Thursday, 30 August 2012

If you wanna be a viking say YAAAA!

Everybody say YAA!

Who doesn't love a viking helmet?

I know I do! So do my kids and husband and the rest of everyone ever.
I've seen a lot of them out there for sale and a handful of free patterns just didn't have what I was looking for in the horn area. Which, I must admit I'm pretty picky about.

Just when I thought all hope was lost and I'd have to fight like a mad woman to figure something out or suffer sub par horns I came across this pattern/tutorial. I gotta tell ya, it was love at first sight!

I had a few ideas in my head for the actual helmet part, the thing is I want to attach a big beard to it and give my son a little toy axe, slap some fun fur and a dollar store chest plate on him and send him out dressed as "stoik the vast" from How to train your dragon. So I wanted it to be good and helmety.

The horns are a bit tricky both to make, I'm pretty sure I lost count more than twice and place (I'm impatient and terrible at taking my time to do things properly) but that will get easier with practise. I kind of like them a little bit wonky.  

The hat itself can be made with any hat patten, ever and adding some popcorn stitches about 3/4 of the way down. The piping is made from chains just sewn into place and are totally optional. Heck you don't even need to make them 2 toned.

I'm probably going to end up making  a lot of these.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Home made ketchup (catsup..? ketchup..?) recipe. Serious yum (and healthy!)

Actually, it's different names for the same thing. Home made ketchup is a wonderful thing. It doesn't take long to make, it's delicious and you get to control how much salt and sugar goes into it and hey, no worries about that high fructose corn syrup everyone is so worried about. Best of all, if you have  a little one old enough to help stir the pot. They love to help stir..

Recently we were given whole a box of tomatoes. When I say a box. I mean, like a case of them. It was intense. There were so many of them we didn't even know what to do with them (ah, the joys of late summer), So, there was a mad rush to roast off as many as we could, sauce making and salad eating. Which hardly seemed to make a dent. I ended up freezing a bunch of the roasted tomatoes but not after using a bunch of them (and some fresh ones) to make some ketchup.
   Having 2 small kids means we go through a lot of.. well condiments in general.. But they do eat a lot of ketchup so when we were running low and I had an abundance of produce, why not try making some?!

I looked up a few different recipes online but it's all a pretty basic method. Here's what I used:

Roasted and raw tomatoes-probably about 8-10 (you could use canned tomatoes)- I didn't peel them or anything I just threw them in. you might want to cut them up or squish them a bit first.
1 small onion, diced (really really small)
1 red pepper, diced (really really small)
2 cloves garlic, diced
 vinegar to taste (about 1/2 cup- white or cider, use what you have)
sugar to taste (I used about 2 tblsp)
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste (1-2 tblsp)
pinch (1/2 tsp each) ground cloves, nutmeg and Cinnamon  (most recipes called for allspice. I don't have allspice.)
 corn starch and water to thicken (optional)

Some recipes include molasses some don't. I'm all about using what is on hand, I'm not about to go out and buy something just for one recipe. Especially in cases like allspice and molasses, which I'm not likely to use again for a long long time. 

What I did:
cook the onions on med/low until soft. add in garlic and red pepper, Cook until red pepper is soft. Add tomatoes and seasonings, and let the whole thing simmer for a long time. I did mine for about 45 minutes, stirring quite often to keep it from burning. 

If you have a blender (immersion blender-even better) you'll want to toss the whole mess in the blender until smooth and cook it down a bit more to reduce. Which should leave it thick enough.

I don't have a blender, so I processed mine through a food mill a few times then added some corn starch and water (just follow the box directions) to thicken it a bit. It's got bits of skin and onion in it still. I quite like it that way. 
When it cooled, I just tossed it in our empty, washed out ketchup bottle.

There you have it, home made ketchup. I encourage you all to give it a try next time your drowning in extra tomatoes. It's well worth the bit of work. I also recommend roasting your tomatoes first. It sweetens them up so much (yay adding less sugar) and gives it all a lovely taste.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Wonder woman and dragons and amigurumi oh my!

Lately I've been working on a few different types of projects than I usually work on. I usually direct my attention to fairly quick and easy, practical projects like mittens, hats, slippers, baby photo props  and a few pretties like headbands, little tiaras and necklaces now and then.

I like using basic designs and adding on to them, making them extra cute and extra personal kitty cat slippers for my little girl, viking hats for my boy. little bows and whatnot. I like the ease of using the 4mm-6mm hooks and how quickly these little projects tend to come together. I'm not big on  using little hooks and thread, they're a pain. 

I've been wanting to try working on some different types of projects lately and with my kids being sick this week it was a good time to try my hand at some amigurumi friends for them. 

Little girl demanded (asked nicely for) a wonder woman. And my little dude likes anything with wheels or that goes "RAAAA" so I began scouring for patterns. 

Wonder woman was easy enough to figure out. I used the basic amigurumi body here. Which was a fine pattern, It calls for a hook bigger than I wanted to use (I'm paranoid about stuffing showing through). I used a slightly smaller hook and altered it a bit to make her a little thicker. I used the star pattern here on a 1.5mm hook with size 10 thread for her tiara and improvised little stars for her shorts.. I'm not sure where her little lasso of truth was when I took the picture but I did make one. I just braided some yellow yarn and tied an adjustable slipknot in it.

The dragon was super fun, quick and easy. I used  Lucy Ravenscar's Fierce little dragon pattern and button eyes. Little guy picked out the colors and away I went. It was a breeze to make. The pattern is very well written and simple to follow. 

The end results are pretty great. Wonder woman still needs a couple of touches, like her hair needs a bit of fixing and she still needs her second W but little girl is so pleased.. I'm planning on making her own wonder woman tiara to match.

Although I'm not a fan of small hooks and tight stitches I'm really enjoying making toys. The kids are so happy about them and they're pretty darn cute. I'm already trying my hand at some baby toys as my extended family is about to get even larger.. But that's another post.

If anyone has a basic doll pattern that they like to use would you please share it with me in the comments? I'm still searching for the perfect one. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Who wants to learn how to crochet an Octopus?

I thought so!

Twofer today! this has been sitting unpublished in my dashboard for months!

Okay, so this project came into my head and heart earlier this week. A friend drew a picture of two lovey octopuses and it got me thinking that I would love to make one. So after trying it a few times And failing miserably ( I just couldn't get the legs right) I did an interweb search (all hail lord Google!) and came up with some wonderful pictures of the Octopus pattern from Ruby submerine and I found me a free pattern from PaulaGail over at squidoo and I knew what I wanted and now have a fairly good idea of how to achieve my desired effect (Start with the legs! who knew!).

So, Now I'm going to walk to through what I've come up with, with the help of the pattern I found from Squidoo and a few tweaks of my own:

Leg 1: Chain 21. Starting in 2nd ch from end,
5 sc, 13 hdc, 2 dc. Leg should have a natural twist.

Legs 2-8: Without cutting the yarn, repeat steps for leg 1 seven more times. You will have eight curly legs all in a row. Join the legs into a circle with a slip stitch in the first chain of the first leg.

Head and body:

Working from the legs in continuous rounds without turning:
Round 1: Work 2 sc through the dc at the base of each leg (16 st).
Round 2:*1 sc in each of next 2 st, work 2 st together* 4 times (12 st).
Rounds 3, 4: Sc in each sc around (12 st).
Round 5: *1 sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in 3rd st* 4 times (16 st).
Round 6: *1 sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in 4th st* 4 times (20 st).
Rounds 7-9: Sc in each sc around (20 st).
Round 10: 1 sc in each of next 3 st, work 2 st together* 4 times (16 st).
Round 11: *1 sc in each of next 2 st, work 2 st together* 4 times (12 st).
Round 12: *1 sc in next st, work 2 st together* 4 times (8 st).
Round 13: *Work 2 st together* 4 times (4 st).

Cut yarn. You probably will not have a hole at the top with only 4 st, but if you do,
use yarn end to stitch hole shut. Work in yarn ends.

I attached sew-on googly eyes to the sides and taa-daa!

This one I SC an extra round before I started the major decrease in the head/body. 
He's still not quite right but I'm getting there

Happy Summer! I made an angel!

"festival shawl"
It's been a while! I hope everyone out there in interweb land is having a wonderful, relaxing and productive summer. I know I am.
With the dog days of summer and the husband taking some time off work I've been spending less and less time at the computer and just enjoying some time with my family. And crocheting. Always crocheting.

disgruntled bird
I've been working on some cool weather projects. A lovely shawl in mohair for myself, viking hats for the children and some fun stuff for my nieces and nephew etc.. But lately it's been far too hot to think about wooly warm goodness so I've finally worked up the nerve to work on some lacy things.

little panda
"Penny rose" necklace

Tiny hooks, thread and  the colour white make me nervous. So this is a big step for me and of course my being who I am I don't start small.. No no. My first project... A friggin 9 inch tree topper angel for my Mother in law (shhhh don't tell her. It's a seceret).

head and torso formed, beginning work on the skirt

I cannot tell you how happy I am with how it turned out. Especially considering I used a smaller crochet hook than the pattern calls for and made a little bit up as I went along.  I was a bit nervous in a couple of spots. Like the head/neck and right where you join it to make the sleeves for the dress. I just kept chugging along and I met with success.

So close
Because I used a smaller hook and I wanted to maintain the size I added a couple of extra rounds in the head, body and skirt as well as I changed up the skirt just a tad and did a round of V stitches near the bottom. I also added a round of picot stitches around the wings to give them a little extra fancy. 


 I also thought it could use a little extra sparkle so I used a thread with a strand of silver woven into it for the wings and halo. 
you can't really see the sparkle..

Over all it was much easier than I thought working with thread this small would be (especially with children around). Honestly, my biggest fear was getting it dirty. White and I just aren't friends.

Starching it was a bit of a pain too. I used a couple of coats of spray starch on both the angel and her wings before I sewed them on.

letting the starch dry

To keep her shape I taped a ring of newspaper around a wine bottle and covered it with plastic bags and i cinched her waist with a little bit of yarn then just let her dry outside.

After I put the wings on I used a 1/3 white glue and 2/3 water solution in a spray bottle and soaked her really good, letting her dry a bit and shaping her as I went. After she dried a bit I took her off the wine bottle and stuffed the body a bit with a little newspaper. Then I just lay her down on some plastic

I did that so I could rotate her front to back to keep the head and wings in place. I let her dry over night and repeated the glue/water soaking and even hung her upside down for a bit to keep her neck straight. Serious pain. Bus SO worth it.

finished front


For the finishing touches I improvised a little green sash and bow and we're calling this project done! Isn't she lovely, despite my poor photography skills?!