Monday, March 27, 2006

Strawberry Purse

I started this purse last weekend during the yarn crawl that Teresa and I did through Pasadena/Monrovia. Like many of my projects, I started following a pattern and then found myself bored. Teresa and I were joking that the baguette was turning out to look like a little strawberry. So, I thought, hmm... why not just make it into a strawberry?
I added some green trim, a button, and a strap. Later I added some black seeds (after a bit of a discussion with friends on why strawberry seeds are actually tan but are always drawn as black).
Whether they should be tan or black, it still made for a darling little purse for a darling little girl.
Of course, after finishing the project, I realized that I didn't know any girls that were the right age for a strawberry purse -darling or otherwise. I was making fun of myself for finishing that project when I have tons of UFOs (unfinished objects) begging for attention. But, as the rule with things that are cute, the opporunity for the strawberry to be adopted arose immediately.
My co-worker Gretchen was going to meet her boyfriend's parents at his niece's 6th birthday. She had been going back and forth on attending (it's a wee bit of pressure meeting all the family all at once!), and suddenly the party was quickly approaching and a) she was going and b) she didn't have a gift.
She was explaining her dilemna to me and I felt very much like a Stepford Wife, "You need a gift for a 6 year old? I'm sure I can find something perfectly suitable in my fully stocked gift closet."
Gretchen and Doug filled the strawberry purse with lots of 6 year old girlish trinkets and gifts. And apparently, she was delighted!
Happiness all around.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Floppy Blue/Green Fuzzy Bear and Weekend Update

Here is a picture of Q and his floppy, blue/green, fuzzy bear from Christmas. I made it without a pattern in Baby Clouds - Baby Green (which actually looks more blue?) and did embroidery for the face. He's a little lumpy, but Q doesn't seem to mind :P

Q is sitting on his big boy bed!

This weekend was great. On St. Patty's Day, I went to a party with some kickball friends at Katie's place. It was fun and chill. Much better than waiting in lines and paying ridiculous covers. I made more soda bread and some bailey's fudge. Yummilicious! On Saturday, Teresa and I did a yarn crawl through Pasadena/Monrovia. We went to Unraveled (located at 137 E COLORADO BLVD) where they were having a huge sale and then later to Skein. Unraveled was nice because it was really spacious, but to be honest, the yarn selection didn't impress me much. Sure there was a lot of variety in terms of brands, but within individual brands, I didn't find much variety. 3 shades of Cascade 220 is pretty pathetic. But, it was a really comfy store. Though, Teresa wasn't a big fan of the service. We both felt like the saleswoman there thought we were going to steal something. Cuz, Teresa and I look so tough. Hahaha... yeah right. Our combined height is still under 10 feet :) Skein was a better shop and in an adorable house. But, they didn't have as many crochet patterns as knit... maybe 1 crochet book for every 10 knitting book. And the crochet books all seemed to be circa 1983. It was my first yarn crawl that I left empty-handed.
After our yarn crawl, we celebrated being in pseudo-suburbia with a trip to Target. We purchased happiness for $1.99 despite the claims of a local and very vocal religious group that we could not buy happiness. Our happiness came in the form of a microwaveable egg poacher. It's super-rad. You can poach eggs in the morning for breakfast and only use one dish. It's superfast and easy ... and it makes it easier for me to meet my new protein reqs.
After the Target, we found ourselves hungry and amazingly enough... just as our tummies grumbled in hunger, Teresa remembered that her beau TJ was performing at an Indian Restaurant in Pasadena. He is a drummer who is really into tables and sacred drums of India. The boy is really good... and super-sweet. So we went over there to suprise him and listen to his neato-music while eating some delish Indian food.
Tres bien.
On Sunday, I had to do some random med test at home (long story). I was bummed about having to stay home for a full day, but luckily, I have awesome friends. Teresa, Carina, Rachel, Carrie, and my roomate Alexandria all hung out. We watched Pirates of the Carribean and swooned over Darlin' Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. Afterwards, we watched Harry Potter (#4) and then Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy.
Most of us worked on our respective projects.... Rachel's cable purse is absolutely stunning. Teresa is working on her 2nd (and less decadent, albeit more washable) Lady E. Carina is making a fabulous Mile a Minute Afgan. I'm working on Betsy's skirt- although... the pattern is really sort of obnoxious! :P
Anyway... nice weekend, eh?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bridgid's Bedspread and Mesh Yoga Mat Bag

Hello again...
These pictures are from projects of Christmas past... yet again :P

The first is of a rather neurotic bedspread that I made for my rockclimbing, rockstar sister Bridgid for Christmas '04. The bedspread is done entirely in double crochet - approximately 8,000 of them! in Lions Brand Chenille Thick & Quick. The bed pictured is a twin. On my Full, it just covered the top and draped over the bottom. Kind of an odd size for a bedspread, but it is super-snuggly and soft! I made it in just over a week whilst going through an obnoxious breakup (b/c normally they are oh, so pleasant!), if that helps to explain the insanity. Anyway, it's a beautiful blanket and I'm very proud of it... and happy that my sister loves it.

These next pictures are of a Mesh Yoga Mat Bag that I just kind of made up as I went along. I definitely used the previously posted Yoga Mat Bag pattern as inspiration, but the body of the bag is definitely... uh random. It's done up in Caron Simply Soft and was a very fast, easy gift that is actually useful :) I highly recommend this project. I believe that Bridgid's Boy Brian is the model.

The first picture is a close up of the mesh or net stitch (chain 5, 1 single crochet). The second is the full bag shot. The third pic is of the strap which can either be slung over the shoulder or worn Rambo-style (Namaste, biiiiatch).

Grandma Gallagher's Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope everyone is sipping some guiness and wearing green :) I made 4 loaves of Grandma Gallagher's Irish Soda Bread last night. Soda bread is unique because it is made with out yeast, but still rises. This is because of the mixture of buttermilk and baking soda. You might notice a cross in the top of the loaves. One of your Irish friends might tell you that this is to “let the devil out”, but really it’s so that when the bread rises quickly, it doesn’t completely crumble. It's a very dense bread that tastes like a scone and is great with butter, honey, maple butter, or apple butter.
I'm going to make a few more loaves tonight for a party that I'm going to - and maybe some Bailey's Fudge, too! For kickball this week, I made fudge brownies with Bailey's Frosting. It was a huge hit, but because of the resulting food comas, our team was massacred. Ah, well :)

Here is the recipe for Grandma Gallagher's Soda Bread:
4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups Raisins
4 Tablespoons Butter -softened (I use Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter)
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1 egg


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Soak the raisins to make them plump. I put them into a bowl with water and microwave them for 1 minute. Then I drain them and set them aside.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt) until well blended.
  • Cut the butter into the mixed dry ingredients. I use my hands. Press the butter into the mixture and continue to mix until the ingredients resemble cornmeal - ie, are crumbly.
  • Mix in the (now plump) raisins.
  • Lightly beat an egg in a small bowl with a fork.
  • Pour 1 1/4 cup of Buttermilk (save 1/4 cup for later) into the bowl with the egg. Stir together with the fork.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  • Slowly Pour the Buttermilk and Egg blend into the well in the dry ingredients.
  • Fold the dry mixture over the buttermilk blend with a wooden spoon. Softly stir until the dry ingredients soak up the buttermilk blend.
  • Flour your hands.
  • Take the very moist and sticky dough and softly knead the dough for just a minute or so. You want the dough to be moist, not stretchy (over kneaded) or dry. Dry dough = very bad. If your dough is really dry/cracked, it won't bake correctly... so add in more buttermilk in Teaspoons at a time until it has the right consistency.
  • Divide the dough into 2 balls.
  • Grease a baking sheet or two pie pans (either work fine).
  • Place each ball on the sheet.
  • Cut a cross in the top of each ball. The dough will not bake correctly without the cross.
  • Pour the remaining Buttermilk Blend (1/4 cup) over each loaf. Pour into the cross and then use your hands to coat the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 30 mins.
  • Bread is ready when you insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf and it comes out clean. If the center of the bread is not finished after 30 mins of baking and the outside is baked, put the oven on warm and let the bread sit for 5 more minutes.

VARIATION: My friend Erin coats hers with melted butter and then a heavy sprinkling of Cinnamon Sugar. Yummilicious!

It's not exactly the same as my Grandma's, but it's pretty dern close - which is awesome because she never wrote hers down and never measured anything! My mom came up with the above, I think, and I think it works very well. I think I want to play around with the recipe a little and see if I can get a larger, creamier, flatter loaf.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sean's Hat - and More Cutey-Q - and my first Hat

Here's another picture of Q- this time with his Dad!

The hat that Sean is wearing is one that BRIDGID crocheted! Whoops, I orginally posted that it was the beanie that I made him - but I guess that Bridgid made him one, too. hehehehe...

I'm having a little bit of trouble editing these photos (look how pixelated-- tres 1980's Superman, huh?) Anyway, they are still really cute! So there :P


Update: The hats below are the same style/pattern, but in those pics you can see it and the detail. The first one (one left) I made over a year ago for my friend Jeff. It's done in all single crochet and I believe I used Simply Soft and Woolease. All hats were made from the top down with increases to the crown (until it looks like a pancake), and then just around and around until the yarmulke turned into a beanie. The hat on the right was posted earlier. This hat was for my brother-in-law Matt for Christmas. Again, the wrist cuff in the pic were made my awesome sister Bridgid.
Hooray for Beanies!!!


Ok - not crochet related, but tell me... is this not the cutest toddler that you've ever seen!?!? That's my nephew- the son of my brother Sean and my sister-in-law Sue. Sooo sweet!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Pooh Bear and Wrist Warmers by my Crafty Sisters!

Pooh and Piglet by Betsy!
Here are some super-huggable creations by my sister Betsy! Aren't they soo cuddly? I love them. And they are giant - they must have taken a lot of patience (looks like giant amigurumi - amigurumi are japanese-style crochet, typically tiny animals done entirely in single crochet).
Bravo, Betsy!
Sooo sweet, I think I'm getting a cavity! :)
To further express the talents of my crafty sisters, here are some wristwarmers by my sister Bridgid. She made all of the women in my family a pair - which in typical families is a task, but in our family - with our family it is nothing short of a feat! That's 6 pairs of wrist warmers. Wowza- she's a machine :) I wore mine to Kickball and everyone wanted a pair! To the right is Betsy elegantly modeling a pair whilst Bridgid checks out the Muench Touch Me Yarn That I gave her. Bridgid's face is unfortunately cropped out. The wristwarmers are done in Alpaca Wool. Super-warm and so beautiful! Here's a picture of my Mom showing off hers. She is wearing a pink shawl that I made her for her birthday last February. The shawl was done in TLC Amore from my own design.
My update is that this weekend, I felted her bag that I making for a belated birthday gift for her. It's really beautiful. I just need to stitch on the handles. I also designed a new handbag yesterday! It's really sweet looking and I can't wait to post the pictures. I'm tempted to submit the pattern to either Crochet Me or the Crochet Pattern-a-Day Calendar. Yippee! I started to teach Liz, from my kickball team, how to crochet during the Oscars. Rachel showed me some beautiful scarves she is working on. She is normally a knitter but is working her way through some great lace crochet patterns. On Saturday, Kate and Amy came over and knitted while we watched Flight Plan and ate from La Bottega, my favorite restaurant which just happens to be 2 doors down from my apt (Dangerous, I know).

Yoga Mat Bags and Crafty Matt Gifts

Yoga Mat Bags...

These are more belated postings of projects from Christmas Past! I'll have some more as I go along, I'm sure.
The first is a yoga mat bag that I made for my sister Sheila. I had previously made one for my friend Stacie (far left), but it was my 3rd project and I misinterpreted the pattern. It worked out well (I did long dc's insead of short), but when I made the bag for my sister Sheila, I actually *gasp* did the project correctly! Anyway, Sheila lives in Scotland and needs a bag that can get wet! This is not waterproof, but definitely washable. The picture to the left is a close up of of Stacie's bag so that you can see the detail on the long dc stitch.

Crafty Matt!
One of my brothers-in-law, Matt, was gifted with a few crafty accessories this Christmas. I made him the hat in black and gray - all sc - which you can't really see. But- far more interesting: my sister Bridgid made him the fabulous skull wristband from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation by Debbie Stoller. The skull is beaded! She's super-talented, isn't she!!?!
Here's Matt and his bad ass crafty booty from Christmas. He made some beautiful jewelry this year as gifts and I'm hoping to post that up here as well.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Betsy's Purse - Christmas

Here is a picture of the purse that I gave to one of my Seattlite sisters for Christmas. Look how happy she is (actually, I think part of her is wondering if my Dad really needs to take her picture on Christmas morning)... I'm not sure if you can see the cables on the purse from this angle, so I will repost with pictures from a different angle. The inspiration for the purse came from these designer purses. I found a pattern on Crochetville, but mixed it up to get a shorter, wider bag. I bought rattan handles from Joann's and painted them a warmer, darker brown. I used Red Heart Yarn in Heather Gray and added a satin ribbon. I made another purse in a skein of Aran for my sister-in-law, Sue. I love the cables because they are simple but add a lot to the purse. The cable work inspired me to work on this Lion's Brand vest for my dad, which I haven't finished yet. The vest pattern is frustrating because it is waaaay too short for most men. I'm hoping that it will work out when I finally block it out. I ended up not making it in wool because I figured that he might want to be able to easily wash it. I'm also adding extra pockets because my dad always needs extra pockets! I'm planning on finishing the vest as I work on the Spiderweb Skirt pattern for Betsy's Birthday... which might end up being next year's Christmas present depending on how it goes :)