Friday, March 26, 2010

this moment: crochet design time

this is part of my collection of moments i want to remember.

find moments from others here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sweet and Sour: Thoughts on Crocheted Socks

Hello. Here are some socks I made. Yes, me. I made them. And I'm proud because making socks is quite an accomplishment.

I didn't start out to crochet socks, but one day back in January all of the projects I wanted to make were lacking something. I didn't have the right yarn for one or the right hook for another. I was browsing Ravelry and came across a sock pattern. I had the yarn, the hook, and so I decided to give it a go.

Some parts of this project were really fun. The yarn, while I'm not wow-ed by the craziness of the final result, was an absolute joy to crochet with. It's soft and the colors are fabulous. When I first started making these K and I visited an ice cream shop called Banana Moon and soon after, each time that pale yellow came up on my hook, I was imagining banana moon pies. Then purple would surface, and I'd be tasting grape popsicles. Blue conjured images of fluffy cotton candy from the fair, and pink felt like icy cold pink lemonade running down my throat. It's a wonder I got through these socks without eating my weight in sweets.

Do you remember what you thought about as you made certain projects? I know if I'm making something for someone in particular, I often think about them and memories of things we've done together during the making process.

Making these socks was much more difficult than I ever anticipated, which I blame mostly on lack of clarity in the pattern. I'm still not quite sure how to crochet heels. I know that I improvised both heels in different ways, and if you asked me to make another one, it would be different from these two. Perhaps I was misreading the pattern, but when I tried to follow it, I ended up with pretty obvious holes where I made the heel cup, and I was not having any of that. So I changed it, but man was it frustrating in the process.

I'll be honest. Crocheting socks makes me want to learn to knit. It's not that I dislike crocheted socks. It's more that they aren't exactly what I'm looking for in a sock. I want delicate socks that look good with shoes. Crocheted socks are just a bit too chunky for my liking. They're more like slipper socks that are good for wearing around the house and definitely keep your feet snuggly. I'm sure lots of people love crocheted socks for their thickness, warmth, and oh-so-chunky looks. Me? Meh. Maybe if I tried a different pattern or perhaps a solid-colored yarn (because yarn that is self-striping when knit looks pretty crazy when crocheted).

I'm glad I made these socks because it was a challenge that, once completed, made me feel like I could do about anything. Learn to knit? Why yes, I think I can.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Sewing

Happy first day of spring!

 This morning K and I went on a long neighborhood walk and then browsed at the bookstore where I fawned over this sewing book. I want to make myself a dress so much!

Speaking of dresses, have you been keeping up with all of the little girl dresses that Alicia of Posie Gets Cozy has been making? I'd like the morning glory, bouillabaisse, and little prairie in my size.

Well, this week I haven't been making dresses, but I have been doing quite a bit of other sewing. I've also been making my bed, which you can see in these pictures. I'm turning into quite the grown up.*

These are napkins I made for Julia and Lucas, a couple of friends who are getting married. I found the fabric last weekend  while visiting K's parents. We went for lunch and a bit of shopping in Augusta, Kentucky (hometown of George Clooney)** and I stumbled upon the neatest little shop filled with home-sewn quilts, pillows, and lots more. The actual name of the place is Small Town Gift Shop, which is pretty darn quaint. In addition to already sewn items, they had a large assortment of fat quarters tucked away in the back, so I picked up some for these napkins.

This pillow cover was a commission for my friend Sarabee. She liked the one I made for myself so much that she requested one just like it. I had a lot of fun sewing something for someone else.

I sewed up some lavender-filled sachets from vintage sheet scraps. One went to Sarabee, and I put the other one to work making my clothes smell wonderful. It's doing a good job.

I also made another eye pillow from vintage sheets. I really love the soft colors and variety of flowers on these sheets.

Hope you've had a wonderful day celebrating the change of seasons!

One more thing to get excited about is that a couple of great Etsy shops are being updated this weekend. Liesl (Liesl Made) is listing new things and so is Beki (Artsy Crafty Babe). Check them out!

* * * * *

*I'm pretty sure real grown ups say "adult."

**Yeah, we totally found out where George's parents live and stopped to take pictures of their house. I am such a celebrity-hound. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

this moment: letter-writing at the coffee shop

I'm participating in SouleMama's {this moment} series, capturing moments that I want to savor and sharing them here.

more moments can be found here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Crocuses and fuzzy branches

I've started wandering again, snaking down sidewalks and clomping through brick alleyways. I'm so glad that warm, sunny days have returned. Today, fueled by coffee and clementines, I headed out to find signs of spring. 

Delicate stripes. I wish I had a dress made of these petals! Wouldn't that be lovely? I could twirl around in the breeze, then curl up in a patch of sunlight and snooze the afternoon away.

I love these furry little flowers, even though I have no idea what kind of tree this is. I think the color looks great with that blue sky.

Bright purple crocuses, sunning themselves.

More fuzzy branches. 

Such a brilliant yellow! These flowers must have soaked up lots of sunshine.

* * * * * 

How's your spring coming? Any special springtime activities happening yet? K and I are picnicking in the park for dinner! I'm so excited about it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cozy Crochet Before Winter's End

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

I, um, don't have anything green for you today, but I'm sure you can peek out your door and see some green shoots and buds. It's almost spring!

With spring almost upon us, I realized I better show you some warm things I've crocheted before the sun returns, and we all want to throw off the wool. 

Above is a cowl I made on Christmas day. Can you believe it took me three months to show it here? I took this Noro yarn with me in the car on the way to K's parents' house and had this cowl by the time we arrived. 

I used half double crochet, crocheting in the back loop only every other row to create the ribbing. 

I found the wooden buttons at the flea market.

The yarn is beautiful and the cowl is so warm. I'll be putting it away soon because I've heard the sunshine is coming back. I look forward to pulling it out again next fall. 

Next up: socks! I've just got to weave in the ends and take some photos.

* * * 

I hope you're having a lovely week.

 I'm on spring break! Someone asked me what I was doing over the break and all I could say was, "Sewing!" It's true, my sewing machine has been humming every day. Lots going on here...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tyrol Hat

I was instantly smitten when I first saw the Tyrol Hat. It's colorful and old-fashioned--perfect for early morning walks through dew-covered meadows and mist-shrouded woods. When I saw the pattern on the Lovely World blog, I knew I'd be making it, regardless of the facts that warm weather is fast approaching, I don't actually live near any woods, and this hat is meant for a small child. I wanted a Tyrol Hat, and so I made one.

My mom calls this a headwarmer. She had one like it growing up, and that's what she called it. I think it seems right.

Making this headwarmer was so much fun. I spent quite a few frenzied hours in the library, crocheting and trying to keep one eye on my reading (this method will make you go a little cross-eyed!). I finished it up while watching part of Ken Burns's National Parks series, which I would highly recommend. The parks are just breathtaking, and I love learning about their history!

I am really happy with the way my Tyrol hat turned out and will definitely be wearing it if we have any more cold mornings. I may not have woods within walking distance, but I've got lots of neighborhood streets to roam through. 

* * *

If you'd like to try making this hat for yourself or someone you know, you can find the pattern online here.   
Since the pattern is for a child's headwarmer, I had to modify to fit my adult-sized head. I listed my modifications on ravelry, but here they are:

Used G hook (instead of F)

Chained 10 extra at the beginning of the center section, making the whole thing 10 dc bigger

Sewed the granny squares to the center section (instead of crocheting them to connect)

Used 3 39-inch strands of yarn for each tie. I folded the 3 strands in half, then looped them through the bottom corner of the granny square (like fringe). Then I braided them, holding 2 strands together.

* * * * *

What are you making these days?

 I've been working on some sewing and crocheting projects that I'm really excited about.

Friday, March 12, 2010

this moment

fresh cut pasta.

find more moments here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nightstand Love

Well, hello.

I promised myself I wouldn't blog this week, at least not until Friday, because even though I have so many things I want to share here, I also have many things due this week. But, I'm making an exception, even if it means typing up an annotated bibliography late into the night. Oh, the sacrifices I make for blogging...

Today I visited Maria's blog Vintage Simple and saw that the lavender eye pillow I made is now residing on her nightstand. Maria's home is so beautiful and calming. I'm really honored that something I sewed has found a place there. If you've never visited Maria's blog before, take some time to look around. She's got a great eye for design and is so genuine in her writing. I'm sure you'll want to linger.

You can also see Maria's nightstand featured on The Goodie Life. I love seeing the mix of handmade things and books she keeps around to inspire her.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sundry goods from the Vintage Swap

Last week I received a package from Nicola, my vintage swap partner, that was just brimming with vintage goodness. The box was filled with things in yellow and blue hues, so it felt like opening a box of sunshine and blue skies. 

I love everything Nicola sent, especially this mustard tin. It's gorgeous!

I'm excited to dive into the vintage embroidery floss and to find the perfect project to use those lemon chiffon-colored buttons.

Thank you so much, Nicola! 

Be sure to check out Nicola's blog Which Name? She's got a lot of tips on frugality that I'm hoping to adopt! Oh, and she's posted about the vintage items I sent her, which is good because I didn't get  a chance to take any pictures before I sent off the package.

For those of you interested in the Vintage Swap, the next one will be in April. I had a really fun time participating in this one and getting to know lots of new bloggers. It was much harder to shop for someone else than I expected, but I enjoyed being able to say to K, "But honey, I have to go shopping again this weekend. I just have to!" 

Friday, March 5, 2010

this moment

lemon ginger tea with honey.

see more moments here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sugarbush Festival

The maple syrup festival was only a 35 minute drive, but it felt like a world away. Lots of trees, remnants of snow clinging to muddy ground, woodfires with the sweetest smelling smoke, and cold, crisp morning air. I know I've been longing for spring, but the festival was a wonderful cold weather activity.

the approach (so blue)

mom's waffle breakfast


my pancake breakfast



another woodpile (love them)

icicles and log for sawing

There were lots of things to do: seeing the tapped trees in the woods, touring the sugar house, eating lots of homecooked food, browsing craft booths, warming by the fire, throwing axes, and more. The festival continues this weekend, and I'd highly recommend going if you're in the area.

Oh, and thanks to Sue for recommending the maple cotton candy. It tastes so sweet and toasty!

Wishing you a day filled with sweetness!

Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm Walkin' on Sunshine Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lemon Yogurt Cake seemed to be just the thing to bake last week. Gray days and flurries make it seem like spring isn't just around the corner. And we all know it is almost spring. It is! We are mere weeks away, and if nature isn't going to help me out, I figured I'd make my own sunshine. 

Sunny yolks and fluffy clouds of sugar and yogurt

I usually jot down notes in my cookbooks and on printed recipes to keep track of how things went and any changes I'd like to make next time I use the recipe. The note on the lemon yogurt cake shows that I made it almost exactly a year ago, at the tail-end of February, which I think means I was having similar end of winter feelings then. 

Lemon-scented batter

This recipe is from Orangette, whose blog I just love, and whom I hope will return to the world of blogging soon. This is the recipe that led her future husband to her blog, so maybe you've read about it before. Maybe you've even made it before. I'd urge you to take another look at it and bake it now, when a simple lemon cake can transport you from the dregs of winter to a place of citrus and warmth.

Pale yellow glaze

I have tweaked the recipe just a bit, zesting only one lemon and using the juice of half a lemon for the glaze (the original recipe calls for the juice of two lemons, which always left me with soggy cake).

Sunshine on a plate

I'm Walkin' on Sunshine Lemon Yogurt Cake

Adapted from Orangette's G√Ęteau au Citron, or, French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon

Cake ingredients:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Glaze ingredients:
Juice from half a lemon
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir the eggs, sugar, and yogurt in a large bowl until well-blended. Mix in flour, baking powder, and lemon zest and stir until just combined. (Tip: if you zest your lemon directly into the batter, all of those lovely drops of lemon oil will make it into your cake, too.) Add in the oil and mix briskly until it's well-blended into the rest of the batter. 

Pour batter into a well-oiled 8-inch round cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until cake springs back when touched. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely. 

For the glaze:

Mix lemon juice and powdered sugar in a bowl. (Tip: if the powdered sugar doesn't dissolve all the way, microwave for a few seconds at a time until it is completely dissolved into the juice.) Spoon the glaze over the cake; it will soak into the cake, giving a burst of tart citrus flavor to complement the slightly sweet cake.

Eat up and enjoy the sunshine you've made. 

*It's almost spring. Hooray!*


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