Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! =)

The other day I decided to try maple brown sugar snickerdoodles. They turned out alright, but I learned something valuable. I knew our oven ran a little hot, but when the smoke detectors (all of them) went off on these puppies, I decided to actually check the temp with an oven thermometer. At each setting I tried, it was at least 60 degrees hot. Wow! Good to know.

Maple Snickerdoodles

I love my tiered baking sheets.

They weren't to bad, just a little too crispy. A couple days wrapped in plastic definitely improved that though. A co-worker said they were good dipped in coffee. I think the dough was also a little dry, since they didn't absorb the brown sugar like the picture on the recipe.

Then I finished a couple more pumpkins which I promised my mom I'd make for her.


What do you make with crocheted pumpkins? Crocheted pumpkin pie, of course! My mom got a kick out of that as well. I also brought her a real pumpkin pie, made from the recipe on the can, but with less sugar and more spices. It went over well.

Pumpkin Pie

I took Wednesday off work so I could finish getting the house ready and start cooking. I made a pumpkin pie, an apple pie with a lattice top, and a berry blend pie. I thought the berry turned out well, especially since I just improvised. I used a bag of frozen blackberries, a bag of mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), and added the basics for a pie: sugar, spices and flour.

On to the turkey! I was very excited to use our new roasting pan for the first time. I'm glad I learned about the oven temp ahead of time.

It's easy, right? Just turn it on and set a timer!

Then just turn it on, right?

Actually I'm just testing the height to make sure I can cook stuffing and rolls on the top shelf. Look at my clean oven! (except for the berry pie, which folded on its foil pan on the way out, but I saved it... Then I put more stoneware pie plates on my shopping / ceramics list)

Here's myself manning the stove, and my friend V helping me make cornbread chestnut stuffing. We made a small batch of wheat-free cornbread, since she's allergic to gluten. The stuffing turned out very well, and got a positive response. I'll be making that again for sure.


Next year I want to try the turkey in a brine. What I did was put some roasted garlic and a bunch of herbs in butter a few days ago, and sliced it up to slide under the skin of the turkey. Then we had the requisite canned jelly cranberry sauce along with a hot cranberry and orange sauce, homemade rolls, the stuffings, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, and of course the gravies (regular and wheat-free).

This morning I tried Alton Brown's recipe for sweet potato waffles, using some leftovers from yesterday. I thought they were tasty, if a little too sweet, but they got a "meh" from my husband, which is not too bad, considering he actually ate them :) I want to try something similar, but using regular potatoes and cutting out some sugar.

So far today I've also finished my first complete Christmas present, which is exciting. While everyone else is out there shopping, I'll be sitting at home crocheting my presents.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Scarf and Fingerless Mittens

I made these for my friend M, who's birthday was last week. The fingerless gloves were the original project, and then I decided I had enough for a scarf. Well, I had enough to start a scarf, so I went back to the shop for some more. Could have been dangerous, but I was in a hurry, so I only walked out with the two skeins I came in for!

Scarf and Gloves

The pattern is taken from here with some modifications. The black I did normally with the single crochet and bobbles, and the purple I did in a half double crochet to make sure it didn't get lost, but didn't add too much height.

It's funny that when I just looked at the pattern to give the link I see they have since added a version 2, with ...wait for it... black and purple!

It's totally different than these, and I like it also.

Scarf Close-up

The black is half llama and half wool, and the purple is baby alpaca. The purple is a little bit softer than the black, but I like them both together. The people at the yarn shop liked my scarf pattern (a simple sc-dc with a huge hook), and they were surprised that I was putting two slightly different weighted yarns together. It works for me anyway. What, rules?

(yes, yes, I know, gauge is important...)

Here's M modeling her present. She liked them :) Incidentally, her cake was black and purple as well, and we didn't plan that.

M Posing with her new fuzzies

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yarn and Motorcycles

I've re-worked part of a project twice now, and I'm realizing that the llama-wool does not like to be pulled out. Ouch. I think it also doesn't help that it's single-ply, but I think it'll look ok, as it was only a couple of rows. It reminds me that I was glad I learned on acrylic. The other day I was hanging out with a friend who was learning to knit with some wool, and she mentioned that a friend of hers saw her starting with acrylic, told her no-no-no, and gave her the wool instead.

When I was learning to crochet, I liked to try different things, rip it out, and try again. Acrylic can take that kind of abuse.

It's like getting your first motorcycle. Better to start with a 12-year-old EX500 that you can learn on, and open up to see how it works, pull all the farings off to paint them with chalkboard paint if you happen to feel like it :) Then when you're done with that, go get the brand new Yamaha Fz6.

Yarn, motorcycles- maybe that's a stretch... but it make sense to me.

Re-working this wool is reminding me also that I'm not a fan of felting, which seems to be approaching the craze stage of popularity. I like felt, and cool things you can do with it. I think the main reason I don't like felting is because you see a lot of it done with knitting, and knitting is still tedius to me. Why spend all that time knitting if you won't see your work? I know I'm probably stepping on toes of die-hard felters, but that's ok.

However, I do like these coasters, and I think that's a great use of felting. Still, I look at those and think "crochet" not knitting, but that's just me.

I'll try to post the changes I'm making to this pattern, as I'm really happy with how it's turning out. No pictures yet, as it's a gift, but it should be done and delivered in about a week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yarns and Ball Winding

Wow I've been busy. I can't show pictures yet, as I have half a dozen gifts in the works.

Ever since I started working with yarn that comes in hanks, aka nice yarn, aka expensive yarn, I've wanted to get a ball winder. The thrifty in me said I could find one online cheaper, and pay less than $45 for this little piece of plastic, but no. They were even getting bid up on Ebay. So I finally broke down and got one.

Ball Winder

<insert angelic chorus here>

So, I wound my first ball before this one, a llama/wool mix that got entirely too tangled at the end. Sadness. The item I didn't shell out for was the $70 umbrella swift. I've seen homemade ones with 4 adjustable points, but I happen to think the umbrella one is really cool. Then I found plans to make one over at Schoolhouse Press (toward the end of the page), which I gather from reading online is really insane to make. Oh well, I'll consider it a challenge, and will be immensely pleased if I can actually make it.

I wish I could take credit for this improvisation, but I can't. This lady came up with it, and I copied. It worked great for the most part, until it started getting loose at the end, and then my husband held it for the last couple rounds.

Swift-Winder Setup

Marmsy's supervising from the floor. She was VERY interested in the llama yarn, sniffing it intently, and rubbing up against it. If I have enough left over, I'll make her a little toy/pillow. I don't remember what the purple is. I think it's an angora blend, but I'll have to go back to the shop, as mine didn't come with a tag.

Speaking of yarn, I did a lot of shopping last weekend. Michael's is having a great sale, which is pretty dangerous. Among the usual acrylic (I know, yarn snobs don't touch the stuff), they had some nice wools, wool-soy blends, and bamboo.

I know now why I started with acrylic. Though once I get used to the different fibers, I may be able to find better deals online... At the boutique shop I got 4 large hanks and 2 small balls of various wool/angora/llama blends, and I spent the same amount at Michael's and filled one of their largest bags, plus another smaller bag. Quality vs. Quantity, I know. However, I've been more impressed lately with Michael's selection. They've been moving more into cottons and other blends. I'm really excited to try the wool-soy... They had some awesome colors, and it was about 75% off, so I couldn't resist =)

Oh yes, the little baubles next to the yarn winder are glass fridge magnets I'm making. Something like this. I found heart-shaped marbles, and a heart paper punch that almost fits perfectly, so I had to try it. The hearts aren't completely clear, but it's nice that they're glass. I've been meaning to go to Tap Plastics to get some of the cabochons which will be lots clearer.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Last weekend was busy, and I realized I forgot to post my costume! This was originally my office costume, and I decided to keep if for the evening, adding orange painted claws (instructions here.)

Happy Halloween!

The mane is made of the extra artificial hair leftover from when I had braid extensions. I took 8-10 inch sections of it, and looped it around some stretchy round elastic made for jewelry. I added some bright orange Homespun yarn, and fluffed it all up with a brush. The wrist tufts are just yarn, around the same elastic.

I wish I could show the picture of my cubicle, but it's on my camera. And sadly, my camera has decided to wander off. I'll be happy when I find it again. The lion idea first came from the office, because my cube is on a main walkway, and people tend to tap the glass as they walk by. I've joked around that I feel like I'm a fish, or that I'm in a zoo... so I printed up bars, and taped them to the glass along with a brassy antique-looking framed plaque which read "Please do not taunt the lion!"

I added the claws for our evening out with friends. They were quite a challenge, but it was fun! At one point I was trying to pull the paper off a cupcake, and my friend C took pity and unwrapped it for me. They were also quite strong, and could give great back scratches, and also probably do harm, though I didn't test for that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Baby Gifts

A friend of ours had a baby shower yesterday. I didn't like the way my two blankets were turning out, so I decided to make something different.

Bee and hat Bumble Bee

The lighting is horrible, as I was finishing these up at a coffee shop on my way over there =) Nothing like last-minute gifts! The yellow is actually a baby-yellow, with a bit of sheen to it. The mother-to-be is very much into bumble bees. The big fat bee has a little rattle in it, and the hat is slightly too big for a newborn, but he/she can wear it later.

The bee is from a book Tiny Yarn Animals, and the hat is a Noodle Hat without the noodle.