Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DIY Wool Balls

So simple!  Wool dryer balls made from scraps of upcycled wool sweaters, wool ends of yarn, and wool roving.  They can be used as dryer balls to cut down on drying time and save energy; or as cat toys (add a little catnip or a small bell inside before felting); or dog toys; or soft playtoys for toddlers to toss and catch.

How to make wool felted balls:
1) Make a small bundle of 100% woolen sweater scraps.  These can be off-cuts from any larger felting project you've used your sweaters for.  Any colour will be fine as you won't see this inner core once the ball is finished.

2) Wind 100% wool yarn around the woolen sweater scraps tightly.  Wind into a small ball, several inches in diametre (completely cover up the woolen sweater scraps with your yarn windings). 

3) Then wind layers of wool roving in colours you like (these will be visible) around the yarn ball.  The thinner the layers the better.

4) Stuff you wool ball into an old nylon stocking and tie up tightly to secure.

5) Repeat with as many balls as you like, to fill up the whole nylon.

6) Wash on hot, 2-3 full cycles in a load with towels.  Wool will be tightly felted once you are done!  Remove from the nylon, let balls dry.  Then use!

For dryer use, they can be sprinkled with a bit of pure lavender essential oil (or other scent) optional.  Use 2-12 per load (more balls decreases drying time). 

We LOVE these balls to toss around with our toddler, and for our cat to play with. They make lovely gifts, simple and recycled, and useful too.

Waldorf-inspired art with kids: Lanterns & paper stars

We are nearly done our 10 weeks of Waldorf-inspired art classes for kids!  It's been a fun series, filled with beautiful hands-on projects that were tactile, nature-based, and fun.  We've seen the children become familiar with each other, at home in our learning space, and new friendships are developing - which is so wonderful since we will continue to have these kids and their families interacting within our larger homeschool community in the coming years.  We feel so honoured to have had the chance to lead these art sessions here, and look forward to a new series of classes starting again in the new year (mid-January).  Registration will be open here shortly.

This past week was a flurry of tissue paper and glue as we made simple mason jar lanterns with the kids.  They glued the tissue paper on the outside of mason jars and tied on fresh cedar twigs.  When lit with a candle the cedar makes a beautiful wintery silhouette.  This could also be done by gluing dried leaves on the jar for a fall pattern.  The older group (the Green Saplings) also had time to make folded paper stars out of rainbow coloured Japanese silk paper.  Simple, elegant, festive - lighting up these dark days of November and December as we wait for the sun to come back and days to lengthen.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Handmade Holiday Sale Dec 10 from 4-8 pm - Vendor Profiles!

For those of you in our area, don't miss Little City Farm's annual 
A Little Bird Told Me Handmade Holiday Sale on Sat, Dec 10 from 4-8 pm. 

The line-up of vendors is exciting, with 10+ unique vendors making lovely handmade goods.  It's especially unique as each vendor tries their best to focus on eco-conscious goods, using organic, natural and upcycled materials in their work.  You'll find everything from home goods for the kitchen, to clothing, to woolen slippers, to toys and lanterns, to soaps and botanicals, to baked goods and chocolate truffles.

Here is a look at this year's vendors, with more updates coming soon.

A Little Bird Told Me Handmade Holiday Sale
Sat Dec 10, from 4-8 pm
Location: Little City Farm
508 Duke St West, Kitchener

Au Fil des Jours
Michelle & Cloe Morin
Au Fil des Jours is a mother and daughter team bringing you knitted garments, thrummed woolen mittens, and felted toys made from locally produced organic wool.  Find them on Facebook.

Green Garb
Charlotte Keeler
Green Garb takes once loved lambskin and leather garments and recreates them into cozy, soft moccasin style slippers with new wool tops for feet of all sizes from new baby to adults, your feet are sure to thank you for treating them to these all natural comforts. Leather and wool scraps are used to make unique jewelry, ornaments and small caricatures and toys.
Links include:

Home Sweet Home Baking
Maya Kliewer-Roberts & friends
Fabulous handmade organic baking, by fabulous young bakers!  All gluten-free and vegan - don't miss our delicious treats including our famous Lemon Snowstorm Cupcakes, gingerbread gnomes, and lavender shortbread.

Pottery by Esther Devries-Lasby
Esther Devries-Lasby
Esther produces a simple range of functional pottery intended for everyday use in your home such as cups, bowls, espresso and wine cups, milk pitchers and serving pieces.  An active member of the Waterloo Potters' Workshop, Esther has been making pottery for some time.  Pieces range from porcelain to stoneware.  Recently Esther has been pulled back to reduction fired shino glaze, but you will still find a variety of other glazes like celedon, satin white and blue in her range. Also new this year - ceramic kraut making crocks!

Homestead Herbals
Karin Kliewer
Handmade natural soaps, lipbalms, healing salves, herbal products and winter remedies (elderberry immunity syrup!). Made with organic pure ingredients for your optimum well-being, and our love of the earth.

Little City Farm
Karin Kliewer & Greg Roberts
Come browse our small but interesting selection of homesteading books & products for sustainable living! Also don't leave this sale without some of our homemade organic sourdough breads and wildharvested

Laura Osburn
Laura Osburn’s Line of wearable art called CLOCER, consists of found Wood such as Lilac and walnut, and rescued leather remnants. Using eco friendly finishes,paint stains and earth safe resin, she wants to provide you with a beautiful sustainable, product of art. Her artwork is created from her philosophy that there is hope for anything that seems fallen and forgotten, sometimes you just have to look closer.

Seed of Life Foods
Theresa Hanley
Gorgeous gluten-free vegan chocolate truffles and handmade energy bars.  Festive beeswax lanterns, soft woolen toys, and more!  More details coming soon.

Kates Tangled String / Hooray For Hannahs
Marzana Cegys / Kate Motz
Kate and Marzena make simple Waldorf inspired toys - tiny gnomes, colourful wool playmats and Waldorf dolls. Up-cycling where possible, and using only natural and organic materials, they bring little characters to a playable life with their own children. Their pragmatic projects include: yarn bowls, dryer balls, children’s dresses and pants. After the Holidays look for their endeavours on Instagram: @katestangledstring. And on Etsy: HoorayForHannahs. 

Capers and Cardagains
Jenn Lynes and Jane Lynes
Mom and daughter team together to make hand-sewn goods for the home, kitchen and self.  Reusable cloth table napkins, children's reversible aprons and capes, cards that can be used again - and more!

ALSO in the neighbourhood (just up the street from Little City Farm):

Mosaic Tile House at 164 Waterloo Street (corner of Waterloo & Duke) is having an evening open house Dec 10 from 4-9pm featuring unique handmade pottery, art and jewellery, up cycled clothing and baked goods.  Check out both sales when you come by!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Herbal Hair Care workshop

As part of our herbal workshop series we recently had a class on herbal hair care - making herbal shampoos, rinses, and conditioning oils using simple herbs like peppermint, sage, lavender, chamomile, calendula, nettle, thyme, yarrow, rosemary, rose petals and evening primrose, harvested from the garden at Little City Farm.

We started the class by talking about what to avoid in any commercial cosmetics (organic/natural or not) such as phthalates, formeldahyde, parabens, SLS, fragrances and more.  The Environmental Working Group offers loads of useful information on their SkinDeep Database, and David Suzuki Foundation offers information about DIY projects to make at home (see Queen of Green).

Here is the shampoo we made:

Simple Herbal Shampoo
4 cups water
1 cup dried herbs (e.g. sage-nettle for dark hair, calendula-chamomile for light hair)
2 tsp sea salt

1 cup castille soap (unscented)
4 Tbsp witch hazel

20-40 drops pure essential oil (e.g. lavender, ylang, rose, peppermint combo)

1) Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  Take off the heat and add herbs and sea salt. 
2) Stir to combine and dissolve salt.  Let herbs steep until water has cooled (or overnight for stronger infusion).

3) When tea has cooled, strain out the herbs. 
4) Add 1 cup castille soap and 4 Tbsp witch hazel and stir gently to combine.
5) Now add choice of pure essential oils (be aware some essential oils should be used with caution if you are pregnant or have other medical conditions).

6) Store your finished shampoo in a reused plastic bottle, or mason jar.  Label with ingredients and date.  Keeps for about 1 year. 
7) To use: put small amount of shampoo on your hand, then lather over hair and rinse off.  Follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse (optional) once a month or as needed.

Herbal Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
This simple hair rinse is very effective at rinsing off any build-up and residue on hair.  Use about once a month or it can be drying on hair.  Only use apple cider vinegar, not other types of vinegar.

1) Fill mason jar about 1/3-1/2 full with dried herbs (your choice for your hair - e.g. nettle, mint, sage, thyme, lavender, calendula).
2) Fill mason jar with apple cider vinegar, covering herbs completely and leaving about 1/2 inch headspace at top of your jar.  Cap jar tightly.
3) Set jar on a plate, and let jar steep in a sunny window for about 2-4 weeks (or longer) to infuse the vinegar with the herbs.  Shake jar every few days to fully combine the herbs and avoid them from clumping together.
4) When done steeping, strain the vinegar and compost herbs.  Pour vinegar back into the jar, and store either in fridge (for longer storage) or bathroom cupboard.  Label and date the jar.
5) To use: this rinse can be used after shampooing hair, as a conditioner.  It should only be used about once a month.  Fill a cup 3/4 full with warm water, and add 1/4 apple cider vinegar rinse.  Pour slowly over hair.  Rinse out after 10 minutes, or leave on hair without rinsing (if you don't mind the apple cider vinegar smell).

Waldorf-inspired art for kids: hand-sewing skills

Today's art classes allowed the kids to explore simple hand-sewing projects.  With these art classes that emphasize hand-skills, like knitting or sewing, we hope to equip the kids with useful skills they can use in their everyday life.  Sewing can be used to make a simple toy or gift, repair and mend a favourite shirt or sock, or even sew a new piece of clothing!  It's a basic skill that should not be lost, something essential to pass on to our kids (just like cooking and growing food). 

Our Young Acorns group made small birds from felt, while the older Green Saplings group made larger owls with multi-coloured felt of their choice and stuffed them with wool and organic lavender.  I loved watching the ways each child holds their needle, how much concentration and focus was going on, and the kinds of stitches they made to complete their work.  Each project was unique!


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Waldorf-inspired art for kids: basic embroidering

Last week's art class for kids introduced them to basic embroidery skills.  The little ones (aged 3-5) worked with yarn on burlap cloth with large blunt needles.  They drew simple designs onto the fabric and used the yarn to embroider over the lines to create their picture.  The older kids (aged 6-12) worked with embroidery floss on cotton, with embroidery hoops to hold the fabric in place.  They used their sketch books to try out a few ideas on paper, then transferred their favourite drawing onto the cloth to be embroidered.  I was amazed at the attention of the older group, who all loved embroidering (all had some sewing experience already) and who all worked steadily at their patterns for more than an hour!  What beautiful creations came from this day!