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81  Homemade Black Walnut Syrup (same method for making maple syrup) in Recipes and Cooking Tips by nikschaf on: March 28, 2010 09:41:42 AM
Ooh, my first post in the cooking forum!

I had to show off my batch of homemade black walnut syrup.

I had wanted to make maple syrup, but don't have a maple tree in my yard.  But I learned the little-known fact that you can tap and make syrup from black walnut trees!  (I think you can also tap birch trees.)    So I tapped my black walnut tree and here are my results.

First, here's a pic of the finished product.  The garden gnome seems to approve of the golden syrupy goodness:

I had a nicer collection vessel for the sap (an official maple sap collection plastic bag) but the bag sprung a leak, so I have gone with a free low-tech replacement, a gallon milk jug.  My syruping book, called "Back Yard Sugarin'" by Rink Mann, calls the milk jugs "Idlenot Dairy Low Fat Sap Buckets" which cracks me up. 

I won't reinvent the wheel with a huge tute, because there are lots of good instructions for tapping trees for making syrup.  Here's a good link:  http://ohioline.osu.edu/for-fact/0036.html  And here is a link to the book I have:  http://www.amazon.com/Backyard-Sugarin-Complete-How-Guide/dp/0881502162/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269793990&sr=8-1

Basically, you tap a tree, collect the sap, then boil the sap down to the desired sugar content.  Syrup needs boil at a temperature that's 7 degrees fahrenheit higher than the temp at which water boils.  This temp can vary from day to day due to barometric pressure, so you'll want to boil a small pot of water, measure that temp, and then make sure your syrup boils 7 degrees higher than that.  If you can't boil your sap the same day, keep it cool, because it can spoil just like milk.  I kept mine in the fridge for about 5 days, until I had enough to make it worth boiling.

Here are a few pics from the tree, showing the spout in the tree, and my fancy sap bucket.  About 2 gallons of sap boiled down to a pint of syrup.  I feel quite proud of myself knowing I have my own stash of homemade syrup to enjoy this year, and it was fun including my 3 year-old son in the process.

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82  Re: Fiber Friday- March 26, 2010 in Spinning: Completed Projects by nikschaf on: March 26, 2010 07:58:13 AM
Yummy yarns!  I love the "OH YEAH!"  and the corespun is super cool too!!

Here's mine this week.  My first ever wheelspun!!!  I just got my Fricke S160 last weekend and ADORE it.  I've never tried any other wheel, so can't really compare, but I think it's fantastic and was spinning within minutes after assembly.

Here it is, I'm calling it "spring in my step."  It's also my first attempt at dyeing with multiple colors.  It's more pastel than I hoped, but I still like it.  I plied it with yellow crochet thread.

And just for fun, here's a pic of my beloved Fricke wheel!
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83  crocheted cowl with drawstring - made from yarn I dyed and spun myself! in Crochet: Completed Projects by nikschaf on: March 19, 2010 01:00:04 PM
I'm so proud of this little project.  I spun the yarn on a drop spindle -- I'm just learning to spin.  Then I dyed it with a combo of black cherry and regular cherry Kool-Aid.  Then I made up the pattern for this cowl as I went along.  I crocheted with a Q hook, alternating sections of single crochet and double crochet.  Then I made kind of a scalloped edging on top and threaded through a drawstring with flowers on the ends.  So I can wear it loose or tied tighter.

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84  Re: Fiber Friday -- March 19, 2010 in Spinning: Completed Projects by nikschaf on: March 19, 2010 12:52:59 PM
My first contribution to Fiber Friday!  WOOT!!  I know the pics aren't very good, but I thought it's better to post something than nothing, in the spirit of keeping Fiber Fridays alive!

It's 3 oz of BFL, which I spun on a drop spindle then dyed with Kool-Aid.  I used 4 pkgs of black cherry and sprinkled on 1 pkg of regular cherry.  None of the pics show the color well, it's kind of a coral red.  I had about 130 yards of it.  The last pics show the cowl I made from it.  I made up the pattern as I crocheted along.  The cowl has a drawstring with flowers at the ends, so I can wear it loose, or else tie it tighter on chilly days.

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85  Kreate-A-Lope! Anthropologie Catalog Becomes Envelopes in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by nikschaf on: February 24, 2010 12:59:52 PM
I was totally inspired by this post:  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=334398.0

My problem was I needed a super simple way to make envelopes.  I wasn't going to do a bunch of tracing and cutting.  I found the coolest tool ever!  It's called the Kreate-A-Lope -- it's an envelope template you can use, and you don't even have to use scissors, just rip along the template.  Here's a video of the product in action:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKO2jkSxaI4  (And no, I'm not affiliated with the manufacturer -- I just really liked this thing.)

I've been on an envelope making spree.  I made a bunch from an Anthropologie catalog.  They're A2 sized envelopes.  To round out the gift, I cut some 8.5 x 11 chipboard into fourths to make some little notecards to insert in the envelopes, and some blank white address labels in case she wants to mail them.  I also put lick and stick glue on the flaps, so she can lick the envelopes like regular envelopes.

Now, on to the pics:

Here are a few of my favorites:

This is the whole bundled tied with a ribbon next to the Kreate-A-Lope template:

Here's the whole shebang all laid out.  I showed the backs of some of them in the photo, because I like how the inside of the envelopes contrasted with the exterior:

My friend really liked her gift!

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86  First Ever Handspun - done on drop spindle in Spinning: Completed Projects by nikschaf on: February 10, 2010 01:56:39 PM
Check out my super-crazy thick/thin and overspun/underspun first ever skein of yarn!  I challenge you not to laugh at it -- it really is crazy looking.  I knew it was uneven  on the spindle, but the underspun parts REALLY got pouffy once I soaked the yarn to set the twist.  I do feel a motherly affection towards it though, because it's my first-ever attempt to spin anything.  It's only about 23 yards of BFL.  I struggled with the fiber.  I know a long staple length is good for beginners, but this felt almost TOO long for me.  I kept wanting to have my hands about four inches apart to draft, but the staple length was longer than that -- that's where most of the underspun parts came in -- they were spots I struggled with the drafting.

I keep picking up this little mini skein and petting it, admiring the luster.  I will probably just keep it in skein form as a reminder of my first attempt to spin.  Hopefully someday I'll be much better at it and I'll look back at this with a chuckle.

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87  Embroidered Sailor Jerry Tattoo Napkins in Needlework: Completed Projects by nikschaf on: February 01, 2010 02:18:57 PM
I had a spare flannel sheet, so I cut it into squares and made napkins.  Then I embroidered them with designs from a book of Sailor Jerry Tattoo stencils.  I like that the stencils are the exact size the real tattoos would have been.  And I kind of like that the fabric is off-white -- makes me think of cigarette-smoke yellowed tattoo flash hanging in a shop.  Anyway, the whole process of doing these (preparing the transfers, stitching them) was fun because it reminded me of actually getting a tattoo!!  I didn't iron these, because I won't be ironing them in real life when we use them.  I used two strands of black.  I used mostly stem stitch and back stitch.  I will be making 12 napkins in all, but this set of 4 is the first I've completed.

"A Sailor's Grave" - I played around with shading a lot on this one.

Seahorse - not my personal favorite design, but it's the one my husband chose.

"USN" for United States Navy.  I hope the design isn't backwards.  Didn't feel like shading this as much.

Swallows.  I put my name and my husband's name in the banners.

Comments welcome!  Thanks for looking!
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88  Newbie attempt at wet-felting over soap in Felting: Completed Projects by nikschaf on: February 01, 2010 02:08:33 PM
OK, here's a pic of my attempt to do wet-felting over soap.  It's mossy green with just a bit of white roving.  Overall, it seems to be pretty even.  I had a hard time initially wrapping the roving over the bar, but once it was in place and I wet it down, it seemed OK.

One question:  there's a spot near the edge where it's felted, but there's a little bit of a "ledge" -- too small to photograph, but a little lump where the felt must have been folded over on itself.  Could I needle felt a wonky bit like that into place to make it smooth?

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89  Vintage Kitties Tea Towels in Needlework: Completed Projects by nikschaf on: December 22, 2009 10:34:05 AM
Made these three tea towels as a gift for my brother and sister-in-law.  The patterns are from the Hoop Love Flickr group.  Sorry for the poor photo quality, my 3-year old was "helping" me take photos, so I had to snap quickly!  They look better in real life than in these pics.  I really love these kitties and am a little heart-broken to let them go, but I think the gift will go over well.  I used mainly stem stitch and backstitch.

"Stir It!"

"Measure It!"

"Mix It!"

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90  Sharing the furoshiki love in Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General by nikschaf on: July 26, 2009 09:16:37 PM
I don't know if this really qualifies to be posted, since it didn't involve sewing, and these aren't exactly bags or purses until you fold them, but I know folks who look at this board love fabrics, and I just had to share a pic of the vintage scarves I bought at the thrift store and plan to use for furoshiki cloths (for gift wrap, shopping bags, etc.)  All the pretty colors together have me so happy I just have to share the image.

I had used fabric to wrap gifts before, but had never heard of furoshiki and didn't realize depending on how you fold them you can use the fabric squares for purses, as a replacement for grocery store bags, etc until I started reading more.

I decided from now on I am going to use furoshiki to wrap gifts as much as possible.   And instead of carrying a reusable shopping bag in my purse, I might just carry a furoshiki, since it folds down so flat and doesn't weigh a thing.

Although I can't afford to shell out money for a bunch of "real" furoshiki cloths from Japan, I decided vintage scarves would be an excellent option.  So I went to the thrift store yesterday and got all of the scarves pictured for $20 total, about $2 per scarf.  I decided I wanted to wash them and hang them out, so here they are out on the line.  I hand-washed them individually and was glad I did, because some gave off a lot of dye.  I don't think scarves are meant to be washed, but I wasn't too worried about ruining cheapie thrift store scarves.  Aren't they pretty?  I'm already looking forward to giving them away.

In case you want to know more about furoshiki, here are a couple of links.  The second link shows folding and tying techniques:

If you Google "furoshiki" you'll find lots of how-to videos.  There's also a PDF from the Japanese ministry of the Environment somewhere (don't have it handy) showing lots of ways to tie furoshiki.  I think when I give gifts I'll also print off the PDF and include it with the gift, so the recipient will know how to tie to furoshiki to pass it along to the next person.  If I find the link to the PDF I'll try to post it later.

P.S. Some of the scarves were wrinkly and kind of rough once they were dry, but I ironed them using the lowest possible setting on my iron, and they are smooth, soft, and lovely again.
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