Friday, October 31, 2014

Getting back to business

It's been a month of the plague here in the Kingdom. Even Cassie's been sick, but thanks to the wonders of modern medicine (and good - if expensive! - veterinary care), we all seem to be back on track. Since the world rolls on, even when we're too sick to notice, we have a couple of news items to catch you up on ........

1)  There's a new animal welfare group in the Kingdom. The Lyndhurst Feral Cat Project is determined to look after the feral and stray cats in our community.  They're just starting to organize. You can imagine how expensive it is to care for a group of cats....not just food, but vet care, too.  To that end, we've offered a few of our recent knits for fundraising. If you're interested in helping out, please go have a look at their Facebook page. I'm sure they can work something out if you need the item mailed. At the very least, you can Like the page and share with your Facebook friends. The cats will thank you.

2) Our friend, Karen at Sewkaren-ly Created,  has a quilt pattern in the running at Craftsy's Pattern Design Awards. They've narrowed the finalists down to FOUR!! And hers is one of the 4. Her design is called: Rhythmic.  If you click here, you can read her blog post. Follow the instructions there to vote, and don't forget to leave your email address, because you could win a free class.



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grey Sweater, Blue Bunnies

It's done. I'm in love. Here it is.



Kate was right. The hair conditioner worked its magic, and the sock yarn that was a little bit scratchy is now lovely and soft. Baby soft.



And thanks to Monique (my polymer clay guru), there are now buttons. Monique is very patient and generously answers my newbie questions. She says next time, I can buff my buttons with an electric toothbrush. I can hardly wait to try that!

Size 6 to 9 months. Buttons are 5/8 inch in diameter.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Baby Grey



Baby Grey, all blocked, waiting for embroidery. Bunnies, anyone?


While we're waiting, I'm going to share what I learned. If you remember, the first top-down baby sweater (Little Birdies) had an edging added. The button bands and the neckline edge and the waist edging were all added last in one continuous circular process. This time, I wanted a more close-fitting neckline, and more of a ribbed looked at the waist. Therefore, I started with the neck ribbing, worked down to the waist ribbing, added the sleeves, and finished them with ribbing. The very last thing to add were the button bands. Only then, did I realize I'd started out the neckline ribbing with the exactly wrong stitch. I had a 50/50 chance of being right. And I was still wrong. I began the ribbing (right side row) with the knit stitch and ended that row with the knit stitch. When I went to add the button bands, those knit stitches got eaten, and I'm left with this weird-looking business. See for yourself:



Another lesson learned. (Why are there are so many of them??!) I will make one more sweater (in pink! of course!) and get this ribbing business figured out for good.

And, for those with extra keen eyesight ..... Yes. I did put buttonholes on both button bands. I intend to sew the buttons over the buttonholes on one side, and then the recipient still has the option to move the buttons to the other band if desired. I'm pretty sure that was originally the great knitter,  Elizabeth Zimmerman's idea. I'm really not that clever.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Where there's a will, there's a way.

Before Tim Horton's cornered the donut market, my mother and her mother and my dad's mother all made doughnuts at home. Or, more properly, they made what my dad's mother called 'fried cakes'. These were a baking powder pastry that was deep fried in oil. My mother's mother kept a tin of them on hand at all times. She also kept a white (vanilla) cake with a boiled sugar icing on hand, too. If someone dropped in for tea, there was always a treat to go with it.



We used to love those doughnuts. They were best when served hot from the fryer, and my dad loved them with honey. In fact, the last time my mother made doughnuts was the year that Mr. Coco harvested honey from his very own bees. The whole family gathered at the cottage and we devoured every single doughnut in one sitting. She used her mother's recipe which was subtly flavoured with ginger and nutmeg.

In fact, I never knew a yeast-raised donut until Tim Horton's arrived. I guess I'm a little slow on the up-take, because a new donut seems to have hit my radar. A baked donut. Suddenly, that's all the rage, it seems. I had my doubts about how good a baked donut could be, but since I haven't actually even owned a deep fryer in over a decade, I thought I'd give it a try.



The sticking point seems to be that you need the special donut pan. I had a look around for donut pans locally, and came up empty. I looked online and found Amazon would send me one for $13.99 plus the cost of shipping, or I could buy 2 and they'd ship for free. Seems a little pricey for something I'm not even sure I'd want in the end. Besides, they'd be 2 more baking pans to have to store.

Here is where Grandma Coco decided to get creative. I might have paid the money, and waited for delivery, but Grandma Coco is very keen on DIY, and she's impatient. So, I decided I really only needed some kind of centre thing-y to make the hole in the donut.



I cut up a washed soft drink can that was waiting to be recycled. The pieces want to coil naturally, so you only have to give them a little help. Then I used tin snips to cut a short slit and crimp the edges over with jewellery pliers, so they wouldn't un-coil. Everybody has jewellery pliers, right? Now, because I wasn't sure I wanted the outside of the aluminum can to touch my food, I covered them in small pieces of foil.





I greased muffin cups with olive oil, and rubbed a little on the outside of the spindles, placed them into the cups, and spooned the batter around them. The batter is runnier than traditional fried cake dough, so it's pretty easy to get it into the cups around the spindle. I think I used a little too much, because my donuts are pretty bloated. I think next time, I would use less. I made 1/2 the recipe of donut batter, and I think ideally this would make 9 donuts (not 6). So, the whole recipe  (see below) would make 18 donuts.



Baked and resting, waiting for their cinnamon sugar sprinkle.

In case you're as cheap frugal resourceful as I am....or, maybe you already have the pans!.... I'm going to share the recipe I used, but there are many, many more on line. I'm going to try more, that's for sure. They're lower in fat than muffins, and were very well received.

Apple Cinnamon Sugar Donuts Recipe

PS Do not pity me for my lack of donut pans, nor for my old and well-used muffin tins. Those tins, like my bread pans, are well-tempered and well cared for. The donuts (and muffins and bread) slide right out of 'em. They are one of the perks of living a long life. :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Shades of Grey

... but probably fewer than 50. :)

Full sun photography. Sorry.

I liked the top down construction of Wee Chickadee. Seems to me to be a good starting point for more exploration. I'm a little concerned about the fibre content required for baby things, but I like the small size. I like the softness of real wool, even though I understand that most people won't appreciate having to take special care with laundering wool. I don't much like acrylic though. That leaves superwash wool which can be a little less soft. However, that's the compromise.

For this sweater, I'm using Manos Artesanas, Camino Color which is a sock yarn made in Peru. It's 74% superwash merino wool and 25% nylon (for durability), and most importantly, it was in my stash waiting for its day in the sun. The label says it can be machine washed (gently) and left to dry flat. It's a lovely mix of dove greys.

Instead of the knitted on edging, I'm going a more traditional route with ribbing at the neck and hem and cuffs. I'm planning to embroider around the neckline. I was thinking bunnies....but maybe geese?  And, of course, I'll need buttons!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The age of steam

... or, What a difference a steam iron makes!

 
I think we spend a lot of time worrying about knitting, and not enough time worrying about finishing. Steam blocking or wet blocking makes such a difference to the finished product, don't you think?