Friday, December 28, 2007

A Look Back in Time

Just in time for the new year -- a retro crocheted pullover from w-a-a-a-ay back in 1965!

Pattern modifications were minimal. I lowered the neckline (in the front) just a bit, and also made the armhole deeper. The original pattern had sleeves worked separately, from the bottom up. I decided to work them from the top down so that I would know exactly how wide they needed to be for the newly deepened armhole. Seemed to work just fine, although I did need to re-work my sleeve decreases a couple of times in order to have them be as smooth as possible. Ripping and re-doing are never a waste of time if you end up with the look you want.

Here's a close up of the neckline:

Yarn used was Jaeger Baby Merino 4-ply, purchased from Webs as a closeout (the Jaeger line has been discontinued by Rowan). It's a nice enough yarn, but seems rather loosely plied, so the strands separate more than I like. I'm hoping it will wear reasonably well, as I envision this as an 'knock-about' type of sweater. Since it's merino I may not get my wish -- the price I paid, plus the color, make it all worthwhile to me though.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stash Diving

You may have too much yarn when... overlook (for several years) a very nice yarn like Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. Purchased in a kit for a baby's sweater. We won't mention how old the baby is now. In any case, two such nice skeins of yarn should be put to good use, so how about a crocheted cap?

With a size "I" hook I chained 66 and joined them with a slip stitch. Crocheted a couple of rounds of hdc over those 66 stitches, joining each round with a slip stitch and chaining 2 to start the next round. After two rounds I started with dc stitches, still working the same number of stitches and joining each round with a slip stitch. Because I was adding a separate turned up cuff, I did the first few rounds in just plain dc, but when the hat was about 2" I started the fpdc (front post double crochet) ridges -- there's 6 of them, so work *10 dc, l fpdc, around. Frankly, I'm not sure it made much difference (leaving the bottom layer nice and flat), so you could work *10 dc, 1 fpdc around right after the initial 2 hdc rounds.

Why start at the bottom and work your way up the hat you may ask? Well, crocheters choice, I guess, but I find that when working the usual way of starting at the top of the hat and working successively larger rounds outward I have lots of trouble getting just the right fit -- snug, but not too tight. Working from the bottom up I can make sure that I have the fit I want before I invest a lot of time and effort. In any event, I worked even until the body of the hat was 4" from the beginning.

Now the fun part -- the hat gets smaller and smaller as you decrease for the crown. I decided on a decrease rate of 6 stitches per round and I decreased on each round. Since I very happily had a hat with six segments, I simply decreased 1 stitch from each segment, until I finally had a round with only 12 stitches. I stopped doing the fpdc ridge stitches for the next round, because it was making my head hurt to try to figure out how to do a decrease and make it a fpdc, but perhaps you are more clever than I. Pull your yarn through that last stitch, then snug up the little hole on the top by running the tail end through those last stitches on the inside of the hat.

For the contrast cuff, I started from the wrong side of the hat, since it will be turned to the outside when done. Working into the original beginning chain, work sc, skip 1 chain, *(sc, ch2, sc) in next chain space, skip 2 chains**. Continue around, working from * to ** and end [skip 1 chain, sc ch 2 and join with slip stitch to beginning sc]. Round 2: Ch 1 (counts as first sc), *(sc, ch 2, sc) in chain 2 space of previous row**, and repeat from * to ** around -- end with sc, ch2, slip stitch to beginning ch 1. I worked the contrast cuff for 2 1/2" , but 3" would probably look good too.

So, a simple little cap from some long forgotten yarn -- not bad, eh? There's still some yarn left though. Wonder if I can squeeze a little "Could It Be Any Easier" neck cozy from the rest?

Friday, December 14, 2007

C is for Cookie...

Need something chocolate for your holiday cookie platter? Here's a favorite from our house. While there are plenty of recipes out there for no-bake cookie balls, I think this is one of the better ones -- and I say that based on years of sacrificing my waistline in the quest for tasty treats. Resist the urge to eat these until they have 'aged' overnight. It takes a bit of time for that fudge-like consistency to develop.


  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels (chips)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 Tablespoons rum
  • 1 package (9 oz.) chocolate wafers, thoroughly and finely crushed
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (divided)
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1 container (about 8 oz.) chocolate sprinkles
  • small container candied cherries for decoration, if desired

In a large bowl, mix cookie crumbs, 2 cups of powdered sugar and nuts. Being careful not to scorch, melt chocolate morsels in either the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. Pour melted chocolate into crumb mixture, then add orange juice and rum. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

To shape: roll dough into small balls and then roll them in the sprinkles. When all the balls are rolled, chill them for a bit until they are firm enough to easily handle. Blend the remaining sugar with enough water to make a rather thick glaze. Dip each ball halfway into glaze. If desired, decorate the top of each ball with a sliver of candied cherry.

NOTES: I use Nabisco chocolate wafers for these. They come in the right sized packet and they're nice and thin and crush easily. However, any plain chocolate wafer that you find pleasant to eat will work. In fact (and I'm not too proud to admit this) in an emergency Oreos (with the middle 'goop' scraped away) has been used to no ill effect -- but trust me, the wafers are easier! They can often be found in the ice cream 'accessories' (cones, fudge sauce, etc.) section of the supermarket, rather than in the cookie aisle -- go figure.

In some parts of the US, chocolate sprinkles are known as "jimmies" -- call them what you will, but they are the little chocolate rod-shaped thingies used as an ice cream, cookie, or cupcake garnish. FWIW, you can find real chocolate sprinkles in The Baker's Catalog, but regular supermarket ones work just fine.

Powdered sugar also uses the alias of 10X, or confectioner's sugar.

Over the years I've refined my technique for rolling these: take a small scoop of dough, gently roll it in your hands until it 'just' softens. Now, put some sprinkles in your hand and continue rolling gently until the sprinkles (mostly) cover the ball. Works much better, and uses less sprinkles, than trying to roll them around on a flat surface or in a bowl.

No need to refrigerate cookies after they have been rolled and decorated. Frankly, around here, they just don't last that long!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Blast from the Past...

Here's another vintage crochet pattern -- this one from a 1965 Vogue Knitting magazine. And here's a sneak peek at how it's working up in some discontinued Jaeger Baby Merino:

Gosh Karen, do you even have any yarn that isn't orange?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Drum roll, please!

J'ai fini de tricoter Plissé, or words to that effect.

I am enormously happy to have finished, and quite happy that it actually fits!

Specs: Plissé by Hanne Falkenberg - purchased from Kangaroo . Color is apricot, and I used the instructions for the largest size. The only deviation from pattern was to make the sleeves a shorter length. Despite saving a wee bit of yarn on the sleeves, I ran out of yarn while half way through the final binding off. Fortunately, I have the same shade in another kit (Tivoli) in stash, so robbing Peter to pay Paul, I managed to finish. I'll worry about running out of yarn with Tivoli another day. (I'm guessing I won't be starting Tivoli any time soon.)

I wasn't willing to 'borrow' any more yarn from Tivoli, so I won't be adding the I-cord button loop at the present time. Instead, I'll use a nice little shawl pin I got from here . I've enjoyed using it with shawls, and it will work nicely for this too.

Now the big question is - what next?