Thursday, November 30, 2006

Origami Day

I am a woman of few talents but my boys (well, the younger ones at least) think I'm a genius. Last night, while searching the bookshelves for a book on juggling (which I know must be in this house somewhere), I found this Fun with Easy Origami book. While watching part of the Heroes marathon I tried a few of the easier of the easy origami shapes and made a cat, a penguin, and a pinwheel. The boys found the shapes this morning and asked for more. I've now added a dog, a rabbit, a horse and a pigeon to our origami menagerie. I failed at the frog and the star (obviously, not so easy Easy Origami).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I love blogland

I love blogland. It is amazing how blogs can connect people all over the world who share similar interests. It's made knitting a very different experience for me now than it was when I started. Way back then I joined a local knitting guild which was an amazing group of women. Here I was, a new mom in my late 20's, surrounded by women at least 40 years older than me and often even older than that. They loved my babies as they were born and they welcomed me with open arms.

I don't know any real life knitters anymore. Oh, of course I know people who knit, but I don't know any KNITTERS. I'm not connected with any knitting groups. For me, blogland is all the support I get. I appreciate each and every person who visits my blog and especially appreciate comments with praise and suggestions.

I'm very thankful for the praise on my baby hat. I love that little hat. The yarn is scrumptious and I think the pattern is adorable. When I brought it to book group yesterday to show off one of the women, who happens to knit, said how much she liked the hat - even asked if she could have the pattern for her soon to be born granddaughter - and then asked if I had a pattern for a "boy hat". Huh? I told her that I was giving this as a gift to a woman who does not know the sex of her unborn baby and that I'd definitely put this hat on my boys' heads. She just made a face at me and said it was not a boy's hat.

All your comments made me feel much better. Thank you blogland friends.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Instant Gratification

One skein baby hat

I've been wanting to knit this baby hat from One Skein since the book entered my hands. When I found out on Friday night that the wives of two old friends are expecting babies, I was so excited. Yesterday, I tried a new LYS in search of yarn. The Classic Elite Lush called for in the pattern is beautiful but I wasn't inspired by any of the colors. Instead, I chose another Classic Elite yarn called Princess. Oh. My. Yarn. Goodness. This yarn is so unbelievably soft. It's a merino, rayon, cashmere, nylon, angora blend that is perfect for a baby's head.

I started the hat last night and finished it this morning. I haven't had instant knitting gratification like that in a long time. I think it's absolutely adorable and I'm going to get it packed up to send to the mama to be right away as her due date is December 12.

On the non-knitting front, I've made some brownies (from a box) and Rice Krispies Treats for the Tree Lighting tonight. The brownies were free (using coupons and the Grocery Game) and the Rice Krispies treats were made because my husband found a stash of marshmallows in my baking cabinets when he cleaned them out this weekend. Apparently, I always think we need marshmallows for s'mores whenever we have a fire so I buy a bag each time. There's only so many marshmallows one house needs. So brownies and Rice Kripies treats for the Christmas Tree lighting - it may not be gourmet but the kids will love them.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Raspberry Mocha Socks Finished

I finished my Raspberry Mocha socks this morning. I everything about them. The Seacoast Handpainted yarn is super yummy and was a dream to knit with. The Guernsey pattern was easy and fun to follow. I think the pattern would work better with a solid color yarn but the yarn I used is very similar to the yarn used in the picture with the pattern. The only pooling occurred on the instep - big splashes of raspberry. Once I got down to a smaller number of stitches again the pooling stopped.

I have a TON of yarn left over. In fact, I'm sure that someone with more normal sized feet could get two pairs of socks out of a skein of this yarn. I'll have to do something with all this leftover yarn. I can't exactly make socks for any of the boys with it - they don't really like pink. I'm open to suggestions.

Here's a close up of the sock. You can't really see the pattern well but you can tell there's a pattern there.

Closeup  Raspberry Mocha

If I were good, I'd finish my Irish Hiking Scarf now which only needs about 5 more inches. I could cast on for my second First Toe Up sock. I could even, if I were very, very good, finish the Christmas Stocking I've been working on for years (and which I detest working on). The truth is, however, that I feel some yarn calling to me from my stash. I think it's a pair of Dublin Bay socks next.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm so very thankful

It may be trite to blog on Thanksgiving evening but I can't help a short post. I love every thing about Thanksgiving - the food, the Macy's parade, football, time with family, the food. I am by nature a very grateful person. I look around me every day and am amazed at all I have to be thankful for. But on Thanksgiving, it's nice to be reminded to be thankful.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was my husband, my boys, my sister and her children, and me. I cooked all the standard fare - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls, corn and apple pie. Everything was delicious, cooked on time and was hassle free. The children all enjoyed their food and everyone was polite and got along. Ahhh ...

After dinner and after my husband had done the dishes and our company had left, I sat by the fire in the family room, alone, and knitted. It was wonderful.

For these and many more things I am thankful this year:

  1. My family. I couldn't ask for a better husband or sweeter children. I love them all.
  2. My health. It may not be perfect but it could be much, much worse.
  3. My home. I love my home, my town, my neighborhood. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the entire world.
  4. Good friends.
  5. Wonderful people like coaches, teachers, mentors and leaders in my boys' lives. It's not possible to raise good children all alone.
  6. Getting my knitting mojo back. I've missed it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Still here

Baseball season is better for knitting.

I haven't meant to be absent; I've just been doing the Mom thing. November has been a busy Scout month for the boys. We had Veteran's Day, the Spaghetti Dinner, and Scouting for Food as well as our regular weekly meetings. My oldest son has had patrol events on two weekends this month and Troop events on the others. This weekend we have our town Christmas tree lighting which is done by the Scouts. It's been busy. Scouts requires me to be a participant, or at the very least a driver. Not much knitting time thrown in there.

I'm still knitting away on my Raspberry Mocha sock. I'm on the foot now so it shouldn't be too much longer. I LOVE these socks and the yarn. I can't wait to wear them. Right now this sock is the only thing I'm knitting. I've got my Irish Hiking Scarf to finish - only 5 inches or so left. I've also got the second toe up Trekking sock to get on the needles but I don't have any desire to start it except that I'd like to have a pair of socks.

I stopped by an A.C. Moore today while I was out running errands (45 minutes from home) because I heard they were discounting their nicer, high end yarn. I found some beautiful yarn there but I couldn't figure out what to do with it so it stayed there. The magazine picture above, however, came home with me. Oh. My. Goodness. If you get a chance to purchase this magazine, please do so. Every single recipe looks like it's to die for. I can't wait to make one.

Friday, November 17, 2006

When it rains ...

See that tire? That's the front tire on my van. As I was leaving this morning to take the two youngest boys to the dentist I could feel something "funny" with the van. When I got out of the van, this is the sight that awaited me. I absolutely, totally forgot about their dental appointments last week which did not please the office one bit. This was the rescheduled appointment. Thankfully, they took the flat tire news well and we're rescheduled again for a couple of weeks from now.

So. Now I'm home for the day with no chance of going anywhere. I love being home but I don't love being stuck at home. I will shame-facedly admit that I don't have the foggiest idea how to change my own flat tire and so I will have to wait until my lovely husband comes home from work to rescue me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I promise not to bore you to tears with stories of my medical woes but things could be better right now. Almost one year ago, I had a total thyroidectomy to treat Graves' Disease. The surgery was a success and I feel much better now than I did before my surgery. Unfortunately, I'm still not able to remain at any stable levels for very long and need constant monitoring and medication adjustments. Finding a doctor or doctors who are willing to really listen and try to understand my symptoms is proving to be impossible. I have lost my faith in the medical system.

Yesterday I had a full blown anxiety attack. It was terrible. I knew what it was and didn't think I was having a heart attack (as many do) but it didn't make me feel any better. I took some medication and went to bed early and woke up feeling much better. Still, I can feel an underlying anxiety what won't go away. I know I'll need to call the doctor but, frankly, I don't see the point.

Today I'm treating myself with knitting and baking. I was a good girl and went out for my usual 4 mile walk this morning. I also did the regular stuff around here - schoolwork with the boys, laundry, cooking, dishes. But the rest of the time I knitted or baked. I'm moving along on my second Raspberry Mocha sock. I love patterned socks because it's easier to measure progress.

This afternoon, Jared and I baked Chocolate Crinkles. Mmmmm! After dinner I baked regular old Peanut Butter Cookies. Both recipes came from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. We'll have to see how many recipes I make out of that book this year. In the last week alone, I've made 4 different recipes. More are sure to follow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

First Raspberry Mocha Sock Finished


I could have finished my sock this weekend but that would have meant there would have been so many other things I couldn't have done. It's all about priorities. Saturday was a beautiful day and we went as a family to tag our Christmas tree. Here's our tree in it's natural state. It will look a lot different in a few weeks.

On Sunday, I taught my girlfriend, Claudia, to knit. I've been putting this off for years. I love Claudia and I think she's an amazing woman but I never saw her as a knitter. She has decided, however, that she wants to knit a scarf for her elderly father for Christmas. She bought some wonderful wool/alpaca yarn and Brittany needles at a local yarn shop and I provided the instruction. She was a great student and I have all the faith in the world that she'll become a good knitter (or at least finish this scarf).

So I could have finished my scarf on Sunday but I helped bring another knitter into the world.

Today was filled with dentist appointments and shopping with the boys for new sneakers and boots (ugh, I'd rather be at the dentist than the mall with the boys). Finally, I came home to my almost finished sock and kitchenered the toe. The weather is not great for photography right now and I really wanted to capture this yarn and pattern but this photo will have to do for now.

Here's a close up of the Eye of Partridge heel. This wasn't the heel called for in the pattern but I think it looks nice with both the pattern and yarn.

I decided to knit the foot of the sock plain because I didn't really care for the arrow part of the pattern. I'm not very fond of patterned legs and plain feet but I think it looks fine on this sock. The Seacoast Handpaints was a dream to knit with. It is sooo soft and cushy, not at all splitty. I can't wait to cast on for the second sock tonight.

At some point, I'll have to get that second Trekking sock started too. I just need a push.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Raspberry Mocha Parfait

I love food. I love food more than I love knitting. This time of year is dangerous for a foodie. Everywhere I go I see wonderful holiday cooking magazines calling my name. I know most of them have recycled recipes and ideas from years past but I can't help myself. I know that I probably won't make more than one recipe from any magazine but I still can't help myself.

I spent yesterday baking. Cub Scouts had their spaghetti dinner tonight and parents were asked to provide dessert. Because I have two cubs in the Pack I figured I ought to make two desserts. Both treats came from the The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. I made Cafe Au Lait bars and Fudgy Peanut Butter Squares. Mmmmm ... my whole house smelled delicious. I was very, very good and sent them all off to the dinner.

I didn't get to go to the spaghetti dinner because my youngest came down with the chicken pox on Wednesday. He's looking pretty pocky by now but, thankfully, feels fine. He's itchy but otherwise feels okay. He was sad to miss the dinner so I took him to Wendy's drive thru. We sat in the van and ate our dinner together. After we ate he told me what a great night he had eating dinner, just the two of us, in the van. I love that kid. On the way home, we saw the Big Dipper just looming in front of us. I had a great date.

Still at work on my first Raspberry Mocha sock. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the weekend. Until then, I leave you with this recipe by Emeril for Raspberry Mocha Parfait.

Raspberry Mocha Parfait

# 2 cups whole milk
# 1/2 cup sugar
# 4 large egg yolks
# 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
# 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
# 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
# 1 pint fresh raspberries, wiped clean
# Sweetened whipped cream


1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the milk and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the egg yolk mixture to the pan of hot milk and whisk to combine. Add the espresso powder and whisk to combine. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate pieces, let sit for 2 minutes, then stir to melt. Strain into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and ready to use.

4. To assemble, spoon a portion of the chocolate pastry cream into the bottom of 4 parfait glasses or large, tall wine glasses. Arrange a layer of berries over the cream, and repeat layering, ending with berries on top. Top each with a large dollop of whipped cream. Refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Recipe courtesy of chef Emeril Lagasse, Copyright © 2003

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

First toe up

My first toe up sock is done. Here are my thoughts:
1. I used the Easy Toe from Sensational Knitted Socks and while it was a bit fiddly it wasn't at all difficult. I do like how the smooth, unkitchenered toe looks and feels. I also like how the toe somehow seems more rounded than my usual toe even though I use the same formula for decreasing.

2. It was easy to knit the sock until the ankle bone which turned out to be the perfect place to put the heel.

3. Doing the heel was terrible. It took me a million tries and a trip to my LYS to get it right. It seems like an awful lot of work and there was no way I could have put it down in the middle and come back to it later. It's just not always possible in a house with three boys to have that chunk of uninterupted time to knit. I think I like the way it feels but I'm not sure yet.

4. I like the way the sock folds all flat. Cute.

5. I used the Russian Bind Off for the cuff of my sock. The bind off was easy enough - though I'm not really sure if I did it properly. I detest tightness at the top of my socks. This bind off came out nice and loose but also somewhat messy. It's fine but it doesn't look very neat or crisp. It also gave a teeny flair to the top of the sock which I can live with but prefer wasn't there.

This experience most certainly did not sell me on toe up socks. I will definitely finish the second sock the same way as the first and we'll see if I feel differently at the end but I'm betting that I don't. Cuff down works well for me and unless there's a really, really good reason to change my method I think I'll stick with it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I voted

I voted this morning. It was simple and painless. I even volunteered to count ballots tonight. In a small town with paper ballots, the ballots are still counted one by one by simple people like me.

Please vote. Every voice matters.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Monogamy is boring

I really love my Trekking sock. The yarn is beautiful and now that I'm past that pesky heel the sock is coming along quite nicely. The thing is ... it's boring. It's perfect for being out and about but I like something with a little more of a challenge when I'm home.

I pulled this pattern out of my stash. It's by Country Trunk and is called Guernsey Style Sock. I used it ages ago with a sportweight (or is dk weight?) Silja. Now I'm making it with some absolutely scrumptious yarn out out by Seacoast Handpainted Yarns in a colorway called Raspberry Mocha. I bought this a little while ago at a terrific yarn store while I was visiting my grandmother.

I had to tweak things a bit because while I could get the recommended gauge of 7 spi on size 2 US needles, this just made the sock too big and flimsy. I went down to my usual size 1s and kept the stitches the same and the sock is coming out great.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to the King Arthur Flour store. It's kind of like baking p*rn. The store is just so wonderful for those of us who love to bake. I'm not sure what I'm buying even though I keep meaning to make a list but I do know that I'm sure to find many, many things that I need.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Socktoberfest is officially over

So, it's officially over. For those of us who are ardent sock knitters not much will change. I loved Socktoberfest, however, for the focus on sock knitting. I set some goals for my sock knitting for Socktoberfest and met them all.

  • I knit with yarns exclusively from my stash. It would have been very easy to get carried away during Socktoberfest and to have ordered TONS of new sock yarn but I did not buy one single new skein of yarn. I did have the luxury of receiving some wonderful Lorna's Laces in a swap and I knit with that but it did spend a tiny bit of time with my stash.
chocolate swap package

  • I knit a new pattern from an old book. I've owned Socks Soar on Two Circulars for many years but only used the book to teach me how to knit on two circs. I've never used a pattern from the book before. I used my new Lorna's Laces to make the Columbine Peaks pattern from the book and it came out wonderfully.
Columbine Peak

  • I tried a new technique - toe up socks. I got the toes done without a hitch but the short row heels almost did me in. I've got the heel done on the first sock and I'm knitting my way up the leg. I'm not sure if I'll ever try it again (except for the second sock) but I did try something new.
Toe ups with heel

  • I finished my Jaywalker's second sock. I'm not thrilled with the pattern. I don't care for the inflexible feel of the sock but they're done and once they were washed I liked them more. I don't think I'll ever make another pair.

I was also blessed during this time to be the winner of a drawing from an exchange. I was able to purchase yarn from a new to me shop, The Loopy Ewe. The customer service from the owner has been absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to receive my new yarn.