About Incurable Homebody

Introvert since birth, professional web content creator since 2004, blogger since 2008. Sundry topics include: crafts, cognitive science, and the pursuit of confidence for the socially awkward. I don't know always know what I'm doing, but I'm sure having fun doing it.

this year’s christmas goodie line-up is…

…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. 🙂

ornament today, afghan tomorrow

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. 🙂

feelin’ “grande”

Whew. It’s been one crazy year. I won’t go into the whys, 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, due 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.

you too can make butter!

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.

vintage pattern: simplicity 7522

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.



my cables n’ lace kimono wrap

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.


hubby’s brown cardi

After a couple years of hinting that he wanted one — and after I finally gathered the courage to make one — my husband finally has his hand-knitted cardigan! It’s my first attempt at menswear, and, as I’d never used this yarn before (Red Heart Eco Ways in Bark) and I wasn’t using a pattern, (I followed Elizabeth Zimmerman’s raglan sweater formula in Knitting Without Tears) there was a good amount of guesswork involved.

I can’t even begin to express how relieved I was that the finished product turned out to his liking. Though he thanked me profusely (as he darn well should!) he still managed to get a smart remark in: ” Lovely! Just in time for the summer!”  Men.

iPad purse & fringy triangle scarf

I was one of the many who couldn’t resist getting a 1st-gen iPad (even though I said I’d wait for the 2nd gen, as all new gadgets are not without their kinks) but impatience got the best of me. I’ve a notion, though, that one of the main reasons I wanted one was so that I could craft accessories for it. :-p

So, I made this little purse using some unused wooden handles that have been languishing in my closet for who knows how long, and some leftover Amy Butler fabric from my stash.

I also finished this fringed triangle scarf (or mini-shawl) that I made using Moda Dea Tweedle Dee yarn in Surf & Turf. Big needles + chunky yarn = super-quick projects. And we all love those!

my first baby…cardigan

Nope, I’m not expecting, but my sis is about to bear her first wee one, and so I thought I’d try to knit my very first article of baby clothing.

I found this cute pattern and got to work. I still haven’t gotten the hang of matching up the length of my vertical rows with my horizontal rows when picking up stitches, so my button bands/plackets are considerably shorter than they should be. Drat. Anyway, the little one should forgive me, this being my first attempt.

Lastly, my sis told me she was having a girl, and when the cardi was 90% finished, I came to discover that it was more of a hunch than a fact. Aye carumba! I told her that her baby was going to wear this pink ‘n’ purple number regardless!

tunic ‘n’ cowl

A new house, job, car…and a crazy 1 hour and 20 minute commute to and from work! Hectic indeed. Still, I haven’t lost my will to create–and where there’s a will, there’s a way. A couple weekends ago, I was able to make this jersey knit tunic in about an hour, primarily because I didn’t finish the edges. No matter. I’m all for that carefree, unfinished look.

And just this afternoon, I knit up this easy cowl in about a couple of hours with some yarn my sister gifted me from her stash. Believe it or not, Los Angeles is in the middle of a cold/rainy spell — the type of deliciously chilly weather which makes west-coast knitters like me very giddy. Used circular needles and alternated between a few stockinette rows and a few p2 k2 ribbed rows, decreasing circumference toward the center. Didn’t bother counting rows — I just eyeballed it as I went along. Coming soon: a striped baby cardigan — my first attempt at baby wear. 🙂