India bag is done and packed!


Just in the nick of time. I got all the facing stitched down this afternoon. I opted to just stitch the strap onto the bag rather than use some hardware to make it adjustable. I am so pleased, it is roomy with lots of pockets inside and a soft cushy strap.
So Bon voyage my knitty friends. I’ll blog when I get back. I wonder if there are yarn shops in India?

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India bag almost done


Ooh I’m on a roll. Thanks to my knitting buddy Char. She knit the connecting gusset piece, so I have spent the last couple morings assembling, desiging as I go. This photo shows the inside of the bag with 2 bottle pockets, a large front pocket and 2 smaller pockets along the back. After I attached all the pockets to the lining pieces I sewed the knitted sections onto the lining. I reinforced the gusset with a long strip of wide twill tape. It will be integrated into the strap but I haven’t figured out exactly how yet. Then I sewed all the sections together and bound all the raw edges with gosgrain ribbon. I faced the strap with another length of wide twill tape, sandwiching some polyfill in there for cushioning. Now I just have to figure out how I am going to attach the strap. Maybe some hardware.
Sorry only 1 photo in this post. Soon I will post photos of the whole process in case any of you want to make one of these bags. T minus 38 hours till we are in the plane!!!! 4 more hours left of my shift and I am officially on vacation!! Yay. I’m just a little excited, I love travelling to new places. India is going to be a wild experience.

India bag 2


I’m making progress. The front piece is done. The back piece with flap has just a few more inches. And my good buddy and faithful reader, Char is pitching by knitting the gusset. Wonder what I should use to line the bag? Khaki? Maybe some old jeans that already have pockets to fit with the whole recycle theme?

Am getting very excited about the trip. The passports with visa stamps arrived. We are taking our doses of Typhoid vaccine. And I ordered the adapter for my iPhone charger. I’m taking my sock club socks to knit, and a thick book for the plane.

Departure in 9 days. 😀

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India bag


Joe and I are making a trip to India in a couple of weeks and I’ve been trying to figure out what bag to take with me. I have a large backpack and many totebags but none of them seems quite right. I plan to take my big camera, my knitting, my iPhone and a moneybelt. I’m not taking the laptop (aaaahhh). I’m told there are many Internet cafes around. Anyway, I had these balls of yarn made from recycled saris that I bought at stitches LAST year. It would make a perfect messenger bag. So I started searching for a pattern. There are lots of patterns for felted bags but not much for what I have in mind. So I am making it up. I started with the strap 12 stitches on size 7 needles in garter stitch gave me a 3 inch wide strap. Then I used that guage to figure that 60 stiches ought to give me a 15 inch wide bag. So here is what I have so far. I like the density of the fabric. It seems sturdy. I plan to line the bag and put pockets on the inside. Now the question is, do I have enough time between now and our departure to get the bag done. Or will I be at REI on the last day franically looking for something that fits my idea.
Stay tuned

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Rose gets slippers

I have knit a couple pair of felted slippers for Brian. I knit three more pair before I got one to come out right for Joe.  (luckily one of those pair fit me, so I got some too) And now finally I finished some felt slippers for Rose.  She didn’t want the clogs that I have been making so I had to search for a more stylish pattern. I found one at French Press Knits that are just like the flats she wears to school every day. Rose picked out some hot pink yarn for her slippers.  They are knit in sections, two soles, four uppers and two flaps. The soles and uppers are sewn together before they are felted except for the flaps.  They are felted separately and sewn on later with the buttons. Here are the prefelted slippers. It never ceases to amaze me that these huge ugly pieces of knitting turn into something adorable after being felted!

I have had good luck felting in my front loading washing machine, set for a hot wash with no spin.  I throw in a pair of old sneakers for a little wool abuse, then squeeze out the excess water with a rolled up towel. Then I let them dry overnight on the stove (off, of course!). Our old gas stove has pilots that put out a fair amount of heat for drying dishes and felting projects.

 
That blue thing in the back is a small envelope purse I made for an evening bag. I want to decorate it with needle felting and beads as soon as I can get around to it. More photos of that when I get to it.
I went through my old button jar with Rose and we picked out some cute leather buttons. Voila! Here are her happy feet in nice warm slippers.
 
Next a pair for Pat. I may have to make them look like Birkenstocks to get him to wear them!

Pot scrubbie


For years we have used the pot scrubbers from Trader Joe’s that have a sponge inside a wirey plastic cloth. They have gone the way of so many of my favorite things, no longer available. Since I already make our kitchen dishrags I was mulling over how to knit a scrubber from old plastic bags. We don’t have many of those any more, we carry our own bags. But it suddenly occurred to me to try plastic lanyard.
Here is my test swatch I whipped out before dinner. I knit it with plastic lanyard held with a strand of sugar and cream cotton. I had to piece together a few lengths of the lanyard since our craft box only had scraps. The family will test it on the dishes for awhile and see how it works and holds up. I will keep you all posted.

I’m a Ravelry Designer

Not that this is a huge deal, it looks like there are over 500 pages of designers.  But I think I am the only one with a design for a stethoscope cozy!  Here is the pattern.

Stethoscope Cozy
Yarn: Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille
Needle size:  6 (4.0mm) either long circular or double points
Gauge:   4 stitches = 1 inch,  5 rows = 1 inch
Skill level: beginner

Cast on 16 stitches, divide among dp or ends of circular
Join without twisting.
Knit rounds evenly until piece measures 18”
(or long enough to cover the straight length of your stethoscope)
Bind off.
Weave in ends.
Remove bell of stethoscope, slide cozy on, replace bell.

For those of you who read my blog and are not knitters, Ravelry is a community site for knitters, kind of like FB but with more useful information and connections.  You have a name and a page there where you can keep track of all of your projects, patterns, and stash (that is what we call the yarn we own that is not being knit). Other Ravelers can look at these and this way we can see what other knitters are making. We can share ideas and tips, there are chat rooms and groups. And you can get patterns from other designers that either have them for sale or up for free downloads.  My designs so far are free, they are pretty simple, but maybe over time I will come up with some that are more unique and worth selling.  It took me a while to figure out the process of setting up my design site and uploading my patterns even though I consider myself pretty web savvy, it took me a while.  So come see me on Ravelry, my name, of course is knitwitmama.

Holiday Food and old stoves

Not much knitting has been happening here lately.  I have made gifts for my friends and family and I will blog photos of those after they have all been delivered.   Right now I just want to share a story about  the baking we have been doing.

      The story begins actually before we were married.  Brian and I like old things, we live in an old Victorian that we are still rehabbing, after all.  Twenty two years ago our church was remodeling their building and was getting rid of the old stove from the 1940’s.  It is a Wedgewood 6 burner, two oven, two broiler model. We put our name on the list to get it but we were #10 or 12 and didn’t really think they would call us.  One day they did call us at work to say that if we could get over there and remove the stove before the end of the day it was ours.  So we bugged out of work, got the pick up truck and dragged it home.  It was the quintessential “used by little old ladies on Sundays” item and was in remarkable shape.  We cleaned it up and stored it in our garage for a couple of years while we got married and bought our house and got enough of the remodel done that we could move in.  It has been serving us faithfully ever since.
       Now if you know us at all, you know we love to cook, bake, can, and entertain, so this stove has gotten a workout over the last 20 years.  Many loaves of bread (Brian bakes all our breads) countless quarts of spaghetti sauce, soup, chili, pickles, salsa, ketchup, relish, veggies, fruit and jam have been canned, and many meals have been cooked on this faithful appliance. It has required little maintenance over the years and it is a good thing because the closest (and only) repairman for these stove is in Berkeley.  Well, last month Brian took a week long baking class at the San Francisco Baking Institute.  It is a French baking school and he spent the week perfecting baguettes.  Ever since he has been baking his breads using a pan full of stainless steel bb’s in the bottom of the oven that he sprays with water to create the steam needed for the first 5 minutes of baking. This makes the perfect crust. He used to just open the oven door a crack and spray water in every minute for the first 5 minutes, but the BB’s make more steam.  Of course just before I planned to do some cookie baking, one of the ovens stopped working!  The steam had blown out the oven pilot and it wouldn’t relight.  So we called the guy from Reliance Appliance   to come out and he replaced some things like this thermocouple. 

He told us that our stove was actually in great shape should give us many years of service. This is a good thing because he also told us that the refurbished stoves just like ours that he sells in his shop go for $5-6 thousand! The oven continued to work and we baked and baked.  Then the same thing happened again!  This time the Reliance guy told Brian over the phone how to fix it, and the BB steam method is no more. 

Here are some of the lovely baked goodies we have been enjoying and sharing over the last few weeks.

Spritz cookies dipped in chocolate then dipped in sprinkles.

Thumbprints rolled in sprinkle and filled with chocolate.

Snowballs AKA  Mexican wedding cakes AKA Russian teacakes.

Neapolitans:  Three layers of cookie, chocolate, butter cookie with chopped walnuts and almond cookie with pink coloring.

Gingerbread People

Chocolate Crinkles, a new cookie for us this year

Jelly thumbprints rolled in pecans and filled with homemade blackberry jam

Brians Holiday Meesh

Buccellato

Christmas morning Croissants for our Eggs Benedict
Here we are on Christmas Eve, all together and enjoying our favorite thing as a family, eating and good conversation.

We hope your holidays are full of whatever brings you joy and peace!

Girl Scouts and cookie jars

Today my house was occupied by 4 teenaged girl scouts working on a craft project to sell at the Holiday Boutique at the church.  They decided to make gift jars of cookies and hot cocoa, ten jars of each.  It turned out to be a math challenge for them calculating exactly how much of each ingredient to buy. How many cups in a pound? How many table spoons in a cup? Then they had to trouble shoot how to pack the ingredients so the layers would look nice from the outside, experimenting with the wooden pusher for the chinois, a spatula, and a saran covered candlestick bottom. 
Only after they were putting in the top layers of the cookies did they realize that the recipe called for 1 1/2 quart jars instead of 1 quart jars!  The moms didn’t catch that detail either. What to do with the extra stuff?  put it in a baggie? add it to the recipe so the purchaser of the jar would need to add more dry ingredients?  They decided to make little cloth bags that would go with each jar containing a baggie of the extra oats. Whew! problem solved.
The fabric bag would match the fabric jar topper too and it would all look very cute tied up with ribbon.  The moms each made an extra trip to the grocery store getting more M&Ms,  candy canes and non dairy creamer.
Here are the cookies, chocolate chip, M&M, and oatmeal cookies.
And here are the hot cocoa mixes. They have chocolate chips and candy cane pieces in them.
  And here is the final assembly with the fabric jar toppers and ribbon

All the while the girls talked nonstop. They discussed what they were doing, as well as the New Moon movie, where they like to shop, the homework due next week, upcoming activities and their teachers.  They never stopped talking, sometimes talking louder and louder until the house was filled with their squeals and shouts and even they couldn’t hear each other. I made the little bags while they were working on the poster for their table. Then we all sat down to a dinner of noodle casserole and salad. It was a busy four hours and the girls were very proud of what they had accomplished. I was proud of them too, they finished what they set out to do, they not only problem solved and worked together but they had a great time together.
PS  I am exhausted.

Baby Hats!

Someone is always having a baby it seems. Baby hats are so much fun to make; they are cute, small and can be whipped out in a couple of hours. Here is a red one that I trimmed with a little bit of chenille on the brim.  Then here are two that I made for my colleague, Issam. His wife is pregnant with twins, due in January.
The yarn is from Chile, 100% cotton called Antuco. It is bulky weight, 13st to 4 inches and the best thing is, I found it on sale, so I bought several colorways.  each skein makes at least 2 hats. I used US 9 needles and knit in the round. Casting on 40 stitches, knitting until it measures about 5 inches and then decreasing 6 stitches every other round until there are just 7 stitches left. Then run the tail through those last stitches, pull tight and weave in the ends. Voila!
My mom sent me this fabric probably 15 years ago and I came across it a few days ago and decided to make some little tea napkins.  I just cut each square motif out and hemmed it with a decorative stitch.  They are about 4 -5 inches  and will be perfect for tea and cookie time. 
Then here is a scarf I’ve been working on off and on.  I got the pattern from my friend Char after I saw the one she is making.  The hearts look like they are embroidered but they are just made up of slanted stitches.  The yarn is KnitPicks Yarn of the Andes in Hollyberry.  I haven’t decided yet what to do with the scarf when I am done, I think it will make a good gift if I manage to finish it before Christmas.
Well, that is about it, since I am working full time now, I find myself being pretty lazy on my days off. I don’t have much energy for anything but a few chores and a little knitting, so I am not being that productive. I spend lots of time looking at patterns and reading everyone else’s blogs though and have collected quite a stack of patterns I want to make.