purple and blue vest

December 31, 2011

Another vest for my dad. Modeled off of a navy blue zip up vest that he wears all the time. This one is made with three different yarns. A super bulky malabrigo in purples and blues, a worsted weight malabrigo in bright blue, and a lace weight madeline tosh in navy blue. All hand dyed yarns. I just love this particular combination. Both the texture and color combine and contribute to the beauty of the finished material. And knit on size 15 needles, the material knits up quickly, and has a particular firmness that is quite lovely.

The border has a few rows of garter stitch, and then the rest of the vest is stockinette stitch. To edge the front and armholes I picked up stitches (3 out of ever 4) knit a row, and then cast off. Quick, tidy and simple.

My dad chose the purple zipper, and I attempted to sew it into the knitted  material. My current method for sewing in zippers is to: 1. pin the zipped up zipper into the sweater/vest. 2. unzip and hand baste the zipper on both sides. 3. machine sew the zipper from the right side of the material, taking care to back-stitch at the beginning and end of the line. 

I know that there are different sewing machine feet for sewing in zippers, but I haven’t been able to figure them out yet, so I wrestle through with the normal foot…hoping that I don’t break anything.

mini elf suit

December 20, 2011

My friend has a new grandbaby, and she had the idea to make him a little red and white suit for Christmas. We came up with a super soft yarn (debbie bliss cashmerino aran) held double and knit on size 11 needles. (There isn’t a lot of time to make things this time of year…)

I made a gauge swatch, and cast on 52 stitches. Joined in the round, and ribbed for a few inches. (I cut the bottom later to add a few more inches, and some stripes of white.)

After the ribbing came stockinette stitch, until the snuggly was about the right length.

I switched to 10 1/2 needles and ribbed a few rows to gather the snuggly at the shoulders and neck. No decreases, as I didn’t want the hood to be too small.

Then came the face opening. I cast off a few stitches, and then worked back and forth on the hood, decreasing at the beginning of every other row, and then at the beginning of every third row to shape the hood, and then knit straight until the face opening was the right height. Next I cast on a few stitches, and joined the hood back into the round, and decreased every third row to make the elf hat point. With cream yarn and the 10 1/2 needles I picked up stitches around the face opening and knit a few rows of ribbing. Last but not least was the pom pom for the top of the hood.

The bottom was left open to put the outfit on, although I think that you could add some snaps to keep it closed.

Really quick and easy and snuggly for baby!

bean broth soup

December 16, 2011

I have been wanting to make some bean soup for a while. This soup was made using what I could scrounge up in my mom’s fridge…I found a carrot, a few stalks of celery, some chard stems, and a bunch of parsley. If you have these things, you can make a soup.

There was an onion sitting on my counter, along with a butternut squash from the farmer’s market. I cut up a bit of the onion with the squash and a few cloves of garlic and put them in the oven with a little olive oil to roast.

Meanwhile, I covered a cup of borlotti beans with boiling water and set them aside. I chopped and sauteed the found vegetables in a mixture of olive oil and butter for about 20 minutes. To the one carrot, remaining onion, two stalks of celery, and a handful of chopped parsley, I added several bay leaves, a few dried peppers and a parmesan cheese rind. And a pinch or two of herbs de provence.

I then added a lot of water, the soaked beans, and a bit of salt.

Then pressure cooked the whole collection for 40 minutes. And then another 20 minutes, until the beans were nicely tender.

After the beans were cooked I added the chopped chard stems and roasted squash for a little extra color.

This is a good soup if you have been on your feet all day. Brothy and hearty at the same time. Perfect to serve with good olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper, and a slice of fresh bread.

denim workhorse

December 9, 2011

I have made a lot of these dresses. They are comfortable, easy to wear, and easy to make! (The pattern is a slightly adjusted version of the schoolhouse tunic.)

I usually take over a spot in the house to lay out the fabric. My current favorite is the floor in the bedroom. I place the pattern down and trace it onto the fabric with a chalk spreader tool.

Then cut the fabric…baste, and sew. Below are the sleeves, basted and ready to pin into the bodice.

I really enjoy the process of pinning the sleeves. I have found that fabric is much more malleable than I would think, and pinning the sleeves allows for all kinds of adjustments and refinements.

I started sewing the bodice with blue thread, but it was the wrong color, and so I switched to orange. The contrast was pretty with the dark blue.

I hemmed the bottom of the dress and sleeves by turning the material inside out. I actually have enough fabric to make another dress with the reverse side out, and I might do that. I had a hard time deciding between the dark and light sides of the fabric..

The hem at the bottom of the dress was a little funny, and so I added some tucks around to even out the seam. I guess that they add character..

 

I have been into tomato soup recently. I like to roast the tomatoes with things like onions and peppers, and then blend them. Or even easier, just open a few jars of tomato sauce, add some water, harissa, salt and olive oil, and serve with broiled cheese toasts.

 

There are too many options for exactly how to make this soup, but here is a very general guideline that I like to follow.

 

For roasting tomatoes:

Place cut tomatoes (I slice them in half), butternut squash chunks, hot peppers, onion slices, apples, and anything else you would like to add, onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add a sprig of fresh basil if you have it, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at about 350-400 degrees until the vegetables are cooked and caramelized. It might be advisable to stir a few times during the cooking process.

Remove the vegetables from the pan, making sure to collect the juices from cooking. I will often pour in a little hot water to capture as much as I can.

Mix cooked vegetables with water (or vegetable broth for a richer soup), some harissa, and any other flavors that you would like to add here. Blend with a stick blender or put through a food mill. If it is too thick, you can add water. If it is too thin, you can cook it down, or add a handful of cooked couscous or pasta and let it simmer for a few more minutes.  I like this soup to be on the thin side because the cheese toasts end up soaking up extra liquid.

Heat the soup up, and serve with broiled cheese toasts with mustard, and extra pepper, salt, and olive oil for garnish. And some chopped parsley, basil or cilantro.

To make cheese toasts:

Slice 1-2 pieces of stale bread per serving and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and place a slice or some gratings of cheese on top. Broil in the oven, watching like a HAWK! I am really good at burning the cheese toasts.  Serve soup with cheese toasts on top.

 

pine cone hat

October 27, 2011

This hat is all about texture. The yarn is textured (an unusual knitted cord) and very thick. The hat makes use of the texture of the yarn and knit stitch and is still quite simple.

The little bobbles made by knitting three together and then knitting into the same stitch three times create the pine cone seeds. The stitches swirl in the same way a pine cone might, and the hat is a cute little top to keep a head warm.

There are two sizes in the pattern, and the larger would fit a medium adult head (18″ around), and the small would fit a child (16″ around). For a copy of the pattern, stop in to the store or download here.

Note: please let me know if you have any questions about the pattern. I just finished it and would love any feedback!

warmer hands

October 26, 2011

This is a pattern that we got in at the store this fall. The mitts are easy to make, with simple shaping and cables up the front and back. They are great to wear, and keep hands warm and cozy.

The yarn is Madeline Tosh Merino Light, and is soft and machine washable (which is handy for hand warmers, as they tend to get a little dirty with use).

The mitts are knit on double points. I started using the suggested size two, and moved to a size three as they were just a little too tight. They worked up quite quickly, and with one ball of yarn I was able to knit two pairs and have a little left over!

The thumb shaping is done with left and right leaning increases. The pattern makes a clean line, and the purl edge at the top of the thumb coordinates with the purls at the top and bottom of the mitts.

The nice thing about knitting hand warmers with thin yarn is that they don’t get in the way. I like to be able to use my hands while wearing them, and these fit the bill! They are perfect for morning walks in not too cold weather, playing music outside, and of course more knitting!

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