Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas wrap-up

Although still unseasonably warm, it's been a wonderful holiday week. Lots of good food and fun time with the families (the diet starts today!). Everyone loved their gifts.We sat around Christmas afternoon watching Finian's Rainbow (love that movie!!) Santa was good to me this year and I was lucky enough to get nearly everything I wanted. I got movies and candy and gift certificates galore; a cozy sweater and an awesome MP3 player. Two knitting gifts to note...a gift certificate for the LYS and ...I was thrilled!! I read just a bit in it so far and was instantly reminded why I love EZ so much. I had almost ordered this book and the accompanying dvds a few weeks ago, but ended up ordering some of Lucy Neatby's dvds instead (still waiting for them to get here from Canada though.)

Here are the pictures of the gifts I made that I couldn't post before.

The way cool pirate dishcloth...And the cute and cozy house socks...
I am on a major sock kick right now. Just finished the first sock in my pair of Online Supersockes
I thought these would turn out more green, but there isn't much green in them at all. Still a nice neutral colorway. I needed some car knitting last night so I cast on the Mr Joe yarn to make the Welsh Country socks from Folk Socks.I'm having just a little trouble with my super-pointy Knit Picks Options needle wanting to catch in the fairly loose spun yarn, but I'm getting the hang of it now. I think I'm really going to like this yarn for socks. The color is ever so slightly mottled when it's knitted up. And it feels soft and warm. I'm considering changing the sole to a fair-isle pattern (just got the Sock Hop book and am inspired to try some colorwork). But the two strands of yarn would also add strength to the sole. I've got a while before I get to that point and have to decide.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Martha Stewart redo

The Martha Stewart Holiday magazine was FILLED with fantastic ideas this year. I've got many of the projects flagged to do "someday". But one particular item really struck my fancy...hand warmers (pg 65). My hands are always cold and I thought these looked perfect to tuck into a pocket. I made one, mostly following the directions in the mag only I used rice instead of pie weights to fill the warmer and I machine stitched around the edge (I hate hand sewing!) The result was less than I had hoped...You can see my attempt there on the left. Part of the problem was the fabric. I used wool felt, which ended up being too stiff. I also used too much rice further adding to the stiffness of the piece. And the over all dimensions were too small. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with an improved version of the hand warmers. I call them Hot Spots. Mine are a bit larger and have an inner bag containing rice and salt which is sewed up with the tiniest stitches possible to prevent leaking. Then I sewed a larger bag to encase the rice bag and blind sewed it shut. Finally, I hand stitched around the edges for decoration (this step could be skipped, but it does look nicer if you take the time to do it). The result is a soft, flexible little pillow that can be warmed in the microwave and stuffed in your pocket to keep your hands warm. It's also great for spot heating an sore muscle. I added a drop of fragrance oil to the rice bags of a few of them, these are particularly delightful.

Today was Christmas Bread day. Can't wait till Monday to have some!

Check out my cool flea market score last week...Clara, Herr Drosselmeyer & the mouse king nutcrackers!!
We got to the flea market about an hour before closing time and really didn't expect to find anything. I saw these three nutcrackers laying in a box. When I asked the stand owner how much he wanted he said "$8 each or I'll give you all 3 for $9". I thought he was pulling my leg, so I asked his wife if he was joking and she just laughed and said no he's just like that. Needless to say, I took them. I'm sure they aren't worth much, but I think they are so adorable. The mouse king needs a sword, but I should be able to find something that will work. Clara appears to be missing something to go on top of her head. I've looked online, but can't find this particular version of Clara anywhere. There's a hole in her head where a peg for a hat might go. But I'm thinking of just getting some blond doll hair rather than trying to make a hat.

I must be off to finish wrapping and baking. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A bit of history

I love to bake. Especially this time of year. My husband's friend sent me a bread recipe that sounded really interesting. You basically just mix together the four ingredients (flour, yeast, salt & water), give it a good stir, let it sit for hours, knead it 2 or 3 times, let it sit some more, then turn it into a pre-heated pot, cover it and bake. It sounds way too easy, but that makes it all the more intriguing. Trouble is, I have only one large covered oven safe pot and it's in use making ham & beans for supper. Enter this fantastic piece of family history...This is one of my late Grandma Miller's cast iron pans. My dad told me, his dad made (that's right I said MADE with his own hands) a whole set of cast iron pans for her. This was back in the '30s when he worked for steel mill (I'm not sure if this was when he was at Bethlehem Steel or perhaps another mill). This pan is awesome. It's some 70 years old and not a speck of rust or wear on it. It is perfectly seasoned and smooth as a baby's butt. My grandma used this pan to make her corn pie, unquestionably the best corn pie one could ever hope to taste. I wish I had her recipe, although I've been able to come pretty close with an amish recipe I found. I think while the pan is visiting her at my house I may have to whip up a corn pie in her honor.

As promised, a picture of the finished hats for the in-laws. Hats are kind of hard to ph
otograph without a head in them, so they look a little wobbly.
These are the rolled brim model from the Holiday 06 Knit Simple magazine. As I said in the last post, I put in a couple of inches more in both the brim and body section above the checkerboard on the second hat (which is actually the hat on the left in the picture). It feels like it will fit an adult size head much better.

A little peek at my current knitting.
Can't say much about this one as it may or may not end up a Christmas present for someone, depending on how much knitting time I get in the next 2 weeks.

A small bit of stash enhancement this week, courtesy my good friends at Elann.
This yarn, Mister Joe Blanket, was featured in this week's newsletter. It's a wool/nylon blend and it's super soft to the touch. It's a bit finer than I like (sport weight) but I'm thinking I may use it for socks. It's funny how frigid temperatures and cold feet make you long to knit nothing but warm socks.

I decided it's about time we got the tree up for Christmas and set to work at doing just that this morning. I got the tree on it's stand and put the skirt on, we'll do the decorating tonight. I walked out to my laundry room to flip the wash, came back to the living room 3 minutes later and found this...
Anyone care to place a bet how soon the tree will be on the floor?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mom loved her socks. She even wore them the day after I gave them to her, even though they were wool and it was well into the 60's that day. Meanwhile, I finished the kool aid socks.The are a bit uneven, probably due to the fact I switched needles and methods several times throughout the process. They started on two circs and ended up on one circ, different brands every time (we all know needles aren't always consistent between manufacturers.) I also lost the instructions for the heel between doing the first and the second. Thus the second heel doesn't match the first.This is a bummer for me since my shoe wardrobe is nearly all open heel slides and clogs. You don't really notice it when they are on, and they fit very well, so I'm keeping them as is. I plan to purchase more of this yarn. It's KnitPicks dye your own (they've changed the name to Bare now). It's soft and warm. There is a nice sheen to it too. The kool aid dye took fabulously. Everyone that saw me knitting on these socks commented how much they loved the color.

Current knitting is hats for my MIL and SIL for Christmas. The holiday 06 issue of
KnitSimple had a whole slew of hat patterns and, although I had decided not to knit Christmas presents this year, I couldn't resist. I finished the one for my SIL in 2 days and should have the other one done tonight. The patterns are wrong (in my opinion) and produce hats that are way too short. I followed Stephanie's "Rule" for hats for the second one and it looks like it will fit better. After I get these done, I plan to cast on another pair of socks. I've still got all that six ply sock from the other month to knit up. And socks are PERFECT car knitting. Plus, I think I've finally got the method/pattern/rules memorized so all I need to carry is the yarn and needle.

In other news...Santa came early to the fuzzy faced creatures of our home. When Stuart and Quinn were babies, we had a pet fountain for them to drink from. However, it died a few years ago and we never bothered to replace it. Lately, Stuart insists on drinking out of the spigot. Whenever you brush your teeth, or take a bath, or wash your hands, he's right there on the counter trying to drink out of the faucet. It got to be just too annoying. So we broke down and ordered them a new fountain. Even after 2 or 3 years, Stuart remembered what it was. Here he is waiting for me to fill it.He tried every way possible to get water out of that empty fountain. I could barely stop laughing long enough to fill the darn thing. Here's Stuart a few minutes later.Happy as a clam. He played with that water and drank and played for 45 minutes straight. Quinn accepted it with her normal aplomb. When Stuart finally finished, she strolled over, drank a little, then laid down for a nap.