A Week of Cooking Pins

I have a habit of “pinning” things on Pinterest without ever revisiting them. I gather that the whole point of Pinterest is to “pin” something to your “board” so that you can remember it for when you have time later, but I mostly look at the pretty pictures, formulate some good intentions, and move-on. Well, last week I made a point of basing my menu around things I had pinned. Here is how it turned out.

First up was Man Pleasing Chicken. This was actually a great recipe that I had made once before. Everyone liked it, it was very easy and tasty. We ate it so fast that I didn’t get a picture. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Next was Zucchini Carrot and Cranberry muffins. These were really yummy but in the end I was the only one to eat them as my family just aren’t muffin-eaters.

The next day I made Impossibly Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies. These were yummy and easy, and my family gobbled them up, but they were a real pain to get out of the pans.

Then I made Honey Lime Shrimp and Easy Pad Thai. Both were very easy and super delicious. These recipes were keepers for sure.

Finally, I made Sweet Blueberry Bread. I really enjoyed making the bread, and it was a very pretty finished product. I made it into french toast the next day and it was perfect for that. I must say though that we have not eaten the rest of the loaf, it wasn’t that big of a hit on its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All-in-all, the pin-cooking was good and I got some great recipes. I will continue to mindlessly pin and know that I may actually come back to them someday.

In Case You Don`t Procrastinate…

…then you may be interested in starting to make Christmas stockings now, rather than my chosen time in early December. Now, on the one hand, if you start now then you should have nice, tidy, complete stockings for Santa to stuff. BUT, if you delay like I d0, when fall comes around next year you will have a selection of stockings in various states of completion, which allows you to make an impromptu tutorial blog post. See, it`s all part of the plan.

I had someone who obviously does not procrastinate (cough… Amanda… cough, cough) ask me if I had knit Christmas stockings. Well, yes, of course, everything in my house is knit. So I decided to dig them out of storage, take a few pictures and share them here. Since I came across the aforementioned mishmash of complete and incomplete projects, here comes the tutorial!

For the pattern I used the free Cascade Yarns W104. It calls for up to 10 different colours of yarn but I used 5. Cascade 220 is a great yarn to use as it comes in a bunch of great colours, is durable and high-quality, and not unreasonably priced. It really is the workhorse of yarns if you ask me (and some people actually do). The pattern is more like a recipe, giving you the basic instructions and charts and letting you choose how it all comes together. It is knit in sections of fair isle, using two colours at a time. This is not as scary as it sounds, but does take some practice. The colour you are not knitting with at the time gets carried along in the back, which leads to `floats`of yarn. I used duplicate stitch to stitch the names on afterward (which only looks okay since the high contrast between the navy and white shows any imperfections).

Since these floats could get caught by whatever Santa chooses to put in there, I decided to line the stockings with pretty material. I traced the outline of the stocking onto the material, cut it out (leaving a seam allowance) and sewed it up with right sides together. I turned the stocking inside out and tacked the liner in place at the toe and heal.

I turned the stocking and liner right side out, flipped the top of the liner towards the gap between the liner and stocking and hand-sewed the liner to the stocking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I braided three strands of yarn together and wove them through some of the stitches at the top of the stocking to hang them from the mantle. All that`s left after that is to hang them by the chimney with care.

 

The Knit That Keeps on Giving

About 2.5 years ago I knit a very cute sweater for A. The pattern was Owlet by Kate Davies, and I chose a deep red colour of King Cole Merino Aran. I had a lot of fun knitting it and it worked up very quickly. The owls’ eyes are supposed to be buttons but at that time I hadn’t found Suzy Q’s (my favorite vintage button shop) so I used wood beads instead. A wore that sweater until last fall (my kids grow very slowly) and got quite a lot of use out of it. Now that it is getting downright cold again here, I dug it out to try on P. Sure enough, it fits her perfectly and the red colour is fine for a girl too. Since both kids will have worn the sweater it has now probably secured it’s place as a family heirloom and the classic design will probably still work for the grandkids someday.

A Little History and Clarity

Since I started this blog I have had a lot of friends and family ask me what it is all about. The general consensus is that they really enjoy reading it, they love the projects, but don’t really understand what I am doing. So this post is going to answer some of those questions and give a little bit of back story

I was taught to knit a few times when I was younger, mostly by my grandmother, if my terrible memory serves me correctly. It never really stuck though as I would knit for a bit, make a mistake, not know how to fix it and get frustrated. This girl has a lot of give-up in her, so when I’m not really good at something right away, I usually don’t push on. Unfortunately I see that trait in A, I’ll have to figure out how to get him to try a little harder than his mom does.

The first time I started knitting and actually stuck with it was in my final year of university in Fredericton. I was living with my friend Tamara in a freezing cold house, and we were broke. The funds had pretty much dried up over our extended stay at school, though somehow we always managed to scrape together enough money to keep our White Russian supplies replenished. That Christmas we decided to make presents for our families, a cross-stitch for her mom, and a scarf for mine. When I made a mistake Tamara would show me how to fix it, or I would call my mom and she would talk me through it. I eventually finished the scarf, though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her wear it.

There were a few more hits and misses over the next few years of knitting: a beautiful cabled sweater that is still in pieces in my basement; a hat for a boyfriend that caused me to burst out laughing when he put it on; a false-start on a uterus when I couldn’t quite get the hang of doing i-cords. But eventually I discovered the joys of knittinghelp.com, Ravelry and the gauge swatch and things improved from then on.

Fast-forward about 10 years. I wanted to knit a little hoodie for P, nothing fancy, just a plain hoodie that she could wear over her shirts on cool Calgary mornings. I searched through available patterns on Ravelry (an online knitting world, aka my happy place) but couldn’t find anything that fit what I was looking for. It occurred to me that I could probably figure out how to make one without a pattern, and I had just found a hole in the market that I could probably fill. Fast forward another 6 months or so and you have the Everyday Hoodie pattern I just released.

So what does that mean anyway? I took my idea, did a lot of math and trial and error, and wrote the pattern and instructions for other knitters to make the sweater. I uploaded it onto Ravelry where knitters can find it and buy it if they are interested. I get paid through PayPal and Ravelry distributes the pattern to the buyer. If someone finds the pattern on my blog, they can click the “buy now” button, which will take them to Ravelry where they can buy it even if they are not a Ravelry user.

A lot of people are also asking if I am selling my knitting. While I am flattered, and very willing to do it, the fact is that there is a huge amount of time involved in hand-knitting things. While a pair of booties takes anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, an adult sweater can take up to a month of working in all my spare time. The going-rate for production knitting is 15 to 20 cents per meter of yarn used, plus the cost of yarn, which can work out to as little as $25 for the Boot Cuffs, but $125 for P’s hoodie. A person who understands what goes into the process and values the quality of a hand-made item will generally be willing to pay that price, but others may be offended.

So, to make a long story long, that’s the gist of what I am doing. The blog is here for entertainment, community and advertising purposes, with the added benefit that I seem to be reconnecting with people I haven’t talked to in years, and meeting new people every day. I hope you all continue reading as it truly makes me happy.

Everyday Hoodie

Okay, I couldn’t wait any longer, it’s time to release the Everyday Hoodie. Although the Boot Cuffs were my first published pattern, I actually wrote this pattern first (it just took a LOT longer to get right). I’m not sure exactly when I started it, but it was sometime in late spring. Then I had to write it up from memory and reverse engineering since I wasn’t very good about keeping notes as I went. Then I had to do the grading (figuring out the pattern for multiple sizes), followed by knitting a second one in another size just to make sure it was okay. Then I had others test it, followed by having a technical editor go through it with a fine-tooth comb to be sure I didn’t make any errors. Since this was my first pattern, and not a simple one at that, the whole process took a lot longer than it should have. Hopefully future sweater patterns will go much more quickly since I have some experience now.

This pattern came from a desire for a simple, top-down hoodie with clean lines for easy toddler wear. In order to keep the fabric sleek, ribbing, garter and seed stitch have given way to hemmed edges. To keep the look of a basic hoodie this pattern features a zipper closure and front pockets. The optional ribbon draw-string is not particularly functional, it just gives the sweater a little extra personality. The fingering weight yarn makes it a nice, light, versatile sweater to throw on for extra warmth.

I’d like to give a big Thank You to: Jodi and Ian for letting their adorable baby pose for some pictures; Ryan Barr for the wonderful photography; Pat Bostwick (aka “Mom”) for brainstorming and testing; Eleanor Dixon for technical editing; and C for helping me every step of the way.