3

A Hat for the Dino Lover in Your Life

hatThere are so many crochet projects I want to get done for Christmas, I am starting now so I might have a chance at getting most of them done. The first one I wanted to tackle was a hat for my 9-year-old little sister. She is a budding paleontologist, so it was an obvious choice when it came to the pattern for her. (When I say ‘budding paleontologist’, I’m totally serious. She knows more about dinosaurs than any single person I’ve ever met.) I think she’s totally going to love the stegosaurus beanie I made for her. It only took maybe 2 hours total work time to finish it, and I think it’s my best piece yet! I chose a Bernat brand worsted 4 ply yarn for the multicolored beanie, and Red Heart Super Saver worsted 4 ply for the spikes and border. I love the Bernat brand, it’s relatively inexpensive and super soft. Red Heart is a little rough, but it worked perfectly for this project. I wanted to pick colors for her that were at least a little girly, as dino things geared toward girls aren’t terribly easy to come by. Not a lot of girls begging their parents for dinosaur shirts and hats, I guess. Anyhow, here is a link to the free pattern! I can’t wait for my sister to open this up on Christmas morning!

10

Easy Chevron Infinity Scarf

scarf1I have officially finished my first crochet scarf! It took me about 2 weeks, due to limited time to work on it. But now that it’s finally done, I love it! It was extremely easy, any beginner could probably make it. I chose this pattern for the chevron detail. I chose to do mine in all black, but it could be made in multiple colors if you wanted to accentuate the chevron. The original pattern is located here. I have pasted the pattern below with a couple of my own notes.

scarf2

Materials:

  • Black Yarn
  • 9.00 MM crochet hook (I used a 7 MM and it turned out just fine- adjust according to what yarn you use)

Key

ch – chain

sc- single crochet

sk – skip

 

Scarf

ch 40

Row 1-15: working in front loops, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in the next 9 ch, 3 sc in next ch, sc in 8 ch, sk 2 ch, sc in 8 ch, 3 sc in next ch, sc in 8 ch, sc 2 in next stitch, chain 2 – turn (at the end of each row, you will have two extra stitches- this is correct. This will create a zig zag on the sides as you go. You will add a trim at the end to even that out.)
Row 16-30: working in back loops, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in the next 9 ch, 3 sc in next ch, sc in 8 ch, sk 2 ch, sc in 8 ch, 3 sc in next ch, sc in 8 ch, sc 2 in next stitch, chain 2 – turn
Repeat rows 1-30 until you reach desired length. Connect ends with a row of sc.
Trim: Row 1-2: sc in row ends around entire scarf on both sides. 2 rows both sides.

 

2

Experiments in Candy-Making

toffee2With Halloween officially over, the need to prepare for the Holiday Season is already nagging at me. I love making all sorts of sweet treats this time of year, but I am always nervous to try out new recipes. I am starting to experiment now, so I don’t end up with desserts that don’t turn out right at the last minute. And I don’t care if it’s only November 1st, there will be Christmas music playing while I bake.

My first experiment is with English toffee. I LOVE toffee. The only other time I have tried to make it, it didn’t end up turning out at all. So of course toffee is the first thing I want to try my hand at. As far as ingredients go, toffee is extremely simple and all recipes are pretty similar.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Milk Chocolate (I used about 1/3 bag of chocolate chips)
  • Chopped nuts- walnuts, pecans, almonds, whatever you want. (Optional. I opted out, because nuts sound kinda healthy and this is CANDY.)

Directions

  1. You’re going to want to get your toffee-cooling surface ready first. I just used a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Whatever you choose to use, be sure to line it with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Unless you are using silicone molds, which I’m hoping to purchase for future toffee.
  2. In a heave sauce pan, melt the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together. Your burner needs to be on high. Continuously stir the mixture for the entire duration of heating time with a metal or wooden spoon. And I mean stir VIGOROUSLY. If your arm muscles aren’t begging for mercy, you aren’t stirring enough.
  3. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Continue stirring and heating on high for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the toffee is caramel-colored (you’ve seen toffee before- it needs to look the color you would expect toffee to be). If you have a candy thermometer, that’s about 300 degrees.
  4. As soon as the mixture has reached desired color, IMMEDIATELY poor onto your prepared cooling surface. If you are using silicone molds, use a metal scoop and make sure to work quickly and keep stirring the mixture as you go.
  5. Allow the toffee to cool completely, which should take about 2 hours.
  6. Melt the chocolate. I simply microwaved my chocolate chips for a couple minutes until they were easily spreadable. You can get all fancy with a double-boiler if you so desire. Use a butter knife or a spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the toffee.
  7. Sprinkle on the chopped nuts while the chocolate is still melt-y. The chocolate will take a few hours to completely harden.
  8. After the toffee and the chocolate are completely cooled & hardened, break it apart or pop it out of your molds.

toffee1

The above photo is what your toffee should look like. This was my second batch. My first batch didn’t turn out so well:

toffee3As you can see, it’s way too light in color. This is because I took it off the stove a couple minutes too early. It started to look like it was burning on the bottom of my saucepan, and I panicked. The second batch, I simply stirred faster when it got to that point and let it get darker in color. It even smelled a little burnt, but it tastes amazing and the texture turned out exactly right.

Toffee makes an excellent gift at Christmas, and is always tasty to have for a treat. If you do decide to give it a try, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t turn out right for you the first time. I have found that candy takes patience and experimenting. I hope my tips help!