Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Charitable Trust?

Hooray!  I finished a quilt!

Shortly after I truly got into quilting, a little over a year ago, I started playing with some simple ten-inch squares Sonja gave me.  I cut them into five-inch squares with a quick slice through the middle twice, and began stitching them together into strips.  I had thought I might do a stitch-and-flip with batting and backing in place, an easy way to quilt.

I got sidetracked by other projects, but recently returned to this one, and finished, though I didn't do the stitch and flip after all, just sewed the top together as usual, then pinned the quilt sandwich, using a little backing material and batting that had been donated to a local charity group.

They are such a trusting group of women, they let me walk away with tons of fabric, and I keep promising I really will make quilts with it all and bring it back.  I'm just slow!

They are very patient with me; this is only the second one I have finished for them.  But I'm working on more!  Really!
I admit, this quilt would probably look and last better with borders on it, but I REALLY wanted to finish one of my UFOs, and I didn't have any more of the fabric for the top, and I could've found something that would've worked, but I just ran out of steam.

So here is the finished product, only about a year after I started it, baby-sized, small and sweet.  Note, it does have binding, you can see it on the left side of this last picture, and you can see a bit of the backing folded over there as well.

It is now aimed for the door and someone in need at a local hospital, as soon as I get a chance to pass it on to the trusting charity group.

Thanks to all who give me fabric and such--I get to play and have fun, improve my skills, then pay it forward.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Still Spinning

Somehow, between knitting and crocheting and designing patterns, quilting, working, and teaching, every now and then I sit down for half an hour or so of spinning.

This has been my spinning project for over a year, because I don't spin for long sessions these days, and because I bought every bit of this color that they had at Loop and Leaf--a full pound of 85% merino and 15% silk, my friends.

The first plied skein hasn't been put through the wash (in the sink), or the fluff and dry cycle (on the banister) yet, so it doesn't look quite as drapey as it will.

But wait, there's more!  On the Big Mama wheel:

Partially plied, with some waiting in the wings.

But wait, there's more:

Lots more!

When I'm done, I hope to have enough to make a shawl.  Perfect for those cool California evenings with the moon rising among the palms.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Free Recipe: Baby Cabbages à la Yum!

Every now and then, someone walks into the local yarn shop looking for a "recipe" for a sweater or a scarf, for example.  We've all called a pattern "a recipe" at one time or another, I think.  Giggles shared, we move on to the project at hand.

But today, I want to share an actual recipe for actual food.  It probably has a good dose of the kind of fiber that's good to eat.  Let alone being cruciferous and all.  So good for you.  And yes, you guessed it, the "baby cabbages" are Brussels sprouts.

I used to just trim them, steam them with garlic and dill weed, and eat them with brown rice and maybe a little olive oil.  But the other day, I wanted to cook them without having to wash the dreaded extra dishes that would entail.  Don't I have enough to do without having to wash the dang steamer and another dang pot?  Dang right I do!

Oven roasting to the rescue!

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Line a 9x9 inch roasting pan with heavy duty foil or two layers of regular foil.  The two layers are so the foil won't tear when tossing ingredients together.  That's right, everything's going right into the pan.  No extra bowl to wash!

Yummy hint:  use grapeseed oil because you can heat it up higher than a lot of other oils, including olive, without setting off the smoke alarm.  Trust me on this; the last time I baked salmon with olive oil, the smoke alarm decided I was burning the building down.  The sudden heart-pounding and adrenaline racing through my system was not good for my digestion.  Besides, grapeseed oil has a nutty flavor that really jazzes up a sprout, so I like it better than olive oil in this "pattern" anyway.

A couple dozen Brussels sprouts.  (A few handfuls from the Farmers Market, perhaps?)
Grapeseed oil
1 or 2 medium/large red potatoes  (I like using the red here for the color, too.)
Minced dried garlic (unless you have fresh; go wild!)
Dill weed (dry, fresh, what do you have on hand?  Use it!)
Black pepper
Dried minced lemon rind (haven't tried fresh here, it's probably fabulous!)
A miniscule amount of salt for those of us who are watching our sodium intake

Rinse the sprouts, trim the stems and cut the sprouts in half.  Peel and throw away any bruised leaves.

Toss the sprout halves into the foil-lined pan.  Drizzle grapeseed oil over the sprouts.

Dice the potatoes and throw them on top of the sprouts.

Now might be a good time to turn the oven on to 400 degrees.

Back to the sprouts:  sprinkle liberally (not conservatively) with garlic and dill weed.  Grind some fresh black pepper on top.  Go ahead, grind a little more, what could it hurt?

Add a dash of lemon rind.  Maybe two dashes.  Add a pinch of salt, and stir everything up with a plastic spatula or wooden spoon, or something that won't tear the wonderful, labor-saving foil.  Everything should be lightly coated with oil.  If not, add more oil and toss.

Place the pan in the oven and let cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until sprouts and potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally so they don't stick to the foil.  They will start to brown, looking caramelized or glazed, or just roasty and good.

And just now, as I finish typing this, I remember I meant to take pictures of the entire process of cooking this recipe to post on the blog, and instead I threw the recipe together and ate every bit, last night and tonight for dinner, it's all gone, there are no pictures, and the first time I made it, I didn't know it was going to be so tasty, so no pictures then, of course, and so... when I make this again, I will try try TRY to remember to take photos.

Instead, for now, I offer this amusing link with a fine picture of Brussels sprouts growing, and other interesting food facts and pics.

This happens every time I teach, too.  I mean to take photos of everyone having a good time (or at least pretending to!), and then I forget.  How embarrassing.

Oh, well, enjoy your sprouts!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Pattern: Starflower Square

I had lots of fun designing this one and playing with different yarns to see how the square would turn out.  Check out the pattern at YIYO Designs.

The orange and purple Starflower is made with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, one of my favorite sport weight yarns, using a 3.5 mm hook.  People sometimes want to know what size hook to use, but since everyone's gauge varies slightly, you just need to experiment and find the size that makes a fabric you like.

The pastel version of the Starflower Square is made with worsted weight Berroco 100% Merino yarn--a discontinued yarn, alas, but one I have stashed with wild abandon in a variety of colors.  I have tons of it, and I have lots of plans for that yarn.  (Insert maniacal laugh here.)

Anyway, with this yarn, I used a 4.5 mm hook, which falls between a standard G and an H.  It's a G and a half, if you will, and not all hook manufacturers make them.  Mine is one of those metal tipped/plastic handled ones, and the manufacturer may have been... Inox?  Ka?  I can't remember.

This blue and yellow square is made with Tahki Cotton Classic.  Yes, I'm still bravely using up my Cotton Classic stash.  It is dwindling, but slowly.  This yarn seemed to want me to use a 4 mm hook, i.e., a classic G.

Just in case you haven't read this elsewhere on my blog, I am usually a loose crocheter--take that as you will--and you may want to go up a size if you're... normal.  Not average, we're all above average, just like all the children at Lake Woebegon.

Okay, let's say, if you're usually on gauge with the hook size recommended on the yarn label.

I like that.  I think we could use that phrase for lots of things.

"How are you today?"
"On gauge, thank you.  Can't complain."
"How is that proposal coming?"
"Right on gauge, boss."
"How are things with your boyfriend?"
"On gauge.  We got engaged."
And so on.

I think it could signify calm.  So, here's hoping your holidays are on gauge.