Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chevron Stripe Crocheted Pillowcase Tutorial

My super cute and thoroughly modern niece recently got married (Yes. Yes, I did make the cake). Before the wedding we had a bridal shower for her and my gift to her was a set of chevron stripe crocheted pillowcases.

I LOVE pillowcases with a hand crocheted edge. The pair of simple crocheted and embroidered pillowcases I inherited from my Grandmother Mangum are on my bed and they are a treasure I get to enjoy every day.

My grandmothers pillowcases are crocheted on a hemstitched edge.
There are basically five ways to attach a crocheted edge to a pillowcase: 

(1) Crochet your lace and sew it on afterwards. (not recommended)
Crocheting your lace independently of your pillowcase works for lace patterns only if you know the exact gauge length of your lace pattern. You'll have to completely start over if you didn't plan enough beginning chain stitches. Not fun.

Hemstitch edge on hemstitch pillowcases
(2) Have a hemstitch edge sewn on your pillowcase.
This produces a lovely finished edge of holes to your pillowcase and makes it very easy to crochet your lace directly on the pillowcase, but you'll need to find someone who has a hemstitching machine and send it out to them.
(Or, find out if your sewing machine is compatible, buy a hemstitch needle and try to hemstitch it yourself. Score!)

(3) Sew a blanket stitch edge onto your pillowcase and then crochet your lace onto this foundation.
This is an very quick and easy option. Go see these cute pillowcases inspired by this link. You can use matching embroidery thread or your crochet thread for the blanket stitch.

This rotary blade attaches to a standard 45mm rotary cutter and makes small perforated holes evenly spaced across your fabric. This quickly takes the place of poking your fabric with a needle or awl, but the blade will cut the material of your pillowcase. I have personally never used this rotary blade for high quality cotton pillowcases. I know that it works great on fleece or flannel blankets.

I used a sharp needle to make a hole in the edge of the pillowcase and then did 3 chain stitches between each single crochet into the holes.

(5) Use a sharp, fat needle or awl to poke measured holes across the edge of your pillowcase. Single crochet into the hole and use chain stitches to connect to the next hole for a foundation edge.
This is the way I've always done it, but this method is time consuming and is kind of awkward and I often pull the fibers of the pillowcase fabric as I'm poking the crochet needle into the hole. This is the way women have been crocheting edge lace for centuries

Recently, I was fortunate enough to find a woman who has a hemstitching machine and she charged me a very reasonable price to hemstitch the edge of my pillowcases. Yay! If you'd like her contact information, please email me at alipyper(at)gmail(dot)com and I will tell you how to get in contact with her.

Okay. So once you have a foundation row embroidered or single crocheted onto your pillowcase edge, you can start crocheting the chevron stripe. I've used #10 bedspread weight crochet thread and a US 7 (1.65 mm) crochet hook. Adjust hook size to obtain gauge.

Gauge: This chevron pattern has a 1-5/8" (43 mm) repeat. Most standard pillowcases are 21" x 32" (53 x 81 cm). You might need to make one or two pattern repeats slightly longer or shorter depending on the size of your pillowcase. This is super easy to do!

USA Crochet Terms:
MC: main color (I suggest using the same color as your pillowcase)
CC: contrasting color
st(s): stitch(es)
ch: chain stitch
sc: single crochet
hdc: half double crochet
dc: double crochet
htr: half treble crochet (yarn over twice. insert hook into desired stitch. draw yarn through stitch. yarn over and draw through two loops. yarn over and draw through last three loops)
tr: treble crochet
hdtr: half double treble crochet (yarn over three times. insert hook into desired stitch. draw yarn through stitch. yarn over and draw through two loops. yarn over and draw through two loops. yarn over and draw through last three loops)
dtr: double treble crochet
triple dc dec: triple dc decrease. [yarn over. insert hook in next st. draw yarn through st. yarn over and pull through two loops (leaving two loops on hook). yarn over and insert hook in next st. draw yarn through st. yarn over and pull through two loops (leaving three loops on hook). yarn over and insert hook in next st. draw yarn through st. yarn over and draw through two loops (leaving four loops on hook). yarn over and draw through last four loops on hook]

Row 1: With MC, ch 4. [1 dtr, 1 hdtr] in same st. 1 tr in next st. 1 htr in next st. 1 dc in next 2 sts. 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in next st, *1 hdc in next st, 1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 htr in next st, 1 tr in next st, [ 1 hdtr, 1 dtr, 1 hdtr] in next stitch, 1 tr in next st. 1 htr in next st. 1 dc in next 2 sts. 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in next st*, repeat pattern from * to * until last five sts. 1 hdc in next st. 1 dc in  next 2 sts. 1 htr in next st. 1 tr in next st. Change to cc and join with a sl st to beginning ch.

(Note: If you need to increase or decrease the length of the chevron repeat in order for it to fit nicely on your pillowcase, add or eliminate double crochets in the highlighted portion of the pattern. On the next contrasting color row, similarly add or eliminate double crochets to match the pattern.

triple dc decrease
Row 2: With CC, ch 3. *3 dc in next st. 1 dc in next 5 sts. 1 triple dc dec. 1 dc in next 5 sts.* Repeat from * to * until last four sts. 1 dc last four sts. Join to beginning ch, knot, cut thread and weave in ends.

(Note: Make sure that your are crocheting 3 dc in the dtr, and crocheting the triple dc dec across the hdc, sc, and hdc stitches.)

If you'd like to add additional colors onto the edge, just repeat row 2 (without knotting, cutting or weaving in ends) with a new color.

It's fun to have a simple, yet modern crochet pattern to add a little love to your pillowcases. If you have problems with the pattern or need help, let me know! alipyper(at)gmail(dot)com

Click here for an easy to print pattern


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Itazura Coin Bank - Toy Tuesday

Itazura Kitty Cat Coin Bank

Have you seen these adorable banks? When you place a coin on the top of the box, a little animal peeps it's head out and it's little paw steals your coin! It's so cute!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

{G} and her first pie!

I learned the secret for this amazing pumpkin pie while I was working as a pastry chef during college at a local restaurant. Instead of using sweetened condensed or evaporated milk, this recipe calls for heavy whipping cream. It produces a light and creamy pie with a firm texture, without being cloyingly sweet. It is definitely a family favorite!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Makes two pies.

First, make the pie crusts from the following recipe, making sure all your ingredients are very cold. I use a food processor, but you can use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Cover the pie crusts with plastic wrap once they are rolled out and in the pie plates and store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to fill them with the pumpkin filling.

Pate Brisee Pie Crust Recipe
adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes two pie shells.

2 1/2 cups cold all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 6 Tbsp. ice cold water

Put flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a cutting blade. Pulse to mix. Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and pulse a few times until the butter is cut into pea sized chunks. Slowly add the cold water through the feed tube one tablespoon at a time while the processor is running. Be careful not to add too much water, or process for more than about 30 seconds. When the dough starts to come together and isn't wet or sticky, stop and check the dough by squeezing the dough between your fingers.If the dough is still crumbly, add a bit more water.

Divide dough in half and turn out on to a large piece of plastic wrap. Grasping the ends of the plastic wrap with your hands, press the dough into a flat circle with your fists. Wrap completely in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

When you're ready to roll out the dough. unwrap the dough disk, but leave it on the plastic wrap. Place a second piece of plastic wrap on top, and slowly roll out the dough to the desired shape between the two pieces of plastic. Take the top piece of plastic off and carefully flip the crust over into the pie dish. Remove the second piece of plastic and trim and crimp the edges of the pie crust. Repeat for the second pie crust.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
Makes 2 pie fillings
Preheat oven to 425°F

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 large can (29 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix eggs until frothy. Stir in pumpkin puree and the sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in heavy whipping cream. You should have about 8 cups of filling for the two pies.

Divide filling in half and pour into two unbaked pie shells. Place pies in 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake pies for 40-50 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight (very, very important!!).

Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Playing Chef - Toy Tuesday

Christmas 1976

I am 18 months older than my younger sister Amy and when we were young we were inseparable. We were lovingly called the "A & A Demolition Crew" and spent many, many hours playing house, playing dolls, and making a fine mess in our room and in the house with whatever materials we could find. 

Custom Play Kitchen
We LOVED to play in our pretend "kitchen." Perhaps this is where my love of baking began? 

Pottery Barn Kids Red Retro Kitchen
I have a soft spot in my heart for play kitchen sets. From the tabletop version to the tricked out gourmet variety, there is always room for a little pretend baking!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Areaware Wooden Toys - Toy Tuesday

Ursa the Bear and Ursa Minor

I just discovered these amazing wooden toys designed by David Weeks for Areaware!

Hattie the Elephant

Made of sustainably harvested new growth beech wood and jointed together with durable elastic bands, these gorgeous wooden toys can be manipulated into many poses and will withstand years of play.

Hanno the Gorilla

Inspired by Japanese Shinto Kumi-ki puzzles, this large robot is signed by the designer and folds back into a cube when play is done. Simply amazing.

Extra Large Cubebot

A gorgeous, imaginative, well crafted alternative to the majority of cheap, plastic, and garishly colored toys available today.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Free Knit Pattern

 Thank you to all the veterans that continue to allow us the freedom to vote, to worship, to work, to bake, to craft, to create, to sell, to enjoy, to play, and to be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lemon Curd Recipe

What do you do with 24 egg yolks left over from a gigantic wedding cake?

Make yummy, tangy, sweet, yellow lemon curd.

Lemon Curd
makes about 2 cups

1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2/3 cups water
1 Tbsp. finely shredded lemon zest
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
6 beaten egg yolks
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add water, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly.

Slowly stir half of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks. Then return all the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in butter pieces, completely incorporating melted butter.

Cover curd with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 48 hours.

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.

Here are some ideas of what to do with it once you're done...besides just spooning it into your mouth.

Lemon Tassies
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
1-2-3-4 Lemon Cake

alipyper likes to garden???

I spent the other day weeding and preparing the raspberry bed for winter. I was pretty aggressive about removing old canes and now that it's done I'm in a panic that I went a little too crazy. It sure looks nice and neat, but what if I did more harm than good? What if I cut the canes too short and in the wrong way? What if the roots are in danger of winter kill because I've exposed the soil? What if the weight of the winter snow that gets shoveled off the driveway weighs the canes down too much?

As I was working, I kept thinking about Antiques Roadshow where someone brings in a gorgeous piece of furniture and the appraiser says, "This is a wonderful, authentic piece that is worth $10,000. But if you had only left the original old patina on, instead of stripping off the dirt and grime and refinishing it, it WOULD HAVE been worth $150,000!" What if that's what I've done with our favorite crop?

More often than not, I'm rendered motionless by "analysis paralysis." Very often I've convinced myself something won't work before I even try. And if I think I'll look like a fool doing something? Nuh uhh. Won't willingly go there.

As you can see there is LOTS more to do while the weather holds to get the garden beds ready for winter. While I weed and prune I'll be thinking about overcoming my "analysis paralysis." And I'll be praying the whole winter through that what I've done with the raspberries was the right thing to do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Projectile Monkeys - Toy Tuesday

Flying Flingshot Monkeys

Have you seen these flying monkeys? They are so much fun! You place your fingertips in the monkeys hand pocket, pull back on their legs and let them go like a sling shot. They really do fly!

They have barnyard animals...

When Pigs Fly...
and flying monkey spacemen as well.

Flying Monkey Spacemen
Appropriate for ages 3 and up. Great stocking stuffer!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wedding Carrot Cake Recipe

Phew! The wedding cake was made, transported, and assembled without too much drama. Luckily the wedding dinner was practically right across the street from the house. I was so pleased with how it turned out!

The dramatic fall colors against the simple, bright white frosting were so vivid, so gorgeous!

The top layer of the cake was vanilla cake with blackberry filling. The second layer was vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream filling. The third layer was chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling. And the bottom layer was carrot cake with cream cheese filling. All the cakes were moist and yummy but my favorite flavor by far was the carrot cake.

The recipe below makes about 4 2/3 cups of carrot cake batter, without any nuts. I tripled the recipe for each 14" layer and filled each layer with 12 cups of batter. The 2 cups of batter left over from each cake layer was made into carrot cupcakes. This cake was moist, but the texture was very firm, so it held up really well on the bottom of the cake. LOVE this wedding cake recipe!!

Carrot Cake

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla
2 1/3 cups shredded/grated carrot
1 cup walnuts or toasted pecans, chopped fine, optional

Preheat oven to 325°F. 

Butter two 8" x 2" round cake pans. Put parchment circles in pans, butter parchment, then flour pans, tapping out excess flour. Set aside.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix canola oil, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add shredded carrot and mix until well blended. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low and frequently scraping the bowl to make sure the batter is nice and smooth with no lumps, without over mixing. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes before removing cakes to cool completely on wire racks. Using a serrated knife, level the cakes. Double wrap the cake layers in plastic and freeze at least 24 hours.

When you're ready to frost the cake, remove cake layers from the freezer. Immediately frost tops and sides with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tsp. pure vanilla

5 1/2 to 6 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Continue adding powdered sugar until you reach a spreading consistency. Makes about 4 cups frosting and will frost the tops and sides of two 8- or 9- inch layers.

The decorations at the wedding dinner were so lovely and I'm so glad that the cake added to the loveliness. Yay for a wedding cake success!

Carrot Cake Recipe
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