Saturday, April 25, 2015

Can I Grow a SCOBY?

Can I Grow a SCOBY for KOMBUCHA?
I have recently been drinking kombucha purchased from my local health food store. What is kombucha?  It is a fermented black tea drink that supposedly has good gut health benefits because of the probiotics that are in the drink.  But at nearly $4.00 (current price as of this writing)  for a 16 ounce bottle of kombucha it can get a bit expensive.  So, I decided that I wanted to try to brew my own.  To do that I needed a SCOBY and kombucha starter

What is a SCOBY?  Well SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.  So basically it is a culture.  And in the case of a kombucha SCOBY, it is made up of yeasts that thrive on black tea and sugar. 

If you have a friend who makes their own kombucha you may have a resource for some starter and a SCOBY, but after asking around all I got were blank or confused looks and questions like what IS kombucha and what IS a SCOBY.  Next, I  looked at my local health food store but I could not find a SCOBY there either.  I know that a SCOBY and starter can be purchased online but my thinking (right or wrong) was maybe I grow my own SCOBY?    Once upon a time  I used to make make sour dough bread and I had to use a starter culture in my bread making.  So,  I figured that maybe I could make my own starter for my kombucha.   If it can be done for sour dough bread starter, then maybe it can be done for kombucha.....of course not the same starter as used for sour dough bread, but a starter and SCOBY used for the making of kombucha.

So after doing a bit of research this is what I did to try to make my starter and to try to grow a SCOBY.

I sterilized a one half gallon Ball canning jar and the utensils that I was going to use. 

Ingredients that I used:

6 cups (48 ounces) of bottled purified drinking water
one tablespoon of  loose organic black tea
1/2 cup of raw organic sugar
one cup of GT's Original Raw Organic Kombucha (at room temperature)

I brought the water to a boil and added the loose black tea.  I steeped the tea for about 10 or 15 minutes.  I strained out the tea leaves and added the sugar while the tea was still hot, stirring until the sugar dissolved. I let the tea cool to room temperature.  After the tea cooled I added one cup of room temperature GT's Original Raw Organic Kombucha.  I did not put a lid on my jar,  but instead I covered my jar with an unbleached coffee filter and secured it with a rubber band and then covered it with a cotton flour sack material (I got that at Walmart years ago).  I will keep it sitting out on a shelf or counter where it does not get any direct sunlight. 

SO, this is a testAn experiment!  I am not sure how long it will take for my tea to ferment and for the SCOBY to grow.  In fact, I don't even  know if  I will be able to grow a SCOBY.  But I am giving it a try.  If you are interested and want to grow your own, check back and see if I am successful.  I will update this blog to let you know what happens! 

I am keeping my fingers crossed!  I am even whispering sweet little things to it as I pass by"hello my sweet little baby SCOBY " and "grow my little baby SCOBY, grow!"  Not sure if it will help, but I talk to my plants too...... Yes..... I do.

******UPDATED 8/23/15:  Yes, I was able to grow my own scoby using the above method! I have been happily making and drinking my own homemade kombucha ever since!  As of today, August 23, 2015 I have two very full scoby hotels full of healthy scobys!  Give it a try if you love kombucha and skip the nearly $4 per bottle cost by making it yourself!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tutorial How To: Make A Needle Felted Crown

Here is a great way to use up some of your fiber that you have left over from other fiber projects.   Make a needle felted crown!

What you will need:
A crown shaped cookie cutter
  Felting needles or a Clover Felting tool
A Clover Felting Mat or a piece of thick foam
    Embroidery floss and an embroidery needle
a tiny satin rose
optional - any other embellishments that you would like to add such as buttons, sequins, etc.


1.  Place your cookie cutter on top of your Clover felting mat or a thick piece of foam 

2.  Place some fiber into your cookie cutter. 

3.  Using your Clover Needle Felting Tool or felting needle begin to poke gently at the fiber, being careful not to hit your felting tool on your cookie cutter.  Watch out for your fingers!! Those felting needles hurt so be extra careful! Ask me how I know........

4. Continue poking your fiber with your needle felting tool or felting needle,  turning it over and poking your felting tool on both sides until the fibers have felted together nicely.

5.  Now make a second felted crown.  

6.  Enjoy the stress relief that all of that jabbing and punching is freeing you of! 

7.  Embroider, add beads, and a tiny satin rose, or other embellishments if you would like such as buttons, sequins, etc.  I only embellished one side of the crown because I wanted to add a pin back to the back side of the crown so that it could be worn as a brooch or to be able to use it as a removable embellishment to a bag, scarf or whatever.  

 8.  Place the two crowns together.  I took a single felting needle to slightly felt the two hearts together, a bit.....being careful to not jab my felting needle into my embroidered design, beads or little satin rose. 

9.  Sew the two crowns together using a blanket stitch or whatever stitch you would like to use. 

10.  Sew a pin back to the backside of the heart if you want to make it into a brooch or a removable embellishment that you can pin onto a scarf, hat, bag or whatever!

Have fun and happy needle felting! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Off the Spindle: Handspun Blue Faced Leicester

Blue Faced Leicester is a long wool breed of sheep.  It has a nice long staple length usually 3 to 6 inches long.

I recently purchased some beautiful hand dyed BFL roving in a colorway of brown, blue and grey.  I spun and plied it completely by hand using one of my tibetan style hand spindles. This particular fiber had a stable length of a little over 4 inches and a micron count of 25 - 28 microns but to me it felt softer than what the micron count would indicate.

From the 4.2 ounces of fiber I ended up with approximately 340 or so yards of two ply yarn.  So I should have enough yardage for a pair of fingerless gloves, a hat or a scarf. 

If you are interested in learning to spin, I think that BFL would make a nice fiber for the beginner spinner.  But it is certainly not just a beginner fiber.  It is a beautiful fiber with lovely drape and this particular fiber was quite soft too!  BFL makes for some lovely handspun yarn