Thursday, November 29, 2012

Embroidery Nightmare

I had an idea. A complicated idea. Embroider on canvas. Then fumage over all of my work. Then rip all the thread out. Sounded interesting to me so there it is. I must say, this was a very time consuming process.
I had this idea way back when I did my first fumage piece. I had a few designs playing in around in my head until finally settling on this Japanese motif for a trial project. The canvas is really very small, only 8" x 10".
I got the design from Traditional Japanese Stencil Designs. The book reads stencils, but they don't look like any stencils I've ever seen. Perfect for these little projects though.

Materials List

Now I highly doubt anyone will want to do this but I do encourage you if you are willing.
  • 1 skein DMC floss any colour
  • 1 tapered candle with a long wick
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Size 7 crewel (that's embroidery) needle
  • Thimble or paper tape for a makeshift thimble if using a regular thimble is cumbersome
  • Embroidery scissors and a seam riper
  • Spray lacquer


First things first, I traced my design on tracing paper and then attached the paper to the canvas. I did my stitching through the paper and the canvas, removing the paper when I was finished.

I used 2 strands of DMC floss for the scrolls. I used the stem stitch hoping that the stitch itself would be visible. It is, mildly so. I used the full 6 strands of floss for the dots on the wings and 2 strands for the dots that make up the eyes; both are French knots. I then used one strand of floss for the rest of the project. I used the open chain stitch for the main body of the butterfly moth things. I used backstitch for the rest of the project.
That was it for the stitching. It actually took quite a while. At this point I began to wonder if maybe I shouldn't burn all of the threads and then tear them out. I did work kinda hard on the embroidery. Alas, I had to press on.
I tore off all the tracing paper to expose the canvas underneath. The next part, the fumage bit, is the easiest I think. You just have to go into it without much of a plan because the flame will never behave the same way twice. Light your candle and pass the flame over the canvas. I tried to get it a little darker in some areas so that the stitches would show better.
After you've burnt all of your thread and really began to wonder if it was worth it, you have to lacquer the soot. You'll get fingerprints and smudges on the soot if you don't protect it. Make sure sure to follow the directions on the can.

Finally for the end of the project! Time to rip out all of the thread. This is also a painstaking process. It's made worse by the fact that you're not even sure if you're going to like what you've done.
Actually, I did another step on my canvas. I painted a layer of titanium white oil paint on the back to cover any of the needle prick holes. I think it made the work look much more solid.
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shrimp Pho

I made shrimp pho following a recipe by Jaden Hair. The long version of Jaden's recipe can be found here.The dessert wontons are a recipe I made up myself.


  • 1 package won ton wrappers
  • 8 oz chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 6 T to 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 an orange, juiced and zested
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1 T milk 



Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor (or in my case a small coffee grinder and in batches) until very finely ground. Add the juice and zest of the orange. Next add the brown sugar. Mix thoroughly with your hands. This should form a very thick paste.

Drop the mixture by heaping half teaspoons onto the corner of a won ton wrapper. Roll up eggroll style. Place under a damp cloth and continue making the rest of the won tons. I had some mix left over for snacking and that's fine by me!
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan until it reaches 350 degrees F. Fry the won tons until golden brown and drain on paper towels.
Mix the powdered sugar and the milk to form a very thin glaze. You can add more milk if you need to. Drop each won ton it and let the excess glaze fall off back into the bowl.
I used white chocolate here but it didn't taste very good with the wontons.
I hope you enjoy my tutorial!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Milk Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I made this bread on a whim. I had rice milk leftover from another recipe and I needed to use it in a few days. I figured why not use it to replace real milk. It couldn't hurt to try. In fact, the bread turned out extremely well. It was moist and light. Substituting almond milk for rice milk may create an interesting flavour variation.


  • 3 3/4C bread flour
  • 1t salt
  • 1C rice milk
  • 4T unsalted butter
  • 1t honey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 


Heat the milk and butter in the microwave in a medium bowl until the butter melts. Add the honey and set the mixture aside until it is lukewarm.
Meanwhile, mix together the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Mix the yeast into the milk mixture and let it proof for 15 minutes.
Add the egg and the milk mixture to the flour combining until a stringy dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and elastic, about 7 minutes. I didn't need to use any flour for dusting but keep some handy just in case. Form the dough into a ball and let rise, covered, in a greased bowl in a warm area for 1 to 2 hours. It really depends on how warm your kitchen is.
Punch the dough down and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion in to a rope about 14 inches long. Take the top end of each rope together and then start braiding, tucking the end under. Cover, and let the dough rest for 45 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top of the loaf is golden. Let cool on a wire rack then dig in.
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Indian Dosa

I used the Indian Dosa recipe from the Refresh Cookbook by Ruth Tal. This recipe is a three parter so it may take a while to make. I think it is well worth the effort though. The changes I made are in the parenthesis.
This recipe makes A TON of food. Really, it does make quite a lot. Except for perhaps the pancakes. You might want to double that recipe. I actually halved the sauce and I still have a lot left over. Maybe I didn't use enough of it, who knows. Next time I will quarter the sauce recipe. I didn't halve the filling but in retrospect, I probably should have. If you have a large family or are just very hungry, this recipe will be fine as is.


For the dosa pancakes:

  • 1C spelt flour or all-purpose GF flour
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t baking powder
  • 1/2t curry powder (I used the sweet curry powder from Penzeys)
  • 1/2C almond milk (I used rice milk in the organic section of the store)
  • 3/4C water
  • cooking spray if needed 

For the curried garbanzo (chickpea) filling:

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced (I used three)
  • 1 onion peeled and finely diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper finely diced
  • 2 medium hot banana chilies minced (I didn't find these in the store)
  • 2T ground cumin
  • 1T oregano
  • 1T coarse salt
  • 1T turmeric
  • 2 cans or 4 C cooked chickpeas (make sure to rinse and drain the canned beans)
  • 4 oz tomato paste (I just used the whole 6 oz can)

For the coconut curry sauce:

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2t ground cumin
  • 3T curry powder (I used the sweet one again)
  • 3T spelt flour or the GF all-purpose flour
  • 3C vegetable broth
  • 2C coconut milk
  • 3 tomatoes, diced


For the dosa pancakes:

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Slowly add the milk and the water with a whisk to make a smooth batter. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Ladle 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter in a circular motion into the hot pan. When the surface of the pancake no longer looks wet and there are bubbles on the surface, flip the pancake over. Cook for a few seconds longer and remove from pan. This makes about 8 pancakes according to the recipe but I got 10 or so out of it using 3 tablespoons. This is a lot like making French crepes if you were curious.

For the curried garbanzo filling:

Heat a large sauce pan at medium-low heat. (I added some vegetable shortening here so that my veggies wouldn't stick). Add the garlic, vegetables, and spices cooking until soft. (I added about a half cup of water to deglaze the pan and then let the water evaporate off. This took only a few minutes). Then mash the chickpeas. (I used my hands but you could use a potato masher if you don't want to get dirty. I also added the tomato paste to the chickpeas). Put the chickpeas and tomato paste in the skillet. Stir until heated through.

For the coconut curry sauce:

Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 1 more minute. Gradually stir in the vegetable broth. Once incorporated add the coconut milk and the tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Basic Mittens

This is a very basic mitten pattern. You could, of course, doll it up a bit with variegated yarns. You could even add stripes if you wanted.

Basic Mitts Materials

  • 1 ball worsted weight yarn (110 yds)
  • Tapestry needle
  • Length of waste yarn
  • 2 stitch markers
  • US size 7 dpns

Basic Mitts Pattern and Notes

Gauge swatch measures 18 sts by 24 rows for a 4" square.
CO 28 sts and distribute over three dpns 10, 10, 8.
Join and begin 2 x 2 ribbing for 2 1/2 inches. This is the cuff. You can make it longer if you wish. K next 2 rows increasing 1 st each row (30 sts).

Thumb gusset:

  • R1: k10, pm, m1, k1, m1, pm, k across
  • R2: k all
  • R3: k to m, m1, k to m, m1, slm, k across
  • R4-5: k all
  • R6: repeat R3
  • R7-8: k all
  • R9: repeat R3
  • R10-11: k all
  • R12: repeat R3
  • R13-14: k all
K to marker, remove sts between markers to waste yarn. Backward loop CO 2 sts.
St st for 4 inches from base of thumb or until desired length.
Decrease: K2tog every rnd until 4-5 sts remain. Graft together.


Sl sts from holder to needles and pick up 3-4 sts across gap to fill holes.
  • R1: dec to # of st of thumb gusset +1 (12sts)
  • cont in St st until 2 inches from base of thumb
  • dec every round by k2tog until 2-3 sts remain
  • graft together
Weave in all ends. Repeat pattern for 2nd mitten.

A few of my notes from working the pattern:

  • When you make a stitch, I found it easier to k1 keeping the st on the left needle, then ktbl on that same st dropping it off the needle after. This way you've made a st and k one at the same time. I also didn't get any holes this way
  • When I k2tog, I k the last st on any dpn that had an odd number of sts on it. I thought it made it a lot easier.
  • I also tried my mitten on frequently to make sure it was fitting properly. The pattern above makes a ladies small. 
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Messengar Bag

I wanted something that reminded me of fall. I also wanted to make a bag. The above it what I came up with. It could use some improvement I think. I like the colors, contrary to what others think..ahem. I'm not sure if I like the colour of the embroidery and subsequently the buttons. There they are however, and there they shall remain!
With the thought of fall in mind, I was browsing around Knitpicks. I came across the Wool of the Andes yarn and thought to myself "self, you've not done a felted item, perhaps it's time you tried."
Three colours really stood out to me. The Maple Syrup, Merryweather, and Orange seemed to scream fall. I still think they do even though a certain someone does not...ahem.
Knitting the bag was the easy part. The following is the pattern I came up with. I realize that my note taking was terrible at the time. Writing random numbers on pieces of post-it note paper, not the best of ideas. If you happen across a mistake, please let me know.

Knitted, felted messenger bag

  • 2 balls main color wool yarn (220 yds total)
  • 2 balls CC wool yarn (220 yds total)
  • 2 ball CC 2 wool yarn (220 yds total)
  • US size 10 knitting needles
  • Tapestry needle
  • Buttons and floss for finishing
  • Gauge: not the foggiest of ideas but it was darn near what the gauge was on the label 4.5 sts = 1 inch on 9 needles
CO 150 sts
Remember that the first three and last three stitches are always knit (we don't want to make a tube!). Knit with the main color in stockinette stitch for 6 inches. Switch to the first contrasting color, and knit in stockinette stitch for another 5 1/4 inches. Switch to your final color and knit again in stockinette stitch for 6 inches. BO and weave in the ends. The end dimensions of the bag should be 43 inches long by 17 1/4 inches wide. I know it seems large, but it shrinks drastically when you felt it.

We now need to create two side panels and a handle. For the side panels, CO 20 sts in the main color. The first two and last two stitches are always knit. Knitting in stockinette stitch again, knit for 12 inches. BO and weave in the ends. Your side panel should measure 12 x 4 1/2 inches. Repeat this with the last CC you used in your bag. You now have your side panels.
For the handle, I used the middle color. Remember to always knit the first two and last two sts. CO 16 sts of your CC and knit in stockinette stitch for 50 inches. BO and weave in ends.
Now this is the fun part. We need to mattress stitch in the two side panels and the handle. I used the same color yarn to stitch the bag together i.e. orange for the orange panel and brown for the brown panel. I started with the first side panel (main color). Starting from the bottom of the bag, stitch the side panel to the side. I then repeated this with the second side panel. I then flipped the bag up (so it looks like a bag) and stitched the bottom of the side panel to the bottom of the newly formed bag. Make sure the bottom of the bag measures 4 1/2 inches wide. Next, we stitch the rest of the side panel to the bag. Done!!
For the handle, I used a running stitch in the color of the yarn I was stitching over. I put the end of the handle 2 inches inside the bag and stitched it to the side. I then repeated this with the other side.
I've never felted so I just combined the methods that I heard people use frequently to get good results. I put my bag in a pillowcase and tied the end up. I put the washing machine on hot and small load with a small amount of soap and let it do it's thing. After one wash my bag was as felted as I wanted it. After blocking (putting a book inside and letting it sit), I decided it needed to be embellished.
In the beginning, I used these buttons:
Terrible idea! I fixed it by using these buttons:
 Better. I then decided it was still too boring for me. I stitched a Celtic design in the center using light blue stranded embroidery floss. I used pekinese stitch and heavy chain stitch. A better tutorial for this design is coming soon!
 I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Loop Stitch Bath Mat

This is another very easy item to knit. Although it is easy, it is also time consuming to knit. As you can see from the photo, this is done in loop stitch. For those who are not familiar with this stitch there is a great tutorial here. I purled the stitches on the wrong side so that the mat would lay flat. I also wrapped the yarn around twice so that there were more loops per stitch
And here is a closer look at all those little loops.
One problem I have found with working something entirely in loop stitch is that is tends to be longer on one side than the other. I really haven't discovered a way to truly fix this but you can hide it by adding a few sewing stitches to the side that is too long.
There isn't a pattern for this mat. You can make it as big or small as you like. I believe I cast-on 50 or so stitches. My mat measures 22 x 24 inches. I used 4 balls of blue cotton yarn. I also used 2 balls each of pink and green cotton. I used Sugar N' Cream because I thought that type of yarn would lend well to getting wet often. At the end of the project I added some soft rubber to the back. You can find rolls of thin rubber type material where the kitchen supplies are. Sometimes it's with wallpaper. I cut a piece out about 1 inch smaller then the bath mat and then attached it with square knots to the wrong side of the mat.
Happy knitting!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Knitted Block Afghan

I found a pattern that I liked on Knitting Pattern Central quite a while back and changed it a bit to make this afghan. It's a very quick and easy knit, perfect for the beginning knitter. I made the border the crocus bud design from 99 Knit Stitches instead of using the usual fringe.


  • Around 5 balls variegated worsted weight yarn
  • One set size 8 knitting needles
  • Tapestry needle


    Gauge, what gauge? I really just knitted it until it was the size I wanted it to be. If I measure it now it's about 18 sts down by 26 sts across. This is after washing a few times. I also tend to knit somewhat tight. Tight enough to bend my metal needles actually. I really need to work on not doing that!


    54" L by 40" W


    CO 159 sts
    Crocus bud border
    R1: (RS) k1, *YO, k2; repeat from * to end
    R2: p4, bring 3rd st on right needle over the first 2 sts and off the needle, *p3, bring 3rd st on right needle over the first 2 sts and off the needle, repeat from * to end ,br> R3: (k2, YO) across to last st, k1
    R4: * p3, bring 3rd st over first 2 sts and off the needle, repeat from * to last st, p1 repeat rows 1-4 3 times for both the top of the afghan and the bottom.


R1: k33, p30, k33, p 30, k33
R2: k3, p30, k30, p30, k33, p 30, k3
Repeat these two rows 21 times
R38: k3, p30, k30, p30, k33, p30, k3
R39: k33, p30, k33, p30, k33
Repeat these two rows 21 times
Continue in pattern until desired length is achieved. Finish with the crocus bud bottom. Weave in the ends with a tapestry needle. Easy peasy! If I've made a mistake in the pattern or if you have a question, let me know and I'll try to fix it.
I hope you enjoyed  my tutorial!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Garter Stitch Scarf

I've been an English style knitter since I learned to knit. For me it was fun to learn and easy on my hands. As I have been knitting more, I wanted to learn the continental method.
I have a soft spot for stranded knitting and as such, knowing continental knitting would make my life easier. I could hold a strand of yarn in each hand instead of overloading my fingers.
There's a great tutorial for continental knitting here if you are interested. This is the site that helped me to learn to knit.
This scarf has no gauge. Any type of yarn and any type of needle will work. The basic garter stitch pattern is all you need to know; and that's just knit every row.
I used one of those bumpy types of yarn. It's got several thick threads of multiple colors with one thin white thread wrapped around it. I've always like these types of yarns; but, once I get it home I never know what to do with it.
This scarf is much like this one I knitted earlier. The pink one has since unraveled unfortunately.
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!