Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fabric Balloon balls

For the past month or so, I've wanted to try sewing a fabric balloon ball but for one reason or another haven't had a chance until this week.

I found three patterns on google and attempted to sew each one of them.

This is the first one I found. Mad Quilter Balloon ball. Even though I had the hardest time getting the points to line up, I liked the pattern. Sort of. I didn't like how the opening for the balloon was starting to fray after just a few uses. I also didn't like how bunched up it looked.

So, I got on google and looked some more and found this pattern. Stuff by Steph balloon ball. I liked the way this one looked much better, but I had never made a buttonhole before with my machine. Well, maybe one other time but it didn't turn out very good. But I was determined, so I practiced and figured it out. It wasn't that bad! I was kind of shocked at how easy it was. My last machine did everything for me, I just had to press the foot, but this one, I have to turn the dial from "a" to "d". Still, it wasn't that bad. But... I could not figure out how to attach the ends. The instructions were nice, but left me feeling so confused.  Plus, when I sewed the panels together, I started at the top and backstitched a little on each end to only find out I wasn't supposed to start sewing until about an inch past the top. So, most of the afternoon I spent ripping out my panels. Then, I couldn't seem to sew all the panels in the exact spot. Maybe next time I will mark them.

But I really liked the buttonhole way better. So, I kept practicing. No matter what I did, I could not get it to lay flat and smooth like hers. Mine just kept all bunched up.

It may not look that bunched in the photo, but you can't see the other side. Ha! ha!

So, I was determined to keep looking on google for yet another balloon ball tutorial. That's when I came across this one. Emma Jones Cloth Balloon Ball Pattern.

(my camera batteries are dead and I thought I took a picture of the last balloon ball and now I don't see it anywhere, so I will add them later.)

Just thought of this now, but I'm not sure when I printed all three patterns if they even printed the right size, since my printer asked me if I wanted the pattern to fit the page, but I figured it was close enough. Maybe that's why mine bunched so much though... It would have been nice if there had been a one inch square to go on the pattern to see if it was the right size.

Anyways, I liked this pattern best I think because it was the easiest to attach the end pieces to. It turned out way larger than I thought it would be, but it fit my balloon just right. The only thing I did not like was the flap.  In fact, I ended up having to rip out some stitches because I could not get the balloon ball to turn inside out from just the tiny slit I had. But last night I thought of an alternative. While I like the flat, I really like the button hole. So, tomorrow I'm going to try making a combination ball using the buttonhole and this third pattern. If it works, I'll show you what I did.

And I have to wonder am I the only idiot that didn't know how to sew these together? I was thinking of doing a tutorial on the tutorials for people like me that need more instructions than just, "sew it all together" lol

Enough dough to spare

Wednesday I made a batch of 100% whole wheat bread dough using one of my favorite recipes.

Slightly sweet but simple whole wheat bread tastes great and easy to make especially if you have a bread machine which I recommend. If you try to knead this out by hand, you'll have to use more flour than is called for in the recipe just to make it easy to handle and by that point, your bread will turn out like a lump of hard brick when done.

I halved the recipe and put it in my Oster Breadmachine which I absolutely love! I seriously thought about saving up the $279 to buy the "Zo" machine but then they had this one on clearance at our Walmart for $50 and I just wanted to make bread! I have been so pleased with the Oster machine. I have used it almost daily for over 2 years now and it's still going strong. Just recently, I did contact the company and asked about getting a pan replacement and they sent me one free of charge! It was a little different looking and at first I thought they sent the wrong size, but it fit and so far so good!

I am impressed with this machine because when you read about the "Zo", it talks about how it handles 100% whole wheat bread dough better than the cheaper models. I've never had any problem with this machine. In the past, other brands I've had, sounded a little strained when mixing the whole wheat dough, but not this one.

One of my favorite things about this machine is the "bake" feature. I know I've talked about it way too many times, but it's so darn handy! Since we don't have a working oven, I do all my baking with this machine. I've baked banana bread, pumpkin bread, apple cake, "muffins", cornbread, brownies, green bean casserole, meatloaf and more in this machine. I wasn't sure how it would bake because the manual doesn't say how hot it gets, but I just test with a toothpick to know when it's done. Sometimes I have to reset the button but most of the time it's done in under 30 minutes.

I've made the Expressbake bread many times too.

But back to my story, on Wednesday I made a half batch of the Simple sweet bread and used just the dough cycle. Since it's just the two of us, I just wanted to make about 6 rolls and so I pinched off the right amount. Rolled it into balls and set it aside to rise for about 30 minutes. Then, I took the remainder dough and put it in an oiled bowl and covered it with a lid and put it in the refrigerator. I wasn't sure if my experiment would even work but I had to know.

The next day I rolled up 6 more rolls and set them to rise in the pan for an hour this time. They were still cold from being in the refrigerator overnight. Then, I baked them for 30 minutes as I had done the day before. They turned out awesome! You couldn't tell the dough was a day old. I wasn't sure if there would be any rising power left in the yeast, but the rolls came out just as light and fluffy as before.

One thing I love about that recipe is that the rolls aren't hard as rocks when you eat them as leftovers. Not that we usually have any leftovers, but they are soft the next day.

Rolls rising. (as you can see I remove the bread kneader since it's not needed in there.)

Piping hot out of the "oven".

I can't wait to get a working oven, as I will be doing so much more baking then!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sewing fabric balloon balls

I've been trying for the past several days to sew a fabric balloon ball. I'm not happy with how they are looking yet, but I'm far from giving up! lol

these are two different style ones. I like the buttonhole look of the first one but I'm having a hard time sewing the octagon to the ends. There is some trick to it I'm sure I just haven't figured it out yet! lol

I found yet another pattern today and plan on trying it tomorrow.

will post up more pictures later.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Green Prayer shawl

This is the prayer shawl I finished over the summer. The design is just a k3, p3 repeat.

I casted on 63 and knit until it measured 60 inches long. I like this fast easy pattern. It's the "standard" one the ladies all knit at prayer shawl group. I like it because I don't have to concentrate much. I used size 11 needles. Most of the ladies use either a size 11 (CO57) or 13 (CO63).  I like casting on 63 so I don't have to worry about knitting the purls and purling the knits. This way, I just start with a k3 and end with a K3.

This is red heart worsted weight yarn.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TGV again

After my last mess up on the shawl, I had put it away for awhile, but took it out and have been a lot of progress with it lately. I'm almost back to the point from when I started before I had to rip it out.

I'm kind of glad I started over because I was convinced I used the wrong needle size and should have gone up one. When I realized I had to start over, I tried using a size 7, but did not like the way it looked or felt after all, so now that I'm back using the same as I started, I'm much happier with it.

Plus, since I was trying a new pattern, I found my tension was uneven, but now it's smooth and great! I'll try to remember to take a picture of what I've got done so far this afternoon, but no guarantees, I'll remember! :P

I've been re-thinking making socks again after talking to a friend about sock knitting the other day at knitting club. I was able to finally make it to one of their meetings and I had forgotten how much I enjoy the company of other knitters. I hope to make it to more meetings this fall.

It's always fun to see what the other ladies are working on and to visit with them and catch up on their daily lives.

One thing I'm super excited about  is taking some knitting classes at the lys this fall. (If the classes are when I can go into town.)

I found a cool knitting shawl pattern last night looking for another pattern on ravelry. Well, I actually found two patterns that I really liked, but one will have to wait until I get some money.

The La La Shawl is free and so pretty! It uses bulky yarn or worsted weight and I plan to start on it next week when I re-join the prayer shawl group. I stopped going this summer when we weren't going into town every day.

The First timer's shawl I really like because it reminds me of a granny square shawl. I crocheted up a triangular shawl earlier this year (forgot to take a picture of course!) and I really liked it but I do enjoy knitting them more. So, I hope to make this one sometime this fall.

I'm going to be saving up all my money though for knitting classes and some at the quilt store that I want to take as well. (sewing things for the house). One of my friends teaches a class there that I really want to take.

Until next time!

p.s. If you can't view the patterns on ravelry, be sure to sign up for a free membership. It's the greatest place in the world! So many of my knitting friends haven't discovered it yet, but if they'd just give it a chance, I know they would love it! They always talk about having to go to several websites to find the patterns they want, but don't they know they're already right in one place, R-A-V-E-L-R-Y!!!

Here is the TGV shawl in progress:

It was hard to show the whole thing since I didn't have any way to stretch it out, but this shows the colors anyhow.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blue tote bag

I finished sewing a new bag today with some fabric that a friend gave me. I just love the floral material. The blue is a denim sort of material and I like it very much too. The blue started out as a skirt but I messed up on it so badly that I just cut it into a bag instead. :-)

I did not use a pattern really and just made it up as I went along. I knew enough of bag construction to get started. The quilted patch is a pocket. I really wanted to incorporate some sort of quilted thing for the front and almost used it as a pillow for my chair but then decided to make a pocket instead. There are things I would do differently next time but it was fun to make anyhow.

I had a lot of trouble at first with the lining which is of the floral material but finally got it figured out. It's roomy enough to store some yarn or whatever I put in it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to make mint tea

For the past few weeks, we've been enjoying mint tea. I made some when we lived in Texas and have since forgotten the original recipe I used, so I had to start experimenting again.

This is what I do to make a 2 quart batch. I take 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn off from heat and add one family size tea bag of Luzianne tea and one tea bag of Plantation mint. Let steep for about 20 minutes. Sometimes I forget and let it steep an hour. That's okay.

Then, take the tea bags out and pour the mixture into your pitcher. Fill the rest of the way up with water and refrigerate overnight.

If you want a gallon of tea, then just use 2 tea bags of Luzianne tea and 2 tea bags of Plantation mint.

It has just the right amount of mint in it for us and we both think it helps keep us cooler in the summer!

We once tried to substitute the "Mint Medley" by Bigelow but did not like it at all!

**Update** I think I got the two mixed up when I wrote this post. Tonight I used "Mint Medley" and found the taste quite agreeable. I think the Plantation Mint is actually too strong for us. Either way, try one or both!

Someday when my yard looks the way I want it to, I will grow some spearmint and make real mint tea, but for now, this is pretty good!

Cell phone zippered pouches

Last week a friend asked me to sew her a cell phone holder that she wanted to give to a friend. So I took out my supplies and started to d...