Operation stash bust is in full swing, and this red/gray crocheted handbag is the result of my latest yarn closet raid. Ignoring the fact that I had a sizeable yarn stash of my own, my sister decided to gift me the entirety of her stash. (Could you say no?) So, little by little, I am chipping away at my towering mount everest of odd skeins. A couple days ago, I picked up a deep red skein of some sort of workhorse acrylic yarn (no label to be found) and began crocheting these pretty triangle motifs from my Reader’s Digest stitch encyclopedia. Two triangles turned into 4, then 6, then 8. I’ve got this strange habit of working first, then figuring out what I’m making later. Before the second hour was through, the yarn spoke — and it said it wanted to become a handbag. Fine, I said. So I stitched together my red triangle motifs into semi-circular shapes, picked up another unidentifiable skein of yarn (gray in color) and continued working the semi-circular body by adding rows of shell stitch and double crochet. When it came time for a handle, I braided together 9 crocheted chains and stitched them on. Lining? Used some gray woven material from my fabric stash and added a couple of inner pockets. Finally, I threw in a button loop and one of my freshly made polymer clay buttons to take care of fastening duties.
I dig how the purse’s body juts beyond the straps on either side — as if its wings are unfurled and ready for flight. Perfect, given how I winged the design from start to finish. 😉
I’m considering writing this all out as a proper pattern and posting it here — but that requires far too much planning for the likes of me.
After quite a bit of online research regarding all things polymer clay, I’ve finally taken my first leap into the medium — crafting homemade buttons. I started out with some el-cheapo clay (Sculpey) which a lot of people apparently gripe about in terms of durability. But as I don’t plan on machine washing these buttons nor do I predict any delicate figurine sculpting in my future, I reckoned it was safe to take the thrifty route for my first attempt.
I thought that it would be a good idea to make molds out of some buttons from my stash, so I bought some of this molding compound which was super easy to use. I simply followed those abbreviated directions on the side of the box and it seemed to work fine. Thing is, though making the molds was easy, using them was another thing entirely. Too impatient to look up more online tutorials, I set my molds aside and proceeded to roll little balls of the clay and stamp them down into discs using some textured trinkets (pendants mostly) from my jewelry box. I made texture stamp molds of some decorative surfaces so the designs on my buttons would be in relief rather than in grooves (make sense?). I pricked buttonholes with a toothpick, baked them as directed, let them cool, and went to town with acrylic paint. Also decoupaged a few (like the green one pictured at bottom right below) with some ink-jet-printed tissue paper. I love the results! Really can’t believe how quick and easy these were to make. Now to practice my molding skills.
These cookies are actually the result of a happy accident whilst I was attempting to bake another sort of snack entirely. To my surprise, these delicate, crunchy, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth-y cookies actually turned out so amazingly tasty, I almost shed a tear. They’re quite similar to Trader Joe’s Chocolate Almond Laceys, minus the chocolate. Though, I must admit, I believe these are better. 🙂
Oatmeal Coconut Laceys
3/4 c softened unsalted butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c flaked coconut
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 c finely chopped almonds (optional)
Cream butter and sugar. Combine flour and salt separately, then gradually add to the butter mixture. When the batter is well blended, mix in coconut, oats and almonds (if using). Spoon teaspoon-sized dollops onto ungreased baking sheet. The dough will spread very wide, so space cookies accordingly.
Bake in 350 oven for approximately 14 minutes, or until the edges are browned and crisp and the centers are golden. Cool and enjoy!
As I couldn’t stop wearing the previously blogged cloche — the Sideways Grande Hat from Boutique Knits by Laura Irwin — I decided to make more. I’ve also decided that hats are my favorite short-term knitting project.
Another sideways grande hat adorned with a crochet applique instead of a cable…
…and also from Boutique Knits, the Side Slip Cloche…
…pavlova (the Australian/New Zealand favorite shown above), “tropical” mince pies, and two types of shortbread buttercream sandwich cookies. I’m exhausted, my kitchen’s in ruins, but my sweet tooth is sated!
My husband hails from Northern Ireland and for most people far from home, the nostalgia looms large during the holidays. I try my best to recreate the Christmases he’d grown accustomed to, and this year I attempted to tackle the mince pie — a British yuletide staple…but with a twist, of course, as the called-for raisins, dates, and prunes for the mincemeat filling aren’t exactly foods that make my mouth water. I, instead, used sultanas, pineapple, mango, cranberries and substituted macadamias for almonds. The result was rather good, I must say.
And finally, a duo of shortbread sandwich cookies: one filled with lemon buttercream and another a chocolate and mint buttercream combo. I altered Nigella Lawson’s Custard Cream hearts recipe (on the fly!) for both of these. As they actually turned out quite well, I’m upset with myself for not having written down my recipe alterations while I made them and I can’t quite remember the exact proportions. Ah well. Guess I’ll just have to make another batch of both. 🙂
I’m in the early stages of my first granny square afghan (my first because I’d never before had the patience for the undertaking!) and wanted to be able to display these delightfully colorful crochet flower motifs right away. It being the holidays, the answer was staring me in the face — deck the tree with them, of course!
I’m sure they’d make a beautiful garland if sewn together at the corners, but I’ve just hung them up as is. The crocheted snowflakes are from this pattern and the mini sweaters are from various free patterns I Googled a while back. Happy Holidays. 🙂
Whew. It’s been one crazy year. I won’t go into the why’s, but simply say I’m breathing a sigh of relief to see it come to a close. The good news is that my time has freed up the last month, allowing me to grind away at holiday gift-making. I’m nearly through (hurrah!) so thought that I’d knit myself something as a reward for being ahead of schedule.
I’m currently a fan of ’20s and ’30s fashions, in no small part to HBO’s terrific new series Boardwalk Empire, so pulled out my knitting books to see what retro-esque patterns I had at my disposal. I decided on the Sideways Grande Hat from Laura Irwin’s Boutique Knits. It’s a chic cloche knit side to side on straights embellished with an afterthought twisted cabled. The yarn was donated to me from my sister’s stash and it came with no label, so I don’t even know what it is. Anyway, it was the right color and weight, but I’ll have to do a burn test to figure out what this mystery yarn is comprised of.
Although the book referred to this as an “oversize” hat, it didn’t look quite that big in the photo…but oversized it truly is. Next time I make this lovely pattern, I intend to take it down a notch by using lighter weight yarn and smaller needles — or by simply decreasing the number of stitches. Nevertheless, it was an overall success! Now back to finishing off the rest of my gift list.
I made butter for the first time last week, and a few friends have jestingly accused me of being closeted Amish. Puh-leeze. I’m all about my kitchen appliances! I used a Kitchen-Aid electric stand mixer and this beautiful golden chunk of creamy heaven took about 7 minutes to make, start to finish. So easy. Just Google it, and you’ll find dozens of instructions how, either by using a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or simply shaking cream in a jar for roughly 2 years. Just kidding. Still, you’re not going to see me using that jar technique any time soon! Baked some bread to go along with it (bread machine of course) and pondered with delight on how easy it is for a modern gal to feel like a domestic goddess.
Like most DIY addicts, my fabric stash needs some thinning out. So I dug deep and found that I still had a couple yards of that delightful, navy blue floral print jersey knit that I used for my bubble top. Since it has excellent drape, I picked a dress pattern from my (mostly untouched) vintage collection — a simple number with a unique criss-cross front wrap which ties in the back, creating a perfect fit regardless of weight fluctuations! The resulting dress is a little bit country and a bit 90s grunge and it took about 4 hours total to make. I must say that I’m very pleased with it! Perfect for a picnic or lunch date — and it also looks great paired with a long sleeve shirt beneath and some tights for cooler weather.
I’ve been working on this little woolen “friend” of mine off and on for about two years, so imagine my delight when I finally cast off my last stitch. I used the Cables and Lace Kimono Wrap Cardigan pattern from Sweaterbabe.com (isn’t her stuff great?), but chose to leave the neckline unfinished rather than to pick up and knit the 3×3 ribbing the pattern calls for. I really love that raw, rolled over look — and it’ll show a little bit more of whatever I’ll be wearing underneath.
Shortly after beginning, I thought I’d made a horrible mistake with my choice of yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes) as it created a springy fabric with chunkier cables and very ripply lace panels — as well as a stiffer drape overall. Nevertheless, I plugged away, and though it turned out quite different-looking than Sweaterbabe’s example, I do like it! It was extremely fun to knit as well, and now that I’ve cracked the code of this pattern, I’m eager to make another one with a drapier yarn, which would be more fitting for spring/summer.