Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Cookie party!

This is a stock photo of what the cookie cutters can make. The set is no longer made but you can  purchase it on E-bay. It is The Williams-Sonoma Holliday Storybook Cookie Cutters set. For reference, the trees are actually about 4-5" tall

This is my post for my 2013 cookie party! I have started a tradition for family and friends that every year I throw a cookie party. This year will be 3D Christmas scene involving sleigh, reindeer, trees and snowman. I will add to this post as the event evolves. I am making the sleigh and reindeer out of gingerbread cookies and the trees and snowman out of sugar cookie dough. I will pre-color the tree dough green.

This is the gingerbread recipe that I am using. It is included in the cookie set.

Gingerbread cookies
(This recipe states it's lighter than those used for houses so suitable for small cookies. See my cookie party 2012 post for a gingerbread house recipe.
Have ingredients at room temperature before starting

Combine and sift together than set aside
5 c. flour
½ t. Baking soda
1T. Ground ginger
4t. Ground cinnamon
¾ t. ground cloves
1t. Nutmeg
1t. Allspice
1 ½ t. salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using flat beater, beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale yellow (4-6 minutes)
                2 sticks (1 cup) butter

Add and beat for 1 minute
                ½ c. firmly packed brown sugar
                ½ c. granulated sugar

Reduce speed to low and beat in, until well combined (about 1 minute)
                1 c. molasses

Add and beat until well combined
                1 egg

Add the flour mixture in 4 portions, beating in each addition before adding more. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl occasionally.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and with floured hands divide into 4 sections. Shape each section into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, parchment paper or other material and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven t o400ºF (200ºC)

Remove dough 1 disc at a time and let stand 10 minutes. Roll out to ¼ “- 3/8” thickness and cut.

Bake cookies until lightly browned on the bottom (4-5 minutes for smaller cookies 6-7 minutes for larger cookies). 

Let cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before removing and placing on cooling rack. Trim cookies while warm as needed

Cookie party was a success (as it usually is). I found some silicone molds for $1.99 at our grocery store (Meijer's) so I melted Jolly rancher candies into them. the gingerbread men and snowflakes took 1 candy. and I used 3 for the presents to fill the bow space.

 And as for the cookies.... it was FUN! We had lots of candy to decorate with and a room full of creative people who have unique senses of humor is always a good thing.
 This one belonged to a friend of mine. Her and her husband love to do cookie stuff.

 This is my niece with her decked out tree


 Another friend has their sleigh running over some poor gummy bears!
 And my daughter made a full on cookie crime scene!

 For the candy decorations we had...
  • colored sugar
  • candy corn
  • mints
  • gummy bears
  • gummy worms
  • sour gummy worms
  • chocolate covered raises
  • spice drops
  • pull and peel twizlers
  • peppermint candies
  • mini M&M's
  • mini reses cups
  • smarties
  • candy pearls (in assorted colors and sizes)
  • jelly beans
  • icing
  • buttercream frosting
  • royal frosting
We may have had more, but that is what i can think of for now.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My daughter is going on a learning trip to Europe!

My Daughter Anja is now officially accepted into the People to People Student Ambassador program. We have created a FB page that she will update with her experiences through this whole process at.

Trip of a Lifetime

We would appreciate it if you would like the FB page to help get it seen.

Also the actual fundraiser site is.

Help me experience a trip of a lifetime!

She has set the goal at $3000 but the total trip is close to $7000. She will be doing work and other activities to raise funds along with any donations we are able to collect.

This is a 19 day long trip and is full of experienes that she just would not be able to get any other way. IF you would like to see the itinary for her trip you can see it here

Celtic Cultures

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Knitted decreases... how do they work?

This description is directed at mirror knitters and the mirrored version of decreases.
Mirror knitters swap the meanings for the decreases we use because we approach the stitches from the other direction.

I am posting this here. I have shared this on a board on Ravelry and thought i would add it here for refrence.

Below is a swatch I made showing various decreases with explanations of how/why they work. This description is of the decreases from the top section down.

These descriptions refer to stitches mounted so that the leading leg is in front. Due to your personal style of knitting the stitches on the needles may not be mounted leading leg in front and require extra slipping for correct placement to avoid twisting your finished stitches. I am a combined knitter so I have to manipulate stitches a bit more than some.

Patterns are written assuming you have your leading leg in front so that is what based these descriptions on.

block 1:
on the left are  ssk’s  - the line of decrease slants to the right (right leaning) the stitches to the right are ending at the line of decrease
on the right are the k2tog - the line of decrease slants to the left (left leaning) the stitches to the left are ending at the line of decrease
at the top where they join is s1 k2tog psso (you can see both lines of decrease end at this point and the point sits on top and the center stitch under sort of disappears into the point.
the last decrease directly on top is a sl2tog k1 psso you can see the center line stays on top and the side stitches end into and behind it.
block 2:
these are all s1 k2tog psso - when stacked this creates a choppy line because the side stitches are being pulled over the center stitch and covering it.
block 3:
sl2tog k1 psso - you can see the center line stays on top and the stitches that are being reduced are “disappearing” behind the center line.
this stitch is not used nearly as much as the s1 k2tog psso decrease.

on the bottom 2 samples I placed an extra row between the 1st and 2nd decreases to sort of show them better. on the top sets of decreases I worked them directly on top of each other
*you can click to enlarge the image for a better view.

when working decreases on the wrong side that will be seen on the knit side you need to switch decreases to get the desired result on the right side of the fabric.

To demonstrate why this is, take a small piece of paper and make a diagonal line from the lower left to the upper right corner, this line represents a right leaning decrease. When you turn the paper over that line is now left leaning.
ssp = left leaning decrease on the right side
p2tog = right leaning decrease on the right side

If you are decreasing in a field of purls and the purl side is the right side it doesn’t matter which decrease you use because lean cannot be seen on the purl side. use whichever one is easier for you.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fixing an accidental short row

 So you are knitting and you find that you have this strange hole. You don't know exactly what it is, but you don't want a hole in your knitting.

You figure it's not to bad, only 1 stitch, so you ladder down to fix it.

 When you get down to the hole you find a loop
 This loop means you set your knitting down mid row and when you picked it back up you accidentally turned your work creating a short row.
 To fix this you actually need to drop 2 columns of stitches. Here I dropped the stitches to the right of the loop. You want to drop the stitches on the other side of the loop. My loop is on my left so I dropped another column on the right. You want to drop just to the stitches directly below the loop.
 Here I have placed the 2 stitches onto a crochet hook. Crochet hooks are very handy for this sort of thing.

 Holding the loop I am grabbing both legs and will draw them through the 1st loop on the hook to create a stitch. Don't pull all the way through. .
 Leave the loop end hanging out. you can stick a stitch marker in it if you are worried about loosing the loop. I used a knitting needle and stuck that through the loop. Here my stitch is on the hook and the loop is on the needle above it.
 place the stitch you just made onto a needle or something to keep it and don't loose the loop sticking out.
 Now your next stitch you want to drop just 1 more stitch down from where you are

 Here my hook is through my stitch and the bar above it that I just dropped
 And hook the loop
 Pull both the loop and the bar through the stitch on the hook.
Transfer the stitch you just made to your needle. You now have 2 stitches that are 2 strands thick on the needle
 Now just work your way back up to the top knitting with the bars from the stitches you just dropped and treating the 2 strand stitches as though they were just one strand thick.

Personally I prefer to work with my needles. I knit my 2 stitches, transfer them back to the other side needle and knit them with the next bar and repeat till I'm back at the top.
 Once you worked back up you now have fixed the hole. There is a slight thickness where you fixed it form the 2 stitches that are double thick. Also you have 1 more row on one side than the other from accidentally turning your work. But this won't really be a problem unless you do this to often. This fix disguises the problem area and closes the hole created by the short row.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

back bar single crochet

This is a technique that I cam up with when someone posted a "how is this done?" photo. This is crochet through the back bar of the stitch and it is always worked with the right side of the fabric facing you.

When working this flat, you work 1 row and break your yarn and return to the beginning to start the next row new. By working through the back bar of the stitch you are pushing forward the top edge which leaves the right side of the fabric showing the braided edge of each row. This also results in a denser fabric. 

I recommend using a larger hook and a non splitty yarn to be sure you can get your hook into the back bar of the stitch. For the initial chain I worked it with a hook 2 sizes larger than the one I did the work with to help eliminating a tight edge.

This also will bias hugely as it's worked all from the right side. There are ways to counter this effect and I will mention them later. Due to the tails on each side, this is also a great fabric to add fringe to, especially if you are working each row in a different color.

This makes a nice fabric for a place mat, or a unique texture for a scarf. You can work it in the round to create a unique striped edging for a blanket.

this is the fabric from the back. You can click on the images to enlarge them.

To start, chain a desired amount for the length you wish to make. Use a hook 2 sizes larger than your working hook to make sure your starting chain does not get to tight while working into the stitches.

* I always prefer to work my 1st row of any project through the back bumps of the chain. This creates a nice edge.

After you have made your chain, turn and switch to the smaller hook and now  work 1 row of SC. I like to end with a chain one than break my yarn. (this is the right side of the fabric)

After this point you will always have the right side facing and you will be crocheting into the back bars of the stitches.

Return to the start and join with a single crochet into the back bar of your 1st stitch. 

To join with a single crochet place your slip knot on your hook and insert your hook into the bar, yo and draw up a loop, 

yo and draw through loop and slip knot on hook.

Continue working accross the row working 1 sc into the back bar of each stitch on the previous row. 

When you reach the end the last stitch can be hard to see. This one is a bit harder to see because i left my ends loose.

Here I have 1 stitch left to make

Continue to work 1 sc in each back bar to the last stitch and chain 1 and break yarn

Working every row as stated above will result in a fabric that slants on both sides. This is just the nature of this stitch.


If you wish to minimize this effect or shape the bottom differently, you can work 2 sc into the 1st bar of the row and on the last 2 stitches sc them together (insert hook into next stitch, yo draw up a loop, insert hook into last stitch yo and draw up a loop, yo and draw through 3 loops on hook). doing this on every row will result in the fabric slanting the opposite way. Alternating every 5 rows or so between regular and the shifted rows will result in a edge that has points.

To make the edges more straight. work one row regular, stitch for stitch to the end. and work the next row with the sc2 in 1st bar and sc2tog in last 2 bars. this will help keep the edges in a straighter line.

On the 1st 3 rows of the pruple here, I have worked them as the shifted rows starting with 2sc in 1st bar. you can see the slant is gong the oposite way as the edg in the fabric below the purple.

the rest of the purple is worked alternating rows which has caused a straighter edge.

this is how the solid section will look from the back

and form the front

Caron Simply Soft Vs. Hobby Lobby's Yarn Bee Soft Secret

I recently ha to pick up yarn form Hobby Lobby. I really don't like shopping there but it was across from my knitting group and I needed yarn. They have been slowly pushing out other brands and replacing them with their own. Most recently they have gotten rid of (or are in the process of getting rid of) Caron Simply Soft (CSS) yarn and replacing it with their brand Yarn Bee Soft Secret (YBSS). At a glance they look similar, thin weight yarn, lovely sheen, vibrant colors.

Would I recommend YBSS? NO!

My skein of CSS heather grey had 315 yards of yarn. the YBSS had 370 yards. So by yardage there is more yarn. But this yarn is very loosely plied which causes it to compress to a smaller size.

Here is a closeup of a blanket I am working on. This blanket is a collective blanket so I do not know what the square are made from because they were sent to me from around the world. But I am assembling them in CSS grey heather. I purchased the YBSS in the rainbow colors. This is how they crochet together. I used an I hook.

*click on the images for an enlarged view.

Here is a side by side of the CSS (grey) and YBSS (blue and purple) yo ucan see the ply is looser.

 Here I split the plies of both yarns. you can see the CSS is spun much tighter and is a 4 ply yarn. the YBSS is only a 3 ply yarn and is spun much looser.

Also when walking through the store the and when I put the yarn on the counter it had left lots of lit on my shirt.

I would not reccomend this yarn. If you like CSS stick to CSS and don't bother with the YBSS

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Adding a corchet edging

I am working on a collective blanket and I have received crochet and knit squares from around the world for this blanket. Lots of gauges are different and I am going to crochet the blanket together. So to prep for this I am putting a crochet edging on every square to make it easier to assemble. the thing is there are so many different gauges and I am a very relaxed crocheter (and knitter) so my gauge is looser than some PPL's. I'm also crocheting with a I hook

If I work stitch for stitch my edging would end up ruffled because my gauge is much looser than the original knitter/crocheters. So  I thought I would take the opportunity to make this little post.

This is how you can tell if you will end up with a ruffle or a pucker wend adding a crochet border to a project weather it is knit or crochet.

Sorry for the quality of these photos, I took them with my phone. But I think you can still see what I'm talking about. Here I have corchet along the edge of a square. but you can see the edge of my stitch is nearly at the edge of the next stitch  I have not crochet into. If I keep going at a stith for stitch rate, I will end up with a edging that ruffels. so when I see my stithc start to run ahead of the stitch I hven't worked into yet I know it's time to work 2 as 1 off my square edge.

 So to make up the difference here I have simply inserted my hook inot hte back loop of the next stitch and the one after that and worked them as 1. You can see now my stitch is no longer leaning over the next stitch and I have compensated for the difference in gauge. You want your edging stitch to be directly above the stitch you are working into. I really like to crochet into the back loop (if able) when this may be an issue because you cannot see the crochet 2 tog and it doesn't interfere with the edging lines.

Some squares I had to sc 3 and than sc 2tog to get the edging to be nice and smooth.

An if you are working your edging and it seems your stitches are starting to pull back  you need to crochet 2 into the 1 on the next stitch to make up for the difference. IF you don't than you will end up with a tight edge that may pucker and curled up.

And that is how you read your crochet and you will be able to keep your edging in match with your project if they happen to be at different gauges.

Now I did have one knitted square that was so tight on the edge I could not get my I hook into the stitches to make an edging. the way I adjusted for that was I did 1 round with a G hook because it fit more easily into the stitches and than the next round with an I hook and didn't increase stitches in the corner as the hook size increased it naturally.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Steam blocking

I made a video of me blocking my recent shawl to show how easy steam blocking is. This shawl is crochet from KP Gloss Lace yarn which is a 70/30 blend of wool/silk Steam blocking is my preferred method for blocking. It's really fast and you eliminate that pulled look that you can get from over stretching on pins. For items that have rounded curves, this is a great way to block and not loose those lovely lines.

Here is the center crock stitch spine before I blocked it.

And this shows the difference after blocking. In the video you can see it just lay down as i block it.