Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In the knitting basket ~

Turning sock yarn remnants into baby socks for the nugget... the gratification is so quick, and comes with the added bonus of using up yarn that's been sitting around for quite a while. It's going to be so hard to go back to full-size socks!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Christmas Gifts :: The Knitted and Crocheted

I had the best of intentions to make a couple of sweaters, but those plans were crushed by my fall travels. Instead, I finish some accessories for all of the ladies in our families :: knitted goods for the ladies on my side and a new, crocheted project for the ladies on C's side.

Kris received a bulky hat with a touch of those bright colors that she loves. This was a made-up pattern from start to finish using Bernat roving and left over bits of wool brought back from Germany for a hat souvenir, which it looks like I never shared in its finished pom-pomed state.

Sarah gave a not-so-subtle hint that she wanted a replica of my blue mobius cowl.Not only was I able to fulfill her request, but thanks to the organization that Ravelry provides, I was able to order the exact same wool for the project... now we'll never know whose is whose.

Mom had request a lacy, slouchy hat, so I knit up this creation for her. It's a pattern I've been working on and have the best of intentions of sharing... soon.

After seeing this crochet-edged scarf, I knew I wanted to try my hand at one and thought they would make good gifts for C's mom and sister.

I have to admit, I didn't sign up for the class, but decided that I would figure out some version on my own. I used one of my favorite large scarves as a template for size ~ making this a big square of cotton fabric. After hemming the fabric on all sides, I went around the edge and made a blanket stitch, that was followed by a foundation round of single crochet stitches, and finally, I went around one more time adding the scalloped edging as follows: make one single crochet into the first foundation stitch (single crochet) from the previous round, *skip two foundation stitches, then double crochet 5 stitches into the next foundation stitch, skip two foundation stitches, then single crochet into the next foundation stitch*. That creates one scallop stitch, repeat the directions between the stars {*} until you have made your way around the scarf.

After finishing and giving the scarves, I realized that their big squarish shape can make it a bit confusing ~ I thought they almost looked like a fancy table cloth rather than a scarf, and C's sister modeled her's as a cape...

Luckily, even with it's large size and the weighted crocheted boarder, the scarf was still flexible enough that it could be worn wrapped loosely {as I did above} or snuggly {see below} around one's neck.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Christmas Gifts :: For the Home

It was fun this year to be able to get into the craft room and create some smaller, simple gifts with materials I had stockpiled.

Sometime about two years ago, I picked up these smallish jars in a thrift shop. I didn't have an exact plan for them, and I knew that I didn't need them for anything, but at $2 a pop, they were hard to pass up.

Fast forward to this fall when I was oiling the cutting boards in my house and realized that some spool oil would be a nice little gift for my mom and sister ~ both bakers and makers with plenty of wooden spoons and boards.

One batch was the perfect amount to fill both jars, and it should keep them well supplied for a couple of years. I oil my boards and spoons about three or four times a year and still have plenty of stock from my original batch.

The other small, extra gifts that I tucked in packages this year were lavender sachets. The lavender came from our garden last June ~ I hung it to dry and then stored it away until I had a plan. These were whipped out in an afternoon in front of the sewing machine ~ just a simple rectangle with some lace for decoration and a loop for hanging. I then slipped them into gifts that were knitted or crocheted for our moms and sisters {more on those tomorrow!}.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Christmas Gifts :: The bags!

This post could have any number of titles ::

a. I FINALLY finished the bags...
b. The bags :: Same same, but different
c. The Bag Photo Shoot :: Duck for cover
d. Christmas was a month ago, drop it.

After seeing the pattern on Design Sponge, I started these bags two years ago with the best of intentions to give them for Christmas 2010.

Design Sponge's pattern is accompanied by one of the most helpful step-by-step tutorials for sewing all of the pieces together. With that help and my assembly-line production, making six bags was moving along smoothly until it was time to install the eyelets. I've installed many eyelets in my time without trouble, but this time, either due to the heavy duty size of the rivets or the industrial setting tool I was using, I could not instal them cleanly. After an hour+ of frustration and a bag with rivets that looked so-so, I put the bags aside... and there they sat for two years. Finally, this summer it hit me that I could make some sort of fun button hole and toss the eyelets.

Armed with green thread, I just sewed and sewed around a slit I made for the bag's straps. I think this worked out really well, and possibly even better than the eyelets as it made the bag less top heavy.

Swapping out the hardware was my first change, I also attached the leather straps in a different way than was intended. This was unintentional on the first bag, but then I realized that I liked my way well enough, so I went with it. The only problem with not using the eyelets and the alternate handle layout is that these bags don't automatically close like the designer had intended.... on the other hand, I like that the strap isn't in the way when you're rustling around looking for lost change in the bottom of the bag.

Speaking of the bottoms of the bags. I liked the look of the original bags with the light canvas and black bottoms and linings, but I didn't want to use two solids for these. I ended up using an old black and grey tapestry that I bought years {and years, like 10} ago at Urban Outfitters. It had served me well and was made from a really thick, heavy-duty weave, not your traditional thin tapestry fabric, so I know it will hold up well as the base for these bags.

At Christmas #3 {Saxmas}, we took the bags out for a little photo shoot. The photo on the right gives you a good sense of the size of the bags ~ just a small tote, but with a handle long enough to let you search for change without taking it off your shoulder.

And now, give us your best caption::

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter 2013 Food

Oh, there's all sorts of catching up to do here, but the semester started, and January is pulling us along faster than I'd like! This is our last winter of calm, and I wouldn't mind if it slowed down. just. a. little. bit.

I'll catch up with the Christmas gifts that were sewn, crocheted, and knitted, but until then, here's a little bit about the food that's fueling our fire. After a couple of years in a row, I'm realizing that it has become a tradition to center my January and February around the collection of cook and craft books that I arrive under every Christmas tree.

This year I'm digging into Rust Fruit Desserts and returning to a gift from last year, Tagines & Couscous.

We arrived home last week to two bags of cranberries that I bought before the holidays and never used. Flipping to the "Winter" section of Rustic Fruits, I found a recipe for Cranberry Buckle, and the January bake-fest started. I baked the recipe without modifications, and the pan was emptied in just a couple of days.

From the Tagine cookbook, I'm finally getting around to preserving my own lemons {an ingredient that's called for in many of the book's recipes}. They recommend Meyer lemons, which we only find in the grocery stores around this time of year. It will take a couple of weeks for the lemons to be ready, giving me plenty of time to decide whether our first tagine dish will be chicken or lamb.

This weeks menu? We have a lot of buttermilk to use up from the holiday baking, so I'm putting it into a loaf of Irish soda bread with raisins and caraway seeds.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Christmas #3 : Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake

And then there was Saxmas, where the stockings where hung by the chimney with masks, and the family was nestled all snug in their new island t-shirts...

Monday, January 07, 2013

Christmas #2 : In the Rockies

The prelude to this Christmas was a train ride from California to Colorado!

And this is a little series we call "peeing-in-the-new-year" ::

Merry Christmas, cows.