Thursday, August 29, 2013

Greyson 2.0

A couple weeks ago I told you that I was knitting a replacement sweater for the one that fell on hard times at the hands paws jaws of Bella the Sometimes Very Bad Dog.

I'm very happy to say it's DONE!!!!! I'm also very happy to say I love it. More importantly, Baby Boy loves it! What he did not love was trying it on earlier today so I could take a few photos. Granted it was a ridiculously muggy +30C when the pouring rain had stopped and the sun came out. Hey! A knitter's got to do what a knitter's got to do right? I needed those pics for my Ravelry project page. Don't worry. He was only dressed in his jeans and long sleeved wool sweater long enough to snap two pictures, then I brought his sweaty little self in and stripped him back down and replaced his winter attire with more appropriate shorts and tee. Besides, I'm certain I can't be the only knitter who utilizes this particular brand of torture. He really is quite pleased with the sweater. Especially since he did pick out the yarn for it "all by mine self". I'm also feeling pretty happy that I finished well within the time frame of the Luvinthemommyhood Summer Sweater KAL. There's still almost three weeks left in the KAL. I might even be able to get another sweater in for it. We'll see! But back to Greyson 2.0!

Greyson, by Julia Stanfield, is such a fantastic pattern. The classic V-neck knits up really quickly top down and is designed for several different weights of wool to suit your fancy. I did Baby Boy's in worsted weight Berroco Vintage (the darker green) Valuruguai Supernova (the pale grey green). Both yarns are machine washable and wear really well. Perfect for a rough and tumble little fellow like Baby Boy!

In other knitting news, I finished my Miette cardi by designer Andi Satterlund. I had ordered two sets of vintage buttons because I couldn't decide which I liked better and had to wait for both to arrive before completely finishing it. I'd show it to you now, but I can't as I haven't taken any photos of it yet. It's way to hot to be parading around in a short sleeved cotton cardi while someone snaps photos... That would be all kinds of crazy. Ahem... (don't tell Baby Boy I said that - I have a feeling he wouldn't appreciate my suitable sweater weather double standard...)

That's about it for me in the knitting department these days. Now you'll have to excuse me... I'm dying to cast on a swatch for Andi Satterlund's new cardi pattern Hetty!  I absolutely adore her patterns with their retro vibe and feminine details! Cross fingers my yarn is going to work with it! I'm hoping to use some stash yarn I've been hoarding for a few years now!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Rose Petal Bag

A little while ago, Anna, from Charmed Liebling put out a call for testers. I'm not sure that I so much as took the time to blink before offering. I do love bags and her's all look wonderful, so I was pretty excited about the opportunity!

Shortly after I got an email with a pattern to try out. It did not disappoint! What a fun little purse and great project! I decided to challenge myself to use as much "stash" as possible for my bag and in the end was able to do it except for needing a magnetic snap. I almost always have a couple on hand but for some reason this time I was out. A quick trip to the fabric store in town solved that problem and I set to work.

I used a red linen (leftover from a pair of maternity pants I'd made when I was expecting Little Man) for the outer fabric, a fat quarter I got in a swap with one of my Ravelry groups for the lining, fancy d-rings I've had kicking around for at least eight years for the handles, the zip I'd bought for my dress that I then decided to not use and a remnant from I can't even remember what for the pockets and rose petals. Stash busting at it's finest wouldn't you say?

The purse took no time to put together. A snippet of time hand sewing the petals on while the boys played, a bit more time at the machine after they'd gone to bed and a wee bit more the next day while they wreaked havoc played in the sewing room. The pattern itself is incredibly detailed, with lots of pictures to guide you along. Any mistakes I made were solely mine, not a problem with the pattern (like absentmindedly cutting out my flap lining the wrong way, and because I was using a fat quarter didn't have room to cut a new one so had to piece two bits together and seam it. Ooops!)

I'm really pleased with the end result! With both an inner zip pocket and a slip pocket it's a great little bag that will hold the necessities - well maybe not all the necessities. The fruit snacks, hot wheels and superheroes may have to stay home on occasions when I use my Rose Petal bag. Ha ha!

When I went out the other morning to take a few photos in the beautiful sunshine I noticed my bag was the same colour as the ripening chokecherries. I thought it the perfect background - and as an aside, a little tidbit of trivia for you, chokecherry trees are part of the rose family. So even more fitting a place for a photo!
The Rose Petal Bag by Charmed Liebling

A closer look at the details

I love this lining fabric - it coordinates so nicely with the linen

If you're looking for a new purse with lovely detail give this one a try! It won't disappoint you! You can purchase the pattern over at Anna's shop on her site, Charmed Liebling. She's also blogged about the bag as well!

And speaking of chokecherries, I've got to dash. We're in the midst of boiling down and straining chokecherries today for jelly and syrup - my canner beckons!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Greyson - Version 2.0

Remember last winter I knit Baby Boy a sweater?  I was so very pleased with his Greyson.  It was such a great pattern, it fit really well and he loved it.  It was soft, cozy and comfy and it looked great on him.

Greyson Version 1.0
Well since then a few tragedies have befallen his sweater.  The first being in the spring I washed exactly as I had several times before, on gentle, in the machine.  Only that time instead of coming out perfect as usual, it came out ever so slightly felted in the Punta Merino Perfection variegated parts.  I wasn't sure why, but wasn't too worried.  He could still wear it, it hadn't suffered that much damage, the Berroco Vintage stripes were still soft and nice.

Fast forward several weeks.

We had a cool spell for a few weeks recently here on the prairies. (Seriously, summer vanished completely for a bit!) I thought it would be a good time to pull out the Greyson, but it felt sort of crisp and crunchy for lack of a better description.  A friend suggested a soak in hair conditioner might do the trick so into the sink it went for a 45 minute bath. It softened up beautifully. Even the slightly felted parts seemed to relax a bit.  It was almost back to it's former glory! I was so excited.  I set it on the kitchen island to dry, but then at supper time shifted it to the top of the dog's cage.  You know where I'm going with this don't you...

So sad :(
Yep! Unrepairable tragedy.  I could've cried. (actually I may have cried.  I also am pretty sure I said more than a few bad words). Really it's not the dog's fault.  I totally forgot I had left it there and the next morning decided to go to the loo first before letting Bella out of her cage.  Bella disapproves of anything being done before being let out of her cage, so she took that quick opportunity to haul the towel and sweater in through the bars.  The towel was completely unharmed.  Why oh why couldn't I have a dog that preferred towels to hand knits?????

Baby Boy was pretty sad too, so I promised I would knit him a new one, he just had to wait until we would be able to get to the city for some new yarn.  He did find something he liked in my stash for the stripes, but we had nothing he liked enough for the main colour.

We made a quick trip to Wolesley Wardrobe the other day and he picked out his yarn.  It was kind of cute. As I plucked yarns off the shelf suggesting this one or that he was rather non-committal.  Then I thought I'd found the perfect yarn. Oh it was a gorgeous shade of blue-green.  I showed it excitedly to Baby Boy, who flatly said, "No. I don't want that one. It's not the one I want." Then he picked another colour off the shelf and said emphatically, "This one," as he clutched it to his chest, nuzzled his face into it and started walking to the front of the store.  The front door was open and I guess he felt his job was done and I stopped him just before he headed straight out of it, then redirected him to the cash desk where he proudly put his selection up on the counter.

We paid for our yarn and headed out.  Every time he looked at his yarn he felt the need to remind me that it was his.  "That's mind.  I choosed it all by myself.  It's for my sweater." I guess in case I might somehow forget.  He also asks several times a day if his new sweater is ready. (Slave driver!!)

So I'm knitting as fast as I can whenever I get a chance.  I've decided it works well, too, for the Luvinthemommyhood Summer Sweater Knit Along, where Shannon encourages us to not forget our knitting in the heat of the summer, but to work on sweaters so that they're ready to wear come the cooler temperatures of fall. (Or in the case here on the prairies - what is supposed to be summer although to be fair, this week summer has suddenly reappeared after several weeks of absence!) Anyways, Greyson fits the bill, it is a sweater and has full length sleeves!  Whoot!  I really enjoy Luvinthemommyhood KALs.  Everyone is so friendly and encouraging, it's really motivating!

Moving right along with Greyson Version 2.0

Monday, August 05, 2013

In a Pickle!

Or at least up to my eyeballs in pickles...

For a few years now, a very generous soul at (BF)G's work has been supplying us with awesome homemade dill pickles (and lately salsa too - yep! We've got it made!!) They're delicious as only homemade pickles (and salsa) can be. Mmmmmmm. Yum.

A long time ago I used to do a lot of canning. Jams and jellies and pickles - dill, beet, something called "bucket pickles" and even a most unfortunate crabapple pickle (I was trying to do sweet canned crabapples like Mom always had... You'd think the vinegar in the recipe would have clued me in. Alas...). Anyways, that was a lifetime ago and I haven't done much of anything of the sort in years.

Last year after getting a pile of second hand canning jars and a canner I thought I'd ease back in, so I made jams, apple butter and apple pie filling, but I really wanted to get back to pickles. (BF)G must have mentioned it to our pickle supplier and she offered to pick up some pickling cukes at a local Hutterite colony when she got her's. I agree (although a bit hesitantly because I figure that means the end of her pickles coming our way), because it would be great to have a pantry full of our own. So for $25, I got a HUGE 20lb box of cukes, plenty of dill, and the best part? She had tucked her own recipe inside. I had stopped by Mom's earlier in the week for some jars - I had either 500ml or gigantic old (with glass lids) jars that didn't fit my canner - so having all my supplies gathered, yesterday morning I decreed it to be pickle making day.

Wow! What a lot of work. I was pooped! I'm sure I could have streamlined my flail and fumble about the kitchen, making mad dashes out to the garage to scrounge for more jars to sterilize, frantically peeling and cutting more garlic and making more brine, running between the kitchen and the window to make certain the boys were still in the yard and not performing any death defying stunts and generally just resembling a chicken sans head. it wasn't pretty, but hopefully it was worth it. We'll know in a few weeks. (oh how I hope they are as tasty as Carol's!!!)

There is something so incredibly satisfying about hearing those snap lids snap as they cool and then standing back to admire the fruits (or in this case pickles) of your labour.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Holy Smokes! What have I got myself into????

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Pickling cukes take a heck of a long time to wash!

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Splish, splash taking a boiling water bath!

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Yum! Pickles for winter!

Hopefully I'm not divulging some ancient family secret recipe here by sharing the one I used, but I'm pretty sure it's fairly standard.

Garlic Dill Pickles

Pickling cucumbers - gently scrubbed and washed
Garlic - peeled and bigger cloves, chopped
Heads of dill

21 cups water
7 cups vinegar
1 cup pickling salt
2 cups sugar

Mix all ingredients in a pot and cook until salt and sugar are dissolved. (make more brine as needed)

Meanwhile pack garlic, dill heads and pickling cukes into hot sterilized jars. Pour brine over top, seal jars and process in a boiling water bath until yellow.


Pretty straightforward, really.  I took a look at one of her jars to see how much garlic and dill she used and saw there were about five chunks of peeled, chopped garlic and two smaller heads of dill. I processed mine for 10 minutes in the canner.  Oh! And to do the brine I had to make only half at a time because I didn't have a pot large enough to fit it all at once.  I started out with 20 lbs of cukes and ended up with about 21 litres of pickles. The brine recipe was sufficient for about 14 jars.