March 23, 2011

March quick knits club: Plug In!

March club cover

Wow, this is seriously belated, but hey, check it out!  March’s quick knits club mini-ebook!  The theme is Plug In! and it’s all about tech gadgets and various electronic things…

Screen-Friendly Gadget Case

The highlight is this any-gauge custom-sized pattern for a gadget case, meant specifically for iphones, ipods, ipads, and any other non-i things that have full screens like this.  The case is knit starting at the top, across with the sideways-edge cast-on method to fit the gadget width, then worked down from there to the bottom; a second row of stitches is added with increases to start the seed stitch flap.  Then the bottom of the fitted part is worked across, with holes being added as needed for plug access – the whole thing is worked modularly so that there’s no seaming and only a few picked up stitches along the way.

Screen-Friendly Gadget Case Screen-Friendly Gadget Case

To finish it off, yarn is threaded around the edges kind of like a drawstring, to pull the case edges in and hold tightly onto your gadget, without covering the screen.  This variegated one was my prototype piece – the bottom of the case (as seen above) is different than the final design, but the rest is pretty much the same:

Screen-Friendly Gadget Case

The second knitting pattern is this simple but functional wrist rest, worked in the round with short rows:

Wrist Rest Tube Wrist Rest Tube

This month’s tutorial is for a phone (and whatever else) charging station, which holds a power strip and takes up minimal space on your counter top:

phone charging station

And the extra bonus is a second brief tutorial for this mp3 player pocket, which can be added to a scarf as pictured, or to a bag, jacket, etc…

mp3 player pocket mp3 player pocket

So, this ebook is available alone for $5, or you can still sign up for a subscription – there are only 3 more months left of the club, so a 4 month membership (this ebook, then through to the end) is $14, through my site or ravelry.

Filed under: knitting,quick knits — leethal @ 1:56 pm

March 13, 2011

Orange Milk Liqueur recipe, and experimentation updates!

Want to know how my experimental orange milk liqueurs turned out?!

orange milk liqueur

The orange vanilla liqueur, based on this recipe(ish), turned out really well!!  It tastes just like an adult creamsicle in liquid form!  So, here’s my recipe (easy to double for a larger batch):

  • 1 cup vodka (flavorless, I use Oregon Springs brand, which is like 1 step up from the cheapest options)
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole for this one, but I think 2% would be fine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 mandarin oranges, sliced into 4 pieces each (other kinds of oranges should work fine too)
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced into 3 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

making orange milk liqueurs!

Mix the milk, vodka, and sugar together in a glass jar, then add the fruit and vanilla.  Put the lid on and shake a bunch so it’s well blended.  The next day it’ll be separated and look something like this:

making orange milk liqueurs!

Mix it up by shaking the jar once per day, and the separating will be less as the days pass.  I made two batches and filtered one after 11 days and the other after 3 weeks, to test how much of a difference it would make… I can taste the difference between the two, but barely.  The 3 week liqueur is a wee bit more flavorful, but the 11 day one is superduper delicious too.

So, my conclusion for that is:  if you’re in no hurry, let it sit (shaking once per day) for about 3 weeks, but if there’s a reason you want it done sooner (like if it’s a gift), then about 10 days is enough time.

homemade chocolate liqueur!

Now comes the filtering – there are a few steps here.  First, strain the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer, and/or cheese cloth, to get out all the solids.  Next, line a strainer (or a funnel) with a paper coffee filter, and pour the milky liquid in.  It’ll take some time to filter through (overnight maybe), and it’ll coat the filter in milk solids, so you’ll need to change filters a few times as needed.

Once all your liqueur has gone through the coffee filters once, I recommend giving it one more run through – now that all the milk solids are filtered out, the second time goes very quickly and only one more coffee filter should be needed.  You can run that second filtering through a funnel, directly into your glass bottle, and then you’ll be left with a beautiful golden, delicious liqueur!

my first 3 orange milk liqueurs!

Above are the 2 batches of orange vanilla liqueur (center and right) and then my super experimental orange spice liqueur…  The orange spice is not ready to share a recipe yet – I learned some huge liqueur-making lessons with that experiment.  Well, one huge lesson: don’t make liqueur with ground spices!  I think the ground cinnamon was the main problem.  Filtering took about 4 days, 3 or 4 times through, and probably about 12 or more coffee filters – not fun!  Once all that filtering was finished, it made a totally drinkable liqueur, but man, it has bite!  I can’t really taste the orange, just the spice!  Good, though!

So, I’m now trying out some updated experimental liqueurs using cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and some crystalized ginger pieces…

experimental spiced milk liqueurs

There’s an orange spice, an orange+apricot spice, and a plain dried apricot milk liqueur.  I got some liqueur making books, but there’s no mention of milk liqueurs (I think they are a traditional Portuguese thing that’s just starting to be known in the states thanks to this book, but I could be totally wrong and they could have some other origin… anyone know?) – so, I’m using the idea of a dried apricot liqueur from one of the books, and turning it into a milk liqueur.  Based on how the orange ones turned out, I think it’ll work well!

Oh, a couple other things I want to share before I go – first, don’t use the kind of jar from Ikea like I used for the spiced liqueur!  Major leaking, no good!  I later found these jars at The Container Store that are working really well, and the biggest size I found is big enough for a batch with 2 cups each of milk/vodka/sugar, as long as I don’t need to add lots of solids (like orange slices) that take up space.

orange milk liqueur

And one last thing – I used this idea to remove the labels from recycled jars and bottles, and it works really well!  Once you use up the vodka for your liqueur, and whatever other glass bottles that have good lids, soak them in water with some shampoo for a few hours – with some kinds of labels, they will literally just fall off the bottle in the water (I think TJ’s blood orange soda was one of these), but others will just become looser and easier to scrape off.

I think that’s all I’ve got for you now.  Happy daylight savings day!

Filed under: drinks,recipes — leethal @ 4:27 pm

March 10, 2011

New free pattern – Cassady! (plus trivia!)

What a week it’s been!  My blog was down for most of yesterday and the first half of today, for some unknown reason, but it’s back now so that’s great!  I hosted trivia night for my first time last night and it went really well!!  I had so much fun designing all my categories and questions that I’ve thought of a fun way to recycle them…  I’ll try it for a few days and if it’s working out well then I’ll keep it up through all 40 of my questions!

Starting tomorrow (Friday) about 10:30am-ish probably (west coast time) I’ll tweet my first trivia question – the first twitterer to reply with the correct answer will win a $2 off coupon code to my knitting pattern shop, or the Bad Movie Bingo pdf, your choice.  I’ll put a limit of one win per person, per category – there are 4 categories with 10 questions each.

If it’s tons of fun, I might do 2 questions per day, at different times of the day, so if you aren’t available to play the first question, maybe you’ll be around for the second… I’ll probably do 1 question per day through this weekend, then on Monday I’ll tweet my trivia plans for the week.  Sorry to non-twitterers, this is just a fun thing that twitter is the perfect platform for – once all the questions have been tweeted, I’ll throw the whole thing here on the blog.

update 3/14: ok I’m going to try to do 2 questions each day (maybe just one or none on weekend days though) – around 10:30am and 6pm west coast time.

Zach's Shack

That above is Zach’s Shack, where the trivia night happened last night, by the way… and now I’ll shut up about this trivia nonsense and move on to what you probably care more about!

Cassady!

I have a new free pattern!  Cassady!  (Once again named by Mary-Heather, who also named my Swerve and Betiko patterns, making her my official naming genius.)  It was posted on WhipUp blog a couple days ago, for the guest blogger series – I talked a bit about the sideways edge cast-on I’ve been using, and how it’s kind of hard to grasp without actually doing it.  Once you do it, you see how easy it is, so here’s a free and quick way to try it out!

Cassady!

The kerchief is for any-gauge, and custom fit to your head – pick out a pretty self-striping or variegated yarn to show off in the 2 different directions of garter stitch.  This example was knit up in Knitted Wit worsted weight merino; I think it will work fabulously in a sock weight yarn.

The way the pattern works, there’s no need for a gauge swatch, as you start with just 1 single cast-on stitch, work out from there (starting with the tip of one side of the ties) and measure as you go, making the sideways stitches to fit perfectly around your head, then working the main part with decreases along the edges to make the triangular body.

Whether or not that made sense to you, trust me, it’s easy and awesome – there’s no swatching, no seaming, no picking up stitches… magic!

Cassady!

I’ve been wearing mine around the house pretty much every day since I made it, like I am in the photo above, to hold my hair back out of my face… you can also wear it around your neck if you like, though that might look better with a more drapey yarn choice:

Cassady!

I also knit up a sample in a bulky self-striping yarn, but I don’t like it as much – while you can technically knit Cassady in any weight yarn, I’d recommend no heavier than worsted… this one functions, but I just don’t like something about the way it fits and the bulk…

Cassady in bulky yarn

So that’s that – knit yourself a Cassady in some leftover yarn (you could even stripe to use up smaller bits of multiple yarns!) and be sure to post the project in ravelry so I can see your version!  Yay!

Oh yeah, I also released March’s quick knits club ebook on Monday, but I’ll save that for another blog post sometime soon!

Filed under: contest/giveaway,knitting,random stuff — leethal @ 11:55 pm

March 4, 2011

Old patterns made new!

I’m in the process of reformatting all of my patterns so that they all share the same stylesheet (fonts, layout elements, wording of certain parts, etc) – thanks to Knitgrrl’s book for calling my attention to this – and I’ve finished the main 4 that I was most eager to get updated.  Skoodlet, Ten 10 yard Cuffs, Mr. Pointy, and Spiraling Stripes Hats are now freshly styled, partially rewritten, and looking much better I think!

PDFcover PDFcover

I also knit up and included a new example of the Skoodlet – it’s in a bulky yarn (Lamb’s Pride) and an extra large size for a gigantic hood!  And I LOVE the vintage buttons I found and how they look against the grey!  I also reshot the rainbowy example since I didn’t much like those old photos of that one:

big skoodlet! Skoodlet!

Mr. Pointy and Spiraling Stripes Hats were two of my very earliest patterns – Mr. Pointy is a pretty basic pattern compared to my new stuff, but I still like it, and there are some gorgeous versions knit up in handspun which you can check out on ravelry.

PDFcover PDFcover

The old version of Spiraling Stripes was actually the first pdf I ever built, and it was kind of terrible so I let it hide away…. But now, with some new photos, a bunch of rewriting, reformatting, etc, I am super happy with the hat set and want to make sure you know about it!  6 different hat patterns, and tons of variation ideas and instructions for different hat styles and ways of striping.

spiraling stripes hat!

I also did a new photoshoot with some of these old hats – you can see here the slanted brim above, and the straight brim and brimless versions below, as well as different kinds of stripes and fits.  I think this hat set coordinations well with my Custom Tritops set – between these 2 pattern sets, you’d be set for unlimited one-of-a-kind hats for a lifetime of knitting!

spiraling stripes hat! spiraling stripes hat!

I also completed a minor redesign of my main patterns page yesterday – not a big deal, but I think it’s a little easier to browse through all my patterns+ebooks now.

Ok that’s all for now… it’s some busy times around here lately… March’s quick knits club will be out on Monday, and I’m doing a crazy thing for the first time ever next week!  I’m hosting trivia night at Zach’s Shack here in southeast Portland on Wednesday night!  My guy has been a trivia host regularly for over 3 years now, and I’ve always kind of toyed with the idea of trying it sometime… and that time is 5 days from now!  I’m totally nervous and super excited at the same time!  I’ll probably blog later with how it went and I’ll share some of my favorite questions and/or categories (the way Zach’s trivia works is: 4 categories, 10 questions per category – and I’m really excited about some of my categories!)… Ok that’s all for reals now.  Happy Friday!

Filed under: hats,knitting,leethal.net,portland stuff,self-publishing — leethal @ 2:30 pm
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