Sawtooth Granny Edge

August 1, 2013

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I was looking for an edging for my granny blankets that could be completed in 1 round, could handle random numbers of stitches and would make a defined edge – but wasn’t flouncy. I ended up modifying a vintage crochet handkerchief edging and this was the result.

 Sawtooth Granny Edge
To start:
Attach yarn to a space between granny clusters and chain 4. Work 2 treble crochets (US double) into the third chain from the hook, chain 1 then work 1 double crochet (US single) into the next space between granny clusters.

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Start the repeat:
Chain 3, work 2 trebles into the space under the double crochet, chain 1 then work 1 double crochet into the next space between granny clusters. Continue.

 To turn a corner:
You can just continue on and the edge will turn the corner naturally but will be a little inclined to curl. To solve this work the 2 treble crochets into the side of the double crochet rather than under on the corner stitch.

 When you get to the end slip stitch into the first block to close.

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Just a little bit of 5 ply wool left from my latest crochet baby blanket. Nowhere close to enough to make another Hexagon Baby Jacket (this has been my go to pattern for scraps) so I thought I would make a Granny Square Baby Bonnet.

This pattern will work with any weight of wool just crochet enough rounds get the measurement:

Crochet 4 granny squares, finished size 9 cm (3 1/2 inches) square.

Use any granny pattern you like. I used the summer garden granny square because I like it and the colours I had available were rather feminine.

Join the squares either in the last round of crochet or by sewing them together into a bonnet shape i.e. 4 sides of a cube.

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To make the brim:
Choose a front edge attach the yarn and work an extra row of granny clusters around that edge followed by an edging of 5 chain and 1 slip stitch into the granny space in a contrast colour. If you wanted a shell edge or lacy border you could do this instead.

Now the shaping at the neck edge:
Row 1: work 2 double crochet into each cluster and 1 double crochet into each space. This tightens the bottom edge slightly.

Row 2: double crochet; reduce stitches (1 dc, dc2tog.) over the middle granny square only to gather the back a little bit more

Rows 3 and 4: double crochet

Ties:
I made a chain crochet with 2 ends of yarn. You could sew on some ribbon. Make a twisted or plaited cord whatever you like really, firmly attached to the ends of the double crochet neckband

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I’ve had masses (or it seem like masses) of 5ply pure wool in my stash. Patons Bluebell, Cleckheaten riverine 5ply and Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic. I wanted to use it up but didn’t fancy knitting it so I picked up the crochet hook and started making blankets (afghans).

Half way through the first one, using a standard metal crochet hook (first one on the left in the photo), the ring finger on my right hand started getting pins and needles. I knew I had to get something more ergonomic.

 First try: The Addi Swing (second hook from the left). Comfortable to hold in the hand but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. The shank is too short for my method of working and I just somehow kept splitting the yarn far too often. I think this one might be good if you make a lot of amigurumi with dense double crochet stitches but it just wasn’t right for me.

Second try: The Clover soft touch (third hook from the left) I’ve liked this hook in the past. It has a longer shank than the Addi but I’ve always found the handle just a little short for me – must be made for smaller Japanese hands.

Third try: The Clover amour (hook on the end). Same shank but a slightly longer handle than the soft touch. This is the hook I have chosen to use. It was easy to adjust to.

I should say that after a prolonged bout of crocheting I will still get pins and needles but with the right hook it takes longer to happen and is less severe.

So far 1 knee rug, 1 baby blanket and 3 baby jackets and I still have some 5 ply left over!

We’ve had enough of cheese for the time being so I have branched out into making yoghurt with our excess skim milk. I often use it in curries, in deserts to replace cream or for breakfast (with real maple syrup as in the photo or with honey)

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The family request was “make some yogurt like the one you buy for dessert”. In other words -The Collective Dairy’s Rhubarb and Strawberry or Black Plum gourmet yoghurts.

 There are plenty of instructions on the Internet and with a bit of trail and error I have got my family’s desired result. We’ve had it accompanying baked plums and baked rhubarb and strawberries earning the family seal of approval.

 This is the method that works for me – a different thermos, different timing and guessing temperatures will still give you yoghurt but the texture might be different.

 All equipment needs to be really clean to avoid introducing unwanted bacteria.

 Equipment:

500 mil wide necked vacuum flask – simply because this is the size I already had.

1 cooking thermometer – you don’t really need it but keeping an eye on the temperature makes for consistent results.

A stainless steel saucepan

A stainless steel funnel

A Small Balloon whisk

 Ingredients:

450 mils of skim milk

2 tablespoons of milk powder

1 tablespoon of yoghurt , absolutely plain pot set yoghurt with live cultures reserved from a purchased tub or a previous batch.

 Method:

In the saucepan heat the skim milk plus the milk powder to a simmer then allow to cool to 45 deg Celsius.

While it cools fill the vacuum flask with boiling water to both sterilize it and warm it.

When the milk cools, stir in the reserved yoghurt, pour it into the vacuum flask. The funnel is a big help here.

Seal up and put aside for 16 hours.

 Scoop finished yoghurt out of the flask into a container and refrigerate.

My best hot cross buns ever! by thundymac
My best hot cross buns ever!, a photo by thundymac on Flickr.

I recently bought myself an electric grain mill – a pretty little Schnitzer Pico. This purchase has set off a frenzy of baking.

I started by making a sourdough leaven following the method in Dan Lepard’s The handmade loaf though I ignored the stated temperatures as we has a record breaking run of hot weather at the time and no night went below 20deg C – this made a very lively culture. My breads have been so-so – lots of work to be done there to perfect the technique but I have managed to bake my best hot cross buns ever! Eggless too.

I make the dough in the afternoon and bake it the next morning.

I have been using bought white bread flour but have ground the wholemeal myself. I grind about 200g of wheat to leave me with 150g of lightly sifted wholemeal flour.

THE RECIPE:

230 mils of milk, slightly warmed
1 tablespoon of sugar
45g of white bread flour
5g of fresh yeast

200g of sourdough leaven

250g of white bread flour
150g of lightly sifted whole meal flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves

70g of butter (softened – but not quite melted)
70g of caster sugar

 150g of currants
50g of mixed peel, chopped finely

Put the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stir and leave aside for about 15 minutes for the yeast to become active. Stir in the leaven.

Tip in the flours, spices, butter and sugar. Using your hands quickly mix this into rough dough. Set aside for another 15 minutes.

Tip the dough onto a floured bench and knead for about 15 seconds. Leave it sitting on the bench while you wash and dry the bowl then oil the inside of it. Pop the dough into the bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and set aside for 15 minutes or so.

Spread the currants and peel on the bench top and knead them into the dough – about 20 seconds should do it. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover again.

Knead the dough at least one more time. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it to rest overnight in the fridge.

Next day take the bowl out of the fridge and let the dough come up to room temperature and give it a quick knead then shape the dough into 12 balls of roughly 100g each and place them on a baking tray lined with silicon baking paper. Put them aside covered with a tea towel to rise until doubled in size.

CROSSES
60g plain white flour
4 tablespoons of cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix together and pipe on top of the buns.

Mist with a generous amount of water before sliding them into the oven to bake.

(I use a plastic lunch bag to make an improvised piping bag – fill it with mixture and snip off a tiny bit at the corner to make a piping nozzle.)

 Bake at 200 deg C for 25 mins

GLAZE:
Bring 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water to a rapid boil. Brush this syrup over the still warm buns using a pastry brush.

Done.

Anita blouse by StyleARC

February 8, 2013

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I love a good peasant blouse and have been looking for a good pattern for some years. I have bought and discarded a few – most have been far too full for my not very stick like figure but at last I have found one I like. This blouse pattern is one I will use again and again.

I didn’t even have to make any changes to the pattern! The only differences are that I added a bit to the bottom to make a deeper hem and I made the drawstring with the help of one of my trusty Clover bias binding makers (12mm size) out of a strip of fabric cut on the grain, put through the binging maker and then folded in half and sew, – easy peasy and nice and even.

I found the pattern well drafted (curves where they should be), easy to assemble – there aren’t many instructions but I don’t really need them and a good fit. Can’t wait to try another StyleARC pattern.

Binding a 70′s blanket

January 30, 2013

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Amongst the things I saved from my late mother’s estate were 2 (2!) King Size mohair blankets in a very lively 70′s pink and purple check. The purple satin bindings were in shreds but the blankets themselves were in great condition. With new mohair blankets coming in at about $699AUD I wasn’t about to send them to the Op Shop.

As I already had a pale blue queen sized one of my own I finally decided to cut down the most worn blanket to a single bed size. This meant I had too bind all the edges. Rather than use satin I decided to use a printed cotton to make the binding.

The fabric I chose was Berry Charms by Art Gallery Fabrics – a nice strong print. I had about 2 1/2 metres available.

To bind the blanket:

1. Cut several strips 7 inches wide across the length of your fabric.
2. Join them along the short edge into a long piece long enough to fit easily right around the blanket.
3. Get out the iron and fold and press the strip in half then go back and press the 1 inch underlaps – this will give you a finished binding of 2 1/2 inches
4. Pin and sew - great instructions here. I started sewing half way up the mitre, turning at the binding edge and continuing along the length of the blanket. I also added a bar tack at each mitred corner for extra security.

I used a triple zig zag stitch – the beauty of a busy print is that you can’t see the wonkyness. Satin would be unforgiving.

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