New Vehicle Toys Available in the Etsy Shop!

Well, I guess they’re not technically “new” vehicle toys, since I debuted the patterns for both of these already, but the toys themselves are now listed for purchase at DrFrankKnits on Etsy for those of you who don’t knit but would still like the opportunity to have a hand-knitted, unique toy!

One is the small classic biplane toy, designed in the style of the WWI era Sopwith Camel planes:

mini biplane main3

https://www.etsy.com/listing/199119684/small-biplane-knitted-stuffed-toy?ref=shop_home_active_2

The other is a small police car toy:

mini police main1

https://www.etsy.com/listing/199121830/small-police-car-knitted-soft-toy?ref=shop_home_active_1

Both toys are between 4 and 5 inches long and are great for both play and display!

I also have larger, similar versions of both of these types of toys on Etsy, so check my shop for those as well!


I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far – and be sure to come back tomorrow for the weekly free toy knitting pattern!

Advertisements

A Prize Inside!

I drink copious amounts of tea.  I’m sure the amount of caffeine I consume every day from my favorite beverage is probably way off the charts – but I choose not to think about that.  I’ve been drinking iced unsweetened black tea since I was a child, and the habit has stuck with me.  Anyway, to feed my habit, I seem to always be buying 100 packs of black teabags.  Usually I wind up with the Lipton brand, or Tetley, or perhaps the store brand if I can trust that it’s not going to taste like burnt sawdust.  Today I decided to try something new – Red Rose brand.  I didn’t really pay too much attention to the package as I took it off the shelf, put it in my cart, bought it and took it home.

When I got home and unpacked my groceries, I noticed the side of the package had an image of a bunch of miniature nautical items and I got a little excited – OK, really ridiculously, embarrassingly excited.

lighthousemini2

“Is that in my package?!” I wondered.  So, I furiously rotated the box around trying to find more info – and found my answer on the front of the package.  Sure enough, one of those toys was going to be in my box of tea!  So, in spite of not being finished with my last box of Lipton tea, I tore into this new box with abandon.  Sure enough, inside, wrapped in a small plastic baggie was a tiny blue lighthouse!

lighthouse mini

I hope there is never a day when I cease to be excited by these little things in life.  It brought back memories of chowing down on Cracker Jax at the ballpark and opening presents on my birthday.  So, if I wind up with 15 packages of this tea before the week is out, don’t be surprised – I’m just collecting these things.  They’re a nice source of inspiration, too.

I don’t know what markets in what countries carry this tea, but if you like little tchotchkes, you’d probably like to pick up a package for yourself.  The tea is pretty good, too. 🙂

(Note:  I was able to find out more about the maker of these small porcelain figurines, Wade of England, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wade_Ceramics )

Free Pattern Fridays – Fighter Jets!

blog banner free

As a knitter who thinks out of the box, I get inspiration from all kinds of places.  Usually the more “difficult” a shape looks, the more eager I am to try knitting it!  I’m a pretty huge stickler for detail as well, and I try to make models as accurate as possible.  Given that stuffed toys are safer than their metal or plastic counterparts, I try to design items that not only provide an alternative, but provide an alternative that you and your children would RATHER play with!  With that in mind, the charming little details mean a lot to me.

This week’s free pattern was inspired by a trip down the model vehicle aisle at the craft store.  Since vehicles are a passion of mine, I love looking at those tiny models!  Well, this time I came to the end of the aisle and a Snap-Tite model of a Blue Angels F-18 Hornet Fighter Jet caught my eye.  I immediately whipped out my camera and snapped a few pictures!  For those unfamiliar with the Blue Angels, they are the United States Navy’s flight exhibition squad.  They do all kinds of fancy maneuvers, tricks and formation flying.

This little Fighter Jet model, at about 5 inches long and 5 ½ inches in wingspan is the perfect size for taking with you wherever you go.  Also, the little ones can toss it around to make it “fly” without the worry of causing damage or injury.  I bet they’d make a pretty awesome mobile or other hanging display, too.  I made my models in the blue and yellow signature colors of the Blue Angels squad, but you can try knitting it in your child’s favorite colors, or forego the color changes and make it a single color.  The model would also take well to additional embroidered or felt details to make it special for your family!  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Small Fighter Jet Knitted Toy

mini fighter jet main5

by Ilana R. Marks

Materials:

-Small Amounts of Worsted Weight Black, Dark Blue, Yellow and Light Blue Yarns

-One Set US Size 6 Double Pointed Needles (dpns)

-Small amount of Polyester Fiberfill Stuffing

-Tapestry Needle

Main Fuselage

“Thrusters”

Using black yarn, cast on 8 stitches evenly onto 2 dpns and join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1-2: Knit 2 rounds.

Cut Black Yarn, leaving a short tail.

Set this thruster piece aside – you may leave it on the needles.

Onto 2 more dpns, cast on 8 stitches and join to knit in the round.  Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 above to make a second thruster.  Do not cut the black yarn.

fighterjet1

-Line up the stitches from the two thrusters as pictured.  The working yarn is coming off the rightmost stitch on the back needle of the set on the right.

-Slide the front four stitches from the right set of needles onto the front needle of the left hand set.

-Slide the back four stitches from the right set of needles onto the back needle of the left hand set.

fighterjet2

-You’ll now have two needles with 8 stitches apiece on them, with the working yarn coming off the rightmost stitch of the back needle.  Now the thrusters are side-by-side waiting to be joined.

Joining

Knit the 8 stitches on the front needle, then turn and knit the 8 stitches from the back needle (16 st)

Cut the black yarn, and join the dark blue yarn.  Distribute the 16 stitches onto 3 dpns (for easier working) and continue to knit in the round.

Rnd 3-4: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 5: kf&b, k6, (kf&b) 2 times, k6, kf&b (20 st)

Rnd 6-15: Knit 10 rounds.

Rnd 16: ssk, k6, k2tog, ssk, k6, k2tog (16 st)

Rnd 17: Knit 1 round.

Rnd 18: ssk, k4, k2tog, ssk, k4, k2tog (12 st)

Rnd 19-22: Knit 4 rounds.

Stuff the piece.

Rnd 23: (k2tog, k1) 4 times (8 st)

Rnd 24-29: Knit 6 rounds.

Add some more stuffing to the nose piece.

Rnd 30: (k2tog) 4 times (4 st)

Cut the blue yarn, thread the tail into a tapestry needle and draw through all stitches on the needles, pulling tightly to finish.

-Weave the end back down into the closed up nose and into the toy to secure.

fighterjet4

fighterjet5

-Add a little stuffing to the thrusters through their cast-on openings.  Weave the black cast on tails through the loops of the cast on edge, pulling tightly to cinch closed.  Weave the ends through the closed up thrusters and into the toy to secure.  You may use the tail between the two thrusters to close up any gap there – then weave in that end as well.

fighterjet6

Front Wings (Make 2)

Using Dark Blue Yarn and leaving a tail for seaming, cast on 12 stitches onto 3 dpns and join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1-3: Knit 3 rounds.

Rnd 4: ssk, k8, k2tog (10 st)

Rnd 5-7: Knit 3 rounds.

Rnd 8: ssk, k6, k2tog (8 st)

Rnd 9-11: Knit 3 rounds.

-Cut the blue yarn and join the yellow yarn, continuing to knit with yellow.

Rnd 12-13: Knit 2 rounds.

-Cut the yellow yarn, leaving a short tail for seaming.

-Divide the 8 stitches evenly onto 2 dpns (4 stitches per needle), with the working yarn coming off the rightmost stitch on the back needle.

-Seam the two sets of stitches using Kitchener Stitch.

fighterjet7

-Lightly stuff the wing, press it flat, then place it against the side of the fuselage, with the decrease seam facing the nose of the aircraft, and the front edge of the wing lining up at approximately the second decrease round on the fuselage.

-Pin in place if you like, then seam the wing to the fuselage using the tail and mattress stitch.

fighterjet8 fighterjet9

-Repeat all steps to make a second wing, and attach it opposite the first wing. (At this point, your fighter jet really wants a hug 😀 )

-Weave in the ends.

Rear Wings and Fins (Make 4)

(Note: The rear wings and the upward facing fins on the top of the body are knit in the same way)

Using Dark Blue Yarn and leaving a tail for seaming, cast on 8 stitches onto 3 dpns and join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1-3: Knit 3 rounds.

Rnd 4: ssk, k4, k2tog (6 st)

Rnd 5-6: Knit 2 rounds.

-Cut the blue yarn and switch to yellow yarn.  Continue knitting with yellow yarn.

Rnd 7-8: Knit 2 rounds.

-Cut the yellow yarn, leaving a short tail for seaming

-Divide the 6 stitches evenly onto 2 dpns (3 stitches per needle), with the working yarn coming off the rightmost stitch on the back needle.

-Seam the two sets of stitches together using Kitchener Stitch.

fighterjet10

-Repeat all steps to make 4 of these pieces.

Attaching Rear Wings

-Lightly stuff a rear wing piece, press it flat and line it up along the fuselage, just behind the front wing, again with the decrease seam facing the front of the plane.

-Pin in place if desired, then seam the rear wing to the fuselage using the tail and mattress stitch.

fighterjet11

-Repeat on the opposite side of the plane with a second rear wing piece.

-Weave in the ends.

Attaching Fins

-Lightly stuff a rear wing/tail fin piece, press it flat and place it on top of the fuselage, centered between the front and rear wings, about a stitch in from where the wings were attached.

-Pin in place if desired, then seam the fin to the fuselage using the tail and mattress stitch.

-Repeat to make a second fin on the other side of the top of the fuselage.

fighterjet12 fighterjet13

-Weave in the ends.

Cockpit

Using Light Blue Yarn and leaving a tail for seaming, cast on 12 stitches onto 3 dpns and join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1: Knit 1 round.

Rnd 2: ssk, k2, k2tog, ssk, k2, k2tog (8 st)

Rnd 3: Knit 1 round.

-Cut the light blue yarn, thread the tail into a tapestry needle, then weave through all stitches on the needles, pulling tightly to close.

-Lightly stuff the cockpit piece, then position it on top of the fuselage, just in front of the front set of wings.

-Pin in place if desired, then seam the cockpit to the top of the fuselage using mattress stitch.  Add some more stuffing if necessary before closing the seam.

fighterjet14 fighterjet15 fighterjet16

-Weave in the ends.

Details

-Cut a strand of yellow yarn and make a line of duplicate stitches as shown along the top of the fuselage between the fins, and stretching from the cockpit to just in front of the thrusters.  Make two more lines of duplicate stitch flanking this center line, stretching from the cockpit to the front of the fins.

fighterjet17 fighterjet18

-Alternately, if you’re not comfortable with duplicate stitch, you may embroider several long straight stitches for the stripes … or use some felt scraps … or leave them off entirely as you like.

-Weave in any additional ends.

Enjoy your fighter jet!!

mini fighter jet main2 mini fighter jet main1


In shop news today, I have a new “Land and Air” pattern set available.  I’m hoping to have a series of these types of pattern sets in the future featuring different types of vehicles.  This first one includes a pattern for an adorable classic biplane and the sweetest little police car you’ve ever seen!  I’d classify them as intermediate level patterns, with the police car being slightly more advanced (read: fiddly) however if you can knit this fighter jet, you should be just fine on both of them.  In other news, I’ve made this set and all of my other for sale patterns available as Ravelry purchases for your convenience!  Check out my designs page at http://www.ravelry.com/designers/ilana-r-marks !

mini biplane main3mini police main1

Thanks so much for stopping by for this week’s Free Pattern Friday!  As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, comments … or just want to chat, I’d love to hear from you!  Have a wonderful weekend and I hope to see you back here next week!

The Latest Bizarre Knit!

Social media is an amazing thing – it allows us to connect with people we’d never have met otherwise, and can reconnect us with people we never thought we’d see again.  For me, one of those people was an old Jr. High and High School Friend that I hadn’t seen in over 15 years.  We reconnected on Facebook and realized that we’re still just as crazy as we were back then!

I often put pictures of my knitted toys up on my personal Facebook page for my friends to see.  On a recent picture I posted, this dear friend made a very random reference (or par-reference, I suppose) to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Movie by asking if I was building an Interocitor.  For those unfamiliar with this term, it’s a machine used in the 1955 movie “This Island Earth” which was featured in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie.  Within the plot of the movie, this device was sent unassembled to scientists to test their abilities.

Well, being the silly person I am, this comment put the seed in my head – I must KNIT an Interocitor!  So, that’s exactly what I did!

interocitor knitted

I know, I know … I’m sure everyone wants one now, but this is likely going to be a one-off and not for sale.  It was one of those knits that drove me nuts – looks relatively simple, but the shaping was difficult to achieve.  I think one of my dreams is to have an exhibit somewhere of these types of crazy toys that no one else will ever think of knitting!

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s worth checking out.  And if you haven’t seen Mystery Science Theater 3000 … well, I command you to check that show out NOW!  I’m pretty sure that YouTube has every episode, and likely the movie, too.  For those curious, my shop’s name is actually a reference to Mystery Science Theater – a friend of mine would always mix up the names of the two Mad Scientists from the show: Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank.  She wound up mashing them together, and over time that evolved into my own nickname.  I hardly ever hear my real name anymore!

Have a wonderfully silly day!!

Thank You, DrFrankKnits Blog Readers!

Happy Monday!  I wanted to start off with a big thanks to all my Ravelry readers who gave the little dragster cars all their hearts!  I really wasn’t expecting them to be so popular, so it made me very happy to see.  I’m also very excited that they may be bringing some fun into your little ones’ (or big ones’) lives!  That is, after all, the real joy of toymaking – seeing someone get excited about something you made!  Also, thank you for the lovely comments – as an up-and-coming (hopefully, anyway) knitting pattern designer, it means the world to me!

Also this week, I’m working on a very special pattern set for the Etsy shop.  I am super-excited about it!  It’s so painful to keep things under-wraps, but I like the drama and anticipation it creates – so sue me!  Pattern sets are appealing to me  because I like people to be able to play with my toys … and sometimes one toy alone isn’t enough to play with!  The small pie playset (https://www.etsy.com/listing/196809423/pie-softies-playset-original-knitting?ref=shop_home_active_6) is an example of that – sure, one pie slice is great, but four pie slices plus a pie server are much better!  Many of my stand-alone patterns have a bonus pattern or craft idea attached, so the pattern sets are really just an extension of that.  I’m hoping to have this new set available by Friday – although it’s still in the design process, so sometimes that takes a little longer than expected.  In any event, there will still be a related freebie pattern available on Friday!  And sorry, that’s under-wraps, too!  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, though!

Other than that, the July blog reader discount is still available – but Thursday is the last day, so don’t miss out!  Enter coupon code DFKBLOG1 at checkout and get 20% off your order – there’s no minimum purchase.  Visit http://drfrankknits.etsy.com to check it out!

In other news, I’m thinking about adjusting the look of this blog page.  I’m not totally enthused with the layout and appearance of the default theme I selected.  All of this blogging and social media stuff is still somewhat of a foreign language to me, which I think many of you can probably empathize with!  Anyway, I don’t really know what effect that may have on your viewing of the pages, but please just bear with me.  I don’t think it will cause the pages to be unavailable – but if you see some strange things going on with headers and the like, that’s what’s happening!

Again, thanks so much for your support and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Free Pattern Fridays – Knitted Drag Racer!

blog banner free

Welcome to another edition of DrFrankKnits’ Free Pattern Fridays – your source for quirky, fun toy knitting patterns!

I’ve always been something of a tomboy.  Well, perhaps “tomboy” isn’t really the right word … I think I just don’t give a flying fig about “what I should like.”  As a kid, I played with Barbie dolls, but you’d be just as likely to find me playing with my brother’s Matchbox car collection or tossing around a baseball.  If it looked fun and enjoyable, I was there!  On any given day, you might find me listening to Classical Music, Showtunes, American Pop Standards, or Classic Rock and Roll … or other bizarre music that can’t be categorized.  I love educational TV shows, but I also like the silly, irreverent humor of shows like “South Park.”  I don’t wear a stitch of makeup, but I don’t mind playing dress-up when I see a fancy dress in the department store.  In summary, I think my motto has always been (to quote one of those American Pop Standards) “Don’t Fence Me In!”

Today’s model is one of my “tomboy” creations.  It’s a small knitted dragster stuffed toy!  When made with worsted weight yarn and size 6 dpns, it measures about 6 inches long – so it’s super portable and easy for little hands to hold!

Funny story: I’m the oldest of three siblings.  When we were growing up (and probably before my sister was born), my brother’s bedroom had rainbow wallpaper in it.  No, not rainbow-colored wallpaper … wallpaper with a humongous rainbow arching across it.  I have no idea why – I can only imagine it was there when my parents bought the house, because we’re not exactly the kind of people who would have wall art like that.  Anyway, I’m pretty sure my brother hated it, so he and I were always throwing his Matchbox cars at the wall.  It dinged up the wallpaper … and the wall as well.  I bet my parents wished we had soft toy cars like this one back then!  So, if you have kids that like to cause damage with their toy cars – give this pattern a try!  Enjoy!

dragstermain3

Knitted Dragster Race Car

by Ilana Marks

Materials:

-Small amounts of worsted weight yarn in a Main Color (MC), black, gray and light blue or white.

(Main Colors pictured are Red, Yellow and Light Blue … but pick any color you want!)

-Small amount of Polyester Fiberfill Stuffing

-One set US Size 6 double pointed needles (dpns)

-Tapestry Needle

(Note: Sorry about the blurriness of some of the photos in the tutorial – my camera was being bratty.  I swear I hear it laughing at me sometimes!  I think you can still see what’s going on, though.  However, if anything’s unclear, don’t hesitate to ask.  I’m more than willing to help!)

Main Body

Using MC yarn, cast on 4 stitches onto one dpn.  Slide the stitches over to the other end of the needle and work the next round as for i-cord:

Rnd 1: (kf&b) 4 times (8 st)

Divide the 8 stitches among 3 dpns and join to knit in the round.

Rnd 2-3: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 4: k2, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k2 (10 st)

Rnd 5-6: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 7: k3, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k3 (12 st)

Rnd 8-9: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 10: k4, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k4 (14 st)

Rnd 11-12: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 13: k5, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k5 (16 st)

Rnd 14-15: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 16: k6, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k6 (18 st)

Rnd 17-18: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 19: k7, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k7 (20 st)

Rnd 20-21: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 22: k8, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k8 (22 st)

Rnd 23-24: Knit 2 rounds.

Rnd 25: k9, kf&b, k2, kf&b, k9 (24 st)

Stuff the piece so far.

Rnd 26: k6, (k2tog) 6 times, k6 (18 st)

mini dragster1

(Begin “Engine” Section)

Switch to black yarn, cutting the MC yarn.

Rnd 27: k3, (k2tog) 6 times, k3 (12 st)

Rnd 28-33: Knit 6 rounds.

Add some more stuffing to the black “engine” portion of the car.

mini dragster2

Rnd 34: (k2tog) 6 times (6 st)

Rnd 35-49: Knit 15 rounds, stuffing lightly as you go.

mini dragster3

Cut the yarn, leaving a few inches of tail, and thread the tail through all stitches on the needles, pulling tightly to close.

-Weave in the ends, but leave the yarn tail at the back of the tail piece – we’ll use that to sew on the rear spoiler later.

mini dragster4 mini dragster5mini dragster6

-Press the thin tail piece flat and fold up against the back of the engine piece.  Make sure it lines up between the increase seams along the top of the colored part of the body.  Using a scrap of yarn, make a few stitches to hold the tail piece in place at an upward angle.  Weave in the ends.

Front Fins (Make 2)

Using MC yarn and leaving a tail for seaming, cast on 6 stitches onto 3 dpns.  Join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1-5: Knit 5 rounds.

Cut the yarn and thread the tail through all stitches on the needles, pulling tightly to close.  No need to stuff.

-Press the fin flat and line it up just behind the front tip of the car body and just below the increase seam that runs along the side of the body.  Stitch in place using the tail and mattress stitch.

mini dragster7 mini dragster8

-Repeat to make the second fin and attach it opposite the first fin.

Back Tires (Make 2)

Using black yarn and leaving a tail for seaming, cast on 8 stitches onto 3 dpns.  Join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1: (kf&b) 8 times (16 st)

Rnd 2-6: Knit 5 rounds.

Rnd 7: (k2tog) 8 times (8 st)

Cut the yarn and thread the tail through all stitches on the needles, pulling tightly to close.

-Stuff the tire through the open cast on edge and position it against the side of the “engine” section of the body.

-Sew the tire in place using the tail and mattress stitch.

mini dragster9 mini dragster10

-Repeat to make a second tire and sew it in place opposite the first tire.

Front Wheels (Make 2)

Using black yarn, cast on 3 stitches onto one dpn to work flat.

Row 1: Purl 1 row.

Row 2: kf&b, k1, kf&b (5 st)

Row 3: Purl 1 row.

Row 4: Knit 1 row.

Row 5: Purl 1 row.

Row 6: ssk, k1, k2tog (3 st)

Cut the yarn, leaving a tail for seaming, and draw the tail across the purl side of the tire and then thread through the stitches on the needle from right to left, pulling tightly to finish off.

mini dragster11

-Position the wheel against the side of the body, just behind the front fin and seam in place using the tail and backstitch.

-Repeat to make a second wheel and sew it in place opposite the first wheel.

Exhaust Pipes (Make 2)

Using gray yarn, cast on 2 stitches onto one dpn.

Rnd 1-8: Knit 8 rounds i-cord.

Cut the yarn, pulling the tail through all stitches on the needle to finish off.

-Leaving the tail on the tapestry needle, thread the exhaust pipe under 1.5 stitches at the top of the “engine” just behind where it meets the colored body section.  Pull through, leaving an equal amount of pipe protruding from either side.  Weave the ends through the i-cord and into the body to secure.

mini dragster16 mini dragster17

-Repeat to make a second pipe and thread it through the engine just behind the first pipe.

Rear Spoiler

Using MC yarn, cast on 6 stitches onto 3 dpns to knit in the round.

Rnd 1-15: Knit 15 rounds.

Cut the yarn, pulling the tail through all stitches on the needle to finish off.  No need to stuff.

mini dragster12 mini dragster13

-Position the spoiler on top of the black tail piece, and using the black yarn tail you left from knitting that piece, mattress stitch the spoiler in place.

-Weave in the ends.

Details

-Cut a strand of black yarn, thread into a tapestry needle, and embroider a few stripes on top of the rear spoiler, wrapping about 1.5 stitches for each stripe.

mini dragster14 mini dragster15

-Cut a strand of gray yarn, thread into a tapestry needle, and embroider a hubcap on the rear tire with a few long straight stitches.  Repeat for the other tire.

mini dragster18

-Embroider spokes on the front wheels in the same manner as for the tire hubcaps.

mini dragster19mini dragster20

-Using a strand of light blue (or white if you’re making a blue car) yarn, embroider a cockpit with a few long straight stitches on the top of the widest part of the car body.

mini dragster21

Weave in any remaining ends and enjoy your dragster!

dragstermain5

Make them in several colors and have pretend drag races with them!  Try embroidering other decal-like details on the cars to personalize!


If you’re not a knitter, or don’t feel like knitting this pattern but like the toy, they’re available for purchase in my shop here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/197424275/hand-knit-small-dragster-race-car?ref=shop_home_active_1

Don’t forget you can use the special blog coupon code DFKBLOG1 through the end of July for 20% off your order of anything from DrFrankKnits (toys or patterns … or a combo!)  Time’s running out, so if you’ve had your eyes on something, now’s the time to get it!

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions!

Thanks for visiting!  I hope you have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here next week!

Snack Talk – Pretzels!

Taking a break from knitting design talk, I thought I’d talk about my next-favorite thing … food!  Well, actually knitting and food both occupy that “favorite thing” spot.  (I must make sure they both know that so no one gets jealous!)

I decided to make myself a batch of soft pretzels today.  It’s been some time since I made them last.  Although, around these parts, I’m pretty well-known for my breads.  Particularly flatbreads.  I have no Mexican heritage (other than being an Arizona native, perhaps) but I make excellent flour tortillas.  Alright, I suppose you could argue that flour tortillas are really more of a Tex-Mex thing, but I’m not from Texas either!  My ancestry also doesn’t come from Greece, but I manage to make pretty tasty pita breads, too.  Many times, I learn to bake or cook things at home because I’m dissatisfied with what’s stocked in the grocery store.  Sometimes it’s just because I’m too lazy to go to the store and I’ve got a fierce craving for something.  Whatever the case may be, there’s something special about an item that comes out of your own kitchen!

I think I learned to bake soft pretzels because I had a craving.  The frozen Super Pretzels in the market are certainly acceptable enough – I think they’re actually produced in Philadelphia, where people know their pretzels.  However, I’m usually pretty loath to make myself reasonably presentable to go over to the grocery store!  So, I just make them at home.  They’re boiled in a baking soda bath briefly before baking, which is what gives them that deep brown color.  When I used to bake pretzel rolls at work, we used a weak lye solution … yes, you read that right, we used drain cleaner … to dunk the pretzels in before baking.  True pretzels are always made that way … nothing compares to the glossy brown sheen of a lye pretzel.  However, lye is caustic and I often wound up with lye burns from the process, so at home I just use the baking soda.

pretzelsblog2

After the dunk, they’re baked … very similar to the process of making bagels.  In fact, I remember reading that people used to make lye bagels.  I don’t know how I’d feel about that – the sort of salty, deep brown crust of a pretzel on a bagel would probably be off-putting to me.  My grandfather used to love the salt bagels, though … and I imagine those are an homage to the old-fashioned lye bagels.

pretzelblog

Anyway, the result is a tasty treat, perfect with some spicy brown mustard.  Sorry guys, I’ll take mustard over cheese sauce any day with my pretzels.  The vinegary, tart mustard is the perfect foil for the salty pretzel.  I never developed a taste for beer (in fact, I really don’t drink at all) so my pretzels are served with my drink of choice, iced tea (unsweetened, please!)

What do you think of a knitted pretzel?  It’s probably too easy a knit to bother with on its own.  Maybe some kind of knitted bread set including a pretzel!  Sounds like fun stuff!  I’m always looking for neat ideas for free patterns, so like usual, if you have anything you want to see, let me know!

And speaking of free patterns, tomorrow is Friday, which means another edition of DrFrankKnits Free Pattern Fridays!  Be there or be square!

Adventures in Knitting Pattern Design