Saturday, September 28, 2013

Diagonal Lap-ghan

This square lap-blanket is crocheted on the diagonal, using a large hook with two strands of yarn held together. It’s fast and easy, and the big stitches give it a cozy thickness with a nice drape. It works well as an over-the-shoulders wrap, too.

U.S. crochet terms

Skill Level   Easy

approx. 1600 yds/1463m acrylic, wool, or blend worsted weight in 4 colors

Schematic diagram included.

A free .pdf of this pattern is available as a download from Ravelry.

download now

This pattern is featured on:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book: Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel

Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel
by Georgia Bonesteel

Have you ever done lap quilting? It's my favorite quilting technique. It works with both hand and machine quilting, and it is wonderfully portable. Once I tried this, I became a convert--never to go back to regular quilting.

The secret is in the blocks. You sandwich together a manageable-sized block (12" square or so), including the pieced top section, batting, and backing. Then you can hold it and quilt it by hand or run it easily through your sewing machine to quilt it. When you've got all your quilted blocks done, then it's time to sew them together with a clever little top-to-top seam, butted-together batting edges, and flapped-over backing connections. Brilliant!

Here's my lap-quilted summer coverlet. You can see how the blocks fit together by looking at the back--I alternated the backing stripe directions for interest. It has six 24" square blocks, rectangular blocks around the edges, and little square blocks at the corners. I also embroidered around the pictures. What you don't see is the embroidery I've been adding to the white blocks as an afterthought... twigs and leaves. Every bit of this quilt was stitched by hand, but I could have easily used a sewing machine.

I like to use a folded-over edging on my quilts, in a fairly dark color. The edge is the part of the quilt that is most exposed to wear and tear. The dark colored edging helps hide stains, and it's easy to remove and replace when the times comes.

Recommended for This Quilt

Clover Bias 1-Inch Tape Maker

I use a little tool for making my own edging. This allows me to pick exactly the color and fabric that will look good with the quilt.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A New Lap-ghan

It's Work-In-Progress Wednesday, and here's my latest afghan design prototype.  It's going to be a little lap blanket, so I'm calling it a lap-ghan.  As you can see, it is worked in crochet, on the diagonal, and I'm trying to make it look good for a man.  Stay tuned... this will be a free pattern soon.

You can find links to WIP Wednesday posts on other blogs here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'm a Featured Designer!

My bio just went up on This site has a great collection of crocheted blanket patterns to choose from, and my Circle Lap-ghan is one of 'em. I'm currently working on a new pattern, so keep an eye out. I'll post it here, and I'm sure it will be over there, too.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Book:  Viking Patterns for Knitting

Viking Patterns for Knitting: Inspiration and Projects for Today's Knitter
by Elsebeth Lavold

This is one of my all-time favorite knitting books. It's a classic for those of us who love Celtic designs. Yes, I really did mean Celtic. Apparently Celtic knots came from the Vikings. Elsebeth Lavold's cable and border designs are exquisite, and not all that difficult. She also has charts for knitting runes, which are more difficult but very effective. Even if you never make the lovely sweaters and hats in the book, you will enjoy using her cables and borders.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Positively Polenta!

We love having polenta as an alternative to rice or potatoes.  It's easy to make, if you know the secrets.  You can serve it with veggies stir-fried in olive oil, or just sliced as a side dish.


1-1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup corn grits
1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil


In a deep saucepan bring water and salt to a boil, covered.  For safety, remove from heat, turn heat down to low, sprinkle corn grits into water, and stir until the lumps are gone.  Return pan to the burner on low heat, uncovered.  If it starts to splatter, remove from heat so the burner can cool down further.  Then try again.

Cook on low, stirring often, until very thick--about 20 minutes.  It will be sticky and gloppy.  Give it the full 20 minutes on low so it will set properly when it cools.

Remove from heat, stir in butter or olive oil, and turn the polenta into a buttered or oiled deep bowl.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes to set.

When ready to serve, run the tip of a knife around the edge of the polenta and turn the bowl upside down to release it onto a plate.  Cut into 4 thick slices.

Serves 4.

Secret #1:  It’s easy to burn yourself with polenta splatters if you use a saucepan that’s not deep, or put it on a too-hot burner.  Follow the instructions in the first paragraph, and you’ll be fine.

Secret #2:  Leave a long-handled wooden spoon in the polenta while it’s cooking, for neat and frequent stirring.  The low heat will prevent burning, but you can get a buildup in the pan if you don’t stir enough.  Just keep stirring and scraping the bottom, and it will work itself out.

Secret #3:  Don’t expect the polenta to bubble while it’s cooking.  On low heat it will settle down quickly, and it thickens by giving off steam.

Secret #4:  Plan plenty of time for the polenta to set up after cooking.  If you try to take it out of the bowl too soon, it will be gooshy and not much fun to eat.  Give it 10 minutes at the very least, and 15-20 minutes in hot weather.

Serve sliced, as a side dish or topped with vegetables sauteed in olive oil.