Be Nice! Progress and Frustrations

This concludes my third week of knitting 5 hours per week for charity.  I’m currently knitting for projects listed on the Tropical Yarns site.  I’ve had a touch of knitting ADD this week, so I’m working on multiple projects at the moment…a super-soft baby hat and a cuddly scarf for a big kid.  I also finished a baby hat in crazy-bright pink.

In addition to making some great progress in knitting, I’ve also experienced some big frustrations with this project.  I’ll explain the situation….then I’d love to hear what you would do in the same situation.  I’ve created a hat and socks for soldiers for one of the organizations listed in Knitting for Peace.  Instead of listing a mailing address on the site, the organization asks that knitters contact them for the mailing address.  I’ve tried to contact them multiple times now, and haven’t heard a word back from them!  The web site indicates that I should start a yahoo account in order to follow their group, but I would really rather not add an account that I don’t want or need.  I’ve emailed two different addresses that I found on the site and haven’t heard back.  I’m thinking they must not actually be very interested in receiving items, and I should probably send these items to a group that’s a little more together.  Thoughts?  Ideas? 

In the next week, I should be finishing up the second baby hat and the scarf and moving on to Afghans for Afghans. 😀

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Be Nice! The First Five Hours

So, last week I decided to commit five hours per week to knitting for charity.  I am going to work my way through the book, Knitting for Peace, one charity organization at a time.  The first organization I am knitting for is The Ships Project….I’ve decided to make a hat and slipper socks (using patterns suggested on the project’s website) for a soldier/sailor with a chilly brain case and frosty foot digits. 

Odd that five hours sounds like long enough to get quite a lot of knitting done, but short enough to be easy-peesey to fit into the schedule.  Wrong on both counts!  I was able to finish the hat, but only got this far into slipper sock number one:

Never fear….I’ll make two. 😉

Not only did I not get as much accomplished as hoped, I also had a surprisingly difficult time fitting in five hours for knitting….mostly due to procrastination and epic goofing off.  My goal for now to next Wednesday?  Of course, another five hours of knitting….more specifically, I’d like to finish this pair of slipper socks and begin working on another pair of socks for a different organization.  Check back next week to see how I do. 😉

Not a color I would normally choose, but The Ships Project's site said to go for bright.

Be Nice! (With Yarn and Coffee)

I’m on a new quest to devote more time and energy toward charity, volunteer work, random acts of kindness….that sort of thing.  This week I ka-powed someone with kindness at Dunkin’ Donuts by paying for the person behind me in the drive through line.

Kindness….one caffeinated beverage at a time.

But I’ve been thinking I’d like to commit to a more long-term type project….something that’s suited to my abilities and high level of slack.  I think I’ve come up with the answer!  A few years ago, I picked up this book:

 

So, this is the plan.  I am going to commit to knitting 5 hours each week and work my way through the suggested projects for the various charities and organizations in this book.  And what is the first project I’ve come to in the book?  The Ships Project (www.theshipsproject.com) …. they provide hand-knit items for sailors and soldiers.  So, my first goal in this endeavor is to spend at least 5 hours a week knitting a hat and a pair of socks for a military person with a frozen noggin and chilly toes.  Seems like a splendid way to start, no?  Actually, the first several projects are for the military.  It makes me happy to help in my goofy, little way.  Never fear, I’ll post pictures of finished projects and works in progress. 😀

In Pursuit of Craftiness – Makin’ Pickles

Now that I have successfully made cherry jam and apple butter, I feel that I am ready to try my hand at dealing with some veggies.  I mean, if you don’t take into account the strawberry jam mishap (and we’re not going to), this is all going fantastically well!  I’m not particularly interested in buying a pressure cooker at this stage of my craftiness…I’m going to have to see if this continues to entertain me for a while before I invest that kind of money.  So, the clear answer is pickling!  My plan for tomorrow involves pickling my brains out. 😉  Check out these lovely victims:

Just waiting to be doused with brine and thrown in a vat of boiling water. *insert maniacal laughter here*

Yep, pickled okra, pickled garlic, and pickled, well, pickles (yes, I know they’re cucumbers) will begin happening right in my kitchen.  I’m so ridiculously excited!  It’s like waiting for Christmas, except I’m going to have to clean up a huge mess when it’s all over.  Wait, I guess that means it’s exactly like Christmas. 😉  I look forward to sharing the results….in picture form, of course….I won’t be mailing out jars of preserved goods to random strangers or anything. 

 
In other crafty news, I’ve started adding some of my knitting patterns to my Etsy shop.  Here is one of my most tried and true favorites that seems quite popular in other venues (Ravelry, mostly):
It’s a Scoodie! Half hood, half scarf…like a centaur-type-thing, but easier to wear.

I’m working on a new knitting pattern to add to the shop….I’ll be posting pictures of progress soon.

 
 

 

I Am A Domestic Genius! (I Made Apple Butter!)

Yep, I have actually created (from apples, mind you) apple butter!  Oh, the chopping, cooking, and canning that happened here yesterday.  It was amazing and fabulous.  Most amazing points of all???  It actually tastes delicious and wasn’t terribly difficult to do.  It’s such thrilling thing (in a goofy sort of way, I realize) to hear the lids on your jars go pop, pop, pop. 😀 

I’ll share the recipe for the apple butter right below the picture, but be warned…..this process took about 14 hours from start to finish.  (Not 14 hours of non-stop attention or anything, but it was a lengthy process.)  Apple butter doesn’t have to be “canned”….it can be stored in containers in the freezer, so don’t be thrown off by the canning bit.  If you go the freezer route, I would avoid glass jars….exploded apple butter goo sprayed throughout your freezer is probably not what you want to find next time you go for an ice cream sandwich.  I do not provide instructions for canning…..for that, check the internet, check out a book, or check with your grandma….there are tons of resources out there!

The end result? Eight little jars of yumminess.

What You Need:

  • 5 to 6 pounds of apples (I used 10 good-sized apples)
  • 4 cups of sugar (honestly, 3 cups would have probably done the trick….if you prefer things a bit less sweet, go with less than 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (this is enough to make the whole house smell like red hots according to my husband)
  • 2 teaspoons of allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a crock pot
  • various and assorted chopping equipment (peeler, knives, cutting board….those sorts of things)
  • a large bowl
  • a potato masher
  • a big spoon

What To Do:

  1. Peel your apples and chop them to bits.  (Pieces should be quite small, but not crushed to gooey mush.)  Put apples in a large bowl while you get the crock pot ready for them.
  2. Don’t turn on the crock pot yet!
  3. Put sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in crock pot.  Stir until it looks like a lovely (and uniform) type of dirt.
  4. Add apples to crock pot and stir everything up.  (Gently or you’ll end up with sugary apples all about the place.)
  5. When everything’s nice and mixed up, turn the crock pot on high.
  6. Cook apples on high (covered!) for 1 hour.
  7. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 10 hours.  (Stir the apples every once in a while.  This is a great opportunity to “sample” your apple butter.  You know, to make sure it tastes okay.)
  8. Remove lid.  Cook for 1 more hour.
  9. Use a potato masher to gently mash up apples.  This will make the consistency and texture more pleasant.
  10. If you’re going the freezer route, put apple butter in appropriate containers.  If you’re going the canning route, follow all of your canning instructions and put in appropriate containers.

In Pursuit of Craftiness – Apple Butter

Despite my lack of cooking prowess, I have always enjoyed the craftier pursuits in life…the thrill and charm of doing things the old-fashioned way.  Generally this comes through in the way of knitting, crocheting, jewelry-making, and paper-crafting.  Now, I’ve decided to add some old-school cooking skills to the mix.  Yes, in the same way that I spend hours and hours knitting a sweater that I could pick up for 20 bucks at Target, I’m going to spend hours and hours canning, preserving, and baking things that I could pick up at the grocery store.  It just sounds like so much fun. 😀  My first project?  Apple butter.  Wish me luck…I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

The supplies are in my possession!