Thursday, December 1, 2016

polar bear pouch

I have a new winter holiday pattern for you this year: a little knitted pouch, with a flap shaped as a polar bear face! This quick knit makes a sweet tree ornament, or it can be worn as a necklace. Hide a surprise or a treasure inside to make it extra special!
You need to know how to knit in the round, increase, decrease (ssk and k2tog), and make bobbles. An intermediate-level knitter should be able to knit and finish at least one of these in an evening. But don't be intimidated if you're more of a beginner: this project is so small, it's a great way to learn a new skill!

You will find the full pattern below, or download the PDF from Ravelry. Happy holiday knitting!

P.S. If this project is not your style, try one of my other free holiday patterns: Holiday Mice, Inuk and Seal, Reindeer finger-puppet, Mini Pookies. (Ravelry links: Holiday Mice, Inuk and Seal, Reindeer finger-puppet, and Mini Pookies.)


Friday, November 11, 2016

kichidi stew and naan bread

I enjoy cooking tasty, healthy food for my family. It's fun to learn new recipes and techniques, and introduce my kids to a wide range of foods. However, sometimes it's a little tricky to find new recipes which we all enjoy.

We're mostly vegetarian, meaning we don't eat red meat or poultry at home, although we occasionally eat fish, and are more flexible when travelling. As well, I have a digestive intolerance to onions and garlic (try explaining that one in restaurants), so I often have to get creative with savoury dishes. This makes it even more satisfying to find a new recipe that we all like, and which I don't have to modify for our restrictions.

If you try out these recipes, I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we did! Both these dishes take time and some preparation, so they're good for a winter weekend spent at home.



Kichidi Stew

You need to prepare the squash earlier in the day, or the day before. The stew itself takes about 45 minutes to cook, and serves 4-6.

1 medium butter-nut squash (or other orange-flesh winter squash), about 1 1/2 pounds or 700 g
2 tbsp ghee or butter
1/2 - 1 tsp garam masala
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 - 1/2 tsp chili flakes
8 cups (2 L) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) brown basmati rice
1/2 cup (125 ml) red lentils
salt, to taste
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro/coriander

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove stem from squash, cut in half length-wise, and scoop out seeds. Place cut side down on a baking dish, and bake for 30-45 minutes. Squash should be soft and caramelised. Let squash cool, then scoop out cooked flesh and mash or press through a food-mill.
2. Melt the butter/ghee in a soup pot at medium heat. Add the spices (the amounts depend on how much seasoning you enjoy. You can always start with a little, and add more at the end), and simmer in the butter for about a minute, until they become fragrant. Add the water and increase the heat to medium high. Once the water is boiling, add the rice, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer the rice for about 20-25 minutes, until tender.
3. Add the red lentils, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until they are soft.
4. Stir in the cooked squash and season with salt to taste. Thin with hot water if it's too thick. Warm through if necessary.
5. Drizzle with lime juice and garnish with cilantro to serve.

Naan Bread

I have no idea how authentic this recipe is, but it worked for me, and was very good. The bread takes about 1.5 hours to make, but if you time it right, will be ready at the same time as you finish the stew.

1/4 cup milk, heated until luke-warm
2 tsp bread yeast
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt (not skim)
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached flour, plus a little more for dusting/rolling
2 tbsp butter, melted

1. Place the yeast in a small bowl, and add the milk a little at a time, stirring gently. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
2. Whisk together the oil, yogurt, egg, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk and yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour until you get a soft dough. Kneed on a lightly floured surface for 5-10 minutes, until the dough feels smooth.
3. Place dough in a floured bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
4. Preheat your oven to 450 F, or as hot as it will get. Remove the dough from the bowl, kneed gently to form a ball, then cut the ball into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball, and let rest for a couple minutes. Pull or roll each ball of dough into a circle about 7 inches across and 3/8" thick.
5. Place a couple baking sheets in the oven for a minute to heat up, then gently place the breads on the pans (I found I could get 2 per pan), and bake for 3-4 minutes - until brown on the bottom and puffed.
6. Remove from the oven, and turn on the broiler to high. While this is heating, brush the tops of the bread with the melted butter. Return the breads to the oven, just under the broiler, and toast until golden brown on top.

Enjoy warm naan bread with the stew above, or with your favourite curry!

P.S. The give-away contests from last week are still open until November 15, so don't forget to comment if you'd like a chance to win! Patterns, kit, magazine, toys.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

10th anniversary give-away: Holiday Mice

I opened my first shop on Etsy, November 5, 2006. At the beginning, I was just selling toys I had knit, not patterns. Those only came when other knitters saw my toys, and wanted to knit some themselves. It's been a crazy, fun adventure of yarn and cuteness since that day! Sometimes I miss knitting toys for my shop. I'm so busy designing now, I can only manage to make extra toys for family and friends.

One of the first toys I made for my Etsy shop.
My designs have changed a bit since then!

For my final give-away contest, in honour of those first toys I knit, you could win a pair of Holiday Mice! The winner will be free to choose the colour of the mice, and the style and colour of the hats. You could even ask for a wee Santa Mouse, like this one by the Yarn Harlot (I'm still blushing a bit over that). I will pick the closest yarn I can from my stash. Hopefully, I will have them done and off to the winner in time for winter holidays!

Holiday Mice: what colours would you choose?

If you would like a chance to win this prize, please leave a comment below, with a way of contacting you (email, Ravelry name, etc. I've been asking for this because usually Blogger does not give me this information when you leave a comment). I will do my best to ship to anywhere in the world. I will draw a random winner on November 15.

Best of luck, and thanks for visiting me this week!

Friday, November 4, 2016

10th anniversary give-away: Knit and Crochet Toys magazine

For my third give-away, you could win a copy of Knit and Crochet toys magazine! I contributed two patterns to this special issue, and in addition to those, there are over 20 adorable and fun patterns to knit or crochet. You can check out the magazine here, and see all the patterns over on Ravlery.


As before, if you'd like a chance to win this gift, please leave a comment on this post, including a contact method (email, Ravelry name, etc).

P.S. I didn't mention on the previous post that I'm willing to ship to just about anywhere. If for some reason you win, but I can't ship to your country, I hope we can figure out an alternative prize.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

10th anniversary give-away - Puss in Boots kit

Today I have a kit plus pattern to give-away! My Puss in Boots pattern was originally published in Knit Now magazine, and came with a kit, containing enough yarn to knit one toy. If you'd like a chance to win this kit and pattern, please leave a comment below, including a contact (email, Ravelry name, etc). I will draw a random winner on November 15, so you have lots of time to enter!


Don't forget to check yesterday's post, if you'd like a chance to win a free pattern of your choice. Plus, more give-away contests to come over the next 2 days!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

10th anniversary give-away - Patterns

In addition to the free teddy pattern I mentioned yesterday, I will be having a few give-away contests this week. I'll announce each separately, and you can enter all of them, or just the ones you're interested in. To enter, please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page. If you comment in both places, you'll have 2 chances to win, since it would be too hard to sort out who's who. If you do comment here, please include a way for me to contact you (email address, Ravelry name, etc). I'll draw for all the give-away gifts on November 15, so you'll have lots of time to enter.

Today, the give-away is for a copy of one of my knitting patterns. I'll choose 10 winners (one for each year, of course), and you can pick whichever design you like. You can see all of them in my Ravelry store. (Please note that I have a number of other designs which I cannot sell myself, so the store is the best place to see what you could choose). I've even been working on my newest pattern, the Wood-Elves, so it's ready in time for the give-away draw.

Please check back later in the week, to see what else you could win! Or just come to see photos of cute knitted toys, I don't mind ;)


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

10 year anniversary celebration

I'm resurrecting this long-quiet blog, to announce a special 10 year anniversary event!

It has been ten years since I opened my first shop on Etsy, and I wanted to do something special to show all my lovely customers how much I appreciate you. To start off a week of fun give-aways, I've updated my very first pattern: a teddy with a sweet cardigan. You can download it for free, for the whole month of November! I'll announce a new prize each day this week, both here and on my Facebook page, so be sure to check back later! More details will be given each day, but the give-aways will remain open for a while, so don't worry about missing them.

Teddy Pattern
 I never thought I would still be designing knitted toys ten years after I started, as it was just something to keep me busy between jobs. I've learned so much over the years, tried lots of interesting things, and I am still enjoying creating cute toys for people to knit. I have some projects in mind for the next year or two, so if you enjoy my patterns, be sure to visit and see what I'm up to!