Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Natural Fiber & Organic Yarns

I was so sad the other week when I found out my favorite online yarn store Knit For Brains had closed down, but I scored big when I wrote the owner and asked if there was left over inventory I could still buy!! I got everything at wholesale and under prices - wooo hooo! My fellow crochet and knitters will know this is like the kid in a candy store, all those colors, all the soft silky feel, all the cool ass projects I can make now.
And everything is 100% natural fiber, there are no fugly and creepy feeling acrylic yarns in this box, no chemical fibers. Some of these yarns are made from things that people would never expect, so I thought I would share a lil' bit about why buying these eco yarns is better and show ya how beautiful they look too...
1. Banana Silk Yarn (also known as banana fiber yarn) ::::
This eco savvy yarn is in a category all it's own. It is rarely heard of, rarely seen at yarn stores and has a look & feel that is utterly unique to the fiber. And I LOVE IT! It really does have that natural sheen to it.
"Banana Silk fiber yarn is made from the fiber of the banana tree. Only the decaying outer layers of the trees (aged bark) are harvested and soaked under water to quicken the natural process. When all of the chlorophyll structures are dissolved, the cellulose fibers remain. They are extruded into pulp and to make it suitable for spinning into yarn." -shangri la crafts
2. Soy Yarn (also known as Soy Silk Yarn) :::
I love soy yarn. It's so awesome one time my cat ate some of it like she was Lady and the Tramp slurping up pasta at a romantic dinner. It has a super silky, slippery feel and works great for delicate, luxurious projects. I like to make necklaces with this yarn, and one time I even made a pair of panties... it is the perfect feel to make lingerie.
"Soy is the ultimate sustainable fiber -- it's made from discarded tofu! Leftovers from tofu manufacturing are gathered up, liquefied, and extruded through spinnerets to create filaments which are then spun into fine yarns. The process is very similar to how bamboo fibers are spun. Henry Ford first investigated the use of soy in textiles for his automobiles in the 1940's, but the arrival of synthetics on the scene caused this effort to fade away." - fiber organics
3. Bamboo Yarn ::::
The above bamboo yarn color is awesome... it's called GIRLIEFLAGE! A girl camo yarn that comes out in a cute camo-ish pattern. I have never gotten to use the bamboo yarn yet but it seems similar to the soy yarn and it is certainly soft to touch with a sheen to it. I don't have to use it to know I already love it and plan to make alot of necklaces with this yarn!
"In order to make bamboo into yarn, the stalks are liquefied and then extruded by machine through spinnerets into threads, which are then spun into yarn. The process is similar to how rayon is made, so sometimes bamboo textiles are referred to as "bamboo rayon" or "bamboo viscose". Other cellulosics (fibers derived from cellulose) such as lyocell (made from wood pulp) and modal (made from beechwood) are processed this way also.
Some people are concerned about the production of bamboo textiles because the process uses caustic soda (sodium hydroxide), which is dangerous in large quantities. Some suppliers work closely with manufacturers to ensure that the fabrics are made with minimal environmental impact. They use advanced wastewater treatment systems and have strict controls on exhaust emissions
- Fiber Organics
4. Organic Cotton Yarn ::::
I didn't buy any this go around... but I know it's good stuff! here is what it takes to make the fiber....
"◦uses untreated seeds (no insecticides or fungicides)
◦never uses genetically modified seeds
◦builds strong soil through crop rotation, rather than relying on synthetic fertilizer
◦physically removes weeds rather than relying on herbicides
◦uses beneficial insects and lure crops to manage pests
◦relies on seasonal freezes to remove foliage from cotton, rather than chemicals
◦must be processed separately from conventional cotton, including separating the fiber from the seed, spinning, knitting and sewing
◦if bleached, hydrogen peroxide is used rather than chlorine
◦dyes used are the least harmful possible (to people and planet), and may include low-impact, fiber-reactive, and natural dyes
" -Fiber Organics
5. Wool Yarn ::::
Wool can mean alot of things, there is sheep wool, alpaca wool, llama wool... but being a wool fiber does not mean it was processed in an environmentally sensitive way. Here is what is takes to do it right...
"◦the sheep are not genetically modified or given synthetic hormones or vaccinations;
◦from the last third of a lamb’s gestation period, all feed grain and grazing pasture must be organically grown
◦pastures may not be treated with pesticides
◦sheep may not be dipped in pesticides to treat parasites like ticks and lice (the dipping chemicals can harm sheep farmers, and contaminate nearby ground water)
◦sheep must be maintained in good health
◦mulesing (gruesome removal of the skin, to treat blowflies) is obviously not permitted
◦the number of sheep per acre of land is limited to the land’s natural capacity to support grazing livestock; producers cannot overgraze the land
◦during the cleaning, carding and spinning processes, organic fibers are kept separate from non-organic fibers
◦any dyes used are low-impact and metal-free
" -Fiber Organics
6. Nettle Yarn ::::
Link to see it HERE.
" the fiber from the stinging nettle plant used to be a common alternative to cotton. Until 1900 or so, it was widely used instead of cotton, due to a cotton shortage. Nettle fabrics were used in military clothing during the second World War. However, as synthetic materials became more popular, nettle fabric lost its market share, and eventually the technology for producing fiber from the plant was forgotten. The German firm Stoffkontor Kranz AG, founded in 1991 by Heinrich Kranz, has invested significant efforts to develop new methods for producing nettle fabrics. Another industrial-scale developer of nettle textiles is Camira, creator of Sting Plus fabric. Nettle grows “like a weed”, requiring no pesticides and very little fertilizer. The plants come back every year, and only need to be replaced every 10-15 years. " -Fiber Organics
For more natural fiber yarns, and blends go HERE. Viva La Crochet!!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ant Headed Black Beetle-ish Bug

Another resident at the Luck Cabin! I love inside bugs during the winter because outside I just don't see them anymore - the ground here is frozen now, like the mud has become a brown hard glacier.
I have this black bug buddy crawling up my walls and sneaking behind things to stay warm a few times but had not had the chance to get close up....
but once I did, i was really baffled by all the bugs this one insect represented... beetle in it's movement, ant faced, bee segmented belly, tiny wings (faux or not?) , grasshopper legs!
WHat Is IT?
This buggie is also rather large! It is not the size of an ant... it's a bit of a beast. The kind of bug that would make my mom freak out and call for help. (My mom once called the police when a snake was in her yard!)
It even walked straight up to my cat Toots and tried to start a fight with her. She kept backing her face away from it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

JuJu the donkey Luvs Her Neck Scarf

This is a lil' story about JuJu and her love of sassy neck scarves ::::
For the last two months I have not been able to go for walks with JuJu because she had found a way to jump a neighbor's decorative fence and roam their pasture. Mr. Dontlikedonkeys next door was more then unhappy about it, and since he'd caught her on his surveillance cameras JuJu the donkey was guilty as charged for her trespassing offense.

A sad long 2 months passed as we waited to come up with the right solution to the problem, and built a small fence this past week along the creek to block her from her habit. Yesterday was our first day to go for a walk again, and she was more then ready to get outta her fenced area - she was pushing with her head on the gate and jumping and swinging things- so when i took out her halter to put on her face (the ultimate symbol of "walk time") she grabbed it in her teeth and shook that donkey head in a big resounding YES YES YES!!!
I put the halter on her face and we were all ready to go...
but then... JuJu went inside her barn stall and stood there... patiently...staring at me. She would not budge. We stared back and forth in silence.
I was confused.
"Are you scared JuJu? Do you not remember? DO you want to go for a walk?"
JuJu then pointed her soft nose to her special blue neck scarf tied to the side of her stall and gave it a nudge. I had taken it off that morning... and thought, does she really want it back on?
I took the possible cue and pulled the silky scarf down and tied it around her neck. Then i stood back and walked towards the gate...
She now was ready to go for a walk, and followed me at almost an excited run right out the gate!
All she wanted was her pretty neck scarf on before she went out in public...
........... I dont know where she gets it from (the fashion sense OR the trespassing?!? ;)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Thankful For...

Funny videos like this! (Thanks to my BFF Richard for sending this to me this morning!)


The only good part about Thanksgiving is the reminder about being thankful...
So here is what I am thankful for today::::
  • my donkey JuJu, and all my chickens, ducks and cat Toots
  • my lil' Luck Cabin, and all I have accomplished here
  • my parents
  • my axe & a good wood stove
  • my improving health (or so i like to pretend!)
  • organic & wild grown foods that keep me fed (especially amazake rice milk)
  • my blog The Oko Box and all it's readers, makes each day better
  • that i grew up in the wonderful & fun culture of New Orleans, LA
  • my friends who come out to the Luck Cabin to visit me
  • nature in general, and all around me
  • that I am able to dance
  • the deer hides I am about to get from the guy who is hunting on my land right now

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pee Wee's Thanksgiving (probably more true then the american version)

Truth be known, I don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Maybe it was a twist of fate, celiac sprue... or my native american DNA - either way I don't celebrate it, especially in the all American pilgrim luv way they try to force pre-schoolers to believe in.
When I was in pre-school we had a pilgrim play to perform for the adults. I arrived in my favorite faux fur fuzzy pink coat and once backstage I refused to take my fabulous pink coat off to put on the honky tonky pilgrim costume... I distinctly remember thinking the whole thing was creepy and wrong, a hippy would say "trippy" was the appropriate feeling I had.
In order to teach me a lesson, a punishment or maybe even humiliate me into accepting the American way of doing a Thanksgiving play, the teacher pushed me on the stage in my pink coat anyway. Instead of crying though, or running back to put on the brown smock I quietly began to protest... "I don't wanna be up here..."
"I don't wanna be UP HERE..."
repeat, repeat, and repeat...
until the embarrassed teacher signaled my embarrassed parents to get me down off the stage. My mom and dad pretended not to be related to me, my older sister sunk in her chair... aunts and uncles laughed their asses off since they had not birthed me, until one of them relented for my parents and went to claim me off the stage.

Here is a video i freaking LOOOOVEEE, of pee wee herman's version of the first thanksgiving with the pilgrims! It is probably more accurate then our history books.

Pee Wee Herman's story of the first Thanksgiving from Rob Ashe on Vimeo.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Testing For Hydro Electric Power Possibilities

Remember how last week I was curious about how I could get off grid power without cutting down my trees? Well, here goes my first attempt to find a way to get sustainable power, in the semi dark! Hydro-power! One of my readers here at The Oko Box pointed out that I have many water sources on my property and there may be a possiblity of harnessing the energy from that...so I was really excited when Mr. Tebbe contacted me from the Sundance Power Systems company in Weaverville,NC to discuss possible hydro power options.
The first step I had to do was to test how many seconds it would take my creek to fill up a bucket. I searched along the creek for a spot to shove a bucket under, but then remembered the creek is already piped into my pond on a decline...
I kept dropping the bucket when it would start to fill, so Bort handed me his Nalgene bottle which has little measuring dealies along the side (32 ounces). It took 2 seconds to fill & overflow a 32 ounce space.
WATER RATE: 8 seconds to fill 1 Gallon of water
I also measured the height of the full water drop at that spot, which is approx 3.5 to 4 feet high.
I started some Hydro Electric research as suggested by Mr. Tebbe... and found that this kind of project hits right at the heart of every learning disability I was ever diagnosed with! ha ha.
First I found a "simple formula" for figuring out if you can house a lil' hydro power :
"A simple formula for approximating electric power production at a hydroelectric plant is: P = ρhrgk, where
P is Power in watts,
ρ is the density of water (~1000 kg/m3),
h is height in meters,
r is flow rate in cubic meters per second,
g is acceleration due to gravity of 9.8 m/s2,
k is a coefficient of efficiency ranging from 0 to 1. Efficiency is often higher (that is, closer to 1) with larger and more modern turbines. "

The only result/solution for the Luck Cabin's Hydro-ness I mathmatically came up with after examining that formula was this:
This is engineer stuff. (Is reader Lou Cheese out there? I bet you make something of this jibber jabber!!)
What I wanna know is hydro-electric a possibility for the Luck Cabin (where i use about 30-40$ of electric a month/ or approx. 250KWH per month)
...how much power could my lil' pipe of creek water produce?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eco DIY: Crochet Necklace

My eco crafting frenzy continues on (the craft fair my mom entered me in is December 11th!)
I liked this crochet necklace idea so much I wanted to share it with ya'll! There are alot of people out there who love jewelry but have allergies to either metal, chemicals in leather cords, or toxic fabric cords... I am one of those people and so I am always trying to come up with cute shit to wear that is eco, chem free, and safe. For this crochet jewelry project I used soy yarn! (Soy and Bamboo yarns are very silky and have a natural sheen.)
I would really like to elaborate on this crochet necklace idea, but for now here is the simple pattern I made up last night ::::
1. (ch) chain stitch --- make a crochet chain the length you would like your necklace to hang. I don't get anal about the math.
2. (s) single crochet stitch --- at the end of your chain, turn your work and do a single crochet stitch in the first hole.
3. (ch) 4 --- make 4 chain stitches off the single crochet.
4. SKIP 2 --- skip two holes AFTER you've made the 4 chains.
5. (s) single crochet --- make a single crochet stitch in the next hole AFTER the two you skipped.
6. REPEAT step #3-#5 --- this repeat makes the lace effect, repeat it till you get to the end of your original chain.
7. THE BALL/clasp --- when I got to the end of the lace, I did 6-8 DOUBLE crochet stitches all going into the same hole at the very end of the necklace. This make a fan or shell shape - which I then folded over once and used a SLIP STITCH to hold in place, the folded over again and did another SLIP STITCH to hold in place, creating a ball shape. The ball can then be poked through the lace holes to hold the necklace on!!! Way cool. :)))
8. Pendant --- I would rather do all crochet and make it really fancy, but for now a nice glass or ceramic pendant is fun! I tied it on with some hemp twine that was the same color as the soy yarn I used to crochet with.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ms. Buttersworth The Chicken Improves!

Here is my vid of Ms. Buttersworth my sick (but less sick now) chicken over the last 3 days. She is still staying in the Luck Cabin with me, but seems to be improving - thanks to everyone for their comments, ideas and help!

PS- For those that mighta missed it... Ms Buttersworth was acting strange, not seeking out food, shivering, hiding from the other chickens, isolating herself, lacking hygiene habits, acting confused & scared. She was eating and drinking if the food & water was brought to her, she just wasn't making any effort for herself.
I put garlic, ginger and usnea in her water and am keeping her fed by the nice warm wood stove.


Weird Science In Your Food: Trademarked Experiments

(photo by Nutraflora [tm] )
My good friend Noel in NYC called me last night and told me her concerns about a cereal she had bought at the health food store...

She said aside from the fact that it "tasted like poison" when she tried to eat it, in the ingredient list there was something called "Nutraflora" (TM) which had been trademarked. Trademarked food? Assuming that any trademarked food must either be...

1. Chemical/creepy man made & bad for you (aka not food)
2. Trademarking some process of how they got that 'food' , maybe?

So she looked it up, here... where the whole website described a type of food fiber that helps you "absorb calcium". A "prebiotic" they say occurs naturally... but only in the tiniest amounts.

Really? Naturally occurring... then how can they trademark it? I mean my donkey poop naturally occurs from my donkey but I can't trademark donkey poop across the world. Can I?

Is this really going to start happening already, have any of you seen natural foods that have been trademarked at the grocery, such as fruits and veggies? This really smacks of some Monsanto monopoly type crap, where they have claimed their TM'ed seeds, and even seeds that insects accidentally pollinated miles down the road...(destroying other people's farms for their greed & seed!)

How can you claim seeds OR naturally occurring foods as a trademark?
Maybe Nutraflora (tm) can trademark it because actually what it does in your body is not at all natural....
" For example, to get the same benefits offered in one serving of NutraFlora-enriched yogurt, you would have to eat about 22 bananas, 15 onions, 16 tomatoes, or 383 cloves of garlic."
Um WHAT? I don't know about you, but hell if I would ever eat 383 cloves of garlic in one meal..... muchless 22 bananas, 15 onions, 16 tomatoes all on the same plate. That is not what the human body was made to do. Period.
To me this is a vitamin product, not a "naturally occurring" food that belongs in Noel's cereal.
And if you wanna know the real deal, this strange shit is in foods you'd never guess...
How about your Horizon organic milk? Or your Silk Soy Milk? Look at the labels.
Why is so much food a trademarked experiment these days? And doctors sit around perplexed by all their patients with strange chronic diseases, and food allergies. I believe the mass scale altercation of food through farming AND processing is slowly breaking down the natural abilities & defenses of the human body...
who can say they don't know someone these days who has diabetes, cancer, allergies, arthritis, thyriod disorder, etc. In my opinion it went from minority sick to majority chronically pushing their way through life.
We have made some great break throughs in science, major technological advances. But the altering of what we eat is an experiment we will surely regret. The human body has evolved on foods provided by the earth, not by science labs. The human-like diseases which our pets and animals have begun to have from our man made foods (leukemia, AIDS, diabetes, cancer, tumors) for them is just a small proof of what we are creating for our own now and future.

For good health, eat whole real foods made by nature!

PS--- this blog post is the opinion of the author. Don't sue me. Sue Noel, she's the one who brought it up. ;)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ms. Buttersworth (the chicken) Moves In (temporarily)

The last few days Ms. Buttersworth the chicken has seemed to be gettin' senile. She had been a little clucky and weird a few weeks before that, I thought maybe she was going through a possible nesting phase... but then she just seemed cold, confused, and I got that nursing home vibe. The last rung on the sanity ladder. Her lil' red comb on her head turned half black and patchy, flopped over a bit. When I would pick her up she seemed to be shivering, and was hiding in the corner of JuJu the donkey's hay pile.
So now Ms. Buttersworth is in the warmth of the Luck Cabin, her own private box with food & water... and a cat 'nurse' to watch over her. Toots the cat has been making BiG EyEs since I let Ms. ButterCrazy inside.
She eats and drinks. She just doesn't roost, or hang out with her friends, or seem to know where she is going...
is this chicken old age?

Trees VS Solar

I have an sustainable issue that maybe ya'll can help me with...
I moved into the forest, and there is only scarce amounts of sunlight coming to the Luck Cabin. While I would love to get off the grid entirely, when it comes to doing anything solar related... well the trees are blocking out the light. It seems crazy to me to cut down trees to have solar energy, but which option really is the most environmentally sound? I mean, how much is destroyed when I use up all the electricity... more then 10-20 trees?
I have a small hot water heater, run by electricity - it's small enough to fit under the kitchen counter. But I long to have a solar tank, that uses the sun to heat up the water. I have a stove and fridge run by electricity too... but I use maybe 30-40$ a month total, so switching to solar should be somewhat easy.
That is, if i had sunlight (and $).

I would love to open a discussion here where people can share their ideas of better ways to live Off Grid without using electricity generated by the electric company. Do I even need solar panels (sunlight heat), or is there a truly efficient and realistic way to live with no electricity year round without solar energy?
My suggestion box is open!
Here are steps I have already taken to be sustainable::::
  • Gravity fed spring water
  • Organic gardening (planting fruit trees, herbs, veggies etc to feed myself)
  • Using wood to warm the cabin (also can cook on the wood stove too)
  • Building my gray water system, instead of a septic tank
  • Composting toilet
  • My donkey! (using her poop as garden fertilizer and I plan to train her to take long rides, carry pack saddles, hike etc...)
  • Rarely drive a car (i have a bike too, but don't have the strength to ride it in my area)
  • Wear only organic, vintage, fair trade, used, thrifted clothing and shoes

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Best Use For A Leaf Blower

Ya'll know I hate leaf blowers, for many many pollution reasons. This is the first time I ever saw one put to good use.
(pic is of my cousin's kid! Thanks Jessica for being the kind of mom who takes these pictures.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Sh!t I Don't Buy (or use)

For the last ten years I have not bought traditional (aka toxic) house cleaners, dish soaps, body soap, shampoo, conditioner, or deoderant. No, I don't shop lift them or get them for free... I stopped using that stuff and here is how it all started:::
When I got diagnosed with Celiac Disease I was told that not only would my diet be changed but also anything I used as a personal care product, on any surface in my home or on my body needed to be gluten free also. Back in the day I already ate organic, and when I sent out nearly 100 letters and far more phone calls to companies trying to search for gluten free & healthy alternatives to clean up with not one company could say they were safe for me to use. Lawsuit worries, combined with the fact that gluten is in nearly every product Americans purchase in ways you would never guess.
What happened at the time was I was really sick, mostly bed ridden, mostly in a wheelchair and I thought 'what the hell, who needs that shit anyway!'
It wouldnt matter if I didn't use shampoo, it wasn't like I had a HAwT date while I was half dead and 80 pounds.
Much to my OCD mother's dismay, I began a life of chemical and gluten free discoveries about ways to naturally keep me and my home clean without creepy goops, sprays, lotions, potions that all came in wasteful packaging anyhow. My hair took a few weeks to adjust. My skin seemed to never care. My mom swore she suddenly could smell my armpitts (even though I had not put on deoderant for years prior to that time)... but I soldiered on.
And now ten years later...
Here are the 'cleaners' I use instead of store bought products::::

1. Shampoo/Conditioner ---> Hot water plus Salt (or) Boiled lemon with lavender (or)Straight lemon squeeze (or) Vinegar (rarely unless i do something stupid like put olive oil in my hair to make it beautiful only to discover I can't get it to wash out for 3 weeks!)

2. Deoderant ---> I do like the europeans. Just wipe um' and go. Covering up your special hormonal scent is going to get ya in bed with the wrong kinda guy.

3. Mopping ---> I mop with water mixed with vinegar and baking soda. Alternately if you are not scent sensitive you can use an essential oil mixed in water to mop with, I use cypress.

4. Kitchen/Bathroom ---> A blender helps with this, cause if you blend ginger & lemon it makes an amazing surface cleaner. The ginger will eat through the nasty build up on your stove too! If you don't have a blender, using a lemon or vinegar straight up is good... i use apple cider vinegar cause it's gluten free.

5. Dishes ---> Hot water with fresh squeezed lemon. When something needs a scrub I use salt. If a pot has something caked/burned on the bottom boiling a lemon with water in that pot and letting it soak helps lift the skank.

6. Detergant ---> Baking soda ( and/or apple cider vinegar) works the best on clothes. Lemons are ok, but I don't think the PH is good for the clothes on a regular basis, especially natural fiber clothing.

Much of the products people use these days are hype. We are led to believe by advertising that if we don't buy these things we will be covered in germs (I haven't caught a cold or flu or any contagious illness in many years), we are led to believe we will "stink" or be a "dirty hippy", or that babies shouldn't be allowed to crawl on our floor... but new studies have shown all our hand sanitizer use, anti bacterial shit, chemical for hair and body, and paranoia of the natural world (dirt & animals) is actually destroying our health. Doctors think that this faux cleanliness is the leading cause for allergies and autoimmune diseases, not to mention epidemic spreading of colds and flues.
The saying is now "cleanliness is next to sickliness"...
and I believe it.
Read about it Here... here and at web MD here.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Big Spider with Striped Long Legs

Check this bad mamma jamma out! I was so super de duper excited to see a spider in my house, especially one so big that it might have to wash dishes if it wants to stay here more then a few days. The one thing about the cold days of Fall leading through Winter is that all my bug friends disappear (except for this one annoying fly living in the cabin that somehow pushes on through the odds, I hope the spider and him will meet up!) :0
Fantastic striped legs, of a reddish brown color with darker brown rings.
LONG legs.... and those eyes. Tiny eyes, 4 of them!
A nice artsy abstract pattern on it's back, reminds me of some kind of medieval shield. A off white with a touch of golden, running against the shiny black.
My cat Toots thought the spider was also the most exciting thing in the cabin since sliced gluten free bread... the spider played dead. Good idea Mister Stripes.
Can anyone ID Mister Stripes???

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dance Off!

With the dawning of my video camera, I have found a dance mania re-kindled in me. Being a recluse about to embark upon a long long winter that may include many snowed in days... I came up with a lil' something fun for us all to do while inside.
A Dance Off!
No for realz... I even made ah-nother website for it today for those dancing fools, brave ones, silly ones, ready to be embarassed ones and even the ones who will blow us away.
Wanna see the spanky new website, then go HERE.
So here is how DANCE OFF works:
  • I will pick one song a week (maybe more as we go along) for everyone to video themselves dancing to
  • Each person uploads their video and sends me the link so I can put it on the Dance Off post of the week
... it's that easy!

The best part is EVERYONE is invited. Young, old, housebound, wheelchair bound, slow moving, fast moving, dramatic, bouncey, beautiful, hidious, professional and hopefully hysterical too! The whole point is to have fun, for free!

Sooo, Go NOW to find out what this weeks song is...
like now!

Eco DIY: Organic Cotton "Alf" Dress

Yeah, ya read it right... ALF! ha ha ha.
This sewing project is more of a minor upcycle deal, see ya' don't need "Alf" to make this dress...(even though you might think you do!) All you need is an old t-shirt that is nasty, doesn't fit, etc from your closet, grandmaws closet or the thrift store... a t-shirt with a whimsical logo that can be cut out and re-sewn onto a new outfit. I put mine on an organic cotton dress I made from some locally woven fabric. But you could do this with a hoody and put the old logo/character on the back.
I pinned down my dress pattern on the fabric, which was the pattern I traced from another dress I already had.
And then chop chop! Cut out the fabric, leaving enough room for the side seams.
I had folded the fabric over, so that the front and back would be cut at the same time. I like efficiency... :)))
I left the pattern pinned on while I sewed in the seams along the edge... then unpinned the pattern.
I love making things adjustable! So I made the top of the 'sleeves' or straps the kind you can tie to any size....
Once the organic dress was sewn together, it was time for ALF!!!
CAREFULLY pin your logo on, you want it really flat and even so that it doesn't wrinkle or bunch up the front of the shirt or dress or hoody or whatevs you may be sewing it on...
Then SEW! I used the basic straight stitch and slowly went around the circle of Alfness...
hysterical? lovable? weird? so was Alf.
You can wear it with or without a shirt underneath... summer time, or fall time...
party time?!? WWAD ? ;)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Gravity Fed Spring Water System (in the real!)

Ya'll might remember back when I first moved into the Luck Cabin, that a critter had pooped in the main puddling area of my gravity fed spring water. Not only that but the original system had all the piping (landscaping pipes) above ground which had cracked from harsh freezing temperatures in the winter, making the water pressure nearly nothing. The tank was also a small barrel that had some leaks too... with all the squirting water and the poop prob I had the system re-made this past Spring season, using the same spring water spot!
I wanted to make sure the pipes were deeply buried so that they would not crack in the winter (5-6 feet), and a big tank put in that could catch sediment (at the bottom naturally) and wouldn't leak unless the water overflowed the top of the tank through a pipe (called an 'overflow').

**This all could have been done with back breaking digging man power, but I needed water right away and had some dudes use a bobcat machine to get all this in place.**
The spring water source was also 'boxed in' between the rocks it was flowing out of to keep out animals... with just cement in the front and tin roofing on top the larger rocks that existed there already.
My main concern was that if all my house pipes froze that I would still have water easily accessible down at the cabin, and this was solved with a non electric water 'pump' of sorts that won't freeze in the cold, and pushes the water down underground till it's ready to use. (Watch the video below to see how easy it works, and how much water pressure blows out tha' thing!)

To Make a Gravity Fed Spring Water System You Need::::
  • Water source
  • Tank(s) to catch the water (more tanks create more pressure)

  • Pipes to get the water where ya want

  • Digging power to bury pipes & tank in colder climates

  • Ability to connect it to your house plumbing

  • Something simple to 'box in' the source if critters might be a problem
Here is a walk through vid I did today of the improved water system...
(guest appearances from JuJu the donkey, the chickens and my neighbors dog!)


Friday, November 12, 2010

My Frost Knife CAme Back To Me!

I had lost this knife at the end of the summer, while chasing JuJu the donkey (back before we learned to walk together peacefully without me pulling the lead rope.) I lost it in what could be considered a needle in a hay stack... a green handled knife in an endless pasture, so big I could just vaguely re-trace the steps where I had run.
The knife was sentimental to me, and sentimental to the person who gave it to me... plus I had just had it professionally sharpened by the bearded man who taught spoon carving classes (link here!) It was so sharp I hardly had to touch the tip to anything and it would slice it open.
So when my neighbor pulled up today and opened the glove compartment saying "I have something for you"... i was ecstatic, full circle, aligned stars, lucky excited! He told me it had been run over by a bulldozer, but he found it anyway because he was using a metal detector.
He had the blade wrapped in a paper towel and told me sweetly "Be careful, that knife is sharp."
My primitivist, rewilder, survivalist, nature buddies out there will understand how cool this reunion is, a knife is the tool we all carry all the time. Sometimes accidently on our belts in public places (oops, sorry thrift store, sorry grocery, sorry remote corner store, i forget!)
YAY, to a happy ending. :))

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eco DIY: Bamboo Ruffle Butt Party Dress

Ruffle BUTT! You can never accentuate your ASSet too much, that's why music makes you want to shake it. I saw a dress like this on Etsy but not only was it too expensive for my personal pocketbook but it didn't come in a sustainable fabric in the color purple. (Purple is my favorite color!) I got some stretchy purple bamboo fabric online, and got to sewing this booty jiggle gem.
STEP 1::
I used a tight stretchy sleeveless dress to trace a pattern... it's important that if you trace another piece of clothing for a pattern, that the fabric you are about to sew with has the same properties of stretch or no stretch. I used the heavy book trick (thanks to reader Liberty for the idea!) to hold the paper real flat.
STEP 2::
Lay your pattern on the fabric. I used pins to make sure it was tight. The fabric was doubled, with the fold at the top shoulder... that way I could cut the front and back out at the same time and the shoulders would already be connected without having to sew them.
STEP 3::
SEW. I sewed seams up the left and right side, leaving holes for the arms, where the sleeves were to go. I also hemmed the edges in the back, front and bottom. I was too lazy to take the pins off the pattern paper, and then put them back on again, so i sewed right outside the paper line for the seam, then removed the pattern.
Step 4::::
Why are sleeves so mysterious?? I don't think I ever do them the same twice, every time I am just shooting chance to the sky hoping a sleeve will work.
This time i took the arm hole existing and drew a sleeve that would accurately connect to it. It was a free hand experiment, with no measurements.
I cut out the arm pattern, then doubled the fabric twice to cut all the arm pieces out at once.
Then I sewed the sleeves on, just right on top the hole.
I took the scrap fabric pieces from cutting out the body pattern for the ruffle on the butt. I centered the first one and then just crinkled them up and sewed a seam across the top of each crunched, scrunched layer...
THE END::::::::::
Tight and comfy and ruffley- I am going to wear this all day. :)
YAY! Makes me want to DANCE...!