Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Laundry Day... Errrrr Night

Years ago I decided that it would be a good idea to learn how to be self-sufficient. The kind of self-sufficiency that meant that if there ever were another depression, I would be prepared to do very valuable things like raise vegetables, can and freeze, sew anything, bake my own bread from scratch, and cook up just about anything I needed from scratch. I am pretty much a freak, I know.

We were newlyweds, and I brought my penny-pinching ways into my marriage. Luckily, my husband didn't mind sampling my pink homemade applesauce, and he waited months before I perfected lump less gravy. He also feigned interest as I explained and tried dozens of ways to make the perfect boiled egg. Now he likes to brag about my perfectly boiled eggs to others (how embarrassing!). I also found several recipes for making my own baking mix and my own ant repellant (it didn't work very well).

I have always loved frugality and we live pretty frugally, even when we have had more money than we do now. I joined the Frugal Homemakers group on Ravelry and noticed a thread for homemade laundry detergent. I was doubtful. Finally, I read it and was so excited that I had to wake up my husband to tell him all about how wonderful it would be when I started cooking up some laundry detergent. This was at midnight on a weeknight, so he wasn't really thrilled to hear about my new "experiment".

On Friday night I went out for my evening's entertainment. I went in search of these:

Laundry ingredients

I went to four different stores in search of the ever elusive Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. Turned out that my regular grocery store had all three items, who knew? And all of the items were cheaper than what I had paid for them at the hardware store. Oh well, lesson learned.

I came home and started supper, and started shredding the Fels-Naptha soap

closeup grating

Then I cooked it up while we ate the real food. I was very careful not to confuse the pots and serve up soap soup.


Then I added the rest of the ingredients and set it aside for the night.

ready to set

I had to wait until morning to see how it would turn out, so I will make you wait until morning as well. Sorry! I know that the suspense must be killing you. My husband also had a sleepless night, filled with fret about how my $8.00 experiment would turn out. And wondering if I would actually use the stuff.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

One Dollar Mitten

Yep. One dollar a skein. Bargain priced yarn at the dollar store - and it's pretty good!

When I saw some mittens at the LYS in Wausau with a cable cuff - the cable ran around the wrist - I knew that I had to make some. I picked this yarn to experiment with and....



Pretty nice, no? For the next pair I will make a few changes. A wider cable cuff and more ribbing, and maybe a different shaping style, but all in all it was a good first effort.

We spent the weekend in Sheboygan again, visiting Opa, Grandma, our nephew, my brother and sister-in-law, and Nalena. All in one day. EXHAUSTING, but a great day. The Easter Bunny left an early basket for Nalena, and the girls went outside to blow bubbles, play with the chalk and play in the sandbox. It was chilly, so coats are still required for little ones.


Because this is primarily supposed to be a knitting blog, and because I need to find some space to purge all of my financial agnst, I decided to separate posts into knitting and "the house" which is our primary finacial strain. This way, if you are interested only in knitting, you can skip right over this part. And if by some strange chance you enjoy hearing the continuing saga of our house, you can find those updates without having to read through knitting stories. Brilliant? I thought so.

We had an offer a few weeks ago, did I mention that? No, I checked back. I didn't mention it. That's probably because it wasn't worth mentioning. The offer was $45,000 below our already $20,000 reduced price since the lower level was gutted. She came up $5,000 and we went down $5,000, and then she said it wasn't worth any more than that. Since then there have been two walk throughs. Their comments are ringing in my ears because it is now always the same story, again and again.

"The lower level will require too much work."
"The siding is old and starting to deteriorate."
"The garage door is old and the trim is starting to deteriorate." (the garage door is actually a new problem)
"The upstairs bathroom is out of date."
"The kitchen floor has a tear in it."
And, "It needs new carpeting in some places upstairs."

All true. And impossible for us to do anything about.

A friend of mine was asking about the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition application that I sent in, and I told her that this was sent over a month ago and so far we have heard nothing. Their application very clearly said that we would hear nothing unless they were interested, so no news is not good news. Then my friend asked me if I had considered the Oprah show. I hadn't. I haven't watched the show in years because I'm never home in time, but I went to the website and they wanted me to condense my "remodeling project that has become stuck due to financial reasons" into 2,000 words.

I began writing. I read it to DH and he liked it. Then I began to copy and paste it into the form online and... whoops. It said 2,000 CHARACTERS, not 2,000 WORDS. Great. Four pages of text and now I had to cut it to 2,000 characters including spaces? Hmm... challenging.

I wrote a poem:

Lessons in Life

Wheels spinning in mud
Nine long years
Young children watching, learning
Lessons in life

Job to be eliminated
Back to college, both
House damaged
Windows and roof replaced
Full time work and classes
Young children watching, learning

Heart attack
Quit job
Savings gone
Finally graduate
But no job
Young children watching, learning

Hundreds of applications
Still no job
Substitute teacher
Three years
Children watching, learning

Finally a job
Three hours away
Separated but happily married
Two homes
Finances stretched
Children watching, learning

One year becomes almost two
Finally another job
Family reunited
Pop-up camper is home
Children watching, learning

New savings gone
Repairs, new carpet and paint
Credit used for bills
Finally house for sale
Buy beautiful lot
Children watching, learning

Oma has died
Finally accepted to adopt
But no – testicular cancer
Teenagers learn

Lost wages
Money spent driving
To cut grass and remove snow
Teenagers learn

Decreased property values
Sluggish house sales
No money for updates
House decaying
Adoption pending
Teenagers learn

Our story in basically 2,000 characters. We have proposed donating our home to a needy family if we could have a home in our new town. This is my plea for help. Hopefully they will hear me.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Another month dodged.

How the money came to be to keep our mortgage going, I will never understand. I only know that when I called the mortgage company, the situation was a bit better than I had thought. They got my March payment as they sent the default notice. That counted for February. Somehow.... I had stashed away enough money, and borrowed some from another account... to make another payment and get caught up. With John being on disability for the month of February, he didn't get a penny of income until the end of the month. For some reason, I had recorded that I paid the mortgage payment already when his disability check came in, but I hadn't. That has never happened before, and I hope that we will never be in that situation again, but with the economy the way it is...... it's only a matter of time before we cannot afford to keep the mortgage in one town while trying to sell the property and renting a place to live in another town. This has to end.

I really don't feel like knitting again. I can gauge my emotions by how much knitting I do. I don't have the money to buy more yarn, and I'm tired of my stash. I don't have the ambition to spin on my wheel, either. I pretty much get up, go to work, come home very late, take care of things around our "apartment" and go to bed. I did manage to knit up the summer cap for John, and that took a lot longer to make than I thought it would. Now I have no real projects that I want to do... only some gifts that I need to make, but don't have the wool for.

Yep... I'm a bit down. Again. The happy days that we got really worked to pick me up, but reality crashes hard around your head when the trip is over.