Monday, November 2, 2015

If I Were To Become A Knitter Again...

When I was five or six years old my mother's Swiss college roommate came to visit in our home for a while.  During that time she taught my brother and I how to knit.  This was great to learn but soon after she moved on my mother's heavy responsibilities as a farm wife made it almost impossible to keep up the knitting finger training so I did not knit again until I was in 4-H.  As an early teenager I learned to crochet then picked up knitting again....making a purple and white striped stocking cap with a tassel which hat was nearly 30 inches long.

Fast forward to young married life.  I picked up needles again and made, first project, assisted by an elderly mother/daughter pair at our church, a pair of worsted weight orange cabled "stockings" as Catherine and Florence called them. I do think Dear One wore them once, or maybe twice.  Sizing was off.  Color was off.  He was a kind man even back then and did not turn up his nose at my ill-advised efforts.

Over the years I have gotten excited about blankets, about sweaters, especially cabled or Fair Isle, about socks, about Magic Loop, about Two Socks on Two Circs, about, about, about spinning, about weaving, about skirting fleeces, about natural dyeing, about hand carding fiber.  So many things.  Each time I became excited about something new, if I had the means, I purchased the equipment.

At this time I have many many knitting needles in so many sizes.  So many crochet hooks.  A loom (gift from my dear aunt who recently deceased).  Two spinning wheels, one a gift from a dear knitting friend who died several years ago but with whom I spent years knitting every Thursday afternoon, and the other wheel that my husband saw at a yard sale and encouraged me to investigate.

Now to the point of this message. Looking back over my fiberly goodness life, and my over-"stuffed" needle satchels,  if I had it to do over again, I would buy one 16-inch and one 24-inch circular needle in matching sizes most likely in bamboo or wood until I was very sure of the knitting process then would get the same in slippery metal needles, and only as they were called for in a particular pattern. I do NOT NEED fifty or more needle sets.  Almost never do I need longer than 24-inch needles.  If I did I would probably purchase a second 24-inch needle and put rubber bands on one end of each set and use them for very long needles.

This would have saved me hundreds of dollars over my lifetime and helped me become organized sooner.  Currently the design for a circular storage container has been going through my brain.  If it comes to fruition, I will post a picture and instructions.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Barbara Walker Learn to Knit Afghan Book block 51

Tonight I finished Block 51 which is called "Faggoting and Fancy Rib".  I cast on 32 stitches for it.  It came out pretty well considering I did not go back and repair every error!

Faggoting and Fancy Rib Block 51

One thing I learned as I was working on this square: row markers are critically important to a good result.  You will notice the row markers along the right edge.  This pattern had an 8-row repeat.  Even this small number of rows in the repeat was too much for me to memorize so I placed a row marker on the first stitch of each right side row.  When each pattern repeat is completed I move up the last row marker.  In this block with 8 rows there are four markers in the repeat.  When I start row 2 of the next pattern repeat I remove the marker from Row 8 and attach it to Row 2 of the new pattern repeat. In this way I am able to keep better track of where I am.

Another thing I learned/used was to count the stitches on the needle as I am preparing to knit each right side row.  If the number is off, this is the time to make corrections!  Take my word for it.  It is worth spending those few seconds.  It can make a world of difference in the work involved in completing the square.

This block has not yet been blocked as you can see.  Also, the blotchy look is from the tiny focussed light over the kitchen counter in our motel room glaring on one spot on the block.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Barbara Walker Learn To Knit Afghan Book, square 48 Vine Leaf

This is the last block in the "increases and decreases" section of the book. I am beginning to think I will actually get this afghan project finished! Less than fifteen more to go...

Vine Leaf Panel, block 48

This block has obviously not been blocked.  There is a 26-stitch center panel with nine-stitch stocking stitch on either side.  It was a rather fun block to knit but I really wish I had some simple "knit stitches font" software to use to build a chart.  Charted designs are easier to knit than holding the book to my chest and picking it up every row to make sure I remember what to do when...

This would be a great panel for the back of a sweater.  Of course,  re-working the vine to wind wider would make it better for the back of that projected sweater.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Funny Little Boy

As part of yesterday's shopping extravaganza with three-year-old B we went to a big box store for some Soft Soap that was on sale.  It came in two large bottles that were held together with a heavy plastic key.  We were doing really well, whipping through the store but made a stop for a sample of a protein bar.  He wanted the sample so I stopped to pick it up.  In the meantime he had been working over the Soft Soap unbeknownst to me.  Just as I accepted the protein bite he said, "Grammie!" in a rather distressed voice. I looked over to see that one of the Soft Soap bottles had tipped over into his lap with the cover off.  It spread all over he pants and was dripping onto the floor.  Big mess.  We stopped the continued messing of the store but he was ready to leave at the point.

Fast forward to this morning.  There were several things we did not get done yesterday due in part to the Soft Soap incident so I told him we were going out today.  He told me in no uncertain terms that he wanted to stay home today, so I let it go for a while.  When I finished my other projects I told him we were heading out, and we did.  Several stops later we stopped at a chain grocery store.  As I put him in the shopping cart he said, "We are not going to have another Soft Soap incident, are we?"  I almost could not keep my laughter inside...He is such a doll and really was so distressed about "the Soft Soap incident".

It turns out that, contrary to popular opinion, at least three-year-old opinion, a nap is a good thing to have.  Today was a case in point.  No nap today and about 30 minutes before Dad arrived home the stuff hit the fan.  Everything that could distress a little guy, did distress him.  Fortunately I had supper in the oven so as soon as Dad walked in they just had to set the table and eat.  I will be interested to see how it turned out.  "Breakfast Omelet Muffins",  Perri's mild Italian sausages, and scalloped potatoes.    I brought some potatoes and omelet muffins home for Dear One.  He thought the potatoes had too much sauce and so far has not eaten the muffins....

Arriving home shortly after 5 PM we unloaded the car from the shopping and child-entertainment-options, I grabbed a sweater and my Hanover Rec Department Trail Challenge map booklet and we headed to the Fall Festival where we could enter our completed trail challenge in a drawing for prizes.  There were not a lot of names on the list of completers but I do not know how many prizes there are, but one can always hope.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Adventure Begins....

A and E have gone to Denmark for two weeks for E to visit with his grandfather and A to meet her new sister.  Grammie is spending the days with 3-year-old B and with C and L when they arrive home from school.  That is the plan.  Sometimes we may all go to Grandpa's house for supper. Sometimes Dad may just have to make supper when he gets home from work.

Day One was quite a long one.  Grammie had a meeting on campus but before going to the meeting she wanted to visit a friend to borrow an owl punch, got to the feed store to enter a jar of sweet pepper relish, and fill the car's tank with gasoline.  The friend was already gone at that early hour.  The feed store had not opened yet even though it after the posted opening hour.  The gasoline station came through for us.  We then did the feed store and arrived early for the meeting to get B set up with headphones and iPad.  He was excellent during the long meeting.

We then went to the yarn store for Grammie to sign up for a knitting class to make a "Wonderful Wallaby",  a pattern she had previously purchased but could not find so she acquired a new one, plus a new set of 16" size 6 needles, the class fee, and the yarn for the sweater sized for B.  He chose his own color: blue. I chose some white to do some patterning in the design.

After that we went to Joann's Fabrics and Crafts for some paper for paper-crafting, to KMart for medicine, to BJ's for coupon sales, and finally made a stop for fast food..."vanilla ice cream in a cup with a spoon please".  He thought we should go up to the airport to eat, which we did.  There were three other stops scheduled but Grammie had had enough.  It turns out B had also had enough.  We were about one and a half miles from home when he fell sound asleep, sooooooo.....When we got home Grammie got out her knitting and started the ribbing on the Wonderful Wallaby to be ready for the open class in two days.

When C and L returned from school we had some homework time then headed to Grandpa's house for games and supper.  Grammie made some Sixty Minute Rolls to go with some delicious vegetable soup along with some roasted cauliflower and roasted beets.  L announced that she does not like beets. Grammie said she did not like beets, either, but they were supposedly good for us so she ate three pieces. L did not.

Dad came for supper and stayed a little while talking with Uncle R then rounded up the gang, picked some jalapeno peppers, and headed home.

Adventures all day long.  Grammie will sleep well tonight...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yes, Kale Salad!

Kale is one of my favorite foods.  It has lots of nutritious substances in it.  It is relatively inexpensive.  It is available during much of the year.  I hope it is easy to grow since I want to get some in the ground soon...remembering to think about companion planting when making the garden plan.

In the past I have always eaten cooked kale.  Sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic, what is not to love?  I mean,  garlic and olive oil and almost anything else is fabulous.  Often diced onions are thrown in with the garlic.

WELL, I have learned something new:  kale salad.  The salad can be anything but this is what I have made twice this past week.

Kale Salad

One bunch fresh kale, washed well and stripped from the ribs...this will nearly fill a 3-quart bowl
1 cup store-bought potato salad
1 sweet onion, finely diced
3 Tablespoons smokey horseradish sauce  (because I had it and it was use it or toss it)

That is it:  just four ingredients.  You could add whatever you want to it. I used the potato salad and horseradish sauce as the "dressing" on the salad but you could use anything you wanted to dress it.


Massage the kale for three minutes.  Yep, massage it.  With very clean hands, you are going to eat this after all, gently massage the kale until it is reduced by about one-third.  Set a timer for 3 minutes.  That is probably long enough, though up to 5 minutes would be okay. 

When the kale has been massaged,  add the other ingredients and mix well.  Eat immediately or put in a wide-mouth canning jar, or other glass container in the refrigerator.  It should keep for three days or so.  If you can avoid eating it all instantly.

Even Dear One said it didn't make him want to throw up.  High praise indeed.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Not so long ago a young woman at our church was expecting a baby.  There was going to be a baby shower for which I wanted to provide a gift.  I have come to love the darling "onesies" that so many little babies sport these days. 

Because I have the use of a Cricut Expression machine and because I heard it was possible to cut fabric designs with this machine, I decided to give it a try. I found a very pink baby onesie, washed it in good shape, then went to work on a design.

A cupcake was one of the designs on the Wild Card cartridge so I cut out several different sized cupcakes from paper to see how they would look on the onesie.  I settled on a 2-inch cupcake.

The next thing was to try to cut out fabric.  In order to cut out fabric, the fabric needs to be very stiff.  To accomplish this feat, I made several false starts, i.e. failures.  Finally I came up with a system that worked.

Wash a piece of 100% cotton fabric and iron it smooth. Spray starch on the front of the fabric and iron it on.  Repeat two more times.  Next apply Steam a Seam2 or Ultra Bond and Hold to the wrong side of the fabric to be cut.  Leave the backing paper on the fabric and apply the fabric/Steam a Seam piece to the Cricut cutting mat and press down very well so there is contact with every bit of the paper backing.  Increase the pressure on the Cricut to max and the cutting depth to 5 or 6. Set the speed of the cut to about 3.  Cut the starched fabric/glue/paper sandwich.

Remove from the cutting mat then remove the backing paper from the fabric.  Place the design (cupcake) onto the onesie and iron on according to the directions on the Steam a Seam package.

You now have a cute little decorated onesie. 

Since I liked  the idea of "babycakes", I used Cricut Craft Room software to make the Babycakes label.  Fun.