Monday, October 31, 2011

Waffleweave dishcloth draft for handweavers

Hello, friends. We have almost 12 inches of snow but are very thankful that our power has been restored and that despite many downed limbs on our property, our house was spared from serious damage. Weather is no laughing matter!

I have had such fun weaving cotton waffleweave dishcloths. They make such nice little gifts that I'd like to share my version of these very useful kitchen textiles. Disclaimer: I'm leaving out some details (i.e. warping instructions, weaving headers, etc...) because you weavers out there will already know to do these things.

8/2 unmercerized cotton - 298 ends, 5 yards long (tip: wind 2 strands from 2 different cones simultaneously to save time)

Spacing: 20 ends per inch (2 per dent in a 10 dent reed)

Allow for 15" in reed or 7.5" from center.

Threading & treadling:
Note: the point twill repeat will create the waffle pattern.

Weave 1" tabby for first hem; weave 15" waffleweave; finish with 1" more of tabby. Using a contrasting yarn, weave 2 picks tabby to separate your first cloth from the one you will weave next.

Cut the fabric from the loom. Using zigzag stitch, machine-stitch the ends of the fabric. Machine wash warm; machine dry. Cut the cloths apart along the contrasting yarn tabby picks. Hem the cloths & machine stitch.

A 5 yard warp usually gets me around 10 cloths. It is fun to use a different 8/2 cotton in the weft, too, just to make things really exciting. If you decide to make any of these, I hope that you will share your waffleweave adventures here!

Be well,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Very pretty flowers in a very simple basket

Hello, friends. One of the nicest parts of my job is being able to work with brides-to-be. They are so excited about planning their weddings, take such care with the details and are in general so happy that their enthusiasm is just plain infectious. It is especially gratifying when I hear from a bride after her wedding and get to see pictures from her big day. I had the good fortune of receiving a note from one such young lady this week, and she was kind enough to send along some photographs of the flower girl baskets that I made for her wedding recently.

The beautiful arrangements were crafted by florist Kate Dawes of Queensland, Australia. The pale pinks and soft greens are so lovely (the little flower girls wore pale pink dresses). The photographer was Studio 60, also of Queensland.

It just makes you smile, doesn't it?
Be well,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sneaky mother muffins

Hello, friends. Many of you know that my husband & I have two teenaged boys. They eat A LOT. Actually, they shovel. There are days when they can't seem to stop eating. To make things even more interesting, they are pretty lazy when it comes to "finding" something to eat. So I make a lot of muffins.

Here is my latest recipe. I snuck in leftover roasted butternut squash (we grew squash this year in the garden & had a pretty good haul) & whole wheat flour & also paid attention to the amount of sugar I put in the batter. (I'm not sure that this trick will fool their tastebuds, but it is worth a try, right?)

Sneaky Mother Muffins
2 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. mashed, cooked squash (1 c. of any sweet squash will do)
1 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins or dried cherries...)

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray & preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix eggs, oil, brown sugar, vanilla & squash together in a bowl. Next, add the flours, baking powder & salt. Fold in the cranberries or other dried fruit. Spoon batter in muffin cups. I usually get 10-12 muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Easy peasy, right? I suppose you could throw in some chocolate chips, too, to make things very fun and exciting. (Making a mental note here.)

Be well,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lace Christmas ornaments

Hello, friends. There is a definite chill in the air these days, but that is to be expected. We picked pumpkins this weekend at the local farm (and I bought more squash).

Here are some new pretties for my shop just in time for the holidays:

Spot weave lace Christmas ornament

Huck lace Christmas ornament

I like to offer a few Christmas ornaments at Nutfield Weaver
during this time of year and this is what I came up with for 2011. It is nice to have a few extra things ready for gift-giving, too. (We do have the world's nicest postal carriers here in Londonderry).

My farmhouse plaid table runner is ready to go on the loom. I'll start the warping process today and am keeping my fingers crossed that my thread counts are accurate! (It is a wonderful thing to have a mannerly warp).

Would you like to make your own fabric heart ornaments similar to mine? Let me know...If there is a bit of interest I'll post a tutorial in the near future. (Handwoven fabric is certainly not necessary to use -- the possibilities here are endless and enticing!)

Be well,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tastes-like-pie winter squash soup

Photo courtesy of Jenny at TheLittleRagamuffin

Hello, friends. We have an abundance of winter squash this year. We grew butternut squash, which performed well. I have a habit of being unable to resist the sugar pumpkins and sunshine squashes at the farmstand and always end up buying a curcubit or two who seemed to need a home. (It is a good thing that winter squashes keep well).

Here is a soup that I made the other day. I started working with a recipe from a cookbook, but didn't have all of the listed ingredients. So I took a leap and devised my own concoction. It turned out wicked good.

"Taste-like-pie Winter Squash Soup"

About 2 pounds winter squash (roasted, peeled and mashed) (I used "sunshine squash" but a sugar pumpkin or butternut would work)
1 stick butter (cut it in half)
1/3 c. onion (diced)
1/3 c. sweet pepper (diced - red peppers look nice)
1/4 white wine
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
4 c. chicken stock (vegetable stock will probably work, too)
1/4 c. flour
2-4 T. real maple syrup (put in as much as you see fit)

1) Saute onions and peppers in 1/4 c. butter (half of your stick) until the vegetables soften. Add 1/4 c. white wine and the spices. Simmer for a few minutes.

2) Add chicken stock. Then add the squash. Simmer for about 10 minutes. I pureed the soup with an immersion blender to break up the squash a little bit more.

3) Make a simple roux: melt 1/4 c. butter. Blend melted butter and flour in a small dish. Add the roux to the soup, stirring to make sure the roux is incorporated. Simmer for a few more minutes.

4) Blend maple syrup into the soup. Simmer for a minute or two more. Serve! Add salt & pepper to taste.

We will definitely be growing more winter squash next year! Be sure to visit Jenny's seed shop at The Little Ragamuffin if you're thinking about growing winter squash. Jenny's seeds are wonderful. The calendulas that we grew from her seed supply are STILL blooming!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something for baby

Hello, friends. Waffleweave is one of my favorite weaving structures. It is so useful in the kitchen. Several of my clients have told me that they have reassigned their "dishcloths" to the bathtub since they are so soft. Between this feedback and the birth of a friend's new baby, I was inspired to use my fluffy waffleweave fabric for a bib.

Here's a picture of the first one:

I lined the bib with cotton batting and backed it with quilter's cotton in a leafy, autumn motif. I like the sage fabric - it would suit boys or girls.

Isn't it sweet? I seem to remember never having quite enough bibs on hand when the boys were babies. I'd love to hear your feedback on this new item -- it is a bit of a leap for me. I'm thinking about making one or two in some brighter colors as well -- when time permits, of course. (And there's NEVER enough of THAT, is there?)

Be well,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apple maple jam receipe

Hello, friends. Martha, who is a handweaver from Utah, expressed an interest in my apple maple jam recipe. If you haven't visited Martha's Etsy shop yet, you really should do so. Just click here to see TandRHandweaving. Martha's skill at weaving overshot is particularly evident in her table runners and other housewares. Here is a sneak peek at some of her work:

I love the look of overshot -- but unfortunately I always seem to be at odds with two shuttles that need to be used simultaneously!

And for those of you with a sweet tooth and access to orchard-fresh apples, here is a yummy recipe.

Apple Maple Jam
6 pounds apples (chopped, peeled & cored)
6 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 c. maple syrup (the real thing - don't use that corn syrup-y stuff)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring SLOWLY to a boil (this will take a while). Cook rapidly to gelling point. As mixture thickens, stir frequently and vigorously (if you don't, the mess will scorch and you will be sad). Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process 10 min. in a boiling water canner. Makes about 8 half-pint (I usually get 9 half pints).
Adapted from Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration, 1995, Alltrista Corporation.

This jam is perfect with toast, and I also add a generous spoonful to our homemade yogurt. Yum.

Be well,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hostess gift idea

Hello, friends. I had an interesting discussion with a friend on Friday afternoon. My friend inquired how business was going at Nutfield Weaver, and I replied that sales of my handwoven housewares - particularly dishtowels - were starting to pick up. I mentioned that several of my customers have told me that they intended to give my dishtowels as gifts. My friend replied that she would "NEVER" give a dishtowel as a gift. Well, I couldn't let this opinion go unanswered!

Here is an idea for a hostess or housewarming gift:

Isn't this cute? It's an easy gift to give, too. I folded one of my handwoven dishtowels into quarters lengthwise to make a "band," which I then wrapped around a jar of my homemade apple maple jam. The decorative canning label really dresses up the jar. I bought these labels from Alison's Etsy shop, "Canning Crafts." (I've purchased several sheets from Canning Crafts since our garden was so productive this year!) I tied the towel with a 36 inch length of ribbon and VOILA! Gift-giving made simple - and useful. I suppose you could even include the recipe for your jam or relish or whatever you decide to include.

See? Dishtowels can be lovely and are definitely appropriate for gifts! And have you ever met anyone who didn't like jam?

Be well,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waffleweave kitchen textiles

Hello, friends. It is very waffle-y here at Nutfield Weaver. My first run of yellow waffleweave dishcloths was (finally) cut from the loom this week. I hemmed up the first set and here is how they turned out:

This morning I finished tying on a new warp for orange dishcloths:

So that's all for now! Our orchestra has a big concert coming up on Saturday night, so I am spending a lot of time with my cello, too. Here's more information on the New Hampshire Philharmonic, in case you're free on Saturday night!

Be well,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Handwoven lace eye pillow

Hello, friends. We have had a taste of summer here in New Hampshire, which was been a real treat. Even so, my thoughts are leaning toward the holiday season, which always seems to spring upon us suddenly!

With the holidays in mind (and I hope that not TOO many of my relatives are reading this post), I designed a special gift for the secret someones in my life. It is a handwoven huck lace eye pillow:

It turned out so nicely and I am so pleased with my design that I decided to offer this in my Etsy shop, too. And I may have to make one of these for myself. I'm getting sleepy just thinking about it!

Handwoven dishcloths are still underway - yellow, orange, and teal!

Be well,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sunny waffleweave dishcloths

Hello, friends. After weaving twelve yards of zigzag dishtowel fabric, I have mixed things up on the loom and am making some short runs of cheerful, brightly colored dishcloths. Yellow is on the loom right now!

Next up is bright orange, and possibly some teal. Cheerful colors make kitchen clean-up less of a chore, don't you think?

Be well,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Teaching an old weaver new tricks

Hello, friends. My husband has returned to graduate studies this fall, and in the spirit of higher learning, I have decided to teach myself how to use our SLR camera. My Nikon point & shoot is a beloved friend, but I decided that it was time to try to improve my photographs, especially before the holiday shopping season approaches.

So here are some of my latest attempts...

I am learning about things like "depth of field" and "white balance." And in the meantime, I am warping the loom for dishcloths. It is nice to have something familiar, too.

Be well,
Kate :)