Less is More


Malabrigo and Leaf Stitch Markers

This year, somewhere around the first of October, I had a stern talking to myself.  I said that less is more this year and that I didn’t need to go all crazy knitting for everyone in my life.  There was no sense in driving myself crazy trying to get everything knit in time for Christmas.  I always go over the top baking Christmas Cookies, and I generally commit to 2 more knitting projects than I can possibly get done in the allotted time.  But not this year! 

So why does my To Do list look like this?

1.  Bourbon Balls (people started asking for these right before Thanksgiving, guess I have a reputation)

2.  Chocolate Covered Oreos

3.  S________ for ____________

4.  Sweater for Lily

5.  Truffles

6.  Pecan Tassies

7.  Thumbprints

8.  Shortbread/Raspberry Sticks

9.  Hats for 4 Children who live in Alaska (and therefore it needs to be sent early) – 3 done

10.  Booties for Godchild in Alaska to match one of the hats

11.  Sweater for Addie

12.  Socks

13.  S____________ for _______________

14.  Gingerbread Cookies

15.  Make up 2 new cookies on the fly

Yeah… less is more all right.  At least most of the traditional shopping is done.  I have a couple of things to pick up for the Grandparents, but mostly I’m done with that.  I’ve spent most of the last 2 days in the kitchen and I am wiped out.  I’m going to take a knitting break and try to work on one of the other projects for a bit. 

In the meantime, take a brownie mix, a mini tart pan, a batch of chocolate truffle filling.  Make brownie mix according to package directions.  Fill mini tart wells 2/3 full of mix.  Bake for 14 minutes.  Press down center of each well (use a wooden spoon handle).  Fill well with truffle filling.  Do I top this with more melted chocolate to make a hard shell on top?  Is that just too much decadence in one cookie?  Please discuss. 


Gifts for Knitters 2010

I’ve been asked several times over the last few weeks what would make a good gift for a knitter.  These people all have knitters in their lives that they would like to buy something special for.  Something special that says they love the knitter enough to get something fibery.  So in no particular order, here is my Top Ten Gifts for 2010

10.  Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club.  At $240 this is the most expensive thing on the list.  If you want the undying love and affection of your knitter, this is the thing to get.  Every other month your knitter will receive a package in the mail of amazing fibery goodness and patterns by amazing designers.  (I wouldn’t actually know as I’ve never coughed up that much dough, but I’ve heard it’s the best Sock Club out there.)  If you don’t want to spend that much, a Sheep to Shoe kit would be great for the spinner & sock knitter in your life.  I have knit with BMFA yarn and in my opinion it is worth every penny.  It comes in fantastic colorways, so many that it might be hard to choose just one. 

9.  Your knitter doesn’t spin you say?  Well, how about starting them out with a drop spindle and some wonderful fiber?  Locally, Yarn Harbor carries both the basic drop spindle and fiber.  If you search a little farther afield you can find even more options.  You could be slightly sneaky and check the search history on your computer to see if your knitter has been looking at fiber for spinning.  Go with a Corriedale or BFL for a first time spinner (that’s my non-expert opinion).  I’d also recommend that they sit down with someone who is proficient in drop spindling or take a class as there is a learning curve. 

8.  How about some pretty needles.  Just like any other job, in knitting you need the right tools to do the job right.  Harmony wood needles are some of the prettiest around.  Especially when you consider the reasonable price tag.  If your knitter knits a lot of socks, the Double Pointed Set is a great choice.  If they’re a lace knitter, I would go with a circular needle in several different sizes. 

7.  Speaking of lace, I’ve heard that this is one of the best Chart Keepers around.  This little easel helps keep your place if you’re frequently interupted (i.e. if you have children or pets or live with anyone).  It also folds up to keep that place even when you’re not knitting. 

6.  Blocking Mats – these are great things to have for blocking your knits.  You don’t have to be a lace knitter to benefit from blocking.  The mats repel water so the items aren’t sitting on a soggy towel for days, plus the foam will hold the pins exactly the way you want it to. 

5.  What better way to wear and show off a beautiful hand knit shawl than with a shawl pin.  I’m constantly messing with my shawl trying to get it to stay in the correct spot. 

4.  For the fashion conscious knitter, there’s a Namaste Mini Clutch.  This is so clever, and I didn’t even know it existed until just now!  There’s even room for a cell phone.  Like the Boy Scouts say, “Always be prepared.  You never know when you’re going to need that knitting fix.”  Or at least they say something like that. 

3.  Interweave Knits CD Collection.  This is every issue (in one year) of one of the best knitting magazines, all on a handy CD format.  If you live in a small space or are trying to downsize, this is a great way to get rid of the clutter that magazines bring with them. 

2.  Knitwear Design Workshop.  Just about everyone I know adapts and modifies their patterns.  This book walks you through everything from modifying a pattern so it fits you better to creating your own designs.  This book is not for the faint of heart or for beginning knitter, but if your knitter has a few sweaters under their belt they should do just fine. 

1.  A Bohus Knitting kit.  I might have lied about the Sock Club being the most expensive thing on my list.  A Bohus Sweater was once considered the height of fashion.  Now it’s a classic and beautiful piece that will fit in anyone’s wardrobe.  It’s knit on teeny tiny needles with teeny tiny yarn (that’s the technical definition) and will be something your knitter will be proud to show off.  These sweaters are stunning in person.  The kits come from Sweden, so you’ll have to do the conversion from Swedish Crowns to figure out the US cost as each sweater is different.  There’s also an option for a hat for those that are a little more budget conscious.  The yarn for these kits are dyed by one woman in Sweden to exactly match the original colorways.  Everyone involved in this organization is committed to preserving the tradition of the Bohus Stickening. 

0.5  My 6 year old keeps telling me what she’s giving me for Christmas. “It’s L-O-V-E!”

 Happy Holidays everyone!

Two Hats, Too Cute

Have I mentioned that there has been a lot of hat knitting going on around the Big Blue House?  Because there has been A LOT of hat knitting.  In addition to knitting Christmas presents for the girls, I’ve been making hats during the month of November. 

My Hat Model

I made 4 baby hats for the Optimist Club.  We are having a contest to see who can knit the most hats.  Clearly, I have lost this one by a land slide.  However, it’s hard to knit hats for newborns when you have 2 very cute girls at home that ask if that hat you are making is for them.  They batt their big blue eyes and smile a sweet little smile and say, “Momma, is that myyyy hat?”  Somehow I have to tell them that it is for a newborn baby that needs it more than they do.  “But the next hat will be for you, dear.”  And so, I knit more hats for the girls who do not need any more hats.  It’s a good thing that hats are the comfort food of knitting for me.  I don’t know what it is about hats, especially considering that for more of my life than not I refused to wear a hat unless it was absolutely necessary.  Hats weren’t cool when I was growing up.  It’s taken me until I became a knitter to realize how much better a warm head is than a cold one!!  Plus, now I can make exactly the kind of hat I would want to wear. 

Optimist Hats

 The Optimist Hats that I knit (all being donated to the local nursery), were all knit from leftover yarn.  It feels good to use up some of the odds and ends that have been sitting around.  Most of the skeins didn’t have enough yardage left to knit an entire hat from.  The total number of hats our club knit this month is  110.  Most of those hats were knit by one man using a little circular knitting loom.  The individual member who knits the most hats will win lunches at our meetings for a month.  The team (we have 2 teams) that knits the most hats will receive homemade cookies.  Guess I’d better get baking soon! 

The Girl’s Hats

Shy Child

 One thing that you never want to do is take a picture of Lily in the morning.  The smiling child that you saw in the first picture suddenly turns into the most shy child on earth.  She loves her hat, but doesn’t want to show it off before school.  For those of you with a discerning eye, or at least an obsession with Three Irish Girls, will recognize the yarn as Galenas Merino in the Maureen colorway.  It’s some of the yarn that I got when I attended the TIG workshop in October.  The yarn is held double to make a bulky weight yarn.  I used the Very Berry Bonnet pattern.  You can see the line where I seamed the hat, but Lily doesn’t really mind. 

Actress in Training

As soon as I finished Lily’s hat, Addie asked me where her hat was.  I immediately cast on a Foliage Hat.  This pattern has been in my queue forever, but I never have seemed to get around to knitting it until now.  I love the hat!  It’s knit with the same Galenas Merino that I used in Lily’s hat along with a strand of Dye For Me.  The Dye For Me adds a bit of sparkle that is all Addie.  She’s my drama queen and she loves anything sparkly.  This hat was so cute I almost kept it for myself!  I definitely see a Foliage being made in the near future for me. 

I could wax poetic about the Galenas Merino, but then again I have a thing for yarn done out of a super soft single.  Just see my obsession for Malabrigo as evidence.  The colors (as in all the TIG yarns) are gorgeous, Sharon has an eye for beautiful color combinations.  The colors in the Maureen are not wimpy, they’re well balanced and perfectly suited for little girls.  In fact, Lily says the reason she likes her hat is because it’s so colorful.