Crafts: Easy Little Oven Mitt

So a little while ago, in a post about gluten-free pasta, I mentioned that I’d made the oven mitt in the background. We have two other store-bought oven mitts, but we went for the cheapest and most boring ones, and they look a little scruffy. The yellow one is the one we use the most.

I figured I’d make a couple more, and take snappies of the process.

This is a pretty easy project for a beginner, and a lot of fun. Onward!

First off, you’ll need to get your fabrics. This is a selection of stuff from my miscellaneous box. What you’ll need is:

– Cotton for the lining and the outside (I like quilting-weight cotton)
– Insulated batting / wadding / filler (whatever you call it in your ‘hood)
– Double-fold quilt binding (also called “bias tape” — I got the extra-wide 7/8″ size)
– Thread, naturally

I like quilting-weight cotton because it feels good, and also because it comes in a thousand and one cool patterns. Oh, and it’s relatively cheap. You can get a “fat quarter” (a quarter-yard of fabric cut in such a way that instead of a long, thin strip, it’s an 18″ x 21″ rectangle) for 99¢ most places. You might also check the remnant bin (one of my favorite stops at the fabric store) for anything that tickles your fancy. The plain blue fabric I have was a remnant, and thus super-cheap.

You can get fat quarters singly, or wrapped together with a few other patterns that go with each other. I have both single quarters and five-packs in my collection of miscellaneous stuff. Take a peek when you’re at the fabric store — the quilting section is surprisingly enormous.

The insulated batting will be over with other battings and fillings and waddings and stuffings. At Jo-Ann Fabrics, it runs $7.99 per yard; at the Wal-Mart, it was something like $6.50. Either way, you can get eight oven mitts out of a yard. Maybe nine or ten if you cut really well. I went ahead and got a whole yard last time, so I still had more than enough left over.

All right, on to making a pattern!

Take an oven mitt and put it on a regular sheet of paper. Trace around, giving yourself an extra half or three-quarters of an inch around the outside. I wanted to make these new mitts a little wider at the fingertips, so I accounted for that. And it’s important to always have a cat overseeing this kind of thing, and helping hold down the paper for you.

Fold your fabric in half, either right-sides together or wrong-sides together, then cut out two of each piece. This green will be the lining of a mitt. You’ll need two pieces of lining, two pieces of insulated batting, and two pieces of outside.

And also, if you’re nervous about how thin the batting is, you can cut an extra piece for the middle. You can either use another piece of insulated batting, or just something heavier like fleece.

Here’s the thing — this is going to be a LOT of layers to sew. So this extra layer, you can cut it a little smaller. So it’ll sit inside the mitt, but you don’t have to sew through the edges. Just make another copy of your pattern, and cut off a half-inch or so around the outside.

So now you’ll have four layers for the front of the mitt, and four layers for the back. Here’s how they’ll go together:

The lining, upside-down. Then the extra fleece. Then the insulated batting (toward the outside of the mitt, for maximum heat-protection) and then the outside cotton.

Now, the decision: to quilt, or not to quilt?

Your oven mitts at home might be either way. They might not be quilted at all, or they might be quilted with lines, or they might be quilted criss-cross. I advise quilting, because it takes four layers and turns them into one easier-to-handle layer.

If you opt to quilt your pieces, just take your stack of four layers, pin them together, then do single lines of stitches across one way, then across the other way. But be sure to pin them. PIN THEM. If you don’t, some of your under-layers could flop around, and you could do something foolish, like:

That.

Then you have to pick the stitches out, which is a pain, then PIN IT and re-sew.

You really don’t want to go through that.

Once things are quilted, then put the quilt binding on. Make sure it’s double fold. This way you get a nice, clean finished bottom with as little effort as possible.

Sew the binding along the bottom of each half. Did you pin it? I sure hope so.

Now all that’s left is sewing the front to the back! Put the wrong sides together, pinning them, of course. I advise lining the sides up then starting the pinning at the thumb, because the thumb area is the most complex part of the project. Then sew all around the outside.

As you can see, I did a fairly terrible job of this. My sewing machine is small and cheap, and there are a LOT of layers to sew through. Instead of the machine feeding the material along, I pretty much had to pull it through. And the corners were problematic. As you can see.

I did a zig-zag stitch to hopefully make them a little tougher. And I went over the ends of the seams back and forth.

As I write this up, it occurs to me that I could have cut the insulated batting to the same size as the fleece. That way when doing my outside seams, I would only be going through four layers of cotton, not four layers of cotton and two layers of heavy batting. Live and learn, eh? Certainly it’ll be something to try next time.

OH, and if you want a loop to hang it by, take a little piece of ribbon (which I think all crafty girls have in a drawer somewhere) and put it between the front and the back before you stitch them together. The loop of the ribbon should stick into the entry-hole and stick out the bottom. (That sounds dirty.)

Flip right-side-out (yes, it’s tough — a lot of layers) and there you have it, an oven mitt!

With a fun, colorful surprise inside!

(Also handy for fisticuffs.)

Commie bit me (and that really hurt)

Well we certainly had a day full of adventure yesterday.

For a couple of days, we’d noticed some fleas on the cats. I have no idea how on earth these two got them, since they’re 99% indoor, and the only outdoor exposure they get is on our 2nd-floor deck. I suppose either this apartment came with fleas already installed, or my one friend with indoor/outdoor cats brought some over when she visited.

Anyway, we kept an eye on the cats and didn’t notice any more scratching than usual. But then yesterday we suddenly saw that Commie had gnawed a little sore spot on his back. And going through his fur, he was loaded with fleas and flea dirt.

We figured that we’d need to treat the cats and the house both. So off to the pet store we went, to check out our options.

We ended up getting those fine-toothed flea combs and some flea-killing shampoo. I decided against a bomb-fogger or boric acid on the carpets for now (I’m going to try the salt method first, since it’s so very harmless to us and the cats). And we opted to come home and research whether we wanted to go with flea collars or liquid treatments.

We combed the cats (Commie wasn’t a fan, but Trouble put up with it well) and dunked all of the fleas we found into a bowl of warm water. They drowned pretty quickly. Then we moved on to the bath.

Scott did this comic in 2006. Which was well after the last time we gave the cats a bath. So it’s been at least 5 years.

The cats did not deal with it well.

We did Trouble first; she moaned and writhed and meowed quite a bit, but then seemed resigned to her fate by the end. And when we let go of her after the rinsing was done, she actually sat there and let us towel her off a bit. Which was quite civil of her.

Then it was Commie’s turn. And he was way, WAY worse about the whole thing. And he’s also WAY stronger than Trouble. He was hard to hold, and very wriggly, and VERY pissed. So he did was any sensible cat would do when being held down and tortured; he lashed out with his teeth. And bit my finger. Twice.

For those of you who haven’t been bitten by a cat, their teeth are like little needles. And they go WAY in. And you need to wait for them to let go. And it hurts like hell.

We got the bath done, and set him free, where he proceeded to sit on the bathroom floor and tolerate a toweling-off. So at least neither of them made a beeline for the dusty under-bed. Scott did the toweling, while I cleaned my finger and doused it in hydrogen peroxide. I put on some antibiotic ointment, some gauze, wrapped a Band-Aid around it all, then went straight to visit Dr. Internet.

Dr. Internet said that a LOT of cat bites get infected, specifically because they’re so small and deep, and a cat can be a total Yuck Mouth. And oh, hey, Dr. Internet also said that if you’re a child or an oldster or don’t have the best immune system, you should totally visit an actual doctor immediately and start on some antibiotics.

Trouble tried to be helpful, in that she hopped right up on the desk and got her wet fur near the electronics. And then did some glaring.

Anyhoo, the tip of my finger was numb, and I’m immune-compromised, and even though I felt like the biggest hypochondriac in the world, we went to the emergency room (which we only seem to ever visit at 11 at night). I didn’t want to wait until this afternoon to go see my regular doctor and get antibiotics. So off we went, to the same ER we visited when I had the mysterious chest pain (which turned out to be a panic attack brought on by a vicious inner ear infection). At least they didn’t treat me like a hypochondriac. Everyone agreed that since I’m immune-compromised, it was absolutely the right move to get checked out and started on antibiotics right away.

Even when it’s a small thing, a trip to the ER takes 3 hours. First a trip to the triage room, where they took my vitals. And where I got to watch a baby throw up right outside the room. Poor kiddo. Back to the waiting room, then a trip down the hall to sit on a bed for an hour and a half. They looked at my finger, had me pay, gave me a tetanus shot, and sent me home. Of course, all of those steps had at least 15 or 20 minutes in between.

And if you haven’t had a tetanus shot lately (I don’t think I’d had one since stepping on a rusty nail as a kid), it’s a classic pinching-then-burning injection in the arm. What you don’t expect is how much it hurts the next day. At least rabies isn’t a concern, since we took the kids in last year for their 3-year booster.

They didn’t even cut away the skin flaps over the punctures (I did remove one, the big one in the middle, because it was hanging by a thread). So the big one looks worse than the rest, but the flap is covering a nice puncture near the top, and there are two other skinflaps covering holes on either side of the big one.

At least it took so long at the ER, I got the feeling back in the tip of my finger. So no nerves were severed, yay! It was swollen and warm, but that’s to be expected when you’re deeply stabbed with a needle-like object.

By the time we got home, the cats were more dry, and perfectly pleasant. And my worries about late-night retribution were for naught — they were actually more affectionate than normal, probably because they were delighted to have survived such a harrowing experience.

Today I treated them both with Advantage, combed more fleas out of Commie (he was totally up for it today, go figure), and did five loads of laundry, including all-new bedding. Tomorrow we’ll start with Project Carpet Salt, and hopefully tomorrow we’ll also start seeing more dead fleas than living fleas, since Advantage is supposed to really start kicking in around 12 hours after application.

Oh, and today the finger is all bruisey inside. But the swelling and pain have gone down.

At least I’ll finally have something to say when I’m asked, “Did you do anything interesting this weekend?”

(Besides, of course, starting Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, which is lovely so far.)

(This post’s title gleefully mooched from the classic internet video “Charlie Bit Me“.)

(A tiny idiotic part of my mind is worried now that Commie has had a taste of delicious human blood.)

Review: Tinkyáda Gluten-Free Elbow Pasta

Last time at the grocery store, they didn’t have the Ancient Harvest gluten-free pasta. I checked both Target and Publix, and all either place had was this same purple bag of elbows from Tinkyáda. Usually, the 8-ounce box from Ancient Harvest runs about $3 or $3.50. But this 16-ounce bag of Tinkyáda was a mere $3.99.

Plus, they made a HUGE deal about the good texture. Not mushy. Al dente. Okay, Tinkyáda. We get it.

I was a little leery about the cooking time, for starters. I mean, the Ancient Harvest stuff was just right after 8 minutes in boiling water. But this stuff?

Seriously, 16-17 minutes? Not only does that seem like a really specific amount of time, but it seems like a really long time. And in case you’re wondering, the “Easy and energy-saving method” (which is clearly Easy with a capital E) is printed on the front of the bag. Bring water to a boil, insert pasta, cover and turn off the heat. Wait 20 minutes, then drain. Not so much with a time savings.

Oh, and if you think this packaging reads like Engrish, check out the Tinkyáda website. It’s not quite Dr. Bronner-grade weird, but it’s certainly unusual. The design takes me back to the late ’90s, and the writing doesn’t seem to be from a native English speaker. Though the stuff is made in Ontario, Canada, which I always thought was less French than Quebec. Hm, je ne sais quoi.

Anyway, with vows of such non-mushitude …

Promised by two happy bunnies holding a … gigantic grain of rice?

I had to try it out. I weighed out a 2-ounce serving, got water heating up in my little single-serve saucepan, and got my Tinkyáda on.

Once the elbows hit the water, I had 16 minutes to figure out how to dress the stuff. But really, when presented with elbows, there’s only one logical choice.

That’s right, neon orange. Sorry, marinara and alfredo. Maybe some other time.

(Side note: did you grow up calling it “macaroni and cheese” or “Kraft dinner”? I’d never heard “Kraft dinner” until the Barenaked Ladies discussed it in a song. Maybe that’s a Canadian thing. For some reason, it also makes me think of the battle of “Lik-M-Aid” vs. “Fun Dip”.)

(Oh, and that oven mitt in the background? The groovy orangey yellowy one with even groovier blue innards? I made that.)

Onward. I tested the pasta at 10 minutes and again at 12, and I actually pulled it and strained it at 12. I do like mine with a little bite, and I think the 12-14 zone will be just right. Melted some butter, threw in some cream (yeah, I know you’re supposed to use milk, but I don’t have milk in the house). Then I added the neon orange cheese powder. What I don’t get is how the container encourages me to shake and sprinkle the cheese on stuff, then says the serving size is 2 teaspoons. That would take a LOT of shaking. Anyhoo, I just screwed the cap off and shoved my teaspoon down in there. And I went with 3 teaspoons, because that’s how I roll.

This is really why I should invest in a non-clear bowl for food display purposes. It feels like the mac-n-cheese is hovering over a dish towel. I mean, I guess I could have put the food on one of my white plates, but only a monster would eat mac-n-cheese out of anything other than a bowl (or the pot it was cooked in).

So, how did it taste? CHEEEZY GOOD. And none of the vague rice flavor like the De Boles rice pasta had when I tried it. The pasta itself was mostly flavorless, which for me is a good thing.

As for the texture, it was indeed al dente and not mushy. Maybe one or two more minutes would be even better — I’ll have to play around with the cook time. So good on flavor, texture, and price — 50¢ per serving is a price that the other guys can only match when they’re on sale. I give the Tinkyáda brown rice elbows a solid 9 out of 10 and will certainly use the rest in a variety of tasty ways.

Unless I end up making 8 servings of neon orange.