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More Baskets!

Here’s how to make another type of basket!

Starting

Starting

  • First cut slits in four of the spokes in the center of the spoke.
  • Next make a slant cut on the ends of the non-slitted spokes so it is sharp and pointed.
  • Slide the cut end spokes through the slits in the other spokes.
IMG_3623

This basket has dogwood for spokes and reeds for weaving.

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Next steps

  • Take a long reed, double it in half and loop it around four of the spokes.
  • Line the two ends of the reed up and put the reed on the left over the reed on the right and behind the four spokes.
  • Go around once then divide the spokes into sets of two and go around in a circle always putting the reed on the left over the right reed and behind the next set of two spokes.
  • Do this 3 or 4 times.
  • Next pull the spokes so they are one apart
  • Continue going around in the same fashion.
  • When you run out of reed you can either weave in an over under pattern with one length or double it and continue twisting as you did in the beginning.
Doing the sides.

Doing the sides.

  • When it’s time to bend the spokes use pliers and crimp the spoke lightly as each spot you want it to bend.
  • For the top loop each spoke behind the next one then trim the excess.
This basket has willow, dogwood and reeds.

This basket has weeping willow, dogwood and reeds.

I used some palm and seagrass for variety and texture.

I used some palm and seagrass for variety and texture.

Sides can be straight or flare out.

Sides can be straight or flare out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Potato Baskets

Here’s another type of basket to make.

Below on the left are some willow branches I gathered.  You can also use red dogwood, birch or any other type of flexible twigs.  Using seagrass rope, grasses and other materials provides nice contrast.

Once you have gathered your materials the first step is twisting a wreath.  This particular one is made out of red and yellow dogwood.

Once you have made your wreath base you will lay three central sticks on the wreath and tie them on with crosses.  Next you begin weaving until the basket is the size you want.  A trick to prevent the materials from breaking or cracking is to keep them wet.  The joke about underwater basket weaving is not that far off from the perfect conditions.

Here are a couple examples made with various mixed materials.    For more detailed instructions please go here and good luck!

This basket is made with red dogwood, willow, reed and moss.

This one is seagrass, grapevine, birch, sweetgrass and reed.

Fun with Cable Knitting

Cable knitting is, if possible, even more addictive than Fair Isle patterns.  Best of all it’s pretty easy to do if you have the right tools and some good patterns.  I like using cables on things like mittens and fingerless gloves as it makes them much easier to fit on a variety of hand sizes.

I like these needles for holding the stitches to be cabled.

I like these needles for holding the stitches to be cabled.

 

Cable knitting mittens help them fit better.

Cable knitting mittens help them fit better.

 

Cables are great for fingerless gloves.

Cables are great for fingerless gloves.

 

More intricate cables can be used for small bags.

More intricate cables can be used for small bags.

Here’s a fun site on the basics of cable knitting.

Do you have patterns you love?  Comment here or on Facebook and I will post them!

 

 

Candied Orange Peel

This time of year I love making candied citrus peels.  Sometimes we use the sweet sharp peels in cookie and fudge recipes and sometimes we just eat them straight.  You can also dip them in chocolate for a lovely blend of flavors.
Ingredients:

  • 3 thick-skinned organic navel oranges
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 3/4 cups water

Directions:

Take a sharp knife and cut off the top and bottom of each orange.  Score them and peel off the skin into quarters.

 

Peel oranges.

Peel oranges.

Use the fruit of the orange in other recipes.  Cut the peel into strips 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide.  Put in a saucepan and cover with water.

Cook peels

Cook peels

Bring to a boil then pour off the water.  Repeat this process a couple of times.  Remove the white pith from the orange peel.

Slice into thin strips and remove white pith.

Slice into thin strips and remove white pith.

Combine the sugar with the water and put the softened peels and the sugar syrup into a crockpot on high heat.

In crockpot

In crockpot

Cook until the peels are translucent.  Drain the peels.  When they are still moist roll them in sugar.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

You can use the orange flavored syrup in other recipes.

 

 

Fingerless Gloves

Each year the knitting compulsion starts to build as the days get shorter and colder; by the holidays it’s in full swing and my main desire in life is to sit by the fire, listen to a really good audiobook and knit like crazy.

Here are some of the different color combinations to try!

This year I have been making fingerless gloves for holiday gifts.  My initial response to these was that my fingers and thumbs were going to be cold but surprisingly they stay pretty warm and it’s great to be able to use your hands for things.

These gloves are easy to make and you can go wild in the creativity department.  It’s also really satisfying to complete your project pretty quickly.

First cast on about 48 stitches; add more if your hands are really big or a bit less if they are small.  I use circular needles as the yarn stays on them, it’s easy to carry your projects around and it makes for a smoother finished product.

Make the wrist first.

Next knit two, pearl two to create a ribbing for the wrist.  You can make the cuffs whatever length you like and can dress them up by using differently colored yarns.  To make really warm gloves knit a long cuff then fold it back on itself to double it.

Once your cuff is of the desired length straight knit a few rows.  At this point you want to put in stitch markers and start adding in a stitch on each row to make the thumb.  Here is where you can get creative with changing the yarn colors or doing cable stitches.

When you have about 17 new stitches added in try the glove on to see if the thumb area is long enough; if not then keep knitting but don’t add in any more stitches.  Once it’s long enough then put the addes stitches on a piece of yarn and knit the circle closed.  Keep going until your glove is almost as long as you’d like it to be.  To finish it do a circle of straight knitting then do the ribbing of knit two, pearl two as you did in the beginning.  Once you have a half inch or so cast off and finish off the thumb.

To finish the thumb pick up the 17 stitches from the piece of yarn and pick up some of the stitches from the body of the glove .  Knit until the thumb is the desired length then cast off.  Trim loose pieces of yarn and then you’re all set!

Eggnog!

Every year we have a holiday open house and I make homemade eggnog.  This nog will  sustain one through the dark, cold days and bring holiday cheer to any occasion.

Lots of luscious eggs.

First separate twelve egg yolks and whites then beat the yolks until thick and creamy.

Beat them well.

Next slowly add in a pound of powdered sugar and beat until well mixed.

Creamy

Now comes the heavy whipping cream; you will need two quarts of this dreamy stuff.  Add it slowly and beat until thick and well, creamy.

Time for the egg whites.

Let the mixture sit for two hours then beat egg whites until almost stiff and fold them in to the nog.

Top with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and have a bottle of brandy or rum on hand for people to add to their cup.  To serve I use a glass punch bowl that I got at Goodwill; this time of year they have quite a selection for great prices.

(As with any raw egg product do be a good host and let people know so they can decide whether to indulge or not.  Sad to say there are some nasty bacteria that can be spread by raw eggs so people with weakened immune systems should probably steer clear.)

 

 

More Fair Isle Knitting

It’s cold and time to knit!  I have been playing around more with Fair Isle knitting and think it could take a lifetime to explore all the interesting colors and patterns that can be used.

small hat

From sheep to hat!

Another pattern

Another pattern

Two contrasting colors work well.

Two contrasting colors work well.

This is one of my favorite color combos.

This is one of my favorite color combos.

 

Nisqually 12-15-3

Using grey, white and a touch of red looks good.

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Color gradations can look good.

Mittens are great!

Mittens are great!

A round up!

A round up!

 

The season of wondering what in the world to give people for the holidays is upon us.  I really enjoy making people things but it can be a challenge to figure out something that people will actually like.  This has not always been something I have been particularly good at; I remember the year everyone got neon potholders then there were the health bars filled with lots and lots of wheat germ and bran.  Here are some suggestions of things you can make that have had much better receptions!

Stone necklaces are pretty simple and low cost to make and you can put together a range from demure, made with tiny rocks, to large showy pieces with rocks studded with mica.

These stone necklaces are quite easy to make and are popular gifts.

If you like to take pictures then note cards can be fun to make also.  You can get card making supplies at stores like Paper Source.

Cards and a stone necklace!

Cards and a stone necklace!

Goats milk soap makes great gifts; it is easy to ship and can be made in all different colors and shapes to suit even picky people on your list.

You can leave these a natural ivory color or use vegetable dyes to add variety.

People usually love getting homemade herb blends.

Herb blend picture from Kalyn's Kitchen.

Herb blend picture from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

If you are looking for an attractive way to package your homemade gifts putting them in baskets can be quite attractive.  If those baskets are ones you made then all the better!

Baskets can hold other gifts or be a present just by themselves.

A different style of basket.

A different style of basket.

Here’s how to make fingerless gloves in a snap!  Here’s how to do easy hats.

Hat and fingerless gloves are quick and easy to make.

Hat and fingerless gloves are quick and easy to make.

Probably the most popular gift I give is raspberry jam.  This could be a bit challenging to make this time of year but it can be done with frozen berries.

Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

Home Made Mozzarella

cheese

Fresh mozzarella!

By Garrett Okrasinski

After seeing my friend’s photos of a mozzarella party in Italy, I got inspired! Since I could not travel to Italy, I could at least bring it a little closer and try my hand at making my own mozzarella.

Mozzarella is a cheese from southern Italy that has a soft, subtle taste and a smooth texture. It can be found in nice voluptuous loafs, braided or in bite size balls.

When I think of mozzarella, I think of great wood fire pizzas or garden fresh caprese. Now that I know how to make it, it is going to be dangerous!

At first I was a little intimidated. I envisioned numerous batches that spoil or cheese that falls apart. But that was not the cases! It was surprisingly easy! Even if it doesn’t turn out as soft as store bought cheese (in my cases) it is satisfying and delicious because you made it!

Untitled

Luscious

It takes about 30 minutes a batch. It is so fun because you get to watch the milk change, knead and form the cheese and sample the finished product.

I have now tried three different methods and below is a link to my favorite recipe.

How to Make Fresh Mozzarella

Notes on my experiments:

  • My mozzarella turned out a little firmer that I would have like and I attribute that to the amount of rennet. Rennet is used to coagulate the milk. I used vegetarian rennet tablets that I dissolved in water. Next time I am going to try to use less.
  • I tried using both whole milk and raw milk. I did not find a notable difference between them. Try to find milk that is not ultra pasteurized.
    Finally, my cheeses had a little yellow color on the outside when I added the salt. I attribute this to the salt and the fact that it is homemade. Commercial cheese is processed more to give it a pure white color.

Once you are done you will lovely cheese and a lot of whey! I will write another post shortly with what to do with all the whey. There are so many uses!

 

Grandma Fields’ Pumpkin Pie

Here is an old family pumpkin pie recipe from my husband’s aunt, Betsy Stapleton.  She makes this for special events and it’s always a favorite.  Besides it tasting good, I like that it doesn’t use evaporated milk.

Recipe

Put in a frying pan:

  • One large can of pumpkin puree
  • One teaspoon ginger
  • One teaspoon salt
  • Two teaspoons cinnamon
  • One pinch nutmeg

Cook, stirring frequently, until cooked down to four cups.  Cool to room temperature.

homemade pumpkin pie

Thick and delicious

Add to pumpkin mixture:

  • Three well beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • One rounded tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in half a cup of milk
  • Three and a half cups of milk

homemade pumpkin pie

Blend well

Beat with a mixer until smooth.  Pour into two large pie tins and bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until set.

 homemade pumpkin pie

Ready for baking.

Enjoy!

I wonder if I will get any pie this year?