Saturday, July 31, 2010

Healthy Recipe- Homemade Frappucino

Okay, so it's not totally without calories and carbs, but the storebought Frappucinos pack a whopping 350 calories and 33gr of carb in a single bottle (and they don't come in decaf). This one clocks in at 85 calories and 7 gr of carb, and it's mighty tasty- thick and sweet and easy to make, great for a treat, or even as dessert. I did see a recipe for something similar on someone's blog, but I can't find the link for attribution, so whoever invented this- thanks!

P.S. The cup is an insulated, reusable one that my sister gave me- I love it. She also gave me the French Press. It's handy having a relative who works at Starbucks.

Homemade Frappucino

1 tbsp sugar-free instant pudding (any flavor)
1 packet Splenda or other no-calorie sweetener
1/2 cup 1% milk
Glug of any sugar-free coffee flavoring
12 ozs cold coffee

Mix the pudding, Splenda, milk and flavoring in a 16 oz cup- the pudding has a tendency to clump, so if you have one of those little drink blenders, use that to stir everything up well. Allow the mixture to set for 5 minutes or so, to thicken. Stir in the coffee until everything is well blended. Drink.

85 Calories, 7 gr Carb

(my favorite combo is chocolate pudding and Kahlua sugar-free coffee flavoring)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Knit 2 Together

Remember when I spent days and days, struggling to learn Adobe Illustrator, and very proudly bored you with the results (as though my efforts looked like anything but random squiggles)? Well, this
was the end result. A collection of three different fabric designs, in two colorways, all called Knit 2 Together. I ordered a yard of each of the scattered needle print, and sample swatches of the others. All of them are Spoonflower's quilting weight cotton, except for the peach background design, which is their knit fabric (and wonderful knit fabric it is, smooth and very stretchy).

I am beyond thrilled with how the border blocks came out- it took a long time to get those custom yarn and cast-on-needle brushes drawn and worked out properly. I'm going to sew a DPN case from a bit of the larger pieces, but I haven't decided what to do with the rest. Besides sit back and admire them, that is.

This is a sample swatch (8" x 8") of my Travel Contest entry, called "Road Trip". I had this sample printed on Spoonflower's linen-cotton canvas, which is a really nice, sturdy fabric. Good for tote bags and such. The finished fabric colors don't always match what I see on the screen, but this design came out exactly as I expected.

This sample is from the Summer Flower contest. I called it Iris Silhouette (not so clever with titles, am I?). The swatch is printed on the canvas twill, and it's also a very nice, sturdy fabric. The surface is smoother than the linen/cotton, but both are about the same weight, and both would work for tote bags.

I've had this fabric for awhile, but could not show it until the finished penguin ornaments went to my friend Ann.

Here's a couple of assembled ornaments. A fat quarter will make at least 8 penguins.

All of the above fabrics are available now from Spoonflower. They're also customizable- I can change the background colors (handy for the Knit 2 Together fabrics, I think), and rename the penguins. I think I'll also make a Road Trip and Iris Silhouette version with smaller motifs- the samples are pretty big.

I'd say this obsession is still going strong.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Romneyed out, neck coolers, and garden stuff

That, my friends, is 1167 yards of 2-ply, award winning silver Romney yarn- about 2lbs, which, along with the lovely charcoal lamb, and the Romney-ish white, is more than enough to make a traditional yoked sweater, which is what I intend to do with this yarn. It's unlikely, but if I run out of yarn, I have at least 2lbs of award winning white Romney roving (from Iron Water Ranch) and at least that much charcoal, nowhere near award winning but nice enough for all that, roving as well. I'm set for Romney.

I'm also tired of spinning solid color stuff. So I dug through the stash (I'm still stashbusting, don'tchaknow) and came up with this:
a Jelly Roll batt from Decadent Fibers. It's about 4' x 6', and 1lb of lovely hand-dyed wool (they use a blend, but I think it's primarily Corriedale). I love love love the deep jewel tones of this batt- Pat and Christine did a wonderful job! Of course, spinning from a batt is a different from spinning prepared pencil roving- it's not just a matter of finding an end and taking off. The layers have to be separated, and then each layer has to be pulled apart a bit more. I could run it all through my drum carder, but I don't want the colors blended even more, so I'm mostly just grabbing handfuls, stretching it some, and spinning
which results in a slightly thick-n-thin single, which combined with the random coloring, will make for a really lovely plied yarn. I hope. In any case, it's nice to be working with a bit of color again. This yarn will not only be softer than the Romney, it'll have a lot more bounce.

I've also been sewing up neck coolers as gifts- they go together quickly and 4ozs of the polymer crystals goes a loooong way (I've made 11 so far, and I have enough crystals for a few more).

Bee Girl bought a Sunflower kit in the Target Dollar Section (I love Target, and I especially love their dollar section- which in this case was 25 cents because it was late in the season so everything was on sale), and she carefully planted the 4 seeds on the south side of our house. I'd say she got a quarter's worth of beauty.

We planted 6 Big Boy tomato plants- they're now about 4' tall and have spread out about 6', and they've set hundreds of tomatoes. I see salsa in my future.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's Alive!

Fearless Fair Isle Knitting will hit the stands Feb. 15, 2011!

The Amazon listing shows an earlier cover, here's the final:


Monday, July 26, 2010

Vintage Horse Quilt Repair- Part 1

Yesterday I posted a picture of the vintage Horse Quilt that I bought at an auction over the weekend. The main area of the quilt is in pretty good shape, considering it's old (I'd say from the 40's at least), and stained a bit. But the Flying Geese outer border has some triangles that have deteriorated, so I announced an intention to scan the fabrics, and replicate them through Spoonflower in order to repair the quilt.

Blog Poster Lisa pointed out that fabric scans not only pick up the color and the print, but the warp and weft, the wrinkles and any quilting stitches, and anything else on or in the fabric. She was absolutely correct, so I started with scans, and then took them to Adobe Illustrator and fooled with the scans in order to eliminate as much of the *background noise* as possible.
This is a scan from the quilt

I used the Brush Strokes Effect in AI, and simplified the design

and then eliminated the stained background

And here's the comparison. I'll have to *distress* the new fabric (the file that Spoonflower will use to print the fabric is on the right), and maybe even tea-dye it to get it to blend in better, but I'm pleased with the replication.

I didn't bother trying to take out the quilting stitches for this fabric- they look okay on the sample to the right. The new fabric won't match the old one exactly (in design or color), but I think it'll match closely enough.

This one came out okay without much fiddling at all.

This fabric was so damaged that I started from scratch with the file, and redrew it rather than working from a scan.

Same with this one (the original fabric is on the lower triangle). Again, I'm sure I'll have to tea-dye and distress the new fabrics.

I've ordered sample swatches of all of these from Spoonflower. Sometimes the colors on the screen don't match the colors on the fabric, so I may have to do some tinkering with the files before ordering larger pieces. It'll take a few weeks for the samples to arrive, so Part 2 is going to be delayed for a bit. Given that I'm supposed to be working on a YA Fantasy, I think I have enough to do in the interim.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Sometimes, auctions are sad events- when the owner has died, or is facing financial difficulties and must sell everything. But yesterday, I went to a happy auction. My friend Lorah is now a Pastor at a small church 10 miles away, and so she and her family have moved to a Parsonage in that town. The new house is much smaller than the house they own in town here. So in addition to selling that house, Lorah decided to auction off her excess stuff.

And what excess stuff it was- tons of antique furniture (Lorah has good taste), area rugs, and many many quilts (again, excellent taste). Some of the items went for a lot of money, and some were bargains. For a total of $38.76, I got the following:

Okay, I wasn't even bidding on the cookie cutters, but the auctioneer bundled a couple of boxes together. I'm keeping a few of the bigger metal ones, but not all of them

And I don't want any of the plastic cookie cutters (there are at least 25). If anyone wants these (and the leftover metal ones), e-mail me, and I'll send them to you. First person to contact me gets the lot (minus the 5 I'm keeping). (Note: cookie cutters are now spoken for)

This isn't what I was bidding on either, but it will be fun to put together with Grands.

We're getting closer to my purpose in bidding- the little books were a bonus, but 3 of those paper doll books are uncut, and the Little House set is partially uncut (they're all too new for posting here, but they'll be fun for the Grands to play with)

And these weren't the purpose of the bid either (I didn't see them in the bottom of the box until I got home), and I would be far more excited about these miniature paper doll sets if I hadn't made them in the first place, for Lorah's daughter (who is now grown up and heading off to college in the fall). I'm glad to have them back.

These were the purpose of the bid (ignore the mop-top doggie in the left hand corner, I'm babysitting the Granddog this weekend). These two cut out sets look to be complete (or at least they have a lot of pieces), and I plan to scan and post them. Not bad for $4 (everything so far).

And this paper roll dispenser seemed like a bargain for $5.

And the dolls, an NRFB Repro Barbie, and a fully dressed (never undressed- the clothes are still attached to the doll) 18" doll for $10@ were great buys.

And this mysterious piecework top (42" wide, by 12 feet long- I'm not kidding it's 144") looks to be hand pieced (despite the serged edges). I'm going to cut it up for baby quilts. It came bundled with my Prize of the Day:

a hand-pieced, hand quilted quilt, from the 40's (my guess). I picked this up for... are you sitting down?   $7.50. Yep, that's seven dollars and fifty cents. Best of all?

The sashing is made of horsies. And horsies are made of Awsome.

Doesn't get any better than that, especially for $38.76 total.

p.s. some of The Flying Geese border pieces are raggy, so I'm going to scan intact sections and replicate the fabrics through Spoonflower to repair the edges.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Letting Cooler Necks Prevail

I think I may have whined about... err... mentioned... that it was a little warm in Washington when we were there last week. Record Breaking Heat in Seattle kind of warm, in fact. And I might have said, in passing, that very few homes in the PNW are air conditioned (mostly because they only need it a couple of days a year, generally when The Taylors are visiting). At any rate, we wandered around Snohomish's Farmer's Market in the blazing  heat one afternoon and stumbled across a booth that was selling brightly colored, goofy looking, fabric neck coolers.

Now, I'd never heard of these things before, but they're simple closed cloth tubes with polymer crystals inside that work on a simple scientific principle: evaporation. The crystals absorb moisture and swell, and slowly release  moisture which cools you down. It sounds sort of silly, and they look sort of silly as well (like a damp, fabric covered sausage), but it was hot, so I bought one.

 I'll be dipped if the things don't actually work like a dream.

Though the neck coolers will dry out eventually (for winter storage), it takes more time than I had on the coast, and I didn't want to have to try to explain what it was to the TSA folks, so I left mine with my sister, but as soon as I got home, I ordered some of the polymer crystals so I could make more. (Note: you might be able to find these retail at a craft or garden store, but there were none to be found locally in my neck of the woods), and I found instructions for sewing the coolers online here. (my only adaptation was to use just 1 1/2 tsp of the crystals, which was plenty for the tube).

I wanted to see how much the crystals would actually expand before putting them in the fabric tube, so I started with 1 1/2 tsp (1/2 tbsp) and a little half-cup container.

I added water a tbsp at a time, and within 5 minutes, the crystals had out-expanded the container.

15 minutes later, they finally stopped growing. That's a good cup of mooshy stuff there, all from 1 1/2 tsp of crystals. The fabric tube is ready for the crystals (I didn't try to add the expanded ones- I used dry).

After 3 minutes in the sink, it had already starting to plump up.

And within 10 minutes, it was fully expanded and ready to wear (the ends get wet the first time, but they dry, and usually don't drip later on).

Voila!- instant temperature control!
When the cooler warms up and the fabric dries a bit, just wet it again, and you're good to go. Store it in the fridge (not the freezer) for a really cool experience. The coolers are supposed to last a couple of years, but they use so little fabric, and take so few crystals (my little packet will make at least 10 coolers), that even if they only last one season, they're still worth the time and money. I'm going to make a few for gifts.

P.S. Yes, it does look a goofy, but it feels so good that I don't care.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday Tab on Friday- Connie Francis Covers, Debbie Reynolds Clothes, and an antique store find

Our west coast trip mixed me up, and I totally forgot that yesterday was Thursday. So, I'll make up for it a bit today with some fill-in info on some past uploads, and a sneak peek at some upcoming Thursday Tab entries.

Blog readers Sally and Elizabeth both sent the covers of the Connie Francis set- Thanks! And Elizabeth told me that the set is Whitman #1956, published in 1963.

Elizabeth also provided a scan of the missing page 8 from the Debbie Reynolds set.

And then on a whim yesterday, we stopped at an antique place, and guess what I found?

This Whitman 1963 Debbie Reynolds folder cover- 2 of them, in fact
with no Debbie dolls, but double sets of the clothes, AND some uncut clothing pages. And tucked into the pocket were Dr. Kildare and a random nurse and many punch-out clothes for them, plus outfits for a missing nurse doll.

AND a box with a 1962 BubbleCut Barbie with many well-known Barbie outfits (though sadly, the little girl shortened all of them), and what looks to be a full, cut Tammy and Pepper set.

Over the next few weeks, I'll scan these new additions, and then see if I have uncut scans to post as well. I've never seen paper dolls at any antique/flea market/rummage sale, so I am pretty excited about this score!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back from the fiery brink

I, carefully but swiftly (since slow sewing may have caused the problem in the first place), used the sewing machine yesterday, and it didn't burst into flames, which is a good sign.
The All Star ABCs quilt turned out exactly as I'd hoped, except that it's smaller than I thought it would be. The finished quilt is 32" x 36 1/2". The fabric shrunk a bit in the wash, and quilting tightened it even more, but still I thought it would be wider. However, it's fine for a baby quilt, and anyone who wants to make a larger quilt, can simply add borders to the center panel.

I like the yellow coordinating fabric as a border, and since I ordered a yard of it, I have some left over to play with.

Speaking of playing- as long as the sewing machine was flame-free, I used some of the scattered motifs from the Dolly 'n Me apron fabric to lengthen the doll sized apron. I have already altered the file on Spoonflower, so that any future yards printed from that design will be this long (with properly sized additions), but that didn't help the far-too-short sample apron. The appliqued pieces don't match, but I don't think my girls will mind, and at least now, it doesn't look like a tie-on vest.

I've spinning finished another 385 yards (10.9 ozs) of the silver Romney. This picture is only half of that amount, but the other half looks just the same. Oh that sheen. I don't think even silk is that shiny.

And finally, people sometimes wonder why living in South Dakota is worth the weather and lack of good produce in the stores.

This is why.