I store all kinds of things about cooking, knitting and some surprises in my cupboard. Check it out.

Knitting for Charity – Amigo Blocks

Knitting for Charity – Amigo Blocks

My main interest in knitting is making things for charity, so I was pleased when I was contacted by a gentleman on Ravelry, suggesting I might like to make some squares for a charity he supports in Mexico. They collect 5-inch and 6-inch knitted and crocheted squares which are given to women in a migrant shelter in Mexico to form into afghans. The organization gets a small amount of money for each afghan and the women are in turn paid a small amount for their work in assembling the blankets. The afghans are donated to children in the school that is associated with the shelter. It seems that every woman I have known wants to do something useful and pretty and also earn a little “pin money”. That makes this project especially appealing to me. You can read details about the project here:

http://www.srbrown.info/afghans/

All squares are mailed to Dr. Brown in Connecticut who sees that they get to Mexico.

My daughter and I have 33 squares each to contribute. Mine are pictured above and below.

Here are my daughter’s squares:

In addition to making good use of small amounts of yarn and being a good item to carry in a purse for spare moments in the doctor’s office or waiting in the car, I like to use the squares to learn new stitches. It takes a little experimenting to see how many stitches you need to cast on for your needles, yarn and gauge, but it’s enjoyable and rewarding. Below is a recent square that I made from a pattern on knitpurlstitches.com. It’s called “Seersucker” and I knit it with #5 bulky yarn.

http://www.knitpurlstitches.com/2016/09/seersucker.html

This is a nice way to try out new stitches or color combinations.

 

 

 

Salted Caramel Bars

Hershey’s makes delicious salted caramel chips which are available in our area only during the Christmas season. I buy three or four bags and squirrel them away for use during the year. This is a blonde brownie that I have made in various ways,  made even more delicious with these chips.  Of course, any kind of chips would be fine – dark or milk chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, etc., but the salted caramel version gives a special flavor to these easy-to-make bars.

Salted Caramel Bars

  • Servings: 12-16 bars
  • Print

2 eggs, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup of Hershey’s Sea Salt Caramel Chips
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

9 inch square pan, lined with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla. Whisk in the baking powder and salt. Stir in the flour, chips and pecans just until blended.

Spread in prepared pan. Dampening your fingertips will help spread the batter in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F until top is light-golden brown – don’t overbake.

Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove by lifting parchment paper and cool on wire rack.

Tip: Before cutting, remove parchment paper and place it under the rack for easy cleanup of crumbs.

 

Knitting – Baby Sophisticate Sweater – Free Pattern

 

In the fall of 2017, I found a pattern on Ravelry that has become my favorite for a baby or toddler sweater. The free pattern is here:  https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baby-sophisticate-2. I bought an additional pattern for children’s sizes and there is also a pattern for purchase for adult sizes.

It’s just a nice, practical, comfortable-looking sweater with a shawl collar. I have only been knitting for two years and often run into sections of patterns that are difficult, but this one was manageable from start to finish.

I made one sweater in the three-month size in a pretty seafoam color and added a matching hat, pictured above.

I also made three toddler (2-3 years) sweaters in dark blue …

…a tan and brown with a checkerboard panel …

…and a red one with fuzzy white trim. On this one, the white, fluffy yarn was so difficult to work with that I just used it as trim and didn’t make the large collar.

On a pattern like this with a lot of increases, I type out a chart like the one below that will tell me how many stitches will be in each section and a total for the end of the row. In this case, when the increases are finished on row 7 there will be 6 stitches on the right and left sides of the sweater, 14 stitches each for sleeves and 26 stitches for the back – total of 66 stitches. In this case, there are 32 rows with the correct number of stitches.  Taking the time to type up this reference and have it with me as I’m knitting saves me from making errors and cuts down on frustration.

INCREASES:
ALTERNATING 8 AND 10 INC – ODD ROWS
EVEN ROWS PURL

R1      2 8 20 8 2                                  40 STS
R3     3 10 22 10 3                               48 STS
R5     5 12 24 12 5                                58 STS
R7     6 14 26 14 6                                66 STS

This is a really nice pattern, enjoyable to knit, and makes good, warm sweaters for the Pine Ridge children.

Lillian’s Macaroni and Cheese

Tuesday was a bitterly cold day here in southwest Ohio, the second of two heavy snowfalls imminent, and I was craving macaroni and cheese.  I normally make a reduced-fat version (https://lillianscupboard.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/shannons-macaroni-and-cheese/) but on a day like this, I wanted all of the cheese I could get. I came up with this version which my daughters and I really enjoyed.

Lillian’s Macaroni and Cheese

1-½ cups dry macaroni, cooked in boiling, salted water al dente, drained
4 oz. cream cheese
1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup milk
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dry mustard
A few grindings of black pepper
½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In the bottom of a microwave-safe baking dish, place the cream cheese and microwave for 45 seconds, until cheese is very soft. Stir in the grated cheddar, milk, salt, dry mustard and black pepper.

Add cooked, drained macaroni and stir to blend. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

The macaroni was served with chicken breast which had been sprinkled with olive oil and herbs, and baked a covered pan at the same time as the macaroni casserole. We also had some steamed broccoli and carrots. Delicious snowy-day meal.

Baby Bib and Washcloth – Knitting – Free Patterns

From the day I started knitting two years ago, Ravelry.com has been an important source of information, patterns and guidance. The one Ravelry benefit I did not use was logging my projects for my present and future reference. I liked reading other people’s project notes but it sounded like too much trouble when I was already struggling with knitting something usable.

Now, that I make 5-10 “usable” items a week, depending on size and how complicated they are, I thought it might be worthwhile to start logging my new projects on January 1, 2018, and started with a very easy baby bib and washcloth pattern – free on Ravelry.

I used this free pattern to make a bib in yellow and in a blue/pink blend, cotton yarn (pictured above).

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mapledr61/grandmothers-favorite-baby-bib/edit

The charity where I send my baby items mentioned particularly liking to receive washcloths so I used another free pattern to make one to match the blue/pink yarn.

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mapledr61/baby-washcloth/edit

Both of these are quick, easy items to knit and would make a nice shower or baby gift.

I have several more projects in various stages that are logged into my account.  If I’m careful to note all of the details, it will be an invaluable source of information for me.  Another good reason to be a Raveler.

https://www.ravelry.com/

 

Theme Gifts for Christmas

My daughters are both very skilled at putting together theme gifts for me and for each other. They pick out something that is interesting or sentimental and pack a container with items to match the theme. They each gave me a theme box for Christmas.

My older daughter filled a beautiful Christmas box with items to commemorate one of our favorite Christmas stories, The Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. This is a memoir of Truman Capote’s Christmas when he was seven years old and living with an elderly aunt. They were “best friends” and spent the year saving pennies so they could make fruitcakes to send to people they liked (such as President Roosevelt) and to buy something for each other as Christmas gifts.

My box was filled with pecans which the boy and his aunt gathered from freefalls in the woods, a bottle of bourbon such as they bought from a local bootlegger, and a fruitcake. There was also a box of chocolate covered cherries, the kind that Buddy, the boy, longed to give to his aunt but could never afford, along with a slingshot which they did make and give to each other one year.

There was also a beautiful, delicate cup with a bird decoration similar to what the aunt used and a bag of “AM Coffee – amen” to remember a coffee-naming contest they entered.

My daughter made up a small 4×6 shadow box containing miniature versions of the gifts Buddy really wanted to give his aunt: a radio, a pearl-handled jack-knife and chocolate covered cherries, along with the gift she hoped to get for him one day – a bike. Also, shown are the actual gifts they could manage: a slingshot and a kite.

This a wonderful book and the TV version is available on YouTube.  Be sure to watch the old one with Geraldine Page – a treasure.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQGEUCLqg0U

My younger daughter knows I’m sentimental about the WW II days and also interested in the women’s movement, so she combined these interests in a big box covered with reprints of old WW II posters.

Her gifts included a pair of slippers handmade from a 1942 knitting pattern, a book, Lipstick Brigade, The Untold True Story of Washington’s World War II Government  Girls …

…a 1942 issue of Life magazine with an article on knitting, an interest we share…

…a framed picture of modern women of all types and abilities speaking up for their rights …

…and Rosie the Riveter on a pin with a modern slogan.

These gifts are so much fun to open and I appreciate the extra time, thought and effort it takes to assemble them.  I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Knitting – Gift Idea – Slippers

I made the slippers pictured above (one of each pictured) for my two daughters last year and liked the pattern so much, I made many, many slippers in various sizes throughout the year for the children of Pine Ridge in South Dakota. This is the basic pattern:

http://www.needlebeetle.com/free/aadb.html

This pattern is very easy to adapt to other sizes using your preferred yarn/needles by changing the size of the sole of the slipper. The length of the slipper leg can also be changed.

In the past month, I’ve made 5 different sizes for children …

I even made a pair of moccasins for my American Girl-type doll which my daughter had dressed for Thanksgiving…

This is an easy pattern and easily adapted using your stitches per inch gauge and the measurement of the foot. I also made a change to make the toe less pointy and impish. In my design, when doing the decreases in the foot, I stop 4 stitches before the center marker, knit two together, knit two, move marker, knit two and SSK (slip/slip/knit). This makes a rounded toe.

Depending on your busy schedule, there may still be time to knit up a pair of slippers before Christmas.