Sunday, December 16, 2012

Savory Biscuits

I had a craving recently for a meat filled bready thing, and had a lot of fun dreaming up the recipe below. My husband prefers the savory – as in salt and seasoning flavors – to the sweet meat version, so I didn’t work on getting the sweet to taste about right.

See the Variations section below the recipe for some ideas on how to tweak this recipe for your own tastes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb. beef, ground
  • 1/4 lb. chicken, ground
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 tbsp (heaping) minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup diced fresh white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, olive preferred
  • 1 large egg, beaten (or 2 egg whites, beaten)
  • Basic Biscuits, doubling the recipe – read through the Steps before making as there are variations

Seasonings:

  • 1-1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1-1/2 tsp Thyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1-1/2 tsp Dill
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder

Utensils:

  • Small sauce pan
  • Fork
  • Cookie sheet
  • Baking paper or butter to grease cookie sheet
  • Paper Towels

Steps:

  1. Brown the onions and the garlic in the sauce pan using the cooking oil on low heat.
  2. Add the meat and 1/2 tsp of each of the seasonings, except Chili Powder – add 1 tsp Chili Powder, brown over medium heat, stirring constantly with the fork to ensure a good fine crumble
  3. Once browned, remove from heat and pat down with fork.
  4. Place paper towels on top of the mixture to soak off excess fats and discard. Meat should be barely moist.
  5. Stir in mushrooms, then set aside.
  6. Make the Basic Biscuit recipe – Rolled Biscuits, with the following changes.
    1. Double the recipe, except for the baking powder – you will still only use 2 tbsp of baking powder total.
    2. Add the remaining seasonings to the dry ingredients
    3. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 3 inch squares
    4. Place 2 tbsp of meat mixture in the center of each square
    5. Brush some of the beaten egg along the sides of the square.
    6. Fold squares into triangles and press down to seal the edges. (Use a fork to press down the edges for a nice ruffled look.)
    7. Bake as directed – 400 Fahrenheit for 10-13 minutes.

Makes approx. 20 savory biscuits.

Variations:

Some variations include changing out the meats used. Pork sausage will make for a very sweet meat pastry, just as an FYI. If you want to go all chicken I would leave out the Oregano and up the Dill a little, but that’s personal taste. You could also opt to use chopped meat instead of ground, but be sure to use a fine chop, nothing much bigger than your finger nails (not the thumb!) as that makes it easier to eat the pastry without having to bite through, or slurp out the meat filling first.

Of course, if you have seasonings you prefer with your choice of meats, use those. A light hand at first will help you find the flavor level that suits you. If you add a sauce to the meat mixture, use it sparingly as the more moisture in the filling, the soggier the savory biscuits will be.

What I’ve so far found with the sweet meat fillings is that the onion can be just that bite of sweet too much when mixed with, for example, oyster sauce, so you may consider increasing the meat portions to compensate for leaving out the onion. I’m a garlic lover, so flavors like teriyaki and sweet chili sauces that are well complimented by garlic seem like they could be my next variation.

If you end up pressed for time, you can use premade pastry dough. Pillsbury makes excellent ready-to-bake biscuits and crescent rolls. Stay away from ones that are “butter flavored” as they don’t tend to blend flavors well with the onions, especially. Cook as directed on the package. However, it’s worth noting that you won’t be able to fit as much filling in the premade dough as they are also pre-sectioned. With the crescent rolls, for example, expect to need about five packages as you’ll use the triangles for two rolls to make one savory biscuit, or you’ll make about 40 half sized savory biscuits by using one triangle per.

Basic Biscuits

I’m setting this down first because the basic biscuit recipe is so essential to most of my baked breads. I have the worst time getting my dough to rise, so I tend to avoid yeasty breads, no matter how delicious they are when other people make them.

You can probably find about a couple thousand dozen variations, but my stand by – and the recipe I most often tweak – is below.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder (not soda, POWDER)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt or 1-1/2 tsp table salt
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 – 6 oz [3/4 cup] can evaporated milk (subs.: 3/4 cup light whipping cream or whole milk)

Utensils:

  • Medium sized mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Baking Paper, sometimes called parchment paper or parchment baking paper (if you hate clean up as much as I do (-: )
  • For Rolled Biscuits: rolling pin
  • For Rolled Biscuits: 2 inch circular cookie cutter, or drinking glass with 2 inch diameter

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit
  2. Prepare cookie sheet by spreading a layer of baking paper (or grease with butter – do not flour)
  3. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl, stir with fork.
  4. Cut the butter into the flour mixture (basically just try to stir it in with the fork – the fork will “cut” the butter into tiny pieces all mixed up with the flour.)
  5. Make a well in the dry mixture.
  6. Pour in the milk.
  7. Mix with fork until all the dry ingredients are wet, forming a stiff, sticky dough.

For Drop Biscuits:

  1. Using fork, scoop out about 1 inch cubed volumes of dough and drop onto prepared cookie sheet, leaving an inch between.
  2. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown on tips.  - Makes about 10

For Rolled Biscuits:

  1. Flour a working surface and the rolling pin
  2. Turn out dough and knead until dough is an even consistency, about 2 minutes, flouring often
  3. Using rolling pin, roll out dough to about 3/4 inch thickness
  4. Using cookie cutter, cut out biscuits. Be sure to flour the cutter between cuts
  5. You may need to remove cut out biscuits and re-roll the dough to get as much of the biscuits cut out as possible. roll any remaining dough into a ball
  6. Arrange on cookie tray with no less than 1/4 inch of distance, and no more than 1 inch between biscuits
  7. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. – Makes about 10

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Resources for New Knitters

It's nearly midnight and the sweater/scarf/doll/etc. that you've been knitting away at is still drawing you on to knit "one more row", but ... wait! What's this? The pattern's telling you to do something that's just crazy insane - maybe it's saying "ssk" or "s1-k1-psso" or "cable 4 front". That kind (and not nearly so batty seeming) dear who gave you your first knitting hit is probably in bed, and the local yarn shops are all closed. Where can you turn for help?

The INTERNET!!!

YouTube is a great resource, but maybe you've tried to economize, ditching the home connection for your smart phone and streaming video is no longer in your budget.

Googling the specific pattern abbreviation may help get you to written directions.

Then there's actually buying knitting books and knitting DVDs. At the very least, if your internet is not reliable, you can still turn to these repositories of knitterly lore.

You can purchase direct from Interweave Press, and I strongly recommend the deluxe version of The Knitter's Companion. I'm waiting with baited breath for the technical issues to be resolved on their Android app version of this oh, so helpful reference.

Your local yarn stores and fair-to-middling large-sized book seller should have a section devoted to crafting, and knitting should be among them. Look the books over carefully. Some will be "knitters bibles", how-tos that cover everything from casting on to finishing and adding embellishments to your knitted pieces. Others will be pattern books, and these are likely to be sources of those strange instructions.

There is a third kind, a sort of blending of the two, which details a particular technique or aspect of knitterly lore and illustrates those aspects with patterns. (By the by, if there's a pattern you want to knit up contained within, please do check the publisher's site to see if there are any corrections to the pattern before casting on - after all, errata happens!)

As for DVDs, I've had more luck finding them - and decent reviews of them - at online retailers such as Knit Picks and WEBS.

Hoping this helps spark ideas and leads. Feel free to add links to your favorite repositories of knitterly lore!

Left Hand Knitting

Shortly after I started knitting, I got told by just about every knitter I met that there is no such thing as left-handed knitting. Knitting goes from right to left, working needle *firmly* in the right hand *at all times*. Being a novice to the craft, I believed what I was told. The folks who tried to impress upon me these basic facts of knitting may have been mis-informed themselves, or well intentioned and trying to avoid confusing a knitting newbie. Whatever their reasons, they were wrong.

Before I get into the techniques for left hand knitting I'm going to go over what happens during right hand knitting. This knitting anatomy needs to be understood if you want to avoid some headaches later on. Starting with some terms...:
  • The "front" of your work is the part facing you, regardless whether it is the right or wrong side. 
  • The "back" is the side facing away from you. 
  • "Right" side is the side that will be on display when you are finished with the project and "wrong" is the part that will hidden, such as the inside of a shirt. 
  • The "working needle" is the needle that catches the yarn while 
  • the "holding needle" holds the stitches that have yet to be worked onto the working needle. 
  • When wrapping yarn around the working needle, "inside" refers to the space between the needles and "outside" is the area away from both needles. 
  • "Up" is above the working needle, and "down" is the below the working needle. 
  • The "tail" is the yarn strand that starts at the work in progress and leads to the yarn ball. 
  • The "working leg" of a stitch is the one that is closest to the working needle. 
  • The "holding leg" of a stitch is the one closest to the hand holding the holding needle.
In right hand knitting, or regular or traditional style, you knit from right to left, stitches held on the left needle and worked onto the right needle. The knit stitch is made by holding the yarn tail behind the work, inserting the working needle from left to right, from the front of the work to the back, and then the tail is wrapped around the working needle from the inside and down to outside and up.  The purl stitch is made by holding the tail in front of the work, inserting the working needle from right to left in the front of the work, and then the tail is wrapped around the working needle from the outside and up to the inside and down. Stitches' working legs should be on front of the holding needle.

Left hand knitting matches the way you wrap your yarn, but mirrors how you insert your working needle. This is because left hand knitting is essentially a horizontal flip of right hand knitting.

Left hand knit stitch, wrapping from
inside and down to outside and up.
The left hand knit stitch is made by holding your tail in front of the work and inserting your needle from back to front, right to left. The knit stitch is still wrapped from inside-down to outside-up.

Left hand purl stitch, being wrapped
from outside and up to inside and down
The purl stitch is made by holding the tail behind the work and inserting the working needle through the back loop from left to right. Again, it is still wrapped from outside-up to inside-down. Stitches' working legs should be on the back of the holding needle.

Personally, I'm finding that switching from right to left hand knitting makes flat-worked stockinette a LOT more fun to knit as I'm no longer turning my work, resettling the piece I'm working on, rearranging how I hold the needles, and so on.

A few easy "gottchas" for the knitters first trying this:
  • If you wrap the stitches wrong you will twist your stitches. Twisted stitches have the working legs on the back of the holding needle when working right to left and on the front when working left to right. If you work into the holding leg by mistake, when the stitch drops off the holding needle it will form a loop, not to mention feel much stiffer to work than if knit through the working leg. Twisted stitches can be hard to spot in relaxed fabric, but stand out when the fabric is pulled tight because they look like they're choking the stitch above them.
    The yarn tail is coming off the left needle,
    indicating that the piece is being worked
    from left to right.
  • The tail of the yarn always comes off the working needle. If the tail is coming from the left needle, you were working left to right when you put your knitting down and if it comes off the right needle then you were working right to left.
  • Especially as you're getting used to knitting left to right it's a good idea to push the new stitches all the way on the working needle as you make them to ensure your tension isn't too tight, and double especially if you hold your yarn "Continental" in your left hand.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chicken & Veggie Casserole


Notes:

  • Makes 8 servings
  • Prep time is between 5 and 10 minutes if you're cutting the veggies and meat
  • Cooking time is approx. 1 hour
  • "Chopped" as I use it means bite sized pieces.
  • If substituting different types of rice, check the package's "stove top" directions for water amount and cooking time needed.
  • All veggies I used were from the fresh produce dept. If you're using frozen veggies, allow them to thaw in refrigerator or under cool water before using.


Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 lbs. chicken, chopped
  • 1/2 sm. onion, sliced into 1/8" slivers
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • approx. 2 tsp "Cajon" seasoning mix, or spices of your choice
  • 1 cup Thai Jasmine rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup broccoli head, chopped (approx. 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 tomato, chopped (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, condensed, 10.5 oz
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, condensed, 10.5 oz
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 to 2 cups grated cheese of your choice (Mozzarella, Cheddar, Colby Jack are all good choices)


Utensils:

  • 9"x13" casserole pan
  • Aluminum foil or other means of covering the pan
  • 4 quart sauce pan with lid
  • Fork
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spatula for serving casserole


Steps:

Chicken:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit
  2. Lay out chicken in an even layer along the bottom of the casserole pan
  3. Layer onion slivers and minced garlic on top, cover with spices
  4. Cover the casserole pan and place in oven for 40 minutes


Rice & Veggies:

While chicken is in the oven,
  1. Wash the rice
  2. Combine washed rice, water, broccoli, tomato, and celery in sauce pan (if using canned mushrooms, add now)
  3. Cover, bring to boil, stirring occasionally
  4. Allow to boil for 5 minutes
  5. Turn off heat and, if using fresh mushrooms, add mushrooms now. Rice mixture will be wet, and water may still be present
  6. Rice mixture should remain covered until chicken is done in oven.


Sauce:

While rice is cooking
  1. Combine the two cans of creamed soup with sour cream in mixing bowl
  2. Whisk with fork for 2 minutes, until mixture is same color throughout.
  3. Set aside


Casserole:

  1. Once chicken is done, leave oven at 400 and remove dish to heat proofed location. 
  2. Add rice & veggies, using fork to "fluff" the rice as it comes out of the sauce pan. Ensure there is a 1/2" of clearance between food levels and the casserole rim
  3. Pour sauce mixture over the rice layer
  4. With fork, gently mix ingredients to ensure even distribution of the sauce.
  5. Cover with cheese
  6. Return dish to oven for 15 minutes or until cheese starts to brown.

Let rest until cool enough to handle sides of the pan and serve.

Washing Rice

Quick note: I have  no clue if this post applies to brown rice. Life's too short to waste time on things that don't lead to pleasure, which for me has included brown rice.

Why should you wash your rice? The reasons revolve around what washing your rice does: it removes the powdered starches that are a natural by product of the harvesting and packaging of commercially grown rice.

I'm not a nutritionalist-type person, so I can't speak to the nutrition effects of removing the starch. The culinary effect is that your rice doesn't stick to itself so much.

Some of the ways you can wash your rice are: fine mesh strainers & washing in the pan.

With the fine mesh strainer, place your rice in the strainer and run under cool water until the water runs clear. Turn the strainer over, over the pot you'll be cooking your rice in, and using some of the water you'll cook with, rinse the grains that stick to the strainer into the pot. If you are going to bring your water to a boil before adding your rice, reserve about 1/2 cup of water for this and let the water boil for a minute or so before adding the rice.

Washing in the pan is not going to remove as much starch, and means that you will not be waiting to add your rice until the water boils. Making sure your hands are clean, place your rice in the pan, add cold water to a little over 1/2" above your rice, and use your hands to swish and swirl the grains around. The first wash is going to very milky white. Use your hands to catch the rice and pour out the water. Repeat until you're happy with the result. Draining the water off this way means that the rice will still be fairly wet when you add in water, so expect that for each cup of rice you wash in the pan, you won't be able to drain off between 1/16 and 1/8 cup of water.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Princess Seaming

I realized after my last post that not everyone is going to know what princess seaming is. The technique is fairly simple.

With wrong sides facing, so you're sewing on the right side (what will show when you're done), sew your seam with a narrow margin, usually around 1/8". Fold the fabric back so that the right sides are together and then iron the seam flat (it makes the next part sooo much easier!). Sew another seam that hides the raw edges, usually wth a 1/4" margin.

New Crafts Bag!

Shiny!

John and I picked up a new sewing machine because it cost less than taking my aged clunker in for a service call. Inspired by some cute project bags I've seen (and bought) in my LYS, I decided to try out the "Princess Seaming" technique that my most awesomest quilter friend told me about when I was thinking I could sew my own wedding dress. The result is pictured below.

What the princess seam looks like from the inside.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hooked on a new case

A very charming authoress, Lorna Miser was in the Got Your Goat Yarn Studio this last Thursday for their February knit along. On seeing my purple-loving-ness, she mentioned the Purple Show Down she’d had during her recent travels, and later when spotting my needle bag (I was starting the project that evening and hadn’t had time to sort out needles before), she shared her purple travel needle case (it’s in the photo on her blog, linked above).

Well, I’ve been getting tired of my crochet hooks all floating in the bottom of my notions bag, so I took inspiration from her case, and my general despite of sewing, to make myself a lined hook case.

2012-02-05_15-29-56_20

The fabric came from remnants of other sewing projects. John and I spent a lot of time hopping between stores trying to find the right eyelets (he called them grommets, and I’m not sure what the difference should be). I have a bias tape tool and lots of stitch witchery, and (after the trip) a pound-on-it paper/cloth/leather punch and a new hand-held Singer (so worth the US$20 even if it only has the power to go through two layers of fabric). Also a headache from pounding on the punch and the eyelet setter.

All told, worth it!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Easy I-Cord Drop Spindle Wrist Distaff

I was totally inspired by Crystal Calhoun's Fiber Helper/Wrist Distaff pattern, but I wanted something more simple (and less flat knitting), so I made up my own pattern. You can download it in PDF format. The Pattern is below, at least until I figure out how to make the PDF download work again.

John and I also have a lot of very light 2” wooden discs laying around from our experiments with making drop spindles, so on my second distaff, I put one of those in the distaff disc in between the increase and decrease sides. Yeah, that just made it hang right. :)

Let me know what you think of it!

Drop Spindle Distaff

Yarn

100% Cotton, suitable for dish clothes
Worsted weight

Needles & Notions

4.00 mm (US6), double pointed needles (dpn) x 4
Tapestry or yarn needle (for bind off & weaving in ends)
Optional: stitch marker for marking start of rounds when making the disc.

Gauge 

Not important for this project, but I got 16 st over 12 rows for a 4”x4”
(10cmx10cm) swatch

Stitches

Invisible Cast On: crochet a chain with a few extra chain stitches on each end more than the number of stitches you will cast on. Starting a few stitches in and pick up and knit thru the back bump of the chain stitch. When you need the live stitches, unravel the crochet chain, picking up the cast on stitches as you go.

I-Cord: using dpn, cast on 3 stitches. Knit to end. Without turning the work, move stitches to the right end of the needle and, pulling the yarn from the left (last worked stitch), begin knitting the second row. Continue to end of cord.

K2tog (Knit two together): insert your right-hand needle through the second and the first stitches to be worked on the left needle as if they were one stitch you were knitting. Complete your knit stitch. (causes a 1 stitch decrease)

K3tog: as with k2tog but knitting three stitches instead of two. (causes a 2 stitch decrease)

K1FB: Knit into the front and back of the next stitch to be worked.

K1Be: pick up the stitch just under the next stitch to be worked and place, knit-wise (left leg of the stitch behind, right leg in front) and knit the stitch.

PM: Place marker

Pattern Instructions

Handle and Cord


  • Using the invisible cast on method above, cast on 3 stitches and start making I-Cord.
  • When your cord can wrap around your fist without stretching, unravel your cast on and place on a third dpn. 
  • Knit one round with all six stitches.
  • Next round, k2tog - 3 times (back to 3 stitches and 2 dpns)
  • Continue making I-Cord for 4 to 6 inches (10 to 16cm)

Making the Disc


  1. Your first dpn holds 3 stitches to be worked. With your second dpn, K1Be, PM, then K1FB (2 stitches remain on first needle, 3 stitches are now on the second). Repeat with the third and fourth dpns. (9 stitches)
  2. Knit the next round.
  3. *K1Be, k1* to end of round (18 stitches)
  4. Knit
  5. Knit
  6. Knit
  7. *K1Be, k1* to end of round (36 stitches)
  8. Knit
  9. Purl
  10. Purl
  11. Knit
  12. *k2tog* to end of round (18 stitches)
  13. Knit
  14. Knit
  15. Knit
  16. *k2tog* to end of round (9 stitches)
  17. Knit
  18. *k3tog* to end of round (3 stitches)
Optional: knit 3 rounds of I-Cord

Bind off

Leave at least 4” (10cm) and cut cord, thread on yarn needle and pull thru remaining stitches in the order you would work I-Cord.

Optional: run the yarn thru the remaining stitches another time.

Pull tight and weave in ends.

Making your own spinning wheel?

So, I’ve put the challenge out to my husband to make me a spinning wheel, and he said I have to come up with the plans. I love the interwebs! Some of the ideas I’m finding are below:

A walking wheel, with spindle (a la the Woolen or Great Wheel design): http://longislandhomestead.blogspot.com/2011/11/make-your-own-spinning-wheel.html

Cardboard Charka (desktop wheel): http://www.rabbitgeek.com/charka.html

Single Treadle detailed plans: http://www.craftsmanspace.com/free-projects/spinning-wheel-plan.html

Got any spinning wheel plans you like? Leave a link in the comments!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ShayBellaCrafts on YouTube!

http://www.youtube.com/user/ShayBellaCrafts

The maiden post is still posting – my laptop is not made for video processing. I shall have to see about fixing that … later. The savings fund for new ‘puter is starting.

Silk Hankies!

So what in the heavens is so exciting about a silk hankie? Being rich enough to blow your nose with one?

Okay, yeah, that would be exciting, but the hankies that I've recently discovered are not the kind that go in a man's breast pocket. They are the kind that end up on a spindle!

(In honor of my new spinning adventure, I finally made time to knit up a drop spindle distaff. This knitting project was inspired by Crystal Calhoun’s Fiber Helper/Wrist Distaff project and knit up in under 2 hours.)

But back to the silk! John and I dropped into Got Your Goat Yarn Studio in Roseville and while chatting with the owner (er, honestly, poking at her to start carrying spinning gear) she pointed out that the funky knitted thing was made from an unspun silk hanky and pointed to the basket of them right by my elbow. I immediately became entranced with something new to spin, bought a stack and let John usher me off to dinner.

Once we got home, I Googled to my heart’s content the ways and wherefores of spinning silk hankies. In fact, it was so easy, that I made a video “how to spin silk hankies” which will be my maiden post to YouTube as soon as I figure out how to upload it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Local Yarn Shops

I live in California, and for folks who have never lived in the Golden State, we sprawl all over the place. To give you an idea, I live more than 40 miles from where I work, and spend a little over an hour each way in my commute. The reason I bring this up is that my idea of a local yarn shop (LYS) is one within about an hour's drive from where I live or where I work. So... as I review the LYSs around me, you may see some wide distances betwixt and between them.
And so, speaking of LYSs, here's my list of shops in the greater metro Sacramento zone, in no particular order:

As I complete my reviews of each of them, I'll add a link to the side of the stores.
Further Resources:
Best of Sacramento Yarn Shops on CBS Local
CitySearch Results for Sacramento, CA Metro Yarn Stores
Sacramento Area Yarn Stores (Planning an LYS Tour)

FO: Circular “Saw” Shawl

This Christmas, my husband and I were up in Oregon, and I was working on my first circular shawl. John’s aunt asked me what it was, and when I answered, she and John’s cousin-in-law both heard me say, “a circular saw”. We all had a good laugh, and in honor of that malapropism I made sure that on the crochet bind off I used a shell stitch to give my “saw” some “teeth”.



The shawl is based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s "Pi Shawl” from her Knitter’s Almanac. This is my first, and currently only, EZ book, and she definitely has a very loose approach to knitting instructions. Strangely enough (being the very lead-me-by-the-hand type of person that I am), I found her way of explaining the shawl to be exactly what I needed without being too much or too little.

EZs instructions encouraged coming up with your own fill-in or pattern adaptation for the plain knitting between increases, and on the 24 row block I tried adding beads, loved the look of it, and decided to continue the beading in the next block, but closer together. By the second beading round I was longing for the plain knitting. :) … So, in the final block, I started to use a stitch pattern I picked up while listening to the Cast On podcast.

It’s a two stitch repeat: slip 1, yarn over, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over both. Worked flat, you purl back, and worked in rounds you knit every second round.

I decided that that was too much work, things were taking too long, and it was time to bust out the crochet hook. So what if crochet uses more yarn than knitting? It’s faster and by that point I was looking forward to done. A few rounds of double crochet stitches and a nice 9 st shell repeat looked great. I did switch back to knitting for a few rounds, plain knit, before prepping for that final crochet bind off.

Once the shawl was finished, I got to block for the first time. Oh, I’ve “laid flat to dry” before, but I’ve had these blocking wires for most of the year and no lace projects finished to try them on until now. And blocking is supposed to be magic, right?

Weeeeell … a few things I learned:
  • First, blocking is awesome for removing the pucker factor from all my stitches, not just my lacy parts.
  • Second, blocking does not fix where you had to drop back and create what is essentially a really big yarn over hole because you somehow managed to double yarn over on your increase rows *somewhere* and heaven above only knows where. If I ever need to do so again, I will try to find a more symmetrical pattern for fixing the screw ups.
  • Third, you can block out your bumpies. I think the next time I need to block this shawl, I shall run the wires through the crochet section under the “teeth” shells and then pin out all 65 shells (I had fun with stitch counts by the end, so I ended up with an extra “tooth”). I might even try bringing them to more of a point.
All in all, I really love how this came out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blocking!

I saw a really awesome post yesterday, and it was about blocking acrylic yarns. I highly encourage you to go read the post, but for those with short attention spans, the key word is “steam”.

Hats off to the BeadKnitter for that great info!

Renee’s Scarf

I figured I’d use this blog as a way to share my crafty-ness, and what better way to start than by giving away a free pattern?

To download the “Renee’s Scarf” pattern, click here.

If you’re on Ravelry, my project page is here, and below is a photo of the partially completed scarf.

The Pattern is below the picture, until I can figure out how to get the PDF to download again.



Yarn

Main Color: Naturally Caron Country, Plum Pudding - 85g - 185yds/170m (#4 yarn weight) – 1 ball
Border: Naturally Caron Spa, Berry Frappe - 85g – 251yds/230m (#3 yarn weight) – 1 ball

Needles

US H Hook (5.00mm)

Stitch Abbreviations

Sc = US single crochet
Dc = US double crochet
Tc = US triple crochet
Shell St.: dc 5 times into same stitch

Instructions 

Beginning

Ch 24
Sc into 3rd st & sc to end of row – 22 sts
Next row Sc into every st,

Pattern

Row 1 Ch 4 for turning ch, dc into every st (2 rows)
Row 2 repeat row 1
Row 3 Ch 6 (4 for turning ch & 2 for skipped sts), shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into 3rd st, ch 2, shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into last st.
Row 4 repeat row 1
Row 5 ch 5, tc into every st
Row 6-10 repeat row 5

Repeat pattern for 4 to 6 times, or until just shy of desired length.

Ending

Row 1 Ch 4 for turning ch, dc into every st (2 rows)
Row 2 repeat row 1
Row 3 Ch 6 (4 for turning ch & 2 for skipped sts), shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into 3rd st, ch 2, shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into last st.
Row 4 repeat row 1
Row 5 sc into every st
Row 6 repeat row 5, bo last st.

Border

Using border color, start at a corner
dc 2 times into starting corner. When working on short edges, dc into every st.
dc 5 times into next three corners.

When working on long sides, dc three times into each tc, twice into every dc, once into each sc.

When back to the starting corner, dc 3 times, secure with slip st. BO and weave in ends.