Thursday, March 12, 2015

Soup love

Spicy Ham and Legume Soup
I want to eat this every day.

Into the pot goes:
- one litre of chicken stock
- one can of crushed tomatoes
- one + 1/2 diced onions
-a couple of stalks of celery, diced
-2 carrots, peeled and minced
-some combination of red lentils and green split peas equalling about 1 and 1/2 cups
-one can of black beans, drained and rinsed
-a few handfuls of ham, cubed
-1 or 2 chili peppers, minced

Simmer on the stove until the veggies and lentils are soft.  Imitate Bill Murray in What About Bob? while you eat it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Making Up Baking

There is a fine balance of chemistry that happens in baking.  I can respect that.  But sometimes it's fun to just go for it!  Recording my made-up muffin recipe here in case I can't remember it next time I need it.

Banana Coconut Walnut Muffins

-2 large ripe bananas
-1/2 c butter - Note: try with 1/4 c next time - the tins were very buttery afterwards!
-1 c sugar
-1 egg
-1tsp vanilla

-1 1/4c ap flour
-1/4 c crushed walnuts
-1/4 c shredded coconut
-1/4 tap salt
-3/4 tsp baking soda

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another.  Pour dry into wet.  Mix until just little as possible.  Spoon into lined muffin tins.

Bake at 350 for 30 min.

Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

5-minute craft: drool bib

We're going through a ridiculous amount of bibs per day around here...all thanks to the smallest member of our household.  I have a boxful of half-sewn bandana bibs, but when I came across two worn-out t-shirts in Dan's closet, I had the materials for 4 bibs that I could finish in a flash.

Cut out a square from the front or back of the shirt (each shirt has enough fabric for 2 bibs).

Fold it in half diagonally.

Punch the snaps through both layers on each side.


No sew and so cute!

Jersey doesn't fray like cotton.  No edge hemming required. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Funky Baby Hat

I finally branched out and made a project with wool!  Wool, in my mind, is what the hardcore yarn crafters use. My reasons for avoiding wool are:

1.  It's itchy.  I don't care if the label says "super soft." I will concede that some yarns are scratchier than others, but all wool has an itch factor.

2.  It's pricey. This 50 g ball that he needed to make this hat cost about seven dollars. For an adult hat that would be about $14 for hat materials.  To make a sweater or something larger you're looking at $56 before tax just for the materials! And that's not including button or other notions. (Okay, end pennypinching rant here.)

3.  It's harder to find. That means I can't mix-and-match it with stuff I already have in my stash at home. And what to do with the scraps? I don't have anything to use them with in my stash.

4.  It's harder to care for. Especially when it comes to baby stuff, I love telling people they can wash and dry my creations in their laundry machines.  None of this "hand wash and hang to dry" fussiness. (Edit: Whoops!  This particular wool I used is machine washable and dryer safe!)

However, one day just before Christmas will picking up a few last minute items at Len's Mill to finish a few last-minute gifts, I happened across this Schachenmeyer Merino extra fine color 120 wool. And I thought, it's about time Orrie gets a funky homemade hat. After all, he has a crocheting mother! And I'm pretty sure the last time I made him was a turkey just in time for Thanksgiving. (No seriously… Just in time. I'm pretty sure I was finishing it at Thanksgiving dinner!)

Orson has a really cute apple hat that one of his grandma's friends made for him. People are always asking: "Did you make that hat?" and I always have to say, "No… but I could have!?" So it was high time I got my hook out and made a project for my cutie.
What do you think, Orson?  You like it?

Yep, has the potential for a great hat.

I didn't follow a pattern. I just started with something that would roughly fit his head. Orson doesn't mind wearing the apple hat because it's loose fitting, so that was my goal here, too.  I think I pulled out my stitches about four times, but I'm so happy with the end result. Of course I finished it after he went to bed last night, so I had to wait until this morning to try it on him. So great! I used the entire ball of yarn, because I just kept making stitches until it was all done (thereby avoiding Issue #3 above).  It ended up working out better than I could have imagined, so I am going to record the pattern here, just in case I ever decide to do something similar again!

The verdict on the yarn?  It's super cute. I love the variegated patterns.  And I like the weight.  So I would use it again.  But I'm returning to acrylic for my next project.

Enough with the rambles.  On to the facts. ;)

-one 50g ball of Schachenmayer original "Merino Extrafine Color 120"
-G crochet hook
-Yarn needle and scissors for working in ends

Started: Saturday, January 17, 2014
Finished: Same day

Stitches required: ch, sc dc, hdc and seed stitch


Start with a loooong tail (to make the loopy top later).
Round 1: 10sc in magic ring - join with sl stitch in first stitch
Round 2: ch 1, 2sc in each sc around - join with sl stitch in first stitch
Round 3: ch 3, 1dc in each stitch around. - join with sl stitch in the top of the ch3
Round 4: ch 1, 2sc in each stitch around - join with sl stitch in first stitch
Round 5: ch 3, 1dc in each stitch around. - join with sl stitch in the top of the ch3
Round 6: ch 3, *2dc in first stitch, 1 dc in next stitch - repeat from * around the circle - join with sl stitch in the top of the ch3
Round 7: ch 3, *2dc in first stitch, 1 dc in each of the next 2 stitches - repeat from * around the circle - join with sl stitch in the top of the ch3
Round 8: ch 3, *2dc in first stitch, 1 dc in each of the next 7 stitches - repeat from * around the circle - join with sl stitch in the top of the ch3
Round 9: ch 2, 1 hdc in each stitch around - join with sl stitch in the top of the ch 2

For the next section, there are no clearly defined rounds/rows.  (That's how you get the bell shape)
Seed Stitch Section: ch 1, *sc in the next space, ch 1, skip next space.  Repeat from * approximately 11 times around the circle.

hdc stitch Section: (Back to joined rounds again!) End the seed stitch section on a sc.  Ch 2.  Hdc in the next space and in each remaining stitch around.  Join with a sl stitch in the top of the ch 2.

Continue with rounds of hdc until you run out of yarn.  I was just a little short to finish my final round of hdc, so I "cheated" with some sc and it totally didn't matter! The brim rolls.  You can't see it.

Use the long tail at the start to create a chain. Fasten the chain tail to the hat to make a cute little loop where a pom-pom might traditionally go. ;)

Fasten off tails and work in ends.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Frog it again

Cool ribbon stitch, but the uneven edges bug me.  The pattern writer used a stiffer yarn.  Frogging it to start again!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Still Crafting

So grateful for a few minutes of peace and quiet while baby finally naps! Still hoping to blog, but realizing that briefer is better.

Frogging my first scarf attempt.

Loving my new hook. (Clover Amour G). A $9.00 splurge at Len's Mill.

Bargain crafting scissors.  Rainbow mustaches for $1.99!  Snip, snip!

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Version of the Mile-A-Minute Baby Afghan

I finished my first Mile-A-Minute baby blanket and I love the concept.  Not only is it a great way to use up yarn, it's a beautifully polished finished project.  Because of the way its put together, you can combine yarns of different colours, brands and makes still present a very unified project.

I posted an "I'm finished" picture on the Facebook group, Crochet Addict.  Less than 24 hours later, it had 1000 likes and repeated requests for the pattern, so I decided to blog my version of the pattern here below, rather than try to respond to so many people individually.

Apologies for the pictures.  This is what you get when you take pictures on a cloudy/rainy late afternoon with your iphone.

The pattern is below.  Scroll down to find it!  On your way, check out some of the crochet eye candy in the photos.

This is how much white yarn I had left over.  Nothing makes a yarncrafter happier than using leftovers all up!

One of my favourite things about this pattern are the ridges created by joining the strips together.  I placed my strips backsides-together and used single crochets in the back loops only to get this look.  The ridges also keep the blanket nice and square and make it very easy to fold neatly.

A few of the edges look curled up in this photo.  This is a hasty and slightly deceptive shot.  I really should try to take some better pictures.  One of the best things about this blanket was how evenly the ends turned out.  Check out the symmetrical ends in some of the photos above.

Pattern Instructions - My Version:
The inspiration for this pattern is available through Ravelry.  Search for "Mile A Minute Baby Afghan (archived)" if you would like to see that version.  The Ravelry version links to this pattern.  My version is slightly different, so I'm writing it out below.

This blanket was made with sport-weight (#3) yarn.  I used leftovers from my yarn bin so the amounts are a best guess, but here's what I used:
- For the colourful strips: Bernat Satin Sport - 3 colours, less than one skein each (this yarn is discontinued; a good substitute would be Caron Simply Soft Light; it's skeins are much bigger, so you would require significantly less)
- For the white edging: I used a combination of Bernat Satin Sport in "Aran" (discontinued) and Bernat Softee Baby in "Antique White."  I used approximately 1.5 skeins of the Bernat Satin Sport and 1 full skein of Softee Baby, so 2 full skeins of Softee Baby should be enough to do the trick!
- Because it was sport-weight yarn, I chose a G hook
- Keep your yarn needle and scissors handy; this blanket works out best when you work in the ends as you go (i.e., as you finish each strip)

I consider myself to be a medium-speed crocheter.  At my humble pace, each strip took one hour to complete, including working in the ends.  Time to join the strips and add the border was a bit extra.

To Crochet A Strip:

You'll use one of your colour choices make the inside of the strip first.  Then you'll add a white border around it.

Foundation: Ch 7. Join with sl in 1st ch to make a loop.  (Note: A magic ring will not work for this pattern.  Stick with the ch 7 option!)
Row 1: Ch 3, 2 dc in foundation loop.  Ch 3.  3 dc in foundation loop.
Rows 2-49*: Ch 3, turn.  3 dc in ch 3 space from previous row.  Ch 3.  3 more dc in space from previous row.  1 dc in top of ch 3 chain from the row below.
* = make the strip however long you'd like.  I found 50 worked well for sport-weight yarn and a baby blanket.  Different blanket and yarn sizes might work better with more or less rows.  Just make sure all your strips are the same.
Row 50: Ch 3, turn.  3 dc in ch 3 space from previous row.  Ch 5.  3 more dc in space from previous row.  1 dc in top of ch 3 chain from the row below.  Fasten off your yarn.

Now for the strip border:
Note: There is not really a "right side" or "wrong side" to the colour strip, since you've been crocheting back and forth, back and forth.

Join the border yarn with a slip stitch in any of the spaces along the side of the strip created by either the ch 3 or the lone dc.  Ch 3.  2 additional dc in this space.  Work 3 dc in each of the spaces created by the ch 3 or lone dc's along the side of the strip.  

When you get to the loop at either end,  work 12 tc into the loop, then continue up the other side with 3 dc in each space.  Join your last dc to the top of the starting ch3 and fasten off.

Now is the time to work in your ends.  Trust me, it's easier to do it now than when the blanket is all joined together!

Voila!  One strip complete!

It's your choice as to whether you'd like to stockpile all of your strips and join them together at the end, or join them as you go. It makes no difference either way.

Hold two finished strips with the backsides together.  (Look at the white border to determine which is the front and which is the back.)  At this point the strips also have a top and a bottom, thanks to the v-shape created by the colourful middle of each strip.  Make sure the Vs are pointing the same way before you start joining!

(Here is where I may need to add pictures.)

Using your border colour, and starting in the back loops of the 10th tc on the arched ends of the strip, join the 2 strips together with a sl.  Crocheting in the back loops only, work your way down the strip, beginning with the 11th tc, then the 12th tc, then each of the dcs, using sc to join the strips together.  Fasten off once you reach the 3rd tc of the arch at the other end of the strip.  Work in your ends.

To firm up the edges of the blanket, complete a round of sc around the entire blanket.  I used one sc in each dc around.  In order to keep the arched/scalloped edges curvy, I stitched 2sc into most of the tc stitches on the ends of the blanket.  (I'll post a diagram later to show what I mean.)

If you have any questions about the instructions, please leave a comment below and I'll do my best to clear it up for you!  Enjoy!

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