The one with the socks pictures and the apple butter recipe.

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The summer is in full swing, even up here in the Pacific-very-North-West. We do get the odd days of rain, but mostly it’s sunny and warm. That means the greens are growing and the fruit is getting ripe.

We live right smack in between two empty fields. Which makes weeding blackberry brambles pretty much a full time occupation in our yard. But in summer we are glad we have the huge bushes to our left and right. It makes it possible for us to have blackberry preserves without having to go buy them, or hike into the sticks to get them.  Yesterday, my daughter went to go harvest a few and we had blackberry pie. (sorry, no photos.. it was gone too fast)

She also brought in some apples from our tree. It did not bloom quite as exuberant as last year, but there are still a number of apples more to take care of than we usually know what to do with. (We share with the neighbor and this year we are contemplating to let the local Food bank gleaners get the majority of them.)

The apples my daughter brought in yesterday were posthaste made into apple butter! YUM! (Well… it wasn’t too fast, since I made it in the slow-cooker.)

If you want to make your own apple butter, here is what we did:

You need:

  • About a pound of apples (we took about 6 medium sized apples, some were nice and ripe and some were still a bit tart. You want to  make sure to have a good mix of both)
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon, 4-5 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (we have ready ground cinnamon at hand and have whole cloves and nutmeg to grind when needed. I ground the nutmeg, but left the cloves whole)
  • Optional: 1tsp lavender and rose petals each (from our yard, so I know they are not treated with anything)
  • 2 cups of sugar (you can do a blend of white and brown, or use a bit of agave sweetener,, or honey if you don’t want all that sugar. I use what I have on hand, so this last time it was two cups of white sugar.)
  • Slow cooker

Peel, core and dice the apples into bite size pieces, place in the slow cooker, add the sugar and spices and optional ingredients and stir. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Turn slow cooker to high and let cook for a few hours, stirring now and again. When the apples start to break apart on their own, it’s nearly done (this takes about 3-4 hours, depending on how small you cut your apple bits). This is when you turn the slow cooker down to low and let it simmer for another two hours. Turn slow cooker off and let the whole thing cool over night. Stir well the next morning, then put the whole thing in a blender (you can fish out the cloves now if you like, or leave them in). Blend until the whole thing is pureed and then fill it in glasses. You can now proceed with canning the apple butter, or freeze it. If you just stick it in the fridge as is, you may want to eat it within a relatively short while.

Presto! Not that hard and not that much washing up either. It’s a one pot job lol.

 

In knitting news: I have made a pair of socks for my daughter’s birthday. (I also have knitted other things, but can’t show them right now, since it is a birthday present as well)

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I am also working on a custom order crochet blanket. BRIGHT colours and fun! Pictures of the finished project fur sure, but here is one of half the colours for now. The customer picked them all. Aren’t they FUN?

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Refashioned Dread-wranglers

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It’s summer and I love to keep my hair off my neck when it’s hot out. I am sure a lot of you do, too. To top it off, i have dreadlocks, they seem to be even hotter than “regular” hair. So I tie it up a lot, or have my locks in a bun. Well… t gets boring fast if that’s all you do, so I figured a few headbands are in order. One still has to tie the hair up in a pony tail, messy bun or other up-do, but the headbands make it look different and fresh and fun. One can use a bunch of things for such hair bands. Anything from the obvious Bandanna to vintage scarves and lace shawls, or ribbons. hand made ones are the most fun and can be pretty price conscious, in a pinch. (I usually want things when I don’t have the cash in my budget to actually buy them. Does that sound familiar to you too?)

I do have vintage scarves, but a girl wants options, no? So I went through my stash to figure out how I can make these things for myself. I have a BUNCH of T-Shirt material, that I scavenged from our own old Shirts and from thrift-shop and yard sale buys. I use them to make all kinds of things, as you have noticed, if you have been reading my blog for any amount of time. Now they get turned into hair bands! (I like to call them Dread-wranglers lol) I already have ONE made. Out of striped T-shirt fabric. I love stripes!!! Honestly? This one was just the leftover from another project. It went on my nerves, as it was left out after the project was done and all the stuff put away already. So there it was and I glared at it and then it hit me: Tie it! I just cut it open (since it was still a loop) and ted it around my head and VOILA! It was close to perfect!

It goes around my head once, crosses in back and then ties. I am looking into making more just a wee bit longer, so I can wrap them twice and then tie it. I also want a few wider ones. Why not, right?

If you want to make your own:

Measure your head, then measure the T-Shirt (or fabric you want to make the wrap out of. I like T-Shirts, since you don’t have to sew anything) Make sure you have twice the head circumference, plus about 20 inches for tying (approx. 10 inches of tie on each side, or longer, if you want to tie it in a bow, rather than just a double knot). Find a T shirt wide enough to give you that measurement by only cutting off the bottom part. If you want both sides to look alike, cut off the hem of the shirt as well.

It’s best to find a T-Shirt without side seams. I don’t mind the seam in t, but if you can find one with out a seam, it will give you a continuous strip of material and some people might mind the look of a seam in the middle of the wrap. Take the T-Shirt and measure the desired width of your head wrap up from the hem to the underarm and mark it, then make a straight cut right at the mark. Take the resulting loop and cut it open on one of the side seams, Presto. Done. If you like you can make the |tie| parts pointy, but I like them blunt.

In the top picture you can see the uncut section of T-Shirt, the loop, in the light blue and the striped fabric is another T-shirt already cut open. I did cut away the entire seam, since I didn’t like the way it looked hanging off the end lol.

One could go and get yardage for this project, but where is the fun in that?

You don’t have to tie them, you can just tuck the ends and make it stay that way. Use a few bobby pins to hold the wrap on your head, if you feel it’s not secure enough (mine stay on just fine….) and go have fun in the sun.

So with a few of these I will be good for the rest of the year, or will I????

Honestly? Did you think I could go without a knitted one in my collection? NOPE! So I am working on one right now as well.  I love it. here are a few pictures of it, fresh off the needles. Very lacy, very cute, very stretchy! The yarn has elastic in it! How great is that?  I let you all know when the pattern is done and out.

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If you make any of these wranglers, let me know! Send me pictures! I want to see them! <3

Wishing you a great summer!

Hugs,

Bridgett

 

ChiaoGoo needle review

A little while ago, we bought new needles to check out. We are looking into maybe changing our routine at the shop a bit. So we got a set each of the ChiaoGoo interchangeable bamboo circulars.

I have put them through their paces since then.

DSC00538Let me start with the case. It is a very pretty, zippered fabric case. Well made. The needle pockets are all marked with the corresponding needle sizes. The needles themselves have the size marked on them and the cables are marked their length. I like that a lot. No more guessing, or shlepping around a needle gauge and making sure you have the right stuff.

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The needle tips screw easily into the cables and stay there. You have to use the “key” to really get it tight, but once you do, the swivel action of the cable ensures that it does not come undone during knitting. I like that the “key” is simply a T pin. This is easily replaced, if one should lose it.

The needles are made from bamboo. At first I was skeptic. I hate bamboo needles. (well, ok. I hate crappy Chrystal palace and clover bamboo needles) I much rather work with birch wood.  It is smoother and lends itself much better to my style of knitting.

Let me tell you: I stand corrected! This bamboo almost feels like birch wood.  It is smooth and glides through my yarn without begin grabby.  I honestly didn’t think it was possible! These needles do NOT slow me down or screw with my gauge (with regular, crappy bamboo needles, my gauge is off by nearly one whole needle size)

I did have one cable come out of the little metal part, where the needle screws in, but it let me simply slip it back into place and it has not come lose since. SO I can’t really complain about it. TWO of my Hiya cables also came lose in that same manner, but I could not fix them and am still waiting to replace them.

Another very nice thing about the cables: They are pliable and straighten out almost completely on their own when in use, after being rolled up in the little bag. This was a very pleasant surprise.

These needles also have a wonderful point to them. This is so important to a lace knitter, such as myself. I can do p3tog tbl without blinking an eye, or spiraling into a homicidal mood, because the tip is too blunt to even go though  a regular k2tog.

The set also comes with accessories. I got a needle gauge and some  fun stitchmarkers with it, as well as two “keys” and cable ends. (For when you need to use your needles with another cable for yet another project. Put the stoppers in and you won’t lose your stitches.)

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The company is  a family run business (for those of us, who are  worried about China and it’s labor laws).  This did make me feel better about purchasing the product.

All in all, I have to say, I am incredibly happy with these needles and am thinking about getting the bigger sizes and a full set of their DPN’s as well.

Definitely a bit of an investment at around $85 for the small bamboo set and $155 for the full bamboo set, but well worth it, if you ask me. We are putting so much time in our projects and spend so much money on our yarns.I believe our hands and our yarns deserve the proper tools to work with.

Link to the ChiaoGoo website, so you can check them out for yourself.

 

 

Cold feet, warm heart.

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It’s still cold here. Warm socks are all the rage and handknitted socks are loved by my entire family. The next pair was for my husband. He wanted the same design as I made for our son. Our daughter got the green ones, with the white colourwork border around the top, if you can remember. I made a pair of “Valentine socks” for the shop with a pattern to be released on the 14th and now I am knitting on two more pair for myself this time. One in a beautiful, foggy, variegated grey/purple and one will be a bold RED variegated. I can’t wait to see them done. One short one and one long one. NO pictures yet, of the socks for me until they are done, though.