First Finished Object Friday

A lot of crafters participate in Finished Object Fridays, but I take so long to complete things that I’ve never joined in. This week, I finally have a few items that are 100% done, so why not participate this time around? Heck, if I’m feeling really daring, I might even do WIP Wednesday next week!

On to the finished objects! First up: Baby Sophisticate Sweater for baby Dez. This was knit out of Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran ( I think…I need to find the ball band). This is the 3 month size, and is so teeny it’s squeal-worthy. Go ahead, you know you want to. I’ll wait.

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Next up is Owlet, by Kate Davies. This was such a fast and easy knit (hard to refrain from a joke there…). I really enjoyed this pattern, and am seriously considering knitting the adult version for myself. Or maybe I’ll knit SD one so they can be twinsies at Christmas. Because kids LOVE IT when you dress them identically. This is out of Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran, in the 6 month size. Our families have a history of large babies, so my hope is that this will fit him during the second half of winter.

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And…that’s pretty much it. I’m not finishing much around here, lately. Environmental Law is kicking my butt, and we’ve been trying to spend as much time with SD as possible before she leaves tomorrow. Tune in Wednesday to see what I’ve been knitting on to date.

Posted in fiber, knitting, sweater, sweaters, wool, yarn | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Blueberry Jam Tutorial

Three weeks ago, I purchased a 10lb box of blueberries from a local library fundraiser. Do you know how many blueberries are in 10 pounds?! A lot. A lot a lot. 20140629_19071920140629_190715 

 

So, what the heck were we going to do with these? I made one pie, I was eating them every day mixed in with granola and yogurt, but these activities hardly made a dent in the box.

 

We decided to make blueberry jam! It was a modified recipe (Ok, I misread the recipe) and it turned out great! It’s always nice to have a helper when you’re making jam.

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Stephanie’s Blueberry Jam Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

5 1/2 cups crushed blueberries
4 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups granulated sugar
1 (3-ounce) pouches liquid pectin

DIRECTIONS:

1.Simmer the jars and lids in a canning pot with the rack on bottom. Keep jars hot until you’re ready to use them. Set the screw bands aside, they do not require heating.

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Mashed blueberries and suger

2. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine crushed blueberries, lemon juice and sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the pectin. Boil hard, stirring frequently. Check to see when the jam is set using the spoon test. Dip a metal spoon into the jam. If the jam drips off quickly, it is not set yet. If the jam coagulates and drips off slowly, it is ready to can.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boiling Blueberries

3. Working with one jar at a time, remove a jar from the canner. Place the jar on a heat-protected work surface, such as a wooden cutting board or towel. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Slide a rubber spatula down between the food and the inside of the jar two or three times to release air bubbles. Adjust headspace if necessary, by adding more hot jam. With a clean damp cloth or paper towel, wipe jar rim and threads. Center the sealing compound on the rim of the jar. Place a screw band on the jar. With your fingers, screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. (Do not use excessive force to tighten.) Return the jar to the rack in the hot water-filled canner. Repeat filling steps until all jars are filled.

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Six jars of blueberry jam, all ready to eat!

4. When all of the jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover and bring the water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, process for 10 minutes. After letting it sit in the pot with the lid off for 5 minutes, remove the jars, lifting them out of the hot water without tilting them. You don’t want to disturb the lids while the seal is being formed. Place the jars upright on a towel in a draft-free place and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

It makes a delicious topping for toast!

Next up, strawberry jam! That will have to be a different post though, because I can’t find the memory card those photos are on…

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Things are Happening

They just aren’t getting blogged very regularly. SD arrived two weeks ago, and we’ve been busy running around to her activities, and entertaining screaming 7 year old girls in our house most evenings.

Needless to say, things have been hectic lately. Add that on top of crazy fieldwork, and it’s been easy to feel overwhelmed. To combat that, I decided we should take a spontaneous trip to the lake- no work, no computers, just enjoying early summer in the mountains. We had amazing weather for it, and it was great to just relax and enjoy nature for a bit.

 

It was fantastic coming back from a weekend like this. I feel more refreshed than I have in a long time. Even better? We head back up at the end of this week! This time we’re hoping the wild blueberries are ripe when we arrive.

Someone has also decided she wants riding lessons. She’s had two now, and looks like a natural in the saddle. I’m so proud of her. Best part is, it’s something she really wants to do and looks forward to. Her pony’s name is Buddy, and he reminds me of some stubborn ponies I’ve ridden in the past. She’s already been working on trot on the lunge line during her lessons. She rides around with the biggest grin on her face- I’m surprised her cheeks aren’t aching by the end! Below are some photos and a video of her riding.

Of course, this means there is little progress for me to show you on my other endeavors. I’ve just finished one sweater for baby-to-be, and am working on one for a friend. I also just picked up a huge box of blueberries, so next time I should have a tutorial on making blueberry jam.

What fun things do you have planned this summer?

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Success!

This past weekend, I hosted a trunk show for my business. I set up on the front patio of my local yarn store on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day- not too hot, just enough of a breeze, and sunny. The store currently carries only one size of bags that I make, so I loved having the opportunity to showcase a wider range of sizes, plus introduce new items. Overall it was a very productive day, and I am glad I did it.

Here was the set-up:

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Here are the large box bags and drawstring bags. These large bags are amazing- I can fit a completed adult men’s sweater in one! These are nice for those large projects. The photo on the right is notion pouches, DPN holders, and needle rolls. These were all brand new items, and I loved having the chance to show them off.

These next two photos are just an overview of the set-up. A really cute location, and a ton of fun to do.

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Now on to some more fun personal stuff!

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First up is shawl progress. We had such gorgeous weather a few weekends ago that I spent the afternoon on our patio knitting. This of course involved lunch on the patio, too. We eat nothing but the best here- mystery meat in a tube. The shawl is complete, with a few modifications. I didn’t do the lace edging, and instead did a garter stitch border. I wish I had more mats so I could have blocked it a bit more vigorously, but it is still pretty generously sized. I am so madly in love with the fiber and color that I am tempted to buy another 8oz and spin some more.

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I also went on a baking kick. This was a rosemary potato bread recipe I’ve had for a while, but never tried. This came out exactly like the Wegman’s rosemary-sea salt bread. It was delicious, and gone within a few days. I couldn’t believe how large the two loaves were going to be- these things proofed out huge!

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Then it was pie time. Blueberries aren’t quite in season here yet, but they are on sale at the grocery stores, so we decided it was time for blueberry pie. It’s my basic pie recipe- baked shell, with the hot filling poured in and then chilled. It takes 15 minutes, start to finish, and is always a hit.

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I will say, all of this activity seemed to wear someone out. She tried to help as much as possible (read: get underfoot and then be cranky when she accidentally got kicked); but finally resigned herself to napping over by my wheel.

 

 

 

And what would this be without a photo of my current WIP?

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That right there is 21 weeks. I feel so much larger than I look! He is becoming quite active- the kicks are visible now, and half the time it feels like an alien is trying to burst out of me. We are officially past the halfway point! I guess this means we should start working on putting together a nursery…or planning a nursery…

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Making Progress

There is something about the true advent of Spring that makes me productive. I’m not talking about spring on the calender, when we can still expect at least one good snow and more than a few frosts. I mean when the time is right to plant gardens, attend outdoor festivals, sit on back patios drinking your morning coffee and it being the perfect temperature. This is my second favorite time of the year.

This time of year always kicks my butt into high gear, and I love having a long weekend available to me to take advantage of this. This past week I finally got my snapdragons planted out front:

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Yay crummy cell phone photos! Anyway, there are three rows on either side of the steps: 4 in the first row, 3 in the second, and 2 in the third on each side. I’m hoping they fill out. This is the first year I’ve been able to plant my own flower bed, so I’m a little nervous that I somehow screwed something up and doomed these flowers to a wilting, sorrowful life.

 

My container vegetable garden looks to be doing well, although I am a bit worried now that I put too many tomato plants in one planter. I may have to find somewhere else to put one. I don’t know. We’ll see how they do.

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20140525_102817was worried they wouldn’t get enough sun back here, but the seem to get full/partial sun from sunrise to about 4pm back there, and doing well so far.

My pepper plants are doing well too- the first flowers have bloomed, so we should start seeing peppers developing here soon.

My squash/pumpkin/cucumber are also doing better than I expected. I need to buy a trellis to set up in the back of their planter, but I think I have a few weeks before it becomes an issue.

And finally my sugar peas have sprouted! These guys popped up way earlier than I expected, and every morning when I check on them it seems they have developed in leaps and bounds. I cannot wait to collect our first harvest from them, probably in early July.  I plan on then planting a second batch in August for fall peas.

And in the knitting front, I am cruising on the Monsoon Shawl. At this point I have finished 3/4 of the lace repeats, and just have one more to go plus the edging. I am hoping to have this finished next weekend. It’s a really quick knit, and super easy to follow once you get the hang of it. I love how it looks in this merino/bamboo blend (details here). I am thinking of making this again in an alpaca or alpaca blend. Eventually. After knitting baby stuff.

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Did I mention last time that we found out what we are having? By October, we will have a little baby boy! J is so excited, and I am too, although he is very picky about what I can knit for said baby now. I’m glad I had already planned to go with a fall palate for most of the items I am making, regardless of sex.

Last but not least, we checked out an antique store today. It took a lot of willpower for me to not buy this antique wheel. It is fully functional, with a screw tension MOA. The wood was in great condition, considering how old it looked, and when I tested it (as much as I could) it moved so incredibly smoothly. It’s only $88 and it took all of my willpower to not buy it right then. If it’s still there in a month or two, I don’t think I will be able to resist. It’s not a CPW, but it is a nice little antique machine.

What have you been up to this holiday weekend?

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The Colors of Spring

 

This winter has been so long and gloomy that I needed something cheerful to work on for a bit. It didn’t help that J wanted me to knit him a sweater- that was grey. Really, buddy?

So I did some stash diving and found 8oz of merino/bamboo blend roving that I purchased at MDSW 2010. I spun some of it up back in December, but the majority of the spinning and plying took place last week. Once I was done plying, I got to try out my new/old spinning weasel for the first time ever. This thing is awesome! 120 rotations/click, which works out to 312 yards or so.  It makes calculating yardage so much easier. 

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Finished yarn! I had to do two mini skeins; one is a traditional 3-ply (like the large skein) and the other is a chain ply because one bobbin had waaaaay more singles on it than the other two. If the weather FINALLY clears up, I’ll wash and whack these this weekend. The ultimate plan is to knit myself the Monsoon Shawl from IK Spring 2014. This will make such a nice, squishy wrap.

In other spring news, the local farmer’s markets have moved outside again! This one just happens to occur the same day as knit night, in the parking lot behind the yarn store. Thursdays are about to get a lot more expensive. I don’t care- fresh produce! Free range eggs! Fresh cheese! Well, as fresh as you want cheese to be.  

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There are no pictures of the planters with my snap peas and carrots since they haven’t sprouted yet. Just imagine another box, full of dirt.I also managed to get my miniscule vegetable garden planted this week. The first picture are my three tomato plants- a green zebra, an amish paste, and…I forget the third, but it’s a dark red/brown color. The second picture is my pepper plants. I forget the names, but we got two sweet and one hot pepper. The one on the far right is a chocolate something or other- I’m excited to see what those are like. Finally, my vine plants! There’s one cucumber plant, a longneck pumpkin, and a butternut squash. I’m not sure how well they will all do in there, but we shall see. 

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And finally, our lazy Saturday morning. Someone did not feel like getting out of our nice warm bed today. She got up long enough to eat and run around like an elephant for about 10 minutes, then back to sleep for the past oh, 3 hours. She’s lucky she’s cute.

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Next up: figure out what fiber I want to spin now! I’m also trying to talk J into going to an estate sale today. I think I can get a CPW  for pretty cheap. Who could turn that down?!

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Always Playing Catch-up

Keeping up is hard to do, lately. So much going on, and so little time to record it! The usual is still going on; school is school, pregnancy is…interesting, bags are selling well at the local shop, and work is busy. Honestly, I don’t have it in me to write too much, so I’ll just show you what I’ve been up to in pictures.

Chocolates from our favorite local chocolate shop. I get spoiled occasionally. Maybe it is worth the morning sickness ;)

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I started this while we were still having dark, gloomy weather. It’s a merino/bamboo blend and just so darn cheerful. It spins up like butter and makes me happy. 

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The rest of these photos are from MDSW 2014, which just ended. This year my parents made the trip down with me. I didn’t buy much, but we had such an enjoyable day checking out the sheep and food. I bought 1/2lb of cormo roving, 4oz of BFL/nylon roving from FatCatKnits, and worsted yarn from Neighborhood Fiber Co. to make a sweater for baby.

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Ice cream before we leave!

 

 

 

 


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I’m going to get my things organized, and hopefully have a much more interesting post after this, showing completed projects and plans for my next few. 

Posted in fiber, knitting, MDSW, roving, spinning, wool, yarn | 2 Comments

In like a Lion, out like a…Lion?

I would apologize for not posting in a month but honestly… I have had way too much going on to blog. March has been a whirlwind of not only crazy unseasonal winter weather, but also activity! Right about the time we moved into our new house, we received some surprising news:

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There’s a baby D on the way! We are so excited, and nervous, and thrilled, and terrified. That contributed a lot to the lack of blogging. I was so sick and tired for the entire first trimester, that doing anything besides getting up, going to work, coming home and going to sleep was too taxing. Plus it’s hard to keep a secret like that when you have a blog. I mean, there wasn’t much I could talk about besides “looked at baby knitting. Was sick all day.” 

What’s new in knitting? Well, I started a baby sweater! This is the owlet pattern by Kate Davis. I needed an easy pattern to start out with, and I have wanted to knit an owls sweater for ages. This seemed like a great one to start with. I’m already binding off the neck, and only have to graft the sleeves, weave in ends, and block it.  This sweater will be done in no time!

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Oh, J’s 2013 birthday socks? I finally  finished them last week. They are done, ends woven in, and sitting on top of his dresser. I am so glad to have those done. I never want to look at that pattern again. 

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Other than that, not much going on. My full-time job has me working more than full-time right now, so any free time I have is spent doing homework for my graduate class, or trying to keep up with housework. I’m hoping now that I’m in the second trimester that I’ll be able to keep up with things a little better. In the meantime, I plan on spending the rest of this gloomy, rainy, sleety Sunday sitting on the couch with a hot mug of tea and some knitting to relax with. 

 

 

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And We’re Back!

Whoops, a month since my last post! It’s been crazy here, between moving, coming down with the flu, fieldwork picking up, and trying to keep up with bag orders, it’s been hard to find time to blog.

So, what has been going on besides that? Well, we got a little bit of snow the other week:

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We’ve moved into our new house, and now I have an entire room to craft in! My own personal space! I’m excited. There is still a lot of organizing to be done, but it’s to the point where it’s functional, and that’s good enough for now.

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My bags are now available at Little Owl Knit Shop! They have only been open for a month but already have an amazing selection of yarn, and a nice display of awesome project bags if I do say so myself.

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Josh’s birthday socks (for 2013) are *almost* done. I love the pattern, but the one thing I hate is knitting men’s socks toe up. The easy part gets done first, and then the rest just drags. Pictured is sock #1. Sock #2 is done up to the heel, and all that is left is the leg portion.

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And in non-crafting news, we have been geeking out lately with our newest game- Star Trek Catan. This version of Settlers of Catan is so much fun. Well, it would be a lot more fun if J didn’t kill me in every game we played.

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Hopefully things will be slowing down a bit over the next couple weeks, and I will be able to post more. I do want to post some of the new things showing up at Rock Solid Designs in the next month or so.

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Things and Stuff…and a Giveaway!

Oh man. There is nothing worse than having to do fieldwork in the middle of winter…with a fever. Needless to say, recovering from that has really limited my crafting lately. In addition, we are getting ready to move next week. J has been boxing our household items up daily, and every time I turn around something has been moved or packed. I dread how much worse it will be after the move- I’m sure I won’t be able to find anything for weeks!

Luckily I was able to get some knitting in before my entire life ends up in boxes. I finished my Opulent Raglan over the holidays. This is hands down my favorite top. It fits great, the color is amazing, and the pattern was a pleasure to knit. I got tons of compliments on it when I wore it to my company holiday party last week. I made some minor modifications to it: instead of a turned hem, I just did a 2×2 rib along the bottom. I also stopped the sleeves just short of the elbow and did a 2×2 rib there. I think this makes for a more versatile top, plus I really hate wearing ruffles.

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I also completed my annual New Year’s Cast-On Along project. I needed something quick and simple to cheer me up. This cowl was the perfect thing! Knit with bulky baby alpaca yarn, it knit up in one day and soft and cozy. I found the perfect large, purple buttons to put on it. I love wearing this thing. I’ll be sad when it warms up this spring! (also, please ignore the awful florescent indoor photos. Winter in PA is an awful time to try and get natural lighting.)

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I’ve also finally pulled my spinning wheel back out for a few days before we need to pack it up for the move. I have some merino/bamboo blend from MDSW 2010 that I’ve finally decided to dive in and spin. This fiber is like butter. I wish I could remember who the vendor was. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them every year though, so I’ll have to remember to go buy some more this spring.

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…that’s a bad photo. I really need to find time to take a photography course of some sort. You always see all these blogs with beautiful photos, and I wish I could make mine look like that. Maybe that will be a goal for this summer.

 

 

Finally, exciting news! Over at Rock Solid Designs, we are adding needle rolls to our product line-up. To celebrate, I’ve decided to give away this roll.

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All you have to do to win this, is enter the giveaway over here. You need to hurry though! Entries close on January 21, at 11:59pm. 

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