Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quilting For Beginners

You know you're a science nerd when you make a science blanket. YAAAAS dinosaurs!

Wanting to take on a new task, I made a science-themed quilt. This is a relatively simple quilt to make and isn't anything fancy; the pattern I used is known as a "Trip Around the World" quilt. This type of quilt is quite easy to create, so it's perfect for beginners.

To create this quilt, 6 different cotton fabrics are needed. Out of these six fabrics, two are used for the borders (specifically, 1 1/2 yards for one block color and border #1; 1 5/8 yard for one block color and border #2, and lastly, 4 different 5/8 yard pieces are needed). I used twin-sized cotton batting and quilter's flannel (3 and 3/4 yard) for the backing fabric (quilter's flannel is excellent as it washes well, shrinks very little; not to mention it's so soft and warm). For the thread I used a vintage poly-cotton blend and Dual Duty thread. Some old-school quilters only use 100 percent cotton thread, but a poly-cotton blend is strong, machine-friendly, and lasts well.

When it came to choosing fabrics, I wanted the five fabric choices to vary and represent different science fields. I found the astronomy and paleontology prints at a local fabric store, but the brain, molecule chain, and moss cell fabric was purchased from Spoonflower.com. Spoonflower has unique, whimsical fabrics designed and sold by its users. The specialty fabric choices are immense; it's truly a fabric geek's dream come true. (Pssst, check out the awesome Legend of Zelda choices!)

I plan to take on pixel quilting, but I'm making a "Log Cabin" quilt next... although that one won't be as eccentric, alas.

My science-themed "Trip Around the World" quilt.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rose: Medicinal Beauty

The Decoction of Red Roses made with Wine and used, is very good for the Headach, and pains in the Eyes, Ears, Throat, and Gums, as also for the Fundament, the lower Bowels, and the Matrix, being bathed, or put into them. The same Decoction with the Roses remaining in it is profitably applyed to the Region of the Heart to eas the Inflamation therin; as also St. Anthonies fire, and other Diseases of the Stomach. Being dried and beaten to Pouder, and taken in steeled Wine or Water, it helpeth to stay Womens Courses. 

--Nicholas Culpeper, 1616-1654.

The ancients of many different cultures spent thousands of years discovering and harnessing the knowledge of herbs. As stated by naturalist and herbalist Gregory L. Tilford, author of Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, "Roughly 40 percent of all drugs in modern use are derived by plants. . . more than 70 percent of botanically derived drugs were discovered from folkloric accounts." Herbs maintain, they heal, they treat, they cure... and they can be downright dangerous and deadly if mishandled. These plants demand great respect.

Besides its uses in medicine, herbs also lend its attributes in beauty products. The rose, the floral symbol of love and romance, is an herb whose medicinal properties have been documented throughout history. Greek poets praised the beautiful flower for its medicinal qualities, and Pliny listed over thirty ailments that were treated with roses. Today, it's common to see rosewater at heath food stores, and rosewater -- the delightfully fragrant byproduct from the distillation of roses -- makes a fantastic, gentle toner for the skin. While you can buy certainly buy rosewater, you also can make your own. If you ask me, it's a far better alternative to the preservative-laden toners sold at "luxury" department stores (not to mention waaaaaay cheaper). When making rosewater, also be sure that the roses haven't been sprayed with pesticides or are chemically treated. Rosa damascena  is the traditional rose to use to make rosewater, but you can also use the lovely Apothecary's Rose (Rosa gallica).

All-natural, cold-processed rose soap made with goat milk, wine, and then handmilled with rosewater, and sprinkled with organic Rosa damascena petals. It is colored a soft pink from using Madder root. 'Will be available soon for purchase in limited quantity in the future.

The recipes to make rosewater vary but an easy one is found in herbalist Rosemary Gladstar's book, Herbs for Natural Beauty. You can find her rosewater recipe online here.

For more information, please see:

Rose information at botanical.com

Herbs for Natural Beauty by Rosemary Gladstar

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West by Gregory L. Tilford