My first sweater... the beginning

I'm so excited to finally be working on my first sweater, which I mentioned in my Yarn Sale INSANITY post. When you knit a sweater, you work it in separate pieces and then stitch them together. I'm starting on the back, and I'm really pleased with how it's going. The soft Peruvian cotton blend yarn I'm using feels so nice, and the fabric it's making has a really nice drape to it. It's the first time I bought yarn that was in hanks, rather than center-pull skeins, so I have to wind them into balls I've been updating my progress on it on my favorite Knit/Crochet website, Ravelry. It's a wonderful site that lets you track all of your projects, share them with friends, find great user-rated patterns, discuss anything under the sun in forums, and just enjoy a great community of yarn crafters! Here's a screenshot of my project page for this cardi/shrug I'm making:

Want to investigate further? GO AHEAD! Are you a Ravelry member? Add me as a friend! I'm TheHomeEconomist. :-)

Today's Muffins: Carrot-Ginger Bran Muffins

Here's today's muffin recipe from Women's Health:

1/4 can (3 oz) frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate
1/2 c wheat bran
1 1/4 c whole-wheat or other whole-grain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
egg, beaten
1/2 c yogurt (such as Dannon Activia)
1/2 c shredded carrots
tsp grated fresh ginger
3 Tbsp molasses
1/4 c pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Boil juice over high heat until it becomes syrupy. Set aside and let cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together wheat bran, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and dried ginger.

4. In a separate bowl, combine reduced juice, egg, yogurt, carrot, fresh ginger, and molasses. Combine mixtures and then fold in pumpkin seeds.

5. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12. Per muffin: 109 cal, 3 g fat (0.5 g sat), 177 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein

They're cooling on the rack right now... they look pretty good, and I think they'll taste good, too! 


Today Hubby and I trekked up to Northampton to visit the WEBS Annual Tent Sale and Fleece Market, hoping to get a good deal on some yarn, and maybe a set of needles. Friends, JoAnn and Michael's had not prepared me for the Mecca that is WEBS! Aisle after aisle of every texture and weight and color combination you could think of! I found everything from local organic, undyed wool to jewel-toned hanks of pure silk with beads and sequins woven in ($60 per hank, too!). As if the tents outside with deals on bulk buys and the store itself weren't enough, a whole warehouse in back waited with deals galore! The only thing more overwhelming than the overstock of variety was the huge crowd that came with the same idea I did. My dear saint of a hubby waited patiently with his crosswords and sudoku in a line that snaked around the store and moved at a dying snail's pace. (MAJOR THUMBS UP FOR HUBBY!) One woman said "And they say knitting is a dying art! HA!"

I kept my head though, even though I would have loved to push my cart up and down each aisle, merrily tossing in anything that should strike my fancy. I bought Berroco Weekend in Plum to make this adorable short sleeved shrug/cardigan.  It's a lovely, soft cotton blend that will feel cozy and look cute over a tank top.

Today's Muffins: Banana, Yogurt and Walnut

I made some really yummy muffins today, and I wanted to share the recipe. They're moist and de-lish, and they taste just like banana bread, but are made with healthier ingredients. I got it here.

  • 1 1/4 C oatmeal
  • 1/2 C rice flour
  • 1/4 C ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 C plain yogurt
  • 3 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 C agave syrup
  • 1/3 C grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 C walnut pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together oatmeal, flour, flaxseed, baking powder, and baking soda.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, bananas, syrup, and oil. Add flour mixture and fold in walnuts.
4.  Divide batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack.

If you don't have ground flaxseed, GET SOME! It's full of fiber, anti-oxidants, and omega-3s. It also tastes good! I sprinkle it on cereal and oatmeal, bake it into pancakes and muffins, mix it into smoothies and applesauce, and the list goes on! Also, try some Agave Syrup. It's got a nice, light taste, and it's a good natural sweetener. You can find it at the store with the honey.

New Spring Skirt and Tote!

I just love to sew! There's something really special about taking a piece of fabric and making into something you'll actually wear, especially when you make sure it fits you just right. I got my spring wardrobe off to a good start with this Simplicity (inspired by Project Runway) pattern. It's pattern 2698, if you want to find it for yourself! JoAnn Fabric has sales on patterns pretty regularly, so instead of paying around $16 for a pattern, you can stock up and get them for $1.99 each! Just keep an eye on their sales fliers, because you can get some amazing deals that really make it extremely affordable to sew your own clothing. Heck, if you get your fabric on sale too, as it often is, and use their coupons on whatever other notions you need, you can spend less to make cute, custom-fitted clothing for less than you would pay to buy something similar in a store! Patterns also give you several style options so that you can truly personalize your clothing to your own taste. 

Here are my results... I used a lightweight dark denim. It hits at the knee, has two pleats in front, and a pocket on each side.

I had a little bit of leftover fabric, and not wanting to waste this wonderful denim, I used it to make this tote bag. On one side I stitched my name in Bengali (left) and on the other, in Korean (right). I used leftover ivory canvas to line the inside.

Knitting + Economics = :-)

The other day my husband and I were discussing how we really liked the newer trend of micro-loans, by which people make small-ish loans to someone overseas looking build a business by which she can support herself and take care of her family. I thought of this when I saw this article about one such success story, that of a group of women in Bangladesh who are now better able to provide for their families by making and selling cute and quirky hand knit and crocheted items for babies and children. They are called Hathay Bunano, which translates to "hand-made". They also have a website, and you can see some of their great handiwork and read about some of the women.

One of the people who can be thanked for this kind of progress for poor women is Muhammad Yunus, the economics professor who won the Nobel Prize for his bank, Grameen Bank, which makes micro-loans that help women (96% of the bank's borrowers are women) help themselves and their families. Today, there are thousands of micro-credit institutions reaching tens of millions of clients around the world, and you can even find some online that you can personally get involved in.

One such company is called Kiva, which allows you to actually be the lender and have a hand in lifting a budding entrepreneur out of poverty. I think this is a fantastic concept, a "hand-up, not a handout" sort of situation. As with any situation where you are providing your own hard-earned money, I wouldn't be the Home Economist if I didn't encourage you to do your homework first, making sure that the money will go where you want it to.

I love seeing this sort of thing happen around the world. If banks could take a lesson from Grameen Bank and truly invest in people, not just their own fat bottom lines, what a change we could see! It is literally the exact opposite of the banking system we're used to... but isn't that a GOOD thing?


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