Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bebe Throw

I had a baby shower to attend yesterday and so I have been working on crocheting a baby throw.  Crochet goes by much faster than knitting and I was running out of time (shocking, I know) and needed one.  Her husband's family is Puerto Rican, so they are very immersed in the Spanish culture, so they call "baby", "bebe".  That will be the name of my throw.

I chose an easy crochet throw from the Lion Brand collection of patterns and it is pretty much one big granny square.  Here is a pic from their website:

Isn't is sweet?  It is a throw that I believe I can start and finish in time for the shower.  I went to Knit 'N Knibble and browsed their huge selection of yarn and settled on the following:

It is Snuggly by Sirdar and it is a dk weight baby yarn that is 55% Nylon/45% Arcrylic.  I normally do not like using arcrylics because they are often not soft or are prone to pilling.  This acrylic blend yarn is definitely the exception: very soft, does not have that dense, plasticy feeling you can feel when you rub it between your fingers.  It is lightweight and really a pleasure to work up.  I bought 2 of each color and used an I hook.

I chose 3 colors rather than 4, as the pattern suggests.  This is a pattern that you can do any color in any order and not worry about it.  The sex of the baby will be a surprise, so the 3 colors I chose were a buttercup yellow (Daisy), a sage green (Summer Lime) and a light blue.  I thought the blue was another shade of green at the time I purchased it, but when worked up, it is definitely blue. 

I started that very evening with the center square:

I will repeat the color order as you see above.  I will crochet two rounds of each color.  I took this throw in the car with me and crochet to and from work ( I carpool and often am not the driving), so this worked up even faster than I imagined.

I'm almost done in the above picture.  I bought 2 balls of each color and plan on crocheting until I run out of yarn.  I ran out of yellow first, which is supposed to be the color I end on: perfect!

Here are a few of the finished throw:

Now, here is a picture from the baby shower:

She loved it!  She said it was very nostalgic from her own childhood.   That was the only homemade gift at the shower, which had to complete with some pretty nice gifts!  A homemade gift is special in it's own way.

Now, I am off to start another baby blanket for a friend that had her baby already.  Better late than never, I always say.  It will be worth the wait.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Books - Quarter 2

A busy knitting and crocheting life means a slow reading life.  I don't think I have ever finished this many knit/crochet projects in such a short time, so that being said: I've hardly had time to curl up with a book.

I have finished a couple books since March, and so I will share them with you today:

 5. This is book three of the Hilda Johansson series, in which the head housekeeper keeps finding dead bodies and solves the crime.  This book took place in the early 1900's when women doing the jobs of men was not received very well.  It starts out with Hilda (a Swede) and her boyfriend (an Irishman) go to the Carnival/Fair where the Irishman's uncle is planning a political speech.  Before the speeches are started the uncle's political rival is found dead and the uncle goes missing.  The uncle has been set-up and it is up to Hilda to prove it and find him.  Everyone is against this sort of behavior because she is a worker helping out a rich family and publicly dating outside of her nationality.  This also makes her a target and gets kidnapped herself.  She is locked in a basement room with only drug-laced water to drink.  She eventually discovers the real murderer and where the uncle was stashed, in addition to earning herself respect within the community.  This book was not as enjoyable as the first novel I read at the beginning of the year, but not bad.  I give it 2.5 thumbs up.

 6. My new bible.  Since I have discovered that I am gluten-sensitive last winter, I naturally had a lot of unanswered question on why there is a gluten/wheat allergy and how does that affect people, exactly.  This books has all the answers (or all the ones I knew to ask and ones I did not know to ask).  It goes over what it is, how the body deals with gluten in us sensitive folks to ones that suffer from full-blown Celiac disease.  It discusses the many forms gluten can take on, what they are named and how to avoid them in our everyday lives.  It gives hints on how to alter the way one bakes using different rice and nut flour blends in addition to where to shop for the gluten-free alternatives to our favorite foods.  Most importantly, it helps you accept this new life style change by giving you the facts you need to process the huge life change.

What have I learned as a result of reading these two books?  Well, for the first one, it is a bit of a stretch, but when you are locked in a large dark room, unstitch the lace edging from your underwear and use it as a "find your way back to your original spot" string so you don't get disoriented from the darkness.  (Yes, this is what Hilda did when she was locked in the basement.  She must've had some pretty frilly undies!)

I have learned a tremendous amount from the Gluten Free book that I cannot possibly list them all out.  One important thing is to not assume that something does not contain a wheat ingredient.  Even food items such as soy sauce and lots of creamy salad dressings has wheat or modified food starch (yes, it's often derived from wheat).  The onus is on you to figure it out by asking a ton of questions and read food labels very carefully.  Lots of people do not know what gluten is or how that affects people so you may order a salad and ask to hold the croutons, but you may get them in your salad anyway.  I am not that sensitive to it that I could not just pick them out, but not the case for all affected people.

I am currently reading two books that I just cannot get into.  One is a murder-drama novel that the murder happened in the beginning and nothing else since.  C'mon, will there be another murder; will all the excitement be squeezed into the last two chapters, as is typical with so many first novels?  Then the second one is a fiction novel based on a true story and it's just not that interesting.  I already gave up reading another book because it was just plain dumb in the first two chapters, that I was like, "Forget this!  There are way better books on my shelf than this waste of paper." 

I may have to say the same thing about the non-fiction/fiction book I mentioned before.  I think I'll just give it back to the gal I borrowed it from and know not to mind her book suggestions.  I don't mean that in a rude way, it's just that we apparently are not into the same style of writing. 

I hope you guys are having better luck with your book selections.  Happy reading!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sleeveless T-Neck - Part 2

As I said before in my previous post about this project, I have been working on this for years.  I hate to admit it, but I'm really not even that interested in this sweater anymore.  It is not all that fashionable and it was sort of a starter garment / practice piece.  

Well, it is FINALLY DONE!  Yippee, raise the flag!

The one on the left is the one I just finished.  Normally you would block these pieces, but given the nature of this yarn, I'm not going to bother.  

The stitches on the tops of both of these pieces are live, meaning that they are loose, ready to go back or stay on a needle, usually to continue the project with a sleeve, neck or edging.  The original pattern called for a turtleneck, but I do not need a turtleneck in my wardrobe.  I am going to vary it but I'm going to be a free spirit and see where it goes.

First, I transferred the stitches to a circular needle because I am going to knit around the neck but not in the round.  I am going to leave an opening / slit on one of the shoulder, so I will be working side-to-side.

I decided to start off by knitting a k3, p2 rib for the neck.  My plan was to knit it long enough so that it will hang down in a sort of cowl neck, but not really.  I am not sure what the proper name of the neck I'm trying to accomplish with my thoughts, we'll just see where this takes me.

I was knitting for awhile and was getting bored with it and wanted it to be finished the day I was working on it.  There is no need for this project to linger on any longer.  Above is my rib fold-down neck.  Not long enough though.

So, I decided, since I am so confident in my crocheting skills since completing my Pima Pullover, that I am going to finish this collar with some crochet.  I bound off with knitting and picked up an I crochet hook and did a dc, ch1, dc thing along the entire edge, then did the same for 4 rows.  

This is how this collar came out!  Not too shabby.  I actually like how this came out.  The shaping of the body of the sweater could be a bit more fitted, but I'm not going to complain too much.

This one shoulder is only connected by a few stitches at the end, but not by the neck.  This is where I intentionally did not connect for the neck.

I can see myself wearing this, maybe at the end of the summer.  The sweater itself it warm, but I have to wear a tank top underneath it so you don't see through it.

I talked about not making myself finish UFOs in my stash in my Craft-no-lutions post at the beginning of the year.  I think because I was sick of moving this project out of the way each time I went into my craft corner, that I decided that it must get done.  Phew, so glad it is over and it came out wearable!

Related Link:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pima Pullover - Part 3

Welcome to the final edition of the Pima Pullover.  This sweater took me 3 posts to complete.  The 2 previous posts are located here:
I am very proud of this finished piece.  I thought that I was going to need my sister in order to finish, but I realized that I was using her a as crutch and that I did have the skills to finish on my own.

Here is front with the ribbing at the arms and bottom.  I had to go out and buy one more hank of yarn just to finish the bottom band and crochet an edging around the neck.  The neck edging was a reverse single crochet.  It was very interesting.  I found instruction for this on YouTube.

Here is the back view.  I love the open-weave pattern.  That is why I chose this pattern.  It is in trend right now, the open-weave, and I wanted one.  The total cost of this sweater was about $42, so not a real bargain since I had to toil away at it, but beautiful because it is not store-bought.

Now that I am finished with this, I can officially call myself a crocheter.  I'll consider my status beginner, but I won't be afraid to start a crochet project on my own.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Strawberry Bread

I love trying new recipes, especially the sweet kind!  I tried this new recipe last weekend and it was delicious plain, with butter, with cream cheese and even with ice cream!

The recipe is Strawberry Bread from the Everyday Food magazine, July/August 2004 issue.  

Pic from Martha's website

This recipe can be found at Martha Stewart's website, but I have also included here:

Strawberry Bread
Yields: 1 loaf that serves 8
Calories: 276 per slice
  • 5 tbs plus 1 tsp unsalted butter @ room temperature (plus more for greasing the pan)
  • 1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled & quartered
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (can alternately use gluten free flour blend)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup water (might not be needed, see ** note at end of recipe)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan; set aside.
  2. Using a fork, mash the strawberries until they are soft.
  3. In a small saucepan, place the mashed strawberries and bring to a boil over med-high heat.  Cook, stirring for 1 min.  Take off heat and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder & salt; set aside.
  5. In a separate large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. *
  6. Add flour mixture alternately with 1/3 cup water **, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Fold in the cooked strawberries.
  8. Pour/scrape batter into prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top if necessary.
  9. Bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, about 45-60 min.  If it needs longer than 45 min, lightly tent aluminum foil over pan to prevent the bread from browning too much.
  10. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 min.
  11. Run a knife around the edges to loosen, then invert on the rack.  Flip back over and cool completely.
Note *:  I had brought all ingredients to room temperature prior to starting and my creamed butter mix was not light and fluffy but a well blended slurry.

Note**: Since my butter blend was like a slurry and my strawberries contained some liquid too, I only added a scant amount of water.  Once the flour mix was added, it was still quite liquidy and not that batter-like.

Based on the Notes above, I really did not think this bread was going to work out.  I had also used a gluten free flour blend for one and normal flour for my second one and they both had the same liquidy consistency, but after 45 min, they were both done and came out great!

The white pan is the gluten-free version (bread did not rise) and the clear pan is the normal version: perfect.

When I flipped the gluten-free one over, there was a concentrated corner of strawberries, so the corner broke off.  I did not mind, that was my excuse to try it before it was cooled!  Yummy!

I ate this bread with ice cream one night in a brownie sundae fashion and it was so good.  I shared this with another gluten-free pal at work and she loved it too.

Let me know how you like it!  Bon Appetit!