Saturday, August 23, 2008

Do It Yourself

This has been the most fun I’ve had in ages. A cardigan that knits itself! It’s been such a weird experience. It started out, as I posted previously with a yarn that I bought over in Bloomington, intending it for a shawl or stole. I had the inspiration of the simple lace pattern (see Wednesday's post) so I started a wide stole (120 stitches on US size 8/5mm needles). I’d only done a few rows when I realized that it wasn’t a stole, it was a lacy cardigan. It was just the right size for the back. I knitted on, well, I say knitted, I really just held the needles. It really sort of knitted itself. I said I would keep “down and dirty” notes so you can try it if you’d like.

When I’d knitted far enough (12 inches/30 yo holds), I bound off 3 stitches on either side
. From there, I decreased 1 stitches each side until the raglan sleeves were long enough and I did a basic shaping for the back neck, leaving 21 stitches on either shoulder.

I made both front pieces at the same time so I could make sure they were identical. I casted on 60 stitches and worked even until they matched the back (12 inches/30 yo holes) and then shaped the sleeves exactly as I’d done for the back. When they were at 38 yo holes, I shaped the neck like this:

On the last row before I was going to bind off at the neck edge, I knitted the 10 stitches of the neck edge on each side (I didn’t do to the lace pattern). On the next pass, I bound off 8 stitches on each neck edge then decreased 1 stitch at neck edge and armhole edge every other row until there were about 21 stitches (to match the back shoulders). I did a 3 needle bind-off to join the front and back and give it a little structure to keep it from stretching too much.

I also sewed the side seams to make sure it was going to fit okay. Actually, it would have worked nicely as a vest but I don’t like to wear vests so it was on to the sleeves.

Sleeves – Again, I did them together so I would know they were the same, working off of 2 skeins of yarn. I cast on 40 stitches and worked in pattern for 1 inch. Then I started increasing 1 stitch on either side every other row 8 times, then every 4th row 7 times. Then I worked even until it was time to start the sleeve. I worked the shaping exactly as I did for the back until there were 20 stitches left (or so). This fit was a little tricky and I measured against the armhole as I went to make sure I didn’t make it too large. I sewed the sleeve seams and then sewed the sleeves onto the body.

And that’s it! I absolutely love it and it fits perfectly. The large size needles and the open stitch pattern make this go super fast.

Blueberry Bread Pudding

I've been trying out another vintage recipe. This time it’s been a blueberry bread pudding from the July 1925 Needlecraft magazine. So easy, so delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

“Pick the stale bread over into tiny pieces, the smaller the better it will be, until you have two cupfuls (I used a container of bread crumbs which worked great). Then put into a saucepan one cupful of milk and two tablespoonfuls of butter. If you live in the country and have plenty of cream, use fairly thin cream instead of milk and omit the butter. Bring to the boiling-point and pour over the bread crumbs. Let it stand for fifteen minutes. Then press the softened bread with a fork, tearing into still smaller bits until the mixture looks more like a rather rough custard. This not absolutely necessary, but it makes the pudding softer and nicer. Now add three tablespoonfuls of sugar and two well beaten eggs and one heaping cupful of blueberries. Pour into a pudding dish and bake. (I baked it at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.) Serve hot with hard sauce or cold with cream.”

It would also be nice with this blueberry sauce (from the same magazine):

“Mix two cupfuls of blueberries with one cupful of cold water. Let them come to a boil and then stew slowly until the water is half gone, and the berries soft enough to rub through a sieve with a flat strainer.”

State Fair Entries
One other thing is that I've had several people ask about entering things into the State Fair. Each state will have a different procedure but you can find instructions by search for the state fair website in your state. In Illinois, the address is here. Click on the Competition tab and you'll want to look for the "Premium Book" for the General Competitions. Of course, you won't be able to see the Premium Book now since the fair is finished but they'll post it in March/April 2009. Section M is the Textiles section and you'll then be able to see instructions for entering and the categories. You'll need to complete the entry form and send it in with the fee before the middle of July. It's only $1 per entry so I chose a wide number of categories which gave me some leaway as to what I was going to enter without getting caught at the end. You don't have to enter everything you have tags for. They will send the tags that you'll need to attach to your piece and that's it. Just follow the directions for when to take them or send them in and you're set. Most categories allow you to enter up to 2 items. Have fun and enter lots of stuff!

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