Category Archives: Inspiration

Sidetracked

As so often happens when I set goals, I got a little distracted this month.  My original intention was to finish my Chartreuse, but it’s been a few weeks, and it doesn’t look much further along than it did before.

There is a slight difference, though.  I was able to get past the pocket portion, so that is something, I suppose.  Then, it got tossed aside for two completely spontaneous new mystery knit along projects that both started the first week in February.  There is the Through the Loops Mystery Sock knit along.

And the Snowmelt Mystery Shawl knitalong.

Both of these designers are new to me, which is fun and I enjoy a bit of deadline knitting now and then.  That’s not to say that I will knit anything.  Before I signed up, I made sure to check out their other designs to make sure I liked them, generally speaking.  And I did and, so far, I am really enjoying these knitalongs.

I’ve also just recently signed up for A Year of Techniques, which will be starting up in March, so I already have the next mystery lined up when these will be wrapping up.

My original intention was to sort of try to finish one pair of socks, one shawl, and one sweater a month, but I think I’m coming to the realization that that might be a bit much to try every month.  Two out of three might be a better goal.

I did manage to finish a pair of socks in January, but did not mention them here because they were a Valentine’s Day gift for the husband.  I used the Simple Skyp Sock pattern for these which was quite an easy to memorize pattern.

Incidentally, the husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day about process knitting versus product knitting.  I always thought of myself as a product knitter.  Generally speaking, I don’t see the point of making something if I don’t want the end product, but then he pointed out to me that I knit lots of shawls and hardly ever wear them.  That is totally true.  I love to knit shawls.  They can be easy or challenging skillwise, but they are almost always easy on my hands, which is not true for sweaters and socks.  Also, I don’t need to worry if they will fit.  As a result, I do have quite a few shawls which I love, but never wear.  What to do with them?  Anyone else have this dilemma?

 

 

In Other Stitches

Winter is a great time for us. Even though it has been unseasonably warm, there still isn’t enough daylight in a day to spend a lot of time outdoors.  So, we have been spending more time indoors, sitting by the fire, and playing games.  And I have been doing a fair amount of knitting.

Late Christmas present from hubby for an Owls sweater.  Looking forward to knitting a chunky sweater!  #knittersofinstagram #rowanyarn #ravelry

Last winter, I bought a sweater quantity of chunky Rowan wool to make an Owls sweater.  As this winter approached a few months ago, I decided I needed to have this sweater as soon as possible to help keep me warm.  The chunky yarn would not only be warmer, but it would also make the sweater a fast knit.  I started it way back in September, thinking it would be my Rhinebeck sweater, but then I got sidetracked.

Once all the Christmas knitting was finished and my projects re-prioritized, I picked Owls back up and charged ahead.

Well, it was more like start and stop because one thing I did not anticipate was how tired my hands would get from knitting with chunky yarn.  I could not do more than about an hour’s worth of knitting before I had to stop and take a break.

The only exception was the four hours I spent in a crowded, hot indoor pool building.  While I waited for my son to swim in 3 races that lasted about 30 seconds each, I was able to complete an entire sleeve.  I took lots of breaks, of course, but I think the heat and humidity did help keep my hands from getting as tired as they would in our 65 degree house.

Anyway, the original pattern is a pullover, but I decided a chunky sweater like this would be more wearable as a cardigan, so I modified the pattern a bit.  I’m not always super fastidious about taking notes when I alter a pattern, but I did make a few notes on my Ravelry project page.

Amazingly, this actually turns out to be one of the best fitting sweaters I think I have ever made.  The sleeves are just the right length, the collar is not too high for me, and it is not baggy at all.  The original sweater is meant to be close fitting.  I was worried that it might not translate to a cardigan well, but, happily, it is just right.  I’ll try to get some pictures of me actually wearing the sweater soon.  I just need to pick some buttons and find someone who is available and willing.

At the same time I was knitting Owls, I was also knitting Coastal Walk.  The dk weight Plucky Cozy yarn seemed tiny and light in comparison to the chunky Rowan wool.  This shawl practically flew off the needles.

This color, Strawberry wine, is impossible to capture accurately.  It’s a berry pinky purple and I love it.  What I did not love, however, is how much the dye bled when I soaked it for blocking.

This has happened to me before with red and pink yarn and it is also common with fabric in these colors as well.  I tried vinegar and that did not seem to do the trick, so I ended up changing the water probably about a dozen times before I gave up and went ahead and blocked it on a beach towel.  I’ll just have to try to remember not to wear it over a white shirt in the rain!

It was an interesting shawl to block as it had only two points and two curves.  I wasn’t sure my flexible wires would be strong enough or long enough here, so I opted to use just one pin at each point, and stretch it out with my hands as far as it would go. Then, I just let it dry overnight.

The result is an amazingly drapey and luxurious shawl/scarf thing that I want to wear all the time.  It must be the 10%  camel wool that did this because merino by itself is very bouncy.  The yarn stretched out quite a lot, which makes it just perfect for a shawl.

The dk weight will be extra warm, especially with the garter stitch border.  All in all, I think I am quite prepared for wintry weather now.  Perhaps winter has just been waiting for me to be properly attired before arriving to stay.

In the meantime, just in case those are not enough, I have picked up yet another sweater wip to try to finish this winter.

This is Chartreuse by Thea Colman in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn, color Sweatshirt.  I’m working on the pockets right now.  This is a new process for putting in pockets for me, so I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.  Stay tuned!  What are you working on?

Finished Quilts

It’s done!

I was able to get the dining room table to myself for a few hours so that I could finish this up.

I think this might be the fastest I have ever finished a quilt, actually.  It helps that I only had to piece together two of the blocks!

I miscalculated the number of blocks that were coming my way, so I had a couple that had to be included on the back, but actually, I really like how these two are framed by larger pieces of fabric.  It highlights them.  Hmmm, maybe I see a kernel of an idea for a new quilt in there somewhere.

The weather has been less than ideal for outdoor photos, so I had to get some help to get a good picture.    I think he enjoyed the brief break it gave him from his work.

I was in a finishing groove, so I went on to quilt up this baby quilt that I had started early fall last year.

Lately, with my sewing, I have been trying very hard to use up what I have and this quilt used up some baby fabrics that were languishing.

I’m afraid the animals did not match the scale of the pattern, so they are a little lost, but the overall effect is ok.  There is still a lot for me to learn about choosing colors and patterns together.

On the upside, I do feel that my machine binding skills are getting much better.  I like to use 2 and 1/2 inch wide strips of fabric for my binding and that’s been helping me a lot.  A little extra to fold over the edge is just what I needed!

As soon as I can get these packed up and find the address, these are going off to a charity that supplies quilts to women and children’s shelters.  I hope they cheer someone up!

Day 12: Unfinished

Christmas is a week away and I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot left to do.  Thankfully, I have a pretty clear week in which to get them done.  Unfortunately, I sort of ran out of time this weekend and there are still too many balls in the air to have a finished topic today.  However, I can show you a few things that I am hoping to get done in the next few days.

The first one is to finish up this batch of candied orange peel.  There’s lots of recipes out there for making candied orange peel.  Here’s a good one.  Orange peel is a pretty essential ingredient in a lot of my Christmas baking, but it’s also fabulous to eat on its own.  It’s also good dipped in dark chocolate!

Next on the agenda is to work on making another batch of panettone.  I made a batch last week using a new recipe, but it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked.  It was a recipe I had in my files that I definitely got off the internet, but now I can’t find it.  Funny.

Anyway, it was good, but not quite the texture we’re used to, so I want to make a few adjustments and try it again.  I may be able to talk about it later this week if it works out!

In the meantime, this brings us to the end of my 12 Days of Christmas Blog series.  It’s only one week until Christmas!  For one more entry into the Christmas treat box giveaway, leave a comment here before noon eastern standard time tomorrow (December 19).  I’ll announce the winner in the early afternoon and hope to get that box shipped out soon after.  Thank you so much for joining me these past 12 days!  See you tomorrow!

 

 

Day 9: Mince Pies

I’ll bet that mince pies is not a thing that most of you have to have on your holiday treats table.  But, I’ll also bet that most of you have never tasted a mince pie.  Well, up until yesterday, I would have been with you on both of those counts.

I don’t really remember how I first heard of this traditional treat, but from the beginning, I think the associations with it were negative.  That could be because traditionally (like from a long time ago when there were serfs and lords), mince pies had meat, meat fat, nuts, and dried fruit in them.  All those things are minced up, mixed with spices and baked in a pie.  The combination is not one that fits most modern food cravings.

However, nowadays, most mince recipes do not call for any meat or meat fat.  There’s just butter, dried fruit, nuts, and spices.  It all sounded good to me and besides, can anything in a pie be all that bad?

Well, as it turns out, it’s quite good and I think most of us are missing out on this lovely treat.

To make this, I first started by making mincemeat.  Many recipes call for store bought mince, but I wasn’t sure about those mixtures.  So, I used the mince recipe from here, except for the fruit, I used some of my Rummy Fruit Mix that had already been marinating for a few weeks.  Also, I only made half the recipe of mince.

For the pastry, I used a basic Pate sucree (sugar pastry dough) recipe from Baking Chez Moi.  Fitting the dough rounds into the muffin cups was the trickiest part.

I ended up cuting out a wedge to help them fit better.  This dough is really great for things like this because it patches really easily and it has a lot of butter which will help it to release from the pan.

For the top, I opted for some cut out snowflakes to make them look festive.

They baked for about 30 minutes, and then came out of the pan with no trouble at all.  Aren’t they pretty?

I am really pleased with how they turned out.  But how do they taste?  They taste great!  The filling is sweet and fruity, with a strong rum flavor.  It’s like eating fruitcake without the cake, so if you like fruitcake, you will definitely like mince pies.  It’s a little concentrated, so I think a few more nuts or making smaller pies might be a better balance.  Oh, and the pastry goes just right with the filling.  I love that dough and will be using that again for future pies for sure.

This is one of the things I love about trying new recipes and techniques–It’s exciting to discover something new and unexpectedly yummy.  The only think I regret is halving that mince recipe because it only made twelve.  Between the four of us, those will last about a day if we aren’t careful.  These are supposed to keep well for a long time, so now I wish I had made dozens!

Are you trying anything new this Christmas?  Tell me about it in the comments and get another entry into the Christmas Treat giveaway.