Inside Out

Usually, I don’t show you the wrong side of my knitting, not because there is anything really bad about it, but it’s just not that interesting.  We like to have all the interesting bits on the outside where everyone can see and admire them.  The inside is normally dull, but this is not the case when it comes to thrumming.

Thrumming involves knitting bits of unspun wool into your fabric to create a fleece lined piece of clothing.  In most cases, this means mittens.  The fluffy wool traps lots of air and keeps one extra warm.  These are hand ovens for sure.

They look sorta plain on the outside.  The thrums I used seem to be too fluffy for the yarn I am using for the main part of the mitten.  But, they have a kinda cool textured look. However, wait until you see what they look like when it is turned inside out.

All that fluffy wool turns these ordinary looking mittens into mittens with superwarming powers.  My only complaint about knitting these is that it is pretty slow going.  Every one of those thrums take a little extra time to knit in, not to mention the time it takes to make the thrums in the first place.  I grossly underestimated the number of thrums I would need for one mitten and had to stop knitting work on these three times in order to make more thrums.  Now, I have a whole ‘nother mitten to do and I am starting to feel the same way I do when I finish one sock.  Easily distracted.  I may just have to take a break and knit a sweater.


Sheepy Goodness

Ten days ago, the husband surprised me by taking us to this.

We had all been feeling a bit sad and homesick the week before and he thought an outing might cheer us all up.  Or at least distract us with cute animals.

Blurriness aside, this was easily the tiniest sheep I have ever seen.  It is hard to tell because I do not have anything in the photo for scale, but this little cutie is only about eighteen inches high.  The whole festival is indoors, which is great because November weather is a bit chilly for outdoor activities (not that that ever stops the people who organize kids’ soccer events).  However, the dim lighting does not make for great photos.

We knitters often get super excited about the big Sheepy events, such as Rhinebeck or MD Sheep and Wool, and they are fantastic, albeit quite overwhelming.  Small events like this New England Fiber Festival are really great as well.  For starters, shoppers can actually get into the booths to shop and shop at their leisure.  You can also chat with people and get to know your vendors better.  We met a new to me lady who makes these great baskets.

I was in need of a bread basket.  Aren’t you?

We also enjoyed probably one of the most informative and entertaining sheep shearing demonstrations we have ever seen in our 10+ years of sheep and wool festivals.  If you love sheep, like a good workout, and want to travel to all the good sheepy places (such as Scotland and Australia), sheep shearing might be a good job for you.

Don’t feel bad for the lady sheep.  She was properly treated and felt much better after her trim.

The great thing about these local festivals is that they are manageable.  We were there for three or four hours and managed to see everything without rushing.  I even learned a way of ending a scarf on a loom that was better than the ‘just tie the ends together’ method that I had been using.

So, if you have a local fiber festival near you, I encourage you to go.  It will be worth it, and not just because of the yarn and fiber.  You’ll most likely be supporting your neighbors as well.



Chunky and Fast

It turns out that the key to solving knitting mojo issues is not just knitting more, but also knitting with chunkier yarn.

Don’t get me wrong, tiny yarn is great.  There is nothing like the feeling of pulling on a pair of handknitted socks with all its 16,000 plus glorious stitches.  I once timed myself while I was knitting a sock and determined that it took me an average of 40 hours to churn out a pair of socks.  At the time, I was knitting socks for the husband, whose feet are bigger than mine.  Still, that’s a lot of hours of knitting for what you end up with.  But, we knitters know that the point of knitting does not rest on the number of finished projects that we turn out.

However, with my recent tension issues and track record of finished items, I decided to abandon ship.  I needed something quick, satisfying, and, most of all, cozy.  And so I learned that a good way to get your knitting juices flowing is to ditch the tiny yarn, pick up some bulky yarn and a size 11 set of needles and start knitting.  Armed with the wonderful Suloinen pattern from the wonderful Knitworthy2 collection, three balls of the reasonably priced Patons Bulky, and two and a half days later, you too could have a project done and something you can wear to keep the chill off your neck and shoulders.


It was so fast it almost seemed to knit itself.  In the time it took me to catch up on the Homefires episodes and watch the final of the Great British Baking Show (I was totally surprised at who won that one), I had a finished gigantic cowl that is worthy of the task of standing up to the oncoming New England winter, not to mention able to almost fully engulf the torso of a ten year old boy.


After finishing that bulky wonder, I picked up a languishing dk project and that felt positively liliputian in comparison.  I always believed that my hands would not be able to handle knitting with bulky yarn without pain, but it turns out that I must have been under some anti bulky delusion.  They didn’t hurt any more that knitting with small yarn and, in fact, may have hurt less.


Poor guy.  This is what happens when mom is a knitter.  He is a good sport and works well if you give him cookies!

Anyway, it hasn’t yet been an entire 24 hours since finishing and I am already dreaming of other bulky projects.  The first to come to mind is the famous Owls, of course.  After feeling how warm the cowl is, I can imagine that Owls will feel like sitting in a nice warm oven.  Once I get my hands on another Michael’s coupon and enough free time to make the trek to the nearest one, I’ll be casting on another bulky wonder.  Maybe.  I have been known to change my mind.

Gauge Issues

There has been some knitting going on amidst all the other things we’ve been doing.  It’s all just progressing a bit slower than I am used to and there have been a few setbacks, which is discouraging when the net progress is so slow to begin with.  Last time I talked about knitting I think I mentioned that I ran out of yarn on a shawl project and had to get creative with the bind off.  This next shawl, I saw what was happening with the yarn and was able to compensate by binding off four rows early.

Six rows to go and I am running out of yarn.  How can this be happening again? #knittersofinstagram #thiswasntsupposedtohappen #knitting #atleastihaveenoughbeads

Still.  It seems unfair that this has happened to me two times in a row even though with this shawl, I purposely chose a skein that supposedly had about fifty yards of buffer.  Other people seem to not have this problem, so it must be me.  I must be knitting shawls really loosely.  And yet, inexplicably, I tried to knit the second sock of a pair that got started last year and had to rip it out because it was too small.  And look at this recent gauge calamity:

Even my big head cannot support a hat that is 25 inches in circumference.  Clearly, I am having some gauge issues and I think I know how to solve them: knit more.  It’s a well known phenomenon that the more one does something, the more consistent the results.  All of the upheaval in the last two months has thrown me off knittingwise.  Now that most of the unpacking is done, I hope to get more knitting time in.  Stay tuned.  I have some big plans.  But of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Sugar and Spice

It’s that time of year again when I start looking through all my cookbooks and brainstorming with the boys for cookie ideas. I have been wanting to make some cookies for weeks now, but other things seemed to get in the way. You know what I am talking about. All this is to say that making cookies was not a big priority, even though I kept thinking about wanting to make them. So, when a friend contacted me looking for a cookie recipe for a baby shower, I was primed and ready to go. All I needed was a reason to get baking. In the space of two days I made three different batches of cookies.

On the third day, I had to make a trip to the store to restock the butter, sugar, and eggs. Then, I made another batch, which I suspected would be the winner, but I had to make sure.


So, I made them again. You know, just to be sure they were just right and would work for my friend, who had some specific requests for this recipe, which are as follows:

First, they had to be a spice cookie because they are for a baby shower and the baby is a girl. She wanted to be able to write on the label something like, "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice." Cute, right? But, she didn't want to bake the cookies serve or to give away. What she wanted was a mix that she could put into a mason jar and give out as favors. This presented some more limitations which leads to my next point.


Second, they have to be easy to make. Not everyone likes to make cookies or has the equipment or energy to cream butter and sugar. To make a cookie mix that people will actually want to make, and not just leave sitting on a shelf until they decide to throw it away, the mix has to be basically a dump and stir recipe. This is actually not how most cookie recipes operate, so this part of the recipe took quite a bit of experimenting.


Third, the cookie cannot require any extra ingredients that people are not going to want to buy. Most spice cookies I looked at called for molasses, which is not a pantry item for most people. Me, I try to always have at least four jars on hand at all times of the year because you never know when you will want to make a gingerbread cake. However, I recognize that not everyone is crazy like me and if I were not that way, I know that I would not want to buy a jar of molasses for a recipe that will only want two tablespoons. Then what in the world would I do with the rest of that jar? For this reason, I decided that the recipe must only call for butter and eggs to be added to the mix. Most people have butter and eggs on hand and don’t mind having leftovers of those ingredients hanging around. The secret here is the dark brown sugar, which has molasses in it. In a pinch, you can make it with the light stuff, but it won’t be as rich tasting.


Lastly, the mix has to look good and fit in a pint sized jar. Quarts are a bit big for party favors, especially for this party, which I anticipate will be on the large size. This baby is a highly anticipated one.


Many dozens of cookies later, I finally put together a cookie that met all these requirements and tasted good as well!  Of course, then my friend tells me that they aren't going to use the mixes anymore.  They are going to just bake a bunch and give them away in cute little bags. This is probably what I would have done as well because it turns out that these cookies are so easy, that it will not a be a chore to make a huge batch of these and give them away. Still, I am glad that I did it because it definitely got my cookie juices flowing.  It does make a good cookie mix recipe to give away for the holidays or to just keep on hand for a cookie emergency.  Plus, I get to share it with you!  Enjoy!

Sugar and Spice Cookies

To package this up in pint sized jars, cut the recipe in half and layer all the dry in gredients in a jar.  A wide mouth funnel really helps cut down on the mess if you are doing this.  The cookies are rolled in a spiced sugar mixture that I put in a little baggie at the top of the jar.  You can get these at just about any craft store.  Or, it can be omitted. Also, I cut a piece of parchment to include with the jar because, amazingly, there are still people who have not discovered the joys of parchment. Trust me, your giftee will thank you.

12 Tablespoons butter

2 eggs

1 1/2  (10 1/2 ounces) cups dark brown sugar

2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For rolling:

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger


Preheat oven to 350.

Melt the butter in a large microwavable bowl.  Let cool until lukewarm.  Whisk the eggs into the butter.

Add all the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix with a stiff spoon or hand mixer until there are no lumps or dry spots in the dough.

Whisk the sugar rolling ingredients in a shallow bowl.

Scoop out heaping Tablespoons of dough (about walnut size or ping pong ball sized) and roll between your hands into a ball.  Then, roll the dough ball in the sugar and spice mixture until coated.

Place cookies about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake 12-15 minutes.  The cookies should still be slightly puffy in the middle, but look mostly dry.

Cool on pans for at least five minutes and then transfer to racks to cool.

makes 22-30 cookies


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