Leaf Scarf from Our Growing Paynes

The Flutter of Leaves in a Purple Hue

Today will be a cosy PJ day with the kids.  Our son had a sleepover with a friend last night so it was a bit loud until they crashed.  So today will be a day of playing Dr Who games with no place to go.  Though tonight my husband and I will have a quick date night as it is the anniversary of us meeting six years ago.  On our first date he brought me Marmite.  I was hooked. I thought this guy is going to understand me.  I was so right!

When I think of my family I sometimes feel as though I have to pinch myself.  It’s unreal how lucky I got.  We have two amazing kids that are healthy and bright.  And they are developing the twisted sense of humour we so much enjoy.  It’s funny when they suddenly understand us because we’ll be saying something and out of the blue there will be a snicker.  Welcome to our world.  :)  And I have a husband that makes me laugh every day no matter how crazy the world is.  And the world is often off it’s rocker.

And because we have games waiting this will be a quick post.  :)

Over the years I’ve made gifts for various family members and this year it was my sister’s turn.  I’ve mentioned in a previous post on the wrist gauntlets that I bought the book 60 Quick Knits that uses cascade 220.  I found a gorgeous scarf in the book that has raised leaves as the pattern.  I found a soft purple that would be perfect for her.  She looks great in these tones.  It wasn’t a difficult pattern but it took me awhile because of the length and plus I was doing other projects as well.  I sometimes wonder if all this multi-tasking is efficient!

Once it was done I needed to block it.  Something I haven’t done before but I chose a simple method of steam as it was a basic scarf not a complicated shape.  I had to do this in two steps as the scarf was longer than the ironing board.  To do it, use pins to shape the scarf.

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Next use a very hot steamy iron and bring it close to the yarn without touching.  It’s a little tricky as steam likes to rise but get the yarn nice and damp.  Leave it to dry and it will be shaped and blocked.

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I really liked the delicate leaf pattern with a bit of a lace effect.

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I’m pleased to say my sister really liked the scarf.  :)  Now it’s time to figure out Dr Who Yatzee and Dr Who role playing game.  Get your geek on!

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It Should All Be So Soft

Sometimes I’m envious of babies.  They get to wear the softest things.  All the soft blankets, clothes, toys.  Well I don’t need the toys but still.  I like soft fabrics and yarn!  Our kids are obviously out of the baby stage and so are most of our friend’s kids as well.  But good friends of ours just had a gorgeous little girl and as I’ve been back into knitting this year I thought I’d knit up a few things.  So off I went to Ravelry and did a search for something practical but pretty.

I came across a pattern they were referencing as a drop design.  A little hat and blanket.  I thought this would be perfect.  Off I went to choose colours.  I don’t like to do the typical colours of pink for girls and blue for boys.  It’s so overdone.  I picked a lemon yellow for the hat and a coral orange for the blanket.

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The hat only took me about 4 hours to make, I couldn’t believe it!  I wasn’t used to finishing a project so quickly.  I see why people knit baby stuff all the time.  You can just bang them out!  :)

The pattern for the blanket said it needed 450g of yarn.  I found that to be way too much.  I only needed to buy 300g worth and had some left over.  I did wander from the pattern in that I decided not to crochet round the edge and I knitted the whole blanket at once.  The pattern calls for knitting 12 rectangles then sewing them together.

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The blanket took me a few months what with traveling and all.  The tricky bit at the end was getting all the dog hair off of it.  With two dogs that like to cuddle it’s impossible to keep it off whatever project I’m working on.

We got to meet their baby girl yesterday and she was the sweetest thing.  She is now two months old and such a peaceful little baby.  We are very happy for them. :)

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Throw Down the Gauntlet….

I must have blinked and missed this week!  It has flown by and I’ve hadn’t had much of a chance to check out blogs let alone write one.  Just one of those weeks that is crazy busy.  I had to wear several hats at once so to speak.

Today is a gorgeous day and will be like this all weekend so gardening is on the list.  Actually it’s at the top of the list.  Winter is coming!  Not only to we have to put the garden to bed I need to prep for the coming cold.  I picked out a few knitting patterns to help me out.  I did the cowl this summer and it has proved to be a great choice.  It keeps my neck nice and toasty.   There has been a big trend towards wrist warmers or gauntlets lately.  I usually avoid most trends as they go out of style but this seemed really practical.  Our house is usually kept around 55F/13C because oil isn’t cheap!  I start to look like a oompa loompa with all the layers I put on.  I found the pattern in a book called “60 Quick Knits” that calls for the type of yarn Cascade 220.  The pattern is called Leaf-Lace Gauntlets.  Again it was a chart pattern so I had to pay attention but overall I was able to complete them in a couple of weeks.

There was a lot of lace work in this pattern and the chart was based on working the work side rather than the right side so it took awhile to make sense to me.

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Once I had both pieces knitted then it was quite easy to sew the seams leaving a hole for the thumbs.

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The yarn is soft so it will be very cozy as the weather cools.  I may have to make some more.  :)

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Just the thing to keep my neck warm…

Genetics are a funny thing.  My Grammy would get a cold almost instantly if her neck got cold.  I was unable to escape that fate.  Even on a lovely spring day hiking along a coast if the wind is too much on my neck I get sick.  Last year in Dorset I was hot as can be in my turtleneck traipsing about so I thought this was nuts.  I needed a solution.  Poking around the Ravelry site I found it.  Cowls!  I can wear light shirts but keep my neck protected and hopefully look somewhat fashionable.  It had to be better than the turtleneck!

The pattern I decided on was this cowl.  Then I had to figure out how to follow it as it is charted.  But I loved the pattern so I gave it a go.  It took me a couple of weeks, which for me, is super fast.  :)  I did it in the round and the only note I would mention is cast on 131 stitches, not 130, as you slip a stitch over to join the two ends of the round at the beginning.  Unfortunately I figured that out after doing a row or two.

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I’m pleased to say this does the trick.  It kept my neck toasty and protected but I wasn’t baking.  :)

Tea Cosy for Mum

My mum loves a good cuppa so I wanted to make a fun tea cosy for her.  I found this Rosebud Tea Cosy on Ravelry and thought she would love it.  Instead of a verigated pink and green yarn I choose a lovely brown that made it look like a woven basket.  According to the pattern this will fit a 6 cup teapot.

You will need 4 and 6mm needles for this project.  It also calls for bulky wool and DK wool.  Now as each manufacture is different (thanks very much!) check her post for more details on the gauges.  I am particularly horrible at doing gauges.  I just tuck in and start knitting.  Touch wood I’ve been lucky so far.  :)

For the basket I got 50gs of the brown, 100g for the pink and 50g for the green.  I did have yarn left over.  So I need to find another project!

To knit the basket 2 pieces need to be knitted using 6mm needles. Do the following according to her directions:

Cast on 25 stitches

Knit a garter stitch until it is 13cm or so in length

Next Row (K2,K2 tog) to last stitch, K1 which leaves you 19 stitches then knit 7 rows

Next Row (K1, K2 tog) to last stitch, K1 which leaves you 13 stitches then knit 5 rows

Next Row (K1, K2 tog) to last stitch, K1 which leaves you 9 stitches.  Thread the yarn through, pull tight and fasten off.

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The next bit is to knit the rosebuds.  Her directions said to knit 15, which I did, but I only ended up using 14 once I put them on the cosy as I wanted it look balanced.  Normally an odd number does make it look balanced but I couldn’t get it to do that without it looking a bit lopsided so I went with an even number.

I also had to play around with the pattern as I believe there was a typo.  Here is how it played out:

Use 4mm needles and the rose yarn.  The pattern said to use st st throughout K2 rows.  Wasn’t sure if she meant 12 so I tried that and it was too long so I went with 6 rows.  A little long but looked better.  She may have meant 2 rows.  Once you have the rows it is time to decrease.  Decrease at the beginning of the row and every knit row for 10 rows.   She suggested Sl1K1PO to decrease and that worked really well.  Then cast off.  You want to leave a long piece of yarn at the end for finishing later.

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I really deviated on the leaves which is the final component to knit.  Her directions had you knitting 21 stitches but somehow doubling back and then knitting one leaf at a time.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure that out.  I was flummoxed!  So I did each leaf separately and knitted 30 leaves.

I cast on 7 stitches using the 4mm needles and knit one row.  Then for the next 5 rows I st st.

To make the leaves an even triangle I decreased at each row until you are left with 2 stitches and then P tog and cast off.

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It was now time to put it all together.

First the basket had to be sewed together.  It is a good idea to use a teapot to figure out the openings on each side. Per her instructions I sewed an inch on the bottom on each side.  Then I sewed the top seams together leaving an opening to match the spout and the handle.

Once that is done it is time to work on the roses.  I pretty much followed her directions at this point as it worked well for me.  Place the rose piece flat on the surface with the long length towards you.  On the straight edge roll it a couple of times towards the angled side.  Then stitch halfway up and back down again to hold it into place.

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Next do a gathering stitch and pull in a bit.

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Continue to roll the rest of the way.  Sew round the bottom to secure the rose.

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Once all the roses are done I connect the leaves in groups of threes.  I attached them at the corners and used a gathering stitch to pull them in a bit so it would curve round the roses.  Place round the rose then sew halfway up the leaves attaching them to the rose.

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Now it is time to attach the flowers to the basket.  Per her tip I placed the basket over a teapot and it does help figure out the placement of the roses.

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I followed the directions of taking 3 roses with leaves and placing them near the top and adding a filler rose without leaves in the centre of that.  Then I placed the rest of them round the cosy.  To attach I used a crochet hook to pull the pink threads through the basket.  I had tied off the green threads and trimmed otherwise you would have a ton of yarn to deal with on the inside of the cosy!  I then weaved the yarn into the surrounding roses to pull the bouquet together so it wouldn’t be floppy.

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Pull the yarn through to the underside of the cosy.

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Next I needed to tie off all that yarn.  So I separated the pairs and tied the yarn off with different pairs then trimmed the yarn.

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And it was done!

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It wasn’t an overly difficult project just time consuming as I have so much going on.  I will be looking at her other cosies to try out as this came out pretty well.  :)  And mum liked it!

Despicable Me Minion Hat

As I found I didn’t have time to knit 3 dolls like Young Elsie I wanted to find something creative for my kids.  I decided to try my hand at hats.  My son loves the movie Despicable Me so I went onto Ravelry.com and found a pattern for the minions.  It looked relatively easy which was good as I’d never knitted a hat before.  As I’ve forgotten how to crochet and have never done it in the round before here is how I got round that bit.

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After I knit the hat I had to come up with a cunning plan.  (Yes, I watched Blackadder last night but my plan actually worked)  I bought bits of felt for the goggle eyes.  I didn’t have any patterns to cut out so I used household items to get the size right and cut it out of paper.

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So once the felt is cut out you should have pieces to do this:

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Using matching thread you want to sew the black to the white, white to the grey.

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For the band, I tried crocheting and I am just so out of practice I decided to garter stitch until I got the length right.  I used 5mm needles and cast on 5 stitches.

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I did however manage to single crochet the mouth!  Small victories.  :)  Sew it all onto the hat to complete.

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My son got a kick out of this Christmas morning.  :)

 

Young Elsie – the finished product

Happy New Years everyone!  I hope that 2013 is a great year.

I posted about knitting Young Elsie at the end of August.  My plan was to make 3 dolls for Christmas.  It was down to the wire on one doll!  I finished a couple of days before Christmas.  Not that it was difficult but it was time consuming given all the details.

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I loved all the components that went into this doll and I got to try out a lot of techniques to make the various toys and accessories.  I needed a bit of stuffing, paper, straws, and cardboard to bring it all together.

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This was for my niece and the poor thing was wary of it as she was very tired and the doll is 16″!  In time I hope she warms up to it though my sister was thrilled.  My kids are each picking a doll out for themselves so I’ll be working on that this year.  :)

Risotto with Sherry Mushrooms

My husband and I enjoy watching Hell’s Kitchen.  Not so much Ramsey yelling all the time but we like the competition.  One thing that gets us is how often they screw up risotto.  And it always looks a beige brownish mess on telly.  I wouldn’t eat it!  But we do enjoy risotto and it is not hard to make.  Does ours always come out the same each time?  No but it’s close.  And no one yells at us!

This recipe makes enough for the four of us though that will change as the kids grow.

To start I heat up our homemade chicken stock. You need about 4 cups. This ensures you aren’t stalling the cooking process when you add it to the risotto.  Because homemade stock may not be that salty taste as you cook to see if you need to add salt as seasoning.

While that is simmering I prep the onions, garlic, mushroom and thyme. It’s about 1/2 an onion and a few mushrooms.  I have a cup of risotto ready. I also grate about a cup of parmesan cheese.  My daughter practiced her knife skills with the garlic.  I showed her how to mash and mince the garlic.

No fingers were lost in this production of risotto!  :)

In a large skillet melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and saute the onions for a few minutes to soften.

Add in half the garlic ( we use about 3-4 cloves total) and saute for two minutes.  Then add in the risotto and again saute for 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of sherry.

At this point gradually add the broth as the risotto soaks it up.  Stir as it is cooking.  While this is cooking, in a separate skillet heat up some olive oil and toss in the mushrooms, thyme, and garlic.  Cook until the mushrooms start to brown then add in a bit of sherry and saute for a few minutes.

We have garden peas in the freezer which I used for this.  Because they were from our garden they take longer to cook than store bought, which I didn’t realise so I ended up using a bit more broth to cook than normal so this risotto came out slightly less creamy than usual.

When most of the broth has been absorbed add the grated cheese and mushroom mixture to the risotto.  Stir then serve.  When we were in Italy we learned that you don’t want the risotto to cook so much that it is mushy.  You don’t want it crunchy either but have it a bit al dente.

Serve with more cheese on top and enjoy!  This takes about 45 minutes total but is very easy to put together and there are many variations of risotto to try.

 

 

Jean Greenhowe’s Young Elsie

When Rich and I were in England earlier this year I was introduced to Jean Greenhowe’s patterns for knitted doll figures.  They are really adorable so when I got back I looked for them here.  I was able to order a few books online and they came this week.

I am making this one for my 3 year old niece:

Turns out this is a lot easier to knit than Aran jumpers!  Given that it’s mostly st-st go figure.  :)  My kids love them too so hopefully I can get this one done quickly then make one each for my kids.  There is a pirate I can do for my son and a cooking one I can do for my daughter.

I’ll post a picture of the finished project when completed.

Aran knits

Full disclosure, I may be one of the slowest knitters out there.  Which would have caused my Grandma to shake her head in wonder as her fingers could fly.  My dad has a long torso and he would come home and ask for a cricket jumper to be knitted.  It would invariably be needed within the week and she would get it done.  The first jumper I knitted was for my dad, it took me a few months and I would spend a few hours most days getting it done.  Needless to say I’m in awe of what she could accomplish.

Soon after finishing that mum mentioned she would love a cardigan.  So I went out and picked out a lovely purple yarn and found the pattern I thought she would like.  After much effort I had about 6 inches done and we were traveling together. She pulled out her knitting and I noticed she was knitting with purple yarn as well, and wouldn’t you know it?  She was knitting herself a cardigan in purple!  Just as well as she got to wear hers for a few years before I completed this:

And I’m working on a new jumper for my husband in the same pattern as he really liked it:

It’s taking awhile.  Good thing he isn’t growing!  :)