Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring (please)!

We're supposed to get an inch of snow tomorrow. I'm not going to think about that. I'm going to look at these photos I took today of the cherry blossoms, and pretend that it was forecast to be 60 degrees and sunny all weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rainy evening

I am so pleased to be eating this scone right now. With creme fraiche on it! And some tea to go with it! I made them from smitten kitchen's Meyer lemon and cranberry scone recipe. She suggests freezing the dough and baking the scones as needed, which sounded like a great idea. And it is.

I was concerned about spending the first day of spring making very wintery-flavored scones, but it turns out spring isn't really ready to commit yet. Also, there is no correct season for delicious scones. Also also, I decided to make these because of a spring-cleaning impulse to get rid of the cranberries languishing in my freezer, but I only used up about half of them for this batch of scones. So... more scones!

Other excitement of the night:

I graduated from "learning stitches" and "making swatches" to trying to make an actual thing, from a real pattern. This is the yarn I used when I was learning to crochet, so I thought it was appropriate to use it again for my first real knitting attempt. I'm wondering if that was a bad idea, because this yarn is hideous and the scarf is going better than expected so far. It will annoy me to finish this and end up with a decent scarf that I will never wear. On the other hand, it would annoy me more to pick new yarn and then mess it up or lose interest, and it would also annoy me more to have this yarn sitting around in my stash forever (I love using things up, if you can't tell).

Monday, March 21, 2011

(Mostly) finished product!

This is how I spent my Saturday afternoon. Now my bag is finished! I'm very happy with how it turned out, over all. I decided to lengthen the straps by a few inches, because I knew I wouldn't use a bag that I couldn't carry on my shoulder. I also added an inch to the height of the bag... but failed to account for that when I was sewing the straps down, so I had to do a little hand-work to make it looked like I wanted it to. I was really disappointed when I realized what I did, because my moment of "oh my god, I sewed something perfectly!" turned out to be so short-lived (and incorrect). But I'm okay with it now. I'm still considering taking it back to the height the pattern meant it to be (hence mostly finished product), but for now I'm letting it sit and I'll see what I think about that in a few more days.

Here it is!

This is the height that it will be if I correct my mistake/failed alteration. I feel like maybe the proportion of different fabrics looks better this way, but I'm not positive.

I just love the way these three look together.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's day cupcakes

I've had smitten kitchen's "car bomb" cupcakes bookmarked for two years now. I was intimidated by the chocolate-whiskey ganache, and by the fact that I don't really like Guinness and rarely drink Bailey's, but at the same time... car bomb cupcakes. What better for me to bring to the St. Patrick's Day potluck at work?

I skipped the ganache filling, which made my life a lot easier. As it was, I was still frosting these at midnight on Wednesday, while also making a heroic effort to drink as much of the bottle of leftover Guinness as I could. I disliked it less than I remembered, but I still only got through about 8 oz. of it (I opted to get one 22 oz. bottle instead of a six-pack for the recipe). Still, I knew I was probably doing something very wrong when I poured the rest of it down the drain, and even though I didn't mind the loss of the Guinness, it hurt my waste-not-want-not heart.

The cupcakes, though, are very good, and slightly but not too beer-y. I ran out of space in the boxes I brought them to work in, so a few had to stay behind at my apartment (alas), and I think one will go well tonight with a little bit of Bailey's... which I do like to drink.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sad rug

When I was about 11, I got to pick out my own comforter, pillow and sheet set for the first time, which was a really exciting event - I even got curtains that matched. After about 13 years, not surprisingly, the flannel sheets I used every winter were worn out to the point that calling them "sheets" was a joke. There was a worn-through area on the fitted sheet that was almost as big as me, so finally I decided to stop calling them "sheets" and call them what they were: rags.

And what else does a crafty crocheting person do with rags, besides make a rag rug? So 15 years after first getting these sheets, and at least 5 years after they reached the end of their lifespan, and about a year after I acknowledged that fact and decided to cut what was left of them into strips and sew them together, and about one hour of work, I have this silly rug.

It is small and stupid. It's also pretty comfortable to stand on, so if I actually needed a small, slightly misshapen rug, this would be fairly useful. As it is, it was basically an exercise in being "thrifty" for no reason, but even though I might not use this rug - might even throw it away the next time I move - I still feel better having made it than I would have if I had just thrown out the sheets.

So that concludes my rag rug experiment. Except... I also have the cotton sheets from that bedroom set. Which are also worn out beyond reason. And sitting in my rag bag waiting to see if I want to make another rug.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

French toast

Whenever I decide to make French toast, I always think I need a recipe, so I go online and consult my Betty Crocker cookbook and find myself dithering between the same five or so variations. Of course, there really isn't one way to make French toast, as long as you've got eggs, milk, and various sweet stuff, but since I always want "a recipe," I'm posting this here for my own future reference.

This is the way I made French toast on Sunday, and I think it's pretty close to my usual formula that I come up with after deciding that none of the recipes I see are exactly what I want.

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
This was enough for about 10-12 thin slices of bread.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So, knitting

Yes, knitting. I am doing it. Sort of. As you can probably tell by the picture, until one week ago I had never knit a stitch in my life. That was my first attempt to practice "what I had learned," not just figuring out the actual steps. I knit until I decided I was bored of that, then I purled until I decided I was bored of this ugly scrap altogether.

This is what I produced when I decided I was done practicing randomly, and would now "make a swatch of garter stitch." Obviously it's still far from perfect, but it's a little less appalling than the one in blue. I've also been working on a little square of seed stitch, which has gone better.

Along with the Teach Yourself Visually Knitting book, I have intently studied the How to Knit and Purl Continental Style For Dummies video on YouTube. Even back before I caved and and started learning, I had decided that if I ever learned to knit, I would do it continental style. A friend of mine knits that way, and I think it just looks nicer in her hands. Also, as a crocheter of three and a half years, I liked the idea of continuing to hold the yarn in my normal yarn-hand. But more than anything, I am stubborn. If I'm going to do something that everybody else does, I'm at least going to do it in a slightly less common way.

I feel a little sheepish that I have to give up my identity, among my small circle of people who do crafty things, as "the crocheter that has no idea how to knit." It seems like everyone either can knit but not crochet, or learned to crochet but forgot how. I, meanwhile, perversely enjoyed telling people who saw me crocheting and assumed I was knitting that I had NO IDEA how to knit, since knitting and crocheting are clearly NOT the same thing. Kind of like how I was really pleased by the fact that I only knew how to play bass, not guitar, because they are NOT the same (bass is better) (so is crochet). But anyway, now that I have finally admitted to myself that there are plenty of knitted things that I would like to make, damned if I am not going to at least learn continental style exclusively.