Stash busting Ponchetta

after my niece gifted me the beautiful Ponchetta (see earlier post), thought to make some for myself.  My chest is always cold in both winter and air conditioning and this seemed like a stylish way of keeping warm as well as being a little Stash Busting. The original was done in a fine wool that I’m not likely to be using – although as I type this am thinking about about the knitting loom . . . hmmmmmmm

 So had this yarn I’d picked up at the thrift shop of unknown quantity or weight.  First – measured it out.  10 yards was 5 grams.  Total weight of yarn was about 133 grams.  there are approximately 26 x 10 yard sections in 133 grams (133 divided by 5) giving a total of 260 yards.  Using wraps per inch, the yarn is  worsted weight.  started my gauge swatch on #10 (6mm) needles and saw immediately it was very stiff, so moved to #10.5 needles (6.5mm).  Started with two stitches and then added one on each row knit (always add on the same side to get the slant.

Measured how wide I thought I wanted this and figured how many stitches would be that point.  Did a garter stitch so there wouldn’t be a right/wrong side.  Knit each row adding a stitch on each row until I reached the magic number for the widest point.  Then knit row after row until I was about 1/2 of the weight knitted and the other half not.  Had calculated 7” for neck opening and using gauge figured out how many stitches that would be.  Placed markers so I would know when to stop knitting and bind off —- stitches, then kept knitting.  Turned around and knit back to the marker and cast on —- stitches.  Then knit same number of rows down as had done up.  Then began binding off one stitch each row – always on the same side until the end.

 seems stiff

This is the other side

Right now, am wearing this and it IS keeping my chest warm,   But don’t need the material at the back, so am re-thinking the design for my own personal wear.  AND re-thinking how I can knit this so it can make stylish Christmas gifts this year.

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Container Gardening

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows I like my Grow Bags.  BUT when I found these containers at the recycle center yesterday knew they were mine.  The big one will hold  4 cubic feet of dirt – which I know because I already have one of them.  The smallest will hold 1.5 – which I know because there were two others of them, which are being set up for some beefsteak tomato seedlings that I bought yesterday.

After two years of being “sick” – which is what Severe Anemia counts as – followed by a total hysterectomy, I’m ready to garden again – but my beds aren’t as ready as I am!! And, well, am not sure if my body is ready to go along with my brain and enthusiasm! 

The two smaller containers of tomatoes will live along the west side of the house where they will have some protection from the winds and also won’t be subjected to 12 hours of Arizona sun, but will still get a good 6 or so. Already have a raised bed and some other plants there, so these will get ready attention.  And, yes, they will have Ollas also

AND, these are supposed to be Heirloom plants which means I can save seed if they do well.

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Math & Knitting Part 2

you’ve got a stash of yarn and labels have been lost. You bought a lot of yarn at a garage sale or thrift shop. you inherited a stash of yarn, or did some swapping. What do you have, and what is it?

Now, you need your calculator and a scale AND a hard ruler – from 12 – 36″ or meters. For convenience, use grams rather than ounces. Grams are smaller than ounces and give you a more accurate weight. A diet scale will work, but ideally it will have a big enough base to hold a skein or ball of yarn. You can use something like an aluminum pie plate on your diet scale, but then we add TARE weight.

Tare weight is easy – tare weight will be the weight of the pie plate, to be subtracted from the total on the scale to give you the weight of the yarn alone. If you have a batch of yarn in a plastic bag, the weight of the plastic bag also needs to be subtracted. And that is when you will find grams to be easier to work with than fractions of an ounce.

You also need to be able to measure that yarn. A yard/meter stick is best, although a 12″ ruler will work. Hold one end of the yarn at the base of your measuring stick and wrap the yarn around the stick several times. Don’t be so tight you are stretching the yarn, but not so loose that you don’t get an accurate measurement. Remember that up one side of the your measuring stick is one measure, down the other side is a second. If you are using something 1/2″ or more thick, you have to add that to the total length. If you are using a 12″ ruler, up, down, and up again is one yard. You want to measure at least 3 yards. More if you can. Holding the yarn at the end of your measured amount, carefully take the yarn off your measuring stick. and weigh it.

This is NOT scientific, exact measure, but absolutely close enough for you to figure out how much yarn you have.

Easy math for the purpose of this example, you will be glad to have a calculator for this in real life; 3 yards, weigh 3 grams. Total weight 210 grams. Divide 210 grams by 3 grams =70. Now multiply that 70 x 3yards = 210 total yards. If your 3 yards = 2 grams, divide 210 by 2 = 105. 105 x 3yards = 315 total yards. and obviously, if your 3 yards weighs one gram, you have 3 x 210 = 630 yards.

In general – again a broad, non exact observation – the number of yards needed for a pattern remains the same regardless of the weight of the yarn. thin yarn like sock yarn, will have more yards per weight than your worsted weight; more stitches, more rows but approximate the same area covered. ‘variations by the needles used, and your style of knitting will create differences, but this allows you an approximation for what your unknown 210 grams of yarn can be used for.

So now you know how much yarn you have in total weight and yards. What weight yarn do you have? Now you want wrap per inch (wpi). you can use your ruler, you can use your stitch gauge, or you can use a dedicated tool for wpi. Wrap your yarn around your tool, each wrap side by side to the one before. Don’t pull tight to stretch, just enough so your yarn covers the one inch measure ( if you are using a stitch gauge – often 2″ – go ahead and wrap all 2 inches). Now count your wraps. fingerling yarn will be 14 wpi. Sport 12. DK 11 Worsted 9. Aran 8. Bulky 7. If you have used a 2″ long measure – divide total by 2 to get wpi.

Last but not least, WHAT kind of yarn is it? Since my technique requires using FIRE, decided not to share it. last thing I need is someone knocking on my door cause someone got burned. I know you won’t be so foolish, but someone else might see you doing this and not be as careful. There is likely to be such information on the Internet, so will let you do your own research on this.

Happy knitting

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M & K, part 1 REVIEW

Just a quick review of the math of gauge:

stitches per inch x number of inches = stitches to be knit

Always knit a gauge swatch even though its a waste of time and a pain in the butt. It will save time, especially if you are not going to be using the original yarn used by the pattern creator. OR if you need to use a different size needle than called for. Many of us, as we get older, can’t do thinner needles because of arthritis, bursitis, or even eyesight! AND do you knit tighter or looser than the originator of the pattern? DO THE GAUGE SWATCH! make notes, and then frog the swatch if you need the yarn for your pattern. Take photos if that helps.

When knitting a design – cable, lace, etc – do your gauge swatch based on the number of stitches in the design repeat. This is the kind of swatch that will allow you to translate your favorite lace shawl pattern into a vest or top. a seven stitch design repeat means a 28 stitch gauge swatch – 4 design repeats. a 9 stitch design repeat should be a 27 stitch gauge swatch – 3 design repeats.

Draw that basic block pattern like you see in the books and magazines. Yeah, you probably want to start keeping a notebook / journal on your projects so you can keep track of your successes. Then you will be able to go back and make your favorite designs in different yarns.

Now on to part 2, figuring out how much yarn you have, and what kind of yarn it is, so you can do some stash busting or utilize that fabulous yarn you scored at a garage sale and has been sitting in your stash for ever!!

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math and knitting, part 1

Most knitters want nothing to do with math. and I truly do get that! unfortunately, there is a lot of math in knitting, we’ve just let other people do it for us, called patterns. and it is the refusal to do math that has a lot of knitters confining themselves to things like blankets, afghans, scarves and shawls, maybe a beanie hat or two, towels, washcloths, all things that don’t require a strict adherence to GAUGE. Because Gauge is all about the math.

We all know the knitter who claims that they can’t knit a sweater or vest, or anything that requires gauge because it never comes out right. Some don’t bother with a gauge swatch, some have changed the type of yarn they are using – because who always can get the specific yarn mentioned in the pattern?!?! – and even with doing gauge swatch it doesn’t come out right.

I’m one of those people who looks at a pattern as a suggestion; as an idea, or for just the decorative stitch involved. I always do the gauge swatch and it NEVER matches the suggested gauge for the pattern – never matches the recommended gauge as it appears on the yarn label (when there is one). If my stitches are right, the rows are not, if the rows are right, the stitches aren’t. For most things, stitches are more important than rows, but rows do count, which is WHY WE NEED MATH. Math will let us adapt the pattern to our swatch rather than trying to adapt our knitting/needles/yarn to the pattern.

And, BTW, I do not sew well, so my preference is to knit a piece rather than do bits and sew them together – which means top down sweaters, knitting the sleeves into the pieces, etc. But that’s an entirely different tutorial!! AND it also means MATH!

First, remember than your phone, your computer, just about every electronic device out there has a built in calculator. and if not, just buy a calculator. You might also want to buy a gram scale (a diet scale works just fine) because we will get into another aspect of math after we get through gauge – and that gram scale will help you figure out how much yarn you have before you dive into some Stash Busting projects – part 2.

a quick aside, why doesn’t the correct gauge swatch equate to the proper pattern result. Because, in part, the gauge swatch is not really big enough, but unless you want to knit an entire panel, it will have to do. As a piece gets heavy, our knitting may change. While some are very very accurate right through a project, I know I get looser in the center of a piece than I am at the edges, unless there is some sort of pattern. Straight garter or stockinette stitch always has me a little loose in the middle. have to consciously loosen up at my edges. Weight of the piece will also change how a piece fits. Laying flat on a towel or your work bench is one thing, putting it on is another, which is part of why I don’t worry much about row gauge. MOST OF ALL, are you the same size body as the person envisioned when they wrote up the design????

AND yarns vary because of color, vat, lot. The science behind why an acrylic of red might have a different gauge than the same weight acrylic, from the same company, in white is beyond me. But its true. Wool yarn from a scottish sheep might be different than the same worsted weight yarn from an American sheep. Not enough to see with our eye, but a fraction different in gauge. So their recommendation of Brown Sheep wool in loden green might yield a different gauge than your doing up the pattern in Cascade wool in blue.

So back to the math. When a pattern says for a size large you need so many yards of material, and so many stitches, it is all based on the math. If your large sweater pattern is for a 40 inch bust, and you are working a pattern with a fine yarn that gauges 8 stitches per inch. 8 x 40 is 320 stitches. and your brain just exploded at the idea of that much knitting! BUT we all know people who do that easily and readily. Just know it won’t be ME. FIRST, step back now. 40 inches for the bust is a CIRCUMFERENCE. We are knitting one panel at a time, or half that, but am going to stick with the 40 inches for easy math. Feel free to replace 40 with 20, or 25, or 36, or what ever number you want to use. Secondly, we have to allow for ease. Positive ease means the sweater will be loose around the bust, negative ease means it will be pulled tight. no ease means it will fit snugly. You are looking at a pattern in a magazine and it is giving you the stitches necessary to make that LARGE for a 40″ bust you know they are already allowing for ease (and often will say how much ease they have allowed) – you can tell by looking at the picture. The sweater is not clinging, nor is it bagging, nor is it stretched to bursting! But what if you want it a little looser? Then you have to ADD stitches to the pattern. If you want it snugger, you have to remove stitches from the pattern. see***

Back to our pattern for the 40″ bust and yarn that has 8 stitches per inch. Well, you love that sweater, you have the 40″ bust, but you want to knit it in a sports weight yarn. FIRST, do your gauge swatch. Cast on your 20 (or 25 or 30 – but never less than 20) stitches and knit according to the pattern. If its a seed stitch, a stockinette stitch or a garter stitch – the gauge will be about the same, but if its any kind of lace or cable, do it***. Now, the pattern will likely say, do your swatch in stockinette even if the design is not – because they have done the math for you. BUT you are making changes, so the best option is to do the swatch in the called upon design***. If you must, and you probably should, do a swatch in the same yarn in stockinette or garter and compare them. See how wide a 20 stitch swatch in stockinette is compared to a 20 stitch swatch in the pattern knit. and then you will understand why I’m saying a change in yarn requires a full understanding of how it is going to affect the pattern overall.

Once you have done your swatch, take it off the needle and measure your gauge. you can use a little gauge measure device, or just a ruler. Do not measure in just one spot. Mostly opt for either the over all gauge, or measure in/towards the middle in a couple of different spots. Matter of fact – measure the stitches per inch individually by the inch AND measure the over all piece. MATH TIME: if the over all piece of 20 stitches is exactly 4 inches, you have 5 stitches per inch (20 divided by 4 = 5). If the swatch is 5 inches, then you have 4 stitches per inch (20 divided by 5 = 4). Sometimes – OFTEN TIMES – you will have inches+; 4 and 1/2 or 4 and 1/4. Those 1/2 and 1/4″ are important, do not forget them! a quarter inch becomes a full stitch for every 4 stitch repeats you do. If you have a 40″ bust and you calculate the number of stitches by rounding down (4 x 40 = 160 instead of 4.25 x 40 = 170) you will be in a for a rude surprise when done as you will actually measure at least 2″ smaller than you wanted . and if it were 1/2 an inch and you rounded down you would be 4″ short!

Lets take the reverse, say your gauge is 4-1/2 stitches per inch, and you have rounded up to 5. You are going to knit 200 stitches (5 x 40″ = 200 stitches instead of 4.5 x 40 = 180) you will have a plus 4″ at the end. Which might not be bad if you wanted something a little baggy.

So please, take the time to do your gauge swatch, and if you are dealing with something relatively plain, you can now adjust your pattern to your gauge instead of adjusting your needle size. This will also allow you to adjust a pattern for a change in yarn – its all based on that gauge.

****you will also, if doing a pattern, remember that you need to keep your stitch count consistent with the pattern repeats for the gauge swatch and for the overall pattern adjustments. So if a pattern repeat is over 7 stitches, you cannot expect it to come out right on 5 stitches (say over a 20 stitch swatch instead of 28). You will adjust your gauge swatch to size easily enough. But translate to your overall pattern, it will change your overall size – and by doing your gauge swatch and knowing the stitches per inch IN PATTERN you can know, before you begin, whether this pattern will work in your chosen yarn.

Exampling this. You’ve done your 7 stitch repeat design swatch on 28 stitches (4 pattern repeats) and your gauge is 5 stitches per inch and you want your 40″ bust = 200 stitches. 200 stitches will NOT allow you even pattern repeats. you need at least 7 stitches for your pattern repeats and on your 40″ bust (7 x 40 = 280 stitches) That is going to make your piece 40 stitches too long, and that won’t do at all. Lets go backwards. at 5 stitches per inch gauge on 40 inches you have 200 stitches. divide by 7 gives you 28.5 pattern repeats. Round that up to 29 pattern repeats -7 x 29= 203 stitches – not an even division of your gauge, but it works at a minuscule increase in size. That’s your pattern. NOW, you will have to do additional math if you are working a 20″ panel – just the front and separately the back. 5 stitch gauge on 20″ equals 100 stitches that’s 14.2 pattern repeats (100 divided by 7). you can reduce that to 14 pattern repeats at 98 stitches (7 x 14), but that’s not going to leave you much for stitching your front and back panels together. Still, it will work if you don’t mind that slight snugness OR you can increase the size of your needles and start your gauge process from the beginning; increasing a size in your needles may put you at 5.25 (5-1/4) stitches per inch and that will be enough to keep your design and fit.

Lets add one extra bit of math here, especially if you are doing a fancy pattern. Most of us women have different hips to bust size. Personally like that LONG sweater so it must go over my bigger butt. Now I have to find a new stitch count that will allow for my butt without my bust being overwhelmed in yarn. If I’m working a fancy pattern, it is very difficult to gradually increase – while a stockinette, garter, or seed stitch is easily done. and do this successfully, you need to measure at what point – what length – do you want to start widening. measure your body, measure your length. If you are knitting in the round, do your increases on the sides. if you are knitting panels, do your increases on the edges and be sure to do them equally for the front and back. you can also just let the front and back hang as unstitched panels from some comfortable point down. OR you can also let the back panel be longer than the front so you have that extra length for coverage when you sit or bend over.

IF you want to keep that lacy pattern and MUST do a bigger butt to bust – consider knitting to a point at the waist, knit several rows in a plain stockinette stitch, slowly increasing your rows until you get where you need to be, then go back to your fancy stitch. for the rest the sweater.

In re-reading this, it seems complex even to me, yet I know its not. Its just that I’ve repeated things and broken them down to step by step and then repeated it again. Go through this slowly. Take a knitting pattern out – from a magazine or from on line, or even one you have done successfully. Look at it from the point of view of changing yarn weight, needle size, or even just calculating what the actual gauge equals in inches for the bust measurement they are quoting so you can see the amount of ease they are offering (that 40″ bust they say this is for may actually knit out to 42″). compare gauge in the stockinette they reference to the actual fancy knit pattern they have you making to see the difference. Re write this in a way you can understand. Then, you will be able to just pick up any yarn that catches your eye and knit pretty much anything you please without having anyone else tell you how it should be.

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just sharing

My niece made this and was kind enough to gift it to me.  She is a gifted knitter, and as much as I love this Ponchetta, am unlikely to wear it regularly as I’m a real sloppy eater.  The original pattern is on Ravelry under Ponchetta – and is not original with my niece.

am now working on my own variation.  Have an issue with the front of my chest getting cold, and this is a much nicer idea than any of the cowl variations I’ve seen; it looks like a shawl thrown around the neck, but no worries about it coming unwound.

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Spring Already?!?!

Okay, for one thing I’ve lost my garden notebook, the paper and pen version that I used for everyday gardening stuff! About 5 weeks ago had a total hysterectomy. All laparoscopic surgery, which makes it hard to remember it is still major surgery and you have to take it easy for WEEKS!! So I keep getting surprised when I over do it and have discomfort. Fortunately, pathology was all negative and I’m good to go for another few thousand miles.

So last week began some work in getting one of my outdoor garden beds in order. Its a long narrow bed against the outside fence of the property and gets TOOO much sun. For those who don’t think there is anything like too much sun, 12 hours in the summer of direct sun, at 4500 feet, when the temp is hovering around 100F and there hasn’t been rain in months is TOOO much sun. The bed has been fallow for a few years, although did throw in some green beans and zucchini last summer – but again, TOOO much sun, even with shade cloths over the plants themselves. So this year and working on a large size tunnel – tall enough for me to walk through, that will cover the entire area with a shade cloth, extending several feet past the end of the garden bed, to create a shadier area. Had started out with the idea of just putting hoops over the bed with protection from insects, etc. But then I’d have to lift it up and off to work the beds. So this allows me to fence in an area longer than and wider than, so have this shady tunnel to work under. Pictures when its done

Meanwhile, had planted some broccali Rabe seeds about a month ago and they have finally started to come up in a BIG pot next to the kitchen garden raised bed. They are in what is probably a 10gallon pot I found at recycling, that yes, I can likely grow carrots in, its so deep and wide. next.

The raised garden bed did well with salad greens, although the mix I used had too much arugula and we are not fans. It overwhelmed the spinach and the lettuces. Today went through it and pulled all this over grown STUFF and left just a few spinach plants and a couple of lettuces. Trimmed back the parsley, as it never got cold enough this winter (in this spot next to the house) to kill the stuff.

In the spaces left, planted some Noble spinach, seeds from a local grower (cornville) and some more lettuce from some people in Phoenix.

While I still can’t do any heavy lifting, will figure out how to get some peas planted in the same general area over the weekend. Best thing for the spring solstice – planting seeds!

It may actually be another month before I can do some real planting of seeds in the garden, and this year it may be store bought tomato seedlings, but it WILL happen.


my boysenberry vines are coming back nicely. Figs are showing some new buds. Nectarine got pruned late (late January/early February) and was showing some buds at the time, but then we got cold again. Looks like its going to flower nicely. Maybe only one blueberry plant made it and even though I was saying that’s my third failure, have found someone selling 2 year old plants for zone 5-9 (am zone 8a) which WILL be my last attempt.

Feels good to be working the garden again. Hopefully, we’ll have some more or less normal weather rather than the 11 months of no rain and 3 months of 100+ temps of 2020. Right now the rain barrels are full and I’ve got several smaller (50-65 gallon) smaller containers that I’m going to set up around the property for more local watering; either refill them from the rain catchment or from the house water. Sitting in the heat, the chlorine will evaporate quickly. Not as good as rain water, but better than directly from the hoses – although there are some chlorine filters around still too.

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almost like spring

2020 and 2021 were crappy years for me, health wise and ergo, garden wise. Still have a way to go, but absolutely have more energy now than I’ve had in the last two years! So have begun, slowly, to get started on the garden for 2022. BUT, had planted for the first time, my raised planter near the kitchen door with salad greens in the fall, and here we are today with them still healthy and growing. Absolutely was a mild winter, although we did get into the low/mid 20’s several times. But this planter is close enough to the house, that even the parsley has made it through (so far). Never even put a frost cover over it, nor did I ever add grow lights.

had found a LARGE plastic pot, obviously had been for aa tree or something equally large, at the recycling center and today filled that with 3 cubic feet (2 bags @ 1.5 Cu feet) of soil.  It would actually take more, but it has a crack about 3” from the top.  3 CuFt is still enough soil to grow plenty and today intended to plant broccoli and found I had no seeds!  But did have Broccoli Rabe (Broccolini) and planted that instead.

Also began preparing one of the main beds for lettuce, spinach, assorted greens, and broccoli.  Hope I can find seeds tomorrow

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Ice Cream

have one of those little hand crank ice cream makers; you know the type, put the container in the freezer, then add ingredients and crank, crank, crank away. Lots of hand cranking and just a teeny bit more than a pint of ice cream.

We did try the add salt and make a BIG BATCH of ice cream, but it was too much ice cream. Besides, he knows all, likes variety, and that was too much of one flavor. took up lots of freezer space and what did you do with all that salty water? we have a septic system which we did not want to “salt”.

Tried a Yonanas, but that left our freezers full of bags of frozen fruit, so he who knows all could always have his variety. did not last long. and he’s back to ice cream.

So when I saw the add for the Ninja Creameri thought, lets check it out! Nearly $300 for a machine that I still have to put everything into the freezer first, then have the machine sort it out. For $300 can get a machine with a compressor that will freeze as it stirs!

So ended up with this cuisinart ice cream maker. Electric, so no more hand cranking. bigger bowl so makes nearly a quart of ice cream if you want that much. Best of all, it does the cranking while you go about your business. made my first batch of ice cream to go along with T-day deserts. Getting ready to do a Peanut Butter ice cream with Reese’s mini cups mixed in. Also have things like chopped Butterfingers and Health Bar chips ready for future batches. Am looking forward to making a cheesecake flavored ice cream with strawberry.

ONE complaint. Why don’t they make these freezer bowls so the OUTSIDE of them is comfortable to hold instead of also freezing cold? when I scoop out the ice cream have to hold this freezing cold container and its not comfortable or convenient! Am I the only one who thinks this??

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Butter swim biscuits

NOW I can finally post this from several weeks ago!! Still can’t access WordPress easily, but at least I know how to get back in here when I want to!

Recipe popped up on my Facebook page and when I researched them, found they really were a thing!  Have been looking for a good biscuit recipe since going Gluten Free in 2009 with marginal results. ****With T-day coming up, decided to give this a try – not much to lose!

Used this recipe from the Lodge web site       

for the flour used 1 C of ancient grains gluten free  Flax all purpose flour and the rest was Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free all purpose flour.  Added 1tsp of xantham gum to the mix, but was probably not necessary.  Used regular salted butter.  For the Buttermilk, used Bob’s Red mill sweet cream buttermilk powder and mixed all dry ingredients together and then added water – slightly less than 2 cups.  went for a moist dough as the flax will absorb water – and let it sit for about 10 minutes before adding to the melted butter.

Gluten Free breads don’t usually absorb much butter, so expected this to be still sort of swimming in butter when done, but no, it was nicely absorbed.  Edges and crust are nicely crisp.  most of the GF biscuit recipes use eggs which gives a cake-y texture.  No eggs here so more of a bread texture.

Good flavor all around.

As for the temperature – how thick these are depends on what size pan you use (and I did use a 10.5” cast iron frying pan).  Felt the insides could have been cooked a little more for how thick they are which is about 1.5” in the middle.  So think next time will go with a slightly lower and longer cooking time OR will move to my 12” chicken fryer skillet.

These are not the flaky biscuits you make with all that butter cut into your flour and layered for flaky-ness.  But for gluten free biscuits even my fussy eater like them.

**found I was locked out of WordPress when I tried to publish this the first time.  FINALLY found a way to log back in. Meanwhile, T-day has come and gone.  split the biscuit dough between the pan in the picture and a regular 8” cast iron. Used one stick of butter in the big pan and half in the smaller one. Biscuits were thinner, had a better (in our opinion) texture, and a good time was had by all. 

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