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1  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Crocheted Car Accessories - With free Seat Belt Cozy pattern! on: April 09, 2019 05:53:07 PM

My husband & I have been a 1 car family since we were dating.  Somehow, this always worked for us.  For a while we worked near one another during the same shift, later I walked to work and he took the car to his job, and after that I started working from home.  This helped us save money, and was good for the environment, but over the past year it has been hard.  With his job further away from the house, and me often handling our errands and things like taking the dog to the vet, it seemed time to get a second car.  He got a Fiat 500e, and I inherited our cheerful little red Prius-C, whom I promptly named Miss Scarlet.

Since it became mine, I've been wanting to make it a bit more 'me' that I did when it was a shared vehicle.  So I have been working over the last few weeks to create some crocheted accessories for it, including a steering wheel cover, shifter knob cozy, and finally some seat belt cozies.  The steering wheel cover was made from Sylver Santika's Steering Wheel Cozy pattern with I Love This Cotton! yarn in black, burnt sienna & strawberry violet.  If you give the pattern a go, be sure to pay close attention to the pattern, which requires specific gauge sizing, and three different hook sizes.  If you're not careful about the gauge, you could end up with a cover that is too loose and slides around while you drive.

I made up the pattern for the shifter knob, without paying much attention.  The center circle is a granny circle, similar to the one found HERE. After that I worked a few rows of sc in the round, and finished with 2 rows of dc, in which I didn't connect the ends with a slip stitch, but rather simply turned the work and crocheted in the opposite direction, decreasing as necessary to try to get the right size for my shifter knob.  There was some trial and error, and frogging of stitches, before I got it to the right size.  I actually sat in the car in the garage for a while, stitching in the car so I could keep testing it!  Cheesy  Once I was happy with it, I put it onto the knob, then used the tail of the yarn to stitch those last two rows closed around the shaft.  The yarn was the same I Love This Cotton!, with the addition of the color pewter.

Finally there were the seat belt cozies.  Being very short, I often have problems with seat belts cutting into my neck, and so I created some nice soft cozies to keep from being scratched while I drive.  I went with a fun striped pattern and mismatched buttons to increase the crafty girl vibe.  I've written out the pattern below.  (You can also find it on Ravelry HERE.)

Striped Seat Belt Cozies

-worsted weight yarn in 4 colors (I used I Love This Cotton! in black, pewter, burnt sienna & strawberry violet)
-4.5 crochet hook
-yarn needle
-five 1/2 or 5/8 buttons per cozy
-hand sewing needle
-button thread

Skill Level: Easy

Ch = chain
Hdc = half double crochet
Dc = double crochet

Notes: Written in US crochet terms.  When changing colors, you can stitch over the tail of the new yarn, leaving less ends to weave in.

Color A: Black
Color B: Red
Color C: Grey
Color D: Purple

Row 1: With color B chain 22. Hdc in 3rd ch from hook. Hdc in each st across. (21 hdc)

Row 2: Change to color A. Ch 2, turn work, hdc in same st and each st across. NOTE: Ch 2 does NOT count as hdc from here on. (21 hdc)

Row 3: Ch3, turn work. Dc in same st, ch 1 and skip next hdc to form buttonhole. Dc in remaining sts across. (20 dc & 1 ch 1 sp)

Row 4: Ch 2, turn work. Hdc in same st and each st across. (21 hdc)

Row 5: Change to color C. Ch 2, turn work, hdc in same st and each st across. (21 hdc)

Row 6-8: Repeat rows 2-4. (21 hdc; 20 dc & 1 ch 1 sp; 21 hdc)

Row 9: Change to color D. Ch 2, turn work, hdc in same st and each st across. (21 hdc)

Row 10-12: Repeat rows 2-4. (21 hdc; 20 dc & 1 ch 1 sp; 21 hdc)

Row 13: Change to color B. Ch 2, turn work, hdc in same st and each st across. (21 hdc)

Rows 14-16: Repeat rows 2-4. (21 hdc; 20 dc & 1 ch 1 sp; 21 hdc)

Row 17: Repeat row 5. (21 hdc)

Rows 18-20: Repeat rows 2-4. (21 hdc; 20 dc & 1 ch 1 sp; 21 hdc)

Row 21: Repeat row 9. (21 hdc)  

Finish off and weave in ends.

Sew on five 1/2 or 5/8 buttons. Fold over your seat belts and button closed.
2  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Stones for Wear! on: April 01, 2019 02:15:48 PM

Tired of your boring wardrobe of skins & furs?  Liven it up with decorations for you!

To make I dig hard mud from riverbed.  Roll into small lumps.  Put hole in each with bone needle.  Bake beside fire till hard as stone.  Put lumps on piece of leather string or dried vine.  Wear around neck!
3  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Rock Cakes Good on: April 01, 2019 11:54:17 AM

Rock cakes part of balanced breakfast.

Belly make loud noises?  Fill with food!  Make Rock Cakes!

Mistress Paleozoic's Good Rock Cakes
1 3/4 c grains that has been dried and pulverized into powder
1 1/2 tsp potash
1/3 c rendered fat
1 T honey
1/3 c dried berries from vines or bushes
1/2 c cacao chunks
1/4 tsp dried & ground cassia bark
1 yellow musa berry, mashed
1/2 c nuts, ground down to thick paste
1 tsp juice from sour yellow fruit
1 unborn bird

Create fire.  Put blob of rendered fat on your favorite flat baking rock.

Mix dried grain powder, potash, cassia bark, and rendered fat.  Squish until fat in small bits.

Mash yellow musa berry.  Add nut paste, sour juice, and unborn bird.  Mix with stick.

Add dried berries and cacao chunks to squishy paste.

Mix wet stuff with dry stuff.  Stir hard, but no break best stick.  Use hands.

Put blobs of dough on flat baking rock near fire.  Heat good.

Modern Translation...

1 3/4 c AP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c butter, cubed
1 T brown sugar
1/3 c dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 large banana, mashed
1/2 c peanut butter
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 and lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and cubed butter.  Breaking up the butter into tiny bits.

Mash the banana, and add peanut butter, lemon juice, and egg.  Mix well to combine.

Add cranberries or raisins and chocolate chips to wet mixture.

Pour wet mixture into dry.  Stir to combine. 

Drop large spoonfuls onto baking sheet.  (You should have enough for about 14 cakes) 

Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
4  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Craft a Craftster Friend Doll Swap? on: April 01, 2019 09:21:44 AM
A few days ago I bumped into some utterly adorable dolls by Humble Toys on Instagram (aka Humble Toys on Etsy).  One in particular made me think of our very own kittykill, so I tagged her in it.  We both adored their sweet little mischievous expressions, and I soon started thinking of making one for myself, but every idea I had was about how I'd make one for kittykill.  Which fabrics I'd pick for a doll of her, how I'd style the hair, what accessories I'd crochet for it, etc.  

I quickly realized that what I'd really love would be to do a swap, in which we craft dolls based on how we see one another!  Would a Craftster friend choose to go with my own light red hair, my purple glasses, or my propensity for striped socks?!?  
(Doll by Humble Toys on Etsy)

Or would they create something I couldn't imagine, such as a little Strawberry Princess?

(Doll by Humble Toys on Etsy)
5  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Mistress Jennie's Guinness Stew on: March 17, 2019 04:22:21 PM

During one of several years I spent working in summer stock theatre, several of us technicians ganged up to buy groceries and cook together.  We weren't making enough money to each feed ourselves, but if we all chipped in and bought in bulk, we could afford to eat a bit better, both taste & health wise.  We jokingly called ourselves The Commune, much to the unhappiness of some of our housemates.  We would get together to look over the grocery store ads, and plan meals based on what was on sale.  Everyone in the group was responsible for something, planning the meals, doing dishes, setting table, cutting up veggies, and cooking the foods.  Over the course of the summer everyone ended up calling parents to get favorite family recipes for us to share.  Of course being theatre technicians, there was always alcohol around, and this led to our foray into the world of Guinness Stew.

Later that year, for Christmas, I made everyone in The Commune a binder full of all the recipes that we cooked together.  I've been told by a few of them that they still have their binders and have kept adding to them over the years.  This time I branched out even further than our settled recipe, by adding bacon, and serving it over mashed potatoes.

Mistress Jennie's Guinness Stew

2-3 lbs stewing beef
5-6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 parsnips, peeled & diced
4-5 carrots, peeled & diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed & rough chopped
2 cans Guinness
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup flour
2-4 T tomato paste
1-2 tsp dried thyme
fresh chopped parsley
1.5 lbs gold potatoes
4 T butter
splash of milk

Start by rejoicing in the fact that St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday this year, meaning you have the time to cook a slow delicious stew.  Invite friends over.  Get turned down.  Realize this just means more stew for you.  Find a good apron.  Not your cutesy-pie apron; we're not frosting cupcakes here.  A real apron, that will get dirty, that you can wipe your hands on.

Assemble your ingredients.  Chop the bacon.  

Decide that a lovely afternoon cooking is a perfect excuse to put on some Irish folk music.  Look through your phone or iPod and discover that none of your Irish folk is on it.  Try Spotify, and realize that just like every other time you've tried it, it doesn't want to work for you.  Remember that you still own CDs and dig through them to find something like the Chieftans, only to recollect that it's 2019, and you don't own a CD player anymore.  Put the CD in the blu-ray player, and congratulate yourself on being bloody brilliant.  Pour yourself a Guinness to celebrate your awesomeness.

Return to the kitchen, and place half of the chopped bacon in the bottom of a stock pot, over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently to avoid burning.  Dry the first batch on paper towels, while you cook the second batch.  Dry the remainder of the cooked bacon on the paper towels.  

Turn up the music.  Enjoy how nicely that stout is going down.

Pour off most of the bacon grease into a bowl of measuring cup, leaving a bit in the bottom of the pan.

Dust your cubed stewing beef lightly in flour, shaking off the excess.  Working in batches, brown the beef cubes in the bacon fat.  You don't need it to be cooked through, just nicely browned.  Keep an eye on it, so you don't scorch the flour to the bottom of the pot.  For reference, my 2 lbs of beef was cooked in 6 batches.  Take your time.

When the CD ends, dig out the Cranberries.  They're Irish, it totally works.  Notice that you've finished your beer.  Before you can pour another, bump into the remainder of that bottle of red wine from Friday night, and work on finishing that off.  Waste not, want not.  I'm sure my Irish grandmother said that...  

As each batch of beef finishes browning, move to a bowl, and add more of the bacon fat if necessary to keep the bottom of the pot from getting dry.  Bits of browned fond on the bottom are great, but blackened carbon is not.  

Once all the beef has finished browning, check the bottom of the pot, and add either more bacon grease or cooking oil if you're out of bacon.  Add in the diced onions, and stir to coat.  Cook for a few minutes until the onions soften a bit.  Add in the carrots, parsnips, and garlic, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes.  

Upon finishing the browning, recollect just how maudlin music was in the 90's.  Your day is going too well to be maudlin.  Find something more upbeat.  Maybe something by the Irish Rovers.  Or the Dropkick Murphys.  Your call.  

Once the veggies have cooked down, pour a little of the Guinness in the pot to deglaze, and use a spoon to scrape up any bits on fond from the bottom of the pan.  Add the beef and cooked bacon back into the pot, along with the tomato paste, dried thyme, remaining Guinness and the beef stock.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 5-10 minutes.  
Sit down for a bit, while the pot simmers.  Finish your wine while checking Facebook.  Be saddened by Facebook, and decide you are going to close yours.  ...until you run into an uplifting and inspiring video about a dog who saved someone's life.  Cry a little as you long to pet that dog.  That dog is everything.  Facebook must stay!  Finish your last sip of wine.  Realize you should have some water.  Find water.

When you have about 10 minutes left on the clock, chop the potatoes, and place in another pot.  Pour in enough water to cover, and bring to a boil.  Boil 10-15 minutes, or until soft & tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain the potatoes, and return to the pot.  Add the butter, as well as salt & pepper to taste.  Get some of your anger about the English out by using your potato masher to squash them good.  Add milk (or preferred milk substitute) to achieve your desired consistency.  Cover, and keep warm.  

Once your two hours of simmering has elapsed, remove the cover and simmer another 30 minutes, to let the stew thicken.

Place a ring of mashed potatoes around the edges of your bowls.  Ladle the stew into the center, and top with the fresh chopped parsley.  

Make sure everyone has a beverage, and give a toast to those gathered round your table.  Enjoy every moment with those good people.  

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.  Slinte!

Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!
6  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / St. Patrick's Day Wreath on: March 10, 2019 03:54:24 PM
Since putting away the Christmas decorations, I haven't had a wreath on my front door. I usually always have something up there, and the lack of decor has made the front of the house seem sad and unwelcoming.  It has been too rainy and grey outside for my usual floral spring time wreath, and the lack of anything cheerful up there made the poor weather feel all the sadder.  So, time to make something happy!

The twig wreath base was already in my stash.  I bought it on clearance at Joann's back in December, for about $3.  It was labeled as an autumn piece, but the simple champagne gold color seemed good for a number of seasons, so I grabbed it.  Then last week I bumped into the laser cut wooden shamrock, also at Joanns (on sale for $4), and decided I'd make a St. Patrick's Day wreath to fill the empty door!  I painted the whole shamrock an emerald green metallic, then used a pencil to draw in where I wanted the knotwork strands to go over and under one another.  The over passes got a touch of metallic peridot for highlight, and the areas where the strands passed under got a bit of forrest green shadow.  Then the whole thing got a few coats of clear sealant.  I used some deep green jewelry wire to attach the shamrock to the wreath, and hung it with some ribbon from my stash.  Since all the paint, wire, and ribbon was in my stash, the whole project came to $7.

7  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Violet Spill Shawl on: March 04, 2019 02:29:34 PM

I finally finished my Spill Shawl!  I fell in love with the pattern when I bumped into it on Ravelry.  It was written for a lace weight yarn with a very long gradient color change and a size 3.25mm hook.  I went up to a a very thin worsted weight (at least according to the package, I swear it feels more like a #3 weight), and a 4.5mm hook, which made for a bigger shawl.  I haven't measured mine to know exactly how much bigger it is than the written pattern, but she says hers is 14" at center back, and mine is more like 18" at that point.  I probably could have split the difference and tried a 4mm hook, but honestly I'm very happy with it at the size it is.  It makes for a warm, snuggly shawl, that wears well with a shawl pin at the shoulder.  I'm fairly certain I can wear in place of a light jacket in spring and autumn.  

(About 92 rows done, taking up most of my 3'x5' dining table.)

Warning, it does take a LOT of yarn at this size!  I went through 3.35 cakes of Lion Brand Shawl in a Cake, or about 1625 yards.  Also, while the pattern is lovely, and makes for a very simple and beautiful shawl, the pattern is NOT one you can zone out on.  You have to carefully watch each of the 104 rows, so you don't miss a change, in order to create the asymmetrical piece.
8  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Vintage Market Tote on: March 04, 2019 02:18:51 PM

Quick little impromptu project.  I found 1.5 skeins of Bernat Maker Home Dec in my stash, that I had bought for a project and later changed my mind about.  I decided to use it up by making the Vintage Market Tote pattern I had seen on Ravelry.  The pattern works up simply and quickly, and makes for a nice gift.  This one is going to my mom for her birthday, along with some handmade dishcloths & scrubbies.  Smiley

9  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Mermaid & Plant Beaded Suncatchers on: February 26, 2019 06:50:51 AM
Last year, in the summer term of the Harry Potter Craftalong, I offered to make a suncatcher for those who completed their 'extra credit' in Herbology, aka did some word searches and crosswords I made up.  Patty_o_furnitre and Audania1 took me up on it, but somehow the whole thing slipped my mind for AGES. Once I remembered, I asked them each what kinds of colors they would enjoy, and made up one for each of them.  

Patty_o's is going in her craft room, which is mermaid themed.  

Audania1's is going in her kitchen, which is entirely white, and full of plants.  The prism on this one is actually a giant Swarovski crystal pendant, that I have been hanging onto for ages, waiting for just the right project.  
10  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Double Layer Braided Cowl on: February 26, 2019 06:50:25 AM

(Picture shamelessly stolen from LeapFeetFirst's member gallery.)

This cowl was made for LeapFeetFirst in the Asheville Adventure Swap.  The pattern is the Double Layer Braided Cowl, and is available for free. The yarn is Nako Artist in colorway purple-green multi.  I picked it up on sale from Webs a while back, and had been waiting for the perfect project to use it for.

(Me, modeling it before packing & shipping it off.)

I could have sworn I took a picture of it finished, and flat on my table, but can't seem to find it anywhere, so here's a shot of it 95% completed, just before I attached the second side together.
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