Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Water Washes All Things Away

I am a lucky girl.

After a year (or more) of working around a washing machine that literally ate holes in our laundry we were finally able to replace it with a HE washer. Hurrah. The up side is that I can retire the delicate bags I had been using to protect our nicer clothes from the jaws of doom. Laundry is much easier when all you have to do is toss it into the machine and let 'er run. It feels weird, but very nice. I'm taking it for granted that the machine is actually cleaning the clothes, though I don't know how this is even possible with such a small amount of water. I use more water to spot clean after embarrassing salsa incidents. But whatever. It line dries before I even have the clothes pins snapped on so it has to be ok.

The drawback to all of this technological luxury is that I have no idea how I'm supposed to get the cloth diapers clean. Let's just say that the "Heavy Soil" setting doesn't even begin to imagine that you'd want it to clean off POOP. The machine sits there like a spoiled debutante with a wrinkled nose and says, "You want me to clean what?" And I say, "Yes, I do, Cupcake! Try again."

Have any of you advice on what it takes to get one of these fancy-dancy washers to clean cloth diapers?

With my old washer, I'd run a shorter load with cold water and then run a longer load with hot water and an extra rinse. That was it. If it was extra toxic, I'd run another short load on hot, minus the dry bag and any other waterproof things. Tonight, with the new machine, I tried a prewash, a regular cycle on warm, and an extra rinse. All this with the "Water Plus" button pushed because the extra water is really necessary with the diapers. The big drawback is that this took nearly TWO HOURS to complete.

Can you help me? Please tell me what you know!

Friday, March 26, 2010

All That Shines

It's too bad, but these pictures really don't do this yarn justice. They may begin to give you an idea, though, of the knitterly joy I have been experiencing these past two weeks. This yellow is absolute glory.

It's soft, which doesn't always impress me, but it feels like I'm knitting with butter or daffodil petals. I was knitting on the patio the other day, watching the kids play, and the color was like medicine. The whole world seems better when you can just soak in some sun and ignore your problems for a while. Of course, now that Henry has figured out how to climb the slide there will be much less relaxing and virtually no knitting from now on, but it was great while it lasted.

I finished the first sock last night but I'm going to save pictures until they are both complete. However, the complete satisfaction that the first sock gave me when I put it on is the very reason that people take the trouble to knit socks in the first place. Happy Day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm a Beginner!

I think it's good for people to be beginners at something from time to time. I don't mean just "trying it out", though that's fine, too, but to begin learning something with the intent to become skilled at it. Cooking, origami, knife-throwing, whatever. It keeps one's mind open and spirit humble to be a student at the feet of an expert. I think it's good for the ego to mess up the perfect attempt.

Six years ago I began knitting in earnest. Apart from learning the basic knit and purl stitch, learning to be a Knitter involves a lot of beginnings. Fair Isle, sweaters, socks, short rows, lace, cables--you name it, there is always a new aspect to explore and new places to 'begin'. To develop a skill you always need to start from the beginning.

This weekend, however, I became a true beginner again and started from square one in a whole new area. At the same time, I kept a promise to myself that I would learn this new skill before I grow old. This weekend I learned to spin. On a spindle.

I remembered what it is like to be an absolute beginner at something. All of one's movements are awkward, pre-planned, and inept. It is a truly humbling experience to start down the road towards one day, hopefully, knowing something. I know that there is going to be a lot of mangled merino between here and my future skeins of glory. Luckily, after so many years of knitted patience, I know my own determination and I know how to learn.

It doesn't look great. I know it looks like something one might pull out of the bathtub drain. But it's a beginning!

Now, what do you guys know about spinning on a wheel vs spinning on a spindle? Because when I get some money together, that could be the next step!

Of course, when one is in the weak, clumsy stages of learning something new, it helps to be reminded of something you're good at.

Pattern: Lyalya Hoodie
Yarn: A bit of this, a bit of that. Mostly Knit Picks, Wool of the Andes in assorted Rainbow Colors

If you're looking for me over on Ravelry, my user name is sarahgraceknits. I'd love to see you over there! I waste waaaaay too much time on that website. Luckily I'm afraid of Facebook so Ravelry gets to be my only big time-suck.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Humble Homemaker

I have a question for all you granola munchers out there.

I used to make yogurt a lot, a tradition which fell by the wayside as soon as I realized that I was expecting my third child. I'm ready to pick it up again, happily, but I have a question about the process that the Internet seems at a loss to answer for me.

In every set of directions I find, they recommend heating the milk to 180 degrees and then cooling the milk to 110 degrees to add the starter. I understand why you would want the temp at a certain point for the starter, but why would one heat the milk to 180 to begin with? If I am using store bought milk I wouldn't need to pasteurize it, so what is the point? I don't get it.

If any of you know why I would need to do this, can you please enlighten me? I would love to know!