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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blocking a knitted sweater

It has been my "get through the winter blues" project this year to make a sweater. Well winter is nearly over and the sweater is almost complete and it certainly did get me through the yucky, chilly months!

The final step before sewing all pieces together is called "blocking." Blocking is essential when you have pieces that need to be a specific size or shape. There are a few different ways to do this that can involve steaming, soaking in water, or spraying with water until damp. I am by no means an expert at blocking. To be honest, it always seemed like a big pain and I would choose my knitting projects accordingly to things that did not have to be blocked! However, a sweater certainly does need the shaping.

This is the front panel, completely dry and before blocking. You can see how the edges are slightly curling and the bottom makes a concave arc instead of a straight line.

I start by flipping the piece upside down and spraying with luke warm water until damp. Then blot gently on a clean, dry towel and flip the piece so that it is right side up.

Now spray on the front piece until just damp... you can see Pierre supervising the operation.

Then blot again just to get any excess water off, but the piece should not be soaking wet, just damp.

After blotting, move the piece to a new, completely clean and dry towel. I always try to use a color somewhat similar to the garment to avoid any staining or running of colors. The goal here is to use t-pins to pin the garment into the desired size and shape.

For example, here I am measuring across the bust and it should be about 18.5 - 19 inches for my size. I had to gently pull on the sides evenly to make sure this was accurate.

I found it easiest to get your bust measurement completed first and then start adjusting for length. Generally, my pieces needed more manipulating in the length and having the sides pinned down made it easier.

Your knitting pattern should have suggested measurements for the garment. Additionally, I always take measurements of a garment that I already own and love the fit. That way, you can assure yourself a sweater that fits the way you like it. I prefer shorter shirts and sweaters so adjusted the pattern accordingly.

And that's that! Here you can see the front panel as well as the two sleeves. You will want these COMPLETELY dry before you un-pin. I generally let them sit overnight.

I have already sewn the back and front panels as well as one sleeve. I can't wait to wear this - I really did enjoy every minute of knitting this pattern!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Garden Expo

A few weeks ago, my fiance and I went up to Cleveland to visit his parents and they took us to the Home and Garden Expo. I don't normally go to events like this but it was so much fun that I am going to be keeping my eye out for other expo's to come!

The "home" part of the expo was really neat but the "garden" part was by far my favorite. There were about 20 different walk-through gardens based on differeny movie themes - what a wonderful idea!! Although I was impressed by all of them, I only took pictures of my two favorites:

The Edward Scissorhands garden was by far the best, it really made me feel transported into another world.

The gardeners (of course) made lots of animal shrubs just like in the movie.

The best part was near the end where there was a little room with all sorts of nick-knacks from the movie. I was looking so long I started to hold up the line behind me!

And my other favorite was the garden based off of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. I realize that not only are my 2 pictured gardens based on movie's starring Johnny Depp, but they are also Tim Burton. I think that has to do with the fact that his movies are so whimsical and when reproduced into real-life, they can really look like a fantasy come true.

Looking down the garden. This was absolutely gorgeous but I just couldn't get a great picture.

Doesn't this make you want to sit down to a cup of tea in a magical garden?

Brent and I took a spin on the indoor ferris wheel after our gardening adventure.

Here is the view of all the kiosks and stands.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dita's Spiced Mice Cookies

I got this recipe from the lovely Dita Von Teese in her interview with InStyle and couldn't wait to try it out!

First mix up the flour and spices (cardamom, allspice, and cinnamon)

For sugar, Dita uses 1/2 cup granulated plus 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Mix it all up with the wet ingredients (butter, egg, vanilla)

Roll into little "mice" on the cookie sheet.

Decorate with ears (almonds), eyes (dried currants), and a tail (dried chow mein noodles)

Aren't they adorable?

Here is my army of little spiced mice cookies... yumm!

Enjoy with coffee, tea, or milk. Not only are they cute but they taste so scrumptious, I will definitely be making these fellows again :)
What sorts of treats are you baking up right now?