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"Artisanal" Holiday Presents


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Susan I love that groovy variegated yard.

Could you explain what felting is?  I can see the difference between them, and imagine that the extra thickness and tightness is what you're after.  Is the shrinkage predictable, that is, can you know how much extra size to allow for so the finished product is just right?  Reminds me of boiled wool jackets... probably a similar process, eh?

Boiled wool is indeed the same thing as felted knitting. Did you even know that your boiled wool jacket probably started out as a way over-sized knit sweater? Or, that if you felted ("boiled") a square or rectangle of knit "fabric" that you could cut it and it wouldn't ravel?

Boiling the wool is a pain in the arse, and stinks, so now a days, most often they are run through the washing machine. I let them go through the rinse cycle, but not the spin cycle, and try and use a no-rinse wool washing detergent.

So, there is control. Wash, rinse, don't spin, check. Repeat until you have the necessary size. It is important if you are using a yarn with mohair to put the items in one of those zipper pillow protector thingies so that you don't clog up (read damage) your washing machine with mohair fibres.

It's also important that the yarn be 100% wool, or as close as you can get (remember, mohair qualifies as wool). My favorite yarns for felting have been this Plymouth Outback (what you see pictured) or Lamb's Pride. The Lamb's Price (by Brown Sheep Yarn, Co.) equates to worsted weight and their bulky to two strands of worsted weight knitted together.

One of the joys of feling is that it is very forgiving. Make a mistake? Who cares. No one will ever see it. Plus, in the case of the oven mitts, it is very thermal, and is actually rather water repellent, so if you happen to dab a portion of it into broth, you probably won't burn yourself.

Back to food. For stuff like nuts, etc., what are some good packaging options?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Back to food. For stuff like nuts, etc., what are some good packaging options?

I thought this was fascinating....talk about dedication....someone documented the folding of paper "nut/seed" cones in markets of Eastern Europe. I practiced with scrap paper and got it about right. But I'm not sure what decorative holiday paper will be strong enough for wrapping Pille's cinnamon almonds. Freezer paper would be good, but not pretty. At our market they sell the almonds in the traditional clear cellophane? cones...but they are very long and skinny....don't know how to do those.

http://home.swipnet.se/roland/conefold.html

I only have "after market (shrunk wook sweaters)" wool so not sure about pot holders. But in a store display I saw a tree with felted wool decorations....including a moose. Now if I can find the moose cookie cutter I'm set.

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Now if I can find the moose cookie cutter I'm set.

Google is your friend:

Moose Cookie Cutter: Fifth column, 4th row down.

There were quite a few sites that sold them when I Googled "moose cookie cutter".

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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If you want to use a felted sweater (read one that accidentally went through the washer) to make potholders, mittens, ornaments, etc. remember that if the wool is well felted -- you can run it through the washer another time or two to make it extra felted. If it is well felted, you can cut it and sew it up since you won't have to worry that it will ravel.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Back to food.  For stuff like nuts, etc., what are some good packaging options?

I thought this was fascinating....talk about dedication....someone documented the folding of paper "nut/seed" cones in markets of Eastern Europe.  I practiced with scrap paper and got it about right.  But I'm not sure what decorative holiday paper will be strong enough for wrapping Pille's cinnamon almonds.  Freezer paper would be good, but not pretty. At our market they sell the almonds in the traditional clear cellophane? cones...but they are very long and skinny....don't know how to do those.

What if you had two layers, one freezer paper on the inside, and decorative paper on the outside?

Kate

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been on a roll. Never mind that the vest I'm knitting for my mother and the hat for Diana will be twofer gifts (show them the half-knitted thing this year as a gift, and give them the done deal next year :cool: ).

But, as to the oven mitts:

gallery_6263_35_38765.jpg

The one on the left is with two strands of worsted weight, the one on the right with one strand. Quite frankly, I like the one-strand better -- it leads to a more flexible oven mitt, although it is an oven mitt for a transfer, not something you'd want to stand and hold for an hour. I also made (but they are wrapped, and I'll be damned if I'm going to unwrap them...) some "trivets" out of the two strand method (bordering the varigated yarn with a solid color), and for those, the two strand method is a good thing. But, I did discover, by accident, that the two stranded mitts are quite water proof!

One of the other things I discovered by trial and error is that I like the look of an oven mitt better when the top of the hand decrease is done by the knit X number of stitches, K2T (knit two together) than the method by doing the decreases on either sideof the mitten. Less of a pointy top.

The other thing I made this year were some of these:

gallery_6263_35_83379.jpg

I am showing something that I received many, many years ago, and have loved and used time and time again. What I made is wrapped, and I'm not about to unwrap it. It is a pie holder, and one that will work well for a round casserole dish. Made out of quited fabric, and this time around, I quilted my own fabric (machine, what a lot of spools of thread I used!). Basically, the "floor" of the carrier is a 14" circle. The "sides" are cut to match, with a hole in the top. Easier to finish the four sides of the "sides" is bias tape. The handles are also of quilted fabric. The one photoed had that ttwo sided pre-quilted fabric, and the interior was exposed for the handles. Wide bias binding for the "rim" of the "sides" and narrow bias binding was used for the "cincher" although ribbon would work quite well. Note that the giver of this gift even included the safety pin she used to thread the "cincher" through the bias sleeve.

If anyone wants details on either of these projects, let me know.

Unlike food gifts, these will hang around for a long time, and if one uses the nice bold colors I do, they won't get lost in a drawer!

Edited to replace a photo with the correct one.

Edited by snowangel (log)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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but that quillted casserole carrier is the shit. Really. Please PM me the details!.

Maggie, I'll be making one more in right short order for a friend's birthday, and will post a tutorial, including measurements and photos, OK? It is 'da bomb, BTW, and Oh, So Simple and Useful. If you quilt your own fabric and have some batting on hand, the cost is next to nothing, except for thread!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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  • 9 months later...

I saw the thread on making vanilla and it inspired me so much that I plan to jump on the bandwagon and do some for myself. But then it hit me: I could give it as Christmas gifts!

I would assume other people have done this same thing before. What else would you put in?

At the moment, the list I have is pretty sparse.

Two 4 ounce bottles of vanillas, one Madagascar Bourbon and one Tahitian.

Two small jars of vanilla sugar, one from each of the beans.

Jar of 5 vanilla beans of each kind.

Small book of recipes using each thing.

For my grandparents, my boyfriend's mother, and at least one of my uncles, I know this will be a welcome gift. For the other people, I think I may do other things. It's a simple idea, though, that will keep on giving. That is what I'd rather give.

Right now, though, I'm trying to find a basket that I could put it all in.

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How about going with a sweet/savory basket. On one side you could make up dip mixes, flavored oils, homemade tomato sauce or chutneys in jars. On the other side you could do the vanilla, some flavored sugars, and jars of cookie, brownie, or cake mix.

My family prefers items they can indulge in without work, such as cookie trays, coffee baskets, truffles, cakes and pastries.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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We've pretty much gone to edible gifts with my family. This year I have batches of jam waiting and I'm working on some fruit liqeuers. Last year I did bagels. Bready things always go over well.

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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I was thinking of doing bread. I figured that I'd par-bake the bread, freeze it, and then bake it the rest of the way before I go to that place for dinner. I'm working on an Italian rustic recipe right now that has good olive oil and pieces of parmigiano reggiano cheese incorporated into the dough and sprinkled on top as well. I haven't gotten my stone (or my unglazed tile) yet, though, so rustic breads are a little harder. All I can make is boules small enough to go in my dutch oven or to fit under my metal bowl. :D

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Each year I do a Christmas box for family members and close friends. It keeps me out of the mall and in my own kitchen with the good flavors, good smells, and my kind of music turned up loud.

I get white gift boxes (about 8 by 8 by 8 ) at one of the local packing stores and then use fancy design printed waxed tissue paper to line them. The boxes are available by internet and catalog at Packaging specialties Co (www.pkgspec.com) and the waxed paper is available by internet and catalog at Williams Sonoma.

I fill the boxes with a variety of home made cookies, savory seasoned nuts, a toffee or nut brittle, some fruit jellies, biscotti, occasionally small cakes or bread, and molded chocolate truffles and bon bons. Each year the items in the box are different with only a few repeats. The nuts and the toffee or nut brittle are also packaged in colorful cellophane bags and the jellies and chocolates are packaged in small clear plastic boxes. I also include a short holiday greeting letter on holiday stationary explaining all the items in the box. The outside finishing touch is a simple colorful ribbon and a gold embossed sticker with my initials on it (also available from Williams Sonoma catalog).

The home made goodies are a big hit and folks tell me that they eagerly look forward to it each year. And no one has had to take it back to the mall because the color or size was wrong. I must admit my gift boxes have gotten bigger and more elaborate as the years have passed but the idea is to find out what you like to bake or make and then package it in festive way and give it with love.

Fred Rowe

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Last year I made some star shaped banana bread, and some of Jayme' wonderful caramel popcorn. They were very well received.

Thanks for the compliment!

I try to save Christmas tins everytime I see them because my family has gotten to where they expect that caramel corn and whine if they don't get it.

Different family members request their favorite nuts in it - cashews, spiced pecans, chili peanuts, etc.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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If you've never tried Orangette's Mom's coffee walnut toffee let me say that it's a) the best toffee in the whole world, and b) one of the best-received gifts I've ever given.

I'll try it on some French friends this year, and I'm sure it's going to cause a sensation in this part of the world.

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So I'm really glad that this topic is around, because I think I need some feedback, and I can't post on my blog because people who would recieve the gift would read it...

I'm thinking of trying "Pho-Pourri"...Like potpourri, but it will be all the spices needed for pho broth (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, etc.) wrapped up in a little lacey thing, so they can just drop it into broth and I'll give them a pack of rice noodles as well. They will have to add broth and meat though.

I think if done right it could be cute? maybe? I'm still working on it...This is Seattle, so Pho is like what everyone always wants in winter, so I think it should work.

Suggestions? Comments? Thanks!

Gnomey

The GastroGnome

(The adventures of a Gnome who does not sit idly on the front lawn of culinary cottages)

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So I'm really glad that this topic is around, because I think I need some feedback, and I can't post on my blog because people who would recieve the gift would read it...

I'm thinking of trying "Pho-Pourri"...Like potpourri, but it will be all the spices needed for pho broth (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, etc.) wrapped up in a little lacey thing, so they can just drop it into broth and I'll give them a pack of rice noodles as well. They will have to add broth and meat though.

I think if done right it could be cute? maybe? I'm still working on it...This is Seattle, so Pho is like what everyone always wants in winter, so I think it should work.

Suggestions? Comments? Thanks!

That sounds like a great idea, if you have the right recipients. Pho is still really exotic around here, I wish my friends would dig something like that. You could throw in a recipe, too, to round it out, or pack it all in a nice bowl with a spoon, and chopsticks. What a cool gift. I know I would totally love it.

I made cookies last year, as well as 2 weeks of dinners for my aunt and her brother. I've been doing it for years, they're both single, they work hard, too busy to cook, and they're financially comfortable enough, that they never "need" anything. What do you give someone who has everything? Dinner! I make up bunches of their favorite foods, freeze them in 1-2 portions, throw in a pie or two, some homemade bread, and they are in heaven. They start sending me ideas as early as August, haha. I really love doing it, I wish I could do the same for my Mom, but she hates food.

I'm not doing cookies this year, I made about 800 last year, and it just about killed me. I was thinking of making candies this year. I can start earlier since most candies keep better than cookies, and the ones I have picked out are a lot less labor intensive.

I'm thinking of making my Aunt Mary's butter toffee, some variety of fudge, my friend's South African brown sugar fudge (supposedly, it's kinda crunchy. Sounds good, I'll have to try it out before I settle), sweet and spicy mixed nuts, and chocolate dipped pretzel rods.

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I'm thinking of trying "Pho-Pourri..

Suggestions? Comments? Thanks!

I LOVE this idea. I hope you will consider immitation a sincere form of flattery, because I am totally going to steal that idea!

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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I'm thinking of trying "Pho-Pourri..

Suggestions? Comments? Thanks!

I LOVE this idea. I hope you will consider immitation a sincere form of flattery, because I am totally going to steal that idea!

Please steal! Just don't have any of the same friends as me :cool:

Gnomey

The GastroGnome

(The adventures of a Gnome who does not sit idly on the front lawn of culinary cottages)

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I happened across two lugs of peaches (on sale; end of season), so I have many, many glistening jars of jam -- blushing peach (peach/raspberry) and peach ginger.

The final batch did not set, but makes wonderful syrup. I'm thinking of wrapping each jar I give as a gift in an embroidered flour sack dish cloth. I'm stitching fast and furious!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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