January 19, 2018

I Once Was Lost, But Now I'm Found

Wow, that was weird!  I hadn't posted on this blog in quite some time, and when I went to look at it several weeks ago, I couldn't even get to it!  I kept getting some sort of security error and it wouldn't let me access it at all.  I tried to go to my main blogger account page where you can (normally) see the list of all of your blogs, and it wasn't even listed there.  I freaked for a bit - all that content GONE - then just shook it off decided I had better things to worry about right now (like working my eBay business, getting my house ready to sell, and dealing with a huge, life-threatening tumor in one of my dogs).

I tried again the other day for the heck of it, and got the same security error that denied me access, but decided to dig around a little more and finally did find it in the list of blogs on my blogger account and brought it up that way.  Hooray!  Content still intact.  Phew, that was close.

While I don't expect I'll be posting all that often, I am back up and running and it's nice to know that the platform is still here and available should I have something that I just MUST share with you.

My next post will feature an afghan I finished recently, so don't go too far!

~ Marie Anne

October 27, 2016

Stash Buster Round Dishcloth Crochet Pattern

Do you hoard save small amounts of yarn in your craft closet, hoping for the perfect opportunity to use them all up someday?  Guilty!  I crochet a lot of dishcloths and always have small amounts of cotton yarn left over, not enough to make another cloth with, but too much that I don't want to throw it out.  I tuck it away in a bag somewhere, knowing that someday it'll have a purpose.

I decided the other day that 'someday' had come, and I was going to figure out a way to use those bits of scrap yarn or it would meet the trash can after all.  I was going to make scrappy dishcloths, starting with one color until it ran out, then just grab another, not really caring how ridiculous it might end up looking.  I make square dishcloths in a back and forth pattern instead of in the round, so yea, they would be crazy, but still useful.

I thought about granny square-type dishcloths, but they have too many holes for me.  I then whipped up a solid granny and that worked out better, but I still wasn't satisfied.  I then searched for round dishcloth patterns, but none of the ones I found seemed to be 'the one'.  Then I remembered a star-like baby blanket pattern that I'd made before, and decided to see what would happen if I crocheted just the first few rounds of that.  BINGO!

What I started with is called the Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket  which is a 12-pointed star pattern.  It doesn't really turn into a pointed star shape until much later into the pattern, but the first few rows make it just a little less plain than a straight (circular?) round shape, with 12 gentle peaks rather than points.  Because it's worked in the round rather than back and forth like my other favorite dishcloth patterns, the first rounds require very little yarn, then gradually requires slightly more yarn for each round.  It's a simple pattern too, strictly DC throughout, so even a beginner should be able to  make it.

You can make your dishcloths all one color, have the center two rows one color and the remaining rounds another color, solid color with just the last border round in a contrasting color, every round a different color - whatever suits your fancy (or the size of your scrap stash).  You could even just keep attaching the new yarn whenever you run out and not just at the end of a pattern round ... there are no rules!

I made a few dishcloths working the pattern through round 6 and a couple of them through round 7, and I personally like the smaller one better.  It's just the right size for me and doesn't stretch out too much when wet.  Oh, and I used a size G crochet hook so that the holes would be just a little smaller too.

I'm so glad that I didn't give up on my quest, and now have a use for the scraps of cotton yarn I've saved.  Do you save your small bits of yarn, or trash it all before your stash overtakes your life?

~ Marie Anne

October 4, 2016

Quick 4 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies - Yea or Nay?

I had a real hankering the other day for something sweet, but had nothing in the house that would satisfy that urge.  I didn't really feel like baking anything, and my pantry was pretty bare anyway, so what to do?

I was browsing on Pinterest and came across these 4 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies ... hmm, I had cocoa powder, and I had peanut butter.  Could I pull this off?  A quick look at the list to see the other two ingredients and yep, I had sugar and an egg, so I could.  Because it was only four simple ingredients, it took no time to whip up a batch and get them in the oven.  Oh, and the recipe was enough for only one batch - I think I got about 16 cookies out of it -  so that meant even less time in the kitchen watching an oven.  Score!

About two minutes is all it took to get these
chocolate cookies ready to pop into the oven.

Were they worth making?  Yes and no.  I only had chunky peanut butter, and they probably would have been better without the chunks.  These chocolate cookies were soft and chewy, but without flour to balance the sugar, they were awfully sweet.  Because they contained mostly sugar, there was also a bit of a grainy texture to them, kinda like when you make fudge and don't cook it long enough, so I'm wondering if using powdered sugar would work better.  Might have to try them again just to test that out.  In the interest of science, or something like that.

Make sure to let the cookies 'rest' on the baking sheet
for a minute or two before removing to cooling rack

Were these chocolate peanut butter cookies something you'd make for a holiday get together?  Probably not.  But if you're frantic because a friend just dropped in for coffee and you need something quick to go with it, these will definitely do the trick.  Or if you just have a hankering for something sweet, like I did the other night.  Don't get me wrong, they were definitely good, but the big draw was the very few ingredients needed, and the short time span to go from bowl to mouth.

Oops!  Sorry, couldn't wait to try them.

My 'helpers' coming to investigate the goings on in the kitchen

Oh, I used my Grill Buddy BBQ Grill Mat to bake these cookies.  I don't know why everyone insists on advertising them for the grill; they're the best thing ever for cookie baking in the oven!    I got them free to review, but would be bragging them up even if I paid for them.  They're definitely worth not having to wash a cookie sheet (or scrub a grill, I suppose).

~ Marie Anne

October 3, 2016

Upcycled Blue Jean Denim Rag Quilt in Progress

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to be making a rag quilt and incorporating some blue jean denim fabric into it.  I found a really cool long flowered denim skirt and a pair of plus sized jeans in good condition at the thrift store, and after washing, made quick work of cutting into squares to use in my rag quilt.

I forgot to take a photo of the skirt by itself, but here are the jeans after I cut off the elastic waistband.  Don't ask me why I took the photo of them inside out, because I have no idea.  They're a really nice denim color, not faded at all (you can see it peeking out at the top).

Plus sized jeans ready to be cut into squares

The rag quilt that I'm working on now is going to be made with 6.5" squares, which will turn out to be 5.5" squares after ragging.  I was able to get 38 nice 6.5" squares from this one pair of plus size 28 jeans. I thought that was a good amount for my investment of $2.50!  When shopping the thrift stores, I try to pick out only the items that are 50% off for that day, and the original price of this pair of jeans was $4.99,  and for that amount of usable denim fabric, that's a very good deal.

Ended up getting 38 6.5" squares from that one pair of jeans

My original plan was to have the rag quilt completely reversible, with each square having the same front and back, but I didn't have enough of the other cotton fabrics (also reclaimed) to work out that way, so I adjusted.  Since most of the other fabrics had flowers, I decided to use the flowered denim squares on the front also, and go with all denim for the back.  I ended up with enough to do blocks of 7x9, so I need  63 squares for both top and bottom (and the flannel filling also).  I'll still need one more pair of jeans to have enough squares for the back.  I have five squares of the flowered denim left so I think I might put one in each corner and the middle square of the back, just for a little visual contrast, and to tie it in with the quilt top. Will wait until I get the rest of the squares for the back before I made the final decision.

Here's the final layout of the front of the rag quilt.  I can't wait to get the other jeans and finish cutting the back squares to I can get to stitching!  

Layout for the top of my reclaimed denim rag quilt

The other flowered and burgundy fabrics are from scrub tops - another thrift store find!

Do you recycle clothing or other items to use in your craft projects?

~ Marie Anne


October 1, 2016

Denim Rag Quilt, Coming Up!

I'm excited to get started on my next rag quilt, which will include some denim.  I had two pretty flower print fabrics from reclaimed clothing that were similar colors, and since both had blue in them, I thought recycled blue jeans would be perfect to pair with them.

Two pretty flowered fabrics reclaimed from scrubs!

I took samples of these two fabrics with me when I went gallivanting in town this morning, and I found another top with burgundy, and also a nice flowered denim midi skirt and another pair of jeans fairly cheap.  I found a light blue print that I'm undecided about, but will cut up a square or two of everything and see how it looks before making a final decision.  Not sure if I want to use both denims in this quilt or not either.  

I think I want to make a reversible quilt, where each square is the same on front and back, but that's going to depend on how many squares I get from each fabric that I have, and I'm going to commence cutting on the denim and burgundy as soon as they get out of the wash.  

Flowered fabric paired with light blue print,
flowered denim skirt, and blue jeans

These are 6 1/2" squares, but will be approximately 5 1/2" after ragging.  I'd like to make it big enough for a couch throw size rather than baby blanket, but that's also going to depend on the amount of squares I get out of all this.  I'm still fairly new to the whole quilting/rag quilting thing and this will be my first time working with denim, but I'm excited to get started on this project!  More pics to come in future posts as I get the jeans cut up and get my squares laid out for my cotton/denim rag quilt.  Stay tuned!

~ Marie Anne


September 27, 2016

"Almost Lost" Knit Dishcloth Variation Results

I posted yesterday about the cool looking round knit dishcloth pattern I found, but didn't have the right size needles for.  The pattern calls for size 8 knitting needles, but I worked one up using size 5, since that's all I could find.  That first cloth was just a little tighter than I would have liked, but I knew that I wouldn't be happy with using the size 8 as I thought it would be too loose for my liking.

Well as it turns out, I looked at the needles again and what I used yesterday was actually a mismatched set - a size 4 and a size 5!  I found my size 6 needles and thought that would give me the tension that I was looking for but probably wouldn't be as big as I'd like, so I modified the pattern a little, adding two stitches and then another whole point, giving me 15 points instead of the 14 that the original pattern worked up to be.

The result was a knit dishcloth that measures just shy of 9" from point to point, where my smaller one was only 7" across.  Here's a side-by-side photo of them both on a dinner plate for size reference.  The larger one is curled up just a little because it followed the lip on the plate, but is fine on a flat surface.

Honestly, either size would work ok for me, so I think I'll either use my size 6 knitting needles, or splurge on a size 7 and go with the original pattern.

No matter what size needles are used, the "Almost Lost" pattern turns out a nice cloth that can be used as either washcloth or dishcloth.

~ Marie Anne

September 26, 2016

Newest Knit Dishcloth/Washcloth, Almost Lost

I was poking around on Pinterest last night and saw this neat knit dishcloth that looked easy, and thought I'd give it a try.  I normally don't like to knit as much as I do crochet, but I really like the feel of certain knitted dishcloths as they're more pliable than crochet, in my opinion.  I like the old standard diagonal cloth because I think it has more 'give' than a straight stitch, but this one, called "Almost Lost", is more of a circle, so the stitches aren't straight back and forth either, which is what piqued my interest. She actually labels it as a washcloth, but I will use mine as a dishcloth, and honestly, I find that the two are pretty much interchangeable.

The pattern calls for a size 8 knitting needle , which I didn't have (or couldn't find), so I started off with a size 9, and thought that was way too big and the stitches extremely loose.  The next closest size I could find a matching pair of was size 5, so I grabbed those next.  I actually did like the slightly tighter weave I got with the size 5 needles, but of course it came out much smaller than I anticipated.  I think I might move up to a size 6 needle and see if I can adapt the pattern to make it larger.

The pattern itself was pretty quick to work up, as long as I didn't lose my place.  It's the first time I ever knitted in this fashion, where you knit part of a row, then turn and knit back the way you just came, leaving the remainder of the stitches from the previous row on the needle without knitting them on that row.  It's not a hard concept to grasp at all, just have to make sure you finish the row before setting it down or you might get confused and think you're in the middle of a row rather than the beginning.  Sounds confusing, but it's explained pretty clearly in the pattern instructions.

So here's my first attempt at the "Almost Lost" knit washcloth.  I also think that variegated yarns look prettier in most knit  patterns than they do crochet, so that was a plus since I don't think I had a full ball of a solid cotton yarn in my stash.

My first attempt at the "Almost Lost" knit dishcloth

I'll definitely be making more of these knit dishcloths to list for sale in my Etsy shop.  They'll still take a little longer to knit than crochet, but I think this pattern will work up faster than the few other knitted dishcloth patterns I've tried, so I'm going to give it a go.

~ Marie Anne