Monday, December 30, 2013

How Not To Felt a Hat

So I was making a hat for my husband for Christmas. While I was making it, all I kept thinking about was how the last time made a blanket, he kept complaining about the holes in it. I crochet. So here I am making a hat. It's too big. It's got "holes" in it. I want my husband to actually wear this, so I sat there thinking for a minute.
I had a lightbulb moment! Somewhere, I can't remember where, I had heard about felting. I wondered if I could felt the hat!
So I jumped down the rabbit hole and this is what I uncovered.

The tutorial that I found said to make it 2-3 times larger because it will shrink. It also said that not all yarn felts or shrinks the same. I only paid attention to the "make it bigger" statement. 

So I made a hat far too large for anyone to wear. It was huge.

I then proceeded to hand felt the hat according to a tutorial that I found online. 
Step 1: Make a Swatch to test felt your items (Somehow I kept missing this step, or maybe I felt like it was unimportant... DO NOT SKIP IT!)

Step 2: Swish and Swash your items in hot water with a little bit of dish soap. The dish soap helps to open up the fibers so they can felt together better. Rub the items between your hands to help the felting process go a little faster.

Step 3: If your items aren't felting or shrinking the way you want, dunk it in a cold water bath to shock them. 

Step 4: Block and Dry. Shape your items using pins, newspaper (to stuff) or some other form in order to get your items to dry in the proper shape. I didn't get this far.

I realized about an hour into swishing and swashing that my yarns weren't felting the same way and they weren't shrinking very much. This is what my hat ended up looking like.

I learned that all yarns felt differently (even the ones that are labled 100% pure virgin wool...) and that you should always make a test swatch. Make your hat or other items bigger according to how your swatch felts! 

For some reason I felt that this was necessary to learn the hard way. So my hat is ruined, but not useless. It will now be a dress up hat or some other such thing.

And I will definitely be trying again!

When I went to do laundry yesterday, I decided to see if washing and drying the hat would help it shrink more, and it did! Using the washer and dryer felted the hat further and shrunk it better than hand felting it. It still isn't a good hat for my husband, but it's not quite so ginormous;-)

In conclusion, always make a test swatch when working with new materials; hand felting is possible, and fun; if you have a washer and dryer, use them! 

Sunday Walkabout: Amazing Frost Phenomenon

Every Sunday morning, Chris and I and the kids go for a little walkabout. We just take a look at the plants and the animals, and do a little survey of the land. I love this time. And every now and again, I take my camera with me.

Ever since it started freezing, I have noticed this really cool phenomenon. I noticed that there were all of these fuzzy bits on sticks and logs all around the forest. At first I thought is was a fungus, but on closer inspection, I realized  that it was ice exploding out of these sticks!

I took some really cool photographs of this phenomenon while we were out on our Sunday Walk yesterday, and I wanted to share!

I hope you enjoy!

The kids kept finding more sticks for me to photograph. I really enjoy our Sunday Walkabouts!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Doing Laundry

I can honestly say that I don't enjoy doing laundry. Or at least I didn't. Now that I know what I do now, I don't think I will mind it so much!

I am a freelance writer for my local paper and I just finished an assignment on making homemade laundry soap. I had so much fun doing the research for it! Here's what I learned:

* Most store bought detergents cost about $0.25 a load. Homemade detergent costs about $0.03 per load!
*It's easy to make! Powdered detergent is so super easy, it takes five minutes and you are done! Liquid detergent takes a little longer, but it could still be worth the extra effort!
*It is hypoallergenic, safe to use on cloth diapers (which I love!) and it doesn't build up in your washer or dryer
*The best way to soften your laundry is to use about 1/2 cup of white vinegar in your rinse cycle. It softens, disinfects, and deodorizes you laundry, not to mention it cleans your washer, all at the same time!

*Another way to soften your laundry is to use these felted wool dryer balls. Click here to see my tutorial!

All in all, I really enjoyed learning more about how to do my laundry in a way that makes me feel good about being a modern pioneer!

Homemade Christmas

When you move to an RV on 4.5 acres of undeveloped land and you are working so hard to get out of debt so you can build the home (and homestead!) of your dreams, the thought of spending money on over-priced toys and do-dads tends to make you shiver with dread. Never mind all the commercialism and greedy present grubbing that you see so often at this time of year. Or at least that is how we felt! 

So this year was a Homemade Christmas! And it was the best Christmas that I have had in a long time.

Here's our Christmas Tree. We made the ornaments and the stars out of paint sample cards from home Depot. The tree was one that we had from Christmas last year. We wanted to start a tradition of buying a live tree in a pot and planting it somewhere on the land. It was awesome to have it this year. The little doily was made by a lady at church. She made one for every adult woman in the ward!

I made Stockings...

For the kids, I've made these cute little magnet puzzles!

I made Chris this felted hat... See my How Not To Felt A Hat post for more details!

We also wrote letters to each other this year. That was my favorite Christmas gift!

I learned a lot about myself and about making things this Christmas.
*I love to make complicated things... or at least my plans are always more complicated than I can pull off on the first try...
*Making things was so much fun!
*My kids loved their gifts and they didn't have to cost me an arm or a leg!
*We made Christmas about being together and not about the presents and it was the best Christmas I have ever had.
*Follow the instructions.
*If at first you don't succeed, try again!

I am definitely going to have a Homemade Christmas again next year!

How to: Make Felted Wool Dryer Balls - A dryer sheet alternative

I am a free-lance writer for my local newspaper and I just completed an assignment on Homemade Laundry Detergent. While I was researching laundry detergent recipes I found these Felted Wool Dryer Balls.

Why use Wool Dryer Balls?
~They absorb the water from your clothes so they dry more quickly. This saves energy and keeps you from over-drying your clothes. Over-drying causes static cling, so you avoid clingy clothes too!
~They soften your laundry by "roughing" up your clothes in a gentle manner. Beating your clothes also discharges the static electricity. Another way to avoid clingy clothes!
~You can put a few drops of essential oils on them to lightly scent your laundry, too.

They sounded so great that I just had to try them! Here's a quick tutorial on how to make them. I'll be sure to update you when I find out how well I like to use them!

What you need:
1 - 8 oz skein of 100% wool (Makes about 3 baseball sized balls.) 
1 - crochet hook
1 - leg of a pair of panty hose
And a washer and dryer.

Don't use superwash or machine washable. They wont felt which is important because if they don't felt, they will come apart in your wash!

I used a pair of trouser socks instead of panty hose, because I don't wear hose. EVER! I also don't like to buy things if I have something else that will work. Hence the trouser sock!

As for the number of balls that you need, I have seen recommendations from 3 to 6, so it's really a matter of preference!

What to do: 

Step 1: Wrap the yarn into balls between the size of a tennis ball and a soft ball.  Keep in mind they will 
shrink a little when you felt them so don't make them too small.

Step: 2: Once you have the ball the right size you will need to tuck the tail in using the crochet hook.

Step 3: Now stick the balls into the stocking leg. Be sure to separate them somehow, either by tying knots in the hose or by wrapping a cotton string around the hose in between the balls. If they are touching they will stick together or fall apart during the felting process. You will have a cute little caterpillar when you are done!

Step 4: The last step is to felt your wool dryer balls. The easiest way to do this is to stick the caterpillar in the washing machine and run a few hot water, heavy soil cycles. Finish with a cold water rinse and a trip to the dryer.

BUT I don't have a washer or dryer. In order to felt, wool needs the hot water and agitation. Knowing that, I am going to try just felting it in my bathtub. I've got pretty hot water out of my tap and I can agitate the caterpillar with a wooden spoon... so old school! I'm going to do this later, so I'll post a picture of this step and updates when I'm done. If all else fails I'll just take the balls over to a friends house when I do my laundry!

 Here's the pot that I felted in. I was felting an alpaca yarn hat at the same time... that was a disaster. See more on my post about that here.

I took the yarn balls out of the stockings once they had started to felt so I  could agitate them a little bit better. It worked out alright, but remember to be careful. The balls have a tendency to fall apart if you agitate too aggressively!

And here is a finished ball. Well semi-finished. I think that I am going to try to felt them a littler further when I do laundry next. All in all, hand felting was a fun adventure and I will be doing more of it for sure!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Phrase to Live By

I made this this morning. I've been meaning to do it for a long time. I heard this at a General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Love it. Live it. Be happy ;-)

Just in case you were wondering, I wood burned the letters onto a scrap piece of wood. Freehanded.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Wanting More

I thought that I would take a moment and talk about what our goals are here on Haven Homestead.
In three words, WE WANT MORE! and not in the selfish kind of way either.

Emma and Chris reading about mushrooms. August 2013

We want to live more abundantly.

When I say that we want to live more abundantly, notice that I do not say anywhere that we want more money. That is not what this life is about. Abundance, by definition is to have a very large quantity of something. We want abundance in food, clothing, education, friends, family, and love. We can have all of these things and not be abundance in money. (It would be nice, but it's not necessary.)

We want to live more sustainably.

This Homesteading adventure is about doing things in a way that will last. We want to build a legacy that will last for generations. We plan on accomplishing this by incorporating permaculture principles in the way we manage our land, by building an earth and budget friendly home, and by living within our financial means. 
Liam and Emma feed the chickens and duck. November 2013

We want to facilitate more learning.

Chris and I love to learn. We have learned that knowledge is power and we want to get as much of it as we can. One of the best ways to learn more, is to teach. We plan on offering classes and workshops on all of the things that we do here at Haven Homestead, from canning and food preservation, to beekeeping to gardening to crafting and building. If we do it, we will host a class on it!

We want to have more security.

The hazards of our world are increasing day by day. Crime rates rise, the economy plunges, people have secret agendas to take away our freedoms... All of that hullabaloo. We want our homestead to be a haven. Here at Haven Homestead, it is important to us to have food security, financial security, and family security. Sure we have guns, (my husband is a regular ol' Idaho boy) but having ammunition stock piled is not going to save us if Chris looses his job. It's not going to save us if a natural disaster decides to encroach on our little haven. Guns can't save us if we have a rocky moment in our relationship. We have guns. We have ammunition. We know how to use them. We are also getting together a year's supply of food, 72-hour kits, and learning about and implementing sustainable gardening practices. We are getting out of debt and saving money. We are having Family Home Evenings, we go on walks, and we talk to each other. The peace of mind that we are creating through our preparedness is priceless.

Chris, Lindsay, Emma, and Liam pose for a family photo after picking out a Christmas tree. December 2013

All in All

We want to have something nice to pass on to our children. We want them to grow up knowing they are loved, knowing how to be responsible and knowing that they can do this too.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our First Snow!

(This post has been edited to clean up some grammar, simplify the story, and make sure I wasn't too hard on Chris. He really does work hard to keep me happy.) original post 11/2013

Yesterday we had our first snow on the homestead!

The kids played in it, and it was awesome. I had to feed the animals in it, and it was awesome.  I wonder if it will help to freeze our muddy drive ways enough that we can hold off on buying more gravel until spring? Now that would be awesome. Hey, I can hope!

Winterizing the homestead has been quite the chore and most of the way, my intrepid homesteading husband has done a great job. I just have to mention one of the toughest things for me, which also happen to be a bad moment for him, so please pardon me!

This took place about a week ago. Precisely on payday, the hoses froze and we didn't have water. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but our water situation has been rigged with much genius!

 We have a well, a generator, more than 150 feet of garden hose, a 55 gallon potable water drum that my husband and his brother have suspended about 25 feet in the air,  and the fresh water tank on the camper. All of it is cleverly  rigged in such a way, that hardly ever that anything is lacking. Good job my love.

The trouble was that I have been telling Chris since July that we need to have something figured out to keep us in water so we don't have to worry about being with out water when the hoses freeze. All my loving husband could say was, "Hush up woman you don't know what you are talking about." No, that's not true. What he really said was, "It doesn't freeze here like it does in Idaho." Every time he said that, I thought, "I know it doesn't freeze like Idaho, but it still freezes, doesn't it?"

Well the hoses froze, we went to Home Depot and spent a abunch of money on things to keep things warm, and I think Chris might start listeing to me more! Hey, I can hope!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Good News

The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity.

We are down to five hens. Two baby roos were picked on so badly by the other birds that they died. First lesson Lindsay learned about chickens: as soon as a chicken sees blood, it will continue to peck at it until there is nothing left. I'm not kidding. I'm sorry for the gruesome picture, but it's true. We lost two hens to that, too. OH! and we ate our big rooster. He was harassing the girls so much that they wouldn't lay. He was the toughest bird I have met, but he made a great soup! I even hand made the noodles... Next time I will try to remember to post photos of the process! The good news: we have laying chickens we get about three a day, sometimes less. AND the chickens let my daughter pet them! It's really cute.

After the chickens came ducks. Our little ducklings were so cute. Yes I said "were." Between our dogs, the coyotes and the racoons, we have one left. Her name is Dorcus. She is quite the survivor. She doesn't ever go to the pen that we made for the ducks. Now she roosts on our camper and on the deck. My only complaint is the amount of poop that I have to avoid to get to my front door. The good news: I haven't seen any slugs lately, AND my son's first official word was "duck!"

I had surgery in September. While I was at my parents home in Idaho recovering, my husband got bunnies. Barnabas is the buck. We haven't really named the girls yet. My husbands plan is to use them for meat! We will breed the ones we have and then eat the babies! I'm not sure I am down with this plan. The good news: no more back and neck pain!

We have been back and forth on how to build our house and to be honest, it's still not set in stone. For a few months we thought we would build a modular home. For a few months we thought we would buy a kit home. We would really love to build a dome home. We do know this, we are going to be in this camper for a long while. The good news:

My family has an opportunity to be close (and not just in close quarters!) We do everything together. We eat cook and play all in the same 10 foot radius. There isn't the choice to go to one's room and be solitary. That is a blessing that I know my family and I will cherish forever.

We are saving money. I don't know who said it, but someone once said, "You have to live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else tomorrow." Basically, stop worrying about keeping up with the Jones'. Live cheap so you can afford to be wealthy when the opportunity arises. I want a house, but I want to be out of debt more.

We always have enough. No matter how tight the budget is, as long as we pay our tithing, we always have enough. Whether that means enough food, enough clothes, or enough money for what ever project needs it, we always have enough. (p.s. I know that that last bit is redundant. That is on purpose:))

Life is good.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chasing Chickens

I knew when my husband first started taking me to the Coal Creek Poultry Auction, that we would be chasing chickens at some point. That point came sooner than I expected.

At the end of June we moved onto our property. That same week, Chris was giving me a hard time about getting chickens. I said,"If you want chickens, you have to build a home for them first!" And he did. About a week after that, we were bringing home our first batch of laying hens. We bought 8 hens and 3 roosters. The two baby roosters kept getting out and it was no wonder. The hens kept pecking them! Sad to say, we lost the little roos.

After fixing the latch, the hens stayed put and now we only have to catch them if we let them out!

Here are ways to catch a chicken. Some are more successful than others:)

The Corner Method:
Step 1: Have your two year old herd the chicken towards you.
Step 2: Sandwich said chicken between yourself and the pen.
Step 3: Grasp the chicken by the body
Step 4: DON'T LET GO! (I let go. What can I say!? I was afraid she would peck me!)

The Hanger Method:
Step 1: Find a sturdy wire hanger.
Step 2: Form the hanger into a chicken catching tool (see photos: basically a long wire with a little hook at the end that is narrower than the chickens foot!)
Step 3: Use hook to catch chicken by the foot. Be careful to be quick. Once you have your chicken hooked it'll take her just about 2 seconds to figure out how to get her foot un-hooked!

The Chase:
Step 1: Chase the chickens as fast as you can and try to catch them before they run away.
Step 2: Be out maneuvered as the chickens joyfully laugh in your face and escape your clutches time after time!

I wish you luck in your chicken chasing adventures! Pray for me and mine!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Homesteader's Wife

We have done it! Christopher and Lindsay Hodge have begun to homestead. 

Since we were married in 2009, we have been dreaming of starting our own homestead. Someday we will have a Bed and Breakfast, someday we will have goats, someday we will be able to quit all of our "other jobs." Someday started for us in March of 2013! 

In the course of 4 months, we moved from Pocatello, Idaho, to a little town in western Washington. We lived in an RV park until our well was dug, then moved out to our land. We get our electricity from a small generator, and we mostly run on batteries. We bought a dog when we were first married, her name is Molly. Last month, we found her a friend at the pound. His name is Hunter. We were given three kittens, we bought 11 chickens (we have 8 hens and 3 roosters) and we are going to get ducks this week! 

I grew up a city girl. My dad was in the United States Navy for 25 years. We moved a lot. We were always near the ocean and we were always near the city. I have no idea what I am doing. 

I have always loved the country lifestyle. Rural living just seemed to be the way to go. I really liked the idea of living in a small enough community that you could be friends with everyone and do things like canning, gardening, making crafts, and raising animals.


So I am embarking on a journey that is sure to be full of learning, mistakes, and lots of laughs, as I learn how to be a Homesteader's Wife!