Friday, November 21, 2008

Taking Care of the Flip

When last we left The Refined Aran Jacket there was the issue of a hem flip. No more, thanks to Claudia's sage advice.

Claudia took one look and said, "too many stitches, decrease by 10%, and since it's such a narrow hem you may still have problems .... so why don't you try a rolled hem instead?" (I always listen to Claudia!)

Modification: With smaller needles cast on 10% less than pattern states. Purl one row, knit one row, purl one row, knit one row increasing 10%. Continue with pattern (RS).

I'm teaching this weekend. My dining room looks like it does every November, just check the archives. Many people will be arriving on Thursday for a turkey dinner. Apparently experience isn't my teacher :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008


These pictures were languishing in a draft since early October, but I actually took the machine quilting course right before Labor Day.

Since my return to quilting I've had the chance to assemble several quilt tops but a finished quilt is alluding me. Hand quilting is going to have to wait until I quit my day job and set up my big quilt frame again. I could send them out to be quilted - and for the larger ones that's what I'm going to do - but I like doing all the steps myself. Enter machine quilting! I tried it right before I packed away the quilt fabrics close to twenty years ago. Harriet Hargreaves and others were recommending a smoke colored monofilament thread that I just could not get the hang of. It was stiff, it wore against the fabric, and if you had an end work loose and stick you - jeez, that little bugger can hurt!

I used the walking foot that came with my Janome (much nicer than the optional one for my old Viking) and quilted the 20" block into quarters with plain sewing thread.

Then I switched to my darning foot and began free motion, stippling, and meandering. While you can find a variety of definitions for those two terms, the instructor/owner of my local quilt shop defined stippling as close stitching that doesn't cross over a previous line and meandering as .... just that - freeform, go with the flow!

I found the free motion fun but I would probably chalk out a general design first. I spent too much time worrying that my stippling might cross over a line so I went right on to the meandering. Very cool! Once I get a little more time (and that will be coming up soon) look for a finished quilt.

This summer, Marie showed me her very organized needle collection. She used a canvas ziplock setup that's sold for fishing accessories. This appealed to my stressed out, overworked, when I get a chance to sit down and knit I can't find the right needle (even though I own 3 or 4 of that size) self. Unfortunately time once again alluded me and before I knew it school started. While pulling out things for the start of the school year I came upon this.

At the end of the school year we have to inspect all of our homeroom students' lockers. You would not believe the things kids leave in there. Some too disgusting for words, but others could fill a clothes bank (which is where we send them). I pulled this notebook out a few years ago and stuck it in my closet. Someone's mother thought they were starting their child out on a good foot with with a nice zipped organizer/binder. Except the kid never used it! So, remembering Marie's little book of needles I set out to see if I could make heavy, zip-lock freezer bags fit the bill. I may have to spring for another one for dpns.

I think I'll run a strip of heavy packing tape along the folded area before I punch the holes to give it even more reinforcement.

Thanks to Claudia's recommendation I picked up a great new cookbook - Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

Try this yummy soup! You won't be sorry.

Old-Fashioned Bean and Lentil Soup from a Mix

12-16 ozcommercial
dried bean soup mix, picked over and rinsed
8 cupswater or
chicken or vegetable broth
1 bouquet
4 sprigs
fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 bay leaf, 1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 sprig
fresh tarragon, 10 black peppercorns, and 1 clove peeled garlic, wrapped
up in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine
2 TBSPolive oil
1 mediumyellow
onion, finely chopped
1 bunchkale, stems
removed and leaves chopped
white wine
pepper sauce
and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Combine the bean mix,
    water, parsley, and bouquet garni bag in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on
    HIGH for 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium
    skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring a
    few times, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add to the cooker, cover,
    turn the cooker to LOW, and cook the soup 4 to 5 hours.

  3. Add the kale and stir
    to incorporate ((if you need to let the soup cook all day while you are gone,
    just add the kale at the beginning or substitute spinach and add at serving
    time). Cover and continue to cook on LOW until the beans are tender, another
    4 to 5 hours.

  4. Discard the bouquet garni.
    Stir in the wine, vinegar, and hot pepper sauce. Season with salt and plenty
    of fresh black pepper.

  5. My mods: The night before
    I rinsed a bag of Goya 16 bean soup mix and soaked them overnight, in about
    8 cups of water. I also cooked the onion and got the herbs ready to go. The
    next morning I drained and rinsed the beans and threw it all in. It cooked
    for about 9 hours on low. When I got home I cut up a pound of low-fat turkey
    kielbasa and tossed it a bit in a skillet before adding it to the beans. About
    15 minutes before serving I added a pound of thawed frozen spinach, along
    with the wine, vinegar, Frank's hot sauce, and ground pepper.