Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Ah, and so my favorite month of the year ends on a satisfying note; Halloween!

Now everyone knows the best part of Halloween is picking out a costume that really suits one's personality and so it is a decision that I do not take lightly year to year. This year in particular I told myself to break the mold and dress up as anything so long as it was NOT historical as my costume has been the past 9 years (50's girl, 2 20's girl costumes, Ancient Greek princess, Civil War era girl, Jane Austen, medieval princess to name a few.). Eventually, I was sitting in my bedroom reflecting on the world/staring at my wall when my poster inspired me!

Announcing my costume 2012:

Rosie the Riveter! 

Me and my best friend of 14 years, Jenn! 

Okay, so I guess it is still a historically inspired costume; but everyone said it really fits my personality! So when people think of me, they also think of World War Two American propaganda posters? Or something like that... I do think this time period is really interesting though, especially the whole war effort. It is really amazing to look back and see how much people supported the war and how patriotic all the citizens on the Homefront were. There has never been anything like it since then and probably never will be again.

I also carved a pumpkin inspired by my favorite Gothic Poem! Well, drew on it mostly... 

Edgar Allen Poe and the Raven (Quoth the latter, "Nevermore"). 

One more little interesting tidbit: Every year my dad's coworker puts together a huge decorated scene in his yard with a pirate theme. It started out around 5 years ago very small and has grown to be quite an attraction in our suburbs! The house has been featured on the local news stations and newspapers and they estimate thousands of visitors each year! It is fantastic, but don't take my word for it!

Pirate ship back, and some pirates, towards the right in the back is a jail cell.

Side of the ship with giant octopus and lots of skeleton pirates!

Pirates hanging around on the pier.

More Skeletons hanging around on the pier with their barrels of rum!

A pirate lost at sea, a little island and all the waves!

Unfortunately the pictures do not capture the immense detail and incredible atmosphere of the whole "exhibit" but hopefully you can somewhat see how awesome this is! 

I hope everyone had a great Halloween whether they went trick or treating, costume partying, or just enjoyed the last day of October! Let me know what you dressed up as or what impressed you this year in the comments!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Knitting in A Doll's House

No, I have not become a victim of a shrink-ray gun. But I HAVE discovered a knitting reference in Henrick Ibsen's play, A Doll's House that is so ridiculously humorous, I absolutely must share it.

"Helmer. Is this yours, this knitting?

Mrs. Linde (taking it). Yes, thank you, I had very nearly forgotten it.

Helmer. So you knit?

Mrs. Linde. Of course.

Helmer. Do you know, you ought to embroider?

Mrs. Linde. Really? Why?

Helmer. Yes, it's far more becoming. Let me show you. You hold the embroidery thus in your left hand, and use the needle with the right--like this--with a long, easy sweep. Do you see?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, perhaps--

Helmer. But in the case of knitting--that can never be anything but ungraceful; look here-- the arms close together, the knitting-needles going up and down-- it sort of has a Chinese effect--."

[Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. 1879. Lexington, KY, 2012. pg. 73 Print. (unknown publishing company)]

First of all, let me clarify a few points about the story for those of you unfamiliar with this play. Helmer is a condescending husband of the main character and Mrs. Linde is the main character's widowed friend who makes a living for herself. The play takes place in the late 1800's and is supposed to make a point about men's view of women as lesser creatures during this era.

That being said, I sure am glad I read this! Here I was thinking that the movement of the needles was a pleasant, soothing rhythm, but it has an exotic, up and down look about it! Silly me. I am going to burn all my needles and take up embroidery IMMEDIATELY*. Who wants my stash?**

In all seriousness, what do you think of that description? I had to stop and laugh for a good 3 minutes about that. I mean this guy is so controlling, he can tell an essential stranger that her craft is ungraceful and she should change it immediately. And the knitting needles really don't go up and down that much, do they? Did Ibsen ever watch someone knit? I am not so sure he did. The movement is so subtle unless it is a beginner who is trying to mimic what they have seen in cartoons on TV.

Ah well, like I said, just thought I would throw that excerpt out there for everyone to think about; please share your thoughts below, I am curious to hear your take on it!

Since that was such a long post with no visuals to go along with it, here are some cat pictures as a reward for getting through all that:

No, that's not a speck on your screen, it is a bug that Biscuit is examining!

Hmm, I really don't remember buying this yarn at the store... 

PS: I have found several other knitting references in literature so this is going to be a little feature! Expect to see some more references as time goes on and I collect more of them!

*I am not trying to make fun of embroidery in anyway, it is a beautiful craft and I give props to everyone who has the skill to make such artful creations using this medium!

**That was a complete and utter joke; it even pained me to write it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tiramisu and a Shawl

Last night I decided to make tiramisu because it is delicious and we haven't had anything like it in awhile! I never made it before, but I that has never stopped me in the past so we went to buy all the ingredients. Even though I'm Italian, we have no family recipe or anything, so I did a little research and settled for a basic one (here).

The only downside to this recipe was it said I needed a double boiler which I don't have so...

...I made my own! Just took a small pot with water and made sure the bowl could sit on the pot without touching the water inside and there you go; saved $40 and a trip to the store!

The recipe was actually really easy, the hardest part was stirring the sugar and eggs (above) for 10 minutes (and it wasn't hard, just tiresome). I had my sister whip the cream while I stirred so it could be put together faster; total prep time was probably only 20-30 minutes.

I was slightly skeptical that the only liquid  soaking the lady's fingers in the dish was 1/3 of a cup of coffee liqueur, but I went along with it and put the whole thing together:

Mmm layers!

The top dusted with cocoa and chocolate shavings. I used baking chocolate, not semisweet chocolate because the filling was really sweet already.

We cut into it after dinner after it had set for around 3 hours. It was a little hard; the lady's fingers weren't very soaked (as I might have guessed) and looking back I should have brewed some espresso and mixed it with the liqueur before putting it on the lady's fingers so it was perfectly soft.

Fantastico! The taste was delectable despite the lady's fingers being a little firm! 

Overall, I would give this recipe an A for the custard and presentation but a C for ingredients. Adding more liquid to the lady's fingers before putting the custard on top would have made a world of difference. We will definitely make this again sometime with that one adjustment! If only marscapone just wasn't so darn expensive...

On the fiber front:

I'm working on crocheting (*gasp* she's not knitting it??) a shawl to wear with some handspun wool yarn I made. I don't have a real pattern, but I 'm crocheting it from memory (I saw a similar one I liked somewhere else)

It is basically all double crochet in 10 different panels with increases to make a circular cape-like garment! The only problem is I am crocheting faster than I am making yarn! So far I have run out of yarn twice and had to go make more... and now I have no idea how much yarn I have used for future references. Ah well, maybe next time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My First Patterns

Hello! I have been absent for a while because there are so many deadlines for college applications and scholarships approaching along with all the homework of my high school classes but I have come back with the patterns for my Captain America inspired gear!

*Disclaimer* I just made these items freehand and then wrote the patterns down when they were requested so I don't know if they are perfectly clear. Let me know if there needs to be any clarifications and I will be happy to adjust the patterns!

 Captain America inspired Shield Cuff:

Yarn: Worsted Weight Acrylic; Red, White, Navy Blue (I used Red Heart Super Saver)
Hook: Size H (It doesn't matter the size too much)
Tapestry needle


In Navy Blue:

Chain 7, join in the round with a Sl st into the first Ch

Round 1: Ch 1, 6 sc into the center of the circle, sl st in 1st sc to join round. (6 stitches)
Round 2: Ch 1, 2 sc into each stitch of this round, sl st in 1st sc to join round. (12 stitches)

In Red:

Round 3: Ch 1, *1 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc* around, sl st into 1st sc to join round (18 stitches)

In White:

Round 4: Ch 1, *1 sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc* around, sl st into 1st sc to join round (24 stitches)

In Red:

Round 5: Ch 1, *1 sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc* around, sl st into 1st sc to join round (30 stitches)

Weave in ends.


In any color (I used Navy Blue), attach yarn to one side of shield and ch as many as needed to fit the wrist/arm of the wearer. Attach the yarn to the other side with sl st. I reinforced the chain by sc in each chain across the wristband and wove in the edges.

Winged Headband:

Yarn: Worsted Weight Acrylic, Navy Blue and White (Again, I used Red Heart Super Saver)
Needles: Size 7 Circular needles (You could use a 6 or 8 also, straight needles will work if you don't            mind stitching up the seams)
Tapestry Needle
Crochet hook (size G or H; not too important)

CO 68 stitches (this may have to be adjusted for a smaller or larger head, this fit's my average head snugly)
Work 11 rounds in Stockinette Stitch
BO all stitches, weave in ends.

Using the white yarn, use a tapestry needle to stitch a letter (A) onto the front of the headband using the duplicate stitch.

For the wings, figure out where you want them to sit on your head. The wings on my headband are 9 stitches out from the A. With the crochet hook and white yarn, attach the yarn to the 9th or 10th stitch out from the A in the 3rd stockinette stitch from the bottom and
Round 1: 1 sc in each of the next 5 stitches in a vertical line.
Round 2: Ch 1, 1 sc in next 4 stitches
Round 3: Ch 1, 1 sc in next 4 stitches
Round 4: Ch 1, 1 sc in next 3 stitches
Round 5: Ch 1, 1 sc in next 3 stitches
Round 6: Ch 1, 1 sc in next stitch
Round 7: Ch 1, 1 sc in next stitch.

Repeat on other side for the other wing and weave in the ends.

Tada! Now you are ready to go fight the villains in a splendor of American Patriotism! :)

Speaking of costumes, I have purchased part of my Halloween Costume for this year! It is a length of fabric with this print:

Hint: My costume inspiration and Captain America have something major in common. Think the time period. Let me know if you have any guesses! 

Enjoy the patterns and the rest of the weekend! Hopefully I will have a post tomorrow about our dessert tonight!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Apples!

Yesterday morning was Columbus day and therefore a day off of school! I woke up rather early for a "sleep in day" so I decided to get up and surprise my family with some apple cinnamon pancakes! I was successful in quietly sneaking out the electric griddle, mixer, and metal bowls and almost peeled both apples before anyone woke up!

Our excellent apple peeler! Peels, cores, AND slices them in just a few quick cranks! 

Batter! I haven't made pancakes for a long time and I didn't quite remember the consistency of the batter so I may have added a LITTLE too much flour because the pancakes were rather dense.

Mmm! They smelled sooo good as they were cooking! Hint: the more misshapen they are, the more apples loaded in them! ;)

This steaming pile of pancakes didn't last long in a home with ravenous pancake lovers! 

And here is another little touch of fall! Okay so my gourd arranging skills aren't as honed as my knitting skills, but our home grown pumpkins can hold their own; don't you think?

 I am eagerly anticipating Halloween; one of my favorite October events! I have ordered part of my costume this year and it will be coming in the mail very soon! Perhaps I will post a picture of each piece and you can guess what it is I am going to be! Unfortunately I did not have enough time to make a costume like last year; but this one will be good! 

This Friday is coming another post about some knitting and crocheting plans and a free pattern! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Apple Picking

This past weekend, my family went apple picking so we could make some apple pies, apple sauce, apple breads etc. and we came back with a whole ton! (not literally of course, that would mean 285 pies!)

My sisters reaching for some Rome apples.

So perfectly round!

The sun shining through the branches of a yellow delicious apple tree.

So shiny and perfectly sweet!

As soon as we came back home I whipped out my apron and the apple peeler/slicer/corer tool and got to work on the 18 lbs of apples required by 6 pies. This was no small feat and it took me nearly the whole rest of the weekend! Luckily, they all turned out very well; positively delicious in fact! I wish I had more pictures, but they were gobbled up faster than I had anticipated... here is one picture of a pie I brought to school:

The top crust was mildly injured in the transport from kitchen to school, but it is still quite pretty!

Mmm all those layers of apples and flaky crust! Yum!

Nothing says "autumn" like a bunch of apple pies except perhaps a crisp blue sky and brightly colored trees:

Here is a snapshot of the view from my backyard! I love that we have an orange, green, yellow, and red tree all in a row; it is quite perfect! The fall spirit has definitely befallen me and I am eagerly anticipating colder weather so we can bring out all our hand knitted gear. Also, late October is my pumpkin pie baking season. Yes!

What sort of fall activities have you been doing lately? Let me know what fun you are planning to have!

P.S. This past weekend was also the Ryder Cup for you golfing fanatics out there and it took place a short distance from my house. During the games airplanes were writing messages in the sky and I took a picture so cool I just had to share:

All I have to say is there go some dedicated golf fans.