Monday, September 14, 2009

The Ever-Useful Newspaper

photo copyright Jeff Rudell.

Paper artist Jeffery Rudell Reminds us that we didn't always recycle newspaper, we've used it as wrapping paper, birdcage liners, even house insulation! In a May 2009 post over at CraftStylish.com, he shows us how to make a basket out of newspaper.

The "Times" They Are A-Changing: How to Make a Basket from a Newspaper - CraftStylish
Shared via AddThis

I can think of loads of ways to use a basket like this. My first instinct is to decorate it with Halloween images and bright orange ribbon, to hold all the candy we'll hand out to Trick-or-Treaters next month!

How could you use a basket like this? I'd love to hear!


Thanks for stopping by!

~Jan




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Now playing: Nik Kershaw - All About You
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sailors' Delight

I've been hitting garage sales, the Share Shop and Goodwill all summer, looking for scrabble tiles. Yep, I've got the bug. I wasn't entirely sure yet, how I was going to use them.

Thanks to the idea from Beadwork Magazine's latest issue of Handcrafted Jewelry (Home Sweet Home by Ellene McClay*, page 20), I decoupaged some scrapbook paper onto tiles, added some Diamond Glaze to the top and here's the first completed piece I've made with one.


The clasp and bail that holds the focal pendant is sterling, the chain is not. Hematite, jade and red frosted faceted glass beads give this bracelet a little jingle, and echo the colours in the pendant.



And here's the issue of Handcrafted Jewelry by BeadWork magazine. This issue has great articles and projects (choosing resins, how to decoupage a scrabble tile, how to make the the beautiful branch pendant on the cover, with polymer clay, and more) and is on news stands for a while longer yet. I so love mixed media jewelery, and magazines like this give me the courage to get creative with what I put together.


* Please visit Ellene McClay's blog and her Etsy store.



Thanks so much for stopping by!

~Jan

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fun With Wire and Beads from the New Studio

I can't tell you how good it feels to have space to create after having to stifle inspiration for lack of a space to create! Whew! I spent the whole afternoon/evening yesterday getting my ya-yas out, and except for not being able to find my burr cup (I'm in the city tomorrow and Saturday, so I'll go get another from my favourite shop, Bedrock Supply), it was bliss!

In addition to the stitch markers I told you about yesterday, I finally got to use some gorgeous sugalite rondelles I have been just DYING to use in these earrings inspired by a design by Char Jorgensen that I found in the Summer 2009 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine. The rondelles are 6x10mm on 22ga sterling silver, and the swirly ear wires are 20ga sterling silver. I can't wait to get that burr cup so I can file and wear a pair of these babies!


I knew these lampworked beads I had on hand would go really nicely with this bracelet inspired by Cassie Donlen's wire wrapped bangle from the same issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine. I didn't have the wire called for in the tutorial, but I made do. The bangle is 14ga sterling silver wrapped with double-twisted 22 ga sterling. The beads are glass and silver plated spacers, and on 16ga sterling silver wire.


I wonder what I'll make next!

Thanks for stopping by!



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Now playing: Blue October - Sound of Pulling Heaven Down
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More Soda Bottle Beads

Down in my lovely new studio space today, I finished using the last of the soda bottle beads I made earlier this year.

Back in April, I posted about these beads I made from 2L soda bottles. I made many more and today, I turned them all into stitch markers by adding wire, headpins and some silver plated beads. The rainbow and blue-green striped sets of 5 are on hooks that can open, so they could be used to mark crochet stitches if a person was careful enough not to snag the yarn at all with them. The set of 10 star ones are on wrapped loops, which are only good for knitting stitch markers.



I made a few more things today and have the itch to make more, so watch for more posts to come!


Thanks for stopping by!


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Now playing: Angelique Kidjo - Congoleo
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Studio-Making

Over a year and a half ago, I arranged a nice little desk in my basement laundry room to serve as my jewelery-making 'studio' space. I could hang strings of beads, packages and earrings-in-progress on racks on the wall my desk was up against, and the drawers held all kinds of beads, wire, jigs and finished jewelery. My tools were hanging off a wire magazine rack next to the desk, which was also home to a few books and numerous issues of BeadStyle, Art Jewelry, Step by Step Wire Jewelry and the odd Bead&Button magazines. All in all, it worked all right until my first craft show, when I disassembled it to bring product, displays and a working kit to my tables. After the first year's shows, I reassembled it and continued. It worked well enough in the summer when I wanted to escape to the cool basement to create. In the winter, well.. I could always wear polar fleece (I practically live in fleece in the winter anyway).


We have a small bedroom in the basement that's warmer in the winter due to a wide vent in the middle of the ceiling that brings warm air in from the furnace on the other side of the wall. When we don't have a guest, we block the vent to redirect the heat to the upstairs rooms, since there's no point in heating a room no one's using. It also has a subfloor and my vast collection of PEZ dispensers. We don't get a lot of guests who use it, and the bed isn't very good anyway, so I decided to make the space a little more useful.

I got a great folding table on sale last week at Canadian Tire. It's sturdy but can be folded away in case I need to make some space in a hurry. Here's the progress as of today:


I was so excited to see table-top that I pulled out my working kit and immediately started unpacking so I could make some jewelery. I've been itching to make stuff for weeks and unable to face my little desk, so this was a real welcome relief. The table is wide enough for one of the kids to sit on the other side (on the drum throne) and make some jewelery with mom. I can pull in another chair for that so they can both join in, if need be.


I still have the futon, futon frame and double mattress to dispose of, but that will happen soon. Also, there's a little drum kit under there that we're taking to my brother's kids later this month, and boxes of the kids' out-grown toys that we're going to put in a garage sale at some point. There's boxes of 'gift stash' items (we Christmas/Birthday shop for friends and family all year round) stacked on and in a cedar chest too, but there's light at the end of the tunnel and I'm happy to have a comfortable place I can go to make stuff.


I even managed to rescue some space in the cupboards we salvaged from the previous owner's basement layout when we tore two rooms into one for our music room. I can fit a few clear plastic shoeboxes full of miscellaneous craft supplies and books in there.

I'm excited. I can't wait to get in there and make stuff, but I wanted to share the progress with you and give you the heads up that I'll be posting some more jewelery in the future. FINALLY!!! YAY!

Thanks for stopping by!



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Now playing: Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Antonio the Amigurumi Frog

From my DeviantART Gallery: "Antonio is a friendly and cheerful little guy. He's young and looking for a good home with a loving parent to take care of him. He's helpful and has impeccable manners, and he loves to have books read to him. His favourite books are the Froggy series by Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz.

He's made with 100% acrylic yarn (Red Heart Comfort Sport) and polyester fibrefill, and is 3.25" long from nose to bum."




Antonio the
Amigurumi

Frog

Another Free Pattern!




Materials:

Red Heart Comfort sport in two colours of your choice.
Hook: 3.75 mm

Abbreviations:
R = round or row
sc = single crochet
st = stitch
tog = together (sc 2 tog = decrease)
sl st = slip stitch
instructions between * are repeated

Body:
R1 - sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st
R2 - 2 sc in each st around = 12 st
R3 - *sc 1, 2 sc in next st* = 18 st
R4 - *sc 2, 2 sc in next st* = 24 st
R5 to R7 - sc around = 24 st
R8 - *sc 2 tog twice, sc 8* = 20st
R9 - *sc 2 tog, sc 8* = 18st
R10 - *sc 2 tog, sc 7* = 16st
R11 - *sc 2 tog, sc 6* = 14st
R12 - *sc 2 tog, sc 5* = 12st
R13 - sc 2, sc 2 tog, sc 6
R14 - sc 2, sc to tog, sc 4
sl st and bind off, leaving a tail long enough to sew end closed.
Stuff with 100% polyester fibrefill and close.
If you choose to use safety eyes, you'll insert these before stuffing. If not, directions for the eyes are next.

Eyes (make 2):
R1 - With main colour (this is the iris), sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st.
sl st in first sc to close the circle, bind off and cut yarn.
R2 - Attach white or other contrasting colour and 2 sc in each st around = 12 st.
sl st in first sc in round and bind off and cut yarn, leaving a long enough end to sew the eyes to the body at 2 and 10 o'clock placements.

Hind Legs (make 2):
Chain 15.
1st toe: sl st in the 2nd chain from the hook, sl st 3 more.
2nd toe: Chain 6; sl st 5, back along these to the main chain.
3rd toe: Chain 5, sl st 4, back along these to the main chain.
Put hook through the bottom of the 2nd toe's chain, yarn over, pull through, keaving loop on hook.
Put hook through chain beside third toe, yarn over, pull through all loops on hook.
sl st back along the leg, bind off at first chain and cut yarn. Use ends to sew the top of the leg to the ankle, then sew the ankle to the body at the corner of the end that was sewn shut.

Fore Legs (make 2):
Chain 9.
1st toe: sl st in the 2nd chain from the hook, sl st 2 more.
2nd toe: Chain 5; sl st 4, back along these to the main chain.
3rd toe: Chain 4, sl st 3, back along these to the main chain.
Put hook through the bottom of the 2nd toe's chain, yarn over, pull through, keaving loop on hook.
Put hook through chain beside third toe, yarn over, pull through all loops on hook. Sl st back along the leg, bind off at first chain and cut yarn. Use ends to sew the top of the leg to the side of the body, just behind the eye.

Weave in all free ends and add a smile either by embroidering with yarn or gluing on felt.

I also posted this pattern on Ravelry.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jan

Friday, July 17, 2009

And Another Thing About Blog Addiction...

All right, so I haven't written much about the blogs I love (an unfair byproduct of reading so many is that I run out of time to post to my own blog!) but I couldn't help but share one of my favourite blogs with you today.

Favecrafts.com has been a font of inspiration and information, with everything from free instructions to upcycle water bottle caps to craft product reviews and sweepstakes/giveaways. One such sweepstake this month has them giving away an atyou Spica 12 Color Marker Set.



Says Favecrafts, "The markers are archival, acid-free, drip free, and non-toxic. The marker tips are fine making the markers perfect for lettering, writing, and drawing. The markers are recommended for cardmaking, rubberstamping, scrapbooking, artist journals, and other paper crafts."

I'm not deep into papercrafts though I've been known to dabble in just about any craft I can get my hands on, but don't these markers look luscious? Yes, Jan, yes they do.

You can enter to win these, too, by filling out the form, blogging and tweeting. Good luck, all!

Thanks for dropping by!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Art for Adoption Auction

My friend Jaci goes by Quidditchmom on deviantART. It's how we met, admiring each other's work and making art trades. She's a really talented and interesting lady, and she and her hubby are adopting a child from Africa. By taking the international adoption option, they probably won't wait very long to be able to bring home their new daughter, but they will incur the huge expense of traveling to Africa to get her. It's not money many of us just have laying around, and she's asked her friends in the deviantART community to help by donating original artwork for an auction to raise money they desperately need to complete their family.


The first wave of this auction has ended and I won the item I bid on, so I'm really thrilled (as will the people to whom this gift will be given). One of the amigurumi I donated to the auction was won by another bidder, and so I'm really thrilled about that as well!

You can help the Selby family and get yourself some original artwork or artisan crafts by bidding on items in the remaining auctions at http://auction.selbyfamilyadoption.com/. The July auction has begun and there are some really great items to bid on! You have to register but it's free and quick, and if you want to help but don't really want to buy any art, you can always make a donation.

Thanks for stopping by!



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Now playing: Steve Burns - What I Do On Saturday
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jan the Mad Hatter!

Now that summer is officially here and many of us are hiding from the heat, I'm reminded of my husband's tip, “Imagine that it's -30° Celsius out there and you’re lucky enough to be warm.”

I mentioned on Twitter a while back that I had spent a couple of weeks crocheting winter hats. It seems like a good time to start showing them off. Here’s the first instalment.

I found this great Boy Beanie pattern at allfreecrafts.com. It’s is a free crochet pattern by Laura Killoran that was originally published in Stitch N Bitch Crochet - The Happy Hooker, March 2006. I made a couple of these for nephews last Christmas and it is such an easy and quick pattern that I couldn’t resist making more.


The first one is in a steely blue-grey acrylic I’ve had sitting around for years. I want to say it’s Red Heart Super Saver but I can’t be sure and there’s no label anymore. The second is Red Heart Comfort and my kids are really into Pokémon, so this was a no-brainer. The third was an experiment in combining novelty yarn with this pattern. I am not sure I like it yet. I recommend you double-strand the novelty yarn when trying this, to make it fluffier. The fourth hat is for my brother-in-law, a huge Edmonton Eskimos fan. More Red Heart here (it's one of only two brands I can buy locally). The yellow I used for the ‘gold’ is actually the same yarn as the Pokémon hat, but I had to adjust the lighting in the picture to show off that gorgeous green.

Do you have a crochet pattern that you remake over and over just because it’s fast or easy or just pretty? Tell me about it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Jan


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Now playing: Bedouin Soundclash - When The Night Feels My Song
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 8, 2009

Naughty Secretary Club: A Marketing Campaign for Craft Show Vendors

Naughty Secretary Club: A Marketing Campaign for Craft Show Vendors

Jennifer Perkins shares some wisdom about how to make the best of your marketing tricks when it comes to craft fair season. This is a must-read for all craft fair lovers!


Some of the tips she gives us:

  • Web Banners! Make use of the ones provided on craft fair websites (like those above) for some mutual pimpage.
  • Swag! Make sure you have business cards, stickers or postcards; something with your name on it, to give away at the fair! People will remember free stuff.
  • Schmooze! You're going to want to take a tour of the fair to shop, so make friends with your fellow vendors and make some good network connections!
This and more of Jen's wise advice are over at the Naughty Secretary Club Blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Love Wire

I admit it.

I've seen some pretty amazing, complex and detailed jewelery made with this stuff, but the things that really catch my eye, the things I love
most, are the ones that are simple lines and shapes. Yes we can coil it and kink it and combine gauges and add beads and fibres and objects and make it a small part of something really wonderful, but what about line drawing and big open spaces? Squiggles, shapes, swirls and spirals, these are some of the things I like to make the most. They're simple, fast to make in some cases and they look just really great.

Here are a couple things I made this past week from some 18 gauge sterling silver. I also made one of those owls from copper. I love it!





Thanks for stopping by! ~Jan


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Now playing: Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Leon the Pig Amigurumi

Here's another free pattern from my gallery at deviantART. This one was requested (more than once) and I'm happy to be able to give it away now. My big thanks go to Beth (mercysmom on Ravelry) for testing this pattern for me!



Leon the Pig


Abbreviations:
R = round (or row)

sc = single crochet

st = stitch

tog = together (sc 2 tog = decrease)

sl st = slip stitch

ch = chain

instructions between * are repeated

Materials:
Worsted weight yarn in pink or other desired colour.
Used: Red Heart Comfort 3147 (Dusty Rose)

Crochet hook : 4.25mm or G hook

Polyester fibrefill

optional: Two 6x9mm pony beads or two washer-backed safety eyes** in your choice of colour and size.
Yarn needle, for weaving in ends and sewing the pieces together.

** If using safety eyes, I recommend making a small support round that you'll but the eye's post through before the body, to give the post and washer more fabric to hold as well as to further hide the washer. If you don't use this round, the washer may show through holes around the eye. Just sc 6 in a circle using the amigurumi double ring. Pull it closed so the middle hole is big enough to recieve the safety eye post and bind it off with a slip stitch. weave in the end and pull it into the stuffing of the body when attaching the eyes, to hide and secure it. Alternatively, you can use a felt circle in a contrasting colour, to add dimension and detail to the eyes.

Body:

R1 - sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st

R2 - 2 sc in each st around = 12 st

R3 - *sc 1, 2 sc in next st* = 18 st

R4 - *sc 2, 2 sc in next st* = 24 st
(For bead eyes, crochet in pony beads twice on this round, on either side of the round)
R5 to R8 - sc around = 24
(If using safety eyes, insert them after you've made enough fabric to support the washers)
R9 - *sc 2, sc 2 tog* = 18 st

R10 - *sc 1, sc 2 tog* = 12 st

R11 - *sc 2 tog* = 6 st


If you wish, turn the form inside out to get a different, textured surface showing. Stuff it with fibrefill as you get close to the end here. Bind off with a sl st, leaving 12" or so, and sew the hole closed. With this long end, ch 4. Put 3 sc in the 2nd st from the hook and 3 in each ch leading back to the body. Bind off with a sl st and weave in your end. This should create your pig's curly tail.


Feet (make 4):

R1 - sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st

R2 to 5 - sc around.

Stuff each with a small ball of polyester fibre fill and sew the edges to the underside of the pig, two in front, two in back. Exact placement is your preference.


Nose:

R1 - sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st

R2 - 2 sc in each st around = 12 st

Bind off with a sl st and sew this to the face, dead centre with either your cut end or a contrasting colour for nostrils. Sew it in two spots, where you want nostrils.


Ears (make 2):

R1 - sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st

R2 - *2 sc in next st, sc 2* = 8st

R3 - *2 sc in next st, sc 3* = 10st

R4 - *2 sc in next st, sc 4* = 12st

R5 - *sc 2 tog, sc 3* = 10st

R6 - sc 2 tog, sc 2, sc 2 tog, sc, sl st last st = 8st

Bind off and cut, leaving a 4" or so end, with which to sew the ear to the top of the body, just above the face.


If you didn't use pony beads or safety eyes, embroider your eyes on after placing the nose and ears, for best control over the facial expression and placement. You can also embroider a smile, frown or smirk under his nose, if you like.


Thanks for stopping by!
~ Jan

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Now playing: Ella Fitzgerald - Old McDonald
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Bandana Shirt

Inspired by such blogs as Mary Olsen's Crafter's Guru and Jan DiCintio's Daisy Janie, I whipped up this little summer bandana shirt for my daughter. She's eight, so it'll fit her perfectly for a good long while as a baggy and breezy shirt, but it could also fit a toddler as a dress.


I found these bright and gorgeous bandanas at the dollar store last time I was there, and bought two each of my daughter's favourite colours to wear: turquoise and green. After washing and ironing, I followed the instructions (from memory actually, it was that easy) I'd seen on both the websites I'd seen this on and made a cute turquoise top. I sewed all the seams down on this one, and embellished the bottom front with a few Tulip's "Glam it Up" iron-on crystals.

I'm considering making something different for her from the green bandanas. A skirt maybe? If she really likes this shirt, then I'll make her another. I hope it's really warm out this weekend, so I can see my girl in this!

Check out the links above for those instructions and try it yourself!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Jan

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Now playing: Vandals - If the Gov't Could Read My Mind
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 4, 2009

Frank The Whale Amigurumi

I'm reposting this free amigurumi pattern from my DeviantART journal. This was originally posted in February 2009.
Add Image


Abbreviations:
R = round or row
sc = single crochet
st = stitch
tog = together (sc 2 tog = decrease)
dc = double crochet
sl st = slip stitch
instructions between * are repeated

You need:
100% acrylic yarn, worsted weight.
(Shown: Red Heart Super Saver)
Crochet hook: 4.25mm or G hook
polyester fibrefill
felt, beads, safety eyes or other, for facial features of your choice.
(Felt applied with Speed Sew is shown.)


R1 - sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st
R2 - 2 sc in each st around = 12 st
R3 - *sc 1, 2 sc in next st* = 18 st
R4 - *sc 2, 2 sc in next st* = 24 st
R5 - *sc 3, 2 sc in next st* = 30 st (If using beads for eyes, crochet them in along this row on either side of the face)
R6 to R12 - sc around = 30 st (If using safety eyes, insert them after you've made enough fabric to support the washers)
R13 - *sc 6, sc 2 tog* = 26 st
R14 - *sc 5, sc 2 tog* = 22 st
R15 - sc around = 22 st
R16 - *sc 5, sc 2 tog* = 19 st
R17 - sc around
R18 - *sc 4, sc 2 tog* = 16 st
R19 - sc around = 16 st
R20 - *sc 3, sc 2 tog* = 12 st
R21 to R22 - sc around
Stuff the whale fully now, leaving enough space at the tail to press it flat between your fingers.

Tail:

Press the tail closed flat, then sc it shut with 6 sc for R1.
R2 - chain 2, dc 2, sl st 2, dc 2, turn.
R3 - chain 2, 2 dc in each of next 2 st, sc, chain 1, 2 dc in next 2 st, turn
R4 - chain 2, 2 dc in each of next 3 st, sc in middle-most stitch post hole, chain 1, 2 dc in last 3 st, (skipping any between middle and last 3)
slip stitch, cut yarn and pull through loop to bind off, weave in end.

Fins (make 2):

Chain 5
sc in 2nd ch from hook, and sc to end. Turn.
sc along other side to end.
3 sc in end stitch.
sc along to end. sl st final stitch, cut and pull through loop to bind off, leaving enough of a tail to sew fin to body where desired. Weave in ends.

Cut out felt facial features if you didn't use beads or safety eyes, and paste them on with speed sew or sew them on.


Thanks for stopping by!


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Now playing: Modest Mouse - Float On
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

Last summer my kids really dove into yogurt. They'd easily go through one 650mL tub of it daily and those plastic tubs kept piling up. I donate most of them (along with other plastic my local recycling depot won't yet accept) to my son's Kindergarten classroom. His teacher shares them with the other primary teachers, so I know they're not going to landfill anytime soon. I decided that, for the cost of yogurt, I could be making my own without artificial colours, flavours or added sugar. I could also cut down on the number of plastic tubs coming into my house.

I once tried a homemade yogurt recipe using powdered milk, and it was awful. The kids hated it and I wasn't too impressed, either. This time, I spent some time looking for a better recipe and found one on Instructables.com. It calls for cream along with the milk, and I don't bother mixing them. I just use regular 2% milk (that's what's usually on hand) and the least expensive plain yogurt available at my local grocery store.
All in all though, the recipe and instructions there were really simple and I recommend this for anyone who likes yogurt!

Are you ready? I’ll give you a really detailed account of how I make it.

This is so easy.


You need:
Medium saucepan
Whisk, sterilised with boiling water.
Candy thermometer
1.5L (or quarts, or as much as you want to make) of 2% milk
Approximately 120 ml (1/2 cup) of plain store bought or homemade yogurt
(you need this for the a/b bacterial culture!)

Suitable glass or plastic bowl with lid or cover sterilised with boiling water.
Cheesecloth

1. Heat the milk in the saucepan on medium heat, stirring frequently with a spoon or whisk. Bring it to about 180°F but no higher. The goal here is to re-pasteurise the milk to kill any unwanted bacteria, not to let it come to a boil.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit to cool until the milk is about 100°F.


3. Boil enough water in your teakettle to pour all over the glass or plastic container you’re using, as well as your whisk. (Don’t dry them with towels, just shake out the hot water, it’ll dry fast from the heat.) This should make them bacteria-free as well. When the milk has cooled enough, whisk in the plain yogurt for a few minutes so it’s combined.

4. Pour the yogurt-milk mixture into your container and set it inside your oven with the light on. If your oven doesn’t have a light, check for a ‘warm’ function, or preheat it a wee bit, then turn it off when you place your container inside. It should be as warm as an ideal place to let bread dough rise, if that helps.

5. Let it sit for 6 to 8 hours and then cover it and put it in the fridge for a while to chill, even overnight. When it's cold, take the cover off and lay your loosely folded cheesecloth directly on top of the yogurt, and leave it in the fridge like this for a few hours. It’s going to draw up the whey from your yogurt to thicken it. (My thanks go to my friend Helen for this tip. I was originally trying to strain it through coffee filters in a sieve, which took a lot of space in the fridge and more sterilising!)


Whey is the watery liquid that separates from the yogurt. It isn’t bad for you or anything. In fact, if you decide to strain it with a sieve and filter you can use the liquid for bread and other recipes. We just don’t want it in our yogurt if we’re going to add things later to flavour it, or it’ll be really runny.


6. Rinse, wring and reapply your cheesecloth as many times as you wish to reach your desired consistency. If you like your yogurt really thick so you can add fruit syrups or even maple syrup, use the cheesecloth more than 3 times. Stir it, add whatever you like and enjoy!
When stirring your yogurt, if you find it has a gooey, elastic consistency to it, then you didn’t kill enough unwanted bacteria. It shouldn’t affect the flavour, and as long as you’re sure your container and whisk were acceptably clean, I don’t think it’ll hurt you to eat it. (No ill affects here, anyway!)



I usually add strawberry or raspberry jam to our yogurt, or fresh berries if I have them on hand. It’s better if you can find jams without added sugar, but unless you make your own jams they usually cost more, which makes buying store bought yogurt much cheaper than making it yourself. If you don’t mind that cost though, you can still feel proud of saving the planet from one more ‘disposable’ plastic container.
I’m not a big fan of “Activia” brand yogurt, the kids and I don’t like the flavour, so I’ve never tried making homemade yogurt from pro-biotic types. If you try making some, or use another great yogurt recipe or method, please share your results by commenting below!

Thanks for stopping by! ~ Jan

Friday, April 24, 2009

Crumpet Failure

I'm a bread eater. I mean, of all the bread products I've ever had I don't think I met one I didn't like. Breakfast breads are a particular favourite, especially crumpets. I so love them that I searched for a decent-looking recipe for homemade crumpets, to ensure I'd never have to go without, even when my local grocery store doesn't have them (which is often). Enter Mr. Breakfast.

Mr. Breakfast tempted me with "Jeffery's" oh-so-easy recipe for
Crumpets, but I'm sad to say that it let me down. Maybe it's because here in Western Canada, we get such great quality all-purpose flour (no sifting required here in the Great White North), our baked things are more glutinous. Maybe it's the altitude, because I live in the foothills of the Rockies. Maybe I'm just not a great cook.
I made the batter according to the directions and noted that 'batter' doesn't really accurately describe it. It looked more like bread dough. After the 45 minute resting period, I added the baking soda dissolved in water, and it looked like wet bread dough.



Not one to panic, I let it rise another 25 minutes and began cooking it on my greased skillet. It wouldn't portion out nicely because it was elastic and doughy, but that was ok. It cooked and although there were none of the signature holes expected of decent crumpets (I mean seriously, where's the butter going to go?), they looked tasty enough. Two pans later, I still wasn't satisfied, so I added water to the remaining batter and ladled out the last pan, which looked a lot like the first two, only flatter.

Failure.



You can see how desperate that flat one on top is to look more hole-y. I haven't tried toasting and eating these yet, but let's just say I'm not recommending this recipe. I'll keep looking. In the meantime I'm not throwing this recipe out just yet, either. Next time I try it, I'm going to try reducing the yeast and flour, and increasing the milk and water. I'll let you know how it goes.

And if any of you have or find a recipe for homemade crumpets that you know works, please feel free to share it with me! Comment below or email me at WireMySoul@gmail.com.

Thanks for stopping by! ~Jan

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Now playing:
Sisters of Mercy - Dominion / Mother Russia
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

I've been thinking about which green craft project I could talk about today, since it's Earth Day. I've been seeing a lot of really great recycle and upcycle related projects this month, so I'm showing you my favourite one yet.

A couple of weeks ago, my google reader caught a really great idea from the clever peeps at Dollar Store Crafts about making beads from recycled soda bottles. The instructions are there, and I have to say I liked the results I got with my hot hair dryer better than a pot of boiling water. I know those bottles are worth a few cents at the local depot, but wouldn't you rather make some long-lasting jewelery from them instead? Or maybe you'll make some great stitch markers for the avid knitter in your life!

See these in my deviantART gallery

How to:

Cut a 4 inch length of craft wire. Make a large wrapped loop using a large pen, or a larger peg if you're using a wire jig. Add your soda bottle bead and any others you want to go with it, then finish it off with another, smaller wrapped loop. Voila! Make a whole matching set and give them to your best knitter friend, or keep them to use yourself!

Today is a good day to destash your recycleables to make beads like this, or crochet your plastic shopping bags (or even fuse them, what the hey!). Do something nice for Mother Earth today.

Thanks for stopping by! ~ Jan

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Now playing: Leonard Nimoy - Both Sides Now
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome to Wire My Soul.

Hello Blogiverse! I'm a mom in Alberta Canada who spends too much time looking at cool craft ideas, making jewelery from beads and wire (and whatever else I can find), baking and crocheting amigurumi and other cool things, and listening to my favourite podcasts (or looking for more of them). I should be cleaning my house, instead of filling it with all this stuff, but ... well, let's just say you won't see many room pictures in this blog.

I've been using my deviantART site as my home base of operations for over a year now, and while I'm not much of a journal-keeper, I have to admit I'm not sure how much it serves my needs on the net. It's great for communicating with other deviantARTists, but if my reader isn't a member, s/he can't comment on my posts. So here I am. We'll see how this goes.

What you'll find here: I'll be posting some of my amigurumi patterns for free here, as well as drawing more attention to some people I admire and follow on the internet, including sharing craft ideas and my thoughts on some of the stuff I see and hear online.

Thanks for stopping by!