Day 2. Disasters

Do other people get along with their husbands? I see married people laughing together sometimes and I can’t relate. We tolerate eachother on a good day and on the bad days our fights send me into my bed in a deep depression for days at a time. Can I say this? Can I tell the Internet I’m not happy? I’m in my bed now.

Cooking is how I show my love. Food in general, nourishment, it’s my love language for sure. So lately I haven’t been in the mood to cook. My mojo in the kitchen has been off. Salads and sandwich variations are all I can manage. But, today is the 4th of fucking July, so bring on the apron and bust out the whisk! I had a pie to bake right after my 6:30a.m. coffee for a neighborhood competition. Pinterest told me I could do it. My pie crust looked okay but the strawberry rhubarb center was a runny juicy mess. Not competition worthy! As I was screwing up my pie my eight year old was designing his little masterpiece. He made more of a fruit tart complete with pastry cream and he (I) had baked his crust the night before to avoid the anxiety I ended up feeling anyway. 

Later in the day I realized I could save my pie with some whipped cream mixed in. Usually I’m vegan, but today my willpower was low and I ate the butter, the eggs, and all the whipped cream I could lick off the spatula, bowl, plate, counter, etc. 

Two pies and a parade later I was back in the kitchen making veggie burgers and hamburger buns. While I was kneading dough an argument started or flared up or whatever you call it when you never really stop fighting. The dough was sticky and hard to slam on the counter like I wanted to. I couldn’t punch it when my husband slammed the door and left me with three kids and a sink full of dishes. I didn’t cry this time, we just danced in the kitchen like the tension in the house was lifted. I realize when he isn’t home how tight my chest and throat get in his presence. 

The hamburger buns were light and fluffy. No doubt from the proper kneading.


Tomorrow, marriage counseling and a workout.

New Normal

     Today felt surprisingly easy. All of these projects I have going on are not stressing me out, they make me excited to get out of bed. I realize we’re only a little over a week into our DIY year, but so far this seems entirely possible. Half the fun of this is the research that goes along with it. After the birth of my son I definitely had post-partum depression/anxiety issues for about a year. The experience this time is drastically different. When I’m making things I feel like myself, it’s a huge part of my identity. I used to spend hours making friendship bracelets as a kid. I went to art school. When I fell in love with my husband I made a painting because I didn’t have the words to say. I learned to cook because making food for my son is important. Making things makes me feel whole.

      I went to the fabric store with my list of supplies for shoe making. My first stop was the remnant area and it was overflowing today! I found a few amazing deals on jersey but I won’t attempt to make anything with them until I have a serger. Sewing jersey on my little sewing machine usually ends in tears.  Although I still have 30 pounds to go (woohoo, I lost 5 pounds!) until I make my new wardrobe, I did get a nice brown lightweight gauze remnant that is waiting to become a tank top. The patient baby let me look through stacks of fabric and stood in line smiling at strangers. She’s my shopping buddy at this point while I can still carry her in the wrap.

     One of the coolest things I’ve learned is how easy it is to make coconut oil. I probably only have a few ounces but it wouldn’t take long to save up a good amount. I can make soap with homemade coconut oil! The whole process took 3 days but it was so easy.

     The FedEx guy probably thinks I’m crazy. He delivered some glue I needed for shoes and I got stupid happy like a kid. Of course, at the first opportunity I had, I used my new fabric and made the uppers for my shoes. They aren’t perfect but this pair is just for me, not to sell. I’m ok with slight imperfections in general.  It seems like the hardest part of making shoes is finding a good tutorial. The one I’m using doesn’t answer all my questions but it at least is a start. I hope to finish them tomorrow but I seriously doubt I’ll find a big chunk of time to play.

     With the leftover lima beans I had from my veggie burgers the other day, I made a big bowl of hummus. About an hour before my husband came home I started looking up flatbread recipes doubting I’d find anything both easy enough to make while holding the baby and fast enough to cook before 5:30.  I found a rosemary flatbread that made dinner feel special. It was approved by the guys too.  http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/08/crisp-rosemary-flatbread/. Big yum. Since rosemary is the only plant in the yard still alive it’s nice to find a way to use it.  

     

      

Hot and Fresh

A lot has changed since I posted my last blog.  I changed my hair color a few times and moved to a new state.  Spring has turned into fall, my most productive time of year.  I fell in love twice. The first time with a nice guy and the second is less a love affair and more of a new obsession.   I bake.  It started with a library book,  like years ago when I found the book that made knitting make sense.  My small apartment has a big kitchen.  My kitchen is now equipped with tools I wouldn’t have recognized a few months ago.  My freezer is stocked. My son is happy.  And I’ve only gained a few pounds because if I knead the dough I have no guilt about eating the bread…with butter!

There are few luxuries I can afford. I haven’t been to the movies in years and I buy my clothes at thrift stores not just because it’s the eco-friendly thing to do.  I do, however, splurge on name brand flour now.  My peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on golden semolina bread are damn good.  There’s no turning back now.   The grocery store doesn’t sell bread I get excited about.   Pulling a loaf of bread out of the oven with a just right crust gives me the same feeling of swelling pride as when I’ve finished some painting or tied the last knot of a handknit hat.   Making something, making anything from start to finish connects you to the end product with invisible threads. I’m an artist. I can make many things. When I want to show my love though, I do it with food.

 

"Falling..."

 

Free Knit and Crochet Beginner Patterns for Eco-Friendly Coffee Huggers: Happy Earth Day

These are the first patterns I’ll be teaching May 4th at Valley Books.  I thought I’d give a little sneak peek at what I have planned.  If you’ve never played with yarn before these are a great fast first project.

Crocheted Coffee Tea Eco-Friendly Cup Holder

These cup cozies are a great use for your knitting and crocheting swatches so that hard work isn’t a waste of time and so you don’t burn/freeze your fingers on hot caffeine filled beverages.  You can embroider a little “tea bag” design with clever words if you choose to or keep it simple.*  These also are good fast gifts.  I saw similar ones for sale online for $16, not a bad profit margin when the supplies are about $1.50

With a size J crochet hook and worsted weight yarn chain 30 + 3 for turning chain. Chain loosely for even stitches.
Row 1: Double Crochet (dc) in each st. 29 sts total because you count the turning chain post as 1 st.
Row 2: Chain 3. Double crochet 1, chain 1, skip one st to form button hole and double crochet across row.
Row 3: Repeat row 1.     Row 4: Repeat row 2.
Row 5: Repeat row 1. Make a knot and you’re done.

Weave in loose ends, sew on buttons and embroider on optional designs.

*This pattern can easily become a cowl, use a bulky or super bulky weight yarn and a bigger hook sz N or P to chain about 50-60 sts. Keep the button holes or skip them and sew it together to form a loop.*

The Knit Version

Using size 11 needles cast on (co) 12 sts.
Row 1 and all odd rows: Knit each st across.
Row 2 and all even rows: Knit 2, purl 8, knit 2.
When piece is 7.5  or fits (streches slightly because you want a snug fit.) around your preferred size coffee cup on a knit row knit 2, bind off 2, knit 4, bind off 2, knit 2.
Next row: Knit 2, cast on 2, purl 4, cast on 2, knit 2.
Knit the next two rows and bind off.

Weave in loose ends, sew on buttons and embroider on optional designs.

*This pattern is a pretty scarf if knit on size 15 needles.  Keep the button holes if you want the option of making it a cowl.  So it doesn’t curl on the edges knit the first and last 5 rows, you’ll have a garter stitch pattern.  Use one skein of cheap Red Heart yarn or two skeins of Wool-Ease by Lion brand yarn. *

* just some ideas you can ignore.

Easy Beginner Granny Square Crocheted Shrug Free Pattern

This was a very easy project I completed in a few evenings and now it’s a great spring/summer accessory.

You need 2 200gram balls of James C. Brett Marble Chunky yarn and a size J crochet hook.

Granny square, use this pattern or a fancier pattern if you like. Make 2.

ch 4, sl st to join in a circle.

Row 1: ch 3, and make 2 dc stitches in circle, ch 1 make 3 dc stitches, ch 1 make 3 dc sts, ch 1 make 3 dc sts, and  ch 1 then connect to top of ch 3 post with a sl st.

Row 2: Chain 3 and turn to work 3 dc crochet sts in each ch 1 space.  In the 4 corners of square do 3 dc stitches chain 1 and do 3 more dc stitches.  Join in same way as row 1.

Row 3-13: repeat row 2.

When you’re done with both squares just sew them together and fold over.  Sew sleeves to fit you.  It helps to safety pin and try on to judge.

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Modern Knitting and Crocheting Class In Solvang and I’m Teaching It!

Beginning May 4th I’ll be teaching this class in Solvang, Ca.  If you don’t live nearby I’ll be sharing the information I teach along with the beginner patterns I’ve designed and written on my blog.  Sign up to be there in person or subscribe for the online course.

Free Easy Quick Crochet Mesh Sexy T-Shirt Sweater

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This sweater took longer to make than my usual three hour time limit but it was worth the few evenings it took because it looks great and isn’t a frumpy shapeless crochet sweater you see too often in pattern books.  Because it’s a mesh pattern made with a size J crochet hook it goes fast. The pattern is very versatile because any worsted weight yarn will work and if you want longer sleeves just add more stitches.  This fits womens small to large sizes because it’s so stretchy and adjustable.  If you’ve never made a sweater this is a perfect way to dip your toe into those intimidating waters.  I think sewing seams is tedious so instead of sewing up the seams I used beautiful silk yarn and laced the sides like a corset.  You can use ribbon, vintage lace, etc. for this step.

 

With sz J crochet hook chain 54 sts + 4 st for turning chain

Row 1: Double crochet in 5th st from hook,( ch 1, dc) repeat to end then chain 4

Row 2-20: Repeat row 1.  Dc only in the dc sts from the previous row.

Row 21: After working in established pattern across row chain 10+4 for turning chain

Row 22: Work in established pattern across row chain 10+4 for turning chain

Row 23-34: Work in established pattern across row

Row 35: After you have 10 dc posts chain 38 and skip 38 sts to create neck hole make 10 more dc posts on opposite side in established pattern.

You are now on the second half of the sweater.  Make the same number of rows for the second half of the sleeves then when you need to go beck to working only the original 54 sts sc across 10 sleeve sts single crochet.  Work in pattern to 54th stitch and chain 4 and turn.

You are done when you have about the same number of rows on both sides, you’ll be off by one because of the sleeves beginning at different spots, don’t freak out.  See photo.

Lace the sides of the sweater together and you’re ready to wear it!

This example is for sale on my Etsy page

http://www.etsy.com/shop/shannondzikas?ref=si_shop

The Easiest and Fastest Handspun Funky Art Yarn Made With Thread

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Lately my obsession is spinning yarn on my drop spindle and today I made about 13 yards of 2-ply yarn in just a few minutes.  I can’t wait to incorporate it into my next knit hat.  In the same three hour stretch of time while my son was napping, I cut about a yard of t-shirt jersey fabric into a long 1-1.5″ wide strip and knit up a hat on sz 15 and 25 needles.  It turned out pretty cool so I think I’ll keep it for myself.

To make the colorful yarn I used my giant stash of new and vintage thread I’ve accumulated for pennies from thrift store adventures.  For the sample shown I used 12 spools of thread in polyester and cotton in random colors including a metallic gold.  With only limited drop spindle skills this went quickly and aside from an occasional tangle was super easy. As a single ply it is about fingering or sock knitting weight yarn.  When I doubled it up it looked like a higher quality and is a nice worsted weight.

If you knit or crochet and have never made your own yarn a drop spindle is about $10 and there are You-tube videos with beginner and advanced instructions.  I should make one… Anyway, it’s not scary and makes knitting a cheaper hobby than it can become.

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The Process of Knitting a Hat From Scratch: Free Knitting Pattern Fast and Easy Beanie

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I had a heap of leftover red roving in the far recesses of my yarn stash from my last felt hat making phase that finally became something useful today.  It was born…

After picking up and absorbing every word of Intertwined by Lexi Boeger last weekend.   Making my own yarn didn’t seem tedious anymore, it seemed exciting and full of more potential than I had imagined.  Once I learned the trick of spinning on my drop spindles with both thread and roving the process was immediately more efficient.  I made three small balls of yarn in one evening, about four hours.

Today I proudly stared at my three perfectly imperfect balls of red yarn lined up in a row and they seemed like a hat to me.  Knitting the hat took less time than making the yarn.  About two hours.

Cast on 55 sts on sz 11 ndls

For 4 rows work purl 2, knit 1 rib.  You can do Knit 2 Purl 2 rib also if you like it better.  Your call.

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Change to sz 15 ndls, knit in stockinette stitch until it’s about 7-8″

(Knit 5, knit 2 tog) repeat across row

purl next row

(Knit 4, knit 2 tog) repeat across row

purl next row

(Knit 3, knit 2 tog) repeat across row

purl next row

(Knit 2, knit 2 tog) repeat across row

purl next row

(Knit 1, knit 2 tog) repeat across row

purl next row

Knit 2 together across row.  You will end up with about 6 sts on your needle give or take a few.  Don’t panic, you can’t see mistakes in this hat.  Cut yarn leaving about a 1-2 yard tail for finishing.

With a crochet hook or tapestry needle loop through remaining sts and pull tight so you don’t have a hole at the top of your hat.  Then just sew or crochet the seam closed and weave in all your loose ends.

If you don’t want to make your own yarn this works with any extra bulky yarn.  It was so satisfying to see the finished project knowing I had done everything that didn’t directly involve a sheep.  The fact that it was the first effing hot day of spring didn’t stop me from making warm knitwear.  Too bad no one will buy it until Thanksgiving.  Always a knitter’s dilemma.

To see other hats check out my Etsy Store.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/shannondzikas?ref=si_shop

Thanks.