Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Summer Days

Basket full of granny squaresThese hot summer days just leave me feeling drained. At the end of the day I don't have a lot of knitting energy or enthusiasm. I still want to work through my stash, however.

One solution for me is to make afghan squares. Sometimes I like to knit them, sometimes I like to crochet them. This week I'm crocheting granny squares.

I have a lot of colors in my stash, but no black to use for that neutral background that is so traditional in granny square afghans. I do have some very neutral taupe brown though, and that is what I'm using. We'll see how it turns out.

What we do have enthusiasm around here for is barbeque. It doesn't matter what it is, there's probably a way it can be cooked on the barbeque. We have a lot of fun trying to find ways to bbq most anything. Why not? It doesn't heat up the kitchen.

Here's a simple recipe that we enjoy whenever we can get really fresh corn on the cob.

Corn Roasted on the Barbie

6 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
2 Tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
salt and pepper
aluminum foil
optional: a few teaspoons of minced fresh herbs like parsley, basil, dill or mint.

Pull off 6 squares of aluminum foil to wrap the ears of corn. Lay an ear of corn diagonally across one square of foil. Rub the corn with butter or oil until it is well coated. Sprinkle the corn with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with herbs if desired. Wrap the foil around the corn making sure it's completely covered. Repeat with remaining ears of corn.

Place the foil wrapped corn packets on your barbeque grill over medium coals and close the lid. Turn the packets every 5 minutes or so to prevent scorching. Check them after about 20 minutes for doneness. If you begin to smell cooking corn, it's probably done. The corn usually darkens in color when it's ready.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Simple Tea Cozy

Tea cozy for large teapotEvery now and then I like to sit down, relax and have a cup of tea. Unfortunately, just when I am relaxing seems to be the time for domestic disasters to occur. I'm sure most mothers have experienced this phenomenon. The end result is a cold pot of tea.

Since I cannot seem to have an uninterrupted teatime, I truly needed a tea cozy to help keep my pot of tea warm long enough to actually drink it. So I went a-googling for a pattern that I might like. I found several patterns, but none that I really loved. Ah well, I knew I would find one later, and didn't give it much thought for a few weeks.

This morning I paused near a box full of yarn that I'd been sorting through the day before. On top was a lovely ball of Berroco Medley. Thick and thin and full of lots of colors, I had just loved it and bought it a couple of years ago without a clue what to do with it but certain that 'it would come to me'. It's mostly wool, so it's insulating. I suddenly knew that this was The Yarn for the tea cozy. I grabbed the yarn, a pair of needles and set to it.

Measuring my larger teapotFirst, I measured my teapot. It's about 7 inches tall including the knob on the lid and about 7" in diameter. I knit a good sized swatch and figured out what dimensions of knitted fabric I would need to cover it. The yarn makes a powerful statement all by itself, so I don't need any fancy stitch textures because they'd just get lost. When in doubt, go with garter stitch. Here's the pattern I made up, just this morning. Enjoy!

Yarn: Berroco Medley, 1 ball; 75% wool, 15% acrylic, 10% nylon, 73 yds/67 m (used the whole ball, minus 3 yds). Gauge 14 stitches x 22 rows in stockinette using size 10 US/6 mm needles.

Measure your teapot from the bottom up to the place where the top edge of the spout meets the pot. (see photo, above left) We'll call this the 'spout measurement', and mine is about 4.5".

Starting at the bottom of the cozy, cast on 42 stitches.

Working in garter stitch (knit every row) knit 5 rows.

Row 6: *Knit 2, increase in next stitch by knitting into the front and back* repeat across row; 56 stitches.

Row 7: Knit across.

Continue working in garter stitch until the piece measures your 'spout measurement' in length (or 4.5 inches for most teapots). At this point you'll make an opening for the spout, something like a buttonhole.

Separation row: Knit 24 stitches, bind off the next 8 stitches loosely, knit the remaining 24 stitches.
Rejoining row: Knit 24 stitches, cast on 8 stitches, knit the remaining 24 stitches; 56 stitches.

Knit 2 more rows.

First decrease row: *Knit 2, decrease by knitting the next 2 stitches together* repeat across the row; 42 stitches.

Knit 5 more rows.

Second decrease row: *Knit 1, knit 2 stitches together* repeat across the row; 28 stitches.

Knit 5 more rows.

Third decrease row: *Knit 2 stitches together* repeat across the row; 14 stitches.

Knit 1 more row.

Last decrease row: *knit 2 stitches together* repeat 6 times; 7 stitches. Cut yarn and draw it through all the stitches, pull tightly and fasten off the top of the cozy.

Fold the cozy in half, sides together, and sew a partial seam at upper and lower edges, leaving an opening for the teapot handle to poke through. Try the cozy on your teapot for seam placement, or sew 2 inches at bottom edge and 3 inches at the top like mine.

Measuring my smaller teapotSmaller tea cozyI also have a smaller teapot. It measures about 5.5" in diameter and 4" tall and the shape is a little different. I thought I'd try out the pattern in worsted weight yarn to see if it fit, and to give you an example of what the cozy looks like knit in a smooth yarn.

Yarn: Red Heart worsted, size 8 US needles. I cast on and knit the same as for the larger teapot, until the piece measured 3" in length. I finished the cozy the same way as for the larger pot.

Sewing the cozy together was similar, I sewed 1" at the bottom edge and 2.5" at the top.

It fits a little snugly, but it works. I like the modern smoothness of it. I want to play around with it, make stripes or geometric shapes on it, make it modular, attach embellishments and crocheted flowers to it. You know, explore the potential of it. Maybe you'd like to play with it too. If you do, I'd love to see a snapshot.