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1  COOKING / Dessert / recipe for candied crab apples? on: September 28, 2005 05:04:04 PM
Greetings all - it's crabapple season, and I will collect some from the high spots in Mission Hill area in Boston - so, does ANYONE know how to make candied crabapples???  I've had them years ago when my mother would serve turkey at thanksgiving - they were bright red, and I think they were (?) pickled with sugar and possibly vinegar?  But I'm not sure, and I can't find a recipe on the web... anyone remember how to do this?

2  NEWS AND DISCUSSION ABOUT CRAFTSTER / Suggest New Boards and New Features / Idea for a new Board - 'Backward Progress' - re-learning methods from the past on: September 17, 2005 11:40:15 PM
Greetings all,
You gotta love Craftster, and there's tons of forums here, indeed.

On forum that I think may be an interesting addition would be the 'Backward Progress' idea mentioned in the headline - essentially, a board for those who are trying to relearn age-old processes/methods/material/knowledge that is sadly becoming lost.  I'll give you a few examples of questions I had recently:

Harvesting wild nuts from trees - how do you DO this? 
Operating an early electric sewing maching - pre-computerchip - the basics
Food preserving techniques before factory canning/bottling
Understanding all the kinds of sheeps wool, and what properties each has
Finding sources for out-moded or out-of-date supplies
Painting over old paint - watching for lead in paints - can laytex cover enamel?
What were the traditional sources of tallow and how did that become transformed into soap/candles?
extracting essential oil from plants in the wild / at home

I like the idea that this kind of forum could handle topics of ALL kinds, and I also think it would encourage many shared ideas from the past - such as 'My mom used to....' or 'My grandfather had a way to do that,...'

What are the thoughts on this?

thanks for reading,
3  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / ah! help requested - sewing machine questions! on: September 17, 2005 11:26:32 PM
Greetings all - I may not be posting in the right forum, my apologies for that.

I recently bought an older second-hand sewing maching - it works fine, but I have never used one before, and so I'm having all sorts of questions about winding the bobbin, getting the stitches smaller, dealing with unequal tension between the bobbin thread and the top thread.  Can anyone offer some advice, or perhaps steer me to a place that has tips for new 'older machine' sewers?  Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

J / Boston
4  COOKING / Dessert / question: long-distance cookies to send over land, overseas on: September 15, 2005 07:51:51 PM
Greetings all:
I've just moved to a really nice new apartment that has an actual pantry and a big kitchen.  I can do some serious cooking in here now.  What I was hoping to do this coming holiday season is bake some good sweet things for my friends.  About half of them are in London or other parts of the UK, so my question is this - can anyone recommend cookies/bars/biscuits that can travel well?  I'd really like to be able to send stuff in the post that won't easily get destroyed, and still taste good upon arrival.  Any thoughts greatly appreciated!
5  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / sewing a cover for a beloved and ugly chair on: September 15, 2005 07:24:27 PM
Greetings group - I've usually posted in the knitting section, but now I'm faced with a new challenge.  Please keep in mind that this will probably be a LONG post, so for those with faint hearts, my apologies.

To begin, I want to save this ratty but amazingly comfortable chair.  It is a medium-sized stuffed low side chair, very cozy, covered in bright green plush that is now faded and hideous.  My roommates and I were going to toss it when we moved two weeks ago, but agreed we'd try to save it.  I asked around about someone who could sew a custom cover for it, and didn't get any serious replies.  I decided to jump ahead and bought myself a second-hand sewing machine from a Boston local for $75.  I figure that even if the machine lasts long enough to make a chair cover, I still saved money.

I do not know how to operate a sewing machine.  I know (sorta) how to wind a bobbin, and (sorta) how to thread it, and I know you push on the pedal and guide the stuff with your hands.  Do I know enough to do this?

Well, here's my plan.  I purposefully bought a heavy-duty type machine.  It is quite old, a Brother from about 1960 (?) made in Japan, Model 050.  I don't have a manual.  Anyway, I'll do what I can as I go, I'm a tinkerer.  I've seen VERY GENERALLY how furniture covers are made - you make a tissue pattern for the fabric, cut your cloth, pin it for the tucks, darts and whatnot, sew the seams, turn them out, press them. 

My question is this - am I kidding myself here?  Is this going to be a LOT more difficult than I've imagined?  Are there some KEY pointers I need on this one?

I'll add that I'm not looking for anything fancy at all - in fact, this is a house of 'dudes' and we were hoping to have a cozy, warm and simple apartment here, so I'd like to make something practical, durable, easy to wash, inexpensive.

So, I'm also looking for recommendations about what fabric to buy... any ideas?

As you see, I'm something of an idiot savant, with emphasis on the idiot part.  ANY HELP would be great, seriously.

thank you, and wish me luck
6  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Advice Sought: What Yarn? on: July 16, 2005 06:12:29 AM
Greetings Group - I haven't posted to the board for a little while due to a job promotion (thank the heavens) and other assorted busyness.  I have a question, perhaps someone could offer some suggestions.

I'm trying to put together a pattern and guide for knitting a hoodie - you know, one of those hooded sweatshirts that everyone seems to have.  Essentially, what I'd be making is a sweater with front pockets, a zip-up and a hood.  OK, good so far.  Now it dawns on me - what kind of yarn would I use to make this?  I'm very fond of wool, but not sure if wool would be too scratchy, unless I'm looking at the wrong kind of wool (if anyone can suggest some really nice, soft, AFFORDABLE wool yarn, that would be a big help.)

The yarn would have to be durable, comfortable, and preferably a non-synthetic.  I'm tempted to try cotton, but I've heard that that can be difficult later on - it can make the sweater bulky and the stitches don't necessarily hold their shape as well as wool.  Cotton-wool blend, are these any good?  I did use a super-wash wool which was really amazing, but it was very, very expensive (about $8.00 for a rather small skein)... This project is going to require a lot of yarn, so price is an issue.

If any of you shop at Elann.com, that'd be a plus because I've bought yarn from them before and was very happy with their service and prices - oh, and yes, almost forgot, I'll be knitting probably on size 6-8 needles, so I wouldn't want anything too heavy.

OK, that's it - a rambling question to be sure, but please respond!
many thanks!
7  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Storing Sweaters / Scarves for the Summer? on: April 17, 2005 10:34:15 AM
Greetings All:  I'm looking around at the stuff I managed to knit over the past months, and now I'm wondering, 'how the hell do I store this stuff properly for the summer?'  Does anyone have some practical suggestions on good methods for storage?  I've noticed that some of my things I stored LAST summer came out in October with a stuffy smell and felt very stiff.  Any thoughts very appreciated! J/Boston
8  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Boy Hero Knits Sweater! on: April 09, 2005 07:15:32 PM
For those who put up with me during the difficult stages of my very first sweater, it is DONE.  I'm glad to post the pics now, it's been alot of work.

Let me give some context here.  I've been knitting some scarves and hats and such during the winter, and really wanted to give a sweater a go.  My first attempt was a DISASTER - tried doing a four-piece number with some color and a panel up the front.  My mathematical plans all went wrong, it was far too long, the neck was misshapen, and I ripped the whole thing out.  I decided to make my own pattern from the 'proportional method' described in the winter issue of Knitty.com - with some alterations, new circular needles and renewed hope (and encouragement from crafsters) I attacked with force and finally - Done!

I'm going a share a few things I learned that helped me a great deal:

1) Write down everything you do, and make drawings/diagrams
2) Write it all in ONE PLACE, not scraps of paper - one notebook
4) BLOCK the sweater when done
5) Keep going until the end - don't stop and put it away due to fear that it'll never come out right.
6) Always knit ribbings with a needle AT LEAST three sizes smaller than the needle used for the body.
7) Don't be afraid of pattern stitches - they rock.
Cool Come to craftster with questions, because there's ALWAYS SOMEONE who knows A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN YOU DO.
9) Use nice, flexible wool... one of the most amazing things I learned in this process is just how versatile wool is - when one is blocking a finished piece, you can virtually shape it to fit you to a T, and it smooths out the rough spots.
10) Stick with it, the reward is sweet.

And with those thoughts - My First Sweater!:

close up front

me in the new sweater

the sweater and myself, at home in Boston (note all the books and chaos...)

official portrait

Thanks all!
John / Boston xxx
9  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / question about decreases for 'raglan' sleeves on: February 27, 2005 09:56:10 PM
Hey Group: In the making of my sweater, I've been starting to consider how I'm going to work the decreases toward the neck... I'm working this sweater in the round, and I'll be adding the sleeves at the mid-chest and then knitting the whole thing up to the neck.  My question is this: what is the best way to work the decreases up to the next?  I read that I should make a double decrease at the front and back of each shoulder for every other row.  I did a swatch, and it LOOKS good, but I wonder if the decrease is too sharp of an angle - in other words, would this decrease make the yoke too small?  Can anyone suggest some ways to work this?  thanks in advance. J / boston.
10  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Knitting a Sweater - Rite of Passage? on: January 18, 2005 08:47:50 PM
Greetings all - wanted to bring anyone who's interested up to speed on my latest project, and would love to hear any pointers/suggestions, etc.  I've started (da dummmm...) a SWEATER.  Yep, yep, yep - all I've managed to commit myself to so far has been hats and scarves, now I've jumped into the deep water.  Now I'm sure for some of you, you've been knitting sweaters since you were 3 years old, but I'm a new comer to this, so be patient with me.  I've been planning this for ages, since I don't have a pattern, and I'm using another sweater that I like as a 'model' - I've used all the measurements from that and calculated all the proper rows and stitches, even included a kinda fancy panel down the centre and (soon) on the sleeves as well.  I'm petrified, however, of screwing this up!  I want to make a sweater that will last me well into my golden years!

I chose the wool well - sturdy, solid Peruvian from Elann.com, nice medium grey/green, with some paler blue for a wide stripe around the join where the arms are attached.  The guage is nice, size 6 needles, which works out to 7.5 rows and 5.5 sts per inch.  I've planned out how I'll decrease on the sides and neckline, how the sleves will be worked.  Yet I'm panicking - !  I've only gotten about 60 rows of the front complete and already I'm wondering if I've taken on too industrious of a project.

If anyone can offer some good, handy advice about 'things to keep in mind when knitting a sweater' I'd be VERY happy.  I hope to have some photos posted soon to show my 'progress'.

Thanks for reading -
John/Boston/Punk urban knitting dude.
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