Plantain Salve

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

I'm not a gardener and tend to only keep the yard in a mowed down state. I allow whatever grows naturally to have at it and the winners are the plants that can thrive in the provided sun, shade and soil conditions. In addition, my house is located on an ecologically sensitive peninsula on the Charles River so i don't use chemicals or pesticides. That means my lawn is a wonderful green mixture of grasses, clover, dandelions and this unidentified "weed".



Plantain growing in my backyard

It was during a Medicinal Plant Walk at Lands Sakes farm that I learned about a plant that's been growing in my yard for 30 years and I thought was just a weed. The plant is plantago major or more commonly, broadleaf plantain (not the same as, and not to be confused with, the fruit that is part of the banana family.) Broadleaf plantain is an entirely edible plant with both internal and external healing properties.

My DIY spirit was inspired when I discovered that you can make a salve with plantain to treat cuts, burns, rashes and insect bites. I had to give it go and here are my notes and thoughts on what I did.



1. Make an oil infusion.
  • I washed the plantain leaves and pat dried them. Some bloggers stated that if the leaves aren't dehydrated then there may be a problem with mold, other bloggers just washed and dried them like I did. I'm not sure which way is best so I'll wait and see.
  • I packed two 4 oz. canning jars with chopped plantain. One was filled with jojoba oil and the other with extra virgin olive oil. I put them on my kitchen window to start a month long cold infusion but after a week I got impatient and switched to a hot infusion by putting both jars in a slow cooker filled with enough water to reach the cap rings and setting it on low for 8 hours.


2. Separate the plantain from the infused oil
  • I started with a strainer to do this but noticed that there was still a lot of oil on the leaves so I put the leaves in a scrap of muslin and squeezed out the remaining oil. Nylon hose would probably work even better.

3. Add beeswax to make salve or lotion bars.
  • The infused oil can be used as is but adding beeswax will thicken the oil to either a salve or lotion bar consistency and make it easier to apply. For the infused jojobo oil I added about 10% beeswax (the rest oil) and got a salve consistency. For the infused olive oil I added about 25% beeswax (the rest oil) and got a lotion bar consistency.
  • I microwaved the beeswax and oil mixture in 20 second spurts until melted. This is where an essential oil can be added if desired. I didn't have any on hand but I would like to try lavender or peppermint.

Melted beeswax and plantain infused oil before cooling

4. Pour into tins
  • I keep finding ways to use these tins and they have become one of the handiest crafting things that I've ever purchased.
  • Each 4 oz. jar of infused oil produced two 2 oz. tins of plantain salve. I love when the math works out.
Plantain Salve
Testing and other things to try
  • Now things go into the testing stage. The questions to be answered are: How well will the salve actually work? How long will it keep? My three year old nephew would be the perfect test subject but I don't know if he'll allow me to put this on his scrapes and mosquito bites!
  • Other things to try are making tea with the plantain leaves and harvesting the blooms for psyllium.
  • Try infusing other liquids - water, vinegar, vodka.
  • Try infusing other oils - coconut, almond, avocado.

I love how my lawn is becoming a natural garden. Nothing is pulled out as a "weed" anymore. The clover is for the rabbits and bees. The dandelions are for salads and green soups and now the plantain is for salves, tea and whatever else I discover can be made from it.

Mistaken Rib Gradation Cowl

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Ravelry Project Page - Mistaken Rib Gradation Cowl

This cowl was finished just in time for next fall. I love how I can get two looks depending on which end is at the top.

Five colors for the price of three! I've been wanting to knit something using color gradation for a while but it took some time for the pieces to fall together. I found the the perfect yarn during a visit to Webs and then adjusted Purl Soho's Mistake Rib Cowl pattern.



Yarn:
1 skein each of Valley Yarns Southampton
  • Silver Spring
  • Cloudy Sky
  • Dark Pewter
Needles: Size 9 circular

Size: 15.5" length & 26" circumference

Pattern:
Round 1: *K2, p2, repeat from * to end of round. 
Round 2: P1, *k2, p2, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, k2, p1.

Instructions:

Cast on 112 stitches. using two strands of Dark Pewter and join for knitting in the round -- Knit in pattern for 3.5".

Using one strand of Dark Pewter and one strand of Cloudy Sky -- Knit in pattern for 2.5".

Using two strands of Cloudy Sky -- Knit in pattern in 3.5".

Using one strand of Cloudy Sky and one strand of Silver Spring -- Knit in pattern for 2.5".

Using two strands of Silver Spring -- Knit in pattern for 3.5".

Bind off loosely in pattern.

Mermaid Blanket

Friday, March 23, 2018
Ravelry Project Page - Mermaid Blanket

This project was a request from my granddaughter Natalie for a mermaid blanket (a blanket that when you are wrapped in it it makes you look like a mermaid). The project began with the search for a pattern (why reinvent the wheel?) and ended with what almost always happens — not finding a pattern that matched the picture in my head and having to develop one of my own.

Here are the notes on how I made my mermaid blanket. Hopefully these notes are detailed enough because I'm not going to write up a formal pattern and there may be errors. If you do make a blanket from these directions and find something which can be corrected please let me know and I'll update this post.



Yarn: The blanket needed to be washable so an acrylic or superwash wool was necessary and I couldn't believe my luck when I found a "Dusty Teal" color of Red Heart Super Saver in my yarn stash — the perfect mermaid color! A total of 3 skeins were used (with NO extra).

Crochet or Knit? I didn't really care. I would have preferred crochet because it's faster but finding the right stitch pattern was more important. I found a knitting stitch pattern that would make a good texture for a blanket and also looked like fish scales, so knitting it was.


Stitch pattern:
A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker
Purl-Twist Fabric (p125)

Even number of sts.
Rows 1 and 3 (Right side)—Knit.
Row 2—* P2 tog, but do not sl from needle; then purl 1st st again, and sl both sts from needle together; rep from #.
Row 4—P1, * rep from * of Row 2 across to last st, end p1.
Repeat Rows 1-4.

Size: The finished size is approximately 36" x 40" (excluding the tail)

Blanket instructions:
1. Cast on 170 stitches with size 10 needles
2. K1, P1 ribbing for 1.5"
3. Work the above 4 rows of the Purl-Twist until blanket measures 24" ending with Row 4.
Notes: I added three stitches of a seed stitch border to each side for this version and while it worked I wasn't completely happy with it. If I were to make this again I would try the English Slip Stitch Selvedge Edge instead.

Watch the tension with the purl-twist stitch.
It's very easy to work it too loose.

4. Continue working in pattern and begin decreasing two stitches on the knit rows (rows 1 and 3) by knitting two together(k2tog); work one k2tog at the beginning of the row and one k2tog at the end.

5. Keep decreasing until there are 96 stitches. The blanket should now be approximately 40" in length.


6. Divide the stitches onto two needles with the center 48 stitches on one needle and the 24 stitches from the two ends on another needle. I actually did this with a circular needle and two double pointed needles (see above picture).

7. K1 from front needle, k1 from back needle, (k2tog from front needle, k2tog from back needle)across (50 stitches)

8. (K1, p1, k2tog, p1, k1, p2tog) across end k1, p1 38 stitches.

9. To make a cocoon at the bottom of the blanket, seam the two edges of the blanket together for about 12".

Fin
Note: I did NOT design the fin. I really liked this mermaid fin pattern and only made small tweaks for my yarn and design.
  • Knit 1x1 ribbing for 1.5”
  • k1, YO, p1 across (57 stitches)
  • k1, ktbl, p1 across
  • k1, p1, m1, p1 across (76 stitches)
  • k1p1 across
  • k1, YO, p1 for 24 sts, pm, k1p1 to last 24 sts, pm, k1, YO, p1 for last 10 sts (100 stitches; 36 stitches on either end and 28 stitches between markers)
  • k1, ktbl, p1 to marker, sm, k1p1 to second marker, sm, k1, ktbl, p1 to end
  • k1, p1, m1, p1 to marker, sm, k1p1 to second marker, sm, k1, p1, m1, p1 to end (124 stitches; 48 stitches on either end and 28 stitches between markers)
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 60 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 58 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 56 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 54 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 52 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 50 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across.
  • k1p1 across 48 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 46 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 44 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 42 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 40 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 38 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 36 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 34 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 32 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 30 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 28 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 26 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 24 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 22 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 20 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 16 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 12 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 8 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across 4 sts, W&T
  • k1p1 across
  • k1p1 across, knitting each wrap and knit stitch together
  • repeat from k1p1 across 32 sts, W&T for other half of tail
  • knit 1x1 ribbing for 2" then bind off in pattern.

  • Cat Amigurumi

    Monday, October 09, 2017
    Ravelry Project Page - Kitty

    I have always admired the Japanese amigurumi patterns because they have wonderful character and detail. I also love that the patterns are written with stitch charts and lots of photos so you don't need to know Japanese in order to work the pattern. When my daughter Sarah and her husband visited Japan I requested a Japanese amigurumi book and she came back this delight - Cat Amigurumi by Eriko Teranishi



    I made the sitting cat and used Knit Picks Palette yarn which is a fingering weight yarn so the cat is small and fits in the palm of my hand. It's the same yarn I used to crochet the wedding amigurumi and wedding hearts


    The book has wonderful pictures on the making and assembling of the cats and it is also organized with a very clear and concise layout. I scanned and printed a copy of the charts and downloaded the Google Translate app which helped by verifying what I had already guessed.



    She's so cute. I need to find just the right name for her! I'll be making other cats from this book soon.


    Tawashi - My Favorite Dish Scrubber

    Sunday, July 09, 2017
    Ravelry Project Page - Acrylic Tawashi

    I discovered that kitchen scrubbers have acquired a new name—tawashi. Tawashi is a Japanese word meaning bundle and is used generically for any scrubbing item. Tawashi are made from a variety of materials but I was intrigued after reading this Make article: How-To: Magically Clean Eco Tawashi, that 100% acrylic yarn was preferred. Supposedly the synthetic fibers in acrylic yarn are similar to a microfiber and therefore will not scratch. I just had to try this.

    The article provided a tawashi pattern but I like this Double Sided Scrubbie pattern so I made that and substituted acrylic yarn instead of cotton.

    WOW, it's true! I love, love, LOVE this acrylic tawashi. It wipes like a cotton cloth and with only a little elbow grease it scrubs like a steel wool pad but without the harshness. There's a claim that acrylic tawashi will clean without soap but I haven't gone that far (although I use much less dish soap than I would with a cotton dishcloth).

    I highly recommend working your favorite kitchen scrubby pattern with an acrylic yarn. You won't go back to cotton! Also, don't forget to start calling it a tawashi, it's a much more refined word than scrubby.


    Soap Covers - My Favorite Washcloth

    Wednesday, July 05, 2017

    Ever since I made the felted heart soaps, I've been fascinated with covering bars of soap. I now use them exclusively in the bath or shower and have completely ditched using wash clothes and loofahs. In addition to replacing bath paraphernalia, there are other benefits as well: They are very quick to make, use scrap amounts of yarn and are great gifts.

    Two kinds of soap covers can be made. One type is reusable multiple times and the other felts (or like the felted heart soaps, continues to felt) around the soap as it is used.

    Ravelry Project Page - Soap Cover

    My personal favorite reusable soap cover is this Soap Sack pattern by Susan Lawrence at I'm Knitting As Fast As I Can. I like this pattern because it expands and contracts to fit most regular size bars of soap and is easily adjustable for different yarn weights. Most importantly, it functions well as a washcloth.


    Ravelry Project Page - Soap Sweater

    But what's even more fun is a soap "sweater". A soap sweater is not meant to be reused because while it's being used the yarn felts around the soap. All you need to make one is wool yarn (make sure it's not superwash), knit a rectangle (if you prefer, you can work in the round), wrap it around the soap and stitch it closed. Soap sweaters around smaller bars of soap are great for use when traveling.

    There are hundreds of patterns for soap covers or sweaters. If you search using the keywords: soap, sack, cozy, saver, sweater, coat, sock, or bag, you will find plenty to choose from. Try it—You'll like it!


    #PinkOut

    Wednesday, June 21, 2017
    This is an easy peasy project with endless variations.

    Materials:
  • Approximately 250 #8 beads
  • Size 10 thread
  • Size 10 crochet hook

    Note: I am using a hook that is smaller than the one normally used for size 10 thread in order to get a tight stitch.

    Construction:
    1. String beads onto thread.
    2. *Chain 2, bring up bead and chain, repeat from * until all beads have been crocheted.
    3. Join into a circle.