Saturday, May 31, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 22

the olive plan 2008 - week 22


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (green)
Total for the year to date: 68

Saturday, May 24, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 21

the olive plan 2008 - week 21


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (1 green, 1 black)
Total for the year to date: 66

Thursday, May 22, 2008

cherry bits

cherry bits


Well, this is *cough* interesting. The cherries were beautiful, crisp and juicy, but not yet sweet.

With summer almost here, I am searching for the perfect chemical-free sunscreen. I am allergic to chemical sunscreens (oxybenzone, ketone, PABA). Think all the pain, redness and oozy itchiness of a sunburn without the fun in the sun bit and you'll have an idea of what happens when I just do a patch test of most sunscreens. I've tried Burt's Bees SPF 15 and 30, and while it's better than nothing, both formulas have a strong fragrance. Anyone have recommendations to share?

More pictures at Flickr

Sunday, May 18, 2008

pizza dough

pizza - carmelized onion and quattro formaggio


There was a time in my life when I pretty much survived on pizza. Rarely was it good pizza. Most of the time it was pretty bad, but it was very cheap. One time it was practically poisonous. Let me tell you, getting food poisoning from pizza on the same night you see Silence of the Lambs and have the cover art from Front 242's Tyranny (For You) album stuck in your head, well, it just doesn't make for a restful night's sleep.

Thankfully, I can make my own pizza now. This pizza dough recipe makes a crust that is chewy on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside, just the way I like it. While you could probably make/knead the dough in a standing mixer, I like to do mine by hand (I don't even own a mixer). Ten minutes of kneading dough by hand makes me feel less guilty about the subsequent pizza feasting.

Pizza Dough

1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110F)
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
~3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon olive oil

In large glass bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over sugar water and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until yeast is foamy. With a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup of flour and mix very well. Allow to sit for 5 minutes so that the flour can absorb the water. Stir in 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt and another 1/2 cup of flour and beat the dough with the spoon until the dough is very elastic. Add another 1 cup of flour. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour only if dough is too sticky.

Grease a clean bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat surface with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, around 1 1/2 hours.

Turn risen dough out onto floured surface and knead for about a minute to remove air bubbles. Form dough into a ball and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Place oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 500F.

Divide dough into quarters and flatten each ball into an 8-inch circle or square, leaving the edges a bit thicker to form a lip for your crust. Place dough round on an ungreased baking sheet. Prick the surface with the tines of a fork to help prevent air bubbles from forming while baking. Top pizzas with your favorite sauce, cheese, etc. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Makes 4 ~8-inch diameter pizzas.

*****


You can use this dough to make calzones. Form into a 8-inch circle and place fillings on one half of the circle, avoiding the edges. Fold bare half of dough over the fillings and pinch and crimp the edges to seal. Bake on middle rack in 400F oven for around 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

The dough makes good breadsticks too. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll into 10-inch long snakes. Place on ungreased baking sheet and brush with olive oil or melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and herbs for savory or cinnamon sugar for something sweet. Bake on middle rack in 450F oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

The unbaked dough can be frozen. After allowing to rise and kneading to get air bubbles out, form dough into ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap (get as much air out as you can) and place the wrapped dough in a freezer storage bag. To thaw: transfer from freezer to refrigerator and allow to thaw for 24 hours. Leave dough on countertop, covered, for an hour before forming pizzas.

pizzas


Clockwise from upper left, the pictured pizzas are:

Lasagna - Jarred marinara sauce, creamed spinach and turkey lasagna filling, carmelized onions and pre-packaged four-cheese blend.

Quattro Formaggio - Jarred marinara sauce with pre-packaged four-cheese blend. A grinding of fine black pepper on top.

Carmelized Onion & Cheese - Pre-packaged four-cheese blend topped with carmelized onions. A grinding of fine black pepper on top.

Curry, Peas and Yogurt - Curry sauce, with the peas and yogurt added after baking.

More pictures at Flickr

Saturday, May 17, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 20

the olive plan 2008 - week 20


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (green)
Total for the year to date: 64

The potentially lucky olive from week 16 turned out to be not so lucky. I've taken its bow away.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

scooped - random notes and afterthoughts

test knits for scooped pattern


So, the Scooped knit ice cream cone pattern has been posted and I'm happy to be able to kick back, dust my hands and not look at it for a while. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed designing and knitting it. I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't (life's too short and all that). But now it's time to do a final clean-up and get all those bits and pieces that are floating around in my brain, out.

Scooped was originally suppose to be just for the dipped scoop and sugar cone. I don't know why, but I used to really like Drumstick ice cream cones when I was little. Honestly, there were more peanuts left in the wrapper than stuck to the chocolate coating, the cone was always soggy and the ice cream was little more than vaguely flavored air, but it's one of those unexplainable childhood likes. The test knit went really well and I pretty much got both on the first try. I did the test knit on US sz 7s, but decided to go down to 6s to make the final product a bit more life-sized. The scoop part did undergo one small revision (taking out a couple of rounds) for the final knit, but the cone worked up just as I had hoped.

That's when my brain started to get big ideas. "You can't just do the dipped scoop, you should do a classic scoop. And what about those cake/wafer cones? Mom always made you get cake cones instead of sugar cones at the ice cream parlor. And you only liked cake cones when they were from the soft serve place." Plans grew and I ended up designing the other patterns. The classic scoop was the most difficult for me. It went through four revisions before I was satisfied. Soft serve was easy (first try) and cake cone went through two revisions. A couple of other ideas that I tried but didn't pursue: waffle bowl and styrofoam dish (maybe later, maybe not).

I'm always interested in other people's design methods, so it's only fair that I share my process. I usually start out mentally conceptualizing how I want the finished object to look. Once I have that image in mind, I break down the components of the object into basic shapes and stitch patterns: spheres, cones, broken rib, scallops, etc. Then, I write out the pattern the way I think it should work. From that pattern, I start knitting, making adjustments to the written pattern when it becomes clear that something is not going to work. I rarely frog during the design process, preferring to knit all the way through so I can check that the subsequent rows/rounds behave the way I want. I like to have that swatch to refer to when I'm knitting the next revision.

To rewind, when I first thought about knitting ice cream, I checked for existing patterns, hoping I could just modify one if it wasn't exactly what I wanted. While there were many examples of crocheted ice cream cones, I couldn't find patterns for knit ones. By the way, I am so jealous of people who can crochet. I have tried to learn several times in my life but I just can't get it. I found a few pictures of knit ice cream cones, but they all seemed to be personal patterns or done on a loom.

In the larger scheme of things, Scooped didn't take that long to design. A couple of weeks. It felt longer, I think, because I had a bunch of ideas flooding my brain and I wanted to get everything down on paper (errr, in pixels) before they disappeared. Getting everything recorded meant working on it every chance I could, which meant not much downtime for two weeks.

I also want to say thank you to the people who have left comments at the usual places and to those that have queued or downloaded Scooped. The response and feedback I've received has been wonderful. I'm happy with how the patterns turned out, but when others take the time to knit Scooped, well that's just the cherry on my sundae!

test knits for scooped pattern


More pictures at Flickr

the olive plan 2008 - week 19

the olive plan 2008 - week 19


Number of olives knit this week: 5 (4 green, 1 black)
Total for the year to date: 62

Sunday, May 4, 2008

scooped - knit ice cream cone patterns

knit ice cream cones


Ah ice cream! What is it about you that casts a spell over us?

As children we gobble you down with innocent glee. As adults we sneak you at midnight as a guilty pleasure. We try to figure out someone's personality by analyzing which of your flavors they choose as their favorite. You make a sticky, melty mess in the summer and you make us shiver in the winter, but no matter the season, we can't resist your call.

There's no need to worry about ice cream going straight to your thighs with these guilt-free knit ice cream cones. Included are patterns to make a sugar cone, wafer/cake cone, classic scoop, dipped scoop and soft serve. Mix and match the tops and cones, and make some no-calorie treats.


Scooped

Do not reproduce this pattern elsewhere. This pattern is for personal use only. In other words, please don't try to make money off of it.


Materials
Set of US size 6 double pointed needles
Worsted weight yarn (your choice of colors for cones and ice cream scoops)
Stitch marker
Material for stuffing (yarn scraps, batting, plastic grocery bags, etc.)
Yarn needle, for weaving in ends and sewing scoops to cones
Beads/sequins or embroidery thread, to act as sprinkles, nuts or other add-ins (optional)
Needle and thread, to attach beads/sequins or to embroider (optional)


Patterns

knit sugar cone


Sugar Cone
Cast on 6 sts and knit one row as for I-cord.
Divide sts equally among 3 dpns. Place stitch marker and begin to knit in the round.

Rounds 1 & 2: *k1, p1; repeat from *
Round 3: k all sts
Rounds 4 & 5: *k1, p1; repeat from *
Round 6: kfb into first and last stitch on each dpn, k all other stitches (you're increasing by 6 sts each time you knit this round)

Repeat rounds 1-6 six times (42 sts)

Round 7: p all sts
Round 8: bind off knitwise

Turn the cone inside out. Keep the little nubbin at the bottom tucked on the inside to help stabilize the point of the cone. Weave in ends and set the cone aside while you work on the scoop.

***


knit wafer/cake cone


Wafer/Cake Cone
Cast on 6 sts and knit one row as for I-cord.
Divide sts equally among 3 dpns. Place stitch marker and begin to knit in the round.

Round 1: kfb all sts (12 sts)
Round 2: k all sts
Round 3: *k1, kfb; repeat from * (18 sts)
Round 4: k all sts
Round 5: *k2, kfb; repeat from * (24 sts)
Round 6: k all sts
Round 7: p all sts

Rounds 8 & 9: *k1, p1; repeat from *
Round 10: k all sts

Repeat rounds 8-10 five times. Turn the cone inside out and proceed to round 11.

Round 11: *k3, kfb; repeat from * (30 sts)
Round 12: *k4, kfb; repeat from * (36 sts)
Round 13: *k5, kfb; repeat from * (42 sts)
Rounds 14 - 19: k all sts
Round 20: p all sts
Round 21: bind off knitwise

Sew shut the little hole that probably formed when you turned the cone inside out. Weave in ends and set the cone aside while you work on the scoop.

***


knit classic scoop


Classic Scoop
Cast on 80 sts, leaving a 30-inch long tail. Divide sts among 3 dpns (if you prefer, you can use a 16-inch circ for the first several rows). Place stitch marker and begin to knit in the round.

Round 1: p all sts
Rounds 2 - 5: *k1, kfb, ssk, k1, k2tog, kfb; repeat from *
Round 6: p2tog all sts (40 sts)
Round 7: k all sts
Round 8: *k4, kfb; repeat from * (48 sts)
Rounds 9 & 10: k all sts
Round 11: *k4, k2tog; repeat from * (40 sts)
Round 12 - 14: k all sts
Round 15: *k8, k2tog; repeat from * (36 sts)
Round 16: k all sts
Round 17: *k4, k2tog; repeat from * (30 sts)
Round 18: k all sts
Round 19: *k3, k2tog; repeat from * (24 sts)
Round 20: k all sts
Round 21: *k2, k2tog; repeat from * (18 sts)
Round 22: k all sts
Round 23: *k1, k2tog; repeat from * (12 sts)
Round 24: k all sts
Round 25: k2tog all sts (6 sts)

Cut yarn, thread needle with yarn tail, pull through remaining stitches, knot discreetly and pull tail through to wrong side. Weave in the cast on tail towards Rounds 6/7 (this is the scoop opening). If you would like to embellish with sprinkles or nuts, now is the time to sew them on.

***


knit dipped scoop


Dipped Scoop
Cast on 40 sts leaving a 30-inch long tail. Divide sts among 3 dpns, place stitch marker and begin to knit in the round.

Round 1: k all sts
Round 2: *k1, kfb; repeat from * (60 sts)
Rounds 3 - 7: k all sts
Round 8: *k1, k2tog; repeat from * (40 sts)
Round 9 - 12: k all sts
Round 13: *k8, k2tog; repeat from * (36 sts)
Round 14: k all sts
Round 15: *k4, k2tog; repeat from * (30 sts)
Round 16: k all sts
Round 17: *k3, k2tog; repeat from * (24 sts)
Round 18: k all sts
Round 19: *k2, k2tog; repeat from * (18 sts)
Round 20: k all sts
Round 21: *k1, k2tog; repeat from * (12 sts)
Round 22: k all sts
Round 23: k2tog all sts (6 sts)

Cut yarn, thread needle with yarn tail, pull through remaining stitches, knot discreetly and pull tail through to wrong side. If you would like to embellish with sprinkles or nuts, now is the time to sew them on.

***


knit soft serve


Soft Serve
Cast on 40 sts leaving a 30-inch long tail. Divide sts among 3 dpns, place stitch marker and begin to knit in the round.

Rounds 1 - 10: k all sts
Round 11: k2tog all sts (20 sts)
Rounds 12 - 21: k all sts
Round 22: k2tog all sts (10 sts)
Rounds 23 - 29: k all sts
Round 30: k2tog all sts (5 sts)

Transfer sts to a single dpn

Rounds 31 - 33: I-cord
Round 34: Still working as an I-cord k2tog, k2tog, k1 (3 sts)
Rounds 35 - 37: I-cord

Cut yarn, thread needle with yarn tail, pull through remaining stitches, knot discreetly and pull tail through to wrong side. If you would like to embellish with sprinkles or nuts, now is the time to sew them on.

***


Assembly
Stuff the cone and scoop. Place scoop on top of the cone and see if the openings match up. If the opening of the scoop and opening of the cone aren't the same size, weave the long cast on tail along the edge of the scoop opening as a running stitch. Pull the running stitch and gather until the openings match. Knot and evenly distribute the gathers. Sew the scoop to the cone using the scoop cast on tail. Knot discreetly and weave in ends.

Enjoy your guilt-free ice cream!


*****


This probably doesn't need to be said but... please do not embellish with beads, sequins or other small objects if you intend to use the ice cream cones as child toys. It's best to embroider with yarn or thread to keep the possibility of choking hazards to a minimum.

If you aren't going to embellish the scoop by sewing on sprinkles and nuts, you can knit the cone and dipped/soft serve scoops in one piece. Knit the cone as instructed, however, don't bind off on the last round (remember to turn the cone inside out if necessary). Switch to your scoop color and knit Round 1 of the scoop pattern, but work two k2togs somewhere in that first round to get your stitch count down to 40. Continue working scoop pattern, being sure to stuff the cone and scoop before closing up. I personally prefer the look of the sewn together cones, but this one-piece method is an option if you are concerned about things being pulled apart.

Sprinkles and nuts can be knit in as you go. Before casting on, thread beads onto yarn. While knitting, randomly pull up a bead and knit it in (see this tutorial from Knitting-and.com). Using this method also allows you to knit the ice cream cones in one piece and still add embellishments.

Variegated yarns work great to create swirled flavors of ice cream.

Craving double (or triple) scoops? Just make multiple classic scoops and sew them on top of each other. You may wish to stuff the stacked scoops a little less than the one that is attached to the cone.

If the wafer/cake cone is going to be used for decoration (or light play), you can insert a piece of cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels into the lower portion of the cone to help stabilize and shape it. The double scoop cone in the pictures has the cardboard insert to help support its top-heaviness, while the soft serve and orange creme ones don't.

Want to make these ice cream cones smell like the flavors they are suppose to resemble? Dab a bit of extract, scented oil or perfume (Demeter and Bath & Body Works are a couple of places to find food scents) onto a cotton ball and tuck it in with your stuffing. Or cut one of those car air fresheners into bits and hide a piece or two inside.

Sugar cone measures ~4" high. Wafer cone measures ~3.5" high. Classic scoop measures ~2" high (not including the scalloped “skirt”). Dipped scoop measures ~2.5" high. Soft serve measures ~4.5" high. All are ~3" wide at their widest point.

Pattern available for download as a pdf file.

knit ice cream cones


More pictures at Flickr

Saturday, May 3, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 18

the olive plan 2008 - week 18


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (green)
Total for the year to date: 57