Saturday, December 25, 2010

'fraga' headband

At the festa, my cousin Michael's wonderful girlfriend, Laura, mentioned to me that Prada had made a TON of knitwear for their fall/winter 2011 line. Enter this headband.

So, for her Christmas gift, I set about making something vaguely similar. My hairdresser, after I had once commented on his Prada shoes, told me proudly that they were "Fraga," which must mean "Knockoff Prada" in Colombian. Though I'd seen other patterns on the internet, I set about designing my own. Et voila, a fraga headband pattern for you and yours to enjoy, gratis.

This is a quick and dirty cabled headband, done with a provisional cast-on so that you can graft together the ends for an almost-seamless join. I heavily referenced (i.e. theifed) the cable pattern from Tangled by emmybear knits, and just added trims up the sides. A quick enough pattern to whip up in a mini-movie marathon, the perfect thing for a cold winter weekend.

Fraga Headband

NOTE: Why my patterns are shit - I don't use gauge for anything that isn't a sweater - so here's my advice, knit tight or go down a couple of needle sizes.


- Much less than one skein of Misti Alpaca Chunky, or any similar bulky yarn
- Size 10.5 US dpns (at least 3)
- Crochet Hook
- Waste yarn for cast-on
- Tapestry needle

Cable pattern:
*Errata added March 19th, 2011.

All odd rows: sl 1, p 1, k 2, p to last 4 sts, k 2, p 2.
Rows 2 + 6: sl 1, k 1, p 2, k to last 4 sts, p 2, k 2.
Row 4: sl 1, k 1, p 2, sl 4 sts onto cable needle, hold to front, k 4, k sts off cable needle, k4, p 2, k 2.
Row 8: sl 1, k 1, p 2, k 4, sl 4 sts onto cable needle, hold to back, k 4, k sts off cable needle, p2, k2.


1. Using crochet provisional cast on and your waste yarn, CO 20 sts.*

2. Follow 8 rows of cable pattern until desired length is reached, ending with row 8. (To determine if the length is correct, try circling it around your/your recipient's head, above the nape of your neck and over your ears. When you have to stretch about an inch to go around the back of your head and about two inches to go over your ears, you're done).

3. Carefully slip one of your dpns back into the provisional loops made by your crochet cast on.

4. Making sure you have the same number of stitches on each needle, break yarn.

5. Use kitchener stitch and your tapestry needle to graft together the two ends of your headband.

6. You're done! Fashion out! (And block lightly, if desired).

*When using crochet cast on, you actually add up with one less stitch than you cast on. To get around it, I cast on one extra (21 sts) and then k 2 tog on my first row. Easy peasy!


My Nonna is extremely particular - I suppose she's been doing what she's been doing for long enough to know what she likes and what she doesn't. What she does like are big, loose-fitting socks (or calze). Enter the Sunday Swing pattern from knitty, an Italian-friendly redubbing ("domenica" is Sunday), and about a month of knitting, and her Christmas present is ready for gifting.

I reversed the pattern on the second sock so that the eyelets sort of chevron in, as pictured. As usual, the second sock flew by.

victorian ornaments

This year my brother and I decided to put together stockings for my parents - they always do such neat ones for us. I made ornaments at my old workplace as part of their stocking gifts.

I've always loved victorian silhouette portraits - to think that, before photography, the only way to remember how someone looked was through the contours of one's face!

Also, the only silhouettes I found for children wore hats - I wonder if I've tapped into a strain of silhouette etiquette that has yet to be discussed. So my brother and I's ornaments are wearing hats, my parents are not. I used Garamond (of course) for the initialling on the back.

Monday, December 20, 2010

yoyo's a go-go

Every year I have a Secret Santa gift exchange with some of my oldest friends, from elementary school. I feel lucky to still know them all, and on top of that, I felt lucky to draw Jane, my super-cool crafty friend who I knew would appreciate a handmade gift.

While I felt guilty that, as her knitting teacher, I did not buy her anything knitty - I tried to make up for it with a handmade yoyo necklace.

Now, my friend Martina has been making these for years, and hers are of superior quality and style (you can see them at her blog, here). Nevertheless, I gave it a shot, making a five-yoyo cluster to be worn as a pendant.

If you yourself would like to make a yoyo, hit up Heather Bailey's pretty instructions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

nutella, butter, cream, sugar, or cardic arrest in a paper liner

I used ming's Sour Cream Chocolate with Nutella frosting. My brother ate one and then wordlessly gave me a hug.

Ming cupcakes: 5/33.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Temporary Hiatus

Hello lovely people,

I will be on a small hiatus until Christmastime - not because I have stopped crafting but because my upcoming crafting/baking will be surprises! Expect December 26th to be a deluge of gifts already given.

Until then, take a look at a seedcake made for a (successful) Lord of the Rings marathon - I had to replace more than half of the milk (which I didn't have) with Irish Cream (which I did). Also, my mom has been hiding this pretty cake stand from me for too long.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

a taste of the old country*

I've wanted to be Luigi for Hallowe'en forever - and this year I buckled down and made it happen. After begging my much more easygoing friend, Fariya, to be "Fario," I got to work on a pair of Mario and Luigi hats to be ready in time for her friend's Friday night kegger.

I used this pattern, buggerloo, but omitted the brims in the interest of time and the hat still fitting my massive head. Given that I only worked about four or five evenings on them, I can't believe they finished so quickly. However, I've spent an entire summer in flat knitting hell and a liberating two weeks of in-the-round really got me out of my funk.

The Mario hat is with Fariya now, but I still have Laurweegi with my, posing with a Nintendo controller. Every so often I go through the ritual of hyperventilating in order to get my NES operational, and it's always worth it. Now that you can download most of the original games onto the Wii, I may have to invest in one.

Fariya and I at the Hallowe'en party. I put a retro filter on this photo - children of the 80s, unite!

*Except not really.

creativ-ly yours

Last weekend my friend Nathalie and myself made our second annual trip to the MetroCon to the Creativ Festival, which only pops up in my head as "knitting fair" and thus sounds much lamer to the average person than intended. That said, the place is rife with septigenarians and the general besweatshirted.

We still always have a great time, often to the chagrin of the elderly around us. While they debated the pros and cons of Pfaff (a real brand of sewing machine, though we've reclaimed the word as an obscenity, as in "Let's get some pfaffing lunch"), we took pictures with the taxidermied animals - and one live alpaca, Ollie - that were stationed around the place.

There I am with a Muskox, whose Qiuvit wool is actually ridiculously soft and insulating. The price for one ball, which could maybe make one sock, was $79.50. I sadly passed.

Nathalie with Ollie the alpaca. Last year we couldn't pet him, but he was in a much better mood this time around.

Us with a wolf - you can see the nose.

As usual, I spent way more than I should have on things that I thought I would have around for a long time before usig them. This, however, wasn't as true as I thought. I bought two balls of cheap red wool to knit up a Mario hat for a friend's Hallowe'en costume, and it was gone before I could take a photo of it (imagine yarn, that's red).

The rest I can't wait to get started on!

Last year I bought some fat quarters from a great little fabric vendor, mad about patchwork. I actively sought them out again this year, and was not disappointed. I love the mustard with the trees!!

I've been dying to try sashiko embroidery ever since I saw this post on the purl bee, but haven't been able to find the materials anyplace. A little sewing notions vendor with a huge lineup had a great deal on sashiko floss, and they stocked the needles as well. Still trying to decide what to do with it, but I love the colours they had.

Last but not least, some sock yarn, which I balled without thinking. The brand is "MissBabs Handdyed yarns and fibres" from Tennessee - it's 2-ply 100% merino and I think it'll make up some mighty lovely Christmas socks for my Nonna.

Monday, October 11, 2010

happy canadian/southern/italian thanksgiving

What a weekend.

Thrilled to finally assist in making this year's bird (an astonishing twenty-five pounds), I woke up bright and early Saturday morning to stuff, truss, and do whatever else it is you have to do. Our family dressing is what I live for - onions, butter, celery, apples, pears, bread, and spices.
The turkey went in just a little after noon and I went off to enjoy a lazy midday, when disaster struck. Remember how I was off raving about my oven last week? We're barely on speaking terms now. The heating element decided to crap out right in the middle of turkey time. Ruination.

Long story short, after coaxing my parents down from two seperate conniption fits, I sought out a "cook your turkey on the barbecue" tutorial on the interwebs - one hopefully minus thousands of conjunctions (especially y'all or ain't). We ended up finding one that worked and, thank the Lord, Thanksgiving was saved (to be honest, it was delicious).

As I'm the one taking this photo, you can't see me giving this oven the finger it deserves.

Sunday night was my family's Italian thanksgiving spectacular. Open bar, five courses, dancing. Though I've tried explaining this tradition in the past, it might be easier if I just show you.

Miguele nella signora from Lauren P on Vimeo.

This is my cousin, Michael, dancing a fine tarantella in a 10 (maybe 11) foot lady costume. We call her la signora, and she's supposed to represent Santa Maria della Salette. This, to be honest, is nothing. In Italy, they attach firecrackers to the suit and then burn the entire thing down. Probably not acceptable in Woodbridge's finer banquet halls.

Monday called for much more traditional fare - turkey two-point-oh. I couldn't resist cooking up some ming tasties to accompany the pumpkin pie. I used - what else - recipe #15, Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing and candied ginger. A little leftover yarn and some handmade nametags, and poof, instant placecards.

I hope everyone's thanksgiving was bawllin' (read: no oven meltdowns). I will be posting halloween costume haps these coming weeks - I have a lot of work to do!!

Ming cupcakes: 4/33

Monday, October 4, 2010

to reap autumnal rewards

Being Italian-Canadian has left me blessed. In values and culture, sure - but especially in food. My dutiful Nonni grow three out of four seasons in the year, and work overtime to make sure that enough sauce and pears are jarred when winter hits. This fall has been no exception: bushels of pears, zucchini, the final few tomatoes, and apples.

Now, my grandparents don't really eat apples. My Nonno avoids hard-skinned fruits because he thinks they all need to be peeled. As a result, much of their harvest was handed down to us. After my mom and I made a blitz of apple crisps (ein apfelkreig) they largely sat neglected on our countertop.

Until today. Not forgetting my promise to get through ming's list, I settled on the appropriate Cupcake #10 - apple cinnamon cupcakes with caramel frosting. Given that I don't regularly stock heavy cream, I opted instead for a simple cinnamon buttercream (recipe below). I also replaced the sugar with brown sugar, because apples and brown sugar should be together all the time.

Apples going rotty. What a horrible, ungrateful anonna I am.

I swear this gloop of a batter looked more delicious in person.

Can I use this space to jot down a quick ode to my stove? Look at the glass. It is an original, 1950s, yellow-enamelled GE Frigidaire. The light on the inside sources from a huge globe bulb. It's beautiful.

Out the oven!

Normally I take out my piping bag to frost, but I thought the rustic-ness of the recipe called for spreading with a knife. I couldn't resist giving them all a little cowlick, though!

Simple Cinnamon Buttercream

Blend half a stick of butter, one teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Add 2 and 1/4 cups of icing sugar, blend (frosting will be dry and crumbly). Add 3 tbsp milk, blend until fluffy.

Ming cupcakes: 3/33

Sunday, September 19, 2010

C is for Cupcake, it's good enough for me!

Last week, I spent a lovely Wednesday afternoon in my friend Tarika(of The Baker's Apprentice)'s kitchen, concocting deliciously adorable cookie monster cupcakes. I have been on a bit of a cupcake binge this summer, drooling over Ming's 33 incredible recipes and attempting the red velvets for Canada Day festivities. Boringly, I've stuck to star-tip swirls for d├ęcor - though Tarika sent me a picture of these cookie monster wonders and I've been trying to figure out how to make it work ever since.

So after an afternoon of
birre, dog-wuvvin', panic-attacks on my behalf and effortless baking nonchalance on T's, these were our accomplishments. (Cupcakes were recipe #30).

(I really love this picture of us staring into the oven like impatient little kids.)

I think I'm going to try and bake my way through Ming's list. Watch this space.

Monday, September 13, 2010

first-ever* embroidery - herringbone handkerchief

I cut the fabric for this project ages ago, and then promptly forgot all about it in a haze of my first and largest love, knitting. But it's finally done. There is something so yesteryear about a herringbone handkerchief, though I'm not yet sure if I'm ever going to use it for it's intended function. And yes, this is a handkerchief, not a neckerchief, English-language KGB. It is tiny in size and would only fit the neck of a garden gnome or Duggar baby (or let's face it, both).

* This does not count my abortive eight-year-old attempt to cross-stitch a cat on a purple sweatshirt.

sweet, sweet freedom

I just recently left my job at a ceramics studio. Do I have a new one lined up? Absolutely not. However, I had painted these bowls and they were ready for pickup on my very last day. I'll pretend that they were a goodbye gift. From myself.

The outside was inspired by these totally gorgeous photos of an abandoned power plant. The inside is basically a rip of a liberty of london tana lawn fabric with the colours changed. Learning to sew, thus justifying the purchase of those incredible prints, is on the horizon. On the bottom are the closing lyrics of E. Sharpe's "Home," because who doesn't love that song.

Saturday, September 11, 2010