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!

mushrooms-on-toast

September 29, 2011

Below is my take on mushrooms-on-toast. With greens and cheesy white sauce.

First step is to wash and trim the mushrooms. Then slice them and put them in a pan with butter and fresh sage. Sautee until they are nice and juicy. Add herbs to flavor at the end. And some salt to taste.

While the mushrooms are cooking, sautee some onions and tomatoes in a pan over medium heat. After they are nicely cooked, add the finely sliced greens and cook until tender.

For the cheesy white sauce, mix a little butter with a little flour in a pan, and add some milk and salt. Then grate in a little cheese (prairie breeze). I find that cheese sauce gets a little bit grainy, and I am not sure how to remedy this. The sauce should thicken in a few minutes over medium heat.

Then mix the herbs (parsley and tarragon) with a little more grated cheese and layer everything on freshly toasted bread. Vegetables, cheese, mushrooms, cheese, and then cheesy white sauce.

Eat with a fork and knife before everything gets cold and soggy…

two very large pots of soup

September 26, 2011

I picked up a huge hubbard squash a few weeks ago at Kathy’s Pumpkin patch because I can’t help buying pumpkins. The weather has been cold and rainy, and I am waiting for my chimney to be inspected before I light a fire in my wood stove. Any excuse to turn the oven on is welcome. I have been baking bread, and roasting things.

Winter squash soup is easy if the vegetables are roasted in the oven first. Place cut and seeded squash pieces, tomatoes, apples and hot peppers on a cookie sheet with edges. Onions, garlic, and other aromatics are really nice here as well! Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt.

Pour some water over them so that they don’t dry out too much. Leave them in the oven (350 or 400 degrees) until they are well done, and a bit toasty.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool. This can be done in stages (roast one night, and then prepare the soup the next day). Scrape the meat out of the squash pieces leaving the peels, and combine with peppers, tomatoes, apples, etc.

Meanwhile, sautee some onions in a generous amount of olive oil until translucent, and then add cooked squash mixture. Add water or broth to thin mixture to desired consistency and puree or simply stir for a more rustic look. Sometimes I will add a spoonful of harissa for more flavor, and a little spice! Let simmer on the stove top over low heat for about 30 minutes.

Serve with parmesan cheese, olive oil and freshly ground pepper, and a slice of fresh bread (another reason to turn on the oven..).

The lone hubbard squash made two very large pots of soup for the very small price of $5.00.

This is another orange sweater. One strand of thick yarn, and one strand of thin yarn held together throughout. The thin strand kept changing, from yellow, to pink, to red, and back and forth between. The thick strand stayed orange.

The sweater was knit top down, on size 10 needles. I wanted to use Malabrigo worsted weight yarn for the base, and added a strand of lace weight so that I could use the size 10 needles for the gauge required.

I had been looking at the four colors of yarn in the store for a while, thinking of what to make. I was considering a lace project, and when I realized that I could put the two weights of yarn together it was a perfect plan.

The sweater is knit in reverse stockinette, with garter stitch borders. I liked the effect of the constant change of threads and the more bumpy texture of reverse stockinette. I changed the lace weight yarn every row, or every other row, at random.

The inside of the sweater shows the striping differently, and I managed to tie away all the color changing ends. (Except for in the sleeves, where all the little lace weight ends are flailing around…)

The side “seams” were created by a row of stockinette, and add a nice little touch.

All together a very simple sweater, and worked up quickly, with the big needles.

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