Sunday, December 30, 2007

So I lied

But these are absolutely the last two shirts I will make. (I ran out of shirts.)

Red bird

Elephant t-shirt

The stencil for this guy was much more involved, but I think it was worth the effort. Kyle is going to have to hide my supplies. Only one more today, I promise!

Another new hobby?

I had a hard time finding cute (or any) t-shirts in Wisconsin in December to send to tropical Thailand for T. So I ordered a bunch of cheap ones online and discovered how fun and easy it is to decorate them using freezer paper stencils. (I first spent a night cursing while trying to embellish with embroidery - forget that - this is so much easier!)

Using an on-line Thai-English dictionary, I found a short Thai word meaning "dear, beloved". I drew a heart beneath it and traced it onto the paper side of Freezer Paper. I cut out the design with an x-acto knife, saving the little circles and crescent inside the text.

I ironed the stencil on the t-shirt (shiny-side down). Then I placed the little circles and crescent into place and ironed them down as well.

With fabric paint, I brushed paint gently onto the shirt, trying to dab it down into the fabric.

Because I'm impatient, I used a hair drier to speed the drying (the bottle says wait 24 hours - yeah, right!) and removed the stencil. After if dries a bit more I'll set the paint with an iron.

I just wish I could take it over to him myself, right now!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Snow!

We've had a lot of snow this December, but today we got the ultimate snow-man making snow. Woo hoo! We needed a step-stool to finish off this guy! Note the cheery flag from Thailand in the background celebrating the referral of our son, "T". (You can read about the adoption on our other blog.) The shoveling part wasn't as fun. It's never a good sign when the shovel will stand up on it's own in the driveway.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hat Rainbow

The mystery projects I've been working for a few months were Foliage hats from Knitty. I knit four to give away, and kept one for myself. I liked both the chunky and worsted weight versions. This was the first time I've worked with Malabrigo yarn, and I am smitten. I can't believe how soft it is, and the colors are candy for my eyes. The stitch definition of the beautiful lace pattern is much more visible when the hat is being worn.
Pattern: Foliage
Source: Emilee Mooney, Knitty (Fall 2007)
Modifications: None. Awesome pattern. Written out and in chart form.

Hat #1 (for Mom)
Version: 2
Yarn: Malabrigo kettle dyed pure merino wool, worsted weight
Amount: slightly less than one skein
Color: Terracotta
Needles:US#7, US#5

Hat #2 (for Grandma)
Version: 2
Yarn: Malabrigo kettle dyed pure merino wool, worsted weight
Color: Holly hock
Needles:US#7, US#5

Hat #3 (for Charlene)
Version: 1
Yarn: Malabrigo kettle dyed pure merino wool, chunky
Amount: slightly less than one skein
Color: Christmas green
Needles:US#10.5, US#9

Hat #4 (for Erika)
Version: 1
Yarn: Malabrigo kettle dyed pure merino wool, chunky
Amount: slightly less than one skein
Color: Glazed carrot
Needles:US#10.5, US#9

Hat#5 (for me)
Version: 2
Yarn: Classic Elite Montera (50% llama, 50% wool)
Amount: odds and ends from Erika - unknown
Color: 3805, Sica sica blue (discontinued)
Needles: US#7 and US#6

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Frost

The weather has turned colder and we can't really see out most of our windows. But I've made my favorite treat (pretzels topped with melted Rolos and pecans) and some tea. It's a perfect combination.

New Toy

I hand-sewed a stuffed elephant from a pair of socks this weekend. I used a pattern from an adorable book, Sock and Glove. I don't really know how to sew, so I winged it. I have no idea if he'll stand up to the test of a kid pulling on his appendages, but he was terribly fun to make. I bought a few other colors of socks, too, so I might try a bear or a dog next...

Switching needles

I put down my knitting needles this weekend to try my hand at sewing. But I didn't have a pincushion to hold my pins, so I decided that should be my first project. I found a cute tutorial on-line, and in no time, had a nice little pincushion. I found the fabric and a button I liked from the stashes my mom and grandma gave me when they both cleaned out their sewing stuff.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Stained Glass Candy

We got the candy kitchen up and running today and now the house smells SWEET! Our family started this tradition in 1960, so this is our (if not my) 47th year of making this delicious candy. This is the first year we've made it at our house. Our traditional mix has seven "spicy" flavors - cinnamon, peppermint, anise, butterscotch, wintergreen, spearmint, and clove. This candy has been made for various fund raisers through the decades, sometimes with production up to an insane 2000 pounds in one season! Today we worked for about 3 hours to make 38 pounds.
Grandma cooks the pans of sugar, corn syrup, and water.


She monitors the pans and pulls them off at 300F.

While I stir in the flavoring and coloring....
...Mom prepares the marble slabs by dusting them with powdered sugar.

The steaming hot syrup is then poured onto the marble.
When cool enough, one person slices into strips with a pizza cutter while everyone else cuts into bite sized pieces with scissors (as fast as possible - before it hardens and starts to shatter like glass!).
The marble is scraped clean and excess powdered sugar is shaken from the candy.
After the candy is cool, colors are mixed together by shaking back and forth in a large cloth.All 38 lbs of candy are packaged into bags and divided up among the workers for Christmas presents. Hope we didn't spoil the surprise if you find a pound in your stocking!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bring on the Cavities

Today I had an inexplicable urge to learn how to use my cookie press. I love spritz cookies, but I've never seen them made. I assumed it was easy. Ha! I had Kyle calling his mom while I frantically waved around a monster cookie press that was spewing lots of cookie-batter spaghetti noodles. It took several attempts, batter adjustments, and Kyle holding down the baking sheet before I finally got something that looked like cookies. Some turned out nicely, but I made quite a few that look like the ones in the bottom picture. Maybe it'll get easier with practice, but I definitely need to get Kyle's mom's recipe - hers taste so much better than mine!

Tree Hunt

Kyle and I scored our Best Tree Ever this weekend. We got it at a local tree farm where you can tromp around and pick your own tree, but they apparently don't trust you to wield a saw (or perhaps they're just being nice) and they chop it down for you. Many trees there were a lot more expensive than I remembered from last year (>$60!), but through some strange miracle, my favorite tree was only $15. It's the perfect tree for hanging lots of ornaments, and it smells great. It feels quite strange to be decorated for Christmas so early, but it will take a lot of the pressure off. (Now if only I could find time to finish my knitting!)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Am Special Today

Kyle made me a delicious birthday dinner and dessert. Lucky me! And despite my friend Erika's best efforts, I don't feel "old".

Baby Boat-neck Sweater


I forgot to post the final stats on this sweater. Mom-to-be seemed to really like it. I hope it fits the new little one! I thought it was funny - the first comment I heard at the shower after it was opened was, "You should sell those!" Uh, well.... 13 hours at minimum wage plus materials comes out to $97.05. I don't think I'll quit my day job any time soon! I knit because it's fun (usually!). =)

Pattern: Boat-neck sweater
Source: Baby knits for beginners, Debbie Bliss
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, Cascard Yarns, 1.5 skein (~300 yards)
Color: Ruby
Needles: US 7

Modifications: Many! Knit entire sweater on US 7 (didn't switch to US 8). CO 100 and knit in round (back and forth at arm holes - 4" deep). 3 needle bind-off 10 sts each shoulder. Picked up 33 sts for each sleeve and knit on dpn, decreased to 29 at wrist.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

One skein and one sleeve

I truly though nothing could top yesterday's knitting debacle. Today Kyle was kind enough to agree to pick up my additional ball of yarn, as my hours wouldn't allow me to get there before they closed. He took the ball band from the yarn I bought Friday to show the store owner. Wouldn't you know it, in 60 hours, the store managed to sell every last ball in my dye lot. Of course! Kyle called me at work and I couldn't believe it. I just about told him to forget it, I was ripping out the whole thing and knitting a hat. But I thought it couldn't hurt to at least look at the different lots next to each other. It could be worse. The new lot is a bit brighter, but I can knit both sleeves with it, and I don't think the difference between the body and the sleeves will be that noticeable.

So, tonight I reknit the top and shoulders of the sweater, bound off (again), and knit one sleeve. And I stayed up far too late to do so, but I'll never get it blocking in time otherwise. I hope to block it tomorrow before bed and think very dry thoughts. Barring any new catastrophes, that is. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Knitting Disaster

Andrea requested a daily progress report on how The Plan is going. Well, pretty poorly, in fact. I was awfully frustrated until I started thinking about how many issues I've encountered with this one simple, silly little sweater, and it's actually almost funny. Almost. So here goes.
  • Friday: I did finish the front of the sweater, and began the back.
  • Saturday: I knit to within one inch of the top of the back of the sweater. Then I panicked about the pattern's plethora of seam sewing and ripped it all out. (I hate to sew seams and I'm not very good at it. And why do it if you don't have to?) Surely, a redesign to allow for knitting in the round, a 3-needles bind-off at the neck, and picking up arm stitches was the correct choice. As I cast on with my trusty size US7 needles, I started to wonder if I even owned any size 8 circulars. (Only the first 2 rows are knit with 7 and then the pattern increases to size 8.) I checked. Nope, no size 8, 16" circulars in the house. It's now 8:30pm on Saturday night. So I think, "Hmm, the drape of the fabric was rather loose with the 8s, I suppose knitting the whole thing with 7s will actually be an improvement." But what about gauge, you ask? I need to cast on more stitches to compensate for smaller needles or the sweater will be too small. Never one to fuss too much about gauge, I make a purely random decision to cast on 100 stitches in stead of 90. I knit almost 3 inches before bed.
  • Sunday: OK, I should be starting on a sleeve this morning, but there's no need for panic. I have all day to work on this. So I knit. And knit. And knit. I knit while watching 4 episodes of Hero's that Kyle taped for me for just such an occasion. And as I knit, I vaguely consider at what point I should stop knitting in a circle and start going back and forth to allow for arm holes. The original pattern is 40 stitches around the arm at the top, decreasing to 30 at the wrist. Do I consider the size 7 needles? Nope. Do I take time to measure my gauge and calculate mathematically? Nope. I'm a scientist, but I'm also impatient. I make a gut decision - 3 inches. I will need arm holes three inches deep. I proceed. I knit back and forth while watching Lord of the Rings. I execute a most beautiful (if I do say so myself) and clever 3-needle bind-off at the shoulders, weave in my ends, and proceed to the first sleeve. I'm feeling good. I am a Knitter. A Knitter who can rewrite whole patterns on a whim! And it's only 2:30pm. I can surely finish the first sleeve today and be right on target. Hooray! I do realize, however, that due to the smaller needles, I've used more yarn than the original pattern called for. Not to fear, I'll pick up stitches for the first arm and then, when Kyle has time, get him to drive me to the yarn store (my sister has my car and I'm afraid to drive the scary manual transmission truck into town when it's busy). So I pick up stitches. 30, to be exact. Wait, only 30? The number that should be decreased to by the wrist? With larger needles? Uh oh. Can I pick up more? Nope - 30 is all I can squeeze. Hold on. Just how deep should a sleeve hole be for a newborn, anyway? Let me check some size charts on the internet. More than 3 inches? Like maybe 4? Oh No! I panic. A lot. I am very upset. I look at the sleeve hole long and hard. Yep - it looks small. Like, too small for a baby's arm, small. I don't want to rip down 4 inches on each side and start over. I panic more. I wander around the house dazed. I am a Terrible Knitter. I stink. Why did I ever think I could randomly adjust a pattern, willy nilly, and it would work? Arg?! It's now 3pm and Kyle offers to take me to the yarn store. Nope, I say. I am a Terrible Knitter and his cousin will be getting a Store Bought gift. There's No Way I have time to fix this. I mope. How did this happen? Things were going so Well. I sweep the floor (I clean when I'm mad). Fifteen minutes later I'm still muttering under my breath, and Kyle asks for a more detailed explanation of the problem. I demonstrate. He says, "So why don't you just take apart the very top and make the arm hole bigger from that end?" Hmm. Why didn't I think of that? Sure, it'll make the whole thing an inch longer, but that shouldn't be critical. The problem now is that the store closes in 20 minutes. The store is 15 minutes away. We RUN to the car (shoes in hand) and Kyle (my Hero) drives to get me there as fast as (safely, legally) possible because this is a Knitting Emergency. With 5 minutes to spare, we reach an empty parking lot next to a locked yarn store. Sigh. Kyle will try to pick up the yarn for me tomorrow, but given the last 48 hours, I am not hopeful for a happy outcome.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Procrastinating again

I have a baby shower to attend next weekend, so when did I start considering what I might knit? Yesterday, of course. Never fear, I have a Plan:
  • Friday: knit front of sweater
  • Saturday: knit back of sweater
  • Sunday: knit sleeve #1
  • Monday: knit sleeve #2
  • Tuesday: sew seems and block
  • Thursday: knit entire sweater because I failed to meet objectives Saturday through Tuesday
  • Friday: panic that sweater will never dry by Saturday morning
  • Saturday: run out to store to buy a baby sweater

The color of Christmas (knitting)


Yarn for some of my Christmas projects arrived this week. Woo hoo! I hope I'm not being too ambitious this year. I assume that by next year, I won't have time to make anything homemade, so I'll enjoy this while I can.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Steady On...

....like the honkers
They pass through the air
You can hear them coming
And you step out and stare.
They're in chevron formation
And they'll follow their leader
Who'll tire when she's flown
Through the sunshine
And the thunder.
-Storyhill

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cranberry Apple Crisp

1. Mix topping:
  • 1 C. oatmeal
  • 3/4 C. flour
  • 3/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 3/4 C. chopped toasted nuts
2. Combine the following and put in 9x12" baking dish:
  • 8 large apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/3 C. cranberries
  • 1/3 C. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
3. Add topping and bake at 375F for 20 minutes covered, then 40 minutes uncovered.


Oh, and I debated titling this "Kyle Gets Lucky" (refer to earlier post).

Mystery Project

Here is the beginning of a mystery project. I can't tell you what it will be, or who it's for. But it's really fun to knit, and isn't it pretty? It's in a llama/wool blend that creates such a lovely fuzzy halo around the finished fabric. I really adore this yarn. Thanks, Erika, for donating it to my stash!

I ordered lots of yarn today for various other upcoming mystery projects. I don't know how I'm going to blog about any knitting between now and Christmas. (Or, for that matter, how I'll ever get it all done.) OK, everyone - stop reading. Kidding. But you might have your picture taken with a finished knit to post after I'm done. You've been warned.

Death of an Apple



Apple Orchard

Mom and I went to an apple orchard yesterday. It was the perfect fall day, and I had fun just hanging out with Mom. We weren't the only ones with that idea, however, and the trees were picked almost bare. Next year we'll try a less touristy orchard. The make-your-own caramel apples were great, however, and I also scored a mini acorn squash that I'll enjoy for lunch today. If Kyle's lucky he'll have apple crisp tonight.