Thursday, December 31, 2009

lacy baktus

There are certainly a lot of folks making the lacy version of the baktus scarf, and I'm one of them. This one was a cute, super simple, and super quick knit. It was done practically before I knew it, probably in large part because I took it over to a friends house and knit away while we gabbed and watched Project Runway as a group. I don't have all that many friends who knit, so it's usually a bit of a show when I bring it out, no matter how simple.

lacy baktus

lacy baktus

I wish I'd remembered to tuck the band from the skein into the ball when I wound it. I like this yarn and I wish I could remember what it was. I did go back to the yarn store to try and find more, but to no avail. Whatever brand it was didn't seem to have this colorway, and there were other brands with a lime green and bright ass pink that weren't the right ones. The base yarn is very nice, but there's a lot of really nice hand dyed sock yarn out there that looks just like it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Here's a simple Christmas gift I did this year, another winner from the book Last Minute Quilted and Patchwork Gifts (so far, a great choice, this book is great for last minute ideas). This one was a simple set of coasters. I used a very vibrant yellow rayon thread and took it as a chance to work on my sewing, practicing sewing even parallel lines.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

now... my very first spinning!

I have a bunch of christmas stuff ready to post up, but I'm waiting in case some of the family accidentally remember I mentioned that I have a blog and come and look at it. in the meantime...

My friend Ellie showed me how to use a drop spindle to make yarn (DANGER, new craft alert) and it was FUN! I'm certainly going to need a bunch of practice, but what I got I don't consider too bad for a first attempt!

I had four ounces of dyed wool top (still new to the terminology, but I think I have it right), and here were my results (on the right were the first two ounces, on the left the second two ounces):
first handspun

I still need to read up on spinning to get the hang of the whole "S" and "Z" twist thing and figure out how to get the right amount of twist in the singles so the plied yarn is as twisty as I want it to be. And to learn all the right things to call everything so I can sound like I know what I'm doing. A lot of learning how to be better is learning all the terminology so you at least know how to ask questions to get the answers you want.

Here's what that second two ounces looked like on the drop spindle before being plied.

first handspun

and here's a closer view at those second two ounces.
first handspun

Not perfect, but I am pretty darn proud of my first attempt. Now I just have to figure out what to weave, knit, or crochet using the stuff!

Oh, and I'm borrowing a spinning wheel from the WSSA, so look out, there may be more of this in my future!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Super fast beret

I've been finishing up a lot of holiday gifts in the last few weeks and have a ton of projects to get caught up on posting here, but I thought I'd share my super-fast quick and dirty beret guidelines, because a project that is really fast, really simple, and only uses one skein of yarn is a great thing.

I think you'd need to use a bulky/ chunky yarn for this. With a thinner yarn and more stitches you'd need to be more refined... bulky yarn is more forgiving. These guidelines definitely assume you know what you're doing and have a good eye for estimation.

quick hat

quick hat

quick hat

Yarn used: Rowan Chunky Print (100g per 100m/ 110 yards) almost all of one ball, although any bulky yarn could be used
Needles: two sizes, one smaller for the band of ribbing and one larger for the rest of the hat. I like to knit hats on a smaller needle than "called for" on the ball band, this yarn called for a size US # 13, and I used a US #8 on the ribbing and a US #10 for the top of the hat.

Cast on the "right number" of stitches for a somewhat snug fitting band of 1x1 ribbing (even number of stitches) . In my case it was 72.

Knit in 1x1 ribbing for about 1.5 inches.

Increase substantially by working (k1 in knit stitch, knit in front and back of purl stitch) around.

Work even for about 3 inches or so.

divide work evenly in quarters (either onto 4 dpns or using stitch markers)

crown decreases: knit around, decreasing (by k2tog) one time in each quarter every row (total 4 decreases per round). I didn't want to show a "line" of decreases, so I made sure that they were in a different place every time. For example... on one round I decreased by k2tog on the third stitch after the marker, the next round I did it on the 10th stitch after each marker, changing the place on every round.

Continue that way until you have 4 sts left. on next round k2tog and knit to end, work a tiny bit of I cord on these three stitches, then draw the working yarn through the loops and weave in the end.

Voila! super simple, super fast beret!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This is an old project, but the second "quilt" I've done. It was for my nephew. My husband has two brothers, the youngest is a paleontologist, but the oldest has a child. The whole family has quite an appreciation for dinosaur-themed items, and since a lot of really cute stuff for babies is dinosaur-themed I think that any child in this family will have quite a collection.

Here was my first contribution:
dino blanket

It was very simple. Made with one yard each of two different fabrics, and cotton batting. The instructions came from "Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted gifts", and this could certainly be made at the last minute! The instructions call for a different method of quilting, but I used a running stitch and did sort of a log cabin block design (no patchwork, just in the layout of the top stitching)

Monday, November 23, 2009

brussels sprouts deliciousness

I didn't remember to take a picture, but this dish is gorgeous and colorful and was so tasty I'm writing it down so I don't forget what I whipped together.

I will be making this again, and eye-catching is a good way to describe it. There's sauce that's a little brownish, but you hardly notice it between the bright purple potatoes and the bright green sprouts and all the deliciousness. Plus if you don't count pepper as an ingredient (I don't count anything I always have), this comes in at six... and cooked up in a flash.

- 1 single serving carton of vegetable broth (or more if you're making for more than a very light dinner for two people, this is very scalable to larger or smaller, so let your eye be your guide)
- a splash of red wine
- a decent quantity of quality mushrooms (chantrelles were on sale, so this is what I was brainstorming around while shopping, gorgeous delicious yellow mushrooms, MMM)
- a few sprigs of thyme (was on display next to the mushrooms, kudos to whole foods for successful cross-merchandising)
- purple new potatoes cut into smallish cubes (I guess you could use a regular color, but it would be less of a visual show-stopper)
- brussels sprouts chopped into ribbons/bite sized pieces omitting the cores and the very center that's too dense to break into leaves
- black pepper or whatever other seasoning

method: heat the vegetable broth, red wine, mushrooms, and whole sprigs of thyme and some pepper until mix is just starting to simmer. Add the potatoes. Continue simmering until the consistency of gravy (add some water if it looks like that's going to happen before the potatoes are done). Add the brussels sprouts and toss to coat. This should just gently cook the sprouts until they are bright green and only slightly wilted. That's how I prefer them, but you could cook them longer. Take out the thyme sprigs and serve.

Since when was this a vegan cooking blog instead of a knitting blog? Oh well. My friend taught me how to spin using a drop spindle. It's fun and now I am fighting the urge to go buy a ton of spinning fiber. There, now that's quality crafting content!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Collard Green "Doritos"

Seriously... another food dehydrator experiment... and somehow they came out tasting stunningly (and a little disturbingly) like I remember Doritos tasting (it's been a few yeas since I had the "genuine" article).

collard green chips

Collard Greens - raw and cut into squares
raw cashew nut butter
lemon juice and water
nutritional yeast
curry powder
cayenne pepper
black pepper

put some cashew nut butter into the bottom of a small baking pan, add water and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. You're going for something the consistency of whole milk.
Add the yeast, curry, and peppers and mix well (consistency maybe closer to thinnish brown gravy. Drudge the collard squares through the mixture and then use your fingers to wipe them down so they are barely coated and not soggy at all. This reminded me of working with strips of newspaper and paper-mache. Arrange on dehydrator rack. Dehydrate. Mine went in at ~100 degrees, I put them in after dinner and they were ready after being in there overnight.

Delicious, light, and crunchy. Even cheesy tasting. If I were going for the Doritos flavor I got a little too much lemon juice and I might adjust some of the spices a little so it's not quite just straight curry. This convinced me of why folks say nutritional yeast tastes like cheese in that this totally reminds me of fake cheese powder coated stuff. While light and crunchy and similarly flavored, they do have a different mouth feel and kind of disintegrate shortly after hitting the tongue. Still, one of the tastiest and most interesting vegan preparations of collards I've ever had (not that I've had many)

collard green chips

yum yum yum!

Pumpkin Cookies

I've been experimenting on and off with my food dehydrator and was particularly proud of my latest creations. I'm going to try them again to refine the recipes, proportions, and timing. The first are Pumpkin Cookies - with no sugar or flour!

pumpkin "cookies"

canned pumpkin, raw almonds, flax meal, dates, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spices (in this case nutmeg, allspice, clove, cinnamon, and coriander)

Method: pulverize almonds into a meal in the food processor, add other ingredients one at a time (pumpkin last) and incorporate them into a thick mushy paste. Spread into cookie shapes and put in food dehydrator on sheets of parchment or the sheets that come with your dehydrator. Dehydrate until they somewhat resemble chewy cookies and keep their shape.

Results: delicious, but I kept waiting for the sweet sugary taste I associate with pumpkin pie to arrive since everything else was there. Also, someone told me a good way to get the dates to mix better (use water and make a date paste by itself instead of trying to blend them straight into almonds already ground into a meal) so that might help. I also might try adding some very ripe banana.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

no idea what to do with this stuff

Do you ever make things just to see if you can? What do you do with them? Here are some things I'm stuck on... they're neat... they were fun to do... but now what??

I thought... "Hey, I wonder how thin a thread I can crochet with? This sewing thread sure looks like fun. Also, I might as well stiffen it with some fabric stiffener too." Seriously. Now what do I do with it?? I was thinking of buying that resin stuff that you can pour and pour a puddle to encompass this and see if I can turn it into a pendant or something, but I don't think I'd wear it... so I'm stuck with this oddly miniature and completely hard as a rock doily. Made with variegated sewing thread. Woohoo!

teeny crochet
teeny crochet

Here's another one. I made it at the very very beginning of this year, not too long after I got the Inkle loom. I was thinking it could make a neat belt, but it's too thin. Right now I just have it sitting around just like my other inkle loom project, although that one gets more of a pass because it was to figure out how the loom worked and practice. All finished up and nowhere to go. This sucker is about 5 feet long.
inkle loom
inkle loom

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Snowflakes in August in Texas!

OK... not really, but when it's over 100 degrees out every day all summer, you want to do light easy fast projects that do not involve lots of wool sitting on your lap. And when you can't seem to focus on any one project for more than 40 minutes, it helps to find projects that can be done in... well... 40 minutes.

I've had a book called "Lacy Snowflakes" with 35 different crochet snowflake designs by Brenda S. Greer and I've been slogging through them. They are fun and fast, but blocking them sure does take a not-so-small ARMY of straight pins. I think I got it out of my system for now and am ready to work on a project I can't finish in one sitting. Back to that humongous pink lace shawl... I guess... :-)

blocking snowflakes

But darn if they aren't fun to make... here they are all blocked and finished...














I might have a short attention span for a single project lately, but that doesn't mean I can't spend two weeks or so stuck in a rut. Nothing to make me excited about working on my old projects again than being DONE with something else.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Plainweave Katia Colibri scarf finished!

This was another fast-seeming weaving project... my guess is that weaving latley seems quick because I'm comparing it to how long it would take to knit something the same size using the same weight of yarn.

Anyway, this scarf exceeded my expectations on all fronts and I'm pleased as punch.

Woven in plain weave at 12 ends per inch, the scarf is just about 8" wide and nearly six feet long. The most challenging part was not beating the weft too hard, it needed a gentle and consistent hand to maintain the openness, although the thick and thin yarn also helps to disguise any minor inconsistencies.

woven katia colibri scarf

I like the cross hatcing effect created by the thick and thin sections of warp and weft interacting and how it makes some areas solid and others translucent, the drape is also really nice.

woven katia colibri scarf

woven katia colibri scarf

For the finish I did the simplest one possible... I knoted the warp ends at both sides. I like that finish for scarves, since having a hem at the top and the bottom of a scarf just seems weird. Sometime I'll have to try hemstitching too, I've only done knotting and finishing the end on a sewing machine.

Friday, August 7, 2009

more details about those noro socks

Making a matching pair of socks out of noro can be quite a challenge...

I’m pretty stunned I got a matching pair of noro socks…
noro kureyon socks
I knit up the first sock without a care in the world… using a basic plain stockinette sock pattern I’ve pretty much memorized. When i got to the toe I realized I used pretty much exactly one repeat.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited. I started the second sock right away, all was going well until I got to the beginning of the green section. There was a knot in the yarn where it suddenly skipped from barely starting olive green straight through to nearly finished with lime green. Grr!!!

Thankfully I wasn’t going to use all the yarn and there looked to be a second set of olive through to lime green onwards in the ball. I wound off through the end of that repeat all the way through to where the dark green started again to continue the un-interrupted pattern… only now the green repeats were much longer than they were on the first sock. I wound out a large chunk of dark green to compensate, and again with a large chunk of the more medium greeen. Then the lime green section was much much shorter than on sock #1 and I added in more of that color from the section I’d cut out because of the knot.

So… thankfully this ball of yarn was enough for nearly three socks at the height I like them, otherwise I could never have cobbled together a matching pair…
noro kureyon socks
noro kureyon socks

I don't know if I'll ever try to do this again, on purpose, from the start. It would be an interesting exercise.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

weaving... more plain weave... again :)

I've started another weaving project... more plain weave again.

I'm using Katia Colibri, which is a thick and thin yarn, and it's giving the weaving an interesting effect so far. I plan on making this up as a scarf and giving it as a Christmas gift to my great aunt, who seems to like white accessories.

Here is what the warp looks like pre-weaving, which gives a good idea of the thick and thin nature of the yarn. It's 51% cotton, 45% acrylic, 4% nylon and 223 yards per 50 grams. Usually I prefer natural fibers, but I know that is less of a concern for my aunt.


Woven in plain weave with the yarn as both warp and weft at 12 ends per inch. I like the grid effect that the randomly placed thick and thin sections give.

katia colibri woven

Monday, July 27, 2009


Without too much trouble, my perfectly matching noro keureon sock yarn socks are done! Photos and details to come very soon. Two plane flights in two days = the perfect time to push through and finish socks. YAY!

The second sock really didn't want to match, but I made it happen. Take that you devious skein with a knot in it where two color repeats suddenly got skipped and the green repeat that wanted to be much longer than the one on the first sock, you did not defeat me! Good thing I wasn't counting on using ALL the yarn :) That sock yarn ball is probably plenty big enough for me to have made a whole nother sock (if I wanted a not matching third sock), and I have size 11 feet. I just don't like my socks terribly high up my legs, there's only so much wool a Texas winter requires.
:-) I'm happy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Quick Bento Lunch

I'm trying to remember to pack and bring my lunch to work more often and decided that if I'm going to get excited about doing that I need to jazz it up a bit. Last time I was successful in this it was by using a bento or similar small lunchbox and trying to figure out how to best get everything I needed in the confined space. Since it worked well last time I'm trying it again. I think what I like most is what I think of as the "jigsaw puzzle" aspect, not so much the food art... I'm into quick packing.

Anyway, I don't expect to put too many lunch pictures up here, but I thought this one looked good. It's some grilled chicken, sprouts, a chickpea salad (chickpeas, cucumbers, onion, tomato, olive oil, red wine vinegar, dill, pepper, salt), and a little container of almonds and cherry tomatoes. Also the perfect chance to use some CSA veggies.

lunch with chicken and chickpeas

I have been doing some fiendish knitting on the pink lace blob, but nothing exciting enough to warrant another round of pictures.

I will soon have some socks to share. I'm trying out some of the Noro sock yarn and making some plain top down socks. Turns out that by total chance I made the first sock EXACTLY ONE COLOR REPEAT LONG. You can't plan stuff like that, and I don't expect it will ever happen again. So it looks like I will have a perfectly matching pair of socks made from a single ball of Noro. I can still hardly believe it. I'll take pictures of the sock(s) in progress and get them posted soon, I've learned that I need to take advantage of light when I can, I just have to remeber that when the sun is still up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Progress on the pink blob!

I've picked up my grandma's shawl I'm working on for Christmas and I'm plugging away on it again. A refresher... this is the 1840 Sampler Shawl from the fabulous book Victorian Lace Today (Jane Sowerby). Here's my ravelry link (clicky-clicky).

pink lace shawl, first half

I'm still enjoying the sampler format, it keeps it fresh. I've made enough triangular shawls to get a bit bored with them and want a change. I'm enjoying the rows that all stay the same length, instead of getting hopelessly and impossibly long as the shawl progresses.

To celebrate being 1/2 way done with the body of the shawl (that's the shawl excluding the knitted on border) I decided to lay it out on the carpet and see if I could get it to stay stretched out so I could have a look at it. I love lace, it's like magic when you get it all stretched out, and seeing it like this makes me that much more anxious to get it finished and blocked. I hope the enthusiasm sticks for a while. :)

Bonus, it looks like I might have enough yarn to do the border in this yarn, but if not, I'm OK with doing it in a different shade. I am, really, so, you know, I'm not tempting fate with my optimism. Not at all. Really.

Here's a detail on one of the lace patterns... it's so delicate! Two of the sampler patterns are patterned on both sides (instead of all purls on the wrong side). It's much more fiddly to do decreases like that in purl, and reading the knitting is a little harder for me that way because I'm less used to it, but the results are well worth it...

pink lace shawl detail

How many knitting days till Chrsitmas?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

dishcloths complete!

Remember that thing I said about weaving being much faster than knitting? I can't believe those dishcloths are DONE already. Wasn't it last week that I was just finishing up the first one? Anyway, now it's a matching set of four, off the loom, finished, washed, etc. Here is the Weavolution page for it!

finished dishcloths

I think I will always be surprised at how much unmercerized cotton shrinks, although it really wasn't all that much. The finished dimensions were about 15 X20 (not including a bit of fringe on the ends). Before taking them off the loom, they were measuring in at just over 17 wide by 22 inches long. I set everything up at 15 ends per inch and 18 inches wide, so overall I lost about 3 inches of width, but I still think I have some nice dishcloths in terms of size and porportion. I almost always forget to account for shrinkage, in pretty much any craft. You'd think I would have learned better by now. Ceramics should successfully teach that lesson to anyone, I must be really stubborn.

finished dishcloths

These were super fun, and I'm already planning the next project. Hopefully one that really lets me sink my teeth into something a bit more complicated. Given that I've been making everything in plain weave that shouldn't be too much of a stretch :)

I have to get back to knitting that big pink shawl for grandma, and there's my sister's christmas present to get to (from last christmas... doh! good thing I made a substitute fair isle hat when I gave up on finishing the sweater on time), and that pair of socks out of noro kureon sock I'm making for myself... perhaps weaving only goes fast because I am forced to stick to one project on the loom at a time?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

speed weaving!

OK... so I just recently started weaving, and I'm probably not that fast at it as far as weavers go... but I'm coming new to the craft after knitting and crochet. Man, does it seem to go fast. Two weeks ago I decided to make a set of dishcloths (probably for my sister, but I'm not sure) and after spending about a week on and off getting the warp measured and on the loom, a few days with a few on and off hours of work now have me almost done with the first cloth. It's plain weave with a bit of plaid/stripe at the edges. I like it. Eventually I'll have to do something with this fancy 8-shaft loom except for miles of plain weave (and a little bit of point twill) but for now I'm still thinking this is pretty awesome.

here's a little preview... I measured enough warp to make four of them. I think I'll use the inkle loom to make little hanging loops that match perfectly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

more of last year's projects

I've been lax about uploading photos of my current projects. I have been busy, a pair of plain jane socks popped off the needles after I discovered a nearly completed sock in my knitting basket that I don't even remember making. I grafted the toe shut and knit a mate lickety split. Not sure when I made the first one, and it bugs the heck out of me that I can't remember.

So... here are some of last year's Christmas things.

These two little projects are both made from the same fabric. First one is a Christmas ornament I made from the scraps of the Apron shown below. I made about 10 of these little guys, and it's a great way to use up little scraps from a project with a fabric like this. The one thing I would have done differently is match up the fabric pattern for each of the different colors. I accidentally came pretty close to doing so, but unfortunatly it looks like I tried and messed it up. That's worse than it looking like you didn't try at all. :( But the project went over well with the recipient (I'm told, I wasn't there), so that's what counts in the end. Nobody is as picky about the things I make as I am.

This is a scarf I made for my grandma for xmas. I'm still very new to weaving, but I'm happy with this. And boy, let me tell you, was this thing fast! Weaving in worsted weight yarn is the weaving equivalent of knitting with super ultra bulky weight. This took just a few hours from start to finish! The yarns are both cotton/rayon blends and it's a point twill. By coincidence the way the weft was verigated made the pattern look like alternating light and dark zig zags. How neat is that! The first pic is still on the loom under tension. The scarf is a little on the short side because I didn't plan for quite as much shrinkage as I ended up with, but since it's pretty much to drape around your neck for fashion rather than warmth, AND my grandma is a good bit shorter than I am, it'll do just fine.
Speaking of Christmas gifts for my grandma, the pink lace shawl is coming along swimmingly. I'm almost done with the first half, then it's just the border. I don't think I am going to have enough of the yarn I bought to finish. I might do the border in another shade of pink. I'm thinking a really light pink would play well against the more vibrant pink in the body of the shawl. A different enough color to look like I did it on purpose, rather than similar enough to look like I messed up on dye lots.