Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Knitting and Holiday Fudge

Today I went to the new yarn shop (less than 1 mile away). Wow, has it changed since they got settled in! I've already made some choices of yarn to buy when I get the next income check! In the meantime, she gave me some tips on working with nubbly yarn (I have Bernat Boucle), that might make things easier. I had to go down to a size 8 circular needle to match the gauge in the Banff sweater. I also bought some wool roving for the sheep slippers (Fiber Trends Pattern) that I would like to start soon. I'll still need a felting needle, but they were not currently in stock. Most of the roving I see for sale are very large quantities. I don't need much!
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Fiber Trends Pattern: felted slippers

Here's a recipe that my neighbor gave me nearly 30 years ago. It's a widely used recipe and makes delicious fudge. Easy, easy, easy, even my brother, the non-cook can make this! And it is fast and not affected by rainy days (as is the case for a lot of fudge recipes). Please note: I copied and pasted this from the Southern Cooking section of about.com, but it is exactly the same recipe I've been using all these years when I need EASY and Fast fudge.

Quick Chocolate Fudge

3/4 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine evaporated milk with sugar and salt. Bring to a boil; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in nuts, marshmallows, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until marshmallows have melted. Pour mixture into a buttered 9-inch square pan. Cut when cooled. Store between layers of waxed paper.

Monday, November 28, 2005

More Towels

Yes, I have finished MORE towels. Another 8 for my Mom to give to a co-worker. You saw the in-progress photos--here they are completed. Instructions can be found at: http://worldofcrochet.blogspot.com/2004/07/instructions-for-towel-topper.html.

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I've been mostly working on scrapbooking stuff since I returned from Texas, but will work in some needlework here and there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Finish, Process and Stuff

Here it is! My finished Thoth! My first 2005 cross stitch finish! Easy to do, looks great. I can hardly wait to start the companion piece (Horus)! I would also like to stitch Anubis and Bastet, but alas, I don't have charts and haven't found any online either. No reason why you can't do this project on 28 ct, but I wanted a travel piece and 18 ct Aida is what worked in most lighting conditions.

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Design by Julie Hasler. Stitched on 18 ct ivory Aida using DMC floss.

In addition, I thought I would provide some step by step on doing crocheted topped towels. It's very easy when you have the proper tools. I start with a good quality towel, although even the cheaper ones at KMart have stood up well to repeated washing. I currently use this marvelous awl that my BIL gave me. You can buy one at a hardware store. This is the best way to make the holes. Alternatively, I used a small nail and a penny nail. The small nail made the initial hole and the penny nail made it large enough to crochet through. There may be other ways to do this (knitting needle comes to mind). Many women use scissors to make the holes. This is a mistake, IMHO. It is NOT worth $150 emergency room visit co-pay! I know 2 women who ended up with stitches and 1 woman who lost the feeling in her finger by using scissors which slipped. So, be warned. Finally, use any acrylic yarn. Test it by making a swatch and throwing in washer and dryer. If the results are acceptable, use the yarn. Even that eyelash stuff works if you like the result after it's been washed and dried. Cotton or cotton blends work also. I did not like the result using wool-but you might. Red Heart is often stiff going through that first row-just use a smaller crochet hook.

To make a crocheted topped towel, cut the towel in half with sharp scissors (you will be making 2). Then fold over a small part of the cut edge and either zig zag (better) or straight stitch. If you don't own a sewing machine, then just hand stitch this over. I do not know if a serged edge will work (I don't own a serger). Test one towel in the washer and dryer--if it doesn't fray, no problem.
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Front and back of towel after sewing.

Next step is doing the holes and the first row. I make about 5 holes and then single crochet through using an F or G hook. Once that first row is done, I typically switch to an H Hook. I just picked these sizes-they give me the results I want. Experiment. These are fun to do and once you've established a pattern, you can do several in an evening. I don't do all the holes at the same time as they are hard to find in the fabric. Terry is sortof 'self-healing'.
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First row in progress

Once you are done with the first row, use whatever pattern of stitch that you want. I hit on one that I particularly like (it doesn't need a button in deference to my Mom's bursitis), but I occasionally see others that I really like that are unlike mine.

Other notes of interest-my sister asked me to housesit for almost 3 weeks. That means I can not only get my rural fix, but finish quilting at least one quilt (she has a table that makes machine quilting easier) before the end of the year. Now, I already got my partial fix by traveling in rural Texas, but it's so much easier getting things done when I don't have to stop and make meals unless I want to. As some of you know, I'm disabled, so don't have the time constraints of a job (just everything else). Generally cheaper too as the closest quilt shop is 45 miles away. On the other hand, Grubers is right on the way. Happily, sis/BIL have made arrangements to have someone else with a tractor plow if it snows. I just wasn't up to get up close and personal with John Deere.

The Banff Is Emerging

There's a sweater pattern that I've just been dying to try called the Banff Sweater. However, I didn't want to spend tons on this as I don't know how it will look on me. Some oversized sweaters look great while others just never look right even if they have a reasonable fit. If my result works well, then I'll reknit it in a bulky brown or denim tweed. I do plan to add some length as I prefer a longer sweater. The free pattern is available at www.knitty.com (look in the Archives under Pullovers).

To make this sweater, I bought a bunch of Bernat Boucle in 'Earth Tones' today at Joann's. Earth tones is a combination of several browns and soft black. I really like tweedy looks. It is barely a bulky yarn, but I'll do a swatch with larger needles and see if that doesn't take care of matching gauge. Annoyingly, Bernat does not list yardage on the package, so I had to guess. Checked the web site (it's 255 yards), and 8 skeins is roughly twice the yardage required. Well, good thing I can return extra! I sortof debated over the Bernat and the new Joann's Rainbow Boucle in a denim. I'd like to find a review about how the Rainbow Boucle washes up.

Oh, yes, and I also bought some double pointeds and a couple balls of a variagated blue sock yarn to make Wendy's Toe Up Socks. I've been meaning to do these for some time, so at least now I have the yarn to do so. The socks are in a springy blue color, so if I don't get to them right away, not a problem!

I already have yarn and needles for Babba's Bed Socks. This was a pattern recommended by a knitting friend and uses 2 skeins of Woolese. This was going to be a take-a-long project, but my yarn choice was a little dark. I'll be working on these as soon as I finish my Mom's latest towel topper request.

Interesting tip from Lilly Chin on Knitty Gritty the other day. For garments, she suggests making a swatch, then hanging it (with some weight) to get the correct gauge when worn. Knitting stretches when you put it on, so this certainly makes sense.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Harry Potter Day!

It's Harry Potter opening day and I will be off to that at 1 p.m. show today. I'm very excited. I also plan to see Zathura (sp?) this weekend. Trailer looked good.

I've been making progress in several areas since my last post. All my photos from the trip are developed or printed and I just haven't gotten around to uploading any here. Now, I'm sorting through in order to plan my scrapbook pages. Other than an album and pages, I don't think I actually need to buy anything else as I have so much stuff already.

Finished my cross-stitched Thoth! I have an actual FINISH for 2005!!

Mom has more towels for me to crochet. I have done all but the trim on 4. Still have 4 to go. These towels are for Ena, one of my Mom's coworkers. Ena bought towels that matched her kitchen decor. As a gift, my Mom is having me crochet the towels (yeah, I know, but its my Mom and saying no to Mom just so doesn't work). Ena and her husband, natives of Belaruse, just passed her US citizenship test and thus the gift (she speaks Russian, BTW). Then they will be able to go back and visit relatives without fear of retribution from the dictator state.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Finally, Justin McBride won the PBR Bullriding Championship! Right down to the wire too--he finished up his 8 seconds nearly upside down on that bull, but held on to the end. You might wonder, what does Bullriding have to do with crafts? Absolutely nothing except that I crocheted while watching it for the last year, so that I could root for Justin (he was the leader last year and broke his leg just before the finals). Now I can move on to other things on Saturday night (especially since my Netflix account has reactivated after vacation).

I spent most of the weekend looking over digital pictures to decide what to print as well as working on my cross-stitch of Thoth. That is going very well. I'm a scrapbooker as well as needleworker, so many days are about to be spent at Archivers, getting these photos into a book pronto. I don't have table space at home to spread out, so I get page packets together and just work on them at the store. Although I own most of what I need, sometimes it helps to be at the store when you find you don't have just the right thing.

I stitched on Thoth while watching the bullriding. Here he is in his current state. I've done all of the figure and just started on the backstitching. I also have the pedestal started. This is quite a fast project, but if you hate color blocks, skip this project! This particular one comes from Julie Hasler's Fantasy Cross Stitch: Zodiac Signs, Mythical Beasts and Mystical Characters. If you really like Egyptian designs in cross stitch, I would recommend purchasing Egyptian Charted Designs by Julie Hasler (printed by Dover). These are lovely, uncomplicated designs that can be done by any cross stitcher on either Aida or some other fabric (over 2 threads). If you prefer more detail, Teresa Wentzler has a great design. As for the book, Fantasy Cross Stitch, I don't recommend it for a beginner. It happens to have some beginner projects, but most require more experience. I bought it mostly for the phenomenal (and complicated) Zodiac designs. I plan to start on Leo (my sign) sometime next year.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Texas Trip Stuff

Now that I've sortof organized since my return, I can post again.

I started my trip at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. Wow, those buildings are awesome--wonderful art deco style. Of course, I checked out the Creative Activities area-plenty of quilts! Not too much cross stitch or knitting and only a couple of crocheted afghans. It took me half a day to figure out what was wrong at the Fair-no kids. Unlike the Minnesota State Fair, this fair starts after the kids are in school, so you don't see any teenagers until after 4 p.m. The evening parade and light show was worth staying for. Wow!

Loved the Ranch Rodeo at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering in Ft Worth Stockyards(http://www.theredsteagallcowboygathering.com/). I was surprised about how much of the cowboy music I already knew. Also took the time out to visit Cabbage Rose Quilt Shop in Ft Worth (http://www.cabbagerosequilting.com/) and bought lots of western fabric/patterns. I think I spent more than two hours there! They were also very helpful in giving me directions to other quilt shops that also carried western stuff. Unfortunately, I missed out on most due to arriving after they closed.

Meandered my way to San Antonio via rural highways. Much better than the direct route not only for scenery but for a more relaxing drive. Saw the Alamo and cruised the River Walk (some fine Margaritas were drunk as well). Visited Cross Stitch Plus in San Antonio (http://members.aol.com/CrStPLofSA/). This was a wonderful shop and carried a good selection of Western/Texas patterns also.

After San Antonio, I drove to Houston. Unfortunately, due to the Astros, there simply were no hotel rooms to be had for the weekend (if you didn't already have reservations). So, I did the Houston Quilt Festival all in one day (and had to skip my visit to NASA). Exhausting, but doable. Bought lots of stuff, but limited my fabric purchases to small/tiny prints (best place to find them). My most significant impression of the quilts was that there were many more 'artsy' quilts and modern designs than traditional. I tend to prefer traditional.

Returned to San Antonio and visited both the San Antonio Zoo and Sea World (and finally got sunburned). Then chose to visit caves, which were wonderful! I stopped at Cave Without A Name, Natural Bridge Caverns and Caverns of Sonora. Even if out of your way, they are all worth stopping for. I managed to get as far west as Ozana, then started going north to Abeline. If you plan to visit, check ahead. They have fewer tours at this time of year. For more information on the caves I visited:

I got the biggest kick out of the guys. As soon as they heard I was from MN, they would immediately launch into the problems the Vikings were having. So, yes, without ever hearing the news, I had the blow-by-blow account of Culpepper's injury. When I get all my photos back, I'll upload some!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Back from Texas

Hi y'all! Just letting you know that I'm back from Texas! Ready to go back to West Texas already. Will be posting more information later, but I did go to the quilt show in Houston, quilt and needlework shops and traveled around West Texas a lot (as far west as Ozana). Got quite a bit done on a cross stitch project also. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite photos from the trip. These cows were in the Boerne, TX area (By the gate for the Triple R Bar Ranch)
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For the crafty part of today's post, here's the start I made on the Egyptian God Thoth, a design by Julie Hasler. This is a very good travel project. Design uses 18 ct Aida which is way easy to see in most lighting. It is also all whole stitches. I've completed virtually all the body and have started on the pedestal.
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These are some motifs I made on the scrap afghan on the plane. Note that there seems to be some difference in gauge due to different yarn. I don't usually worry about these too much as they seem to work out when put into the afghan. Travel lesson learned. BLUNT scissors. Mine were too sharp ended and had to be dumped before airport security would let me through (they were only $2). So, bought child blunt scissors at Walmart. No problem with security and they cut through yarn and floss fine.
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