Sunday, December 28, 2008

a new year upon us

We're home from our Christmas trip and Christmas 08 already seems a thing of the past. We had a nice time visiting with my hubby's family for Christmas eve and day but I missed being home and seeing Kristen wake up on Christmas morning and watching her coming down the stairs to see if Santa had been (we stayed in a hotel for both nights!). We did get a white Christmas which was kinda fun, but I'm glad to be home.

So as a new year approaches I find myself already planning what I want to knit in 2009. Yes! despite the fact I still have things on the needle that I started in January 08! I just can't help myself :-) Although I have to say it bothers me a little that I do still have wips from the beginning of this year, so I want to make a concerted effort to finish them before I cast on for any other large project. As I said in an earlier post, I want to try and make a resolution to only have two main projects on the needles at one time plus a small project that I can carry around with me (like socks or mittens).

Right now I'm concentrating on finishing Woodland and Soleil. It will feel like a huge achievement when I get both done. And after that I want to find something I can knit with Amanda's lovely lace yarn I won earlier this year.

Isnt' it beautiful. I want to knit a lacy shawl, I just don't know which pattern yet and whether I want a triangle or rectangle shape. And if possible I'd like an easy pattern! Anyone got any recommendations?

What do you have plans to knit in 2009? Or is it too early to ask!

Monday, December 22, 2008

thought this would be fun

Leslie just posted about a photo challenge on her blog. I couldn't resist looking at the fourth folder in my picture files just to see what I'd come up with. I keep my photo files in year order (since 2000) the fourth folder was 2003 and inside that folder were the months (not quite in order) the fourth folder was February and here's the fourth picture in that folder. . . .

rather appropriate for this time of year don't you think! This was the swing on our back porch in Maryland - we got 21 inches of snow that week (Feb 2003)

Later that night, the swing looked like this. . . .

I really do miss the snow at Christmas time! Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

a quick FO

I started these mittens last week when my friend (the one I sent the Chicabean scarf to) mentioned she would like mittens to match. She is a knitter too but doesn't find as much time to knit, but she said if I could let her know what yarn I used and perhaps suggest a pattern, she'd try and knit herself a pair!

Well of course I couldn't let her do that when I already had a ball of yarn left over from knitting her scarf, so I searched Ravelry myself and saw this simple cable pattern.

These were a quick knit (I always love doing a simple cable pattern) and would have been quicker if I hadn't knit one cable less on the second mitt! I had to unwind it this afternoon cos it looked an inch shorter. They look the same now, so I'm sure she'll be pleased with them :-)

Specs: Basic Cabled Mittens (free Ravelry download)
Yarn : Black Horse Yarns, Fantasy - 100% acrylic
1 skein (I actually only used about half of the ball for the pair)
Needles: Size US 6 dpns

I love quick little projects, and am wondering what I can cast on next! Something small while I work on my bigger projects.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

what to do with Rio

I decided to cast on for Cap'n Crunch with the Rio De La Plata skein I bought a few months ago. I had in mind that it might be a gift for Kristen's teacher who's birthday it is at the end of the month. That is, until I finished it.

I'm not really happy with how this turned out. It seems overly wide compared to all the pictures I've seen on Ravelry, and I wasn't sure at all where to place the buttons. As you can see from the picture I had to fold it over nearly half way to get it to look anywhere near decent! I don't think it's long enough either but I knit til the end of the skein and could do no more. I just don't think this yarn is right for the project.

At least one thing good came out of it. . . . . it gave me a few hours of enjoyable knitting!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

that's much better

I can't thank Kelly enough for her suggestion of blocking the cabled beret over a dinner plate! It worked like a charm. Can you tell I'm much happier about this now. . . .

So much happier that I had to take lots of pictures of the beret to show it off to you ;-) I'm sorry about the picture overload, but I just couldn't help myself!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

flying off the needles

Well that's a slight exaggeration, these have been ON the needles for way too long. I actually finished the second mitt a couple of weeks ago but just never got around to casting off! I did that this afternoon and will wrap these for a gift to Kristen's piano teacher.

I really enjoy knitting these but I don't really have a lot of people to knit them for, so this will probably be my last pair for a while.

I'm trying to concentrate on two major wips right now, 'Woodland' and 'Soleil'. Soleil is really just a lot of knitting in the round right now, so that's the perfect wip to take with me when I'm out (like at piano lesson yesterday). I've nearly finished the back of Woodland and will start on the right side next, then just two sleeves and I'll be done - well those and the button band, but I don't want to think of that right now.

Despite my 'early' New Year Resolution of only working on two projects at a time (which I haven't really made yet, I just kinda mentioned it), I am feeling the urge to cast on for Cap'n Crunch with the Rio De La Plata I have in my stash! I just found out it's Kristen's teacher's birthday at the end of this month - I thought this might make a nice gift?

I must say it's fun knitting what you want WHEN you want to. Perhaps I should make that my New Year Resolution ;-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A little knitting....

Despite feeling quite ill last week I did manage to pick up my needles while I was taking it easy and recuperating. I did think my next post would be all about how I am going to make a new year resolution early. The resolution is that I am only going to allow myself to knit two things at any one time. I was thinking that one large item and one small item would work well. Or another approach to this would be to knit one 'complex' pattern and have another 'easy' pattern on the needles for taking with me 'on the go' so to speak.

Well that post fell by the wayside when I saw Katie's hat on Ravelry and discovered that she had knit it with Malabrigo!

Of course you all remember this. . . .

. . . . my lovely Malabrigo I bought a few weeks ago. I still hadn't decided what to knit with it until I saw Katie's post. That was it, I whipped out my needles and cast on immediately!

Isn't it amazing how quickly you can get something knit when you really really want to knit it (unlike many of my wip's that have sat in the closet for this past year, barely touched!). Within 4 days I had this. . . .

In fact I just cast off today and took pictures to share on here. Now I have one problem... how do I get this to look good on my head? Seriously! I tried it on and it looks ridiculous. Granted I have not knit the last cable because I was running out of yarn, and that might be why it's looking a bit pointy and not 'flopping' like it seems to do nicely on the model!

Would blocking help this? And if so, how do I go about blocking a hat? Any help would surely be appreciated, or this pretty thing will end up sitting in my drawer never to see the light of day (*sigh*)

Cabled Beret by Debbie Bliss (Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine - Fall/Winter 2008)
Malabrigo Merino Worsted - 1 skein
Needles US #5 and #8

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It Sucks To Be Sick. . .

. . . especially at this time of year, when you realize you have so much to do before the holidays! I got sick last weekend. Started getting a sore throat on Friday and by Saturday I had a really painful right ear! I suffer quite often with sinus problems, just recently I was diagnosed with chronic sinusitis and put on antibiotics for 30 days.

I feel like it was mainly self-inflicted because I had ran out of my nose spray and hadn't used it in nearly 2 weeks (waiting for it to be mailed to me). By which time I was getting really stuffed up again as usually happens when I don't take my allergy meds. My right ear became really blocked, I think from the fluid that seems to build up in the tube whenever I get a lot of congestion, and I can still hardly hear. It's really very frustrating. Anyway, long story short, I went back to the Dr on Monday, was given 5 days worth of antibiotics to help the infection in my ear, and was sent for another x-ray on my nose. Got the results back yesterday and the diagnosis is I STILL have chronic sinusitis! I'm back on the antibiotics for yet another month. After that I have to have another x-ray and will be sent to an ENT if nothing has improved.

So in saying all of that, what I'm really getting at is that there's not much knitting being going on around here. I did decide one thing (even before I got sick, which was just as well really), I have decided to send the 'kiddies' a money gift for Christmas and keep the toys I've been making them for their birthdays next year. Two reasons for this... I was beginning to think I wouldn't get every thing knit in time to mail to England, and it will also help spread the cost of shipping rather than try to mail everything at once this month, which believe me gets very pricey at this time of year. So once I feel 'normal' again and not so tired from being sick I am going to get back to some 'Me' knitting. I think I will get back to knitting 'Woodland' from the Rowan Nature book. not sure if that link will work, but I tried to link to the 'wip' in my Ravelry.

For now I bid you all a great day and hope to be able to blog about knitting soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


No knitting content in this post I'm afraid. This is mainly a picture shoot for Claudia ;-) (and anyone else that wants to see how you bake a 'Christmas Cake'.

Ready to get started....

My little helper . . . look at the concentration on her face!

Kristen helped crack the eggs and weigh out all the fruit . . . but the best part for her was licking the spoon, or in this case the whisks!

She took this picture of me, just to show I 'helped' too . . .

Ready for the oven. . . .

And here's my cake out of the oven (upside down in this pic, as I'd just poured a tablespoon of brandy in to the holes I made on the bottom)

So now we 'feed' the cake each week (which is adding a tablespoon, or more, in to the holes on the bottom of the cake). Next week I'll cover the cake with marzipan, which will not effect the feeding, then a few days before Christmas I will decorate it with icing.

Claudia, fyi - I baked my cake for 3 hours at 225 like the recipe said, but after 3 hours it was very 'uncooked'! so I turned up the heat to 275 and baked a further 45 minutes. I was worried it might still be undercooked when I took it out of the oven that night, but the next day it was very firm to the touch. . . . so of course now I'm worried it's over cooked! Time will tell ;-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas Traditions.

Still no 'mojo' but I thought I better post or you'll think I've dropped off blogland - and if you think that, then you might stop coming by to 'read' me! And I wouldn't want that to happen.

Despite having new sofas I've still not felt in the mood for knitting. I was busy painting in the living room and kitchen last week and also planning a birthday party for my soon to be 8 year old little princess (yeah, not so little any more!). The party was at our house yesterday and it all went well. We had just a few friends over and we had a bouncy castle in the back yard.

With no knitting to show you I thought I would post about 'Christmas Traditions' as suggested over at Amanda's blog earlier this week.........

..... this is my 'tradition'! Dried Fruit? Well not exactly. A Christmas Tradition for us in England is making 'Christmas Cake' - otherwise known over here as 'Fruit Cake'. OK, stop laughing!

When I first came to the US (10 years ago) I was shocked when I heard how fruit cake gets such a bad rap. I was once told there is only one fruit cake in the US, because everyone who recieves it will wrap it up and mail it on to someone else! I have to say, when I saw what fruit cake in the store over here I wasn't surprised at that joke. It's a much lighter 'cake' here, but in England our fruit cake is very dark and filled with a lot more fruit.

My mom used to make a Christmas cake every year when I lived at home. The tradition (for a lot of families) is to make the cake at least a month before Christmas and then 'feed it' in the following weeks so that it's nice and moist when you cut in to it on Christmas day. When I say 'feed it' I mean adding a spoonful of brandy or sherry each week until the big day. HERE'S a little history on the English Christmas Cake.

I am happy to say that this year I have found a lovely knitting friend who wants to join me in baking a cake :-) The lovely Claudia didn't laugh when I told her about my 'tradition'. In fact she told me she loves fruit cake and has made her own in the past. I shared with her this year a recipe I have a from a friend that worked really well for me, and we've both planned on making one together and even sending each other a slice of our own cakes to try :-) I'm really excited about this. And so the big day looms. . . . I have my ingredients all gathered and one day next week I plan on making the cake. The other tradition I told Claudia about is that I have to have Christmas songs playing while I bake and the 'cook' (that's me) has to have a glass of her favorite drink poured (usually a glass of wine).

Now, if there's any other 'fellow Brits' out there in knitting land that would like to join our Christmas 'bake-along', please do so, and of course let us know via your blog if you can, or leave me a note here :-)

One other thing before I go, I just want to say Thank You to Nicole. I was the lucky winner in her blog competition a few weeks ago and I received my prize last week. Her beautiful alpaca 'Toasties'.

Nicole took much nicer pictures, but here's my toasty arm inside of one. Thanks again Nicole.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Have you seen it. . . .

. . . my knitting Mojo? I seem to have lost it this week! I know the reason why too - I'm having a new sofa delivered tomorrow, so last weekend I sold my old sofas and since then my living room has been rather bear. We have one 'basket' chair (from Pier1, and similar to THIS) which is sort of comfortable, but not really! And we have hubby's old recliner, which is a tad more comfortable than the chair, but still not... ya know!

So because I don't really have anywhere 'cozy' to sit right now I think that's why I've not really picked up my needles much. I'm hoping all that will change tomorrow when the sofa, which has a chaise at one end and a reclining seat at the other, is delivered. I look forward to a weekend of putting my feet up and relaxing ;-)

I ordered two new knitting books from Amazon last week, which were delivered really quickly even though I'd opted for free shipping.

I think I can honestly say that other than knitting, one of my other passions is collecting knitting books! I know I'm not alone when I say this - I've seen some of your 'libraries' on Ravelry, so don't try to deny it! . In fact my little collection looks quite tiny to some in comparison! I love browsing through knitting books and reading the patterns. Even if I have no intention of knitting the said garmet. It's 'reading' about 'knitting' what could be better than that?

So what do I think of these two new books? I have to be honest and say with the Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders, well I'm a little disappointed in it. There's not a lot in there that I think I'd knit, but that's really just at first glance. I think I need to browse through it very slowly and take a really good look at it. With the Mason Dixon book, again, I'm not sure how much stuff I'd knit in it. The first book from what I can remember seemed to have a lot more stuff I'd like to do, but I haven't gotten that book yet, I just loaned it from the library one time.

I must say that one of my favorite things in this book that immediately caught my eye was the 'Jane Austin' dress and shrug. Oh, these look SO pretty, and I just love pretty girly things. I definitely will have to knit some of these and get out my new (and hardly used) sewing machine next year. I say next year because come January I will be planning on what I'm going to make for gifts for that Christmas. Yes, call me crazy but my intentions will be good and I'll want to start planning right away. I always feel like that just after the holidays, then after a couple of months my good planning usually goes by the wayside!

But aren't these just adorable? The fabric and yarn color choices will be endless. Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has knit them on Ravelry yet?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I usually only share 'knitting content' on this blog because I post our 'daily life' on my other 'daily' blog! But I thought I would start sharing some other stuff other than just knitting here, because... well I feel like I've come to know some of you as really good friends, and... well, I really just want to share :-) (plus it means you don't have to read two blogs!).

So here's my little 'princess' having a fun time last night (with the other kids in the cul-de-sac).

Kristen is the Pikachu with the Boo bag! I splashed out and bought the 'hard to come by' costume on Ebay, only to find out later her friend's mom two doors away made her costume - now why didn't I think of that? Oh yeah, I was too busy knitting ;-)

Let me just say that in all her 7 years my little 'princess' has never actually dressed up as a princess for Halloween! Her first Halloween at age 11 months I dressed her as Winnie the Pooh with a big pumpkin belly, oh, ok I'll show you the picture. . . . .

How cute is that?! The following year when she was 2 yrs old, I took her to the Disney store and let her pick a costume. I tried to steer her towards the princess outfits but she ended up going straight to Tiggr! And since then it's been dogs, more dogs, batgirl, scooby doo and now Pikachu.

I'll say one thing, it sure is fun waiting to see what she wants to be each year :-) I hope you all had a fun and safe evening last night too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oh What Fun!

Through the Loops Mystery Sock Kal was the first knit-along that I've ever participated in. And it was SO much fun. I'm rather saddened that it's already over. The past 4 weeks have just flown over and what's been wonderful about it is getting online and seeing everyone else's socks. The yarns people used were just so pretty, the colors awesome! I love the cabled pattern on the socks, but I chose to do the plain pair incase I got overwhelmed and a little confused (which can often happen for me when I'm reading a new pattern!). So, here are my finished socks. . . .

Yarn: The Natural Dye Studio Merino/Tencel 4 Ply/Sock. I think the colorway is Mirage.
Needles : US size 2, dpn's

It's really hard trying to get good photos of your feet! I asked my hubby to take a couple of pictures last night, but I took a couple more today in the sunlight. When I first started knitting these socks I thought there were going to be a little too tight, but as I knit then tried them on I realized there is quite a lot of 'give' when you pull them over your feet. In hindsight I think I'd like them to be a little snugger. I found when I knit my Monkey socks that they seemed a little loose too. So next time I knit socks I am going to go down a needles size and see if that helps the fit.

Have a great weekend everyone - and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Malabrigo. . . and a new toy!

Thanks to my 'new toy' (that my m-i-l bought for my birthday) I wound my Malabrigo in to a lovely yarn cake today. It's better than trying to hand wind but I would still like to get a swift one of these days too (hopefully for Christmas!) to make it even easier.

Ahhhhh, Malabrigo! Doesn't it look lovely? I can't tell you how many times I've picked this skein up and just squished and squooshed it between my fingers. That was before it was wound in to a cake.

That's the main reason I wanted a winder, so I can bring the skeins home from the yarn store 'as is' and leave them that way until I want to use them. I like seeing the twisted skein in my stash and only want the 'yarn cake' when I'm ready to start a project. Is that how it is for most knitters I wonder?

I think I've decided to make 'THIS' with my one skein, and yes it will be for ME. It's the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer (Rav link HERE). I'd also like to make some 'Evangelines' for me too that I think would match well with the cables, but I would imagine I need to order another skein of the same color yarn.

How's everyone doing on their TLL KAL Socks? This last clue has been the longest so far and I'm still trying to get the second sock finished, ready for clue #5. I think I should be finished in time.... but only just!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Photo Shoot With Elliott!

I finished Elliott last night. He turned out pretty nice, but the only thing I will need to change next time is his mouth, it's not really long enough in the snout to get your thumb in to! I did go out and buy some glass buttons for his eyes but when I thought about it, this one will probably be for one of the toddlers, so I thought it safer if I just stitched the eyes on (we don't want a choking hazard!) So, here he is all done

It's a beautiful sunny day today, bright blue skies and a high of 79! Elliott suggested it would be nice to go outside and photograph him in his 'natural environment' :-) So let's go. . . .

"see me slither"! (for some reason I keep thinking Elliott is a snake!)
"oooh get a close-up of me, your readers will love it!"

"one final 'framed' shot - yes lovely!"

"now, what is that strange creature walking out there? What? He lives here?"

Q: What's more ferocious than a dragon?
A: A 'Boo Boo Kitty'!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I have in my possession. . . . .

. . . finally, a yummy - scrumptious - squishy skein of Malabrigo :-) When I found out my LYS didn't stock Malabrigo, I found myself wanting it all the more. I just HAD to have some! Isn't Ravelry great? There were lots of lovely ladies on there that had some in their stash and were willing to trade or sell. As I have nothing worth trading (imho) I simply bought a skein, and it arrived yesterday. And it is as soft as everyone says it is. Hmmm? What now shall I knit with it, and more importantly who shall I knit it for? Would it be selfish to say "me"?

Also in my possession are two great holiday magazines. . .

I couldn't wait to get my hands on the IK Holiday Gifts mag after seeing it on someone's blog last week, but when I went to the book store it wasn't on the shelf yet. I did find the Vogue Knitting mag there so I got that instead. And I had a nice surprise the next day when I was in my grocery store.... lo and behold, there was the IK mag sitting on their shelves :-)

This was the reason I wanted the IK mag (and what I'd seen on the other blog). . . . I love the style of these slippers and so want to knit them (again for me!)

Then I saw this, and fell in love with it (reminds me of that lovely big afghan Leslie knit last year). I would love to knit this and snuggle up with Kristen on the sofa over the holidays (perhaps not this year, but I can dream).

Love these too. . . .

and these. . . .

Love everything about this page (this is from the Vogue mag) . . . .

Oh, and recognize the gift tags below (bottom right of the picture)?

Congratulations Jill :-) And not only in Vogue, but here's the Top 10 Picks from IK holiday mag too. . . .

I would think these two features are going to keep you rather busy over the next few months Jill ;-)

Sorry for the photo-intense post, but it is fun to share the things you love ;-)