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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Home Made Toothpaste and Sunscreen

Making your own toothpaste and sunscreen is easy and costs a fraction of the commercially prepared ones AND you know what's in them.
Last Thursday Lisa Bolton prepared a workshop for us and we had a BALL!

First we made toothpaste and you can find Lisa's recipe
because she is a kind sharer.
This took literally a minute to make, cost next to nothing and you can say goodbye to millions of toothpaste tubes in land fill.
The exercise also sparked debate about fluoride and discussions about essential oils, bulk suppliers locally and on-line.... 

We moved on to sunscreen and discussed the properties of zinc oxide and titanium oxide and nano particles and micronisation and the price disparity between pharmacies and on line soap suppliers.
Again this was a super simple measure, melt, whip and pour process.

Again, Lisa kindly shares her recipe 
We learnt so much and had great discussions.
Everyone was grinning from ear to ear with their success and we can't thank you enough Lisa for all your preparation, ingredient organisation, recipe sheets and all the great mini equipment we got to play with.
Lisa has a page on facebook called
clever huh! and she posts recipes for good things to eat too!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Making Chilli Sauce

Craig harvested the entire chilli crop a few weeks ago and went in search of a tobasco sauce recipe.
He found 
at The Joy of Cooking site.

It's basically chopped chillies with 2% of weight salt into a big jar and covered with a sweet Riesling. The mixture was left to ferment (very actively!) and regularly stirred. After several weeks it was ready to process through the food mill leaving behind the seeds and skins.

This resulting liquor is mixed at a suggested rate of 50/50 with a vinegar of your choice and bottled.

We mixed and tasted apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, plain white vinegar and white wine vinegar.

My favourite was the white wine vinegar. The malt vinegar gave it a caramelly sort of flavour and Craig quite liked that. In hind sight going through the cupboard a little more thoroughly I was sorry we didn't try mixing the raspberry vinegar with the chilli.

In the end we made up batches with malt, white wine and apple cider vinegar. I think this could be a winner for Christmas gifts with a little more development and smarter labelling. We yielded almost 4lt of sauce and pretty happy with the result. The Riesling gives quite a unique flavour. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Home Foraging

This weekend it looked like the field and woodland fairies had visited my kitchen.
The calendula has started flowering its head off again and I find so many uses for this flower. It is wonderful for skin healing is the basis for many of my salves and soaps.
A friend visited and swapped some magnificent field mushrooms for some kombucha SCOBY and milk keffir grains.
I gently dug some more solomon seal roots/rhizome for another salve I am making for ligament, tendon and cartilage. 
I found some lush plantain, also good for skin salves.

And I am still collecting pocketfuls of delicious cape gooseberries.
Lots of the simple things that make me feel abundant.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wild Wool and Silks - Yarn Tour Part IV

You could be forgiven for mistaking this as a knitting blog but it does become a bit of a past time round here in the winter. So we bid Hobart a fond farewell and climbed back on the bus and travelled an hour north of Hobart along the Midlands Hwy to historic Oatlands, home of the (still working) flour mill (recently restored).

Oatlands is very much like Ross and remains mostly untouched by modern paraphernalia, maintaining it's original sandstone and clipped hedges streetscape. As you can see, our beautiful mild winters day morphed into an equally mild and cloudless sky afternoon. The day was picture perfect.

Opening especially for us was the "Lucky Ewe" shop, and again, a shop quite different to the previous shops at Ross and Hobart. 

Though it is probably smaller than my lounge room, it certainly is Aladdin's cave for yarn lovers, especially weavers, spinners, dyers and felters. Above is a selection of yarn dyes.

Colourful roving and hand spun. 
(and beautiful ancient floor boards)

Gorgeous silks among the woollier yarns.

I bought this silk mix for my mother. Rich vibrant golden colours.

and these sea greens for me! 

But what I was most excited to see was the "wild yarns". Hand spun merino with possum and wallaby fur, bound together with a fine silk thread. So soft and warm.
This is knitting up beautifully into a cowl for Craig when he is on the bike.
(The beautiful stitch markers were a thank you gift from one of the ladies on the bus. So beautiful)

And a hank of Jenmark Alpaca, a local alpaca fleece yarn grown just north of Hobart.

So soft and luxurious. I haven't got a project in mind yet but I just had to have it.

And more unique Tasmanian knitting needles from Tasmanian Forest Beads, made from Tas oak with Huon pine, myrtle and eucalypt burl. The larger ones look like horizontal scrub knobs.
Plenty of great gifts for knitters here!
Again we would like to thank Rowena for specially opening and for the goodies she gave us for our gift bags too. Such a unique little shop and if you can't get to Tasmania to visit it then check out her facebook page here or her site here

The tour was deemed great fun and we are planning to do another in autumn next year. This time we will travel the north west way probably late April early May. Vogue Knitting tours, eat your heart out!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Stash Cupboard Hobart - Yarn Tour Part III

Seriously, the name says it all!
(And PS check out that gorgeous original pressed tin ceiling of the street awning!)
We hit the Stash Cupboard in Hobart with full force. Thank you ladies for staying open and looking after such a crazy-for-yarn hoard.

I know y'all probably got a big ole yarn shop where you come from but we were just a pack of silly giggly campers when we walked in. I really thought I was prepared mentally with my projects and what yarn I was looking for but I was truly overwhelmed and just like a hunting hound dog I had to circle that whole place twice giving it a good sniff before I could settle in for some specific choices. Apparently I wasn't the only one. "Overwhelmed" was a phrase repeated by many describing their first foray into the shop.
Yarn was set out in fibre types and the white fixturing made the colours pop! Plenty of knitted display garments and quirky, energetic displays.

There is a space for social knitting and also a computer so you can look up Ravelry and even a print to print your patterns! They regularly have guest designers and knitting classes too.
Over by the door next to the register is a big yarn winder set up so you can convert your hanks/skeins easily to ball before you go home.
Seriously, yum,yum,yum. Oh and the pattern book range. 
I had just enough time for a comfort stop and a sandwich before it was back on the bus.
Thank you to Penni from the Stash Cupboard for our extra give aways and lucky dip fun.
It was here that we left our box of donated knits for the Women's Shelter too. 
The Stash Cupboard is right in the middle of Hobart at 159 Liverpool St and they have a great facebook page too.
It's 2pm and time to get back on that bus.....

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wool Centre at Ross- Yarn Tour Part II

Our first stop was historic Ross on the Midlands Hwy about an hour south of Launceston. Ross remains mostly untouched and unchanged visually from it's convict times and is so steeped in Tasmanian history that I'll revisit that subject another time but for now we'll visit the wool centre.
By the way, I think Ross has THE cleanest and most pleasant public toilets in the whole of Tasmania and makes an ideal stop for morning tea. It was an idyllic mild winters day, crystal blue skies, no wind and warm sun shining down. We set up a quick tea and coffee station on a nearby bench and served ANZAC biscuits and an Apple Spice Cake.

Directly across the road is the wool centre, perfect!
It is a retail showcase for woollen garments and knitting accessories but it is also houses a fabulous "museum" and historical display of the sheep industry in Tasmania.

You could spend at least an hour looking at the displays alone but unfortunately we only have half an hour and it's back on the bus so I arranged for a talk to the ladies about 

White Gum Wool

You can read the full story here about the ethically raised sheep in the Tasmanian midlands and you can also watch a story clip here from a Landline special here.
I contacted Nan Bray, the owner of the sheep farm, to see if she would speak to us at the centre but unfortunately she was right in the middle of shearing but we had a lovely lady from the centre give us a brief insight into the difference of White Gum Wool. Many of the techniques employed on the farm are in direct contrast to most properties and I would imagine there a few hairy-eared farmers having a bit of a scoff but I think Nan is a real hero. One of the really interesting things she does is manage pasture for greater diversity of food selection and she allows the lambs to self wean and stay within their family groups for five years. Her philosophy is that though genetics are certainly important, just as, or if not more importantly, is the way in which sheep are raised. You get back what you put in. Do watch the video link, it's a great story.

The ladies had a great time and most bought something from the White Gum Wool range. I bought a ball of the sock wool to try and look forward to working with it. They will become a pair of socks for Craig.
Don't you just love these needles? These are from Art Viva and are Tasmanian made, you may recall from a recent post that I tried these out at the Campbell Town show this year and bought a couple of pairs. I really like the point and angle on them. Here is the link for Art Viva if you would like to see more.

That's it, time's up!
Back on the bus for a bit more mystery knitting and on to our next stop in Hobart!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Knitting Tour- All Aboard (Part I)

So somebody in passing said they would like to visit the wool shop in Hobart and somebody else agreed...the "do-er" in me couldn't help but make that happen and I'm so glad I did. It was relatively easy and the rewards were great. We visited unique stores with a diverse range of yarns but more importantly we shared a mutual passion and made friends with 30 women and had some very big fun and excited some small businesses.

So I hired a bus and it cost everyone $30 for the day. I packed a mystery knit/crochet for everyone and organised some prizes and lucky tickets. Another member of the group called for donated knitted items to be collected in Hobart for the women's shelter. 

I got payment prior to the trip to assure I could cover the bus costs.
I compiled a list of interesting stops and made up a rough schedule of arrival times and departure times.
A clip board with lists is your best friend.
I wound balls of cotton and included anonymous instructions for dish cloths in three different patterns and advised the travellers to bring their own 4mm needles or crochet hooks.
The little bags of mystery knits were stapled shut with a lucky ticket on the front.
The trip was not for profit so with the little bit of left over money I was able to offer the bus ticket price back in the first give away goodie bag and a $30 gift voucher for the Stash Cupboard in Hobart and another $30 voucher for the Luck Ewe shop in Oatlands.
Both shops also provided me with little goodies too that really added to the fun of the day.
It was a big day so I'll be sharing over the next few days.
This is something you could do in your area too perhaps so stay tuned as I reveal more during the week. 

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