Monday, December 21, 2009

Oliver's Christmas Spider Hat: a free pattern

I had decided to knit hats and mittens from the luscious Malabrigo Worsted I picked up for 20% off at my local yarn shop during their annual birthday sale. I had finished my daughter's and planned to embroider little flowers on her hat, but couldn't come up with a good (easy/beginner) embellishment for a boy's hat. Friends gave me ideas like stars and rocket ships, sailboats, etc... but I wasn't exactly sure how I'd do that, and I wasn't sure that Oliver would be into it.

Then the concept of bugs came up, and it reminded me that I had seen patterns for bobble spiders out there. I ran across this pattern for Spider Socks using that lovely spider. I realized that considering the hat I was making was on size 9 needles the gauge alone probably won't allow me to put the big spider pattern on a toddler hat, but her teeny spiders were perfect! Sadly, they were written for knitting from the top-down, but my hat was going from the bottom up. So I came up with a slightly different pattern for the spider and spread it over the course of the hat.

Soooo... here's my version of the spider, worked on reverse stockinette:

Worked in multiples of 9 stitches, in the round.

Round 1 & 2: Purl
Round 3, 5, 7, and 9: P1, slip 7 with yarn in front (be careful to leave it loose enough that you can attach it to your spider which will be on round 10, these will form the legs) P1.
Round 4 & 6: Purl
Round 8: P4, K1, P4
Round 10: P4, work bobble [knit in front of loop, knit in back of loop, knit in front of loop, knit in back of loop, knit in front of loop so that there are now 5 stitches in the bobble. Turn project around and purl across the 5 bobble stitches. Turn work and knit the 5 bobble stitches together through back of loop.] take the 4 slipped sections from rounds 3, 5, 7, and 9 and put them BEHIND the bobble, so that the bobble looks like the spider's body and the legs appear to come from it. P across.

Round 11 and as far above as you like: P4, K1, P4

I decided to do my spiders at various heights, to make it more interesting.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sparkle: Beaded Holiday Placemats (a free knitting pattern)

I've been trying to come up with things to make for family for christmas. I had an idea for some nice placemats that were simple, but still dressed up a little for the holidays. Here's what I came up with:

Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Ultrasoft in Imperial Red
Needles: size 6
Gauge: 20 stitches per 4 inches
Beads: use a bead that has a large enough hole to get the beads onto the worsted weight yarn. The beads I used were the large sized glass beeds from beader's paradise (I found them at JoAnn fabrics)

PB (Place Beads): bring yarn to front of work, slide bead as close to last worked stitch as possible, slip next stitch while holding bead in front of it, so that the slipped stitch is behind the bead. Bring yarn back to back of work to begin next stitch.

Pattern for Placemat:

Thread 25 beads onto the yarn (BEFORE CASTING ON!!)
Cast on 80 stitches.
Work 6 rows of seed stitch (K1P1 across for a row, next row K1P1)

Row 1 (right side): work seed stitch in first 5 stitches, Knit to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch in last 5 stitches
Row 2 and every wrong side row: work seed stitch across first 5 stitches, Purl across to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch to end.
Row 3: work seed stitch in pattern for the first 5 stitches, knit 6, PB, knit across to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch to end.
Row 5: same as row 3
Row 7: work seed stitch across first 5 stitches, K3, PB, K2, PB, K2, PB, work across to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch to end.
Row 9: work seed stitch in first 5 stitches, K4, PB, K1, PB, K1, PB, knit across to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch to end.
Row 11: Work seed stitch in first 5 stitches, K5, PB, K1, PB, knit across to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch to end.
Row 13: Work seed stitch in first 5 stitches, K2, [PB, K1] 4 times, PB, knit across to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch to end.
Row 15: work as row 11
Row 17: work as row 9
Row 19: work as row 7
Row 21: work as row 3
Row 23: work as row 3
Row 25: Work seed stitch in first 5 stitches, K across to last 5 stitches, work seed stitch to end.
Continue working as row 25 until work measures 11 inches.
Work 6 rows of seed stitch. Bind off in pattern. Weave in ends.

Measurements: Finished placemat measures 16 inches by 12 inches.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Swell Snowflake Hat

Well, I promised my sister I'd make her a hat, and even bought the yarn, about a year ago. But, well, she wanted a fair isle hat, and I wasn't overly great at complicated fair isle (the only fair isle I was happy with that I had done was that hat for Oliver, last year), so I decided now was the time to learn how to knit with the other hand... and I did! I think I'm almost as proficient (and actually faster!) with picking, now as I was with throwing. It's a very exciting development in my knitting ability :) Anyway, what they say is true, it *is* a lot easier to do stranded knitting holding one strand in each hand. It came out great, despite my gauge being slightly off - I'm still really happy with it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apple Streusel Muffins

It's September and the weather's getting cooler which always leads me to baking and fall foods! My kids love apples, so we've had some around the house (hoping to go apple picking today) and when I woke up this morning and decided apple muffins were the way to go. What better way to warm up the house on a chilly autumn morning? Unfortunately, digging through my pile of cook books, I couldn't find a recipe for apple muffins anywhere. How strange! So I went to my good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook, and looked through for a recipe that I thought would be adaptable enough for apple streusel muffins. I ended up adapting this from their blueberry muffin recipe.

Apple Streusel Muffins

Streusel topping:
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons room temperature butter

3/4 c milk (almond or coconut milk works as well)
1/4 c virgin coconut oil (warmed slightly so it's easier to mix) or vegetable oil of your choice
1 large egg
1 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon plus (a product from the pampered chef that has cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice... I was lazy and went with a mix, sorry!)
2 apples, diced

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottoms of 12 medium muffin cups.
Make streusel topping as follows, then set aside: Mix streusel flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until crumbly.
Beat milk, oil, and egg in large bowl with fork or wire whisk. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices all at once until flour is just moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in diced apples. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle each with about 1 tablespoon topping.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand about 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm or cooled.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fruit Trees

I got a hot tip that one of our local Lowes had a variety of fruit trees available and I'd love to have some fruit trees in our yard for shade, food, and beauty. So, I lugged my toddlers out there and harassed my husband into meeting us there, anxious to get my garden going. I browsed through the fruit trees they had available, reading tags and dreaming of the delicious fruit I could expect in the next couple years. Then I noticed one thing they kept mentioning on the tags... pollinators. Pollinators? I had no idea what they meant. Like, maybe they mean we need extra bees or something? So, sadly I chose against buying any trees yet because I wanted to do a bit more research.

Here's what I found. It seems that many fruit trees need another DIFFERENT type of fruit tree to cross pollinate in order to get a better yield. Glad I checked. Here's the link for more information on which trees are the best choice for cross pollination purposes.


April 15 I started a bunch of seedlings. I had planned to start more within a few days but as yet have not. That said, we have seedlings!! I'm excited. This is my first time being serious about starting my garden from seeds. Previous years, I'd usually start some seeds, forget to water them, they die, then go out and buy plants for my garden from a nursery. Anyway, I have pictures!!

Green(uh, purple until cooked) Beans:


Now, with the cucumbers, I was using seeds I had bought back in 2002 (and subsequently never used), so I wasn't convinced they would all come up - or that any would come up, so I planted a TON of them. I guess we lucked out though... out of 17 seeds, I have 15 plants. O.O I was NOT expecting that. So, I'd say it's probably a good idea to try using any older seeds you might have laying around because at worst, you don't have them come up and you get more *shrug*  

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Lawn

I looked out my window this morning and there was a man wondering around my neighbor's yard fertilizing it (or was it insecticides?). YUCK! For some reason, I'm offended by anything being spread THAT CLOSE to where my children play that needs a sign for the first few days saying not to walk on it. Come on, people, I'm trying to raise children and grow food on this lawn!

My husband and I joke that at our house, the grass really IS greener on the other side of the fence, but that seems to be because we're one of the few houses (much to my neighbor's dismay, I'm sure) that chooses not to chemically treat our lawn. That said, there is certainly stuff you can do to enhance your lawn organically!

Here's some links to organic lawn care:

Better for your kids and pets, better for the environment and better for your wallet. Or better yet... rip up your yard and plant native/hardy perennials...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oliver's Easter Vest

My not-quite-two year old son needs a vest for Easter. Little boys look so sweet in vests. I was looking around and eventually settled on this pattern from Lion Brand. I planned to use some of the TLC Cotton Plus that I had sitting around. So, I start knitting with size 8 needles and the cotton plus. I'm also doing this project as my first done using the continental version of knitting - yarn held in my left hand - where previously I have always knit English style.

Personally, I think this yarn looks better on smaller needles, generally, so I'm sort of nervous of upsizing to get the appropriate gauge. I knit my swatch and where I should have 17 stitches per 4 inchs, I have more like 20. So, using that I've decided to adjust the pattern to that gauge. I'm doing the 2 year size. Twenty stitches in 4 inches would be 5 stitches per inch. I want the vest measurements to be 11 inches wide, so I multiplied 5 (stitches per inch) times 11 (inches across) and came out with 55. However, to make it a nice even number I'm going with 56.

After the rib bottom edge, there's a portion where they increase 8 stitches across. So, subtracting that from the number that we determined above gives us a 48 stitch cast on. I'm doing the 1x1 rib for an inch then increasing 8 as follows: K3 M1, [K6, M1] to last 3 stitches, K3. It makes me crazy when they just say "increase evenly across" but make you figure out "evenly" for yourself.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Cleaning.

Ok, it's technically not spring yet, but in a fit of inspiration today I went through a closet that I've been meaning to go through for a while. It happened to be the closet that I had been keeping much of my stash in and some old projects that I had planned to finish or frog.

I came across an afghan that I had started working on when we went to the grand canyon back in 2001 or 2002. Back when I was a newbie crocheter. Why I started with a ginormous afghan on a size H hook, I'll never know, but now it's oh-so close to being done. In fact, it's probably long enough to be done now, but the problem is that it's white. What, that doesn't sound like a problem? Well, I was using mill end pound-of-yarn packages of acrylic that I got from AC Moore back when I was a poor college student. The problem is, the second pound of yarn I was working with doesn't match the first pound of yarn I was using. But I didn't have anything better, so I just kept going. The third pound of yarn, matches the first. So, now it's a white stripe blanket.

So I started working on it again and it came back surprisingly easily. It's slower for me than knitting, right now, because my hands aren't used to it. I'll post pictures when I get done.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Revisiting the Sweet Baby Cap

My son has a ginormous head. He's 19 months old, but is wearing 2T-3T hats. Huge. I just measured him and he has a 19 inch head, but the standard head size for a "child" is 18 inches. I love that sweet baby cap and I want to do it again, but in the appropriate size for him. I'm calling it 3T, but it could be considered "child" size, I think. So, doing the math, I came up with 139 for the cast on. That's also adjusted for having all the sections be even length... because I'm a dork like that.

So, here's my final pattern (I think) mostly taken from the original but just with the tweaking described above:

Gauge: 24 stitches = 4 inches

Needles: Size 2 & 3 circular needles

Yarn: JoAnn Sensations Kashmira

Sizes: 3T / Child

CO 139 stitches with size 2 circular needle, join then knit 7 rounds in garter stitch (purl one round, then knit one round) then change to 3 mm needles and knit the rest in stockinette stitch, changing colors as you see fit.

At the same time:

On the next round, increase and decrease as follows:
k1, M1, k21, slip 1 - knit 2 tog tbl - ­ psso, k 21, M1, k1, M1
k 21, slip 1 - knit 2 tog tbl - psso, k 21, M1, k1, M1, k 21, slip 1 - knit 2 tog tbl - psso, k 21, M1, k1

Repeat these increases and decreases every other round for 11, or 12 or 13 (depends on the size you want - an older kid will need more length in the hat) more rounds. Then do only the decreases every other round until there are 10 stitches left. Then k2tog until only one stitch is left, break yarn and thread through remaining stitches.

I like to attach twisted cord to the ear flaps. You can do i-cord or crocheted cord, too, if you prefer.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dreaming of Spring!

Sorry it's been so long since I posted, but I've had sort of a crazy couple months. Christmas then birthdays and a nasty bout of stomach flu that practically took down our house then turned into fun colds for everyone! Woo hoo! Anyway, hopefully I'm back and intend to start posting once a week or so again.

The weather here in upstate NY has been lovely (for February) the past week or so and has really gotten me absorbed into thinking spring. I've been learning about lasagna gardening and am hoping to try that out this year, since our beds really need some help in getting ready before planting. Last year our crop suffered from our lack of attention to the soil in the early season. We did double dig one section of our garden and worked in our compost, but mostly because that are had been so neglected and was so full of clay and hard to work that it was practically required if we were to plant anything there. It worked out well, though, because we got some volunteer tomatoes in that section!

I'm also wondering if we can grow some vegetables inside. I think I'm going to try and start some tomatoes extremely early this year (um, like this week) and maybe some peppers, too, because our tomatoes and peppers always take FOREVER. Last year we didn't get to harvest many until OCTOBER!

I have piles of seed packets from past years, so my plan is to try those (most of them are about 5 years old) first, see if they germinate, and if only buy more if they don't. They may not be the varieties that are what I'd like, but honestly, they're free (well, already bought), so I might as well try 'em. I'm hoping to try some this week.