Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nordic Shawl

Finished just in time for a whole week of rainy weather and cooler temperatures!  I'm glad to be able to wear this a little while at least.  It was 80 degrees yesterday and I was weaving in the ends thinking I would have to put it in the cupboard until the fall because our cold weather is just about done.

This is a most excellent pattern, well written, photographed, and easy to understand.  I used Sublime extra fine merino DK and started out with a G hook.  30 rows into it I ripped it back.  I was already finished with the 5th ball and it was looking like I was going to need at least 8. Thank goodness I found some on sale for almost half price.

Anyway I started over with an I hook, because this is the thickest DK I have ever seen, almost a worsted weight really.  It says "extra-fine" on the label, but I don't think it means "fine" as in light or delicate, but more of a "OMG, he's so fine!!! kind of fine.
So I crocheted the main color for 34 rows instead of 40 and then switched over to the color section, which was very fun indeed. However it was quickly becoming a Giant Nordic Shawl, and so I decided to cut back on the number of final rows or this thing would have swallowed me whole.

I love it!!!  All this messing around with hooks and different weight yarns and and shortening rows, just shows you how versatile this pattern is.  I'm thinking of making another in a real DK, maybe a cream color next time.  If you would like to give it a go, pop on over to My Rose Valley and get yourself this pattern.
Check this out.  Two antiquarian books with mine and my husband's name in the title.  Just need three more, one for each of the kids.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Disturbance in the Force

The last of our little Star Wars Clan has left us.
It's been a tough year
First Solo the Cat
Then Chewy the Boston Terrier
Princess Leia the kitty
And now our Luke
                                                                        RIP Luke
                                                            May the Force be with you

I will be back soon with my Nordic Shawl finish.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Don't forget to massage your kale

I made Kale salad last night for dinner.  I use Lacinato kale, the kind that looks like it has bumps on it (sometimes called Dino kale).  I copied the ingredients from the deli section of a local supermarket where I sometimes buy this for lunch.  It's really easy, no cooking, and I usually have the stuff to make already in my fridge. This was served alongside some baked fish, that I cooked to the consistency of shoe leather and after two bites I threw it in the trash and opened a can of tuna.  It was Cod, a fish I never buy (usually I get Tilapia or Salmon), and I think that cod should just be beer battered and fried in bad for you oil, and dipped in tartar sauce and served alongside french fries and soupy coleslaw. Oh yeah, don't forget a big tall beer. Period.
However, trying to be healthy, I baked it with some panko bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest (that part was tasty), but it just turned out so tough. So much for healthy.
Anyway I read somewhere that when you serve kale raw, it helps to massage it first.  It's kind of stiff, like chard, and the massaging helps soften it up a bit. So you just cut up your kale and put it in a bowl.  Then rub, or massage the leaves for a minute or two before adding the other ingredients.
I massage my kale with regularity now.

Spring is definitely here.  Everywhere I look it's blue and green. It's so lovely in the valley this time of year.  I don't want to think about the fact that in a few short months the air conditioner will be running all day and the blue and green will be replaced with brown and gold. But before we get there, a parade of culinary festivals will fill up the calendar.  Asparagus, strawberry, and garlic festivals are just around the corner. Can't wait!
I made a set of these coasters again.  I love this pattern(see edit below)  It's so easy and pretty and fast and satisfying all at once. And my shoe fly quilt is almost done too, scrappy and full of spring colors.  I'm playing around with some border ideas this week.  Then it will be back to the Liberty quilt that I tore from the design wall and am now going in a totally different pattern direction, which involved buying 2 yards of double-gauze, and it's getting expensive and it better turn out, because I don't want it to be like the cod all over again.

Kale Salad

1 bunch of Dino kale, ribs removed and torn into bite size pieces and massaged like you mean it
red pepper, cut into strips
red onion, sliced thin
peperoncinis, cut into small strips
crumbled feta cheese
artichoke hearts
you can also add cannellini or garbanzo beans
Toss everything together with some red wine vinegar and olive oil to taste
Serve with anything but baked cod


EDITED TO ADD:  I guess the original link for this pattern is no longer available.  Go visit this blog here, for instructions.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Springtime Mini

Do you ever go through phases with your crafting where you just can't seem to get enough of one thing? It could be crocheted shawls (been there), pot holders (done that), coasters (that too), or underwater basket weaving (just kidding).  Lately I'm a sucker for a mini quilt.
Since we got the puppy, (Puppies! Gaaaah! 5 months old now and so stinking squirrely.  Remind me why I wanted another dog? She's at the vet hospital today getting her lady parts snipped.  I'm having a Luna-tic free day and I'm so excited I don't know what to do first! Weeeeee!) I've become queen of the quick-fix, the short story, the fast and furious.  While I long for those days of uninterrupted hours in the sewing room, I'm learning to work in short bursts of creativity.  It appears for the moment at least, that I'm stuck on making mini quilts.
This one started with a few crocheted squares.  I matched them up with some fabric and the rest took care of itself.

First I made a four block quilt with linen centers, in the colors yellow, pink, blue and green.  I quilted some wavy lines and sewed on the binding.

Then I attached the crochet squares to the center of each block.  My crocheted blocks were 4 inches, so I cut my linen squares at 5.5 inches to allow for seams and about 1/2 inch of linen all the way around the block. 
A springtime mini.  Quilting, crochet and linen.  All my favorites!

Here's how I hang my mini quilts.
Buy some of these little plastic rings at the craft store.  These are about 3/4 inch.
Stitch them to your quilt backing, just below the binding, about 1.5 inches in from the side edges of your quilt.  For a quilt this size (about 22 inches), I sewed on two, but you could add a third to the middle of your quilt if it's bigger and looks like it's going to sag.
I used very small nails. The walls in my house are full of nails. And holes and Spackle. I tend to move things around A LOT.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Anyway, if you wanted to use it as a table topper, the rings don't really get in the way, or they can be removed quickly with the seam ripper. 
So that's my ta-dah for the week.  I also wanted to share my prize from The Crafte Nook that I won in her give-away.......

  All the way from England!  Isn't it cute!  It's pinned to my favorite sweater right now.  Thanks again Pixie!