Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Finished Project of 2010

Dear Mom,
Cast on sometime before Christmas and cast off last night, this is Daybreak, designed by Stephen West.

I used Claudia's Handpainted fingering weight wool and needed a little more than one skein of each color to finish. I can't find the tag for the lighter colorway, but the darker one is called Caribbean blue. I think I may have thrown the other label away along with wrapping paper.This was a pleasant, soothing project, with just enough to going on to keep it interesting but not too much to require total concentration. Plus it was a small enough project to have the end in sight, which is a total motivator to keep me knitting as fast as I can. 
Family fun and games tonight, so as much as I would like to knit in the New Year, in all honesty I know it isn't gonna happen.
Happy, Healthy, Safe and Serene New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Now That it's Over

Dear Mom,
With only wrapping paper shrapnel littering the house and the much anticipated Un-Decorating that remains of Christmas 2010, I can reveal some of the gift knitting I've been keeping secret now that the gifts have been opened.
I now realize that I neglected to photograph everything, like some texting gloves and the Marksmans mitts I knit for the hunter in the family. But I did take a picture of this hat, modeled reluctantly by the Young Lady.
This is the Inishmore Hat I made for a nephew. It used about 1 skein of Lamb's Pride worsted and I want to make another for My Hero. I have my eye on a skein of mossy green Donegal tweed in the stash.

I gave you one of these silly Kleenex cosies. I don't know why I am so charmed by this little dude, but it took a tiny amount of time and yarn and I want one for myself.

I am most proud of this sweater, though.
This is my latest design, Primrose. Elle is modeling Primrose with the skirt (Violette) and scarf I gave you last year.
Primrose is knit from the top down, in the round, with modified boat neck, and blousy full sleeves. She is a nice compliment to Violette's fitted silhouette. The sleeve cuffs and body are finished with a garter stitch border that mirror the neckline. I used Knitpicks Gloss yarn- it was a dream to work with.
My goal is to get the patterns for both Primrose and Violette polished up and available before the end of January.

I feel like my after Christmas knitting list (which is mostly selfish knitting) is almost as long as my Christmas knit list. I still need to make some fingerless mitts for myself and finish projects already started. In the Village Yarn shop, I was inspired to use leftover fingering weight yarns to make this scarf. I did some desperately needed stash purging and re-organization last week and made some scarf  kits for myself. I finished this narrow scarf in the wee hours of this morning.

It is about 3 inches wide and 60 inches long. Just right for wearing like this:

And you know what the REALLY good thing about this pattern and its use of leftovers? Chances are pretty good that there is a sweater made out of one of those yarns and the scarf is guaranteed to go with something.  See what I mean?

After re-organizing my yarn stash and finding yarn I forgot I had, I faced the cold hard truth of my yarn gluttony. I have more than enough to knit myself well into next year and vow to clear much of it ( notice I am being realistic here and not saying ALL of it) off my shelves before bringing any new yarn home. I failed on last years Sock-a-Week resolution, so there is still plenty of sock yarn waiting for me, too. Maybe a more realistic goal this year would be a pair of socks each month. Maybe I should pick a sock yarn and put it in a brown paper bag, assign a month to each bag and surprise myself. Yeah. I think that is exactly what I am going to do. So maybe this year it will be a scarf and a pair of socks each month along with the big projects I would like to work on too. Sounds like a plan.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chicken Sweaters and Fingerless Mitts

Dear Mom,
Aren't Bonnie Jo's chickens smart! Not only have they figured out how to log onto the blog, but they also know that Aunt Kim will stop just about everything to knit for a niece. Even if that niece is a chicken.
The Chicken Sweater Pattern I used is this oneAfter seeing how lovely Gloria, Marge and Golda look in their jumpers, I imagine that there will be more hens asking for sweaters this Christmas.
The sweaters required less than 50g of yarn and these fit Bonnie Jo's robust ladies just right. I don't know how her girls fit into the scheme of Hen Sizing- are they Average? Plus size? All I can say with certainty is that they are not petite, so if knitting for a petite chicken niece, a knitter might want to scale the pattern down a smidge.
Knitting the sweaters was the easy part. The Chicken Photography was not. (But it was fun!) Chickens do not hold still. I took over 200 photos and Bonnie Jo had to do some deep knee bends.

multi-tasking one handed deep knee bending photographer/chicken whisperer

 I am beginning to think that putting a camera in Bonnie Jo's hands turns her into Super Stretchy Limber Woman!
Our patience, gymnastics, low batteries and rapidly filling memory cards were rewarded with some excellent (or should I say eggcellent?) shots.

Chicken sweaters aren't the only thing I've been knitting. I feel like I am late to the appeal of the fingerless mitts, but having made one pair for the Young Lady, I can't seem to stop. I can knit a mitt a night. They don't require much yarn, and they've been good stash busters.
I've made some with self-striping  and variegated yarns and they look good on their own, but the few pairs I've done out of solid colors needed some embellishments. I pulled out my Colorful Stitchery book and some sock yarn leftovers and had some fun.
I made this pair for Bonnie Jo: (she already opened them so I can show them off )

And I finished the first of this pair last night:

I knew the mitts were a hit when the Young Lady approved my making a pair as a birthday gift for her friend. She chose a bright variegated yarn from the stash for that pair. I also want a pair or three for myself. They are cozy for hugging a warm mug of tea, or for right now when my hands are cold as I sit at the computer keyboard. I don't have a pattern for these- it is in my head- but I probably should write down what I've done somewhere. Right now I am just enjoying the satisfaction of finishing projects.

It amy be cold and snowy, but life is good. I've got hot tea in front of me and two sleeping dogs on the floor beside me.

Keep Warm!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favrit Ant

Deer Ant Kim,

U r a good nitter!  and fast!  thank u for nu sno soots.

Look!  We r playing in sno togethr!

U r favrit ant.  We feel speshul.  We wil giv u egggs.

Golda, Marge and Gloria

p.s. We lik cow buttens.  pleez eet mor beef.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deer Ant Kim

Deer Ant Kim,

Kan u maak us a swetter sno soot? 

Gloria wont shar. 

Mom sed if we ask nislee u will nitt a sno soot for us.

p.s.  we lik chikin buttens too.

Golda and Marge

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Animal Lover's Must See

Dear Mom,
I know I've already posted today, but I was just sent this and had to share it.

I love the voices they've given these animals. Very clever.


Dear Mom,
One of the best things about being done with Christmas Knitting (or at least the have to's) is that when your friend GinaWhoCanParallelPark gives you a skein of to-die-for Tilli Tomas yarn you can stop everything and knit with it.
The yarn is called Flurries, which considering today's weather and last night's snowfall is totally appropriate.

After a very brief ravelry search- and can I interrupt myself here to say that after sheep and local yarn stores, ravelry may be the next best thing to happen to knitters?- I found this pattern. Perfect.

I cast on and finished the scarf in an evening, blocked it before I went to bed and woke up to this lovely scarf.
This yarn is embellished with glass beads. Just the sort of sparkle you see when the sun comes out after the snow storm.

I modified the pattern slightly to taper the ends to points. I preferred that to a blunt beginning and end. Other than that change, the pattern was easy to follow with both charted and written directions. Starting and finishing such a beautiful project in an evening is very satisfying.and I can't wait to wear my new scarf. I may just have to wear it today while I vacuum!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day

Dear Mom,
I've taken advantage of this snow day with the kids home to use my baker's helper (aka The Young Lady) and do some scone baking. We popped out 70 scones this morning. Yes. sev-en-teeee. Thank goodness for my convection oven. We made every variety we could think of and had the ingredients for: blueberry lemon, cranberry orange, butterscotch, chocolate chop, chocolate cherry, and cinnamon raisin. We made a small last batch with a butterscotch and chocolate chip combo that will stay here at home.
About half of the baskets have been delivered. When I had the brainstorm to do this today, I thought it would be the perfect day to catch everyone at home. Not so. For me days like this are the perfect excuse NOT to leave, but I obviously have neighbors with important things to do, 4-wheel drive vehicles and/or more courage than I have.
We put up our Christmas tree over the weekend. So far, except for one appealing ornament, Patsy has left the tree alone. I had visions of her dragging the tree OUT the dog door much like she has dragged sticks IN. The ornament in question has been relocated to a higher branch.
 Our string of lights is plugged into an extension cord that has an on/off switch. Instead of bending over to plug the cord in I can just tap the switch with my foot. Patsy witnessed me tapping the lights on to water the tree early Sunday morning. After emptying my watering can, I tapped the lights off. Patsy looked at the red button and used her big paw to tap the lights back on. I am considering teaching Miss Smarty Paws two new commands: Lights On! and Lights Off !
I somehow managed to get ahead and actually finish the important Christmas knitting. Now I'll have time to do some of those fun smaller Christmas knitting projects that I've been thinking about, but didn't dare hope to have the time for.
Like these- I really like this one.And this cute thing. And maybe some of these, and definitely some more fingerless mitts.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandpa's socks

Dear Mom,
A good friend just pointed out that I have a pattern published in the January 2011 issue of Creative Knitting magazine and haven't mentioned it. I guess it feels a bit anti-climactic to mention a sock pattern after having a design land on the cover.
Anyway, my Manly sock pattern "Grandpa's Socks" is right there on page 66. Instructions include a smaller lady like size, too.
photo courtesy DRG publications


Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Dear Mom,
Every year I agonize over what sort of baked goods to give my neighbors for Christmas. I can knit under pressure but cooking and baking under pressure doesn't work for me. Plus I am surrounded by good cooks. I cannot compete with their delicious cookies, candies and that mouth-watering spiced pumpkin nut bread that Michelle brings over every year. (There might be a cul-de-sac riot if Michelle did not make that bread.)
Finding the right recipe that is tasty/easy/holiday-ish but not a duplicate of what my neighbors are already baking has been my annual challenge. I even pressure myself further by feeling that I should have a "signature holiday treat" for my neighbors.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across this recipe for "Super Simple Scones" in the Harvest Kitchen Gooseberry Patch Cookbook. I have grown to love these cookbooks. They are full of recipe winners and completely support your theory that any cookbook that tells the name of the person contributing the recipe is bound to be filled with only the best recipes. Nobody wants their name associated with a bad recipe.
The Young Lady and I have given this recipe several test drives. We've made several variations and can think of more to try. We haven't had a bad scone yet.
This year my neighbors will be receiving a cloth-lined basket filled with a variety of scones. And if all goes as well as I hope it will, this may become our annual gift.

Super Simple Scones
makes 8

1 1/2 cups biscuit baking mix ( We used Bisquick)
3/4 c. whipping cream

Optional ingredients: orange zest, lemon zest, dried fruit, chocolate chips, cinnamon, etc.

That's it! Can you believe it!?

Place biscuit mix in a bowl and slowly stir in cream. Turn mixture our onto a floured surface and  knead in optional ingredients. Roll and shape into an 8- inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet ( I always use a silpat) at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

So far, my favorite combination of optional ingredients is the zest of 1 lemon and 6 oz dried blueberries.  The chocolate chip scones were gobbled up quickly and I was afraid there might be a fight over the butterscotch chip scones. We've also made cinnamon raisin scones, cranberry scones and a cranberry/orange zest combination.
The recipe is easily doubled. In fact, I think we've doubled it every time and divided the dough so we could make several combinations with one batch.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Another Cowl Catcher and a New Escape Route

Dear Mom,
During our Family Movie Marathon last night I was able to finish another Cowl Catcher. Successfully checking another gift off the list. Same yarn as yesterday's cowl, different color. Perfect buttons- purchased with the yarn at Mass Ave Knit Shop. (Wendy- Susan says Hi! and to stop by next time you are in town!)
This morning we discovered that Patsy, being the smart, clever girl we know she is, has made herself a new escape route.
The fence has been repaired. Despite this, I have to say that Patsy is doing very well on her new regime and we couldn't be more pleased. Every day is a bit better. And while I wish she would just stay put in the backyard, I don't blame her for wanting to occasionally go visit her backyard friends, Buddy and Simon.


Friday, December 3, 2010

One a Day

Dear Mom,
I was able to finish the Young Lady's North Porch hat in one day, but I do admit to nodding off over my knitting needles more than once on Wednesday night. Times like that I miss my Dr. Pepper habit.
Anyway, I got it done, the girl is happy and her head was warm. Now she wants fingerless mitts to match, but I told her she would have to wait til after Christmas for those.
Thursday required me to transport the Young Man downtown where he caught the Megabus with 9 of his fellow students and a teacher. They are attending a DECA conference in Chicago. My biggest concern was that I would not find a parking spot, but I thought it was my lucky day when we found an empty spot directly across the street from the bus stop AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, it was one that did not require me to parallel park. Because honestly, I would have continued to circle the block until the bus left if parallel parking was my only option. (I ignored the Young Man's suggestion that I just "drop him off". As if I would abandon my child with his duffel bag and backpack on a downtown sidewalk! We hadn't seen another student or the teacher at that point,either.) I know teenage boys think themselves all invincible and tough, but honestly.
Anyway, we parked. I paid the meter and we waited for the group to collect and the bus to arrive. My quarter and the 6 minutes that were still on the meter from the previous patron meant that I had 26 minutes. After giving the Young Man a quick pat on the back (no embarrassing hugs or kisses good-bye) I jaywalked my way back across the street, saw the meter had expired and hopped in my car.
And then I saw the parking ticket.  I promise you it could not have been more than a minute or two. Where was the ticket writer lurking? Are they still called meter maids? I doubt it. That sounds too polite. And sexist. And way nicer than anything I wanted to name them. Not such a lucky day after all.
My first ticket. (I am not counting my 2 warnings.) I was rattled, mad and wished I had put another quarter in the meter.
 My plan, since I would be so far out of my usual 6 mile radius, was to be brave and go to Mass Ave Yarn shop because I would practically be in the neighborhood. So despite being distracted by the ticket and my poor mapquest directions, I navigated my way to the yarn shop. I think some kind of wool homing instinct took over and guided me.
 I found some yarn for a couple of last minute gift knits (why and I doing this to myself??) and some more fingerless mitts for the Young Lady. And headed for home. Throw in an afterschool orthodontist appt and it was a long day. I've said it before and I am saying it again. Thank Goodness for Doggie Daycare. I had the foresight to drop Patsy off in the morning, knowing I would be gone most of the day and she would have to spend too much time crated. At the end of the day I was able to pick up a tired dog and have a peaceful evening. God Bless the Bed & Biscuit. They may be my new best friends.
I was able to put my quiet evening to productive use and knitted this Cowl Catcher for a friend.

I used one skein of Plymouth Yarn's Baby Alpaca Grande and I found the buttons at the yarn shop. I started another- same yarn, different color, more really good buttons, and if all goes well, I should be able to finish that one tonight. There has been so much behind the scenes knitting going on that I can't show you in case the recipients are reading the blog. I must remember to take pictures before they are wrapped up and delivered.
Back at it. Unfortunately Patsy's training does not include vacuuming, laundry and gift wrapping.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Until today

Dear Mom,
Until today it hasn't felt like we should be counting down to Christmas, or that Thanksgiving was just last week. Sure, we've enjoyed some nice fires in the fireplace and I've been knitting like Christmas is coming. I've even tuned the car radio to the Christmas music station. But Yesterday I had the thought that we might just skip over the winter weather this year. Then we woke up this morning to snow flurries and bitterly cold temps. Wind chills in the teens. So nevermind. It feels like winter and Santa Claus out there.

Today I will interrupt my Christmas knitting schedule to take this handspun
which is a much more vibrant green than I was able to capture in the picture, and turn it into a North Porch hat for the Young Lady. Because somehow, in a house full of wool and handknits, she couldn't find a hat this morning. Trust me. There are hats. Just not the right hat for the mood this morning, I guess. Don't worry, Mom, her winter coat has a hood so she was warm enough at the bus stop.

I may have been in more of a knitting frenzy than I thought, because last night the Young Lady pointed out to me that the fingerless mitts I knitted for the girl who cuts her hair were not the same length. In my best ever-so-patient Mom voice, I told her that they were exactly the same, but they probably looked different because of the yarn stripes.
Then she laid them side by side.


Clearly I am in deep denial about more than the winter weather.