Finger-knitted scarf

Hand-made gifts are the best gifts there are. Years ago, you’d create your own gifts merely because it was less expensive. Now… well, I like the fact that it costs less, but hand-made gifts really show how much you appreciate someone. You put in time and effort to make something that people will like. Quite different than walking into the first store you see and getting a gift card, or even easier: money in an envelope. I’m as guilty of that as anyone, because it’s so easy. And you know for sure the receiver can get something he or she likes. But trying to actually give something is more fun. Even when I’ve asked for money for my birthday, I love it when people come up with gifts that suit me. It means much more to me. So I’m trying to practice, find out how to make simple but fun things that I can give as presents.

At my dad’s home, we have a book about crafting everything… yes, EVERYTHING. Bags, musical instruments, toys of all shapes and sizes. I still have to go get it some time, cause the book gives endless possibilities. What I liked best as a child, though, was yarn. I tried crocheting, finger weaving, knitting (though my grandmother had to set up for me) and knotting. Mainly as experiments or for bracelets. Loved it as pastime. Looking into Waldorf education, where hand-working is promoted and even taught, I found a precursor to knitting: finger knitting!

I’d never heard of it before, so I looked at how it works and it’s incredibly simple. I understand they teach this to children for fine motor skills. You basically weave the yarn between your fingers and pull the bottom loop over the top loop all the time.  Here’s a video that explains it.

It’s a bit like spool knitting, but using your fingers instead of the spool. You can quickly knit a long piece. And I did! Just knitting whilst watching TinTin, I made a thin scarf. Probably I won’t wear it myself, cause I’m not a scarf person, but it looks real nice and I might be able to make someone else happy with it. Perhaps I’ll work a bit further, making a shorter but slightly thicker scarf, but I’m not quite sure yet. Anyway, a great technique to make a simple scarf fairly fast.
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Apart from finger weaving, crocheting and the other techniques I mentioned, there are still many more ways to work with yarn. I’m planning on trying arm knitting next, making a big scarf. What would you like to give a try?

Making bread

It appears I’m feeling kind of crafty these days! Today I decided to make my own bread, which fits perfectly with the Lammas season. I made it the long way, starting with whole wheat flour, yeast, salt and water and that was it! I’ve just tasted it, and it’s real dense bread, so one or two slices will probably fill enough. Here’s how to make it:

1. For a 1 3/4 L cake tray you pour 750 gram of whole wheat flour in a bowl. Make a hole in the middle and put 20-30 grams of fresh (or equivalent dry) yeast there. Put 15 gram of salt around the edges of the flour, touching the bowl.
Slowly pour 6 dL slightly warm water on the hole in the middle, stirring all the time (only in the middle section, it will become difficult). A ring of dry flour and salt remains. Cover the bowl with a dry towel and let it rest for 30 minutes,
Mix the remaining flour and salt with the wet stuff. When it becomes difficult to do it with a spoon, start doing it by hand. Make sure to cover your hands with flour all the time, to avoid sticky hands. Keep adding small bits of flour until it doesn’t stick anymore. You can then take the dough out of the bowl and kneed it further with a kind of push and pull movement. The dough needs to become more elastic.
2. Put a bit of flour in the bowl and put the dough in again. Cover it with a wet towel and place it in the warmest spot in the house to let it rise. When it is about 2 times its original size, you can take it out, kneed it again for about 5 minutes and put it in a greased cake tin. Cover it (yes, again, I told you this was the long version) with a thick towel covered with flour. It will rise a bit more.
3. Now you can preheat the oven to 225-250 degrees Celcius. When the dough bounces back when you gently poke it with your finger, it is finally ready to go into the oven  for 20-30 minutes. It’s ready when it looks good, when it sounds a bit hollow if you tap it with your knuckle or when a skewer comes out clean (not necessarily dry). Take it out of the tin and let it cool in a way the air can circulate around it (for example by putting it in the tin diagonally, like I did).

Yes, it’s quite a bit of work. It was the first time I made it, and it cost me a grand total of 3 hours. Most of it is waiting time, however, so you can do plenty of other stuff in the meantime. And it tastes GREAT, so it’s worth the effort. Because you make it yourself I think you appreciate it more as well. I think it’ll taste great with the strawberries I took home from the market, I’ll try it tomorrow. Great Lammas recipe, I can probably use this all week if it lasts! Yay 🙂