Monday, December 9, 2013

Look Up

I added two new pages to the site.

Patterns is a page with short cuts to the crafting patterns I’ve so far put together.

Listening Guide is pretty much what I put on my ears when I want to fill my hands with yarny goodness. At the moment, it’s mostly links to stuff I like, split between podcasts and Audible books. I *intend* to add more commentary, to actually provide a better “guided” experience, but time is not a commodity I have that much of, so, work in progress there.

I’m not getting paid to say it: I love Audible. Strangely enough, when I’m working my maths homework, listening to a light hearted audio book helps me work through the math problems with less problems. Not as helpful when I need to read stuff, but, hey, that’s what “pause” is for, right?

Goblin Hat, first iteration

PZOGOBLINDIETEE_500Ever wonder what the design process is for a pattern? Me, too. It turns out that sometimes, it’s as simple as a friend asking, “Can you make me a goblin hat?”

Any why a goblin hat? Because of Paizo, the publishing company that pretty much revitalized Dungeons & Dragons for him. And his uber cute, not even a month old baby daughter, who shall be the perfect size to impersonate goblins for a few years yet to come.

2013-12-07 22.41.07My husband being the tolerant fellow he is, allowed me to take his picture in this first iteration of the Goblin Hat. As you can see, it’s a little bigger than the size needed for a child under 3 months of age. In fact, it’s a tight fit for an adult and a slightly loose fit for the same friend’s first born, who has only recently passed the 4 year mark. Too bad she doesn’t wear hats. (And, yes, that is my honey’s Lego collection in the background).

So, with the understanding that more iterations will come, here’s the pattern for what I did.

Discussion, or How I Really Knit This

When I knit this pattern, I used the Magic Loop style of knitting in the round, and worked the ear flaps and the ears at the same time, using the outside and inside ends of my yarn ball.

The first iteration I present below. The hat came out toddler sized, but stretched to fit my (very tolerant) husband.

Set Up Stuff

Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Dark Green (Worsted Weight)

Yardage: less than 100 yards / meters (sorry, didn't get an exact count)

Needles: US 6 (4.00mm)
[don't you hate it when you see a pattern that only gives you "size 6 needles"? Is that a European 6 or a US 6 or is that 6mm?]

Ear Flaps

CO 3 sts
Row 1: k kfb k (4 sts)
2: k
3: k kfb kfb k (6 sts)
4: k
5: k kfb k2 kfb k (8 sts)
6: k3, p to last 3 st, k3
7: k kfb, k to last 2 st, kfb k (+2 sts)
8-16: repeat rows 6 & 7 (18 sts)
17: k
18-22: repeat rows 6 & 17

Move 1st ear flap to waste yarn, & make 2nd ear flap the same way.

Hat Body

Starting on row 23 of 2nd ear flap, knit across flap, CO 12 sts, knit across row 23 of second ear flap, CO 12 sts, PM for start of round & join to work in the round (60 sts)

Work between 2.5" and 3" of knitting every round ( aprox 12 rounds), then divide into 8 sections of 7-8-7-8-7-8-7-8 stitches.

Decrease Rounds:

1: in every section of 8 sts, decrease at end of section by k2tog (56 sts)
2 and all even rounds: knit
3: [k5, k2tog] x8 (48 sts)
5: [k4, k2tog] x8 (40 sts)
7: [k3, k2tog] x8 (32 sts)
9: [k2, k2tog] x8 (24 sts) – seeing the pattern yet?
11: [k1, k2tog] x8 (16 sts)
13: k2tog x8 (8 sts)
15: k2tog x4 (4 sts)

After round 15, break year, thread onto needle and draw through remaining 4 sts, then down into the center of the hat, drawing tight, and weave in ends.


worked in St st

[left | right] ear instructions

Note: Where the pattern says "decrease 1", on the smooth side, I did matching k2tog and ssk decreases 1 stitch in from the edge. On the bumpy sides, I did p2tog and ssp (also 1 stitch in from the edge). They don't show up so much, so don't stress on this part, please! :)

CO 16 sts, leaving a 12 inch (or slightly longer) tail
1-8: St st
9-16: staying in St st, decrease 1 at [start|end] every odd row
17-19: St st
20-27: staying in St st, decrease 1 at [start|end] every row
28-36: as rows 9-16, until 1 st remains.
37: K1

Break yarn and pull through remaining st. Weave in end.

Fold over 4 columns from the straight edge to form the top of the ear before attaching.

Using tail, attach to ear flap.


I ended up using a lighter shade of green yarn and single crocheting around the brim of the hat, then I cut two equal (3-4 yard/meter?) lengths of the lighter green and used a crochet hook to start a set of I-cord dangles from the bottom edges of the ear flaps, through which I threaded the tail ends of those pieces. It did not help with the curl on the straight Stockinet edges of the brim.

Abbreviations Used

CO – Cast On, in the method of your choice
St st – Stockinet Stitch (alternate knit and purl rows)
st(s) – stitch(es)
k - knit
kfb – knit front and back, the basic M1 increase
p – purl
k2tog – knit two (stitches) together
ssk – slip as if to knit, pass back to working needle and knit together with following stitch
p2tog – purl two (stitches) together
ssp – slip as if to knit, pass back to working needle and purl together with following stitch

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rice Pot

Back when I got my first microwave rice cooker I would fill up the office I worked at with the smells of this basic dish at least once a week. It’s a cheap standby, easy to improvise around, easy to prepare and clean up.

Makes 4 servings.


  • 2c jasmine rice
  • 4c water
  • 3/4lb (~4) chicken thighs
  • approx. 2tbs minced garlic
  • approx. 1tsp Cajun seasoning mix (I like Zatarain’s)
  • 1 med. zucchini, sliced
  • 1 med. yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 med. leek, rough chopped

Microwave Directions

  • Wash rice
  • Add chicken, making sure the thighs get pushed all the way to the bottom & covered by the rice
  • Add garlic and seasonings
  • Add veggies
  • Add water
  • Place in microwave for 15 to 20 minutes on high, or as directed by your particular rice cooker
  • Let sit 5 minutes to cool down and serve

Stove Top Directions

  • Wash rice
  • In a medium large soup pot (6-8 quarts), bring the water to boil
  • Add all the ingredients
  • Return to boil, then reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Uncover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat source and let sit 5 minutes (to finish cook-through and cool enough to) serve

Serving Suggestions and Mixing-It-Up Thoughts

I like to add a pat of butter to each serving, but my family loves butter. I’ve also had guests opt for soy sauce instead, though it can get a bit too salty depending on the seasoning mix you use.

If you think you may have a problem with the rice cooking onto the bottom of the pot, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the water.

Change up the vegetables – I enjoy adding in tomatoes and mushrooms, or swapping green onions for the leeks on occasion. Broccoli and spinach, carrots and peas – in moderation – can add interesting flavors while providing different nutrients.

You can also change up the meat. Personally, I find beef needs a lot of sweeter veggies to work well, while pork, turkey, and sliced sausage swap pretty well with the chicken. Just remember that if you’re using whole pieces of meat, they should be fairly thin for the quicker cook time. Cubing meat into 1 inch squares also gives a one-pot presentation.

Play around and see what you like.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Food for Thought

I just finished a nutrition course (back in college and fulfills a grad requirement). Fun stuff I took away from the course:

  • Most doctors have less formal nutrition education under their belt than I just went through
    • They do get it in fits and starts as side notes in other courses, but less than half take a comprehensive class
  • Dietary supplements are very much buyer beware – and usually more harmful than helpful
  • Nutrition is more than calories and balancing carbs, fats and proteins

My favorite quote from my teacher, Ms. M. Goodrich: “Nothing is nutritious if no one eats it.”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Baking Powder v. Baking Soda

I learned something new today. Wikipedia helped.

I mean, I always knew that baking powder was related to baking soda, just not how.

Long-short, baking soda is the basic version, and baking powder is the "neutral tasting" mixture of baking soda and acidic powders with a starch filler.

So, why is this interesting? Ever seen those "make your own soda pop" kits? They always boil down to some kind of bottle, a tube and a cap for the juice or what-ev's you want to carbonate. To get the bubbles into the juice, you mix an acidic liquid (a la vinegar or lemon juice) with (can you guess?) baking soda.

So, fun, baking soda makes bubbles, and that's kind of interesting, but why post it here? Because baking soda makes bubbles. In stuff. Like bread.

For baking soda to make the bready bubbles, it needs to (1) be mixed with something acidic - from buttermilk to vinegar to lemon juice - and (2) get cooked pretty quickly after mixing.

Some take-aways:

  • Baking powder is baking soda plus the stuff it needs to react with to make bready bubbles
  • Baking soda is bitter, bitter & (IMHO) needs to be sweetened 
  • If you are having problems getting your quick bread to rise, try switching the baking powder out for a 2:1 ratio of cream of tarter to baking soda (and maybe a tablespoon of honey for taste) - and don't let your bread stand before putting it in the oven!