Laundry balls and how sometimes things surprise me

For years now I’ve used a laundry ball / wash ball in my washing machine and so I was surprised to discover that these balls are considered a bit of a scam. Surprised and puzzled.

You see when I bought mine it was marketed as a way to use less soap powder. It also said something about not needing to use soap at all on lightly soiled loads, but it acknowledged you would need some soap the rest of the time. I always use the spoon it came with (15mls) to measure my soap and it’s awesome!

Apparently the wash balls have become some kind of hokum thing, with outlandish claims for how they work and what they do. They are also being marketed as a 100% soap replacement, which they aren’t! Well, some types do fractionally better in tests than just running your machine without soap.

I was really surprised to find this out. Also a bit sad, because I love my ball.

Like I say, I use mine with the reduced soap quantity – it’s between 1/2 and 1/3 of the scoop that my brand of soap powder recommends you use in a wash – and clothes come out nice and clean. And I know, from forgetting to put the wash ball in once or twice, that the smaller amount of soap doesn’t clean a load without the ball!

Makes me feel better with putting grey-water on the appropriate bits of the garden too, though I wish someone would do a test to see what the affect of a laundry ball and less soap is on the waste water. That would be good to know.

Oh, and I don’t use mine with wool or delicates, because I assume there is increased agitation involved and that’s not going to do those fabrics any favours.

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So…um…well…

Okay, I know this is a weaving blog, but right now I’m distracted by… cooking.

Last week it was my first attempt at home-made yoghurt. This week it was my first attempt with a slow cooker. And more yoghurt. And avocado, chocolate truffles. And pear and sour cream slice.

Not all at once.

So, if you’re like most people you were stopped by the proximity of the words “avocado” and “chocolate” above. I don’t blame you. In truth there was a lot of skepticism among my tastebuds about this idea. But I like trying new things, so I did.

The avocado has to be well mashed so it mixes fully – probably no surprises there – but it works as a butter/cream replacement. My recipe was a bit heavy on the cocoa though so I didn’t like the texture, but the overall chocolate-y-ness was satisfying. You couldn’t taste the avo though I guess the overall effect was earthier than you’d get with a milk product (also from all that cocoa).

I would go another way with the chocolate content, but the concept worked!

Yoghurt… ahh yoghurt. I have made one batch according to instructions and then – predictably – had to experiment. That’s just the way I does things. Experiment 1- failure. Experiment 2 – awesome success. So, you know, a good learning process.

And then the slowcooker, which I picked up from a colleague who was moving interstate a few months back. I made possibly the least interesting thing you can make in a slowcooker – chicken and veg – but it came out really well. The only question with this device is whether I can reasonably consume the vast quantities its 6ltr capacity creates! My freezer won’t know what’s hit it.

In a slowcooker side note: the recipe I’m most excited to try is actually the baked potatoes. Why? I can’t really tell you. I just like the concept of baking potatoes in a slowcooker. It fits 20 or something insane so that also tickles my fancy. Let’s see if I’m right about a long standing hunch I’ve had; that I can’t ever get sick of potatoes.

Homemade yoghurt…

I like yoghurt. Flavoured. Plain. With currants. With honey. With nuts. But for some reason, I never eat much in any week. It was that last part that meant, when a friend got a yoghurt maker and began waxing lyrical about it, I was excited for her but with no plans to bandwagon hop.

Then… I saw one on special. Love a good special. And I’d just hit a saving goal. And the yoghurt mix that goes in the magic maker was half price… so, you know.

Today I made my first batch of yoghurt. Blueberry. Sooooo… very… creamy… Scrumptious! Now I just have to eat an entire kilo of it. They say it lasts for two weeks so that’s about small 5 commercial tubs in two weeks… we’ll see.

I do, of course, like the idea that I’m not going to have to recycle any plastic tubs when I’ve eaten it. In fact, I like that a lot.

I also liked how simple it was to make (essentially; add water and shake, then stand jar in insulated container full of hot water for 8 hrs).

And being live culture you can use part of the current batch to make the next one, which frees you from buying too many of the powder sachets! Awesome.

One of my colleagues has yoghurt every day… maybe I can trade half my batch with her?… mind you, given how much yoghurt she eats, I should probably just recommend the yoghurt maker!

The two jars that form a yoghurt maker
This is what I got

Olive green and kind of plaid

So this is fresh off the loom! An olive green scarf with grey and blue stripes so it has a bit of plaid action going on. I like it.

A section of an olive green scarf with blue and grey fine stripes

The blue is actually more subtle in real life than in this pic, but I’ve had a cold and it was too much energy to mess around with the camera! The image gives most of the idea.

One aspect of this scarf that I’m very pleased with, is that I deliberately avoided symmetry by changing up the colour order for each stripe and I not spacing the stripes across the width too evenly.¬† The result works well.

I think I can say the first “not my colours” scarf is successful!

Colours not my own

This week on the loom I am trying to weave a scarf in colours that I am never drawn to and never work with or wear. It’s been a challenge!

I’ve tried with my weaving not to spend all my time in the colours I’m most comfortable with. Tried and thought I’d done well. Then I found myself looking at some muted “winter” coloured yarn and realised I’d never gone far enough outside my colour comfort zone. These were colours I’d never even think to buy!

So I bought one – a dark olive green – and I’m adding a little blue and grey as stripes.

The funny part is that normally I have a great sense of how colours will go together. Not this time! I stared at the colours and twisted the yarn this way and that for ages before feeling confident it’d work.

Now it’s on the loom it seems to be going fine and I’m liking the subtlety. Pictures will follow once I’ve woven more!

Lunchbox project: Success!

I haven’t said much about the lunchbox project since it began. Mostly, that’s because I was slow to make my napkins and weave my dishcloths, but it has now been in full swing for a bit!

The dishcloths have been more successful than I’d hoped. They dry well in the office and don’t seem to hold too much grease or food bits.

Napkins have become tea-towels! Well, sort of. They still get used as napkins, but they are good tea-towels too, so I haven’t made a dedicated tea-towel. I might still do that though as the napkins are kind of small.

The reusable cups are in use, though I need to get a glass one for use in the office (the silicone ones I own are carried in my bag for on-the-way-to-work drinks).

I haven’t bought dedicated cutlery yet, but I have removed a spoon from the office stash and that’s enough for eating most foods!

So… it has gone pretty well. The next thing I want to make are waxed cloths for wrapping sandwiches etc. Exciting!!

And, while it’s not part of the lunchbox project I have to say the patching of the jeans worked for their first wear. I’m hoping to patch a second pair now and that may mean a clothes-buying-free year this year!

Sewing not weaving!

I used to be a frequent sewer and have a cupboard full of fabric to prove it! I also have a nice – not too fancy – sewing machine which I bought late in my sewing days as an investment in future projects. It got used for only the 4th time in its life the other week when I made my napkins (part of the lunch box project).

Sad.

But since then – as it was out – I’ve used it to make a ticket holder and I patched a pair of jeans! Both of these projects came with excitement.

To start; the ticket holder. It’s just a tube with one end sewn, but it was the first time I’d found a reason to use one of the Harris Tweed samples I got on Lewis last year. It needs a little tweaking, but it’s doing its job admirably!

A piece of Harris Tweed sown into a tube and with the ends turned in.

This pic doesn’t do the colours justice; it has lovely grey and blue tones in there with the browns.

Now to the jeans. Mine always wear on the thigh well before they are in any other way worn out, so throwing them out has bugged me over many jeans wearing years.

Then I saw that people are starting to repair jeans and I watched some videos on how. It’s pretty simple and, because I’d chopped up all my thigh-worn jeans in recent years, I’ve plenty of patching denim!

So, here is a short photo sequence on the first repair job:

Torn, worn out denim
 This is how the damage looked from the wrong side
The rectangle of denim for patching lying on the tear
So, this was my patch
The repaired denim
This is the patched and sewn tear as seen from the right side

As you can see it involved a lot of zig-zag stitch, but that was simple enough. The hardest part was, surprisingly, using my thread scissors to snip off all the pills around the tear as they will only continue the damage.

Being thigh wear, the two patches won’t be all that visible to the world, so I could leave it a bit rough. I did take the opportunity to turn up my hems though as they also had a little wear. Now my jeans are good to go!

Hopefully this week I’ll get to see how comfortable the patching is, but assuming that goes well, I’ll be very happy to repair jeans in future. I suspect my sewing machine will be happy to hear it…