Knitting and Quilting Mash!

A new addition to our ever expanding family arrived (early) last week, my newest nephew, Teddy, III. He shares a name with his Dad and my Dad. It has been such a joy to watch my brother, Ted, become a doting father.

Obviously, the kid needs something hand-made from his Auntie. And whenever I make something as the Auntie, I picture in my head the scene in a Christmas Story when Ralphie has to put on the pink fur bunny costume from his Aunt. The kid looks miserable.

Luckily for everyone, I don’t make animal costumes.

Back to the blanket: I used a pattern called the log cabin. The blanket should resemble a log cabin…good thing it’s not a pink bunny. The yarn is soft and washable, ideal for a burping baby Teddy. Anyway, here is the photo, I enjoyed making it.

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Alternatives to floral bouquets

Everyone loves to have fresh flowers; I’m not disputing that. I just prefer fresh flowers outside and not in a vase where they inevitably die. So when I was invited to a housewarming party, I wanted to bring something for the hostess. Rather than bringing a bouquet of flowers, I brought a bouquet of kale fresh from my garden. Wrapped this bundle of nutrition with some yarn from my stash and voila an edible gift! I love that I can grow something I can also eat.

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Best “wheat free” cookies.

Lately, I’ve seen people gravitate to gluten free diets. Gluten has been the culprit of many upset GI systems and general malaise. Taking this to the next level is going totally wheat free. Our house has officially done the wheat free food dance, sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but we did it. Wheat free means no rice, no spelt, no soy, no wheat, no couscous, and no corn. It’s much harder than people think, only slightly easier if you stick to your kitchen. I was shocked how many of our foods have wheat in them. Any time you see “natural flavoring”, it’s probably wheat. That puts salad dressings, soy sauce, and really a lot of packaged foods on the no list. As the cook in the house, I had to search for new and creative ways to skirt around the wheat. One of them is now a household favorite. I only get invited to parties if I promise to bring “the cookies”. So I thought I better share the recipe with the world.

cookies:
1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 large egg
whip these three together then add:
1/2 cup peanut butter (I am very liberal)
Mix
1.5 cups of flour, I use Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal (key ingredient to being wheat free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
optional to add chocolate chips and flax seed.

Set the oven to 350 and bake for about 18-20 minutes

If I make drop cookies, I drop a little salt on the top of each little cookie.

Watch your socializing expand!
Enjoy!

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Simple cleaning

Today we cleaned our upstairs. Bam! Weston and I tag teamed the place and gave it a good “mom” cleaning, as I like to call it. A “mom” cleaning is one that is thorough, not just sweeping. It took us no time.
I should note, we’ve been looking at houses. We’re one of those couples that loves to look and is willing to wait for the right place to come along and wait until I’m done with school so we have two incomes. We have an idea of where we want to live already, and one of the search criteria is that the home is small. And one of the reasons for a small house: easier to clean!
I also don’t see myself needing a house with hoards of space, that would just need loads of things to fill in the spaces. I like small houses, they’re economical, easy to clean, practical, and keeps things simple. We like to keep things simple in the Hopkins/Werner house.
Until next time mes amis!

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Bacon makes everything better.

Tonight I made split pea soup. Weston gave his stamp of approval, that means it’s delicious and should be made again.
I always say “o I’ll remember the recipe in my head.” I don’t really, and when I go to make it again, it comes out different. So rather than writing it down in some arbitrary location that I’ll forget about, I’ll blog it for all to see!

List of ingredients:
1. 3/4 lb of bacon
2. one yellow onion
3. bundle of kale.
4. lentils, amount depends on your personal taste
5. green onion
6. mushrooms
7. 16 oz of vegetable stock.
Spices I used: slap yo mama, pepper, pinch of salt, coriander, curry, red pepper, chili pepper, fennel seed, caraway seed, ground mustard, garlic powder, chives, bay leaves, turmeric, cumin, and marjoram. No particular order. I can’t remember their quantities.

First, I sautéed 1/2 a chopped onion in my cast iron with pepper and salt and olive oil. Then I took 3/4 lb of peppered bacon, chopped up, and threw them into the caramelizing onions. While this was happening, I boiled green lentils in water.

Once the bacon was done cooking, I put that aside in a bowl. I did NOT wash out that pan! I put a tad more oil and threw in the other half of my chopped onion. Then I rinsed and threw in my bundle of kale until it was soft. I turned my attention back to the lentils. Once they were down cooking, I strained them, and put them back in the stock pot with a can of diced tomatoes. I spiced these. I threw in my bacon, 16oz of vegetable stock, kale/onion sauté, freshly chopped mushrooms and green onions.

Then I spiced some more. Added some water and voila! Done!

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Owl hats galore


Even with my nursing school, I still find time to knit, certainly not as much. I fit it in over the weekends or when we watch netflix. There has to be a balance. One can’t live on bread alone, right? So I can’t do school all the time. I have my part time work, full time school, my homelife and knitting. Things are simple. That man of mine helps to keep things simple as well.

At the urging of my mother, I started letting people pay for my yarn. I kind of see this as one step closer to people paying for me to knit or make things. I’m very much hesitant to do so, I don’t have factory written on my forehead, but I do enjoy making things for people I know. I like to think about them wearing my hats and laughing and being warm. It’s very gratifying.

Below is where I got my pattern for the owl hat.
penguinpurls.blogspot.com

Here are some pics of my hats, I think I’ve made 4 now. Yikes. My sister and I have basically matching oat colors and the blue one is for my boss’ wife, a delightful mother of 4.

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Bachelorette Invites

When your best friend asks you to help coordinate the bach party, you do it.

For years now, my sister and I have been stationary makers extraordinaire. We share a love of making things yourselves and thriftyness. Sorry, but hallmark is expensive. When you have a lot of family members with birthdays, it adds up.

I wanted to mass produce my own invites without having to draw the same picture 20 times. Can anyone say “Michaels!”?? Away I went. Fact, Micheals does NOT sell stamp making kits. I bought a piece of balsa wood and foam piece. Cut to the chase, foam piece doesn’t work. Balsa wood does.
I drew out my picture, traced it and then used an exacto knife to trace the drawing. Then I took some carving knives and carefully indented over the drawing. Then I stamped and dropped it on a card. Done.
See below, post crafty.

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Back to the Basics….again from the shared blog

When Sara and I first started this blog, I suggested that we trade off weekly blogging entries. We can’t expect a book deal without having blogs first. Her response was “Mimi, I am pretty busy, I don’t know if I can blog every other week.” Now look at her, out blogging me. I better get with it. I do admit I had a little bit of blogger’s block. What to blog about, I don’t exactly knit a new project every 2 weeks, a girl as other things to do! Sara thought maybe I should do a blog about the basics of knitting. So here we are. Back to the basics, which as with most things in life makes me think of music. Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure whilst reading my blog.

My most recent entries have been my latest and greatest projects, which to a knitter starting out could understandably be intimidating or it could not, who knows. In any event, I want to share with the world wide web community my favorite knitting sites. These are the sites which helped me fall in love with the craft of knitting.

I was living in NE Portland when I re-visited knitting…quick shout out to the ladies of 4214. I had known how to crochet since my Mom taught me in the third grade. Our joint projects were to say the least, interesting. There was a little knitting store about a mile from where I lived, one of the lovely ladies who worked there shared with me her blog and some knitting sites when I told her I was ready to try knitting again. Until that point, I was the crocheter, loyal and hooked on it. A side note about knitting stores: 90% of the time when you go into any locally owned knitting store any one of the people there are more than happy to help you find a pattern, yarn, and needles needed to make your project a reality. They want you to know the same joy they find in knitting.

I hustled home and looked up this. To this day, she still inspires me. She offers free patterns for all knitting level. And her patterns are easy to read. Not much else to say, she’s my knitting/blogging hero.

The how-to website that is AWESOME. This site has videos for every style of knitting, it makes learning to knit super easy and has videos when you’re ready to try out new techniques like socks or yarn overs for lace.

Okay, I’ve showed my inspiration and how-to site. Get yourself some yarn and needles, make a scarf. Want more? Below are my favorite pattern sites.

Here is a site that I have used for free. I have found that most books out there have maybe 2 cute patterns out of about 25. I have made the fair isle hat and I’m about done with the spring time bandit. SUPER cute projects.

Of course, any knitter/crocheter will agree ravelry is a great online knitting community. Just be careful, a lot of the patterns are poorly written and some are not free. ANNNNND this one;
I find is more quantity over quality, but good.

As always, check out your local library for knitting books.

Save up your money and blow it on the yarn. Being a snob is bad, but being a yarn snob is not.

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Gauge This!

Zo, like any obsessed knitter, craft enthusiast, sewer, addict if you will, I peruse the Internet ogling other’s work and patterns, preferably FREE patterns. Every so often you find lurve at first sight, for me it was This pattern is Selbu, a Norwegian style. I found the yarn and needles, size 2 and 0. I was giddy, excited…you get the picture. I wanted to knit the hat so I could wear it yesterday. (Here’s me still learning about patience.);Here is where I tell you to check you gauge: check your gauge. On any knitting and crochet pattern you’ll find the yarn, the needles, the finished size, the notions, and the gauge. The gauge will tell you for every 4 inches, your knitted yarn (typically a stockinette stitch), will yield so many rows and stitches. It gives you an idea, if you knit too tight, too loose, or you knit juuuuust right. It may just be a matter of changing your needles or adjusting your stitch count. (If your pattern says cast on 10 stitches, but you knit too tight or small, then you may want to cast on more.) It depends. Hopefully that makes sense, once you do it you’ll see.

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The kind of shawl your Grandma would make and you’d want

Lace shawlRecently, I attempted my first lace shawl. I had been wanting to attempt lace for sometime now. I bought my yarn at my favorite yarn store in Portland, before we embarked North to Alaska. I was waiting for the yarn to get spun into a nice ball, so I read through some knitting books. I put one down and wondered where the author lived. A couple of moments later, the owner asked another customer if she would like her new knitting book (the one I was just looking at) signed by the author. The author just happened to be 6 feet away…spinning MY YARN! I knew the yarn would serve me well, at least I hoped it would, it was spun by a knitting celebrity.

I found the pattern in my knitting magazine. Here’s the link.

People ask me how long and how many hours, it takes to knit something. Its nearly impossible to say how many hours it takes. I am certain the same can be said for any craft. I will say this piece took hours and hours and days and days. I was obsessed, I wanted to stay home and knit. I was itching to see the finished piece, off the needle and around moi.

I found that this kind of knitting takes patience. Patience not to rush it, if you mess up, you go back and fix it before you go on. Patience to count your stitches. And patience to finish it so you can see your accomplishment.
Here are the photos of the blocking process and then the after. Blocking is a beast, (along with “weaving in your ends” and “buttons”, those deserve their own blog).

One of things I love about knitting is thinking about how this is such an old craft. I think about how a woman passes her craft on to her daughter, I think about how a lace shawl, much like the one I made, may have been passed on to a daughter again and again. Each time you wear it, you add to the memory and you think about the person before you that wore it. What she was doing when she wore it?

When I knit and crochet, I sometimes think about my Grandma Mildred. Who taught her to knit? Why did she like to knit? Sure knitting is kind of an old lady craft, but whatever, have you seen my Grandma Mildred? Wicked tough lady. Knitting is about counting your stitches, knowing your gauge, how much yarn to use, what size of needle…starts to get super technical, right? But then all of THAT turns into something beautiful. Suhweetness.

I still have yet to wear my shawl in public, it’ll happen soon I’m sure. I had a lot of fun knitting it. It took me a long time, but I would do it again of course.

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