Upcycling Cashmere and A Versatile Cocktail

This whole process started with a bit of absentmindedness after the whirlwind that was my Christmas holiday. I just so happen to like to bring my slippers with me whenever we head home to visit family for reasons of comfort and more comfort, but this time, they did not make the trip back South. My mom happened upon them and they happened upon her feet and then I happened to need some new slippers.

Cue the sound of my DIY, cheapskate brain: “Hey, I bet I could make some.” After some tentative googling and a few browses of Pinterest, I found this tutorial for making slippers out of a felted sweater. I remembered that Rob had a tragically moth-eaten cashmere sweater that he would willingly donate to the slippers cause and I headed to Goodwill to see if I could find any other wool to experiment on. Lo and behold, I found two more 100% cashmere sweaters for $5 each, and I walked away happy.

Felting Wool on Purpose

I know that while most of us have shrunk a beloved sweater on accident at least once, fewer of us have tried to do it on purpose. The process certainly isn’t complicated, but there are some tips to be offered!

Hooch & Home: Felting Wool

  1. Obtain your wool. In order to get the best result from your felting process, the sweater or other garment needs to be as much natural fiber as possible. 100% is best. Check the tags!
  2. Put your sweaters into a large lingerie bag or pillowcase. All I had was a king size pillowcase, but it worked really well to contain the renegade wool bits that the sweaters shed.
  3. Hooch & Home: Felting WoolWash the sweaters in hot water with laundry detergent. This is when the magic happens. Although agitation alone is enough to felt wool, the hot water and soap help the process along as well. If you don’t have access to a washing machine, this process can be done on in hot water on the stove…but that’s a little much even for me.
  4. When the cycle has finished, retrieve your sweaters from their case and inspect the result. The fibers should have shrunk considerably, although probably not far enough. I had to wash my sweaters three to four times before they were adequately felted. If you have access to a dryer, running the sweaters through a cycle will help speed up the process as well.
  5. When trying to decide if the wool has felted enough, test the fabric by pulling it and inspect the fibers. It shouldn’t stretch much and you shouldn’t be able to see the individual lines of knit wool. If felted enough, the fibers should have matted together to create your new fabric.

Once your wool is all felted up, it is ready to be put to all kinds of uses. My library has at least one whole shelf of books on felt crafts and ideas, so if slippers aren’t something you need, do some investigating and find something you do need or want. Although I must say, cashmere felt slippers are kind of awesome.

Hooch & Home : Felt on Purpose

Please excuse the haphazard hand sewing.

A Hooch & Home Bloody Mary

Felt is an incredibly versatile fabric, especially when you make it yourself….much like the Bloody Mary. I’m not a huge fan of the drink when made with its traditional vodka, but! part of what I do love about it is that you can make the cocktail with just about any base spirit. Except maybe whiskey. I mean…I’d be willing to try it.

Anyway, I love making Bloody Marys at home because there’s so much you can do to make this a fabulous drink that you love, without fear of messing up ratios or delicate balances–and you don’t even have to have bacon. And you can stay in your pajamas!

Hooch & Home : Felt on Purpose

I tend to stick to this basic recipe:

  • 3 oz. base spirit. Aquavit is my hands down, no contest favorite. Gin used to be, but I’ve converted.
  • 5-6 oz. tomato juice
  • a little salt, whether in the form of soy sauce or actual Kosher salt
  • a grind or two of black pepper
  • a hefty splash of some kind of pickle brine
  • a couple of dashes of some kind of hot sauce. Sriracha or Frank’s work well if Tobasco isn’t your jam.

Stir or shake until very cold, serving over fresh ice. Garnish with olives, pickled okra, dilly beans, celery, etc.

If the flavor is a bit thin, which is often my complaint, Worchestershire sauce usually solves the problem. If things are a little dull, add some lemon juice. Sometimes the tomato juice is acidic enough without lemon. And do not underestimate the importance of the added salt. Tomatoes have certain flavor compounds that are only unlocked in the presence of salt and alcohol, which is also helpful to keep in mind when cooking with tomatoes.

There are tons and tons of different combinations that work well with tomato juice and booze. Don’t be afraid to play around and see what makes you happy!

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