owlly ell

Some itty bitty knitting going on here…. And some pattern writing…. And than reknitting…….and a couple more adjustments……almost therethe color doesn’t look good on these next 2 pictures because there is no sun today but bare with me cause i wanted to share what I found to make my owl into a pouch…I added a strap to the owl pouch I made. I found these cute necklace sets in the bead department at Ben Franklin’s. One is shaped like a star with a circle in the middle and the other is a crescent moon. I threaded the moon on one yard of gauzy ribbon that shifts color in the light and then sewed the star and the ribbon  to the pouch. So now with the ribbon long a person sling it over their shoulder or around the neck. And when you shorten it by putting the moon through the star you can still use that as a handle or attach it to your purse.

Schiacciata or Squashed bread

I know you were expecting a picture of the bread weren’t you. Well when I make the bread I will add a picture. For now you will have to  be content with pictures from a perfect fall walk around the ponds. The weather is just gorgeous, warm and dry. The leaves have fallen except for those stubborn oak leaves that will hang on even through the snow.  Meva, Marty and I enjoyed a nice walk through the woods and around the ponds. Meva hunted through the tall grass hoping to see a wood chuck or even a mouse to chase. Although she didn’t find anything there were plenty of good smells.

Tomorrow I plan to make this bread for my son’s visit. It has become a bit of a tradition for us – I clipped the recipe out of the newspaper a couple of years ago and altered it a bit taking out things I knew not every one would enjoy and adding cheese which is great on almost everything(remember this is wisconsin we are cheese heads). This bread is a traditional Italian bread and if I remember correctly made with grapes not cranberries. The dough is similar to a pizza or fochica(ok I need to look up how this is spelled cause the computer is not going to correct it for me)*my son finally came for a visit and we had the bread(I left half plain) and rice and steaks and watched the Green Bay Packers win again.

Schiacciata(*squashed bread*)

1 1/4 cups of warm water

6 TBS olive oil(divided)I cut back on the oil using enough to coat things and brush on the top of the dough so use your own judgement)

1 TBS dry yeast

2 TBS anise seeds(these were in the original recipe but I leave them out)

1 TBS honey

3 – 3 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 TBS salt

cranberry topping

put water, 2 tbs oil, yeast anise and honey in a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook. mix to blend let sit 2 minutes. add  2 1/2 cups of flour and mix on medium speed for 10 min(add more flour until you have a dough that is only slightly sticky) remove dough from bowl form ball coat with 1 tbs oil place in clean bowl cover with plastic wrap and fridge over night

of course I didn’t read the directions right and let it sit on the counter covered with a towel as it rose and made the cranberries.

cranberry topping

3 cups washed cranberries

1/2 cup of water

1/2 cup sugar

place water and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil throw in cranberries and cook just until they pop. let sit at least one hour so the sugar infuses with the berries. Now I only use about half of the cranberries and save the rest for another batch of bread or to use as a topping for ice cream or cake. And the syrup is yummy mixed with vodka or rum and white soda for an adult cocktail.

coat a pan with 1 tbs oil add dough press out brush dough with remaining 2 tbs of olive oil- drain cranberries put them on dough pressing them in. sprinkle sugar over the dough cover with wrap let sit 1/2 hour while preheating the oven to 400*  I also added some grated sharp white cheddar(about 1/2 cup) and sprinkled 1 tsp coarse salt on top before  baking – 25 min until golden brown. serve warmeven Meva finds this bread irresistible!This is great with turkey day left overs – I hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed our walk.

On The Shore

When I first laid eyes on the Tiling Fish last winter I knew I had to knit it. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tiling-fish

I wrote Jana right away and she included me in in the group of test knitters.  It was the ideal winter project for me, as the snow piled up outside fish were swimming off my knitting needles. As soon as I had 6 fish completed I would eagerly sew them together. Before the ice on the lake melted I completed my blanket. This blanket gets a lot of use and everyone who sees it remarks that it must have been really hard to knit. But that is what is so great- it is simple basic stitches put together in a novel way and makes me look way more talented than I am.

Imagine my delight when I heard that Jana has designed a second blanket based on MC Eschers prints. Isn’t it stunning. It will chase away cabin fever this winter and wrap me in warm wool by spring time. On the Shore  http://justblocked.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-shore-pattern.htmlThe colors are stunning and the animals are beautiful. And the stitches Jana picked out to form the features of each of the creatures are so clever.I know some knitters out there are thinking “yes it is beautiful but it looks so hard and I hate sewing”. But that is the real genius of this beautiful blanket. The stitches are all very easy basic stitches. The fins on the fish are garter stitch and the scales moss stitch. Ribbing on the wings and tail of the bird. Slipped stitch that some knitters use in the heel of socks are used for the turtle shell. The shapes are created with increases and decreases and short rows.Don’t even get me started about the bobbles I love the bobble-y eyes! The charts are extremely well written and easy to follow and Jana includes a tutorial section with step by step pictures to follow.

What is it about sewing that drives knitters crazy? I am not sure- I do know that I love a top down raglan sweater with no seams to finish. And all my hats and mittens are knit in the round ready to use as soon as I bind off the last stitch. I even will convert a pattern I like and knit it in the round to avoid sewing.

But I really like sewing together my animals. They fit together so nicely like jig-saw puzzle pieces. And it is exciting to see the pattern grow from one hexigon to several and see different patterns emerge from the swirls of creatures. As a bonus Jana has included patterns for pillows. Perfect if you want to knit this but just don’t have the time for a blanketCheck out the pattern on Jana’s blog http://justblocked.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-shore-pattern.html  or go to ravelry there is a group started to knit this project  http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/woolly-thoughts/1919026/1-25#reply_form

I am so happy – I have my winter project started, now I just need a little snow!

Giving Thanks

there is lots going on-

I am still test knitting Jana’s blanket.I blocked some of my ducks and couldn’t resist posing them in a V formation like the geese that I see migrating now.

I sent my notes for swatch owl to my daughter Alice and she is busy making them into a pdf.
This pattern evolved from my kitty kat pattern and adds a few skills but is still an easy pattern to knit. I like the 2 swatches I chose to knit for this pattern but you can choose any pattern you would like to try out. On the front is a lace pattern from a pair of socks that Anne Hanson designed and I want to make after X-mas. The socks are in Ann Budd’s book, Sock Knitting Master Class.

On the back is a real cool pattern called dragon skin from  Barbara Walkers 2nd Treasury of Knitting Patterns.I have been eyeing this pattern for a while and it is perfect on the back of an owl I think.

Last of all I have been knitting Billy, he is a little bashful at the moment. But I did manage to finish a rough draft of the pattern this afternoon.

But you may have noticed my heading for this entry was giving thanks and you may figure by all that I listed here that I really didn’t have time to cook a turkey and the trimmings today. And you are right–there was no turkey to be had at our house on Okauchee Lake. But don’t feel bad for us because we had a smorgasbord of treats. And we watched the Packers beat the Lions. And for that I am thankful. We had plenty of food and a great game to watch. I knit to my hearts content and cheered at all the great plays. There is very little clean up to do. Meva the wonder dog had 2 walks. Everyone had a great day!

Ps I am also thankful for my wonderful children and husband.

Toffee

This is my Xmas candy recipe I made an early batch this morning because I want to send some to my daughter and her husband. The recipe isn’t special it is a regular sugar and butter toffee and I spread dark chocolate on top when its still warm and sprinkle sea salt on top of that. Its a grown up version of heath bars.

Fleur de sel toffee

1 pound butter

2 2/3 granulated sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup light corn syrup

dark chocolate chips and fleur de sel to sprinkle on top.

line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and butter the foil. bring butter sugar water and corn syrup to a boil in a large sauce pan with a candy thermometer clipped to the side. stir frequently and till the candy reaches 300*(about 12 min). then take off the stove and pour it into the prepared pan.

let the candy cool for one min. and then sprinkle with the dark chocolate let that sit a min.and then spread the melted chocolate with a knife then sprinkle with the salt. After it hardens break the toffee into pieces.

It really is this easy to make candy the hard part is keeping yourself from eating too much candy.

I tried different recipes for toffee and this is the one I like best I can’t remember where I found it. I do know that originally the recipe said only to stir until the butter was melted and the sugar disolved but I find that the bottom of the pan scorches when I do this so I stir the whole time that I am cooking it. And it also said that the toffee would cook much faster than 12 minutes but it always takes me at least 12 minutes on a medium high burner. And you really have to watch the candy thermometer because at the end the temp jumps up to 300* very fast. And when it does it is important to take the pan off the heat and pour immediately I don’t whip it like the original recipe said because the pan always scorches a little and you don’t want that stirred into the candy. When I am done I fill my sauce pan with water and set it on the hot burner to melt the sugar and help clean the pan.

So now I just have to finish packing my box of goodies and go to the market to buy some cheese and then to the post office.

I also finished this yesterday while watching the Packers play football This will look better once it is blocked but I couldn’t wait to show off a picture. I think I might use my block as a pillow cover or maybe I will use it under a vase to protect a table top. I am happy with it except for the odd duck. Yes that yellow and brown duck. That was the second duck I made and the color just didn’t do it for me but I sewed it up and figured it would be my one odd. I like one odd in blankets and quilts but in a small piece it disturbs my eyes too much. So I look at my doily and think maybe I could take some of my walnut dye and ‘paint’ over the yellow and dull it a bit . But that is probable inviting disaster. The dye will surely run over into the orange and blue and I will have a huge mess. So I may have to be content with my odd duck. Over all I am pleased with my natural dyed yarn from this summer and I like the combinations I picked for the blanket. There are a couple of other knitters that are also cutting and knitting the i-cord and when they are done Jana will be able to release her pattern.

She just showed us the finished picture over the weekend and it is gorgeous. Just stunning! I can’t wait until I have an entire blanket finished.

November

Its been a great week in Okauchee. The weather has been cold but the sun is out most days so it is perfect November weather. It is great walking weather as long as it isn’t too windy. I have been carrying my camera hoping that we stumble upon what we saw Monday morning on our walk. Why is it the best walks are when you don’t have the camera to take a picture of the birds or other wildlife you see?

So I can only tell you what happened and you will have to imagine. We walked our usual route Monday a circle through the nearby subdivision that just 5 years ago was farm fields planted with corn and soybeans. It has the usual assortment of cats and dogs. There are  squirrels and sometimes sandhll cranes. There is a small grove of walnut trees where 2 albino squirrels live. But that is about it. On Monday we were just starting our walk and were just turning out of our street and the dog hesitated looking into a small strip of land with trees and bushes. Normally she will bound off chasing squirrels even though there is no chance she will catch them, she doesn’t hesitate unless it is something larger. We stood still for a minute and then a buck leaped out of the woods and  ran across the road he stood still, turned and looked at us. He was a perfect 8 point buck and would have made any hunter proud to have shot. He seemed to look us up and down, then turned and ran towards the ponds. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of white and turned and saw a doe leap and  run in the opposite direction.  We looked again and could still see the buck in the distance watching us and Meva ran about sniffing and committing his smell to memory.

So every morning I have taken my camera with me as we walk hoping like the hunters are to see the elusive buck again so I can ‘shoot’ him.

Other things- I am working on writing a pattern for the owl toy. It was coming along and I thought I was almost  finished writing and I cast on again. As I worked I realized  that the pattern too complicated. There is a lot to be said for learning new skills but there is no point to using that skill when something less complex will do.

The skill I am talking about is provencal cast-on. Now this is a great cast-on and comes in very handy for any number of projects. But I admit I have to look it up every time I use it and study the pictures and even then sometimes I don’t do it right and the cast-on does not pull out smoothly like it should.

So why use it to knit a swatch owl. This toy is supposed to be easy and fun to knit not something that causes you to mutter under your breath as you struggle to hold a crochet hook in one hand and a knitting needle in the other with yarn tangled around both.  Is this dumbing down? – – I don’t think so life and knitting should be simple and relaxing.

trifecta gingersnaps

This is a family favorite and I don’t think I am bragging when I say that it is the best gingersnap you have ever tasted.
I tend to over due when I like something and I found a way to put ginger in these cookies in 3 different forms. I use regular ground ginger like most people do in their gingersnaps and then I bump it up and grate fresh ginger into the cookies. Except now I have found a great product that means I don’t have to grate 1 TBS of ginger I use a product called ginger juice   http://www.gingerpeople.com/ginger-juice.html . I also use candied ginger – so these cookies are the…

Trifecta of Gingersnaps!

1/2 cup butter room temperature

1 cup each brown sugar & white sugar

1/2 cup powdered milk

1/3 cup molasses

2 large eggs

1 TBS of grated fresh ginger or 1 1/2 tsp ginger juice

1 tsp cinnamon, ground ginger & salt

1/2 tsp cloves

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup candied ginger

1 cup large crystal natural sugar mixed with 1 tsp of cinnamon for rolling cookies in

cream butter. add white & brown sugar and milk powder and molasses. beat until well blended then add eggs. next add the spices b. soda and flour. mix well. and candied ginger at the very end. chill for 1 hour. using spoon form walnut sized balls and roll in sugar  & cinnamon. place on a cookie sheet and flatten with your hand. bake for 12 min in a 300* oven. cool on a wire rack..

I always use silpat so I don’t need to grease my cookie sheets but you could use parchment paper also.

I love candied ginger from Penzeys. the chunks are nice and small and just so tasty.

you may have noticed in my other cookie recipes I add dry milk powder  to my cookies – I figure that I can use the calcium and then the cookies are also healthy so no guilt involved with eating a couple.

and the last suggestion is when you take the cookies out of the oven as you set them on the table to cool whack the pan down. Let it make a good thump and everyone in the room will look at you thinking ‘whats a matter is he/she mad at me?’  This is an important step  it not only allows you to release some pent up aggression watch as you do it the cookies flatten out and are perfect. A little closer look….see that twack on the table really does a good job the craters and crinkles in the cookies are perfect. And it is really worth it to get the large crystal sugar for these gingersnaps it really adds a nice sparkle.

Kitty Kat Pocket Pal

This summer my LYS, Knitch http://knitch.net/ in Delefield, Wisconsin held a toy drive for PB&J  http://www.palsbringjoy.com/www.palsbringjoy.com/what_we_do.html  a fun group  that collects toys and hats for Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.     Their goal was to provide at least 140 toys to be distributed this winter.

It is a great project and even though the drive ended in October people continue to bring in their toys and they are displayed in the front window of the store. Isn’t that a cheerful window? Every few weeks PB&J picks up some animals to take downtown but like magic the window never is empty- more toys just appear!

I knit up a few toys for the window and had lots of fun coming up with my own pattern. Here are some of my critters. The cat in the center was my first knit try at designing my own pattern. I wanted something simple that a beginner could knit and this cat fits the bill. The one piece body is knit and purled and then folded up in a special fashion so that there is a pocket in the front. In each pocket I put a crayons and a notebook but you could put any treasures you wanted in the pocket maybe even a little stuffed mouse! A beginner could stop there or go on and knit arms and legs with double point needles.

As I knit  I began to see that any number of animals could be made by altering this pattern- raccoons, owls, monkeys and my personal favorite, a possum.

Then I decided to shrink my knit using smaller needles and came up with a few minis including a couple of fox.I am selling the cat pattern on Ravelry and at Knitch  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kitty-kat-pocket-pal

My daughter and I are writing the owl pattern and should have that done soon.

Escher Pillow

Yarn must be in our blood, my little sister knits also. We are both in the testing group for Jana http://justblocked.blogspot.com/. However Peg is at the finish line and I still have a long ways to knit. But just look at how beautiful this is!Its felted and now Peg just  has to sew in her zipper and insert a pillow. I really need to make a pillow or two for the couch. Peg has come up with a new idea for the pattern too. Wouldn’t it make a great felted bag!

11-11-11

Special numbers, special day. Happy Birthday Mom.

My Mom taught me to knit when I was 7 or 8 years old. She sat me down with my older sister Kathy and showed us how to cast on with a long tail and then to knit and purl. I remember her telling me she learned this all on her own, her mom was not a knitter. She knit sweaters and mittens and hats for all of us. Which is no small feat because there are 8 of us. And you know a child needs more than one set of mittens when they are busy making snow forts and having snowball battles.

I remember loving how her needles would make a satisfying click with each stitch and I struggled to make my needles do the same. Eventually her perseverance    won out and my lopsided, left-handed, wrong way up stitches started to resemble her perfectly straight in a row knitting. I was elated and could now churn out a scarf or a hat. I was delighted that I could take string and make something I could wear.

My Mom also made our clothes and often my sister and I had matching outfits to wear to church. Scraps were made into blankets and each of us had quilts on our beds. When my children were little I wondered how my Mom found time to do it all. I had trouble keeping up with 2 kids, 8 I couldn’t imagine.

Happy birthday Mom.

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