Friday, January 28, 2011

My Booklist

I have recently been drooling over several crochet books. I can't afford to buy them all right now, but Valentine's Day is coming up- maybe I'll nudge the significant other toward a couple of these. (My favorite gift to give or receive is a book; knowledge is the best gift ever!)

First up is 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet from Lesley Stansfield . This book has some fantastic posies to accent your projects. I'd really like to go through it and look for something to accent those two green cowls I recently finished. Since I want to pick up knitting sometime, I like the fact that this has both knit and crochet designs.

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Next is 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans by Jan Eaton. I like granny squares and all, but the fact is they can get tiresome after a while. Admittedly, the reviews for this book say that there aren't actually 200 different blocks- several are just color variations. I don't know about you, but I have never looked at a pattern and said "Oh! This calls for such-and-such color. I suppose that means I can't possibly use the colors I want to use. A new color makes it a completely different pattern!" Snarkiness aside, I still think it would be nice to have a quick reference guide for a variety of blocks, which is why I'd love this book. At some point, I want to make a block sampler afghan with a pretty color scheme.

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Last, but not least, is Amazing Crochet Lace: New Fashions Inspired by Old-Fashioned Lace, by Doris Chan. I would really like to make the Crysanthemum Tea Shawl featured on the cover. In the reviews, there are complaints about these items just being enlarged lace patterns, or enlarged doilies, but I'm not too concerned about that. I think the designs are elegant (for the most part) and would love to make several of them.

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Are you drooling over any patterns, books, or tools?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another Project Done!

 I finished the baby blanket I've been working on! Hopefully I can get this shipped out by the end of the week. :) The pattern can be found in 7-Day Afghans, and I like it quite a lot. It's simple enough to work up quickly, and it's anything but bland. This project is made with Bernat Softee Baby in Mint.  Take a look!

A sale! A sale!

Just thought some of you out there might be interested to know that there's a sale on at Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Company's website. In case you didn't know, they're the manufacturers of Peaches & Creme, Honeysuckle, and America's Best yarns and threads. The sale is 50% off everything except for Peaches & Creme. They have sport weight cotton yarns in their honeysuckle line, as well as a ton of crochet threads, for all you doilymakers out there.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcake Love

I had planned on sharing this recipe ages ago. It's not quite as holiday-feast-time appropriate now, but it's still fantastic, and I just dare you to make these and tell me they aren't fantastic. Before I share the goods, I'll just let you know- I love pumpkin. I love pumpkin EVERYTHING. I love eating pumpkin in savory dishes, pumpkin soup and roasted pumpkin. I love roasted pumpkin seeds (fresh are best). I love pumpkin pie and any pumpkin scented candle. But I simply adore these cupcakes. There's just something incredibly satisfying about the combination of smooth pumpkin, bold spices, and rich maple and cream cheese. Be careful with these; you'll want to make them year-round!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


4 eggs
3/4 c. softened butter
2 c. sugar
15 oz. can of pumpkin
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. corn starch
1 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

8 oz. softened cream cheese
3 T. softened butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/8-1/4 c. maple syrup
(the amounts of cinnamon and maple syrup should be adjusted according to your tastes, start with a little and add more as desired)

Preheat oven to 350;&deg F
Combine dry ingredients, set aside
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes on medium-low speed
Slowly add eggs and pumpkin, adding eggs one at a time and pumpkin in small amounts, wait until each item is fully incorporated before adding more.
Gradually add dry ingredients
Divide into lined muffin tin
Bake approximately 20 mins, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I don't really time them, I just keep an eye on them and take them out when they're done, so this is an estimate; adjust baking time as necessary)
Yields approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.

Blend butter and cream cheese.
Mix sugar in gradually
Blend in cinnamon and maple syrup, adjusting amounts to taste

I like to serve mine topped with a pecan half. :) They're also really good with chopped pecans in them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wonders Never Cease

Since my last post I have completed another two projects. At this rate, I'm going to run out of projects next week! :P

Here are a few photos of the things I've made this past couple of weeks:

All together now!
This is an earwarmer for a young woman at my
workplace. I love the contrast between the pink
and black. It's black merino wool, and the rose is
yarn made from recycled bottles.
To see more photos of the two cowls here,
go check out Thursday's post.

I feel I need to preface these photos. For the past couple of years I have started and unraveled three or four different scarves for my husband. I'll get started on something, and decide that I don't like how it's turning out, then unravel it and start on something different a week later. Well, I started this scarf last night, before my dear one left for work. I showed him what I was working on, and he mentioned the other 3 or 4 scarves I've started for him before. When he came home from work, guess what was sitting there waiting for him? :) I worked this double-stranded, in a flat version of the pattern I used for the light green cowl in my last post. It's in a blue-grey wool I found in my stash, and black merino wool (the very same as the earwarmer above!). I promise, it isn't actually as blue as the photos make it seem- it's much more of a muted blue-grey.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Finally! Completed Projects AND a New Post.

Belated holiday wishes and a happy new year to all!

I recently had a spate of super-creativeness, and not only did I work on projects, I actually FINISHED some of them.

I worked up a new Swiffer cover on Saturday night. It was very simple. I used two strands of worsted-weight cotton Sugar n' Cream yarn and a size J hook. It's 15 stitches across and I just worked it in double crochet as long as it needed to be to wrap over the edges of the Swiffer. I used slip stitching to attach edges, et voila!

Sunday night I made a mobius cowl from some fabulous, chunky, forest green alpaca yarn. To make this, I modified a baby blanket pattern I'm using right now, and it turned out beautifully. A good friend gave me two skeins of lovely, soft 100% baby alpaca yarn for Christmas, and I was puzzling over what to do with them until I started working on the blanket, and was inspired by the pattern. I used one skein of yarn for this project, with just enough left over for a wee little flower as an accent. Now I need to find a little posy pattern for that!

My first cowl! It's super-soft. :)

Having been so inspired by this yarn and the pattern, I used the other skein to make a second cowl, which I finished up last night. I really like the first cowl, but it has a seam in the back where I had to attach the two ends, and I am definitely not a fan of this look. For this project I decided to work it in the round, which basically eliminates the appearance of a seam. This yarn is a bit lighter than the other, more of a moss green color. I experimented a bit while I was working on this one. What I came up with makes me think of a sun-dappled forest floor in summer. I essentially created my own little pattern working on this, and I am very very happy with it. I worked up a quick little rose for it, using the same yarn I that I made my niece's pink baby blanket with. Yes, I finally found a use for that yarn I don't particularly like. It's just a simple rose, a strand of shells that have been evenly rolled up and secured by sewing through the foundation row. Now I just need to get a pin back to attach to it, so I can pin it on my cowl! (Update: I used that rose on another project, but that just means I get to make another one so I can add a pin to it!)

Here I've twisted both cowls together. They look nice when worn like this, too!
Here's the second cowl alone- I think I like it better since it doesn't have a visible seam.

Now, that baby blanket I mentioned; I do believe I have talked about the vintage crochet pattern books I've picked up at the used book store around the corner- the color choices aren't always the most attractive, but some of the patterns are really gorgeous. The one I have chosen for this project is called "Pink Petals". Not being a huge fan of pink, and not wanting to run out and buy new yarn since I already have a stash of mint green acrylic baby yarn that I've been trying to use up, this is more of a "Mint Leaves" pattern than "Pink Petals". Anyway, it turns out as a lovely, soft, lacy design. it's really simple- essentially just alternating rows of double crochet and v stitches. A little bit of math and you can translate that into any flat piece of crochet. I have found yet another versatile pattern that I am in love with. :)

Not quite finished, but getting there!