wardrobe malfunction. But if there was, the look on her face would be priceless.

Ah, screw it. The belittling digs and barbs I've been getting will disappear when she wants to rip the cardigan off my body to wear herself. In the mean time, I have a wonderful friend who lets me unload my emotional bull on him and then cheers me up with a hug, even if he is thousands of miles away. And he'll make sure to protect my person and cardigan from cashmere thieves. Because that is just the sort of guy he is. :)