Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How I made a floor cloth

June 2, 2018: I love the look of the hickory hardwood floor but, it will need some protection in the high traffic areas.  The most high traffic area of the house is the dining room looking out the patio doors at the live entertainment provided by the local wild life.  To provide that protection I decided on a painted canvas floor cloth.

I purchased the canvas from Wholesale Arts and Frames 6839 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91602   818 255-1400.   It is a presized cotton canvas normally used for stage screens.  I needed the 96" width to cover the space needed to protect the floor from scraping chairs.  Sail canvas only came 60" wide.  There was 6 yards on the roll in the photograph.  It looks like I may have an opportunity to do more than one floor cloth.  I will let you know latter if there will be one floor cloth for each season.
The width and length of the floor cloth was eyeballed and the roll was used as a straight edge to pencil mark the cut. 

8" was marked from the selvage edge and cut off.

 All the online instructions said to turn over the edge one time and top stitch.  This was not fun because the prefinish and weight of the canvas made it stiff.  The pressure foot was not able to keep the fabric under control.  I had to ssssllloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwllllllyyyyyyyyy sew, supporting the fabric to keep it from sliding out from under the pressure foot.

Two coats of the base paint left over from the walls of the dining room were applied to the canvas.  I used package tape to attach a 2" paint brush to a broom stick.  It was braced by two wooded spoons from my kitchen.  Low tech is a good thing. A cheap plastic paint cloth kept the canvas from picking up dirt from the concrete patio. The mint green is leftover paint from the walls of the dining room and kitchen.  There were a couple hours of drying time between coats.

After the canvas was dry I loosely rolled the canvas, covering the beginning edge of the roll with the plastic to make sure the paint would not end up sticking to itself.  I brought the loose roll into the house anticipating overnight rain.

June 4, 2018: The plan is to put an 8" border around the floor cloth of currants on stems with leaves.  The border was described on the canvas in pencil.  It will be covered later with a 3/4" wide lattice.  For the background of the border I rag painted golden rod over the green to soften the background.  It was a windy day so heavy books were used to hold down the canvas while it dried.

I left the canvas outdoors until it was dry to the touch.  Then I moved it indoors to continue drying flat, undisturbed because we were returning to the other house and did not need to use the floor space.  Now I have to check the basement of the other house for leftover paint from other projects to use to paint the currants and leaves.

You may be wondering why the canvas is being painted outside on the patio instead of in the basement or garage.  There are actually four reasons.  1- the basement does not have the wonderful ventilation of the outdoors.  2- The patio door is a lot easier to navigate than the 12 steps with two sharp turns into the basement. 3- The garage is almost a football field away from the house, down a gravel and sand drive way.  Transporting the canvas un-damaged that distance would be tricky.  4 - There are all kinds of woodland creatures that like to visit the garage.  This last week is was a skink.  (not a skunk, although there are some around)  Mice, chipmunks, snakes and insects I do not recognize all like to visit the garage.  I don't want to chance one of them chewing or what ever on my floor cloth causing damage.

June 16, 2018: Last week I stayed in SE Wisconsin while my husband and son did projects on the retirement house.  Almost 2 weeks of drying time.

The small table was moved out of the way and the telescoping dinner table was pulled out and covered with new plastic tarp for the next steps of this project. All 7 leaves were needed.

I have a collection of photos taken of the currants from blossom to berry from past years.  They were printed up and spread on the floor cloth for reference.

The paint is artist's acrylic in tubes, purchased for the project.  I did check in the basement for paints from other projects and decided not to go that direction.  There were too many bases in enamel and oil.  Many were dried out.  

4 colors were used: White, red, brown and green.  The brushes came in a pack with chisel point and fine points. 

The lack of friction of the plastic tarp and the weight of the canvas required weights be used to keep the painting in place.  Note the hammer and bread board.  Polystyrene compartmentalized trays left over from some event years ago were used as my pallet.  An empty spice jar was used to hold water.

The lines of the border were painted using a blending of the brown and green.   The lines are not precise.  I've never been accused of coloring between the lines. 

The small paper plates were used for templates to outline the shape of the leaves in pencil on the canvas before I began painting.  There were two sizes of templates used.

June 17, 2018:  Color... The leaves were filled in color by color.  There were 3 rounds of the border, starting with the brown.  

June 18, 2018:  Here is the 3rd round of leaves with stems added.

 A few rustic bush branches were added in brown and white.  This pulled the floating leaves together.  Painting the berries began using a darkened red to define the strands, followed by the pure red of the berries.

There is no reason to stay within the lines of the border with the leaves and berries.  

 And... the green stems were added to the strands.

June 19, 2018:  This is the canvas drying after the 3rd layer of water based polyurethane. (1 quart)   This time I found a roller, cover and extension stick in the basement.  

It was brought into the house once dry to the touch to set completely while we packed up and came back to SE Wisconsin.  On Friday it will be put in place under the table and chairs, ready for the first spill to be wiped up.

Note the difference between the canvas in detail and in it's entirety?  I am an impressionist at heart with a love of the work that catches the feel of the subject.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2018 Gift Blankets

This is another year of celebrations. 

One tech school graduate who is now an official flight instructor.   This is a combination of deconstructed pre-used sweats and salvaging the letters to spell out the school name.  The back is lined in large pieces of red, black and white fleece.  The edges are finished with red, black and white left over sweat shirt fabric.  (This was a bad idea because it was too thick to make a respectable mitered corner.)

One high school graduate with a full scholarship to the crimson tide.  Blue taffeta back with red and white fleece front quill-o.  It folds into a easily transportable pillow using the pocket on the bottom of the blanket.  The 'Lucy' is added by trimming around a free needle cursive embroidery.

One new life expected in July.  The pre-print was too small on it's own, but popped when a 4" border was added along with super wide yellow rick rack trim.  The blanket was free needle machine quilted around the designs onto a green mini gingham back.  I love the wonky offset of the print.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Above is a photo commemorating the good bye to a beloved couple from our church on their last day before their move to be near family members during this new stage of their lives.

The group are people from a Bible study group.  Some from years ago.  Some from now.   Some were always there.

You may be wondering why any adult would attend Bible study on Sundays.    It is simple.  It gives me the boost to be a more compassionate and open person the other 6 days of the week.

Today I was running some mid-day errands.  There was an impatient person behind me while I waited for on coming traffic to pass.  When there was room to safely turn onto the highway I did and the other driver followed.  What surprised me was the road rage brought to the situation in the form of swinging his (her?)  full sized SUV well into my lane as he passed, and then quickly pulling into other traffic to avoid identification.  It was over before I knew it... and surprisingly....... the anger that used to be a part of my day lasted less than a second.  Instead I am sad that someone is so tightly wound that waiting to turn onto the highway would cause such a reaction.  I said a prayer that the other driver was now aware of the over reaction and was able to calm down.  I am still saddened by such an immature reaction.

When I got to where I was going, another vehicle was moving the wrong way down the parking aisle I had just turned into.  Space was made to pass each other, along with a smile and a wave.

The smiling faces of the photo are the reason the situations did not escalate.  By the grace of God and their kindness, I was able to show love today.  Our days are made better because the child of God in each of us is recognized.  This is what Bible study keeps in my heart. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Plarn Mat for the Homeless

Plarn Yarn Mat for the Homeless

My sister mentioned investigating knitting instructions using cut up plastic shopping bags to make a mat as a project.  The plastic bags would not go directly to a land fill and the homeless would not be sleeping directly on a floor in a shelter, or ground outside.

At first glance it seemed like a wonderful project to investigate and participate in so I began looking on line to see what others have been doing.  There are many, many postings on line with instructions to crochet and frame loom these mats.  I found none for knitting.   

Below is the result of weaving a plarn mat on a floor loom.  The first photo is the daisy chained plarn in the basket with the mat in progress on the loom in the background.  The second photo is the finished mat.

Around thanksgiving I began taking control of the plastic Pick & Save bags brought into my home and stuffed into the 'bag of bags' in my pantry.  All the beige and half the white plarn in the finished mat came from Pick & Save bags.  The balance of the plarn was made from Piggly Wiggly and Woodman's bags.

As great minds would have it, the craft group at church decided (independent of my project) to collect shopping bags to be made into mats and donated.  One of the local shelters would take whatever they gave.

Inspiration to execution showed the flaws in the project I did not see mentioned in the you-tube instruction videos. 

The plarn compressed.  It flattening out to paper thin when weight was applied.  Not much protection from the cold ground.  A thick mat was needed.  The plarn was cut wider.  The mat got thicker.  The mat got heavier.  The mat got harder to pull the crochet hook through.  The mat required more material than I had access to.

I was in the planning stages of my next set of woven rugs for the weekend house so I factored in extra warp.  The crocheted project was pulled apart and I commandeered the church collection of plastic bags to have sufficient material to complete the mat. 

The plarn daisy chain was ~ 3" wide.  4 daisy chains of plarn were bundled together to get a thick mat. 

This extra thick plarn distorted the warp on the ends.  I was not able to get nice straight edges.

The final factor that convinced me to never, ever work with plarn again was the allergic reaction I had in the form of dermatitis.  Now, I am hypersensitive to allergens much like the canary in the mine shaft.  I wove wearing a lab jacket to add a layer of protection.  The HEPA air cleaner had to be on.  I showered and changed clothes after I worked with the plarn.

My final perspective on this project comes from living through the transition from paper grocery sacks to plastic.  We were sold a bill of goods.  The argument in the late 60's - early 70's was focused on the non sustainable forests being flattened for paper bags.  Yes, the same non-sustainable forests that to date provide paper goods from diapers to printer paper to Amazon boxes.  We were told plastic was a much better product and the transition was made. 

There is a place for the sterility of plastic.  Plastic bags do not have a valid purpose double bagging 2 liter bottles of soda. 

Here comes the old mantra that I still believe: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  My household is going to continue to focus on Reduce and Reuse.  Recycle needs to be investigated more fully.  Are the plastic bags put in the recycling containers actually being recycled? 

If you still want to provide more comfortable sleeping for the homeless, used yoga mats can be had at local resale shops for ~ $5 each.  They are lightweight and provide protection from the ground.

My time is better spent in other ways for mission work.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Repurposed Yarn into Rag Rugs

My Methodist/German upbringing will not allow me to throw away anything 
that could possible be used at least one more time.  This is what lead
to me being up in the middle of the night chaining 12 strands of used
yarn into one strand.

The weekend house we bought on 'pill hill' in Crystal Falls, MI came
with hand crocheted window valances in the 3 bedrooms.  They were nice
with Packer green trim on one, variegated pink and blue trim on another and fushia trim on the third. 
Most of the yarn was an off white.  I had other plans for the windows.

A normal person would have washed up the valances and dropped them off
at the St. Vinnie's on the hill.  Instead, I decided the valances could
be deconstructed and the off white 4-ply yarn knit into a blanket to
replace the sleeping bags we were using.

As the deconstruction progressed it became apparent the yarn was a tiny
bit sun rotted in a few places.  That took the plans for a blanket from
one 4-ply yarn to two 4-ply yarns.  I should mention that I began
wondering if the yarn from the window valances was going to be enough
for a blanket, so I began buying odds and ends of 4-ply yarn at the 2nd
hand stores in white and off white, just to add interest.

The next change of plan happened when the blanket in progress weighed 5
pounds at 12" of knitting.  And... I had just acquired a 4 harness
floor loom with a 45", 15 dent reed (15 yarns per inch).  I would weave
a blanket  instead.

It took about half a year to set up the loom, make sure all the parts
were complete, there was a fresh coat of Danish rubbing oil on all the
wood and to warp up (thread) the loom.  

There was more play in the 4-ply knitting
yarn than the pearl cotton I was used to, but I was able to
get an even tension on the warp with a bit of attention to detail.  It
was time to weave.   There were laundry baskets full of repurposed 4-ply
yarn balls waiting to be woven.

This was sooooo exciting because I had dreamed of weaving on my own
floor loom for decades.  I stepped on the treadle, shot the beginning
scrap fabric through the shed, changed treadles to set the row before
pulling back on the beater bar.  Those of you who have woven know what
happened next.  Nothing.  The 4-ply yarn went through the reeds,
singly.  The tension on the 150 4-ply yarns lined up did not allow the
beater bar to budge.

A 10 dent reed was procured, the warp transfered one yarn at a time and I was able to weave ~ 12" of blanket before we sold the weekend house in Crystal Falls and bought the future retirement home in Wausaukee.

The loom was dismantled with the warp removed from the back beam and
carefully wrapped around a cardboard tube.  All was brought back to West
Allis to keep it from rusting in storage.  And it sat for a year in a
spare bedroom until the hardwood floors were nearing completion in
Wausaukee.  Brand new hickory hardwood floors that would need some kind
of protection in high traffic areas and warmness in the Winter.  I would
go pioneer and weave rag rugs for the floors.  The blanket would have to

The loom was set up.  I bought 60 yards of fabric at the Florence
Eisemann Sale to use as filler.  The first two rugs were woven last
Summer from 10 yards of fine navy corduroy.  There was enough fabric
left over for a comforter to match.

The loom was warped up for the next set of rugs over Winter shutdown. 
10 yards of cream colored cotton knit were earmarked for the filler. 
But I kept tripping over the yarn for the blanket.  By this time it had grown to fill a duffel bay and the bushel basket.  The balls for the filler kept falling out of the basket.  The duffel bag did not stay put.  The cardboard tube with the original weaving kept leaning toward me saying, 'walk on me..'.

I gave in and took a bundle of yarn and wove a couple of rows.  12 yarns 
produced a nice thick fabric perfect for a bedroom floor.   The yarn has 
been re-purposed again.   I hope for the last time.

The yarn was bundled into one long chain and loosely draped into and eventually over the handle of a bushel basket.  When one yarn ended another was added until all the yarns were ready to weave.

The final tally is 6 rugs 27" wide.  Five are 66 inches long and woven from the repurposed valance yarn project .  The final rug used up the remaining warp and some leftover navy corduroy from the earlier rugs.  That is just large enough to fit under a chair.  All the rugs will fit into the home washing machine, one at a time.  

The weavings were removed from the loom and taken to the Wausaukee home to finish the ends and put into use.  The unrolled visual on the snowbank is what the weaving looks like before finishing.  And the very last photo is the rugs in place.

Yes..  the colors are odd and I am not completely comfortable with them.  I pulled the colors on the comforter from a fabric I fell in love with.  That led to the colors on the warp.  What scares me is if I add any more purple tones to the room it will not only whisper but scream 'old lady'.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The weather Saturday and was a perfect Summer day.

Results of my 3 cakes judged at State Fair, Saturday are below.  I was able to include currants into each recipe.  Cooking with currants is going mainstream, with me leading the charge!!

Butter cake:  disqualified-- The judge wanted a butter cake without added ingredients.  Currants between layers would have been fine.  Currants in the cake were disqualified.  The cake was described as 'delightful'.  The staff tried their best to find another category to judge it. AND they mentioned it had 'currants' in it.  Below is the recipe baked.

Citrusy Currant Nut Cake

Mix until light and fluffy in a large mixing bowl:
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C butter
4 Eggs

Add these ingredients and mix well:
3 C unbleached flour
1/2 C whole milk
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Gently stir into the batter:
2 C red currants
1 C toasted chopped pecans

Spoon into a prepared 10 C Bundt pan.
Bake in a preheated 325°F oven - 45 -> 50 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the
cake will come out with clean when the cake is done. (It will take longer to bake if
you are using frozen currants.)
Let rest 10 minutes in the pan. Remove from the pan onto a cooling rack. Ice when

2 C sifted XXX sugar
1 T room temp butter
2 -> 4 T orange juice

Add the juice gradually. The icing should reach a consistency that will spread and
drip down the cake, but not puddle on the cake plate. At this point mix until all the
lumps are smoothed out.

1 -> 2 t orange peel

Mix in orange peel.  Ice the cake.

Peach cake: Blue ribbon

This exact recipe is now the property of Wisconsin State Fair.

It can be easily replicated with the instructions below.

Spread 1/2 C peach jam on the bottom of a prepared 10 C bundt cake pan

Sprinkle over the peach jam:
1/4 C red currants
1/4 C toasted slivered almonds

Arrange over the other ingredients:
1 sliced peach

Pour your favorite butter cake into the bundt pan and bake until done.

Now comes technique:
- Let the cake rest upright for 20 minutes.  If this is not done, the weight of the topping will collapse the cake.
- Loosen the sides of the cake.
- Invert onto a serving plate and leave keep the pan over the cake another 2 hours.  This allows time for the topping to drop onto the cake.  The alternative is eating the topping out of the bottom of the pan.    

Spice cake:
Many entries. 4 better.

Long story:  I could not get the honey-spice  cake I baked on Friday  to release from the honeycomb pan. 

For the remake, I used a 1/2 recipe in a traditional 9" layer cake.  It was not the show stopper the honeycomb mold would have made and no doubt kept the cake from placing higher.  I saw the blue ribbon winner.  My cake would not have been the blue ribbon this year.

Bee Mine Honey Nut Spice Cake
(The recipe is for a 2 layer 12" cake cue to the size of the honeycomb cake mold.  Use 1/2 the recipe for a 2 layer 9" layer cake.)

2 cups honey
Combine the honey, oil, lemonade, and vanilla in a small saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is well blended. Remove hot mixture from the heat and let cool.
1 cup grape seed oil
1 1/3 cup lemonade
2 1/2 t vanilla extract

4 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 T  ginger
1 T cinnamon
1 1/4 t nutmeg Sift together.  Set aside In a large mixing bowl.
1 1/4 t coriander
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

4 eggs
Beat together until yellow and thick.  Add cooled liquid mixture.
1 c sugar
Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat until well blended.

1 C pink currants
Gently fold into the batter and pour 2/3 of batter into a well oiled bee hive bundt pan and the other half into a well oiled 10 " round cake pan.
1 C chopped & toasted walnuts
Bake 12" round pan in a 350°F preheated oven 30 - 35 minutes.
Bake bee hive pan in a 350°F preheated oven 50 - 60 minutes.
Cake will spring back when gently touched in the middle.
Let cakes sit 20 minutes on a wire rack.  Carefully remove from pan and complete cooling on a wire rack.  
Cream cheese filling:

8 oz  cream cheese
Whip together until smooth.
2 t vanilla

3 C XXX sugar
Sift together and add to cream cheese mixture
2 t cinnamon
3 t cream Add just enough cream to spread and the frosting still holds it's shape.
 Move 12" round cake to serving plate.  Brush with 1/3 of glaze.  Spread with the 2/3 of filling holding out the balance of frosting for outlining the honey comb on the top of the cake.  Place the bee bundt on top of the bottom layer and brush top and sides of the cake with the remaining glaze.

1/3 cup honey
Over medium heat bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Move cake to serving plate and poke all over with a fork.  Brush on the glaze.  Let set.
2 T + 2 t sugar
2 T + 2 t unsalted butter
  Pipe the remaining frosintg in the 'honey comb' valley between each bee cell of the cake top.  If you feel really lucky, pipe a few honey bees on top of the cells.

3 cakes entered.  1 blue ribbon.  1 disqualified.  This was a respectable showing against people who compete every year.

A woman I sold currants to this year was there.  She told me her currant jelly entry took 1st place at the Wednesday judging!!!

Best of show for cakes was a chocolate, strawberry mousse cake.  There is something wonderful about mousse between the layers of cake.

There was shuttle service when I dropped off the entries.  Shuttle service was not available when I returned later for judging.  It was a slow, difficult walk on a beautiful Summer day to my car when I left.

After a few phone calls I discovered there will be shuttles for drop off on Friday, but none after that.  I will drop off my 4 entries and leave the claim tickets with a friend should not all those entries place.  

Below are 3 of the recipes for Friday entries.  I'm still working out the details of the 4th recipe.

Melba Ice Cream:

Mix together:
1 C cold currant jelly whipped to break up
4 C cold whipping cream

Process in Ice Cream maker.

Fold gently into the soft ice cream:
1 C frozen red raspberries
1 C diced fresh peach

Package and freeze.

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the recipe.  My son and toughest critic said it tasted like Summer.
Currants bring a support background to the raspberry.  Much like a cello does in music.  Without it, there will still be melody, but it won't be as full and satisfying.

The next recipe is pure fiction.  And... reading it makes me drool.

Taco Fusion:
Cinnamon Taco Chips:
corn tortillas Cut into 6 wedges and fry until crispy in corn oil.

 1 C sugar
Mix together and sprinkle over hot taco chips.  
2 T cinnamon
3/4 C honey Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Cool to room temperature  

1/3 C minced fresh cilantro
1/4 C seeded, chopped jalapeno pepper
1/4 C diced onion
2 T grated orange peel Mix together. 
1/2 t salt Add honey and refrigerate 1 hour for flavors to blend.
1/4 t black pepper
1 C red or black currants
1 C peeled, cored & diced apple
Eat with cinnamon taco chips.
Best eaten the same day.

Grandma Hessil moved in to watch my younger brother when mom decided to go to work.  Good German apple crisp was warm from the oven when I came home from school in the fall.  The recipe below is a corruption of Grandma's perfection.

Apple Crisp With a Twist

3 C  peeled, cored & sliced apple
Mix together and spread onto the bottom of a buttered 8" X 8" baking pan.
3/4 C diced rhubarb
1/2 C red currants

1/4 C brown sugar
2 T sugar Cream together until light and fluffy.
1/4 C butter, room temperature
1 egg yoke Beat into butter mixture.

3/4 C unbleached flour
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t salt Mix into the butter mixture, gradually.
1/8 t baking powder
1/8 t anise
1/4 C toasted rough chopped walnuts Stir into the mixture.
Sprinkle on top of the fruit and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 - 35 minutes.  The fruit should be bubbling around the edges.

Serve warm or cool with cream or yogurt or ice cream or ….   ..