Egg Blowing 101: A Tutorial

Have you ever wanted to decorate eggs that you could keep forever?  You can empty and clean the eggs quickly and easily so you won’t have to use your creations for egg salad!

I use an egg blowing tool (available here), but you can also use a tack or small drill bit and a syringe (without the needle).  Along with the supplies I have pictured below, I also use a large bowl for collecting the egg whites/yolks and another large bowl for cleaning (if you are emptying a lot of eggs you could also use your sink).

Egg Blowing Supplies

Step 1:  Using your drill tool notch one end of the egg and drill a hole.  (If you are using a syringe you will need to make a hole on each end of the egg.)

Drilling Egg

Step 2: Take the cap off of the pump and insert it into the hole (which is facing down).  Put your thumb over the hole and squeeze.  As you squeeze the pump you will begin to empty the egg.  When you squeeze all the air from the pump into the egg, take your thumb off of the hole and pump again.  (If you are using the syringe to empty the egg place the tip in the top hole and squeeze so that the egg contents come out of the bottom hole.)

Use caution during this step because if your egg is cracked at all or too thin it will break as you pump air into it.  Also, if you pump too much air into the egg too quickly it may break.  I usually poke the end of the pump tool into the egg now and then to help some of the material come out and also to pierce the yolk sac.  This step will take a couple to a few minutes, depending on how big your egg is.

Emptying Egg

Step 3: Once your egg is empty it’s time to wash it.  Using warm, soapy water wash off the outside of the egg.  Submerge the pump tool into the water to fill it.  Insert it into egg and squeeze the water into the egg.  Repeat this until only clean water comes out of the egg.  Rinse the egg in clean water and shake out excess water.

When your egg is clean you can microwave it to sanitize it, if you’d like.  I place my eggs on a paper towel-lined plate and microwave on high 3 times for 10 seconds each.

Washing Eggs

Step 4:  I cook all of the egg whites and yolks and give them to our chickens, turkeys and ducks.  The cooked eggs are a very nutritious treat for the birds!

Scrambled Eggs

Step 5: Once the eggs are dry they are ready to be decorated.  Be creative and have fun!

Tour de … Fleece?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Tour de France, the 22-day long bicycle race across France starting on July 2nd … but how many of you have heard of the Tour de Fleece?  I’m sure if you’re familiar with Ravelry you’ve heard of it! 

Many handspinners around the world spin yarn while the cyclist are racing.  That’s right … 20 days of spinning at least a little each day with 2 rest days.  For some, it’s simple.  Others have it a little more challenging, especially those who have 2 young children, animals to feed and a growing garden. 

I did manage to spin every day that the cyclists rode.  To kick off the Tour I even made a special dinner on July 2nd…  One of our homegrown turkeys, rubbed with a mixture of olive oil and herbs de provence (brought home from Paris by my aunt!) rotisseried on the grill.

I also watched a lot of the race and really became interested in it.  Noah loved watching it with me in the mornings, and Dave and I watched some of it at night, too.  We all gasped when Johnny Hoogerland crashed and cheered for him when he continued racing.

Some days I only managed to squeeze in 10 or 15  minutes but most days I spun for 30 minutes or more.  A few days I spun on my drop spindle because I didn’t have time to sit down at my wheel.  We also left for camping a couple of days before the Tour was over so I packed my drop spindle to take with us… it takes up far less room than my wheel!  I posted photos of my daily progress to my Flickr account, but here’s a collage of my work:

Tour De Fleece collage

An Experiment in Cool Weather Solar Dying

Today is supposed to be the last warm day in a while.  The forecast says mostly sunny and 73 degrees – a perfect day to solar dye some wool. 

I mixed up my dye bath and set it out on the deck as usual.  Because the air temperature is not too warm, I put a dark-colored blanket around the glass bowl to insulate it and warm it; and I placed aluminum foil around the back of the bowl.

Later I used some old windows I bought a couple years ago to make a little solar dying “greenhouse”.  It protected the bowl from the wind and helped it heat up better.

Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival

The Garden State Sheep and Wool Festival was held on September 11th & 12th this year.  I drove over on Saturday for the morning to enter 2 fleeces and 2 skeins for the competitions.  I had a great time – the weather was beautiful and I got to meet up with some friends and talk with them.

I entered my yarn in the Novice division of the skein competition since I’ve been spinning less than 1 year.  My woolen Shetland yarn got 2nd place, while my worsted Merino yarn placed 4th!  I’m very happy and excited about that.

I'm holding my grey Shetland yarn on the left and my white Merino yarn on the right.

I also entered 2 fleeces in the wool show.  They didn’t place, but they both got a score of 81 (out of 100).  And they both scored a 10 for my skirting… that was encouraging!

Dyeing Wool and Picking Strawberries

 

Thursday was a beautiful sunny day in the 70s…perfect for picking strawberries and sunny enough to do some solar dyeing.  I got my wool ready for the dye “bowl” before we left for the morning.  I dyed 2 batches of the grey shetland that I bought in Ohio with Kool Aid…each was 2 ounces.  For batch #1 I used 4 packs of Pink Lemonade and about 1/8 teaspoon of Grape.  Batch #2 got 2 packs of Grape. 

I love how the wool turned out!  Because the sun warms the water slowly, the dyes aren’t absorbed into the wool uniformly and result in a naturally varigated yarn or, in this case, roving.  

Grey Shetland Roving dyed with Pink Lemonade Kool Aid

Grey Shetland Roving dyed with Grape Kool-Aid

The other reason I love solar dyeing is – it’s so easy!  Especially when you have a million other things to do and/or children who need your attention.  #1 – soak fiber in warm water with a drop of detergent or Jet Dry.  #2 – fill glass container with water, 1 cup vinegar and dye.  #3 – squeeze excess water out of fiber and add to dye bath.  #4 – put plastic wrap over top of bowl or container.  #5 – place in sunny spot (I put some aluminum foil around it to reflect more sunlight onto the container).  #6 – let it sit in the sun until water is clear (a few hours or all day).  #7 – gently squeeze out water, rinse, set out to dry.  

Wool set out for Solar Dyeing

  

After I put the wool on the deck we got ready to go strawberry picking.  Hannah and Noah loved it….Noah may have enjoyed seeing all the big trucks and motorcycles drive by on the road more.  Hannah ate a bunch of berries there.  After almost every strawberry she picked, she looked at me and said “Mouth?”  After trying to tell her she can’t eat the all and that we have to put them in the basket, I gave up.  She had a berry juice stained face by the time we left.  I wish I brought my camera with me.  

When we got home I made 2 batches of jam….yum!!

I Got My Drop Spindle Yesterday…

…And I started spinning last night!  I love that hand-spun yarn is so unique – not 100% uniform like commercial yarns.

I ordered my “Learn to Spin Kit” from Golding Fiber Tools in Vermont (http://www.goldingfibertools.com/).  The drop spindle is hand-carved in a Celtic Ring design and the kit came with 2 oz of Coopworth roving.  I chose this design because I used some money that my pop-pop gave my for Christmas to buy the spindle and he’s from Scotland.  I will always think of him whenever I use this spindle.

My 1st Try at Needle Felting

Yesterday I decided to try needle felting some of the Tunis wool I’ve been washing.  I’ve heard that it is very easy….you just have to stab the wool repeatedly with a sharp “felting” needle.  I put my wool in a cookie cutter and felted it into the shape I wanted that way.  Then I tea-dyed my little felted sheep.   You can find very simple tea-staining instructions here:  http://sheepyhollow.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/tea-dyeing/.   I dyed this one dark so it would look like a gingerbread cookie.

Needle Felted Sheep

I also tried making a 3-D felted object, too.  So far I just made 1 little egg, but I want to make a bunch and dye them pretty colors for Easter.  I’ll post pictures of them later.