Saturday, September 19, 2009

by the pricking of my thumb....

What day is it?  It's been a week around chez Kiki & Cee...let's just say the times, they are a changing...and not because of anything either Cee or I did or even wanted...ever feel like you are damned if you do and damned if you don't?  Then you know exactly how we feel.  Can't go into much detail, but let's just say that we shall be hosting a lodger for an undetermined amount of time and leave it at that....the things you do for family...or more accurately in-law family....that you don't even know....bleh, enough...I'm getting a headache just thinking about it...

Work has been progressing on the blanket for my niece's housewarming present.  It's pretty boring to look at, but I haven't as yet gone completely crazy with all the garter stitch:

This is the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket, from Mason Dixon Knitting...perfect for sitting in front of the tv while pondering silently about how life as you know it is now I being too melodramatic??

I also started a cardigan....can't call it a Cowichan, mostly because it's not...but it's that style...I wanted something thick and warm for fall days spent hiking trails and raking leaves and generally being outdoorsy...snort, like I do any of that!   Seriously, it just caught my eye and I thought I'd make it...for whomever it fits, just to see if I could...yes, I'm the process-type of knitter:

It's from a Bernat pattern may end up being cannibalized for other things...who knows.

Until next time, dearies...keep well.  I'll leave you with Queen Collie, who captures my thoughts exactly, 'cause she keeps it real like that:

Friday, September 11, 2009

face lift

You may (or may not) notice a bit of a change around these here parts....I decided, after three years, that we needed a bit of a different look around By Hook or By Crook, so I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out how the heck it all works  previewing new layouts and generally being indecisive, until I finally settled on a new template...I  like it, it feels right, and it was time for a change.
I thought I would continue showing some of the projects I started during the time I was being neglectful and not posting.  There's no way I could not post the Marialis End to End Scarf I started from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders.  I had the perfect yarn, thanks to the perfect Sharon, of the perfect Stitchjones yarns...crank it to eleven and head on over there to get your socks rocked off.

This is La Villa Strangiato Super Sock.  I wanted to showcase the insanely gorgeous colours, so I decided no mere pair of socks would do, and cast on a light summer scarf.

This picture was taken when I first started.  The scarf is now about two feet long.  I take it with me everywhere I go and work on it often.  I can't count how many comments and compliments I've had on it and it isn't even done yet.  It's delicious, and a pleasure to work with.

Since I'm a total unapologetic bag ho, I have been working on several.  I seem to have an unending supply of kitchen cotton.  No matter how much I use, I keep finding more skeins of it hidden around the house....funny since I haven't bought any in years...why can't that happen with cashmere or alpaca, or the delicious Noro Silk Garden?  I have a theory that elves break in at night and leave skeins, in between trying on our clothes and making fun of the size of my underwear...yes, I need help....In my attempt to get the kitchen cotton stash down, I cast on another market bag.  This one is a free pattern called "Let's go shopping - market bag"  you can find it by doing a pattern search on Ravelry.

Right about the middle of the summer, my hooks were feeling lonely....I try to give equal attention to both the pointy sticks and the hooks, so I yanked out the One Skein book and whipped up a couple of the Geometric Bags:

These are the Rectangle Bobble bag and the Circle bag (obviously)...I made the pieces for both of these in one night...ahh the speed of the lovely crochet hook!  I wanted the rectangle one to go in my project bag and hold all my knitterly things like tape measure, needles, etc.  But decided I liked the circle one better for that purpose.  Cee's mum took a shine to the rectangular one, so she will probably end up with it.  I lined and zippered both of them....

A bit of a sad story trusty, faithful Singer sewing machine, that I bought with my very first paycheque from my very first job, finally gave up the ghost....that or it needs servicing, I'm not sure.  In any case it doesn't owe me a single thing, it's a magnificent beast, and made many a Hallowe'en costume, Christmas dress, play outfit, etc. etc.  Sigh, goodbye old friend, I will never forget you.  I ended up doing all the sewing by hand....what would have taken mere minutes ended up taking hours, but it got done.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery....

My niece recently got engaged....this put me in a quandry, because while I was completely overjoyed for her and her fiance, I was also horrified to realize that I am now old enough to have an engaged niece!  I take comfort by telling everyone that I was but a young teenager when she was's true...really it is!

I noticed that Stephanie was making the Moderne Log Cabin blanket for a wedding present, and loved the colours she was using....and since my niece is building a house (well she herself isn't building it, you know what I mean) and her colours are all in the gray/brown family, I decided right then and there to steal the Yarn Harlot's idea make them a blanket in similar colours!  No picture as yet as it's quite boring, just a grey rectangle with a bit of cream on it....but I found her post on picking up stitches around the blocks a total Eureka moment.

And now, since I promised, here is the recipe for the Jalapeno Jelly....soooo good...with just a little kick:

Jalapeno Jelly

5 Jalapeno peppers (I use fresh, but canned will also suffice)
2 Medium-sized green peppers, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 Cup white vinegar
1 Package powdered pectin
6 Cups sugar
10 Drops green food colouring (optional)

Prepare 5 half-pint (I use 125 ml) canning jars.  Rinse Jalapeno peppers, discarding stem ends, any bits of blackened skin, and about half the seeds (the seeds and the  membrane bring the heat, so if you like it hot and spicy, leave them all in!) Chop peppers ****I strongly recommend using surgical gloves while doing this, as you can burn the creases between  your fingers, and trust me, this is not fun!*****  Place in a blender or food processor along with green peppers, and 1/2 cup of vinegar.  Blend until finely chopped  Pour into a large pot.  Use the remaining vinegar to rinse out the blender or processor, then add to the pot.

Stir in the pectin and bring to a full, roiling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Add sugar and food colouring and continue stirring until mixture comes to a boil again.  Let boil for exactly one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.  Pour into jars and water process for 10 minutes.
This is heavenly with pork, and I love it on melba toast, drizzled over a smackering of cream cheese...yummmmm...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

i go all 'suzy homemaker'....

There's something about late Summer/early Fall that puts thoughts of mason jars and snap lids into my head. I want to make jellies and jams and pickle everything....don't ask me's not like my mother ever did anything like that, and she certainly didn't teach me to do any of that....and preserving things really isn't that big of a necessity for us modern's not like I'm living in some sod house in the middle of the open prairie where we won't see fresh fruit and vegetables for six months.

No, today it's more of a kitschy, urban thing to do. Years ago, never mind how many exactly, my friend and I decided we were going to pickle garlic....don't screw your face up, it's good! And make Jalapeno Jelly....again with the screwy's so yummy, and has just the right kick. We spent many an hour joking, laughing, telling stories and secrets while peeling garlic cloves and stinking up her kitchen....good times, good memories.

This year while mulling over just what I wanted to make, I indulged in my favourite guilty pleasure; making dishcloths.

This is the Linoleum Dishcloth, from the Mason Dixon Knitting blog. Fun to knit and pretty easy to memorize the pattern...I love the designs and it produces a thicker-than-normal dishcloth, which is great for scrubbing grimy dishes.

I decided to do both. Pickled Garlic...really it's good...when we started making it eons ago, people thought we were you have to pay big dollars for a tiny jar in the gourmet places....apparently we were far ahead of our time. And Jalapeno's heaven.

We found the recipes for both online....but I noticed I couldn't find them when I searched for I will repost them here, for anyone brave enough to try something different. First the garlic. You can use this in your cooking like regular fresh garlic, or eat them like pickles...which is what I do, and I've never been told I reek of garlic, but if I had I wouldn't's just too good!

Pickled Garlic
Place peeled garlic cloves into washed 125 ml/half pint jars. (Usually takes around 3 bulbs of garlic per jar) fill each jar with vinegar. Into each jar add:
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Teaspoon salt (pickling/coarse salt preferred)
1/4 Teaspoon each of basil and oregano
Pour contents of each jar into large saucepan. Add 1/3 Cup additional vinegar. Bring to a boil and boil 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Fill jars with garlic and vinegar mixture. Add a pinch of crushed red peppers to each jar before sealing for an extra-spicy touch.
Process in canner/boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
I usually leave the garlic for two weeks before opening, to give the flavours time to get to know eachother!

**It's very important to follow proper canning procedures like sterilizing your jars, lids, rings and processing your canned goods for the required amount of time to avoid spoilage and bacteria.

A word about the "blues".....garlic contains phenol, which is this fancy-schmancy my techincal jargon? Anyway, sometimes the vinegar makes the phenol in the garlic react and turn it blue....if you peek closely you can spy a couple bluish cloves up looks weird, but it is totally safe to eat and doesn't affect the taste at all. There are all kinds of remedies people have come up with to keep your garlic from getting the blues, so just do a search and you will be reading for hours.

If any of you make the garlic, please let me know how your batch turns out! I'd love to hear your input. I will post the recipe for the Jalapeno Jelly next time.

Another word of get the smell of garlic (or onions, for that matter) off your hands, there are a few tried and tested ways thought up by our "Suzy Homemaker" can take a stainless steel knife (a dull one) and rub it over your hands under cool running water, you can also try rubbing either mustard powder or coarse salt on your hands and then rinsing them in cool water...these do the trick every time!

If you would like to make the kitschy linoleum dishcloth, you can find it here