Friday, December 23, 2011

here we go a-caroling

Jesus the Carpenter artwork by Francis Hook

Hark! the herald angels sing

It's A Wonderful Life sign by Alaska Chicks

glory to the newborn King

peace on earth and mercy mild

 wooden ornaments by my stepmom
God and sinners reconciled 

stockings from my talented friend Margie - we will need two more next year!

  joyful all ye nations rise 

join the triumph of the skies

quilted ornament by my friend Jeanette at Wordz of Life

with angelic hosts proclaim 

 popsicle ornament by the Professor a few years ago
quirky crocheted star by Baruch's Lullaby

Christ is born in Bethlehem

hark! the herald angels sing

glory to the newborn King 

wishing you all a very merry Christmas 
and blessed New Year
with love 
from the Baruch's Lullaby family

fa wawawa wa...wa wa, wa, wa. ♥

Thursday, December 8, 2011

our winter of waiting

Four of our kids are here. They are in the fresh snow, sledding, climbing all over each other like a litter of puppies. They are putting ornaments on our tree. They are writing Christmas lists and getting tucked in and prayed with at bedtime. They are wreaking a happy havoc and making us laugh and driving us to our knees and teaching us to be better parents every day. And throughout the day, every day, I imagine two more faces joining them.

Two of our kids are very far away, and we've never met, and I still miss them. Can't wait to hold them. Hug them. Tell them they are precious and loved and cared for. Tuck them in at night. Tell them they have a purpose and that God has great plans for them.  He does. They each have an amazing story of how He led us to them. 

Here are their faces. I am so, so thrilled to finally share them with you.

 our manly, tender warrior
 our merry little girl

 We are in Alaska. You know, the farthest-west yellow part up there. They are in the middle of board, in blue, in the-country-I'm-not-supposed-to-name-anymore-now-that-we're-sharing-photos, but it starts with a B and is shaped roughly like a rectangle, just left of the Black Sea. :)

We've paid about $15,000 in adoption expenses so far. We have about $17,000 to go, about half of which is airfare. A much-simplified breakdown of most of our adoption costs are in this post. We have no worries...God has been adopting kids much longer than we have, and He's never late! But if you want to help us bring them home, we have some ideas...

You can purchase anything from Baruch's Lullaby. Duh. You knew that already. 

Do you blog or have your own website? You can put our button on your blog. Easy. Even I can do it, and I can hardly find my way around elementary HTML. It's right over there, under "want a button?" --->

You can blog about us or share this post on Facebook. Or a different post. I'm really not picky. ;)

You can "like" Baruch's Lullaby on Facebook, and suggest our page to your friends, too. We promise to make you laugh several times a week or your money back.

You can purchase this card (or several of them!)  from MYSAVIOR Photography. All proceeds minus shipping are donated to our adoption fund.

You can purchase anything from Good Neighbors Candle and put "baruchslullaby" in the message to seller, and 20% of your purchase will be donated to our adoption fund.

You can pray for us. That's the best. I'll be honest and tell you that I don't care much about "positive thoughts" and "good vibes," but prayer is what moves mountains...even in Alaska. Thanks so much, friends. ♥

Friday, November 25, 2011

the great felting post

Wool is a magical thing. It has stretchy properties like no other fiber...that is, until your husband washes your favorite sweater and it suddenly fits an American Girl doll. Surely this is how felting was discovered, yes?

Felting happens when you take wool (or any other animal-derived fiber) and agitate it in water (preferably the hot, sudsy kind). It becomes thick, practically impermeable, a little stiff, a little fuzzy, and ultra warm. The wool fibers have scales that interlock and irreversibly attach to each other. The important word here is irreversibly. Can't be undone. No amount of tears, sweat, or cussing will get it back to normal. So my motto is: Pray first. Felt second.

Before you felt, you need to know just a few things -  first, synthetics won't felt, cotton won't felt, and usually, light colors won't felt either. I do have some white felted mittens that I make (they're actually my top selling mitten color!) but they do take a little more work. 

If you're not sure if you've got wool or acrylic, here's a quick test - take a few inches of the yarn and burn it. Stop looking at me like that, I'm being serious. *smile* If it's acrylic (or some other synthetic blend) it will turn to a nasty plastic lump. If it's wool (or another natural fiber) it will turn to ash. Wool is fire-resistant, which is another thing in its favor over other fibers, and a great reason why it's a terrific fiber for children and babies.

I do our felting two different ways, by machine and by hand. Most of the time, I will knit up a big batch of mittens (and formerly, booties) until I have at least ten pairs or so, and I will set them loose in the washer on the smallest load setting. For single-item custom orders, when a customer wants something in a color I don't currently have for sale, I will knit it up and felt it by hand, which is a lot more work and takes more time, but the result is (mostly) the same. I'll show you the difference in a minute. Either way, the items are knit large and baggy, and are fairly indistinct. Lumpy, and a little goofy looking. Bear with me. They get much cuter.

Here is a mitten. With thumbs, even (if you're familiar with our shop, you'll know all of our mittens are thumbless for babies and toddlers!). This is a great example of felting, because the mitten poses an extra problem - you have to take special measures so that the thumb doesn't actually felt itself closed, and for that I cut some special filler (um, plastic from a grocery bag) and stuffed the thumbs. Not too tight though, because the stitches are baggy, remember? We don't want that plastic to work it's way out and make a permanent hole in the thumb as it felts. So, lightly stuff the thumb (or small part of whatever you're felting) and make a few stitches with some cotton thread to hold it in there. The cotton thread won't felt, so you'll be able to pull it out easily when the felting is done.
 Like so. Ta da.

I felted these guys in the washing machine - lowest setting, hot water, a little detergent, for about 6 minutes. Prayed first. Then I checked, reset it for another six minutes, and checked...and the darn things were still not done. There were only four items (a pair of booties and mittens - I was being lazy and didn't want to hand-felt them, and needed some photos for this post anyway) and there wasn't nearly enough agitation going on in there. But...

Here is another tip - do not, under any circumstances, add other laundry to your felting. Even if it is clean laundry, it may leave ugly fuzzles all over your knits that are impossible to remove. This is experience talking, and I just saved you a ton of grief. No charge, you're welcome.

So anyway, I looked around for something to throw in the washer with the knits to create more agitation, and finally decided on a bunch of sippy cups sans lids. Worked beautifully (it was a little noisy, though). You want them to be in the wash cycle until they are almost as felted as you want them to be, but not entirely - they will continue to felt a little in the rinse and spin cycle.

When wool is wet, it is very sticky. And when it's felted in the washer, it is also very, very fuzzy - depending on how many things you felted (or the size of them) there may be a lot of stray, wet wool fluff stuck to the sides of your washer and to what you felted. You will need to trim your items, but I suggest waiting until they are mostly dry or you will be covered in wool fuzz that is incredibly difficult to get off of your hands. Imagine sticky biscuit's like that.

Here they are after they're trimmed up - this is only a small pile of the fluff that I cut off of them. The rest took off flying when our forced-air heating kicked on. (wheee!)

 Find a safe place where the cat won't lay on them and let them dry for a couple days. For some reason they take days to fully dry out after the initial felting, but after that, they dry very quickly (like after playing in the snow). Score another point for wool.

Small knitting needles are great for picking locks and puncturing plastic wrap. Large knitting needles are great as drying props.

 I had another order for a single pair of mittens last week, and we hand felted those. The principle is the same - hot water, soap (I just use dishwashing soap), and lots of agitation. It helps to have rubber gloves and a few kids around who want to take turns helping.

It's fun to do it this way because you can actually see the process of the fibers coming together. It reminds me of making butter out of cream by shaking it in a jar - there's no change for a long time and you don't think you're getting anywhere, and then suddenly you see a little change in the texture, and then poof! It's done. Well, maybe not "poof" exactly - maybe more like ten or fifteen minutes later. But after an hour of shaking, who's counting?

 Here are the hand-felted mittens. They are thick (though not quite as thick) and not nearly as fuzzy - I didn't even need to trim them. And I had control over the process, so there was no fear of over felting.

So, that is how we do it here. Any more questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll be happy to help. ♥

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

what it used to look like

 ...before the white stuff came. Yep, it's here, about two feet so far, and yes, it's pretty, but it's just...white. It was minus fifteen last night when we went to bed, and it warmed up to four or five today. So I was craving some color and found some pictures that I should've shared with you in a more timely manner, but didn't. Sorry. :)

These are of the Butte, the second time we went up this year, in August. It was steep here, baby.

Lovely, breathtaking, amazing, my favorite get to the top and if you hit it just right, the colors are phenomenal and the fireweed has all of its ethereal seed fluff everywhere, frosting the tips of the red foliage. We missed the full effect by about a week, but it was still spectacular.

That's Pioneer Peak, right. . . . . . . . . . there. ^

Happy girl, coloring on the back deck in bare feet and a sundress. It seems a long way off as I am sitting here knitting thumby mittens, with the thermometer at 3.4 degrees - except she is like this all year long, regardless of the weather (we have her wear jeans under the sundresses in the winter, sometimes).
This is our oregano. I like it because it just grows and you don't have to do anything to it except harvest it, and it comes back every year. Except for the time when - well, I won't mention any names, but it's a guy that I'm married to - someone accidentally sprayed it with weed killer. Whoops. We didn't harvest it that year. It's pretty though, hmm?

 Settlers of Catan in the backyard. This is the best. Somehow sippy cups always end up in my photos...
 *contemplating world domination*

So here I am, trying to figure out how to put thumbs on felted mittens, and we are looking at wind chills of 30 below tonight. Let's not think about that. Let's think of warm things, cocoa-y things, and blankets. Here goes.

 Cotton Spa Face Cloths Washcloths in Cafe Au Lait and Ecru Cotton spa face cloths from JeanieBeanHandknits

 Soy Jar Candle - Kettle Corn - 11.5 oz Kettle corn soy candle by The Lodge Spa

Vintage Zig Zag Vintage zigzag blanket by Sydney's Designs

Time to throw more wood in the stove, and I really should get that thumb added to this mitten. Hope you all have a wonderful night.  ♥

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

termination dust

The leaves are gone. The moon is full tonight. And we wake up to frost every morning already. You know what started this, right?
 The white stuff. The almost perfectly straight line cutting right through the mountains there. 
 It's called termination dust. The end of summer. *sob* 
 This is the drive from the Matanuska Valley to Anchorage. When the dust hits, you watch it slowly creep down the mountains, a little more almost every day, until you wake up one morning, and the entire world is transformed into whiteness.
 Ahhh...Pioneer Peak. (Thanks for rolling down your window, Mr. Baruch's)

This is the same mountain a few weeks ago, as seen from the top of the Butte (yes, that's a small plane in the middle of it).
The Flats, Knik River
But we're not there quite yet. Usually the first snow comes in late October or early November. 

 The woodstove has been on pretty much every day, though. The cats love it. Isn't he handsome? And so perfectly cat-like to be washing himself in front of the hearth. What a good boy.
 We've been gathering firewood...and hey! This kitty doesn't shed as much, unless you count all of the clothes she leaves all over the house. 

We've also been updating some things...
 New style of crazy love hat, with seed stitch brim and vintage button - you can still bid on this on our Facebook page and all funds will go toward our adoption!

Updated picture of an old favorite...this guy is one of my new favorites...
This scarf is available here. I really, really love this one. The colors make me happy. 

Some other happy things...

Matanuska River and Sleeping Lady, from the top of the Butte 
Have a lovely October! ♥