saltine toffee recipe

My camera is sitting on a shelf in my living room. It isn't small. It's there staring me in the face every day. Yet I somehow managed to forget to take pictures of my last two knitting projects. It's a shame since they were both so cute. Maybe I was too excited to give them to an expectant mother and a mother of a newborn.

The first project I forgot to photograph is the Sunnyside Baby Sweater. I knitted it with grey wool and found the cutest little aqua buttons for it. This project knits up quickly since you make it all in one piece and attach the arms afterwards. Maybe I'll take a picture of the little guy wearing it when he's born in November.

The second project I forgot to photograph was for my neighbors. They had an adorable baby boy 2 weeks ago and I made him a simple Baby Beanie with self striping yarn. His parents put the hat on him when I went over to deliver food on Friday and he looked so handsome. (And even more exciting, the hat fit him well! I'm notorious for bad hat sizing.)

So enough about the things I didn't take pictures of...let me share something that I did manage to photograph!

saltine toffee, one of my favorite desserts! (from paintinglilies.com) #desserts

I can't believe I've waited this long to share one of my favorite recipes. This has been a staple dessert for me since college. It's so easy, incredibly delicious and only uses a few ingredients (most of which you probably have in your pantry). Best of all, you can make this in about 30 minutes.

My favorite part about this dessert is that it looks and tastes like it took hours to make. No one will believe you when you tell them you made it saltines, butter, sugar and chocolate.

It's addictive. Just try to only have one piece.

Saltine Toffee

Ingredients:

About 40 saltine crackers (or enough to cover your baking sheet) *Note* I've also used matzo crackers. They produce a slightly different consistency, but are just as delicious.

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch of salt

1 package of chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

1 cup toasted almonds (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet first with foil and then with parchment paper, making sure to cover the entire baking sheet.

In a medium saucepan, heat up the butter and brown sugar. Stir the mixture until it starts to boil over medium heat.  The mixture will thicken as it heats, so make sure to stir it continuously. Once it starts to boil, continue to let it bubble for about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.

Quickly pour the mixture over the saltines. Spread it out so that the mixture covers the saltines evenly. It will begin to set pretty quickly, so work fast.

Bake the covered saltines for 15 minutes. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn. If the edges start getting dark, you can reduce the heat.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Let the chips sit for about 5 minutes or until they start to melt. Then use a rubber spatula to spread the chocolate out evenly over the crackers. Sprinkle on nuts.

Allow the chocolate to set. I typically put the entire sheet in the freezer.

Once the toffee is set, break it apart and serve!

25 Free Beginner Knitting Patterns

25 Free Beginner Knitting Patterns from paintinglilies.com #knitting #yarnTake a second and think back to when you first started knitting. Were you intimidated by difficult techniques? Was it hard to find patterns at your skill level? Did you want a list of beginner knitting patterns? Preferably free beginner knitting patterns?

I remember being frustrated by all the terms and techniques. I wanted to knit items I would actually use or give away, but I didn't think I could create those unless I knew all the stitches and advanced knitting techniques.

If you're a beginner knitter and need some easy patterns to start out with, this list is for you.  You also might be an experienced knitter that just wants an easier pattern for some mindless knitting.

The following 25 patterns don't involve much more than knit and purl stitches. Some require you to knit in the round or do simple increases and decreases. They all leave you with a beautiful knitting creation and best of all, these patterns are all available for free! (Some are from Ravelry, so you'll need a free account there to access them.)

For each pattern, I included some of the skills you'll need and where to find the pattern. If you like this list and find it helpful, I'd love to create more. What patterns would you like to see? Top cable knitting patterns? Knitting patterns for the adventurous knitter? Beginner crochet patterns? Leave a comment and let me know!

25 Free Beginner Knitting Patterns

Cowl & Scarf Knitting Patterns

 

free beginner knitting patterns
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit, purl, knitting in the round on circular needles
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

free knitting pattern
Where: Purl Bee
Techniques: Knit and purl
By: Purl Bee
How to get it: Free on Purl Bee

 

free knitting patterns
Where: Madelinetosh
Techniques: Knit, purl, slip stitch
By: Madeline Tosh
How to get it: Free download from Madelinetosh.com

 

free knitting pattern
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit
By: Elisa McLaughlin
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

5. Spiral Cowl Pattern

spiral cowl

Where: Knitty Gritty Thoughts
Techniques: Knit, purl, yo
How to get it: Free PDF download

 

Baby Blanket Knitting Patterns

free baby blanket knitting pattern
Where: Purl Bee
Techniques: Knit, purl, joining a second color, knitting in the round
By: Whit's Knits
How to get it: Free on Purl Bee

 

free knitting pattern
Where: TLC How Stuff Works
Techniques: Knit and purl
How to get it: Free from TLC

 

free knitting pattern
Where: Painting Lilies
Techniques: Knit and purl
By: Specific instructions by me, though I can't really take credit for creating this simple pattern
How to get it: Instructions from Painting Lilies

 

free knitting pattern
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit and purl
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

free knitting pattern
Where: Purl Bee
Techniques: Knit and join new colors
By: Whit's knits
How to get it: Free from Purl Bee

 

free baby blanket pattern
Where: Ravelry / Lion Brand
Techniques: Garter stitch
By: Lion Brand Yarn
How to get it: Visit Ravelry and click on the link to Lion's website. Free registration required to access pattern.

 

baby blanket
Where: JCasa
Techniques: Knit, purl, increase, decrease
How to get it: Instructions from the JCasa Blog

 

 Baby / Kid Knitting Patterns

 

free knitting pattern
Techniques: Knit, purl, increase, decrease, knitting in the round
How to get it: Free from Knitty Gritty

14. I-Love-Stockinette Baby Bib

free bib knitting pattern
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit, purl, increase, decrease
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

baby hat
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit, purl, increase, decrease
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

baby hat
Where: Random Stitches
Techniques: knit, purl, increase, knit with two colors
How to get it: Free PDF on Random Stitches

 

Hat & Glove Knitting Patterns

 

free knitting pattern
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit, purl, knitting in the round, increase and decrease
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

18. Rikke Hat

free beginner knitting patterns
Where: Happy Knits
Techniques: Garter stitch, knitting in the round, increase and decrease
By: Jessa
How to get it: Free download from Happy Knits

 

free knitting pattern
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit, purl, increase, decrease
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

free hat knitting pattern
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit, purl, yarn over, increase, decrease, knitting in the round
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

easy knitting pattern
Where: Ravelry:
Techniques: Knit, purl, increase, decrease, knit in the round
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

Misc. Knitting Patterns

22. Three Dishcloths

knitting pattern dish cloth
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit and purl
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

free knitting pattern shawl
Where: Ravelry:
Techniques: Knit, purl, increase, decrease
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

boxy cozy
Where: Ravelry
Techniques: Knit, purl, knit with double pointed needles
How to get it: Free PDF download from Ravelry

 

knit washcloth
Where: Tricksy Knitter
Techniques: knit, purl, increase, decrease
By: Megan Goodacre
I'm sure I missed quite a few...great patterns, so share a link to your favorite pattern for beginners in the comments. 
Looking for more free knitting patterns?
Happy knitting!

understanding yarn labels

Are you ever confused by the labels on your yarn? This helpful infographic from Stitch11 shows you all the details on weights, gauges and laundering. How many of you are sticklers for checking your gauge? It's one of the things I hate the most and I've been burned before by knitting things that are too small or too big. You'd think I would learn my lesson, but I still avoid the gauge whenever possible...

I have a little baby sweater on my needles right now. I need to knit the sleeves and find some cute buttons. Once I do,  I'll share all about the pattern here.

yarn labels

what's next?

After finishing the never-ending project (aka the Tunisian Tweed Blanket), I'm trying to figure out what to tackle next. It's summer, which means I'm way less excited about knitting. It's hard to get motivated to make warm garments when you're sweating and winter seems a million miles away. Also, knitting large garments and blankets doesn't exactly help you cool down.

But the problem is that I don't start knitting again until it's already cold. At that point I want to be wearing cool, handmade items, not knitting them.

Plus, there's the goal I set this year to knit a sweater. A sweater that I can wear. And I'm pretty sure that I should start that soon so that I'm not scrambling to do it in December.

Why are all the cute sweater patterns for kids? I can't seem to find an adult sized sweater that doesn't look...well, super homemade.

Maybe I'll start by knitting a kid-sized sweater and then move onto one that works for me?

I love this Duck Soup Sweater from Blog A La Carte.  (Pattern here)

kid's sweater
kid's sweater

And how about this Sunnyside Baby Cardigan from Learn to Knit with Katie? (Free pattern here)

sweater
sweater

Does anyone have any summer knitting suggestions? How about any good patterns for adult sweaters?

belated birthday post

Saturday was my birthday! If you've been reading for a while, you might know that last year was my Golden Birthday. I turned 28 on the 28th. I celebrated by doing 28 things. Compared to last year, this year wasn't quite as exciting. My main plans were to go for a bike ride, but after a big bike wipeout on Friday, I had to take it easy and nurse my cuts and bruises on Saturday. I did receive a few new "toys".

1. A pasta maker

pasta-makerMaking pasta seems complicated, but it's quite easy. I'm not sure why it took me so long to try it. You simply mix flour and eggs together (2 eggs for every cup of flour) and then knead it.

It is admittedly much easier to make it with a pasta maker. The dough is very stiff and can be hard to knead by hand, but little Italian women have been making pasta by hand without a pasta maker...

The great think about the pasta maker is that you just have to mix the dough and then flatten it enough to send it through the machine a few times until it comes elastic and easy to work with.

Once you get it to the desired thickness, you put it through the side that cuts the pasta. And just like that, homemade pasta.

I let mine dry for about an  hour before cooking it, but you can make it and store it to use later.

I want to experiment with different thicknesses. The pasta I made this week was a little too thick. But practices makes perfect and I intend to use this for all my pasta dishes going forward.

2. Zoku popsicle maker

zoku

I'm a little obsessed with popsicles in the summer. I eat them everyday. I'm really excited that I can make them on my own now.

My biggest frustration with homemade popsicles in the past was that you had to wait hours for them to freeze before you could enjoy them. When I crave a popsicle, I want it now...not in 24 hours.

Enter Zoku.

You keep your Zoku in the freezer and the liquid core stays cold and frozen. So when you want a popsicle, all you have to do is take it out, pour in some juice and in only 7 minutes, you have a delicious frozen popsicle...or two or three. You can make up to 6 at once with my little Zoku.

I'm really excited to try some of the recipes on the Zoku blog like Cucumber Mint Margarita, Apple Pear & Orange and Berry Mojito. Adult, happy hour popsicles? Sounds like an excellent summer time treat.

3. Electric kitska

My last birthday treat was an electric kitska for making Ukrainian Eggs. I can't wait to try this out next Easter and see if the electric kitska helps make smoother lines!

4. One last thing

Those of you who are on my email list might have received an email from me on Saturday. I had great intentions of holding a birthday sale on my knitting patterns. But then I made a mistake and forgot to change the subject line of my email. So it probably looked like I was sending a duplicate email inviting you to join me on Pinterest, when really I was trying to offer you a special discount on my patterns.

Originally, I had the sale ending on Sunday, April 29th at midnight, but I'm extending it until Sunday, May 6th.

The 3 knitting patterns I have for sale in my store are:

During the sale, you can have all three for only $5! 

As an added bonus, if you purchase this special birthday bundle, you'll get my next pattern for free. It's a crochet blanket made using the Afghan/Tunisian stitch and should be ready in a week or two.

All four patterns would typically cost $16, but you can have them at 70% off!

Buy Now! 

You have until Midnight (Mountain Standard Time) on Sunday, May 6th to order. I will email you the patterns within 2 days after your purchase (to the email you use on PayPal). If you prefer to receive the patterns at a different email address, please email me with your PayPal purchase ID and the email address you used to purchase the patterns.

yarn craft roundup

Happy Friday! I haven't cooked anything interested in a while, so I don't have a new recipe to share (I'll fix this soon! I plan to spend some time baking this weekend...) My recent obsession with watching Downton Abbey has given me plenty of time to make progress on my Afghan crochet blanket, but I haven't taken any pictures of it yet to share here. (PS. Please watch Downton Abbey. I LOVE it.)

Instead of sharing my own projects with you this week, I'm going to showcase some awesome projects from other creative bloggers out there.

Make a Yarn Pot

 This project from A Creative Cookie will show you how to create a yarn pot with only yarn, elmer's glue and a piece of cardboard.  I think this would be a great little project to use up scrap yarn. I could use a few of these to hold odds and ends on my desk and maybe in the bathroom, too.

Wouldn't one of these look cute piled up with cotton balls? Or Q-tips? Or paper clips?

Puff Stitch Scarf

puffyscarf

I rarely crochet items to wear, but really like this pattern for a crocheted scarf from All About Ami. The pattern is simple and easy for beginners and it only uses 3 skeins of yarn! This looks like a fun and quick project. And as I sit here typing this on a cold February afternoon, I think I would like to be wearing this scarf right now.

Bottles Covered in Yarn

Here's another great scrap yarn project. Craft and Creativity shows us how to add color to old bottles with some yarn and modge podge / glue. I love the bright colors!

Camera Lens Cozy

Kitty from A Law Student's Journey shows us how to create a camera lens cover without any knitting involved. This will take you 2 minutes with some leftover thrift store sweaters. Great idea for protecting those extra lenses.

What crafty creations are you working on? Want to have one featured here? Email me your blog link or photos!