You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

2008 was quite a momentous year.

Craziness

Craziness

Looking at this little mosaic almost makes me dizzy, and it’s really only a small sampling of the goings on.

I have grand plans for ’09, both personal and craftual.  I never thought of myself as a New Year’s resolution person but with knitting and sewing it really has focused me.  First, let’s revisit the ’08 resolutions, shall we?

  • Sewing lots more of my own clothes and avoiding the mall as much as possible. – I think I did well with this one, even participating in Wardrobe Refashion.  The downside is I’m down to one wearable pair of pants
  • Learning more about sewing techniques and fabrics. – I tried but this will be ongoing.
  • Being more laid back about my crafting and not being my own task master. I have to remember to enjoy myself and what I loved about knitting to begin with (being creative, connecting with tradition). – This I continue to struggle with
  • Being less critical of myself and celebrating my talents. – Always a battle
  • Stash management. Not a yarn diet, just being a little less crazed with the credit card and the internets. -Better than 2007 but this will carry forward with a vengeance into ’09
  • Take my time with projects and make sure to add length! – Needs improvement

Many of these will carry forth in the new year in some form or other.

The commandments of ’09:

  • Blast the stash.  Yarn and fabric buying will be a reward for good behaviour (i.e. paying off debt) or will be requested as gifts.  I need to work with and rework what I have, including the old clothes quilt I started four (!) year ago.  If I buy yarn or fabric I want it to be because I’m inspired not because it’s 30% off.
  • KISS.  Hand painted and variegated sock yarns have their place but I need to amass more solids and semi-solids to have more pattern options.
  • Think outside the crayon box.  I always, ALWAYS choose cool colours (not as in hip but as in “what season are you?”) and I need to branch out to more neutrals and earth tones.  Maybe even orange *shutters*
  • Be thankful.  I’m pretty lucky to have a working sewing machine, camera, dozens of craft books and many other accouterments.  I’m going to try not to be jealous every time a fellow blogger gets a new fancy toy and be happy with what I have. The materialism that seems to have risen with the rise of craft is a peeve of mine and yet I fall into it myself.
  • Lay off myself.  I have completely reworked my Ravelry queue to include only two items.  Everything else has gone into favourites.  It started to feel like a task list to be checked off.  I want to knit more on a whim and design from inspiration rather than feeling married to the list.
  • Take my time and enjoy.  It’s a hobby not a race.  If there’s a technique a pattern calls for or an extra little touch I could add I need to get off my arse and pick up a book rather than ignoring it and pushing through for expediancy.
  • Take millions of pictures of my finished garments.  I tend to take four or five and trust that one of them is good.  It never is.

I hope 2009 will be the year of living well for all of us.  I’m going to work at health and happiness and I wish it for all of you too!

Everyone still seems to be on vacation and out of blog land but I have things to show so post I must!

On Christmas Day 2005 Chris and I opened our presents and then flew from Obihiro to Tokyo.  The trip was a bit ill-fated, literally – I threw up in Harajuku station – but I did walk away with some lovely Puppy Maurice yarn that has sat in my stash since.  It seemed too precious to touch, the colours were just so me and I knew it would be near impossible to get my hands on more.  But with stash depleting resolutions on the horizon I thought a good way to kick off the new year would be to get the oldest yarn out of the studio.

Note the frozen hair

Note the frozen hair

Pattern: Sweet Honey Beret – Interweave Knits Winter 2008

Yarn: Puppy Maurice (can’t recall the colour)

Dates: Decemeber 21-24 – although I only did like two rows of ribbing before the 24th

I have to say, this is the most challenging thing I’ve knit in a really, really long while.  The stitch pattern stumped me repeatedly.  And I don’t think my lace is as open as the sample in the magazine.

Man thats some purty yarn

Man that's some purty yarn

I’m totally remiss for not mentioning sooner that my old friend Robyn has opened a lovely little Etsy shop with the sweet name Dahlia and Delilah. Her jewelry is super classy and her descriptions make her seem like a total pro.

In other Etsy news, back in November I ordered some blank tea towels from the supremely talented Early Bird Special and yet, after her shipping them twice they never arrived.  I have to commend Amy for her amazing customer service.  She was downright panicked when they didn’t arrive and bent over backwards to get them to me.  Please give her all your business.  She totally deserves it.

Admin note: My internet is being a totall douche and each page takes around twenty minutes to load so if I’m slow with responding to comments or e-mails please, in the words of the still hot uncle Jesse, have mercy.

The call that I wanted Stitched in Time for Christmas was heard loud and clear.  I received a copy from Chris and another from Erin.  No worries because Amazon has a generous return policy.

I’ve been wanting to make a recipe book for our favourite recipes like the one I made my mom and when I saw the instructions in the book for a recipe book cover  I knew it would be much neater than my winged version.

Designs traced by taping fabric and print to window

This took me the weekend and the sewing was nothing compared to the embroidery time.  I finally took the time to learn to backstitch properly and I’m so proud of the outcome.

Ive since fixed the slouchy top

I've since fixed the slouchy top

The outside is muslin.  The embroidery patterns are from this cute Japanese embroidery book.  Lace is from my stash, I think originally from Fabricland.

The lining

The lining

The blue fabric is a fat quarter Erin mailed me from Japan when she was still there.  The red fabric is some lovely stuff I bought in Japan almost three years ago today.  I kind of regret using it because you can’t see it at all once you put the binder in.

Cover

Cover

After all that effort I spent much of Sunday afternoon going through my three recipe binders and tossing recipes I had never tried and adding extra special ones to this extra special book.  One that will definitely make the cut is this one for fabulous Roast Potatoes.

Unimpressive Leftovers Shot.  You have to trust me.

Unimpressive Leftovers Shot. You have to trust me.

Roast Potatoes

This is a vegetarianized hybrid of a Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson recipe.

1 potato per person plus a couple extra for good measure

A few tablespoons Semolina

3/4 cup butter

Fresh Rosemary

1 bulb garlic

Salt

Pepper


Heat over to 450 degrees.  Put roasting pan in hot oven to preheat.  Meanwhile, slice potatoes into thirds by cutting the ends away at an angle and leaving a triangular centre piece (this is a Nigella trick to mazimize surface area).  Parboil potatoes until the ouside is just soft.    Drain potatoes and dredge with Semolina. Remove roasting pan from oven and add butter.  Return to oven just until butter is melted. Add potatoes, a few sprigs of rosemary with stalks removed and all cloves of garlic, whole.  Roast for approximately one hour or until cripsy and brown, shaking from time to time.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with roasted garlic to squeeze onto hot potatoes.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a great Christmas.  Ours was very quite and to be honest not very Christmasy feeling but that’s quite a privileged complaint, really.

This year, being in a place where there are no stores that one would want to receive a gift from and seeing as how we just moved cross country and bought a car, I decided to make most of my gifts.  I really enjoyed trying out some new skills and seeing how things developed.

I thought about knitting stockings for my immediate family because they’ve never really had nice ones but it got down to the wire and I couldn’t find a pattern I liked so when I saw Alicia Paulson’s brilliant sweater stockings I decided to give them a try.  Apparently for everyone I’ve ever met.

The stocking were hung from the studio wall with care

These are, I think (from left to right) my sister’s, Melina’s, a secret santa gift, Chris’s cousin Conrad’s, Chris W. (Melina’s husband), Robyn R’s, Mom’s, Ingrid’s, my brother’s, my dad’s and Braden’s.

The colour is off quite a bit here.  This one’s a bit better:

The stockings were hung from the studio wall with care.

The stockings were hung from the studio wall with care.

I hope everyone who received one liked it.  There are a few more close-ups on the old Flickr page.

More to come my friends!

February Lady Sweater

February Lady Sweater

November 20th - December 30th

November 20th - December 30th

Buttons from a href=

Buttons from Ram Wools

Malabrigo Worsted in Vermillion - A Christmas miracle!

Malabrigo Worsted in Vermillion - A Christmas miracle!

You sure do treat me right!

I’m not sure if anyone is reading anymore  or if you’re all dashing across country but I’m still here so here’s a gift reveal!

Almost the exact second I learned to knit Erin expressed her mistrust of any handknit sock.  She is fond of very very thin dress socks and said she couldn’t imagine that bulk around her foot.  As soon as I started knitting socks I vowed to make a convert out of her.

Jaywalkers for Erin

I realize it was a bit of a gamble.  If she didn’t like them my time and effort would be for naught but I sent a little note with a gift back guarantee.  If she hated them she could exchange them for a handknit item of equal or lesser value.

Luckily she seems to like them.

These probably don’t look to exicting but it was pretty tough to give them up.  Purple is my fave and the yarn, Estelle Arequipa is so soft and nice to work with.

Two days to go for more reveals!  Although I may be back tomorrow with a little sweater show.

This weekend I watched a whole lotta Food Network holiday shows and did a goodly amount of cooking and baking to match.

I baked Amish White Bread (good, but too much sugar), some blueberry banana muffins for the car ride to Winnipeg tomorrow, these gingerbread:

I used the recipe from the good old Betty Crocker cookbook with a little clementine zest added in and made up my own icing recipe.  It was something like a couple tablespoons softened butter and cream cheese, a cup or so of icing sugar, a tablespoon of milk and orange juice each and some nutmeg.

Here are Chris’s:

He had a story to go along with each.  Starting at the top middle and going clockwise I believe it was; peg leg pirate, handlebar moustache man, business man with beard, the girl and poindexter with bow tie.  Bravo.

Over two years ago my aunt Susan was telling my mom and I about a girl she knew who had made her own Cherry Blossoms.  I’m not sure if they’re just a Canadian thing but they’re made by Hershey and they look like this:

My mom and I are huge, HUGE fans of them so we demanded the recipe and then neither of us made them.  Until now!

Maybe not so photgenic but soooooo good.

Maybe not so photgenic but soooooo good.

I tweaked the recipe a bit so here she is:

Cherry Blossoms

1 cup – semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup – chunky peanut butter

1 cup + 1/4 cup – icing sugar

1/4 cup – rice krispies*

12 maracino cherries

reserved cherry juice


Wash a styrofoam egg carton.  Melt chocolate and peanut butter in microwave (or double boiler if you’re fancy) for approx 2 minutes, mix until smooth. Add rice krispies to chocolate mixture and add in icing sugar until it becomes a play dough texture (add more as needed). Mould mixture into each individual egg cup and place a cherry in each one. Mix cherry juice with approx 1/4 cup of icing sugar until slightly thick, add a bit to each cherry. Place a chocolate layer on top. Place in freezer until set then thaw until ready to serve.

*the original recipe calls for chopped salted peanuts.  I really liked the rice krispies but substitute at will.

This would be PERFECT to make with kids as there is no cooking or hot ingredients at all and it really is like playing with play dough.  The moulding the chocolate and parcelling it out evenly is a little tricky but kind of fun!

Tuesday, December 16th – 10:50 p.m.

Chris and I are on the couch, in our pajamas, puppy nestled at our feet, (re)watching the last episode of season two of Mad Men.  I am knitting away.  I start thinking to myself,

“gee, I could probably finish this sweater tomorrow.  After all, I’m half way done the second sleeve and there’s almost no finishing.  Maybe I’ll just lay it out on my lap and see how much I have to do.   Wait a mother loving minute!”  (insert stream of expletives) *and scene*

Turns out I knit the entire first sleeve inside out and never once noticed.  It seemed to me that I had two options: I could either rip out the whole sleeve, which, given my not so quick lace knitting skills seemed totally mental, or I could perform a scary operation.  It was ten minutes to bed time when I started hacking.

It’s difficult to cut along a row of lace but I did my best. And ended up cutting into the body. More swearing.

Chris goes to bed and I work on getting the stitches back on the needles. I can’t even identify the stitches from the the knots that have formed from the million of little ends that have sprung forth.

I throw the effing thing to the corner of the couch and go to bed at half past midnight.

This morning I try to pick up the pattern where I left off, not so successfully and attempt grafting, three times before I actually take the time to look at what I’m doing and work it out instead of proceeding like a drunken idiot.

It’s not exactly seamless but I’ll take it.

I wonder if I can still finish today……

  • Ingrid and I did a little Christmas swap and she sent all kind of fun handmade goodies from my home province, including this beautiful bird ornament: The pattern is from Martha Stewart and I kept planning on making them but lo and behold Christmas is almost here and I still don’t have any Martha glitter.  Ingrid to the rescue!
  • It is, and has been for the last four day, minus 45 degrees celsius with the wind chill here.  When I read about cities in the northwest shutting down for a few snow flurries I laugh.  And then I cry a little.
  • You must try these apple pancakes. But do add a little cinnamon and vanilla.  They taste like apple fritter without all the grease.
  • Likewise, do try this Mexican hot chocolate.  So good.
  • I made Martha’s Mac and Cheese for Chris’s work party Sunday and it was delish.  I wouldn’t think that mac and cheese should be such a gamble but I’ve had such a hard time finding a recipe that is flavourful and creamy without Velveeta. This is a keeper.
  • Melina kindly sent me this Lush Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo to help me deal with our crazy hard water situation.  This stuff is amazing.  I don’t even need to condition.  AND it has two kind of liquor in it.  Can’t go wrong.
  • I’ve decided that even though it will be a quiet Christmas for us I’m going all out in the food department.  Christmas Eve will be various cheesy hors d’oeuvres throughout the day and then on Christmas day we’ll have our favourite nut roast, probably mashed potatoes, I’m going to try this cauliflower gratin, these squash tarts and these rolls. I’m not sure what to make for dessert.  We’ve had our share of pies around here lately so I’m thinking maybe a spicey cake, but I’m thinking that might be too heavy.  Suggest away!

When Chris and I first moved in together our childhood stockings (or “socks” as my mom calls them) stayed at home. So, we went to Zellers and the dollar store to buy felt, rhinestones, glitter glue, sparkly ric rac and any other cheesy craft supply we could get our hands on and happily made our own.  I decided to go over the top and kitschy.  For the first few years the stocking was fun.  Sure a few rhinestones would be dangling off and the glitter glue was at the bottom of the Christmas box but who cares?  But then Chris got his hands on the stocking is Nana (hi Mary-El!) knit him as a kid.

Intarsia no less!

Intarsia no less!

Mine started to look decidedly lame.

Ugly Stocking 2000-2008

Ugly Stocking 2000-2008

Last year I almost refused to take it out.  I started looking for stocking knitting patterns and I fell ass over teakettle for Judy’s Colors.  Particularly this one:

Courtesy Judys Colors

Courtesy Judy's Colors

But at this time of year I can never justify spending $80 USD plus shipping, not to mention the knitting time, on myself.

So, this year, I thought up a temporary solution.  I would buy a sweater at a thrift store, felt it and embroider it.  I picked up a grey cashmere sweater at The Salvation Army Thriftstore for around seven bucks.  I made a stocking outline from a ceral box using a French curve and I traced it on to freezer paper.  Then I drew out a design culling inspiration from some Ravelry projects and particularly from an Ikea pillow Erin gave me a few year ago, which I still adore.  Then, using a great tip from EvaL8 on Ravelry, I used a pin and poked in the pencil lines over the drawing, then used some craft paint to sponge the design onto the stockings (scroll down in  her pictures to see her doing it).  Unfortunately it didn’t work at all and I also could no longer see my design because it was covered in paint.  So, I freehanded it.

I am, of course, super critical of my embroidery job.  I don’t have a ton of practice at it.  But at the same time I know that if Bowie ever chewed this or if it got lost in a move or whathaveyou I would be devastated.

I redid this section at least three times.

Oh, and did I mention it’s cashmere?

Judy may not be getting my business after all.  Sorry Judy!