Saturday, April 16, 2016

Crafts - A beautiful exchange <3

The last project I did in 2015 was another Boo Knits' pattern called "Temptress". It all started out with some yarn that I bought in this variety by mistake, the Dragonfly Fiber Nautilace. The mistake was that I thought the yarn came as a 4oz/110g skein, instead it was 2oz/56g - oooops. This meant I needed to find a pattern that would only use up this small amount of yarn but still be special and lo, behold - another one of Bev's fit the bill! I finished the shawl right on December 31st while on vacation and blocked it soon after.

While I really liked how it turned out I somehow had the hunch this piece was not for me (slightly too "bright" of a color if you can say so of silver-grey) but had to think of a dear friend of mine who I thought would be a perfect fit. I asked her if my hunch was right and she was very happy to receive the gift :-)

As a "thank you" she sent me a beautiful stitch markers and some wonderful hand-dyed yarns from local stores and with the area she lives in being Seattle this was doubly awesome (Seattle is my not-so-secret love city-wise, even if I have never been there before). Here's the yarn:

The purple one on top is a Huckleberry Knits Merino/Silk/Yak (60/20/20) with 366m/400.0 yd for 99g/3.5oz, so a classic fingering weight yarn. It's extremely soft to the touch and I'm sure it will be a pleasure to work into something beautiful.

The red one is called Hazel Knits "Entice" (70% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon) and again a classic fingering weight, running 366m/400yd for 115g/4oz. The color is very vibrant and slightly variegated and will come out exceptionally well in something with a simple pattern - I'm thinking e.g. Martina Behm's "Hitchhiker".

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Crafts - Lovely Morticia & next projects

I've been a busy bee! I cast on the next Boo Knits project, a beautiful lace shawl named "Morticia". With me loving all things goth and the "M is for March" challenge going on over at Ravelry this was the perfect pick to extend my bead-working as well as lace knitting skills. I had some dark purple yarn planned for it some time ago but decided to go all black - same yarn though, Lana Grossa Lace Lux - with silver and purple beads (see my last post). Fast-forward 25 days and the shawl was done!

Blocking my last project went well enough but I knew the Morticia shawl would turn out bigger. Since I'm also a little bit of a perfectionist (at least in some areas ;-) ) I finally caved in and ordered some blocking mats and wires for my future works. I barely managed with the amount of mats and found using the wires somewhat challenging as I had to connect the three wires in some way to make the full bend but in the end it turned out quite alright, if I do say so myself:

Sooo, what's up next? I found a pattern for a mid-calf length hooded coat and also found that coincidentally I had the magazine the pattern was from at home already. Gnashing teeth at the estimated yarn costs and my birthday coming up resulted in a very generous gift from my parents (thank you!!!), a voucher for one of my favorite yarn stores. Yarn ordered, Morticia finished, coat cast on :-) I dubbed it "Something Death Would Wear?" in honor of my avatar and favorite comic character, Sandman's Death.

While I'm sure the coat will keep me busy for a while I do have some more Boo Knits' shawls queued up. Other than that I recently acquired various skeins/balls of yarn which ask to be made into something for my daughter, like this Wollmeise "Hoochie Mama" and "Xaverl":

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Crafts - Mustardseed done, Morticia next - beading awesomeness

My knitting/beading hack from last post? Worked like a charm! But first things first...
After working the first beading rows I was hooked ;-) It's fun, it's a challenge (sometimes), it's variety and it's fun! Here's a picture of a lace border repeat, the shawl almost done.


Today I managed to actually wash and block the thing. Did I mention that I -hate- blocking? I still hope I did a reasonable job (minor adjustments happened after this picture was taken)...  I love(d) the pattern and I think, apart from the Dragonfly Shawl, this has been the second fastest piece I've worked. Did I mention I'm on vacation next week and have a lot of knitting time on my hands?

So, now that I knew how to work beads and stumbling over a pattern I've been wanting to do for quite some time, AND Bev calling out March to be M-KAL month (knit-a-long with one of her patterns that start with M) I finally decided to give the Morticia pattern a go. Seriously, how can a (half-)goth like me resist a piece named after a favorite goth/knitting TV character? *grin*
I actually wanted to use the exceptionally beautiful yarn my friend Betsy sent (see this post) but I had used the Lana Grossa Lace Lux in various other projects before and remembered there was a black variety of the yarn as well. So I decided this will probably be a better fit and went to acquire some at one of my favorite stores, Wedermann. Because... my friend & co-worker Anja, who does lots of beading work, recommended Perlenmix as a source of beads to me so naturally I had to go and check. As they're 5 minutes walk from Wedermann one thing lead to the other... and here's what I came home with - I've been good, I swear! ;-)

So, I've cast on my Morticia today and what should I say - it looks way more complicated than it actually is. Bev's directions are meticulous and perfect, everything fits together perfectly (yarn, needle size, beads - thank you, instinct!) and I can't wait to have this beauty finished.The beads are a little bit smaller than I the ones I worked with the Mustardseed shawl above, but as the yarn is a little bit thinner as well they're a perfect match.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Crafts - Knitting/beading hack

My most recent project is a very beautiful crescent-shaped shawl by Boo-Knits called "Mustardseed". It's the third pattern I got from her and it's again exceptionally well written and charted and a dream to follow and knit.

Bev gives you the option of adding beads to the pattern, which I have never done before but decided to try this time. So, off to the crafts supplies store that's closest (which happens to be Hobbykunst Vösendorf, where I also bought the supplies for the stitch markers, see my post about it) and find all required items. Which, after most beading tutorials I found, consist of the actual beads and a very small crochet hook. As I didn't get one that was small enough at this store the helpful young lady working there showed me a hack that she's using for her beading work, so I got the thin silver wire (0.4mm) as well, in case I wouldn't be able to find the crochet hooks (which I later bought in my other favorite crafts store, Neidhart's Nähkistl).

To cut the long story short - beading with this small crochet hook and a fingering weight yarn SUCKS and is a major pain in the ...

I resorted to trying the wire hack and you know what? Works like a charm!!! Here are the step-by-step instructions how to do this:

Cut a small piece off the wire, shape a V out of it. Then, thread the steel wire though the stitch you want to put the bead on, slip the stitch off the needle:

Thread the bead onto both ends of the wire:

Slip the bead down, pulling the wire and the stitch through the bead (like a kind of hook):

Return the stitch onto the left hand needle and work it as usual:

That's what the finished row looks like:

Easy and guarantees not losing any strands of yarn or splitting it, as it's likely to happen with the crochet hook. It's a fantastic way to work beads if you have thicker yarns you work with. I'll keep you posted about the final results, I'm really looking forward to finishing this shawl <3

Monday, February 22, 2016

Food - Experiments in (healthy) carbs

Throughout the last couple of months I found that eating low-carb works out great for me. The amount of carbs I do eat I try to make "healthy" ones, as in whole grain and substituting wheat for other kinds of grain. Spelt has become rather popular around here so here go (in no particular order) my "experiments":

Whole grain spelt flour pancakes

Pancakes for a weekend's delicious breakfast. I've got this recipe from Celia Brooks Brown's book "International Vegetarisch". I substituted the flour for whole grain spelt flour on a 1:1 basis and it worked like a charm. The whole family loved the pancakes, each of them with their own favorite topping - be it blueberries (mine) or maple syrup or even Nutella *shudder* (out of a various number of reasons).
Whole grain spelt flour pancakes & blueberries

Whole grain wheat & spelt flour burger buns

The recipe for those buns comes from Hannah Frey's "Clean Eating" cookbook.  Again, substitute (parts of) the flour and maybe add some more liquid and you're off fine! For the beef patties I used one of Jamie Oliver's recipes, which turned out great for the adults but sadly were somewhat heavy on the pepper and too spicy for the kids. I sadly did not notice as I had lots of Jalapeños on my burger (I love love love hot/spicy food!) and will try to make better next time.

Whole grain wheat pizza dough

The ultimate family test/recipe? Pizza dough... I love the recipe I found on a while back. It's pretty simple and straight forward and as my experience taught me only needs minor adjustments to work with whole grain flour. The original recipe asks for 450gr of flour which you can reduce by up to 1/10th and add a little bit more water to get a smooth texture. The rest? Just as noted, 200°C and 20-25mins in the oven. For my personal taste it worked like a charm. If you like your pizza what I call American style - use the indicated amounts and roll out the dough to the size of one big baking pan. If you like it Italiano - divide into two equal parts, roll out thin and make two pizzas (which I will try next time as my kids prefer the latter version).

Healthy breakfast

Last but not least - I found my favorite breakfast in the shape of Overnight Oats. Again inspired by Hannah Frey the perfect mixture for my taste consists of:
  • 50gr of Muesli (Ja Natürlich! Basis Müesli)
  • 10gr of chia seeds
  • 200gr of low-fat plain yoghurt (Ja Natürlich! 1%)
  • 60gr of frozen berries
On the evening before mix müesli, seeds and yoghurt together, top with frozen berries, close container and store in the fridge. In the morning - take container, mix it all through and enjoy. Easy as that! <3

Spelt oat porridge

My son in particular loves this recipe for breakfast on the weekends. Again it's one of Celia Brown Brooks' recipes from the "Clean Eating" cookbook which I changed to my taste. Instead of the blueberries she mentions I coarse-grate half of an apple into the porridge and add some cinnamon - instant healthy warm cozy comfort food!

There's more to come, so stay tuned :-)

Side-note - I'm trying not to push those dietary changes/restrictions onto my family as I'm aware that kids do need different nutrients than an adult, particularly an aerobic-nut who tries to melt the last pieces of unhealthy/uncomfortable body fat... What I'm happy about, though, is that my kids ask to try all the things I make/cook for myself and even have declared some of it to be their kind of comfort and/or favorite food, e.g. the spelt porridge for my son <3

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Crafts - Customer service & unintentional yarn

I'm happy to report that I've got my KnitPro Karbonz 4mm tips back! The size is one of the most used ones so I was eager to get my replacements. Kudos to KnitPro - reclamation via the store I bought them at, new ones were there within a week without any problems!

Wollmeile has started to stock Rohrspatz & Wollmeise yarn. I did get some last time and this time - I swear, I was just there to pick up the needles - this beauty called me to take it home:

Purple and grey and almost black? C'mon, there was no other way! ;-)
It's a 80% merino/20% polyamide blend, and this time I'm hard-pressed to find a translation for the name... "Verhext und verratzt" - jinxed and ???
Anyway, I'm sure I'll find a beautiful project to use this for, quite probably something without much texture or complicated pattern as the yarn will be playing out beautifully by its own.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Crafts - New yarn

While I do have quite a stash of yarn at home and a few projects already in the back of my mind (or rather in my queue on Ravelry) there's always new yarn that's begging to be acquired in some way. Here are the newest additions:

Wollmeise "Pure" 100% Merino with the sweet name of "Armer grauer Kater" (which translates to "poor grey tomcat"), a variegated fingering weight. I went to one of my favorite stores, Wollmeile, to make a reclamation for the 4mm carbon tips of my KnitPro set where the screw thread of one of the needles broke. I learned that they just recently stacked some Wollmeise yarn, so I had the hard choice between a few beauties but managed to decide on this one. I see a beautiful shawl in the not to distant future...

The second one came to me as a present from my dear friend Betsy, who asked if she should send along some US-ian yarn as a Christmas present. One of my favorite American stores is Dragonfly Fibers and I opted for a deep purple (if you know me this shouldn't come as a surprise) 100% merino lace yarn with the name of "Arya Squishy Lace". This one also asks to be worked into some kind of shawl, I already worked with a different yarn from this store and the quality is superb:

Yay for new beautiful yarn! :-)