Sunday, January 11, 2009

Catching up feels great!

My crafty librarian friend and I decided to have a craft weekend. We got together and worked on a lot of those little projects that are almost done that everyone has lying about. It was great fun. Here were my main accomplishments.

Finishing up this darn snowflake. I had fun making it, but was lagging behind on finishing it. I think it was the seemingly endless quantity of pins needed to keep it perfectly in place, since it really will stay that way. BTW... I've made a handful of these things in the last few years and I find that acrylic fabric stiffener is much preferable to starch. This stuff is awesome.
Making the Dino baby blanket. This is a very easy project. It's one yard each of two fabrics and cotton batting. It's from Last Minute Knitted and Patchwork Gifts. Only I didn't "tie" the quilt, instead I used my quilting guide to make a "log cabin" quilting design. I think I like this better with the dino fabric. Adding green dots might have distracted from the dots on the dinos.

Also, made some heddles and tried out my inkle loom for the very first time. I'm trilled with how quick it goes once it's all warped. Only thing, with bands so narrow, I'm going to need A LOT of practice on those selvedges!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vanilla Pound Cake

Made another recipe from my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. I must say, another winner. It was amazing. Check out that batter, delicious!

This time up was the Vanilla Pound cake. Subbed out 1/4 cup of the regular sugar with the tangerine sugar I'd made earlier. I dressed the cake up a bit with some stabilized whipped cream and fresh berries. My loaf pans are wider than standard, so the cake came out a little wider and flatter than usual, but I solved the problem by layering them atop each other with more berries and cream in the middle.

I don't know that much about baking and flour types and how they affect everything (which is part of why I'm doing all this baking), but the book said that the whole grain pastry flour was what made the texture on this so perfect. It was great, nice and dense, just like a pound cake should be. And delicious too. I'm sure the 8oz of sour cream didn't hurt anything either. :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weaving yarn stash created!

I was, perhaps, a little overzealous at WEBS right after the new year, but with great results!

I now have a good quantity of both mercerized and unmercerized cotton that will shortly become some woven dishcloths and shawls. Ooo Pretty! I'm just learning to weave, so it may be slow going (the yarn is SO THIN!), but I'm up for the challenge.

The box arrived yesterday. Hubby says that when he picks up a box of yarn and says "ooh... this is heavy" that he knows I ordered A LOT of yarn. But seriously, they sell it in one pound cones, and if you want to make your sister a set of three dishcloths with three colors each... you see where I'm coming from.
Oh, and I made another recepie from the cookbook. Photos and stuff to follow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting ahead

Do you have any relatives who love receiving handmade gifts but proclaim everything is too nice to use? I do, it's my grandma. A few years ago I made her a Kiri shawl (pdf, my ravelry). I now hear it's gone missing. I'm sure she's heartbroken. I've seen how grandma treats these things I make her. I would not be surprised if she carried around a box and a plastic bag so it would be "safe" in the box. I think this caution is the cause of its downfall. I've decided to take this as the best opportunity to make her a new one. If she has two, then perhaps temporarily misplacing one will not be as traumatic.

I'm making the 1840 Sampler Shawl from Victorian Lace Today . Blogging about lace is a little uneventful since it's all going to look like a big shapeless pink blob until it's done (my ravelry has a few more pink blob pictures). Here it is in all its lumpy shapeless glory. I'm liking the "sampler" format so far. Most of the shawls I've done have been like Kiri, a triangle where each row gets longer and longer and longer and I get bored with the pattern. I'm digging the rows that stay the same length and the pattern that keeps changing. We'll see about that applied border though. I've only done one, and it was much much smaller.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

snowman ball ornament

Isn't he cute? Just a little quick think I whipped together yesterday (after xmas, I know).

I'm thinking of making a "snowman" as a gift next year, I'm picturing three separate ornaments so that they are like a disassembled snowman. Not sure what to do about the top hat though. A fourth ornament or attached to the head??

Baked Goods

One of my projects I've taken on this year is to do a lot more baking. I really want to improve my skill. Because everyone has to start somewhere, I received a copy of the King Arthur Flour book Whole Grain Baking as a gift and I'm slowly working my way through as many of the recipes as I can. So far I'm up to about 10 recipes and they've all been great.
My biggest success so far has been the shortbread (Scottish Shortbread p. 332), where the main grain is oatmeal ground in a food processor. I made one major change to the recipe though... I used sugar that I'd mixed with tangerine zest in the food processor (instructions here). The results were fantastic! The book suggests using orange to accentuate whole grain flavor in other recipes, so it came to mind as a natural fit and a great way to use all the extra sugar mix I had leftover from making other holiday gifts. I love the big boxes of tangerines you can only find during the holidays and this is a great way to use them.
The delicious shortbread got packed up and labeled with a label I created in good old MS Word and went to the neighbors for New Years.

Ok... so only about 2/3rds of it went to the neighbors. Shortbread is a hubby favorite. This recepie definitly gets a stellar review from us!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2x2 Ribbed Hat (Triangle on top!)

Who doesn't love a good 2x2 ribbed hat? I know I do. Plus, they are the perfect gifts. They are stretchy, so they'll fit almost everyone without worrying about size, and they are an easy way to get creative in the details. Here's a simple variation I made for my hubby for Christmas. I'm pretty sure that if you did stripes the top would look like concentric triangles! How neat is that?

2x2 Ribbed triangle hat:

Yarn: Worsted Weight (shown in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Franklin's Panopticon colorway, used 1 skein with significant leftovers)

Needles: US7

Gauge: not too crucial due to stretchiness, I used recommended needle size and am not a tight or a loose knitter. Adjust accordingly.

Cast on 120 Stitches in your favorite method. I like long tail in Knit and Purl to make a reversible edge for the ribbing, or you could do all knit and pick which side you like best.

Join to knit in the round. Note, if you did a standard long tail or other non-reversible cast on, choose which side of the cast on you like best. If you're doing a folded brim, the side you like should be on the inside, if you're not, put the side you like on the outside.

Work in K2 P2 ribbing for anywhere between 6 and 10 inches (depending on how much of a folded brim you want, as shown I went a full 10 inches). Remember, the bigger the head, the more the ribbing has to stretch. That makes the hat shorter. If you are making it for someone with a bigger head than you, knit for longer than you would for your own head.

Crown Decreases:

Place markers in three evenly spaced K2 ridges (since you have 12o stitches, there will be 30 K2 ridges, your markers should be every 10th ridge). By "in the ridge" I mean in between the two knit stitches that make up the ridge.

Decrease Round: Work in ribbing until two stitches before first marker, K2tog, slip marker, SSK. Continue to work in ribbing around, decreasing in this same way at the next two markers.

Rounds 1&2: Work Decrease Round
Round 3: Work even in established ribbing (Knit the knits and purl the purls)

Rounds 4&5: Work Decrease Round
Round 6: Work even in established ribbing (Knit the knits and purl the purls)

Rounds 7-12: Work in same order as Rounds 1-6

Rounds 13+: Work Decrease Round every round until 6 stitches remain.

Break yarn, pull through remaining stitches.

Weave in ends.

What am I doing anyway?

I'm not sure where to begin with a blog, mostly I want somewhere I can keep track of my crafting and perhaps help/inspire/communicate with others. Isn't that what this whole blog thing is about?

I was recapping what I accomplished last year (in and out of craft-land) and kept coming across little projects I'd forgotten about. That's no good, I need to keep better track. The other day I forgot what I'd made my grandma for christmas and almost made her almost exactly the same thing! No good.

So here goes... a chronologically organized way to keep track of all it is I craft. :)