Saturday, June 28, 2008


There is actual knitting being done--I promise. But I'm not going to talk about knitting today, I'm going to talk about jam.
I've only been making jam for two summers. And I was afraid at first to tell my mom I was making jam because when I started knitting she said to me, next thing I know you'll be making jam! As if I was some suzy homemaker instead of just stressed and twitchy with an unhealthy love of strawberries. So last summer, I had a bunch of really good berries and a taste for my husband's aunt's freezer jam. So I called her and asked for her recipe (since she was no longer growing strawberries and probably no longer making the jam). She laughed and said--I just follow the recipe on the certo box. Go buy yourself some certo. She insisted I get the liquid.
certo box

I've only had two batches of jam NOT set. One batch was a batch of peach last year in which I used Ball brand pectin and one batch of strawberry this year in which I used a different measuring cup for the berries (it was larger and I think less accurate). The certo is good stuff. I highly recommend the certo!

I thought that I'd actually photodocument the process so that I'd make sure I was following the directions after that first unset batch. So--here is how I make freezer strawberry jam.
First--Start with some good berries, I recommend your local farmer's market or U-Pick place. The recipe says you'll need a pint, but it varies for me--somewhere between a quart and a quart and a half. Usually I buy the flat and we eat and jam and we all are happy.
whole berries

Then you wash and cut the berries up--discard the stems of course. This is my smaller measuring cup.

Then you get to mash or Blend the berries. You want chunks, but you also want juice. I usually use my potato masher. This year I also tried the hand blender too. I wouldn't do it solely with the hand blender I don't think, but after a cup of berries, my arms were tired of mashing. The pre-mash picture though is my favorite--looks very arty.

At any rate you need to get 2 cups of mashed up juicy berries. I usually do one cup at a time, and pour them into a large bowl. Then you add the sugar. Four cups of sugar. And don't skimp. Like the directions say--you want less sugar use the low sugar formulas--you want no sugar--don't make jam. I add them one cup at a time, and stir it in well. At this point you are supposed to set it aside for 10 minutes. I usually gather up containers and keep the kids out of it. Trust me, this tastes so good at this point--like strawberry syrup.

Then I mix up the certo and two tablespoons of lemon juice. The directions say to use a real lemon. I use juice from a bottle. This then gets poured into the strawberry sugar mix.

Then you stir this for three minutes. My girls help. Sometimes it starts to feel like it is setting before the three minutes are up. usually this step makes me so hungry.

Then you spoon it into containers, cover them and let them sit for 24 hours (or until they are set and you need counter space). I use both 1 cup containers and 1/2 cup containers (that I used to use for baby food when my husband made all the baby food). I call this the "tower of power"

tower of power

I've found that if it is going to set, it will within a few hours. And I've found that if you follow the instructions, it will set. My only problem using certo was I believe caused by too much strawberry in the strawberry sugar ratio. My biggest clue for that--it took almost 3 quarts of berries.
Anyway, you can freeze this for a year--I usually thaw in the fridge. Use the thawed within three weeks. I've made three batches of strawberry this year that have set. I think I'm done until peach season.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yoga socks

I finished the yoga socks. And even got brave and posted a picture on flickr.
yoga Socks

I do think that the key to avoiding the ickies is in your tags. (or as the librarian in me says--subject headings are the access points!)

Anyhow, I promised I would explain yoga socks, although I must say--I've been doing yoga for four years and I've never found the need for socks. The idea is, that in yoga, you need to have bare feet in order to balance properly and stick to your mat so that your feet don't slip out from under you while you are in say down dog pose. My hands actually get slicker than my feet, but that's neither here nor there.
Ok, so you don't want your feet to slip, but perhaps your feet get chilly, or sweaty. enter the yoga sock--which is essentially a sock--one that would absorb sweat--because it is wool (yay wool) and yet would let your toes and heels have contact with the mat (or floor) giving you an extra sense of balance.
Yoga Sock

I'll confess that I didn't come up with the idea--and actually if you google yoga socks, you'll find links to socks with non slip grippies on them, similar to kids slippers. The idea being that you might not want to prance around your dirty yoga studio barefoot. I saw in namaste knitters ( Ravelry group I belong to) someone mention that they had made a pair from a pattern and I thought they were cool. I also thought I could make up my own pattern.
And I did. They don't of course look exactly like the pattern, but that's ok, if I wanted them to look exactly like that, I would have purchased the pattern. Instead I took my one ball of Knit Picks felici and worked up a toeless and heel-less sock. Seeing how much yarn I had leftover, I figure I might have been able to make two short socks out of the one ball, but live and learn, I'm sure they'll make nice baby socks or something.
I'll have to wait until my next yoga class--and who know when that will be because I'm having trouble remembering to leave myself space for the class I like to take (my studio is all drop-in)--to find out if they work.

I also managed to finish the first Monkey Sock and take a very bad picture of it.
Monkey Socks

I did not cast-on for the second monkey sock and went a record 24 hours with absolutely NOTHING on the needles. That's twice in one month that I've been without something on the needles, the world may be coming to an end.
But please don't worry--I've rectified the matter... details later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

sick of socks

Last week we all went on vacation. Eight days of driving, visiting my parents, going to the zoo and Magic House. I packed way too many clothes for my girls, way too few for me and only one knitting project. Clearly I am insane.

I am also tired of knitting socks.

I decided not to take my yoga socks because I only have a few hours left on the last one. No instead, I decided I'd take the Monkey Socks I'm making for my mom. I had cast on and done about 3/4 inch of ribbing before we left. I packed the instructions, a counter, needles, tapestry needles, instructions for kitchner (I need the instructions every time!), a too big crochet hook, scissors, and a row marker. I also packed the second ball of yarn in what I can only say now was a big burst of optimism.

The good thing about only bringing the one project is that I only worked on the one project, the bad thing is... well I only worked on the one project. By the time we rolled into the driveway I was almost through with sock number one, had lost my row counter, had borrowed a crochet hook from my mom, and was thoroughly sick of the pattern, the sock and the yarn. I think my row counter fell out of the car on one of the many pit stops we made. I haven't picked up the sock since we've been home--although I only have about 4 rows before starting the toe decreases.
monkey sock

Instead I've been trying to finish the yoga sock--Only about an other hour, I'd estimate. And I promise I'll post a picture. I'll also try to explain the concept. And after I finish that? Well I might do the rest of the monkey sock or I might just start something else.

Friday, June 06, 2008


When I last wrote I had nothing on the needles. I know nothing! Although I posted that and immediately cast on for the second yoga sock. And then cast on to swatch for a shrug. And then last night I cast on Monkey socks for my mom.
I haven’t put anything into ravelry yet though.

I’ve been thinking that this really has been a year for knitting things for other people. Aside from the yoga socks and a sweater, everything I’ve knit since DECEMBER has been for someone else. And I have only one item on the to do list left… the Monkey socks. I’m not sure if they count as a project to have that you can whip out anywhere just yet, we’ll see when I get to the actual lace pattern. But I did learn on something when I went to cast on for them… I need some new double points. My size 2 DPNs are 7 inches, which makes for awkward sock knitting. I have one set of 1.5s that are too dull for lacey sock knitting, they drive me batty on regular knitting (they are Brittanys I believe). And one set of 1s that are 6 inches long. I need some short dpns. I have some size zeros I have never opened. Clover brand seems to be working the best for me… although if someone gifts me with some rosewood needles, I wouldn’t urn those down.

The shrug is for me though and it uses some of my mother’s day yarn. I’ve given up on the thought of using both of them in one project, and I broke down and bought a few extra skeins. I’m going to use the purple for a lacey scarf thing later. And I’m going to use the green to do the lace edging on the lacey shrug from Knit 2 together. I’m using some cream colored yarn from my stash for the main body of the shrug. I’ll have to put in an link for the book and get the real name for the pattern later.

Casting on

Monday, June 02, 2008


I finished three things this weekend! Go me.
First and foremost I finished the stuffed animals and both are already very well loved. I debated for a few minutes not showing how the panda tuned out because I'm not happy with the head and didn't want you all to think less of me, but my daughter loves it and that's all that matters.
Panda and pig

The pig was the third one I'd made, but the only one made with Baby softee. I will NEVER EVER EVER use Baby softee again. I hated the yarn. I still have half the skein left, but I may give it away. I found it splitty and hard to knit with. I dropped I don't know how many stitches and had a really hard time picking them back up (and I seem to have lost my sock crochet hook which would probably have helped). I even managed to have two stitches drop or something when I was sewing it up! The pig is soft though.
Pig #3
Pig from Knitted toys by Fiona McTague. Yarn: Baby Softee (pink) and Scraps of black (probably Caron simply soft)
Needles: Size US three.

The poor panda. It was insisted to me that the panda have light purple ears, which probably adds to its over all lumpiness. Also, I probably could have put more stuffing in. perhaps she's so silly looking she's cute?
Or not.
Anyway, the specs:
Pattern: Panda from Knitted toys by Fiona Mctague
Yarn; one skein each of some sort of Acrylic white and black. I lost th elabels--so probably less than one skein since I didn't double strand as the pattern calls for
needles: US size 7

I also finished the first yoga sock! I have no picture of that for many reasons. First, I finished it right before bed. Second, my husband was teasing me about my sexy feet. finally, I seem to have a few people looking at my flickr photostream that have, let's say feet issues. Someone favorited a picture of a pair of my oldest running shoes. Until I figure out if this is a foot fetish thing (and block the gageebers out of them all) or a running shoe thing (again, possibly block them). I'm not putting up a picture of my half naked foot.

Now I have actually NOTHING on the needles. I failed to get the second yoga sock cast on--due to the lateness of the hour. I need to get going on that though before I decide I'd rather start new socks and swatch for my lovely shrug. Well, I may just cast on all three (well the swatch for the shrug).