Thursday, October 27, 2011

A more attractive crochet join

My mother taught me how to crochet when I was 7 and Ive been doing it ever since then, (among a whole host of other crafts) ...and joining rounds in Crochet has been ugly for the entire time Ive crocheted. I've been trying to fix it almost as long.

Until now.......

I have found a way to make the chain three join invisible!!! YAY!!

If you too can't stand the look of the chain joins, or for those of you that have avoided crocheting in the round because of this hideous part of it....can now pull your hooks out and crochet up a storm!!

I made a video on it. Please comment either here or on the YouTube page, your thoughts.

In other news..........

I finished a project that I was working on for a swap partner!! YAY! 

Here they are separated for a better view.........

This is Ripple Scarf in Merino 5 by the Susan Druding.

And these are, a modified version of Accidental Girly Mitts by craftyLis

I was concerned that they wouldn't match, cuz im anal like that...and they don't, but they will be ok. Yall think she will like them?? 

Im in a knitting/crafting frenzy right more FO's to show as they come!! 

What are yall making right now?? Whats on your needles/hooks/hands?


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homemade Ketchup

Got my ketchup done for the year.

First, lets get past this question: Why would you want to go through all this time and effort to make ketchup when you can just pick some up for a buck at the store?

I make ketchup because tomato plants produce sooooo much, I have the extra. So yea, its a days work to make a years worth of ketchup, but I have the tomatoes, and I like my ketchup better. And its one less thing I have to buy or even think about buying.

Now that we have that cleared up....

To make homemade ketchup, you need this stuff:

For one batch(2 pints)

8lbs tomatoes
1 medum onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 1/2 inches stick cinnamon, broken
1 teaspoon celery seed
3 1/2 teaspoons salt

You can do as many batches that you have room in your pot(s) for. I did 3 batches. This will be enough for us for the year cuz we don't eat that much. If you eat a lot of ketchup, you should make more. You have the stuff out anyway, might as well.

1 5gal bucket will be approximately 24lbs of tomatoes. I had to go and get 4 or 5 more after what was in this bucket was weighed to get 3 batches worth.

Let me stress that you really should weight your tomatoes at this stage to make sure you have the suggested weight of tomatoes so that the ingredients will work out right or you will have too much or not enough ingredients for the amount of tomatoes. And then it wont taste too good. 

You should take a nap or something at this point because your in for the long haul preparing these tomatoes for the next step. 

You have to wash them, and then cut them in half and core them and peel them. 
Tomato cores arent like apple cores where they go all the way thro the apple. You just take a wedge out of the top like this. 

The one on the right has been cored and the one on the left hasn't been. You see the white bit on the one on the left? That's the core. Just cut a wedge around it and get it out of there. 

Then you have to peel them. ugg....PITA!! THEN they are ready for the next step. 

Unless you have one of these bad boys....

This is the Roma Food Strainer/Sauce Maker. You can get this on Amazon for $46.90+shipping. Ive had mine for several years and dont remember what I paid for it. But that price is well worth it! Mine came with extra graters so I can make different stuff. I make my grape jelly with this thing and all things tomato with this thing. Truly a great investment if you plan on doing a bunch of tomato stuff long term. See that black layer of stuff that this thing is standing on? Thats a suction, it works well, but sometimes it lets go and I say a few colorful words, and release it and put it back. If it gets too bad, I use the clamp there, but most of the time, its not needed. So yea, that could be better, but thats the only thing bad I can say about it. 

So because I have one of these, I just washed, cut the tomato in half, and threw it in the bowl at the top there. You dont need to core it or peel it. Just cut it up, throw it in and start turning the handle, the seeds and cores and skins come out the side, and the meat and juices come out the front. MUCH easier. 
When Im done, I usually run the "trash" thro again just to make sure I got all the meat out, but thats just me being anal.  

Then you throw all your tomatoes/or juice in a big pot.

Put your onion and cayenne in, and let it boil for about 15-20 mins. This will get everything nice and soft and then you take it out and run it thro a food mill(or the Roma again). You just want the juice this time. 

Put it back in the pot, and add your sugar. Grab you something to measure the depth with, and write that down somewhere. Bring the mixture back to a boil and let it boil for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. 
Measure it occasionally to see if it has been reduced by half. 

When its close to being reduced by half. Grab you another pot and put your vinegar, whole cloves, stick cinnamon, and celery seed in it. Bring it to a boil and take it off and let it sit until your tomato juice is reduced. 
Strain your vinegar mixture into the tomato sauce and throw the spices away. Add the salt, and keep boiling and stirring until its the thickness that you want. You want to make sure your stirring often, at this thickness, things can get ugly towards the bottom of the pan if you don't.

You should have your pint jars, lids and rings ready and when the ketchup is at the thickness you want, turn off the heat and put the ketchup in your jars, adjust rings and put them in a water bath for 5 mins.(pints)

Take them out and you have homemade ketchup!!! YAY!! 

Let me know if you try this recipe and if you have some variations of a ketchup recipe!! I love to hear new ways of doing stuff!!!

Now wheres my fry cutter..........


Monday, October 17, 2011

Saving money in the laundry room.

I always like to bring something back with me when I go on a trip. This time, I brought back a money saving tip for making your own dry laundry soap!

My SIL makes her own soap and said there wasn't any difference between the home made and the store bought except money.

Yea, I'd say! About 15 cents a load! I could use a savings like that! How about yall?

The hubbs and I sat down and done some figurin and came up with some numbers.

Tide with bleach:
$13.95 yields 63 loads. That's 22cents a load.

Homemade soap:
$1.86 yields 43 loads. That's 6.5cents a load.

Works for me, and if it works for you too...

This is the recipe my SIL gave me for the dry laundry soap. There are recipes out there for liquid laundry soap too if thats your preference. Just run "homemade laundry soap" thro a google and pick one.

In the laundry section, pick you up:

A box of Arm&Hammer Super Washing Soda(not baking soda) This will do 6 batches.

A box of 20 Mule Team Borax. This will do 12 batches

And a bar of Fels-Naptha. This will do 1 batch. 

Take all that home and grate your bar soap up however you want to, I used my blender. You can use a cheese grater tho on the smallest hole. 

Then you take your grated bar soap, you add one cup of the washing soda, and one cup of the borax, and viola, you have your lemony scented laundry soap!! That takes just a few minutes to make! 

This recipe will yield 43 loads using one level tablespoon, not sure how much using one heaping tablespoon. I will keep a tally and let yall know.  

Keep this stuff in that old one gallon tub with a lid on it that used to have ice cream in it. You know, the one you said you would find a use for it someday? Well, it has found its use!

You will use 1 heaping tablespoon per load and put your fabric softener in the washer with it, and and its business as usual!!

Pretty cool huh?? My SIL pretty smart....

Thought I would pass this little tip along to all of yall! 

Please share your variations of this recipe in the comments! Since I'm new to this, I would love to hear how yall make yours! 

Im off to do laundry...(wow...did I just say that?)


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clog Construction (long and pic heavy)

Yall remember my most awesome clogs I finished for me the other day??

Well, I got wind that some folks haven't done this pattern based on reviews of others that have. I'm not sure what went wrong with theirs, but I thought I would do a pictorial on how I put mine all together. Perhaps this might clear things up a bit.

I want to let you know, I don't do it totally like the pattern says to, and the reason for that is, I don't see the logic in the way the pattern tells you to put it all together, and I would rather not OD on pain meds.

So heres how I do it....

First, the pattern tells you to make one sole, continue to, and finish with the top, and then make the other sole and then pick up stitches along the first sole and attach the two together using one of two different methods....don't do this. You will use a whole bottle of tylenol due to pain and stress.

You want to make both soles, (I go ahead and make all four just to have it over with). But to break it down a bit more...

I have a REALLLLY long spare needle, and after im done with one of the soles, I put it on the spare. Then I take the other end of the needle and I run it through the stitches again. Heres a pic of what it looks like....(Bear with me here, it will all become clear to you grasshopper....)

click on any pics to embiggin

Now, if you don't have a really long spare needle, never fear, just grab some contrasting yarn and a spare needle of any size and put the sole on the spare needle and then run some yarn through the stitches. Regardless of how you do it, the point is, to have a needle you can work the stitches off of, and then mark the same stitches, because you will be working with them again. Marking them prevents you from having to find them later. 

So now, you make the other sole, leave it on the working needle, and then put the two soles together like this...

I'd like to mention here, that it makes no difference which direction the soles are in at this point. Just put them together. 

And then you do a 3-needle bind off.  LOOSELY  
Here it is after I've done a little bit.

sorry about the color change, its nighttime now 

You can see that the 2 soles are now connected and you still have a cable in the stitches you will need. 

When your done with the three needle bind off, you just pull the cable until you can put the stitches onto the needle, like this...

Lets look for a moment at this picture. This is a finished sole, ready for the top to be added, that I've laid out twisted so that the right and wrong side can be seen.  
See the knitting on the right with the needle in it? Looks like a bunch of purl bumps on the needle don't it. Its the wrong side. 
And the knitting on the left, looks like a long chain on the right edge. 
Its the right side.
Making sure your starting the top of the shoe on the correct side is important. You have to know what is right side and what is wrong side, or your gonna have a slightly misshapen shoe. And to be fair, with this thing being knitted flat, its really easy to mess this up. (don't ask how I know, its not pretty.)

Just remember: The stuff that looks like a chain, is the right side, the stuff that looks like purl bumps is the wrong side. 

If your knitting a 2 color shoe, this is where you grab your other color and start knitting the top of the shoe with the right side facing, like this...

See the row of sideways chain right under my needles? Yours should look like this. 

And because you put that cable or yarn in those stitches, you don't have to go looking for them! Just pull the needle into play, and work the stitches off onto your working needle, or if you put yarn in the stitches, put the stitches on your working needle, and begin to knit! 

Much easier than having to come back to it later. and no Tylenol needed. Well, you still have to come back to it, but not to do any knitting. 

When you get done with knitting the first row you should have a mess at the ends. Observe....

At this point, you will need to start to knit in the round. And with these ends separated, it makes it harder to get a nice transition from flat to round because they will pull and cause your yarn to pull leaving a big gap here. Not to mention all these ends drive me batty, so lets just tidy them up...

There, much better. 

You sew the two middle ones together and the two outer ones together. This friends, is your heel. 

Why, you ask, did I leave a bobbin of yarn there?

Its to sew up the seam when Im finished with the top. And don't get no bright idea's of just going ahead and sewing them up now. I already tried that for ya, I think about the 3rd pair....miserable to work with...don't do it. 
When your done with the 3-needle bind off, pull out a stupid amount extra before you cut it and put it in a bobbin and go on with your life. trust me. 

A bit of a note to all my anal knitting comrods: yes, this seam looks like crap. But, after the 5th or 6th time of making a pair of these, and realizing this is felting and it just doesn't matter...I began to just throw it together however it would go somewhat evenly...seriously, let it won't see your perfect seaming after its felted. 

Now, you continue on with your pattern and when you've finished with knitting the cuff, you turn it where you are looking at the inside of the shoe, or wrong side facing you, and you should see some rows knit stitches close to the final row, and then deeper on down, a row of purl bumps...look for the purl bumps that look different, and put those on any old spare circular needle....

I hope you can actually see something...I picked the wrong pair to do this tutorial on didn't I?
I'm doing a blue and red pair soon, I'll take a pic of that one and exchange it here. 
Look on your pattern and find out how many stitches your supposed to have (both the child and the adult patterns tell you) and make sure you have that many. 

Bring the two needles full of stitches together, and do a 3-needle bind off.  LOOSELY  Seriously, if you don't, you wont be able to get this shoe on after its felted. 

When your done with the bind off, cut the yarn and sew in the ends. You're done knitting!!! 
Now you gotta turn the shoe over where you are looking at the soles, and fold the outer layer out where you can work with the inner layer....

Remember that bobbin? Unwind it and thread it through a darning needle and begin to whip stitch the inner layer together. 

All those strands of yarn on the sides are the ends from when I sewed the heel together. I figure it can get felted too...

Now you fold the outer layer back into place and whip stitch it too. 

Now those ends are inside the sole of the shoe....

Sew in your end...and there you have it, your clog is ready to be felted! 

Better pic of this when I get the other one done.

I would strongly suggest you don't felt one without the other, so hurry up and cast on for the other one! 

If you need help felting, Im gonna give you a couple links to follow for front loader and top loading machines...But in a nutshell...

You put your clogs in a mesh zippered bag and grab a couple of pair of jeans or a pair of tennis shoes and throw them all in the washer on your hottest setting, with a small bit of laundry soap.

Let it run through a full agitation, pull them out and stretch them out in all directions, especially the opening for the foot, and put them back in the bag and in the washer again for another full agitation.

This time, pull them out and stretch them in all directions, put them back in the washer and set it for another round. In a few mins, check them to see if they are felted enough for you. 

When they are....

If they are for a gift... pull them out and wrap them in a dry towel to get excess water out of them and then shape them to size, let them sit on a towel and let them FULLY dry. 

If they are for you...pull them out and wrap them in a dry towel to get excess water out of them, put them on and walk around for a few minutes, take them off and let them sit on a towel and let them FULLY dry.

Put them on after they are dry, and bask in the glory of your new, cozy slippers and the fact that you made them all by yourself!! 

I hope this helps cuz I think everyone in the world needs a pair of these!!!! 


Monday, October 3, 2011

Canning Pumpkins

I grow certain crops about every other year or maybe longer because the amount of yield I get off of one years planting, is enough for this family for a couple years.

Pumpkins is one of those crops.

Lookie what I got this year!

You want to make sure you get a "pie pumpkin" when your choosing your seeds. This variety is Amish Pie. All the pumpkins you see here, came off of one mound. I know that cuz I only planted one mound.

You can see that they aren't as big as you would see in a commercial pumpkin patch. Those are Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins. They are much bigger and not very good for canning or use in recipes. You can use them, but pie pumpkins or a sugar pumpkin is best for food use.

Most folks only think of eating pumpkins during Thanksgiving, but there are many different uses for pumpkins other than pie, and you can eat it during the other 364 days of the year. just sayin. Just run "pumpkin recipes" through a google and see what you can come up with. A reader suggests this page for many pumpkin recipes

Because we do use pumpkins in recipes all throughout the year, I can it. Which isn't the most pleasant of tasks....not gonna lie.

First you have to peel the durned things and I have tried many different ways of peeling pumpkins that wont cause massive pain afterwords, or take all day to do one pumpkin, including the most popular, cutting the pumpkin in wedges and peeling it that way. There's not much longevity that way, your in too much pain to do much more than a canner load.

Theres also the ever popular cutting the pumpkin in half and baking the two halves till they are soft and then scooping out the pumpkin goop.

Now, unless you're gonna use it immediately, here's where I get all safety on you: If you do it like that, you have more of a mashed texture and the USDA says it's not safe for canning. They say that a pumpkin puree (containing sugar or not) is too dense for the heat to reach the center while processing, rendering the product unsafe. The only canning method these guys are calling safe is the cubed method. Which to me, is the easiest.

You can freeze, dry, or can cubes of pumpkin and be safe. Really. Women have been canning pumpkin puree, butter and other stuff since pumpkins arrived on this rock, and now, its not safe. Oh well, I'm gonna can cubes because its easy, and easy to use. You will have to make your own mind up.

Im gonna do some pumpkin butter too. Just a small batch tho. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 months. Im guessing it wont last past one. I think we're safe.

*climbing down off soapbox now*

I've not found a good method to peel these things yet tho. However... There is a way to do it that will cut your time, and pain down and that is, in a nutshell: cutting the top and bottom off and using your SHARP knife to cut off the peel from top to bottom all the way around the pumpkin. Check out this video. It shows you what im talking about in detail. I do my peeling like this guy, but I sway a bit from how he cuts the pumpkin afterwords.

After I get it all peeled, I just cut it in half and clean out the guts and put them in a colander so that I may extract the seeds to make some good stuff out of them later.

A little tip on getting the seeds out.

I use an ice cream scoop. well, its more like an ice cream spoon. It has a somewhat sharp edge to it, not rounded and it helps cut the guts away from the pumpkin. If you use a knife, it cuts too much meat, and we need all the meat we can get after all this work.

If you insert your spoon along the outside of the cavity where the seeds are, like this......

...then you can just push your scoop all the way under the guts, and it comes out easier. Notice I said easier. You still have to do a bit more cleaning after that. Not much, just a bit. I can usually get it pretty clean during the first part.

Then its gravy from here...

Just cut the halves into wedges and then into 1 inch cubes. Like this.....

This doesn't have to be exactly one inch cubes, just eyeball it.

Then you put them in a pot and barely cover them with water and bring them to a boil.

Put them in your quart jars leaving one inch head space and fill jar with the boiling water the pumpkin cubes were in, leaving one inch head space.

Wipe the rim of the jars clean, and put on your flats and rings.

Put the prepared quarts of pumpkin cubes in the pressure cooker at 10lbs for 90 minutes.

When all that is done, you should have something that looks like this....

 And when winter rolls around and you want a pumpkin...something or other, you can open one of these babies up, drain and mash them and use them in your something or other recipe!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Toe Warmers

So Im working on this list of Christmas gifts and my feet were cold. It was then that I realized my last pair of house shoes gave it up and I had to throw them away. 
I was gonna forget making me another pair and just wear socks till after I was done with the gifts when my friend Angela reminded me that I could not effectively knit, without a good pair of, I had to do it. I had to stop knitting Christmas gifts and knit me a pair of my favorite house shoes. 

The pattern is Felted Clogs (AC-33)

Heres my project page in Ralvery for them. 

I used Cascade 220 for these. I have used other felting wools, but the 220 works the best for me, price-wise and function. Admittedly, I have felted a pair of these with Cascades' Pastaza, and loved the results!! But it is a bit pricey for the yardage you get, so I'll stick with the 220. 
These are soooo comfy and even tho this is my 16th time making these, I will continue to have a pair on hand for me...and apparently my son, he's already put in an order for some blue and red ones, even tho, his John Deere ones I made him last year for his birthday, are still going strong!

I needed to felt these longer, but it worked. I even put his "model number" on the side like a real John Deere. It's wearing off too. I already bought the blue and red yarn to make him some. My arm was twisted. But I wanted to show you how well these things hold up even after a year! He wears them a lot too! 

I made a pair for just about everyone I know one Christmas cuz I thought the entire world needed a pair! I love these things so much.

Anyway, enough blabbing...on to the pictures!

The yarn is held double throughout and you make 2 soles per shoe, and put it all together.

Here they are when I was done with knitting and sewing them all together.

And just for reference.... I put them on here. Remember, when you felt something, it looses a bit of the original size. There's an average percentage of loss, depending on your blood type, the mpg your car gets, what you ate that day, your mood, ect, but I cant bring it to mind right at the moment.

And here they are on, after felting.....

And these will be my toe/feet warmers until I stumble upon some colors that would look really good together and just HAVE to make another pair, wear these to a pulp and make me a new pair.

Yall need to make you some of these! REALLY good house shoes!

Now, back to that list.....


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Potatoes for a Year

Some of you may remember my potatoes in this post back in the spring and how I was sooo proud of them!

Well, today, was the final potato harvest! YAY!! Now, we have potatoes for a year. Unless the boy hits a growth spurt and I have to start cooking for a small army.  

Harvest day for potatoes is a pain takes all of us to do this because we grow enough for the entire year, it would be a daunting task for just one person. 

And when I say all of us, Im including the WD too, it is after all, a part of this family! 

The implement we use to dig potatoes is called a "Potato Digger". 

There ain't no fluff about that name is there? I bet the people who named it spent all of a minute thinkin that one up. But hey, I like simplicity...todays world could use a whole lot more of it.....but thats another entire blog...

Anyway, the potato digger used to be a horse drawn implement until Mr. "I should have been born in the 1900's" got a hold of it. He got his handy dandy welder out and modified it and now it sits comfortably behind our beloved AC-WD, saving us days worth of work, not to mention weeks worth of back pain. 

The digger goes through a row of potatoes and pulls them up out of the ground, dirt and all, and deposits it all on this conveyor and the dirt falls through the conveyor and the potatoes get dropped off the back and back on the ground, but now they are on top of the ground where someone can come by and just pick them up. 

Here it is in action.... 


Pretty cool huh? It's pretty neat the stuff they made back then. Our dirt was cloddy but it was time to do it so we..umm...did it. 

Then we picked them up....

Took them to the cellar and put them downstairs. 

Now we have our potato shelves in our cellar filled up. When I need potatoes, I just go down to the cellar with a bucket and fill it up and put them in the house. Easy. 

Potatoes: DONE! 

On the knitting front: Im working on some Felted Clogs by Fiber Trends...I should be done with them tonight. Post about them tomorrow. (eta: heres the post)