Monday, June 29, 2009

A Quarter of a Century!

Yesterday was my daughter Hannah's 25th birthday! She thought now there's no difference between being 25 or 50 years old anymore. I really try hard to forget how old I am, but her birthday is always a painful reminder that I'm 20 years older than her. I guess she means now she's really grown up. At least I can be thankful that she hasn't made me a grandmother yet, which my mom was (twice) at my age. Since she couldn't be home for her birthday, I've sent her a care package with lots of goodies, but also with three bags I've sewn for her. After she was done with University in May, she sent me some of her printed fabric scraps. I decided to sew some of them into tote bags:

Hannah Bag 18
Both tote bags are reversible ( no pattern to link to) , but I show you only the sides I liked best. The above is my favorite. I wonder why. :o)

2. Tote bag one side outside

and this grab bag: it's one bag, but reversible.

3. bag - Grab bag - outside closed3. bag - Grab bag inside out

Before that I was working on these market bags:

Charlie market bag for mom April 28 Charlie market bag-3-April 29 Charlie bag, April 25

The first one went to my mom for mother's day. I must say, she did not really like it. She said it's too small for shopping (maybe in her case it is, since shopping is her hobby). The second one I still have, and will gift it eventually. The last one with the apples was actually the first one I made. I screwed up the handles, but I'm using it as a market bag myself, and it holds quite a lot of stuff. Since I always need more than one bag when grocery shopping anyway, I'm not too bothered, that I can't get ALL of my shopping in ONE bag. :o)

This market bag is called Charlie bag and it's also reversible.

I left my sewing machine out, it came in handy a few times already, just for repairs of pants and other stuff.

I did my good deed of the day early in the morning, when I looked out the window and spotted something still alive in the pool. I rescued a mole, boy was he pissed being caught in this situation. He squeeled for quite some time after his rescue, even after he crawled into hiding, I could still hear him. Guess he was testing his lungs, after almost drowning.

Speaking of swimming in the pool. I had my first swim on Saturday. It was so deliciously warm. Biko joined me, she was so excited. We both were totally toast afterwards from the unusal activity.
Here she is, still wet, but happy and tired. No wonder my second sock is growing so slowly, she's resting her head on the yarn ball. :o) (O.K. that's not fair, I really can't blame her for the sock).
June 26- Biko after swimming in the pool-3


Friday, June 26, 2009

Handspun Friday - My first finished Jacobs Humbug

Even though I've been spinning kind of regularly lately, I've only got one finished skein. It's more like I'm filling up my bobbins, to have a plying party soon.

Kettle dyed Jacob Humbug 1- 3.5oz by Shunklies- 323yds navajo plied-5

As I've mentioned before, I'm nuts about this stuff. Not especially the roughness of Jacobs fiber, but how this was blended and dyed. It's a pleasure to spin, which is weird, since this was the first time I had to pick out guard hair and vegtable matter throughout, but it came in such intervals, that it did not stop the spinning process. I feel always a little wonderment, when I pick out the straw, thinking this comes from far far away (UK), and now it's in my living room. I feel the same wonderment picking out straw from Noro yarn, which of course came from Japan, even farther away!

Kettle dyed Jacob Humbug 1- 3.5oz by Shunklies- 323yds navajo plied-4

If you look at the photos of the yarn enlarged, you can see it's fuzziness, it's roughness, but look also at the wide range of colors! Isn't it beautiful?

Kettle dyed Jacob Humbug 1- 3.5oz by Shunklies- 323yds navajo plied-2

Kettle dyed Jacob Humbug 1- 3.5oz by Shunklies
fiber: Kettle Dyed Jacobs Humbug from Shunklies Etsy Store , 3.5oz or 100g
yardage: 323yds, navajo plied

Kettle dyed Jacob Humbug 1- 3.5oz by Shunklies- 323yds navajo plied-6

I've decided to spin all my different Humbug colorways at (hopefully) the same weight, navajo plied, to make it into - wait for it - a blanket! This is a big project, which will be doable since it will be worked on in small installments as each colorway weights (3.5oz)100g. This will be my first skein, put into a specially marked box, together with the unspun fiber. I don't want to start with the blanket until I've spun the last of the fiber for it. I'm really looking forward to it.

Meeresrauschen first sock done-1

Speaking of blanket. After finishing my first two-color test knit sock (this is a non ravelry link) (Meeresrauschen by Bea, now available in German and in English, this is the ravelry link), I rewarded myself with the beginning of - wait for it - another blanket. Yes, yes, really, I can't help myself. Even my son noticed the vigorous wielding of the crochet hook around here. I've had this yarn in my stash for a while now, and now was the time to play with it.

Flower bed - beginning-2

Of course the second test sock is in the works as well.

Wish you all a wonderful weekend!


Monday, June 22, 2009


Pictures say more than a thousand words. So here is my finished Ulmus:


I love this shawl. It's beautiful! And as always with Kirsten's patterns, I'll be making another one soon. One is just not enough. Part of the fun is to pick out the yarn.


I would have run out of the light green yarn, so I started to add a slightly darker version of the same brand at the end.


This is the largest version of the shawl as givin in the pattern. My favorite part was the leaf edge. The main body got a little boring (eyes started to glaze over), but the prize of the edge border ahead kept me going. It's a well written, gorgeous pattern.


pattern: Ulmus by Kirsten Kapur
yarn: 1. multicolored light yarn: Spunky Eclectic, SW Merino, "Lichen" (lovely stuff)
2. light green: Fleece Artist, Merino/Seacell
3. darker green: Fleece Artist, Merino/Seacell
needle: 3.75mm could have used 4mm
size after blocking: 34.5" x 65"
start-finish: May 2-17


I love the little flecks of blue in this shawl. By the way, after I discovered what Ulmus meant, I was even happier with my color choice.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Fiber Friday

This Friday I don't have finished handspun yarn to show, but some lovely new fiber stash I'll be working on in the future. The top four are Kettle Dyed Shetland Humbug by Shunklies. I LOVE this stuff! I'm nuts about it. The second four are Kettle Dyed Jacobs Humbug. I'm working on Jacob Humbug right now and it's so interesting how the colors turn out. It's easy to spin, even though I find myself picking out guard hair throughout. Jacob fiber is a bit on the rough side. I don't want it anywhere near my neck, but I think it will be nice enough for socks.
The last two fibers are Sweetgeorgia's Fiber Club April and May. I'm looking forward to spinning that up as well. June Fiber is already on its way. Oh, and by the way. I've not renewed my Sock Clubs ( I never want to knit the patterns anyway), but/because I got into HelloYarn Fiber Club!!! Yeah! Thanks to somebody who did not renew there was an open spot for meeeeee!

Fiber stash 1

I'm also going to show you my WIP's. Here's the never ending twisted stitch sock(s). Twisting stitches all the time sure is slow going. The pattern was written for knee highs, but I didn't have enough yarn in my stash for knee highs, so I decided I really wanted to knit this pair, but only for socks. I'm further along than this picture. I finished the big motif you can see here, and the little bell underneath. There should be three or four bells, but for socks it's only got place for one bell. Good enough for me.

June 15, twist stitch socks take forever

Knitting, crocheting or sewing some shopping bags is an ongoing thing right now. Since they started to charge for plastic bags in stores, I've used these bags. We used to use the plastic grocery bags for dog poop removal, but we bought a bunch of biodegradable ones for that now. It's fun to have so many different and colorful reusable bags to go shopping with. I hope I have enough of this yarn left to finish the bag. It's Noro Sakura, left over from my Sakura shawl. I really would not know what else to do with this yarn. Here you see it bottom up.

Seaside tote bag, bottoms up

Believe it or not, here's my Oatmeal Garter Yoke Cardi, as far as I've gotten. I'm mighty proud of myself for starting it, and getting so far, because I had to make modifications to the pattern. I need a larger size as given. I did some mods at the underarm (will explain more in a later post). I had to do some bust shaping, which I had to figure out for myself. I haven't found a link to exactly what I was looking for, but I got some ideas here. You can actually SEE the bust shaping, don't you? :o) I'm using Patons Classic Wool Merino in Oatmeal. It's a nice enough yarn. I'm looking forward to this being finished and fingers crossed, it will fit too! I'm working on this instead of a new blanket for the time being. It should be ready for fall weather, well at least that's my goal. I do get sore shoulders working on this, or maybe I'll get used to it and it will go faster. Maybe.

Oatmeal Garter Yoke Cardi

Meanwhile I'm waiting for Bea's English version of her new sock pattern. I've chosen the yarn, needles are ready, but I don't have to be idle until she's done, as you can see.


Biko is fine according to the Vet. The bloodwork is fine, and she's in excellent shape. We all agreed, that the seizure was a one time event. She's enjoying her car rides, they can never be long enough.

June 14, Biko going for a car ride


Monday, June 15, 2009

Lace Doily Crochet Bag

I don't like Mondays, especially this one. DH is leaving again, which also brings the baking streak to an end, which is good for all of us. Besides cooking and baking and ironing, I still found time to knit, but crochet even more. There's a line up for FO's to be shown, but my latest FO is jumping the line, just because I'm so happy about it!

lace doily crochet bag

I saw this bag Birgit made from some cotton yarn. I remembered having some of this yarn in my stash, but a different colorway. I was going to make a shawl with it, but the idea of a bag was more tempting. I've got the yarn from Melanie. She's got more colorways to choose from now than back when I ordered my yarn. Still I like this one a lot, it reminds me of faded Jeans.

lace doily crochet bag-1

While looking for something in the closet, I found those bamboo handles I bought at a going out of business sale back when. I think I had a fabric bag in mind for those.

I like how single crochet looks as a fabric the best and it's more stable as well. I'm regretting that I used dc for the base, it's way more stretchy. Also I had the bright idea to make a bobble round after the base was finished and before the main body started, should have ripped it out again, but it's too late now. Since there was no pattern to follow it's a wonder it turned out the way it did. I had some trouble with the lining (at the bottom). I sewed it on by hand, which I love to do. Sewing by hand is the second most relaxing thing to do, besides knitting socks.
I inserted a stiff base, for which I made a fabric pouch where I inserted it. I can take it out if I want to, the bag would be a lot more floppy, but at the moment I'm O.K. with how it looks.

lace doily crochet bag-6

Sewing on the handles turned out just right. I had to redo the flap which goes over the bamboo a couple of times, the first time it was not wide enough.

Before lining and putting on the handles it was screaming for embellishments. At first I thought crocheting flowers, but I'm really not THAT kind of girl. I find them cute, yes, nice too, but I would not like to walk around with a bag like that.
I was thinking of some patchwork, playing with fabric, which was more like something I would do. In the end I was excited to be able to combine my love of knitting lace with crochet, and some sewing.

The doily pattern can be found in the book " Knitted Lace" by Sonja Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen. It's design "Kaya" on page 45. I also love it when I get to make things out of books I own!
I've used Royal Classic Crochet Thread size 10 with 1.5mm needles!!! That was the first time I used needles so thin. The beginning was a big PIA! After a few tries I grabbed a crochet hook and cast on this way. It's only 6 stitches in the beginning! Anyway I did it, although I lost track of where the round began, when I did the final three crochet rounds, I just couldn't see it. Now, that it's on the bag it's very obvious, but oh well.

Lace Doily Crochet Bag

What else can I say about my bag? As soon as it was done, I was itching to start another one. I still have some of this yarn left. I might get to it soon, but for now, I'm working on the second sock of a twisted stitch pair (slow going), and I don't know if I've mentioned it here, I've cast on for a cardi for myself. It's the garter yoke cardi, which I made for Hannah already. It's slow going too. But that's for another post.
Besides that, I'm waiting for another pattern of Bea's to test knit her new socks. I've already picked out the yarn I'm going to use.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Handspun Friday - Wensleydale

I spun this yarn back in the middle of April. It's nothing mind blowing, except I like the curly locks of Wensleydale. I dyed this fiber myself. After finishing the yarn I overdyed it with black.

predrafting Wensleydale-1

I had these hanging there for a while, before I got to spinning it. That's probably why one day Biko chewed one of the strands when she felt sick. She's always looking for fiber, mostly grass and leaves, when she feels sick, but that day she had to go look for something inside. I heard a funny noise coming from the living room and saw her standing there, chewing it. :o) To make it easier for her, I let her outside into the backyard.

Biko chewed on a lock of Wensleydale, because she felt sick

The color before overdyeing was briliant, later it turned a little dull, but that's what I was going for.

Wensleydale - teal
The two skeins look a like, but I've spun one a little thicker than the other, got too impatient with it.

fiber: 8oz Wensleydale
yarn: 1.skein: 199yds - 16WPI, 2.skein: 152yds - 14WPI
plying method: navajo plied

Don't know yet what to do with it, off in the handspun bin it goes.


Don't think it's going on like this forever!

June 12, Cherries cake-4
My husband's leaving on Monday, and after that there will be no more cake!!!
I made this cherries cake this morning and had a slice all by myself. Will share with the rest of the family later. Claudia, I'm back to using my big mugs for tea. I think the nice china will have to wait for company!
I used the same dough as for the apricot cake (did remember to double the recipe), but instead of almond extract I put some vanilla and brandy extract in it. I left the pits in the cherries to safe the juices.

Hope you are all having a nice weekend!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There's a lot of baking going on ....

While uploading some pictures I realized, that I've been baking a lot lately. Enough to make a blog post out of it too!
Every year, when the time comes for apricots to appear in stores, I'm always baking an apricot cake like this:

first apricot cake of the year
I bake this once or twice a year, so it's very special. It's been so long since the last time, and I lost my favorite recipe (or can't find it, it's on a loose leaf), so I looked into my old school cookbook for the dough instructions. It's very easy but somehow I did not catch the problem in time. When the dough was done it covered only half the baking sheet, so I had to start over right away (have to remember to double the recipe next time). Anyway, it turned out as wonderful as I'd remembered it. I like how the sweet dough goes well with the sour taste of the apricots (even though I sprinkled some sugar on top of the halfs), it's just the right combination of sour and sweet. Yummy!

Edited to include recipe:
Dough for one baking sheet (if you want to make only a 9" x 13" pan use half the recipe):
160g unsalted butter
240g sugar
4 eggs
rind of one lemon (optional)
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
300g all purpose flour
2 teaspoon (flat not heaped) baking powder
6 tablespoons milk

Enough apricot halves to cover the baking sheet (wash and take out the pits)

Preheat oven 200 Celsius.
Combine butter, sugar, eggs, and beat until soft and fluffy. Add lemon rind and almond extract. Add baking powder to flour, add both to butter mixture (a little four, a little milk until all is in the bowl). Spread on baking sheet.
Arrange washed, halfed aprictos with the outside down (press lightly into the dough). Sprinkle some sugar on apricots.
Bake for 20-25 minutes (you can open and check after 15 minutes).
Cut when cooled and dust with iceing sugar before serving.


Then, not long after that I discovered that our apples seemed to go bad all at once. My son suggested to bake an Apple Strudel, which I haven't done in ages. The reason is the flour. I can't find the right one for the dough. In Austria there were two kinds of flour, the rougher one, which would be like All Purpose around here, and the fine flour, probably like Cake & Pastry flour, but not quite.
June 8-Apfelstrudel-2
In the upper part of the photo you see the Cake & Pastry flour Apple Strudel, which let itself strech not too bad (compared to what came next). I think it's O.K. but not optimal. I made another dough with the All Purpose flour next, which was close to a disaster. After both doughs rested for half an hour in the fridge, dough 1 let itself be worked. Dough 2 would not be stretched even a little bit. I don't know how I did it to get it on the sheet anyway. In the end both tasted the same, pretty good. And also, why did the one turn brown and not the other? They were treated the same. But as I said, both tasted fingerlicking good. A repeat was requested already. I still have some apples left ...

Edited to include recipe:
250g (cake & pastry flour) bread flour was suggested by Glen the professional and others, so I will give it a try
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons oil
~ 3/16 liter lukewarm water
a few drops of white vinegar

100g unsalted butter
60g bread crumbs (not the italien kind)
100g sugar mixed with a little cinnemon
3 tablespoons raisins
1kg peeled and sliced apples

Preheat oven 250 Celsius.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. At some point put it out on the counter and knead it very well, slam it against the counter until you have a very smooth surface on the dough. Put some muscle into it, it's important to get it as smooth as possible. It should not stick to your fingers (add a little flour until it stops sticking). When you are satisfied with the dough put it on a plate, brush it with some extra oil, put cellophane over it and let it rest at least half an hour in the fridge (or over night).
While it rests, prepare filling:
Brown butter and bread crumbs (you may want to add an extra table spoon of sugar to this). Let cool. Prepare the apples.
Put some fresh dish towels on the counter, sprinkle with flour. Get the dough and use a rolling bin to gently roll it out a little. Now start stretching the dough into all directions very gently, so it will not break. It should be so thin that you can see through it. The edges will remain a little thicker.
When it's not possible to stretch it any further without ripping holes in it stop. Cut off the thick edge. Brush melted butter on the dough, sprinkle roasted bread crumbs all over, put apples, mixed with raisins and sugar on 1/2 or 2/3 of the dough.
Start rolling the Strudel from the side with the apple filling on it, thucking in the sides. Put it gently on a baking sheet (with baking paper or any other non stick solution on it). Brush with melted butter, stick a fork several times in (along the top) to let air out.
Bake about 30-40 minutes.

This is just one variation of Apple Strudel, there are many.


June 8-Apfelstrudel

And today I read Claudia's blog post about how to brew good tea, which was a very good read, and she added a Almond Scones recipe, which I had to give a try right away.

my very own tea party with almond scones-4

I did not have whipped cream at home, which is a good thing, since I LOVE whipped cream and would have eaten too much of it. I did have strawberry/rhubarb jam, and it's soooo good on warm scones.

Well, there goes my low carb diet. Oh well, it's not going on like that forever, but it's nice to treat the family (and myself) to goodies like that once in a while.

Biko is doing fine. We'll have tests done next week, but I'm hoping that this was a one time event.
Thank you all, for your concern and your comments with lots of great information and experiences.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Seizure???

Well, which would have been a nice weekend, turned out not so great. Biko had a seizure last night! It was shortly before midnight, right as I was drifting off, when it happened. If you need to get to the light switch fast, you sure won't find it. At first I didn't know what was going on. She wanted to get up but stumbled around, until I held her, and stroked her. She was unfocused and tense. Has anybody experience with seizures? Where did that come from???
After the seizure was over, she relaxed, drank some water, got up, shook and stretched. Then she was annoyed by all the fuss we were making, and wanted to go back to bed. It was scary!!!
I'm going to call the Vet first thing in the morning, so I can understand what's going on. I hope he can enlighten me.

Today we had a lovely walk, and she had great appetite, in fact she was not satisfied with what she got, and stood at her bowl, until I gave her some more. She's not food oriented, so she really only eats when she's hungry.


I know it looks really trivial, but I'm still going to show you my potholders. There's more in cheque to be shown, so I have to get on with it. Since she's snoozing right under my desk by my feet, seemingly O.K. now, I can focus on something else.

As I said before I was inspired ne driven to do some potholder crocheting by some lovely examples like here or here or here just to name a few.

4 finished potholders-7

At least a couple of years ago, there was a craft shop closing it's doors in a mall, when I happened upon it on their very last day of business. I bought a lot of different things, like this cotton yarn I've used for my potholders. Of course I could not choose my colores, just get what was there. Still, I was happy to find these in my stash. Very useful for this purpose.

4 finished potholders-4

I crochet the fronts first, there are still some shapes I would have liked to try out too, but I was afraid I would run out of yarn, since I wanted to do it doubled with backsides. To make this a set I planned on crocheting them all together with red yarn. I like the contrast of the red on dark blue.


1. potholder: Circle of Friends : this is a lovely motif, either in one color or several
2. potholder: Old Fashioned potholder : I did it wrong, but stuck to my mistake and I still liked the result

3. potholder: motif # 125 from the book "Beyond The Square, Crochet Motifs" by Edie Eckman: this was a head scratcher, because you get 5 rounds written as well in a chart, and it says "if you made these rounds you'll understand how to make it larger". Each of these 5 rounds was different, there was no pattern for me to see, but I winged it for a few rounds.

4. potholder: just a simple round crochet, no pattern

My favorites are the "Circle of Friends" and the round potholder. There are so many more out there, but that's O.K. for now. I've already moved on to my next crochet project (a bag). Yes, that's right, I'm totally crochet crazy right now.

June 6-working on my crochet bag

Before it was time to pick up my husband from the airport, I had a lovely time on the balcony. I multitasked too. Some crochet, drying my hair, supervising my son mowing the lawn, having tea and apricot cake, which I made in the morning. And also make sure to give Biko a way out, since she always wants to flee when there's a lawn mower in action.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Handspun Friday - Cabled Yarn 2

I haven't been spinning a lot lately, just a little bit. It's not because of lack of wonderful fiber to play with, it just was too messy around my spinning wheel. Now that it's all cleaned up again, I'm sure I'll be spinning more often. Today's yarn I made back in April. After the first try of cabled spinning turned out so well, I had to give it another try. I love it!

Cabled Yarn 2
Notice the colors of the bag on the magazine reflect the colors in my fiber!

Cabled Yarn 2-2

For some reason I had a lot of FatCatKnits Falkland left over and could make a navajo plied mini skein. I think it would have been pretty on its own, but I really DO love how the cabled yarn turned out.

fiber: 4oz Corriedale by Sweetgeorgias March 2009 Fiber Club
4oz Falkland by FatCatKnits (purchased about 2 years ago)
yardage: 328yds cabled yarn (both colorways were navajo plied first, and than cabled together)
WPI: 15


Biko is not all that happy these days. Most of the day she's lying around like this, even though she has more comfortable places to be. She doesn't want to play in the backyard. The only times she perks up is, when we tell her to go for a car ride or for a walk. She isn't all that hungry either, but she was never a food oriented dog. She does eat eventually, but it's not the same if she can't "yell" at somebody to stay away from her food bowl, before she's actually starts eating ....


To leave you with something crafty, here's a sneak peek of my first potholder. I'm sure you have read about the potholder swap down south of the border. I let myself get so inspired by the beautiful pieces, that I went stash diving and came up with a few colors of cotton DK thread to make a few. It's so much fun! More about them later when all are done.

sneak peak

Have a wonderful weekend!


Monday, June 01, 2009

Perfect Weather for Hiking

Yesterday was a beautiful day, sunny but windy and rather on the cool side (14C). I felt chilly all morning until I put knitted socks on. After Lunch I decided to pack up Biko and my son and we went to Mary Lake for a little hike. We've been there once, last fall, without the dogs, since Sam couldn't walk that far, and Biko had to keep him company. This time around she was deliriously happy to join us.

May 31-24

The trail to the lake goes right through some privat grounds, an old farm, where we found pieces of old rusty fences still standing. Pretty, isn't it?

Mary Lake-May 31

Part of the trail was a little swamp like, but since it was very windy it kept the mosquitoes at bay. We had to watch our steps, or we would have been knee deep in mud.

May 31-3
Here's a rare picture of me in FRONT of the camera. It was at the beginning of the walk, and Biko was still hyper excited. On the way back she was walking in a straight line, not looking left or right, pretty tired out. We should do this more often.