Canning day.

Well, it’s here. A bit late for me, but here all the same. The first canning day of the summer dawned bright and early for Joshua and I today. We headed out to our local you-pick farm for some tart cherries.

The farm had two varieties, Montmorency (American) and Bayleton (Hungarian). After tasting a couple of each, Joshua made the call. Bayleton it would be.

The berries are a darker red and have a bright, tart cherry flavor. We picked about 6 pounds. The trees were laden with ripe berries, so it didn’t take too much time.

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I had promised Joshua a cherry pie if the tart cherries were in, so that was our main goal. Between you and I, cherry pie is my favorite pie, so it wasn’t exactly a hard sell. Of course, I also have a burning desire to preserve, so I decided if we had enough after pie I’d jar the rest up.

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Joshua manned the cherry pitter for the pie cherries and I went after the rest with a paper clip. A paper clip is surprisingly fast on sour cherries and leaves the cherry intact for preserving.

With the prep out of the way, I set to work making the pie. Now, pie dough and I have never been best friends. I can make it taste good, come out nice and flakey, but it never looks the best. Today was no exception.

I used a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens red checked cookbook. It’s my go to for basically anything. It came out looking, well… like I made it.

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“Rustic”

With the pie out of the way, I got to preserving. I used Marissa McLellan‘s recipe out of Preserving by the Pint–which is an amazing book, btw–for Sour Cherries with Bourbon. Now, if you know me, you know that is right up my alley. I did some brandied cherries a few years ago and they were heaven.

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The smell of bourbon wafting out of this pot was everything.

It’s a very easy preserve and was in the water bath in under half an hour. I used Bulleit Bourbon,  a good standby that’s not too expensive. I took a picture of my little canning setup:

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I love my kitchen for canning. I’ve canned in some tight and far less than ergonomic spaces before, so it always pleases me to have all my canning accoutrement laid out. While the jars processed, I googled things to do with cherry pits. I had a hard time thinking about just throwing them away. There are lots of options it seems, cherry pit vinegar and cherry pit liquor among them. Three guesses as to which way I went.

I didn’t really find a recipe for any of these things, but a few bloggers mentioned what they did, sort of. So we’ll see how this experiment goes. I had about 1 cup of cherry pits and I combined them with 2.5 cups bourbon. I put it in a dark cabinet and will test every month to see how it’s doing. I’m guessing it will be 3-4 months before it’s where I want.

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Now I am to that lovely part of a canning day where everything is done and I have a cold beer and my feet are up. There was a little bit of the sour cherries with bourbon left over after canning, so that may make it’s way into a cocktail in the next few days. And of course, I can’t wait to cut into the pie tonight!


YoM day 173-174: Sock knitting

YoM day 175: Sock knitting, baking, canning


Happy making!

In which binding goes wrong.

Recently, I decided to have a go at making a mini quilt. A shortcut mini quilt, even. I wanted to practice quilting on my home machine before tackling something larger. So, as I seem to do lately, off to the Fat Quarter Shop’s free pattern library I went. The Mini Charm Box seemed just the ticket. A couple of mini charm packs and next to nothing in background fabric and I was on my way.

It took me a couple of hours to put together the center of the quilt and another half hour to add the border. I basted and quilted it a few days later. I went ahead and made the binding too, but saved the pressing till later.

Last night, when I got home from work, I had an hour of downtime while rice cooked and kids played. Perfect time get that binding attached in hopes of some late night hand sewing. I got started pressing but when I got to the second of two seams, I discovered I had put it on backwards. The seam faced the wrong way. So, I ripped it out and redid it.

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Wrong. Again. (That’s 2 if you’re keeping count) I sewed it in the wrong direction. So I sewed it in the right direction. Ripped out the errant stitches, trimmed it and…

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It was backwards again. (3) So I fixed that. It was right this time:

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Happily, and only moderately irritated with myself, I set to work, attaching the binding to the quilt. I mitered all the corners nicely, and got the whole thing on. When it came time to sew the ends of the binding together, I set to work, sewed it, trimmed it, and…

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Backwards. (4) I said some very bad things and ripped out the stitches. Of course this time, it had been measured and trimmed so that was no excess. Surgery would be required.

And so, surgery is what I did. I pulled out the leftover binding to attach and give me more fabric to work with. And attach it I did, in the wrong direction. Naturally. (6) At this point I ceased to take pictures. I ripped out and redid the extension. Backward. (7)

And that is how it sits to this very minute. I promptly turned off the sewing machine, went up to the kitchen, cracked open a beer, and made supper. The quilt is still sitting in the sewing room, judging me with it’s backwards binding hanging from one side. I’ll get it in the end. I can and have bound things before. But I haven’t forgiven the quilt yet, so it’s still sitting in time-out. Do you put projects in time-out? Sometimes it’s the only way we come come to terms with each other.


YoM day 167: Sock knitting

YoM day 168: Quilting

YoM day 169: Sock and shawl knitting

YoM day 170: Sock knitting

YoM day 171: Sock knitting and quilting

YoM day 172: Quilting


Happy making!

It all happened so fast.

Last Sunday afternoon, I decided to go ahead and cut up some strip sets I had sewed together ages ago. They have been ready to cut for… 2.5 months? Yep, time to cut them. Once I got started though, I couldn’t stop myself. In what felt like no time, I had sewn up all the blocks!

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This is another of The Fat Quarter Shop‘s amazing shortcut quilts. So, no surprise, as advertised the blocks came together lickety-split. I spent an inordinate amount of time arranging these on the sunroom floor, trying to get a nice distribution.

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I like the final arrangement. I went to the sewing machine to sew it up, thinking I would finish it that evening. I sewed the first couple of blocks together and was horrified to find that my seams didn’t match! And they didn’t match by a lot. I ripped out the seams, measured the blocks, and was baffled. The blocks are the right size, all pretty darned even, especially for a newbie piecer like me. I went back to the video and watched it again. It turns out that the seams aren’t supposed to match. Silly me.

The only seams you really need to match up in the whole quilt are when you sew up the rows, the seams between blocks need to match up. Which I was very careful to pin a million times and do my best with. There’s something so pleasing about seams that interesect. This week, I’ve put in teensy bits of time, sewing a row up and adding it on here and there. This evening, I decided to add the last few rows and get it done. And then this:

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My sewing machine has an offset needle position by default, but my quarter inch foot only has a teeny hole for the needle in the center. Normally I’m really good about turning on my machine and automatically moving the needle position, but not today! So, the end of the quilt got a nice, fresh needle and I was off and running. I finished it up!

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My second quilt top of the year is all done. This is the Jelly Roll Twist, available for free at The Fat Quarter Shop. I used a jelly roll from the Eden collection by Tula Pink and a Bella Solids charm pack in white. That’s all the top needed! It finished at about 51.5″ x 60″.

I have to say, I love these shortcut quilts. It’s very satisfying to finish a top, and the projects are very manageable. I feel like the two I’ve made have really been great ways to practice my piecing skills without biting off more than I can chew. I’m on a definite sewing kick at the moment!


YoM day 162-165: Quilting/sewing, sock knitting, sweater knitting

YoM day 166: Quilting/sewing


Happy making!

Grainbow Revival Socks

Pair 2 of the sock revival is off the needles! I will admit, I was getting a bit weary of these by the end. I just kept eyeing my stash and thinking of what socks I was going to cast on next. But when I slipped these on to check fit and take a picture… Well, let’s let them have their day in the sun.

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The yarn is by MarigoldJen in two colorways that I honestly can’t remember and can’t find the tags or names for. I reeeaaaalllly hate that, but I guess I’m going to need to accept it. The colors are beautifully variegated, a wonderful gloomy grey with the rainbow. I was a bit skeptical of my choice of yellow, but I think it complements the main yarn nicely.

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These socks feel and fit amazing. The yarn is her BFL/nylon, and the contrast is her merino/nylon. I think they work nicely together. The socks feel sturdy and squishy at the same time. I couldn’t be happier with the fit. Tried and true, the Kirbywirby method for cutting in heels comes through again!

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I was a bit of a cast-on addict last night, and started a new pair of socks. PS. If you haven’t tried Peepaloo Fields yet, I highly recommend her yarn. It is achingly pretty:

 

And finally, I started my Waterlily! I knit two more gauge swatches. The pattern calls for 4.0 mm/US 6 and that definitely didn’t work. I went down to 3.75 mm/US 5 and measured wrong, so I also knit a swatch on 3.5 mm/US 4. Bizarrely the 3.75 mm and the 3.5 mm swatch are remarkably similar. I went with the 3.75 mm and wound up my skeins.

I cast on and got halfway through the second row before I fell asleep. It’s not much to show, but I’m proud anyway.

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We are in serious birthday mode over here in our corner of Maryland. On Wednesday, it was dear boyfriend’s turn. I fixed steaks–truly my best go at steak to date–and made cake, and we had a little celebration, just the four of us. I think he had a great day. I’m currently up to 3 birthday cakes in the past 2 weeks, and I’ll bake 2 more before the next 2 weeks are out. Whew!


YoM day 156: Swatching!

YoM day 157: Swatching and socking

YoM day 158: Sock knitting

YoM day 159: Sock and Shawl knitting

YoM day 160: Sock knitting

YoM day 161: Sock and sweater knitting


Happy making!

I changed my mind.

My dad always told the story that when I was a very little girl, I ordered vanilla ice cream and then decided to switch to strawberry. He said I looked up at him in awe and said, “I  changed my mind!” as if I hadn’t realized I could. This past weekend, I changed my mind again.

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I stopped mid-tink-back.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to knit the Sprite’s Fen shawl. I cast on the second Shawl Society shawl on Thursday night, the day the pattern was released. I love the pattern. The shawl, as all of Helen Stewart’s designs, is beautiful. Soft and subtle, lovely and elegant. But something just isn’t clicking for me. I think it’s the shape, semicircular shawls are among the least wearable for me. I may come back to this project, but it’s going in the hibernation cave for now. I had planned to knit each of the 6 shawls in the month they were released, but I suppose we’ll be revising that policy.

Instead, I’ve started something else. I’ve been daydreaming about getting started on my Waterlily since I purchased yarn for it a few weeks ago. I want to have it to wear this summer to work and on vacation. Plus, for some reason I have sweaters on my mind. I want to get this one done and get started on more. I’ve never been overly interested in garment knitting, but something has recently fallen into place for me and I am ready. I think.

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To that end, I swatched a couple of little swatches. Spoiler alert, I did not get gauge. By a long shot. It was vaguely correct before blocking, but after a bath is nowhere close. I do know that I’m on the looser side of knitters, so I probably should have gone down a needle size to begin with. Learning experience, right? Tonight, I swatch again!

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They may be too big, but they’re awfully pretty. Yarn: O-Wool O-wash fingering in Watermill

Once I get my gauge figured out, I’m planning to cast on this week. First sweater jitters are making me a little hesitant, but I’m too excited to let that stop me. Plus, it’s a mile of stockinette in the round to start–pretty soft launch if you ask me. I’ve also been putting some stitches on my Magical Marled Mystery Shawl. I never thought I would like seed stitch, but it has a good rhythm. And the squish is undeniable!

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Lest anyone worry that I’ve not been knitting any socks, behold:

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My second pair of revival socks is off and running. I’ve fallen back in love with these. It’s great to start working on an old project and get that rush. That “oh, this is why I fell for this yarn” feeling is so fun.

In other news, I took the kids to the library yesterday afternoon.  They got something like 1000 books, which they are already tearing through at breakneck speed.

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Not pictured, 4 humongous reference books for a super secret design project that I’m getting started on. This one will be a long process so some of my making time will be off the books until I can share. I love surprises.  


YoM day 150-151: Sock knitting

YoM day 152: Sock and shawl knitting

YoM day 153: Sock knitting

YoM day 154: Sock knitting and sweater swatching

YoM day 155: Sock knitting and secrets


Happy making!

Birthday Socks.

Today is Joshua’s birthday. He is twelve years old and we have celebrated. I made him a pair of socks:

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Main yarn is from a mini skein set, Friendship is Magic, by Vivid Yarn Studio. Heels are in Candy by KnittyAndColor.

These came out beautifully. As always, Joshua’s design choices astound me. He picked the order of the stripes, but I decided how wide and how many repeats. He also wanted pink heels. Pink heels! I would have never thought to do pink heels, but they work perfectly! I love letting Joshua take creative control of the things I knit for him. We’ve had two amazing stripy hats in the past, all designed by Joshua.

While the finished product was definitely worth it, I’m not dying to knit any more mini skein striped socks. That was a lot of work and a ton of ends. By the end I think I wove in 56 ends! I cut the heels in and I was scared to death after all that joining and weaving.

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All in all they turned out beautifully. If you’re curious, I did a 15 row 2×2 ribbed cuff and then striped the minis every 11 rows. I was going to do 10 but because I can’t seem to count, 11 it is! I used the back join method to join and cut in the heels a la Kirbywirby. He loves them and I’m pretty sure he had a great birthday.

We went home to North Carolina and spent a relaxing weekend with family. One of my brothers made some homemade sausage that was delicious and may inspire me to try my hand at sausage seasoning. We ate a lot, played outside, and shot off fire crackers. My sister-in-law and I made a raspberry lemon birthday cake and we had a lot of fun with the trick candles I had brought. It honestly took Joshua forever to blow them out.

We’re back home to Maryland now, some of us enjoying our new presents, others of us continuing our car knitting:

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These are my second pair of revival socks and I’m about ready for the toe. It’s been a great weekend, wonderful to celebrate my not-so-little sweetheart.

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YoM day 146-149: Sock knitting


Happy making!

Fairyhill Shawl.

I am enamored.

IMG_20170525_112127_957I have finished my Fairyhill shawl! This is the first shawl in Helen Stewart’s Shawl Society II, a six month shawl club. I really enjoyed knitting it, it’s surprisingly simple for how beautiful the pattern knits up. I don’t knit much lace and this was a perfect project for stretching my lace legs.

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I chose the colors for the shawl on a whim. The main body yarn is by Tilting Planet, on Apollo Sock in the Papaya colorway. The border is StressKnits, on Sparkle Sock in the Refresh colorway. Putting them together was a weird gut reaction, but out of my comfort zone at the time. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with this combo. It seems everything I knit is a variation. A look back at the knit:

I was still not 100% sold as a I knit up the shawl, thinking maybe I should stick to one color. As I added in the contrast, it almost seemed to be not contrast-y enough! As the border grew, though, I really started to fall in love with it. I think I could have finished it a solid day earlier if  I hadn’t been stopping to look at it so much.

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As usually happens, blocking really brought it life. It may be my new favorite shawl. I love it so. The colors play so well together, I can hardly stand it. Beyond the color though, the drapey, generous shape and gorgeous lace really sing.

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Now, I can’t wait for the next installment of the Shawl Society. I’m thinking about using a laceweight that’s been kicking around the stash for ages. It would be amazing to use only stash yarn for the whole club. If there are worsted or dk weight shawls though, we could be in trouble. My stash leans heavily in the fingering direction.

All in all, this was a joy and I cannot wait to see what else Helen has in store for us!


YoM day 143-145: Sock knitting


Happy making!