For a while now I've not been able to eat many carbs or sugar, similar to the Paleo Diet. The only sugar I can eat is stevia or xylitol. It is always a challenge to come up with something chocolaty and sweet to fill those cravings you get! The following cookie recipe is based off of Double Chocolate Pecan Cookie recipe.
Chocolate Coconut Cookies (Grain, Dairy and Sugar Free)
1 1/2 cups almond meal (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)*
1/2 cup flax meal (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)*
2 tablespoons coconut flour (I use Coconut Secret brand)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/3 to 1/2 cup xylitol depending on how sweet you like your cookies**
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoured liquid stevia
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 - 4 eggs to make your total liquid 1 cup
* You can make your own almond meal by taking raw almonds and grinding them up in a food processor. Store the extra in the fridge. * If you don't have flax meal you can use almond meal instead (2 cups total).
** I used 1/3 cup xylitol and the chocolate is similar to bittersweet chocolate. The xylitol I use is made from Birch (Smart Sweet brand) Preheat oven to 350F Combine almond flour, coconut, xylitol, and salt in a bowl. Sift together and add to bowl: coconut flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix together until well combined. Melt coconut oil in a glass measuring cup. I use the microwave but you could set the glass measuring cup in a pot of hot water to get it to melt. Add stevia to coconut oil. Add one egg at a time (mixing well after each egg) until your liquid measures 1 cup. I used 2 eggs but my eggs are very large so you may need 3 or 4 eggs to get 1 cup of liquid. Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix well. Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheets lined with baking parchment. Bake for 12-14 minutes in oven. Remove and let cool on the cookie sheets. Enjoy! (Makes approximately 24 cookies)
If you've been around here long you know I love to knit and crochet baby stuff. It seems I've been on a blanket/afghan kick for a while now and today is no exception. I've often wondered why some people call these rectangles of fiber blankets and others call them afghans. I looked up the definitions and here's what I found:
Blanket ~ A large piece of woolen or similar material used as a bed covering or other covering for warmth.
Afghan ~ a blanket knitted or crocheted in strips or squares; sometimes used as a shawl
(definitions from google)
That explains it then ... I'm sure I've been using them interchangeably when in fact there is a difference.
This book Best of Terry Kimbrough Baby Afghans has been in my possession for over a year now and I really like all the patterns in here but I haven't finished any. I think I found them a bit intimidating with the fancy borders. I tend to be a more "fly by the seat of your pants" type of crafter and am queen of fudging to make things work out. These patterns don't look like they have much of a fudge factor involved.
I have finally jumped in and am working on Snuggle Up, pictured on page 25 of the book. Currently, I'm on the easy part of the border and it has been a really fun (and unintimidating ... is that a word?) project. I will let you know how the final border works out and how much funding I have to do!
The blue blanket I posted about last time is finished as of last week and is on it's way to a hospital in Mississippi with 5 others. They will be used by low income mothers (mostly teens and 20 somethings) for their new babies.
Squirrels and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ... what do those two have in common you might ask. Well, there are squirrels in the musical and even though this book was one of my favourites when I was a kid I had no idea. Now, you might ask what does this have to do with me? ... The middle school my daughter attends is putting on this musical in a few short weeks and I was asked to sew squirrel costumes. Here is my daughter in one of them. Though she is actually a reporter in the play and not a squirrel I think she makes a very good one!
So, three squirrel costumes down and one more to go by Monday. I think I will need to eat a few nuts before I go squirrely :)
Crocheting is keeping me relatively sane. I started this blanket a few weeks ago based on a stitch I found in a crochet stitch dictionary. Making up the border as I go and hope to write up a pattern for it in the near future. Could make one in pink and white to count towards our Pink and Blue challenge going on in the Heavenly Angels In Need forum this month and next. The short version of this challenge is you join either the pink or the blue team and cheer your team on to making the most items in the two months. I am on team pink and we seem to be having a bit of a hard time cheering each other on ... do you want to join us? I would love to have another cheer leader on board! Happy Crafting!
As in ripple style blankets. Stripes that undulate up and down and have an infinite number of color combinations. Check out Linda's ripple blankets ... I love the color combinations she uses. And best of all she gives them all away to kids who will love on those blankets for a lifetime!
The latest 2 ripples I've finished will be going to a Pine Ridge Indian Reservation hospital in South Dakota. The hospital has approximately 30 births per month and there is a group on Ravelry (Bundles of Joy) that endeavor to provide 30 each of blankets, hats, booties, sweaters, outfits, snug sacks, and receiving blankets. There are a few guidelines on size but other than that one can be very creative with color and fiber. Just what I like!
The top ripple is from the pattern booklet Our Best Baby Afghans published by Leisure Arts. It uses worsted weight yarn and I chose to use Loops and Threads Impeccable Solids purchased at Micheals. They have a wide selection of colors and the yarn seems to be durable though not as soft as I would like for a baby blanket.
This round ripple blanket was really fun to make. Though it does take longer and longer to get a section of color completed as the blanket gets bigger. Being a big fan of getting projects completed as fast as possible this does get a bit discouraging for me! But it's done and about 40" in diameter. The pattern is a free Ravelry downloadable pattern by Celeste Young called Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket. Very easy to create and memorize once you get started.
One more ripple is this one also made for Pine Ridge Indian Reservation but finished more than a year ago. It was the first ripple blanket I made and then found I was addicted to creating them. This pattern, Neopolitan Ripple is also free. Thank you to Michelle Tang for writing out the pattern for us to use!
So there you have it .... 3 very different ripple patterns that are open to creative color choices. Happy Crafting!
I am so excited because a friend is trying to get a few more wedding dresses for me to use to make preemie baby gowns. Here are 4 that I've just finished from a beautiful wedding gown given to me a couple of years ago (yes it does take me a while to get finished with each dress). The 2 smaller baby dresses will fit 2-3lb preemies and the 2 larger gowns will fit 4-5lb preemies. The wedding gown was so beautiful I really didn't want to cut into it. But once I got started I absolutely loved the gowns I've made from it.
Here are a couple of pictures of the wedding gown before I started cutting. I just love all the bead work and lace but it does pose a challenge for how to cut it to get the most out of all the fabric.
I've made a few other gowns/outfits from this dress (9 total) and still have fabric left to make a few more.
These baby dresses get donated to hospitals and Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) photographers through a charity Heavenly Angels In Need (HAIN). HAIN is always looking for more volunteers who can knit, crochet, sew, or make memory boxes as we have a very large list of organizations looking for donations from us. There are many free patterns online for preemie and micro preemie gowns, outfits, hats, blankets, booties, and wraps that the hospitals and photographers like to receive from us.
I love crocheting blankets. I think they are the most fun to crochet and work up so much faster than knitting them. And one more bonus ... crochet uses up more yarn than knitting does. If you have seen my "stash" then you know I need to use up some yarn! But that doesn't seem to stop me from purchasing more when there is a good deal to be had :)
This first blanket is from the pattern Easy Ripple Afghan by SusanB. I chained 98 to produce a blanket that is 29" x 32". I love the pink, green and white together. So much so that I bought yarn from JoAnns that is the same colourway and made this next blanket from it.
The yarn is JoAnns Sensations Little Treat and is really nice and soft. The yarn does all the colour changing so no extra tails to weave in at the end. The pattern is Lovely Lattice Baby Blanket by Diana Richie. It is available from the Heavenly Angels In Need forum.
Finally, the last blanket I've finished in the past month or so is Blanket for Baby made with JoAnns Sensations Little Treat yarn as well. This time in blue, green and white. This is the third time I've made this pattern so it must be good. I usually don't make anything more than once because I get bored. I think I chained about 100 for a finished blanket of 22" x 25".
All three of these blankets will go to NILMDTS photographers to use in their angel sessions.
Currently on the needles is the Wool Eater Blanket made with many leftover balls of 100% wool yarn. I'm sending this one to Pine Ridge Hospital Maternity Ward in SD when it's done. Picture next time.
Enjoy the rest of May and I hope that the weather where you are is much better than it is here in the PNW. So rainy and grey but good knitting/crocheting weather!
On Tuesdays I go to a knitting group at a local yarn shop. We knit hats and scarves for Operation School Bell through the Assistance League. After knitting for an hour and a half or so we go for lunch. Since I'm a stay at home mom it's nice to be able to get out and meet with other women of like craftiness to chat about life. Currently I'm working on a scarf.
Last week I gave in a bought the baby knitting book 60 Quick Baby Knits from the LYS. It has such adorable patterns for newborn up to 24 month size though I think some of the items would fit much larger toddlers. Of course I put all the other projects I was working on aside and had to knit the sweater pattern on the cover. And also this cute hat.
Of course I then proceeded to cast on for another baby sweater with some fair isle on the bottom of it. Both the sweater and hat pictured are going to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
On the quilting front I'm working on a quilt by McKenna Ryan called Faith, Hope, and Love. It is so pretty. One day it will be finished!
I'm amazed at how many people are still coming to this site even though I haven't posted in over 2 years. How time flies by. Of course I'm still doing all kinds of crafts and have relearned how to crochet. I was taught by my mom when I was probably 12 or 13 and didn't do much of it. I still have the scarf and hat I made as my first project. My mom kept them for me:)
I really haven't been doing much quilting lately. Since I'm not doing our charity quilt group at church I just haven't had much motivation to do much. Mom's quilt guild has an annual quilting retreat in February and I went again this year. Pieced and sandwiched a large queen size quilt. And here it sits in my pile of "to do" projects waiting to be quilted. The most exciting news (for me anyway) is that 3 of my quilts were accepted into a small art show. They will be hanging there for 2 months. This is a first for me to have quilts in an actual art show.
The dragonfly quilt is hand appliqued and a pattern from Pacific Rim Quilt Company.
In the Fall Leaves Quilt I did machine embroidery on hand dyed fabric and then cut the leaves out, machine appliqueing them onto the background. The piecing is done with Japanese fabrics, most from old kimonos.
And the last quilt is pieced from Japanese fabrics I bought on our trip to Japan in 2008. Maybe I won't wait another 2 years to post again!
Finished Size: 12” x 12” (20” x 20”) Yarn: Fingering Weight (Worsted Weight) Needles: 3.25mm (4.5mm) Gauge: Not important but approximately 30sts/inch (20sts/inch)
K = knit
P = purl
k2tog = knit two stitches together
tbl = through the back of the loop
yo = yarn over
Row 1: K1, yo, *k5, slip the 2nd, 3rd, 4rth and 5th stitches over the first stitch, yo; Repeat from * to last stitch, k1
Row 2: P1, *(p1, yo, k1tbl) in the next stitch, p1; Repeat from * to end
Row 3: K2, k1tbl, *k3, k1tbl; Repeat from * to last 2 stitches, k2
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: K1, *yo, k2tog; Repeat from * to end
Row 6: Knit
Row 7: K1, *yo, k2tog; Repeat from * to end
Row 8: Knit
Row 9: K17, k2tog, k18, k2tog, k17, k2tog, k18, k2tog, knit to end
Row 1 (wrong side): (K3, P2); Repeat to last 3 sts, k3
Row 2: Knit
Cast on 117 stitches.
Work Lace Shells pattern.
Should have 93 stitches after all rows worked.
Work rows 1 and 2 of Garter Stripes pattern until blanket measures 11” (18”) ending with Row 2. Or however long you want your blanket to be. The lace edging is approximately 1” (1 ½”) wide.
Place all stitches on a holder or cast off (see finishing section to choose which you prefer).
Cast on 117 stitches.
Work Lace Shells pattern. Should have 93 stitches after all rows worked.
Leave these stitches on the needle or cast off (see finishing section to choose which you prefer).
To join the Lace Shells section to the blanket you can use the 3 needle bind off, kitchener stitch or sew the two cast off edges together.
Weave in ends.
Thread ribbon through the two sets of eyelet holes on each end of the blanket.
I have to confess that I haven't been doing much charity work lately. And I haven't been good at keeping up this blog. Probably lots of other stuff too, but you don't want to hear all my whining LOL! I can't say I will get any better at either of them but I keep telling myself even one item is a huge blessing to one person (or a family) that wouldn't have been possible before I donated it.
What I really want to tell you about is my sister. She and her family are staying in South Africa for 4 months while her husband works at a medical clinic. My sister has been helping at an orphanage near her house twice a week since they've been there. It is an amazing place and the pictures she posts on her blog - From Canada to Sundumbili - are really great. She is helping with the kids but also trying to drum up donations for Ikhaya LikaBaba Orphanage She writes on her blog that it is a real uphill battle since the need in South Africa is so great and the number of businesses that can afford to donate supplies and money are so small. If you would be interested in mailing baby and toddler clothes, baby items, health care items the address to send the items to is on the Ikhaya LikaBaba website. You can also make monetary donations from their website as well. I sent one package and it took about 2 1/2 weeks to get there. I am planning to sew up a few more blankets and pick up some more outfits from the discount stores to mail in the coming weeks.
Have you read the book "The Shack"?? If not, I highly recommend reading it! It is an amazing story and really touched my life. It has given me a different perspective on life in a few areas and made me realize I need to be a bit less "structured" and "controlling". I think that is one of the reasons I haven't been making quite so many charity items lately. I new I really needed a bit of a break but the "guilt" kept getting in the way of the break time. I know not everyone agrees but I think I need to make some things for me and my family as well as for others. I kept having that nagging thought that I don't "need" anything and there are so many who do need things that I couldn't make anything for me. I found myself being overwhelmed by the needs of the world and wanting to fix everything - which is completely impossible on my own. I hate seeing people suffer and, if I could, I would make it all better (like everyone else would) but I can't. So I need to chill out and relax a bit. I really am enjoying spinning and knitting and sewing more since I've relaxed a bit --- though some of my friends would say "not enough"!
So what have I been doing since the last blog posting. More spinning ....
Green/Teal yarn is two ply handspun 100% merino. Probably about a sport weight yarn and I have no idea what to do with it. I have 315 yards of it but it is really bright. I could just save it to squish every now and again.
This grey/blue/tan yarn is 50% merino and 50% silk three ply using the navajo plying method. It's a bit heavier than the green but still a sport weight. I started to make socks with it but not sure that's what I really want to make. You can see what the fiber looks like before spinning in the background. It's called "sea mist".
The brown/teal/blue yarn still on the spool is roving purchased from FatCatKnits on etsy and is called Eureka Springs - 100% merino and nice and soft. It's spinning up beautifully. I also purchased some other merino roving that is dyed with natural plant material and I want to do one ply of that with 2 plys of this Eureka Springs. Love experimenting with colour so looking forward to how that will turn out. I don't have the natural dyed roving yet (maybe today) and it's purchased from NatchWoolie on Etsy as well.
This dark brown yarn is spun from 50% sheep wool and 50% alpaca. I thought it would be much softer than it is, but it will be super great for the sweater I'm making. I purchased 2lbs of it to spin and have spun about 1lb of it already. It is 2 ply and about worsted weight. I tried 3plying it but didn't like how it felt so I went with the 2ply yarn. The sweater I'm making from it is called Gaelic Mist by Lisa Lloyd in her book A Fine Fleece. Wonderful book with so many neat patterns. She lists requirements for handspun yarn and also suggests a commercially available yarn to use as well. I can see myself making more patterns from her book.
And I finished my first handspun/handknit socks. This is the cable twist sock pattern from Hello Yarn. The pattern is very easy and the socks turned out lovely with a bit of shine in the yarn from the bamboo. I'm really happy with them and they feel good to wear.
I also went on a quilt retreat with my mom. It was so much fun to spend time with my mom doing something that we both enjoy a lot. I finally finished my queen size quilt and it is not proudly displayed on my bed. That's the biggest quilt I've ever made and it really wasn't hard to quilt it on my table top Bernina. I also made a small wall hanging from some of the Japanese fabric I purchased from Japan last June. I will post pictures next time (and hopefully it won't be a month from now).
And I'm working on knitting a baby blanket. It's a really great stitch pattern and I'll post that next time as well.
... at spinning that is. I finished knitting my first handspun yarn (the blue and grey plied stuff from the last post) into a pillow for our family room. I was short a tiny bit so I spun a bit more so I could finish the pillow.
My second try at spinning was to spin up this 100% wool yarn that I bought from The Weaving Works in Seattle called Mojave. It was such a pretty red with orange, gold, and purple bits throughout. It is so soft that you can't even tell it is wool. At least compared to the first stuff I spun, which you couldn't use next to your skin. Very rough stuff, but easy to spin since it sticks together so well.
This is turning into Aibhlinn and is about 1/2 way finished. I can sure tell that I got better at spinning since the first ball was quite thick (probably bulky weight) and now this next ball has very thin areas that could be fingering weight and definitely sport weight. I started with 8oz of fiber and ended up with 378 yards of yarn.
A few weeks ago I went to St. Distaff's day in Lake Stevens, WA. There were lots of spinners there and vendors too. I bought two 4oz "hunks" (what do you call it anyway?) of roving that was hand dyed by Emma of DragonFibers.
The first is 100% BFL called Potluck. Very, very soft and squishy and the colours that I love. Teal, blue, green, and a bit of gold/yellow. My daughter wanted to keep it all braided up and use it as a scarf LOL!
The second is 60 merino 30 bamboo and 10 nylon and is specifically for socks. And ooohhhh so squishy, soft, and SLIPPERY - yikes! It was a challenge to spin, that's for sure!
After spinning 8oz of roving and only getting 378 yards I was thinking there was no way I was going to get enough yardage to make socks out of only 4oz. I ended up with two pretty full bobbins and I had a ray of hope that I would have enough.
Forging on, I plied the two bobbins together and at the end of it all ended up with 362 yards of sport weight (for the most part) yarn. Enough for a pair of socks.
Now I am wondering if the yarn is strong enough for socks. Looking at the singles, they looked like they had lots of twist - I tried to add extra because I knew the yarn needs to be sturdy for socks. After plying the singles seem to loose all their twist and the resulting yarn is fluffy. Logic says this is because you ply in the opposite direction to spinning the single, but I'm really not sure. Anyway, I'm chalking this all up to learning experience and will make Cable Twist Socks from the yarn and see how they wear.
I had some yarn left of one of the bobbins so I attempted to Navajo ply the rest of this yarn. That is definitely a challenge. But I loved how the yarn came out. It was plied much tighter than the 2 ply I did and would have made a much better yarn for the socks. The only problem is you use up more yarn because it ends up being 3ply rather than 2ply.
As you can see there is no knitting pictures, no charity pictures, nothing other than spinning! I'M ADDCITED!!! It really is fun and enjoyable!