Be of Good Cheer

My husband’s favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard.  I didn’t know that was actually a Christmas movie until we were married for about 5 years.  It just never registered on my personal list of Christmas movies.  Action – yes.  Christmas – no.  We watched it the other day and so we keep repeating one of our favorite lines,

“It’s Christmas, Theo.  It’s the time of miracles.  So be of good cheer….. and call me when you hit the last lock.”

It’s a surprisingly versatile line.

So when we realized last night that the girls (both of them) were allowed to wear Christmas hats to school today, and we couldn’t find the (many) Santa hats that must be in bins in the garage, what’s a knitting mom to do?  Be of good cheer, and knit some Santa hats.  I know that it’s a bit cray-cray to start knitting a Santa hat at 8pm the night before it’s needed, but I was feeling a bit nutty last night.  Plus, the girls go to a school with uniforms, so any chance to be out of uniform and do something a little different is a ton of fun.

Darn Knit Santa Hat

The yarn I had in my stash.  Once upon a time I thought I would make Bella’s Mittens out of the red wool.  Somehow it never happened, mostly because I really couldn’t see myself wearing bulky weight cabled mittens.  They’d be lovely and warm, but just didn’t look practical for everyday wear.  (Feel free to tell me if I’m totally missing the boat on this one).

The hats took a little over an hour each.  For the first hat, I broke out the pom pom maker and added a nice fat fluffy pom on top.  I was out of time for the second hat and so I added the fur pom that I just got at Yarn Harbor.  The ends are not woven in on the second hat and I’m not totally confident about how secure the pom is, but Lily is under strict instructions to be kind to the hat.  I’m planning on weaving in the ends tonight and wearing it to work at Yarn Harbor tomorrow.

An Elf Invasion

photo-nov-27-7-41-07-pmCall them elves, call them gnomes, call them tom ten.  The little people have invaded my home.

Maybe I can convince them to make me some new shoes.  Or just clean up a bit.  Do elves do dishes?

I am making these wee little shoe toy makers for the annual Merry Market that is held at the school.  (Full disclosure, I did not make the one with the gray hat)  Each year, the 5th grade makes projects and sells them during the Christmas Concerts.  I like to make a few things to help the kids out.  All the money they raise goes toward a trip to the Science Museum of the Twin Cities and the St. Paul Cathedral.  When Addie was in 5th grade I crocheted mug cozies.  This year for Lily’s class I decided to do something smaller and faster.  Well, I did until I decided to make that big guy in the back right.  He takes a bit longer.  I’ve got a second one coming along.  Then it’s going to be all the little ones.  They’re roughly the size of a wine cork (because the wine cork makes up their body).

For the wine cork elves, I used the Woodland Elves pattern.  I’m using my mini skeins of fingering weight yarn and some Louisa Harding fun fur that I had in my stash (I don’t even remember which swap it came in, but I know I didn’t buy it).

For the bigger guy I am also using up the mini skeins.  He’s a Rebecca Danger Gnome Nugget.  I’m not thrilled with how the eyes turned out, but I’ve got a plan for this next one.  I found some blue buttons that I think will work better than clear.  I also think he needs a little white trim on his hat to make him less gnomey and more elfish.

The kicker is that I think I’ll have to make more of these guys after the sale because they look so cute & festive hanging out in my house!  How many elves does a girl need?

Dashing Through the Snow

Dashing Through the Snow – by Addie

Dashing through the snow on a pair of broken skiis,  crashing into trees, the snow is turning red I must have dropped my yarn and that is why your sweater is not finished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would add:  Sandbakkels, bourbon balls, the kitchen is a mess.  Oh what fun it is to deal with all the Christmas stress!

Ok.  Maybe we shouldn’t be quitting our day jobs to start writing lyrics any time soon.

There’s a lot going on around here.  We’ve got the first of 3 Christmas’ starting on Saturday and I still need to wrap presents.  Anything that isn’t done at this point has pretty much been written off.  I think my girls will get Valentine’s Day sweaters.  (the sleeve of one is pictured above).  I’m actually to the neck decreases on this sweater with both sleeves done so it’s feasible that it would be done by Christmas, however I’d like to give each girl their sweater at the same time so no one feels left out.

I’ve been working on the blanket for a trade.  I call it the Ugly Blankie.  It’s ok, it’s just not something I would normally choose to make.  I tend to struggle with matching more than 2 colors together.  This many colors is definitely a stretch for me.  Plus I’m dreading weaving in the ends.  I’m on the downhill stretch as I’m knitting it on the diagonal and I just started the decreases.

I did finish a scarf that is intended for a friend.  I think he’ll be thrilled to get it as he asked me for 2 last year.  The second one is on the needles and I hope to get lots of knitting done on it in the car on the way to my parents.  The second one is made from chunky wool so it’s going much faster.

The Beekeepers Quilt is slowly being worked on in fits and starts.  I love making the hexipuffs, it’s just a matter of other things taking priority.  The nice thing about our Christmas celebrations this year is that they are spread out over an entire week.  This gives me a little bit of wiggle room for getting the Beekeepers Quilt done.  And if it doesn’t get done….

well, there’s always his birthday in February.

 

Cuddles

Lily is cuddled up with me right now as we watch a movie on TV.  She’s got the day off of school courtesy of strep throat which means that I am trying to get some work done on the couch.  Or at least I was until I started this blog post.  I always think it’s funny that people assume that on days like this I should be knitting up a storm.  Clearly they don’t know how hard it is to knit with a little girl attached to their hip.  She’s a fabulous reader, so she’s editing this as I go.  She also loves cartoons and cooking shows (she wants to be a famous chef on Food Network some day) so we’re enjoying some snuggly TV time.

Which means I shouldn’t write about any super secret knitting projects.  This post has been censored by the Secret Squirrel.

Therefore I am not knitting a _________ for _________.  Although you could see the pattern link here.  It’s adorably cute and I’m making it completely out of stash yarn, which warms my heart.

I also do not have plans to finish a child size version of this for ______________.  I just have the arms to finish.  I kind of lost interest in this sweater back when the weather started to warm up.

There’s my potato chip knitting project.  It’s a swirly scarf that I’ve been working on off and on for awhile.  I’m hoping to finish this up for Christmas.

I also have a scarf to finish for a friend.  He asked me to knit 2 scarves for him last fall and this is the first one.  I’ve ripped and reknit several times and just can’t seem to get the cable crosses right.

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!

Christmas Wrap Up

May your Christmas be a filled with love and fun as ours. 

I may not be done with all my Christmas preparations, but I feel like I’m in a good spot.  I’ve got 2 gifts left to pick up (one of which doesn’t need to be done until next week).  I’ve got 2 gifts left to knit – one is a slipper that doesn’t need to be finished until next week and the second is a hat that I can finish up in an evening.  Wrapping can be done Christmas Eve afternoon while the kids are at their daycare party.  I think I’m done making Christmas cookies.  It’s totally reasonable to think that I’ve got this Christmas thing licked.  Which should be reason enough for fate to kick me in the butt before tomorrow night rolls around. 

My guess is that fate is going to hit me in one of two areas.  The first is the giant storm that is supposed to be rolling in.  I love snow and I really want snow this winter, but it’s coming at a time when I’m supposed to be travelling to my parents house for Christmas Day!  The other way that fate might send me screaming to hide under my covers is that I’m working on a gift for our daycare lady that just doesn’t seem to want to come together.  It’s a scrapbook with little things about each kid in the daycare.  I’m waiting on photos from the other parents and just hoping that they’ll come in time.  I know better than to do this sort of thing at the last minute.  It’s craziness I tell you, pure craziness. 

Despite the threat of a snow of epic proportions, I’m going to make the bread I promised my Mom for Christmas Day dinner.  It’s the bestest, most easiest recipe I’ve found for making bread.  And despite all my efforts, I’ve yet to screw it up.  It’s from Arisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  You make a giant batch of the dough (which takes maybe 5 minutes) and let it sit in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Any time you want fresh bread you take it out, saw off a hunk of dough and let it sit on your countertop for 40 minutes and bring your oven (and a good quality pizza stone) up to temp.  Throw it in the oven and you’ve got awesome bread.  I’ve thrown in flax seed for a really yummy change.  So even if we get snowed in, we’ll be eating well at the Big Blue House. 

Merry Christmas Everyone!