Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dying and Block Printing

Earlier this year, my students made linocuts and block printed on paper with their art teacher. At the auction, our baby basket included two four-packs of plain white onesies. The blocks were sitting in our classroom so I asked them if they would be interested in block printing tee-shirts for themselves and helping me with the onesies if they had a inclination. The response was enthusiastically affirmative but they also wanted to tie dye the shirts. It sounded like a very fun end-of-year project so I subjected Q (willingly) to a crash course in tie dye and fabric block printing. In the picture above, he designed and made the sprout onesie and I did the octopus.

Here are the student's designs. Each block was made by a different student and, for most of them, that student did the dying and printing.
A ship at sea and a howling wolf

Sunset scene and flowers

Human head (I think it looks like Buddha) and skull

I think it will be so much fun to think of them as I'm dressing the baby this fall - not to mention that we'll have one of the most stylish babies in Eugene.

By the way- they named the baby by taking the last letter of each of their first names and combining them into one word. They're disappointed that we're not planning on naming the baby "Meeyanica". I was pretty impressed that they managed to make something pronounceable and relatively attractive. I suppose I'm lucky that there are only nine of them or it could have really ended up being a mouthful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring Meadows Toddler Sweater

Mom gave me two skeins of blue Patons Grace. I already had one skein of green in the stash and had to buy a skein of white. It's sort of like using up my stash if I used almost all of 3 skeins and only added one more to the stash, right?

This sweater has a little subtle shaping using short rows to pull the neck down slightly since there is no shoulder shaping - they are only lapped. The color work using the crisp cotton yarn can be a little tricky but it's relatively simple. I need to make a knit yellow baby chick as well so there are options for the pocket. Hopefully I'll have a baby who can wear size 24 mo. some spring.

Finished measurements - Size 24 mo.:
Chest circumference: 22"
Back length: 10 1/2"
Armhole depth: 5"
Sleeve length to underarm: 6 1/2"

Paton Grace yarn in Viola ("blue", 2 skein), Ginger ("green", 1 skein), and Snow ("white", 1 skein)
16" size 4 knitting needles (or needle size to obtain gauge)

24 st. x 28 rows = 4"x4"

Grass Stitch
Row 1-4: K1,P1; repeat to end
Row 5-8: P1,K1; repeat to end

Wrap and Turn (w&t)
Right side: Keeping yarn in back, slip next stitch to right needle, pull yarn to front, slip stitch back to left needle, turn work

Wrong side: Keeping yarn in front, slip next stitch to right needle, pull yarn to back, slip stitch back to left needle, turn work

Grass Stem Chart
Repeat these 8 stitches to the end of the round.

Cloud Chart
Add 4 blue stitches at each side of the chart. Repeat the center 27 stitches (between the bold lines) two times across the front and back of the sweater.

Cast on 16 stitches in green.
Work in stockinette stitch for 15 rows, or until the piece measures 2".
Place all stitches on a holder and cut yarn, leaving a long (1') tail.

CO 144 stitches in green, join in the round.
Complete 24 rows of Grass Stitch.
Row 25: K 14 stitches, cast off 16 stitches, K remaining stitches.
Row 26: K 14 stitches, knit 14 Pocket stitches from holder, K remaining stitches.
Join blue yarn. Complete next 6 rows using the Grass Stem chart. Cut the green yarn.
Next Row: Using blue, K 70, K2tog, K70, K2tog
Knit in blue until the body measures 6 1/2" from bottom (about another 18 rows).
Next Row: K69, cast off 2, K69, cast off 2

Front and back:
The front will now be worked flat. When finished, repeat these instructions for the back.
Row 1: SSK, K65, K2tog
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: SSK, K63, K2tog
Row 4: Purl

Joining the white yarn, work the next 14 rows using the cloud chart. Cut white yarn.

Work 2 rows in blue in stockinette stitch

Next 18 rows:
Row 1 (7, 13): K22 (20, 18), w&t
Row 2 (8, 14): P22 (20, 18)
Row 3 (9, 15): K 22 (20, 18), knit together next stitch and the loop wrapped around it, k to end
Row 4 (10, 16): P 22 (20, 18), w&t
Row 5 (11, 17): K22 (20, 18)
Row 6 (12, 18): P 22 (20, 18), purl together next stitch and the loop wrapped around it, p to end

Join green yarn and work in k1p1 rib for 5 rows. On the right side, knit stitches are in blue and purl stitches are in green.
Cut green yarn. Cast off all stitches in blue.

Sleeves (make 2):
Cast on 42 stitches.
Complete 24 rows of Grass Stitch
Join blue yarn. Complete next 6 rows using the Grass Stem chart on the middle 40 stitches. Work 1 stitch at each end in blue. Cut the green yarn.
Work 20 rows in stockinette stitch.
Cast off 3 stitches at the beginning of the next 2 rows - 36 stitches remaining

Next 6 rows:
Right side row: K1, ssk, k to last 3 st., k2tog, k1
Wrong side row: Purl
30 stitches remaining

Rows 1,2: Stockinette stitch
Row 3: K1, ssk, k to last 3 st., k2tog, k1
Row 4: Purl
Repeat rows 1-4 5 more times - 18 stitches remaining

Cast off all stitches.

Sew up sleeves to cast off stitches using mattress stitch.
Lap the ribbing at the top of the front and back and pin in place.
Sew in sleeves, making sure to catch all three layers at the shoulders where the ribbing is lapped.
(Pin the center of the sleeve top to the center of the lapped ribbing. Pin the sleeve seam to the center of the armpit on the body. The top 18 cast off sleeve stitches have been eased in at the top of the sleeve cap roughly between the two pins shown in the picture above. The rest of the sleeve is sewn to the body just matching up the sleeve and body stitches.)

Use the long tail from the pocket to sew a running stitch around the sides and bottom, hiding stitches on the right side as well as possible.
Weave in all ends.

Bunny pattern:
The bunny uses the same gauge and size 4 double pointed needles.

Use a provisional cast on to CO 16 stitches in white.
Work 18 rows back and forth in stockinette.
Next row: K2, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k2, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k2
Purl following row.
Next row: K3, M1 (M1 increase instructions can be found here), k2, M1, k3, M1, k2, M1, k2
Purl following row.
Work 16 rows in stockinette.
Place the stitches from the provisional cast on onto the needles with the other stitches and knit one row, joining them in the round and k2tog at the two sides where the sets of stitches meet - 30 stitches
You now have a loop of knitting hanging from your needles. This will be the bunny's body.

Shoulders and neck:
Row 1: *K3, k2tog*, repeat to end - 24 stitches
Row 2: *K1, k2tog*, repeat to end - 16 stitches
Row 3: *K2, M1*, repeat to end - 24 stitches
Knit 7 rows for the head.

Row 1: K6, slip next 12 stitches to holder, k6
Row 2: K5, k2tog, k5
Row 3-11: K (or add rows until the bunny's ear is long enough)
Row 12: K3, k2tog, ssk, k3
Row 13: K2, k2tog, ssk, k2
Cut yarn, leaving long tail, and pull through all remaining stitches. Gather the stitches together and sew a running stitch down the center of the ear to flatten it.
Join yarn and repeat the ear instructions with the other 12 stitches from the holder.
After both ears are completed, you may need to sew a couple extra stitches between the ears to get rid of any holes.

Starting at the neck, use a mattress stitch to sew down to the decrease/increase rows, which should be at the bottom of the hanging loop. Use a running stitch to go across the bottom between the increase and decrease rows and gather slightly; secure the yarn so it doesn't gather more. Stuff the bunny lightly - it should still be squishy and not strain the stitches. Sew, using mattress stitch, from the bottom to the neck on the remaining side. Hide your ends inside the body. Use embroidery floss or bits of spare yarn to sew on two black eyes and a pink nose.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Banana Nut Bread - Cooking with Honey II

I used the Betty Crocker cookbook recipe and replaced the sugar and water with honey. There are a few other minor changes based on how I actually make it. For instance, I always just mix the ingredients in a bowl using a rubber scraper. We really liked the character that the honey added to the usual banana bread flavors.

Banana Nut Bread
Add the ingredients in order...
1/3 c butter, mostly melted
1 c honey
2 eggs
4 frozen bananas, thawed and partially mashed, leaving some small chunks
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts

I used 2 loaf pans rather than one so I could make two thinner loaves (I like the outside edges.)
Grease the bottom of each pan.
They only took about 50 minutes to bake at 350F.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Activities

Today was garden day. We got an incredible amount of work done. Oof, poor tired pregnant hips!
I planted more potatoes that had been trying to grow in the compost bin (see the green tops to the right in the picture above). The furrows had Sayamusume edamame planted in them and we covered it with a clear row cover to keep the ground a little warmer and keep the crows from getting any ideas about a buffet. The bed in the background was also cleared of leaves and planted with Japanese hulless popcorn. The row cover is in place for the same heat/crow deterrent reasons. I also got our first harvest of the season - 14 oz. of rhubarb. The first tiny green strawberry was also visible today.

Q did a bunch of weeding (although it seems like it never really makes a dent) and got the compost piles turned and combined. We're filling the two empty bins with the leaves that are coming off the beds. We screened enough finished compost out so I can put a scoop in with the starts when they get transplanted.

Yesterday, we spent all morning at Q's CERT "final" at the fire fighter training center. Two of my students came as well and, along with about 25 other people, we got to be "victims" of a disaster. The leaders used a bunch of makeup and fake blood to give us gruesome wounds. I had a nice head wound and my tag gave me a slow breath rate, normal pulse and capillary refill, and a mental state of "oriented and responsive but sluggish". My students came after I had already been made up and even though they knew it was fake it gave them a start at first glance. For each group of rescuers we had to act our part and let them practice assessing and taking care of disaster victims.
Q and the rest of his classmates rotated through five different scenarios - putting out a fire using a fire extinguisher and fire hose; light search and rescue in low visibility using the "smoke house"(simulates a smoky environment but doesn't have the health dangers of real smoke); debris stabilization and moving; and the "victim" scenario, running it once as part of the triage team and once as part of the medical team.
High school students can play victims for graduating CERT classes (they run 2/year) and get credit for their community service hours requirements. It was actually really fun and we learned a lot just through what we needed to know for our roles.

Last weekend was cooking weekend.
  • I made chili and cornbread for dinner.
  • We needed a birthday gift for a friend so I made peanut butter cups using this pan. They were great- Q said this size is so much better than the ones using the silicone muffin cups since he always feels like he needs a knife and fork to eat those.
  • For the birthday potluck we made chana chaat, an Indian chickpea potato salad we discovered at a community dinner centered on using locally grown grains and beans. Since the recipe called for "chana chaat spice mix", which we didn't happen to have, we found a recipe online and concocted it. Q did the mortar and pestle work. It required about a dozen different spice, including garam masala. A spice mix recipe that requires another spice mix? That's why I like Indian cooking.
  • We also set up the new dehydrator (thank you Mom) and dried just over a cup of onion.
  • I'd been having a fruit leather craving so we used the other dehydrator to make fruit leather with last summer's apricot puree.

My class leaves for our 8th grade trip on Wednesday morning. We will drive down to San Francisco, spend two days there, and then head up to an adventure camp in the Sierra Nevadas for five days. We get back on Thursday, 5/26 and have just three school days before graduation!
I've got blog post scheduled to post daily for the next few days detailing some of the other things we've been up to but I hadn't gotten around to posting about.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly - Cooking with Honey I

We have a new crop of rhubarb coming in and I needed to use the rest of my freezer stash from last year. We also have a lot of local honey we bought wholesale last fall. I figured that there wasn't much chance of creating something that wasn't edible.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly
Yield: 5 cups
1 gal frozen strawberries
2 qt frozen rhubarb
1 1/2 c honey
1/2 c hot water
1 pkg No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin

Cook everything but the pectin together until the fruit has softened and it starts looking thick and syrupy.
Strain the mixture through a jelly strainer bag (we used a fermentation bag).
Reserve the liquid and eat the puree. :) We like it with custard or ice cream.
(I ended up with 5 cups of syrup but if I ended up with less, I would add hot water to bring it up to 5 cups.)
Reheat the syrup and add the pectin, cooking according to package directions.
Seal in jars using current safe canning methods.

We are using it instead of maple syrup on breakfast food. We had it on french toast last weekend. It was pure heaven.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Honey Harvest

It was warm enough last weekend that we opened up the hive and confirmed our suspicions that we'd lost the colony over the winter. We're almost positive, based on what we found, that there wasn't adequate ventilation and too much moisture built up. It looks like we need to make sure there's some sort of venting at the top to allow air flow through next time. We've put out the word that we're seeking a swarm so hopefully something will come our way.

The bees did leave behind some beautiful frames of capped honey though.

We cut the comb off of the frames, leaving a short layer of wax at the top for the next users to build from. (We don't use any sort of foundation so our comb is wax all the way through.)

It ended up filling two of my large cooking pots.

It was Q's job to mash it all up. This condensed it into one pot.

After the other pot had been washed, we hung the fermenter's bag full of crushed comb over it to drain. We added more block under the bar as the honey level rose and we needed to raise the bag.

It's not as slick as an extractor but several hundred dollars cheaper. I do think it would be worth getting a food grade bucket with a spigot at the bottom if we get hives in the future though. Filling the jars was tedious using the ladle and pour method.

We let it drain for about 48 hours. It was amazing how light the bag was at the end.

We ended up with 12 pounds of honey. The jar above is 1 pound. We totally couldn't resist getting the cute honey jars. We still haven't cleaned the wax. We'll post pictures when we get that done.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How does your garden grow?

I simply had to get some starts started inside this year as a matter of principle. Using 4" containers, I got a bunch of melon and summer and winter squash seeds started last Monday. The first few sprouts were up by today (Saturday). Since they tend to develop rapidly, don't like transplanting, and want really warm soil I thought I might be adventurous and maybe get a few weeks head start out of the experiment. I'm very late but I did some tomatoes, eggplant, and cauliflower as well (I'll probably end up buying starts anyway).

Out in the yard...
The oats are up.

Strawberry blossoms are out in force. Last year's first berries were at the very end of May.

Radish seedlings

Pea sprout

Now that we've finally had some warmer weather the lettuce is starting to develop.

The grapes are really springing to life, even the one that I thought was dead.

Looking tastier every day, yes?

We bought the paint for baby's room today since the special order glider finally came so we could be assured of a good match. We're using Yolo Colorhouse Sprout.04 (pale yellow) for the walls, Water.02 (greyish blue green) for the doors and built in bookshelf, and leaving the trim white. Hopefully, we'll be done and get some pictures up in the near future. Kilz now makes a no VOC primer so this will be our first ever entirely "green" painting project.