Category Archives: Uncategorized

More Blankets

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I’m working my way through my stash although I was given several more bags of yarn which might have added more to it than I’ve knit up. But I am not complaining. I’ll take free yarn any day.

Blanket #8 is a baby blanket made up of a worsted weight acrylic. I used a diagonal garter stitch and then knitted on the edging. It worked up beautifully . I have some more baby weight acrylic to knit up in another blanket, when I do, I will donate both of them.

For blanket #9, I gathered up all of my acrylic worsted weight (Red Heart) and crocheted a queen size blanket for my bed. I had to figure out the best way to incorporate all the colors and I think I did a pretty good job.

 

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Blanket #5

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Knit square motif blanket using sport weight yarn

Knit Square motif blanket using sport weight yarn

Here is finished blanket #5. I used about 25 balls of sport weight yarn that I had in my stash. The golds were an afghan kit I bought at a thrift store and I had the blues and whites. I really like this color combination as I think the blues help update the 70’s gold.

There are 48 squares in a 6×8 pattern. I crocheted the squares together and then did a simple double crochet border. After a nice little steam to set the stitches (the yarn is acrylic), I have a generous queen size blanket.

Unfortunately, have not made a significant dent in the stash. On to blanket #6…

 

Bella’s Dress

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10447866_10203240838315207_1584130504255590463_n-1-225x300My friend’s granddaughter saw a cute little crocheted dress and she wanted something similar in her size. My friend posted her request on Facebook and I took on the challenge. The fact is that the only thing this dress has in common with the original is that it has the same silhouette. Otherwise I took some big liberties and changed it around but I think for the better. The bobble hem and eyelet flower border are just right for the budding fashionista. The rainbow trim and straps add just the right amount of whimsy and the 2 x 2 rib bodice leaves room for growth. Add a t-shirt underneath in summer or turtleneck and tights in winter and you have an adorable look. I used Caron’s Simply Soft so you can throw it in the washer/dryer. Also, as my friend’s granddaughter, who’s skin is very sensitive was happy because it didn’t itch her.

Experience/Level of Difficulty: Intermeiate
Measurements: Chest - 23" Length - 20"
Equipment: Size 5 & 7 circular needle, tapestry needle. Size F 
crochet hook
Gauge: 5 sts X 6.5 rows = 1 inch on size 8 double pointed needles
Yarn: Caron's Simply Soft - Two 6oz skeins soft pink, 1 skein       contrasting color

Stitch Patterns:
Make Bobble (MB) - (K1, P1, K1, P1) in next stitch, turn, K4, turn,
K4, turn, K4 and lift 2, 3, & 4th stitch (one at a time) over first stitch and off needle.

With size 7 needles, CO 141 stitches.
Row 1 - P5 *(MB), K1 (remaining stitch of bobble), P9. Repeat from * end P5. Join (working in the round)
Row 2, 4, 6, 8 - Knit
Row 3 - P1, *YO, P2, P2tog, K1, P2tog, P2, YO, P1; repeat from *
Row 5 - P2, *YO, P1, P2tog, K1, P2tog, P1, YO, P3; repeat from *    end P2
Row 7 - P3, *YO, P2tog, K1, P2tog, YO, P5; repeat from * end P3
Row 9 - Purl
Row 10 - Knit, increase 4 stitches evenly - 145 sts.

Flower border
Row 1 - Knit
Row 2 and even rows - Knit
Row 3 - K1, *K3, (K2tog) twice, YO,  (K1, P1 K1) in next st, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K4: repeat from *
Row 5 - K1, *K3, K2tog, YO, K2tog, YO, K1, YO Sl 1, K1, PSSO, YO, 
Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K4; repeat from *
Row 7 - K1, *K2, K2tog, YO, K2tog, K1, YO, K1, YO, K1, Sl 1, K1, 
PSSO, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K3; repeat from *
Row 9 - K1, *K1, K2tog, YO, K2tog, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, Sl 1, K1, 
PSSO, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K2; repeat from *
Row 11 - K1, *K1, K2tog, YO, K1, K2tog, YO, K3, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K1, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K2; repeat from * 
Row 13 - K1, *K1, K2tog, YO, K2tog, YO, K5, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K2; rpeat from *
Row 15 - K1, *K5, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K1, K2tog, YO, K6; repeat 
from *
Row 17 - K1, *K6, YO, Sl 1, K2tog, PSSO, YO, K7; repeat from *

Knit even until work measures 14.25" or desired length. 
Decrease row - *K3, K2tog; repeat from * 36 times, 116 sts. 
Eyelet Pattern
Row 1 - Knit
Row 2 - Purl
Row 3 - Knit
Row 4 - *K2tog, YO; repeat from *
Row 5 - Knit
Row 6 - Purl
Row 7 - Knit

Change to size 5 needles and work in K2, P2 rib for 5 inches and 
then bind off.  Mark position for straps about 3 inches in from sides. With CC, and size F crochet hook, crochet around 
edges as follows: Slip one, chain 1. When you get to the markers, 
chain 30 and then slip stitch back down the chain and continue 
around top in the slip one, chain 1 pattern until you get to the 
next marker.

Crochet a chain with CC and weave in the eyelets.

Weave in ends.

Sweet Potato Ravioli and stocking up

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Today I spent my Labor Day laboring away in my kitchen. I didn’t really mind. I like good, homemade food and I like cooking so I decided to stock up my freezer.

First off, I decided to make sweet potato ravioli. I had cooked up two sweet potatoes (just stuck them in the crock pot) for sweet potato enchiladas (yum) and only used one so I decided to use the second one for ravioli filling. I mashed up the sweet potatoes (I probably had about a cup and a half ), added about 2/3 cup ricotta, a 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and about 1/3 cup chopped walnuts.

I used the pasta recipe that came with my ravioli mold (well worth the $15 I spent on it) and made 48 ravioli which are now sitting in my freezer.

Couple of hints for on making ravioli – first off, get the mold if you intend to make it more than once. I mean, look how pretty those little puffs of pasta are. Plus, you don’t waste so much dough. My first try at ravioli was hilarious – they were all wonky and the dough to filling ratio was way off.

 Second, make sure that you use water or egg to seal your edges. I’ve had ravioli filling spill out when cooking and water downed ravioli is not the best.

Inevitably I have pasta dough left over. I hate waste so I roll it out and take my pizza cutter and slice it up into misshapen noodles. Then I set them out on a baking rack and let them dry overnight. Homemade pasta is always good.

I actually enjoy these days when I stock up my pantry/freezer. I rarely buy prepared foods. I usually cook from scratch breakfast, lunch (mostly leftovers) and dinner. It’s taken me about a year to really get into my cooking grove, but it has paid off tremendously. And except for labor intensive stuff like ravioli, most of my meals do not take a lot of time. I’m a working mom and with a little thought, some handy made-ahead meals and a selection of well-loved recipes, it takes me just as much time to make dinner as it would to run to the fast food joint and buy it. While I have spent a lot of money on groceries, careful planning and cooking from ingredients I have on hand has kept my food bill down.

After I made ravioli, I went outside and got some basil from my basil bush and made a batch of pesto. One of the secrets to good pesto is to toast your pine nuts. Then I used my small ice cream scoop (it’s about an inch wide – it works great for filling the ravioli also) and scooped the pesto onto a baking sheet lined with freezer paper and popped it into the freezer also. Once my little pesto balls were frozen, I put them into a plastic freezer zip lock bag.  The trick to getting all the air out is to put a straw into the bag and close it up to the straw then suck as much air out as you can. Quickly pull out the straw and finish closing the bag.

My final project was to make some peach muffins for my son’s breakfast.

All together a pretty productive day!

Is sustainability the key to mental health?

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When people talk about sustainability, often the conversation revolves around things like solar energy, alternative fuel sources, recycling, composting, using your own bags instead of plastic bags, etc. These are all very valid discussion to have and certainly anything that you can do is helpful. But for me, sustainability is more about lifestyle choices, values, quality of life and mindfullness.

Once I started delving deeper into the subject, what really got my attention and started turning me around wasn’t necessarily saving the planet (although I am all for that) but ridding myself of the extraneous crap from my life. Not only the physical but also the mental crap. Much of what got us on this trajectory has been external pressures, usually from advertisers, but they aren’t the only ones, that our lives our not enough unless we have the right car, bigger house, ivy league education, brand name jeans. It seems that we are constantly bombarded with messages that we aren’t enough as is. This is a very Western problem.

I came across this post and I think it is very pertinent for our journey inward. I don’t know if we can ever fully deflect the barrage of messages telling us we are not enough, but it’s worth trying, certainly for our planet, but more important for the sake of peace of mind.

Diving Deeper

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Yesterday I had a garage sale to start purging the stuff from my previous life. I went through closets, cabinets, drawers, on top of cabinets, walls, etc. I didn’t leave a stone unturned in my house. It was an enlightening process.

First of all, how much stuff does a person really need? After pulling everything out of my kitchen cabinets I started evaluating things. Do I really need three sheet cake pans? (No.) Do I need this much storage? If I wasn’t using it when three people were living here, would I ever really use it when it was just me? No. Are there baking dishes that can pull double (triple, quadruple) duty? Yes, so I can keep the ones I use often and get rid of the rest. Do I need five sets of chargers? No, my entertaining style has changed. As I went through my whole house I kept in mind this criteria: do I love it or does it have meaning to me (such as things I’ve brought back from my travels); do I use it alot (or can I adapt something else) and is it multi-functional?

The result was an enormously successful garage sale and a clearing out of my house. Nothing is going to replace the stuff I got rid of. The top of my kitchen cabinets will remain empty. Walls will remain blank. When I get ready to sell my house this will work to my advantage since many people can’t see past your house’s “personality” or decorating style. 

All of this decluttering is part of a bigger goal, my ever constant search to do more of what I love, to be more and find balance in my life. It brings me back to my search for simplicity and sustainability.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject. My most recent one is “Living More with Less” by Doris Longacre. It was written in the 70’s but there is an updated version. Doris was a Mennonite so the book has religous overtones, but her life standards are ones that anyone can adopt and embrace, no matter what your religious view are.

Doris’ five life standards are: do justice, learn from the world community, nurture people, cherish the natural order and non-conform freely.

Many people and companies have hopped on the sustainability band wagon, which is good, for the most part. Some just do it for marketing purposes while others are really trying to follow the philosophy. I think educating yourself and examining your values play a large part in making it stick. As one author said, sustainability is not the goal, it is a process. When you live an examined life, when you ask yourself if you are really happy and fulfilled, the questions you ask yourself tend to point towards a sustainability mindset, though most people might not label it as such. When you find yourself doing meaningful work, becoming deeply involved with the people you love and building rewarding relationships, you will probably find that most of the trappings that corporations would have you believe are important, really aren’t. What you’ll find is that you’ll quit living your life on the surface, where you are at the mercy of the elements (ie. what other people think) and your resolve towards a life of purpose will grow deep roots that will support you.

 

Support you local businesses – Jacob’s Reward Farm

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For my birthday in 2010 I received shares in Jacob’s Reward Farm, a local fiber CSA that is 15 minutes from my house.

I received one pound of alpaca, eight ounces of cotton and one ounce of Angora rabbit fibers.

I am crazy about the stuff but I don’t know how to spin, so my next task is to find someone who will spin this for me.

By the time I am done, this will probably be the most expensive yarn I have ever purchased but that’s just fine by me. I like that I am supporting a local business. I purposely requested the raw (versus dyed) fleece because I happen to like it in its raw state, but also I know how dyes impact our environment. 

I’m going to choose the projects that I use these for very carefully. Seeing the alpaca grazing in the field when I went to pick up my share weaves a story about my fiber and therefore, makes it all the more special to me. I want to it be something that I will use for a very long time.