Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Family Recipe Book

It's been so cold the past few days that I couldn't bring myself to venture out in the 7 degree weather. I decided to stay in and work on a recipe book for Brittany. The book is a collection of her favorite dishes that she grew up eating. I did a similar book for Michelle as a shower gift. Michelle's book was a commercially available spiral bound book to which the recipes could be added.

This time I decided to make the book completely my own from cover to cover. To do this I needed to invest in a punch and bind system. There are several systems available on the market. I ended up buying GBC's Pro Click system. I really like the Pro Click punch but the system does have it's pros and cons. The punch is light weight, stores easily, is easy to operate and punches smoothly and neatly. The cons: it punches only one sheet of heavy paper or card stock at a time (it jams with 2 pieces of heavy paper), it punches 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper (the oversize is about 1/4 inch more), and the Pro Click spines must be closed individually by hand. This system is good for craft use, binding a couple of books at one time but it's too tedious and time consuming to do more than that. For this project I also used the Purple Cows laminating machine to make the front and back covers for the book. This machine does both hot and cold laminating, accommodates several sizes of laminating pouches and will accept laminating pouches made by other manufacturers (not just Purple Cow).

This is a good way to preserve family recipes for the next generation. Both Michelle and Brittany really liked receiving a cookbook with their favorite recipes rather than a commercial cookbook.

Laminating the book cover.

Punching the pages.

Front cover has been laminated and punched.

Open Pro Click spine ready to bind pages.

Snapping spine closed.

Using Pro Click tool to close spine.

Finished book. Clip Art from Micro Soft Office.

Inside pages of finished book.

Directions for Recipe Book:

Laminating machine (optional)
Heavy white card stock (2 sheets)- for book cover
White paper-28 lb.-for printing book pages on two sides
Pro Click Punch (available at Office Depot)
Pro Click Spines
Laminating pouches- for front and back cover
Clip art

1.   Type the book title and add clip art using Micro Soft Word. Print the cover on heavy card stock.

2.   Put the front cover in a laminating pouch and run through the laminating machine. While the laminated page is still warm, trim the bottom of the page so that it fits in the Pro Click punch. Place the edge of the laminated cover against the back of the punch and move the roller slowly to punch the page. Moving the roller too quickly sometimes causes the page to slip and the punches to be off the page. Repeat the process with the back cover.

3.  Type your family's favorite recipes into Micro Soft word. Add clip art and word art to add impact to the recipe pages. Print the recipes on the heavy white paper, using the two sided option on your printer. Type recipes section dividers like the Sweet Treats (picture above) and print on one side only. Punch the recipe pages and the section dividers with the Pro Click. The Pro Click will punch 2 sheets of 28 lb. paper without jamming but sometimes the bottom sheet of paper shifts during the punching, causing the punches to be off (requiring me to reprint the page). In the end it was faster to punch one sheet at a time than to go back and re-print mis-punched sheets. Arrange the book in it's finished order.

4.  Open the Pro Click Spine and lay it flat on your work surface. Place the front cover face down on the left spines and the back cover on the right spines. Divide the book in half. Place the first half (front cover to the middle) on the left spine and the second half (middle to back cover) on the right spine. Once the pages a aligned on the spine, start closing each individual ring on the spine by hand. Once all of the rings are closed use the Pro Click Tool to make sure the spine is securely closed.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Knitting With Mink

On a recent trip to a yarn shop in Rockville, Maryland I found the most beautiful jewel colored yarn hanging from the display rack. I was immediately drawn to the deep amethyst and removed a hank from the rack. The yarn was incredibly soft and 100% mink, rivaling cashmere. The hank had good yardage (300 meters) and was priced about the same as Merino wool. The purpose of the visit to this yarn shop was to buy wool as a gift for Brittany and possibly some sock yarn for myself, not to buy luxury yarn. The yarn was so soft and beautiful that I couldn't put it back on the rack. I knew I would later regret not buying it, especially since I have always ascribed to the French principle that "luxury in one's life is a requirement".

The yarn when knit is very soft and drapey. After knitting several swatches the yarn seemed to work best with a sturdy knit/purl combination pattern. I chose the Little Boxes pattern from The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook by Melissa Leapman. Also the soft, drapey quality of the yarn made it a good choice for a scarf.

The yarn is a deep, rich purple. I lightened the photo to show the stitch detail.

Mink yarn is produced from the soft under coat of the Mink. The animals are brushed to obtain the fur which is then spun into yarn. When the Mink starts to shed it's under coat the animal is brushed to remove the excess fur. Sort of like brushing the family dog. Mink, unlike dogs, are not pleasant animals so I pity the poor person that has to brush them. The fact that someone was willing to brush these nasty animals to produce yarn makes me appreciate the luxury all that much more.

Directions for Mink Scarf:

The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook-An Essential Collection of 300 Designer Stitches & Techniques by Melissa Leapman: Little Boxes pattern

Lotus Yarns Mimi-100 % Mink Yarn Color # 18;one hank (300 meters)

Size 3 Knitting Needles- I am using Knit Picks Karbonz Interchangeable needles

Cast on 41 sts (39 sts plus 2 sts) using the long tail cast on. Knit according to patterns directions. Since I am designing the scarf and have no previous experience with the yarn I don't know the final length of the scarf.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tracery Vest

It's New Year's Day and the holidays are officially over and we have about two more months of cold, wintry weather left before Spring. Now that I am finished with all of the decorating, wrapping packages and baking for Christmas, it's the perfect time to indulge in some of the knitting projects that I had planned. For the last two weeks I have been working on the Tracery Vest from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine. Even though I am probably the only person on the planet that has never read a Harry Potter novel, I still really like the designs in the magazine. While the designs are based on characters and places in the Harry Potter books they are suitable for every day wear. The Tracery Vest is based on Gothic architecture with stained glass windows making it a perfect project for me to knit.

The vest is knit in the round and the directions and chart are clear and easy to follow. I deviated from the written directions slightly. The directions call for placing markers and increasing four stitches with the main color (black) after the markers, every other round 9 more times and incorporating the increased stitches into the pattern. The sections after the markers had more stitches between the design than the other segments. Every thing worked out fine until I started to knit the segment with the round windows, then suddenly the chart became very confusing to follow. I ripped the work back to the solid main color segment before the beginning of the lower row of windows and increased the appropriate number of stitches evenly around the needle. This didn't make a big difference in the look of the vest but made it much easier for me to follow the chart. I am posting the work so far. The vest measures 9 inches from the cast on edge and it's time to divide the stitches for the front and back and start knitting the decreases for the armholes.

Tracery Vest

After the Harry Potter Knits came out Plymouth Happy Feet yarn color #27 was difficult to find. After searching for quite a while I found it on Amazon. Several other on line retailers now carry the yarn (Jimmy Beans Wool, Annie's Catalog and Yarn Barn).

Plymouth Happy Feet like many other yarns available on the market comes in hanks rather than skeins. Most yarn stores have a yarn swift and a ball winder are happy to wind the yarn into a ball for their customers. Since I ordered the yarn on line it was shipped to me in hanks. Winding the yarn from the hank into a ball (by hand) takes about 30 minutes provided it doesn't tangle or knot, then it could take 2 hours or more depending on how badly the yarn is tangled. Until recently I used my kitchen chairs to wind the yarn. The chairs have decorative spindles that extend beyond the top of the chair. I untwist the hank of yarn and loop one end over the end of one chair spindle and do the same with the chair next to it. Then I gently push the chairs (with yarn attached) apart until the yarn is taut, cut the waste yarn holding the hank together and start winding into a ball. This year my husband gave me a yarn swift and ball winder for Christmas. I really like the fact that the swift is collapsible so it can stored away when not in use. The swift and ball winder make winding the yarn easier and quicker-about 10 minutes total.