Thursday, December 25, 2008


My Italian host family used to talk about making Limoncello. They insisted one had to use lemons from Sicily. I used Lemons from the natural foods co-op. They're probably not from Sicily, but they're organic. I gave them a good scrub anyway.
Martha Stewart's recipe is pretty straightforward. I used Prairie organic vodka (since Everclear is illegal in this state). Make sure not to get any of the pith when peeling lemons, it will make the vodka bitter. I steeped the peel + vodka in large jars for several weeks instead of days.
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All that soaking produces flecks of schmutz, so I used coffee filters and a small funnel to filter the lemon vodka. By the way, I can't wait to experiment with other infused vodkas. 

I used organic sugar for the sugar solution, which isn't totally white. The result is a duller, cloudier Limoncello, but still delicious.
One of these bottles had to be re-filtered due to rogue flecks. I tried to ship a bottle to my brother in LA and learned the U.S. Postal Service prohibits the shipping of alcohol. Who knew?

Spiral Rib Hat

Let me document the fact that I was sitting in my car on Christmas Eve day, having just run to The Yarnery for one more skein of yarn, the car was running to keep me warm, and I was knitting. I mean, I was due to arrive at our Christmas celebration and the wrapping for the gift I was finishing was sitting in the seat next to me. Next year I must remember: there are only so many items that can be knit in the few weeks before Christmas.

But this was one of them. And the recipient seems to like it quite a lot.
It's an M.L. Egan design. But M.L. doesn't seem to have a Web site.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sponge Candy

Sponge candy (or angel food candy, as we call it) has been a Christmas favorite in my family. My grandpa taught me how to make it and, since the process is easiest with two people, I asked if we could make it together this year.
It's basically all sugar, as is the case with any good Christmas candy.

The recipe calls for a tablespoon of vinegar. Once the candy reaches 300 degrees, you add a tablespoon of baking soda. The reaction between the soda and vinegar causes the liquid to start to foam. You have to mix it quickly, thoroughly, and dump it into the buttered pan so it doesn't collapse. This is where two people come in handy: one to hold the hot pan, ready to dump, while the other quickly mixes the soda and scrapes the pan with a spatula.
It heaves and grows in the pan for a while, then hardens as it cools. The result is a hard honeycomb.
Melt chocolate (with a bit of paraffin, of course, to make sure it hardens when cools)
Pure sugar. Pure deliciousness.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Checkbook cover

I experimented with oilcloth for a checkbook cover and it did not sew well. This version was made with the leftover yoga mat bag fabric.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


This weekend I hit the No Coast Craft-o-Rama (sadly, Sharon wasn't with me). One vendor was selling personalized kids' superhero t-shirts. Instead of buying one for $30, I copied them with cheap t-shirts and felt. My niece Cora is 1 & a half and my nephew Xavier is 3. Soon they will be Super Cora and Super Xavier.

Xavier and Cora will soon have a new baby brother or sister, as well as a new baby cousin. The babies-to-be will get onesies for Christmas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yoga Mat Bag

I decided this would be the winter of yoga - I've been hitting the classes pretty hard and just got my own mat (yes, extra long). I didn't have a pattern for a yoga mat bag, but I just sewed a tube, attached a circular bottom and folded over the top for a drawstring.
My extra-long mat is heavy and I didn't want the strap to rip the fabric - this was the trickiest thing to figure out. I attached the strap close to the ends of the mat so it would pull on the ends of the bag instead of loose fabric. I also reinforced it with pieces of the strap on the inside of the bag. On the top strap I tried this technique to avoid pulling on the fabric around the strap. We'll see how it holds up.
I also wanted to be able to bike with the bag, so the strap is a bit longer for an over-the-shoulder. I'm kind of pleased because the bag is super comfy.
The fabric appealed to me as kind of vintage-modern. It's Anna Maria Horner. She has lots of lovely stuff, and a fun blog.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Felt Slippers

November's Martha Stewart had this pattern for felted slippers. 

The sizing template was way off. My first attempt at a size 8 was about a size 6.

They were meant as a birthday present for Elizabeth. The tiny pink ones went to her roommate Milonga so Elizabeth could have an appropriately-sized blue pair.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Financial Crisis Fun

Making Pillow Covers from Curtains
Our living room needed some pillows and more color. I had some leftover Amy Butler fabric (the patterned pillow)and decided to make the additional pillow out of the fabric I'd hemmed off of recently purchased Ikea curtains. The white seemed a bit boring though, so I added embroidery based on patterns one can find in Sublime Stitching (a really fun book with lots of great patterns, thanks for giving it to me, Sharoni).

Updating a Coat
I bought some fun vintage buttons when I was in Middlebury, Vermont this April at a vintage store called Bejewelled. My plan was to update a tired, yet almost irritatingly durable black coat I have had since time immemorial. The global financial crisis and the onset of winter precipitated putting this plan into action. It wasn't much of a job, and it isn't a groundbreaking idea, but I thought I would share anyway.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another Onesie

People keep having kids and I keep embroidering onesies. This one is for a little guy named Zach. Thanks to Elana for the inspiration (I think she has this pattern too!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Nighty Night

Here is Athena's first sewing project - a fabulous butterfly pillowcase with ruffle trim. Nice, job, Athena! We can't wait to see your next project!