Thursday, January 31, 2008

Silly Knitting!

This is easily the least functional knitting I have ever done, but I am having a blast with it! My energy comes from the fact that most of these will go to a charity event. Friends of ours lost their son to leukemia several years ago. They organize a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society each February to honor their son's birthday. This event keeps them busy in the months prior to Christmas and RB's birthday so they do not dwell on their profound loss quite as much. One part of the fundraiser is a bake sale. So I thought, "Why not knit some cupcakes?"

I am still going to bake several loaves

of whole wheat bread but in the meanwhile, here come the cupcakes!

By the way, I entered this pattern on Ravelry yesterday afternoon and it has been viewed 23 times! In contrast, most of my other projects have only been viewed once or not at all. Go figure! My Ravelry name is PrairiePiper.

I am using the loveliest yarn for the "papers". It is Bernat's Soy Natural Blends in celery, sea mist, and sugar cane. The yellow cupcake paper is made with old cotton yarn from my stash and wasn't much fun. This soy yarn (50% soy and 50% acrylic) will be great for baby items, too. It is so soft in the hand. The "frosting" is made from Paton's Be Mine. It is a fussy and fuzzy "fashion yarn" and therefore tricky. Fortunately, the tops are only about 7 rounds so I don't have to deal with it much. These cupcakes will not add any pounds to my body!
Perhaps I am being unrealistic but I am hoping to get $15 for each cupcake. It takes about 2 hours to make one and this is a charity event so people should be willing to pay more. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Elfin Hat and another Baby Sweater

I devised this pattern because I wanted a cap to go with several garter stitch baby sweaters. The garter stitch patterns I found were too feminine for my purpose. I’m sure someone has come up with something very similar but I couldn’t find anything. I used the same yarn as the sweater and booties on the garter stitch border. When I ran out of that color, I switched to a lighter shade of the Bernat Cottontots. The sweater in the above photo is the Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono that I knit from Mason Dixon Knitting several months ago.

Size: Newborn to 3 months
Yarn: Bernat Cottontots
Needles: I used #5 16” circular and a set of #5 dpns
Gauge: 4.5 st per inch

Cast on 56 stitches on a 16” circular needle.

Knit back and forth to create 1 ½ inches garter stitch. (I prefer to join into a circle at this point and knit one row purl one row instead of having a seam.)

If you have not already joined your stitches into a circle, do so now. Knit stockinette stitch for 2 inches.

(As you decrease, change to dpns when stitches no long reach around the needle.)

Decrease round: Knit 6, Knit 2 together around.
Rows 2-4 Knit
Decrease round: Knit 5, Knit 2 together around
Rows 6 -8 Knit
Continue decreasing in this way every 4th round. On the last decrease round of K2 tog all around, continue to knit 2 around until you have 3 stitches on needle.

Knit I-cord for about 3 inches and bind off. Weave in all ends and tie a knot in the I-cord to make the top knot.

The cap also went with the Garter Stitch Sweater from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight. On this one I made a tassle, but I think I prefer the i-cord top knot. I enjoyed knitting this sweater so much. There is very little sewing up to do. You start knitting at the bottom of the back and progress upwards, casting on for each arm and then dividing and knitting your way down each front.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Burns Supper

Last Saturday night was the annual Burns Supper. For those non-Scotophiles, this annual event occurs all over the world as people celebrate the birth of the poet laureate of Scotland, Robert Burns. His actual birthday is January 25, 1759. There is a common arrangement to a Burns Supper. First is The Selkirk Grace. which I have also heard in Norwegian.

Then comes the ceremonial Piping in The Haggis. Haggis is a sheeps stomach stuffed with innards, oats, and seasonings. Some people just love it and actually look forward to eating it. I am not one of them. The photo is my friend Kevin, carrying the haggis, with our Pipe Major and Pipe Instructor playing the pipes. The pipers, orator, and carrier of the haggis drink a shot or two of scotch and the haggis is cut with a sword. The person receiving the haggis recites Robert Burns poem "Address to a Haggis".

The food is traditional Scottish fare with haggis, bridie (meat pie), canned peas, neeps (rutabaga), and tatties (mashed potatoes). Scottish shortbread and ice cream are dessert. (I don't believe ice cream is traditional.)

After dinner the pipes are the center of attention as we march out for the Grand March and Waltz. The Parade of the Tartans were the "weans" (children) with my friend Heather piping and her wee Harry among the children in their kilts and folk dress. "The Company" dances traditional Scottish country dances. Other elements are the Toast to the Lassies, Reply to the Laddies, more dancing, more piping and the "Immortal Memory", a tribute to Robbie Burns. Finally, the Lone Piper and Auld Lang Syne with everyone in a huge circle holding hands and singing with the piper.
Happy Burns Day everyone! Cheers!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Pod of Mittens

I was inspired by Saartje to photograph the mitten collection I have made for myself. I'm sure there is no term for a group of mittens so I've labled them a pod, as in a group of whales (no relation):). Over the years I have also knit many mittens for children and a few for adults. The weather and the coat I am wearing will determine the mitten choice.

Imagine a clock..At 11 and 1 are Norwegian Mittens. The black and white ones are about 20 years old and have been mended. The green and blue ones were made from a kit about 5 years ago. I enjoyed making the first one, but you know how it is....the second one is not as much fun until you get near the end.

At 3 o'clock are Elizabeth Zimmermann's Mitered Mittens in handspun and hand-dyed wool (not by me) They have also been mended. I have re-knit both thumbs.

At 6 is a pair of Victorian Mittens with a lace cuff, mentioned in an earlier blog posting.

At 9 are Stuffed Mitten's from Robin Hansen's Fox Geese and Fences. In the photo below I turned one mitten inside out so you can see what the stuffing is like. Although it looks a bit strange, it does keep the hands warm. You feel as if you are wearing boxing gloves. Don't even try to zip your coat with a pair of these on! Thanks to Saartje, I am getting in the mood to knit mittens!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Just for Fun

I guess I'm rather late to the dishcloth craze although I have made a few. I didn't know there were so many possibilities until I got on Ravelry. Mason-Dixon Knitting gave me a fresh outlook on the dishcloth. I've enjoyed choosing colors without worrying whether they would actually look good on any human being (some of them wouldn't). As I knit the classic ballband cloth I felt as if I were in a sort of color trance. Then I progressed to the Petal Dishcloth which is round with 12 segments. That was great fun and perfect for airport knitting. Now that I have more than enough for every day of the week, I'm starting on a baby sweater.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Home again

I have been away on business, and hence, no posting. The days prior to a trip are always hectic. The fact that my flight left at 6:05 a.m. last Wed meant that I had to be at the airport by 5 a.m.; which meant getting up an hour before that. What a long day that was! The older I become the harder I find it to be away from my own home. I miss my quiet time, my woods, my teapot and oh yes, my husband. When my children were small I rather enjoyed such a break, although I always missed them and was glad to get back home. When I am away I find that I enjoy going to sleep by mentally "walking through" my home sends me off to sleep in a pleasant way.

I have been knitting dishcloths and having a ball with them. Will take some photos tomorrow.

A few weeks ago I bought a sewing machine. We gave my old one to charity when we moved but I found that now and then I needed to run a hem or stitch something. This one is sooooo frustrating. It is a Singer "Simple". Oh boy. I have read the book, watched the video, threaded the machine and the bobbin. I began sewing a practice swatch and the needle got stuck. I am not a novice at sewing, having sewn many articles of clothing for both myself and my children. This reminds me why I prefer knitting. NO mechanical devices to deal with! My husband tried to help me and we finally decided to put it aside until tomorrow.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

2007 Reading

I've been thinking of reviewing my reading for the past year and have been inspired by Pfeiffer Booknotes to do so now. It's always hard to narrow down a list to favorites, isn't it? Some I can rule out completely. I don't list books that I started but did not finish. Usually I give a book about 50 pages before giving up on it unless I am absolutely sure after a few pages that the writing style is poor.

I logged 43 books for the year. Of those 9 were non-fiction/34 fiction. I keep my log in table format on my computer. I have been faithful for about 5 years now. Previously I kept a handwritten log and fizzled out because I made too many demands on myself (writing little book reviews, etc.) Now I use a star system and write a few words if I am so inclined.

Best Classic

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Sorry to be so cliche. Many consider this book to be the best American novel of the 20th century. I agree it has to be at the top.

Best Fiction
The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton. This was a difficult decision. There were probably several that ranked right up there with this one.

Best Non Fiction

The World I Live In by Helen Keller. Written by her at the tender age of 18.

Biggest Surprise

Kindred by Octavia Butler. I normally do not read science fiction. This is a time-travel book so some may not consider it sci-fi.

Best Memoir (I can't decide between these 2)

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Red Rowan and Wild Honey by Betsey Whyte. Sequel to Yellow on the Broom. Betsey Whyte grew up as a traveler (also known as gypsies) in Scotland.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Wee Things

After finishing my son's sweater I relaxed with some smaller projects which were quite fun. I have no idea who the recipients of these will be. Usually I like to have a specific person in mind for a work in progress. With these I just enjoyed letting the cotton yarn through my fingers and watched the colors passing by. I used the readily available Peaches and Cream. Each stuffed animal used almost exactly one ball. That's a lot of fun for two bucks. I would like to find a source for natural stuffing for the animals. Please post your suggestions! The patterns for all items are from Louisa Harding's Natural Knits for Moms and Babies.
I made this apple pie on Christmas morning. It tasted as good as it looks! I highly recommend The New Best Recipe Cookbook by the authors of Cook's Illustrated. Each recipe is tested many times. This pie crust recipe uses both shortening and butter. It is delicious. I didn't use their filling recipe exactly because I like a little more spice in the filling.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

We have friends who renovated a historic home in our town. We were invited to their home for New Year's Day. The photo at left was taken in the Spring of 2002, shortly after they moved in. Yesterday there was a Christmas tree in the bay window (where the white sofa is) and there was a fire crackling in the fireplace and snow falling outside. What you cannot see in the photo is the detail on the woodwork. Truly amazing! They have done everything possible to retain and restore the integrity of the home. All the wallpapers and the handloomed carpets are historically accurate. I took a hostess gift to my friend, a pair of wool and silk mittens I made from Blackberry Woolen Mill. The pattern is inspired by a pair found in a 19th century farmhouse in Kansas. For some weird reason I cannot upload the photo of these mittens. I may try again tomorrow.

I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year, and one full of stitches!

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