Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Little Baby Gift

After two attempts with other patterns I finally finished this little sweater for a baby shower gift on Sunday afternoon for Trisia Marie. I was sewing the button on about an hour before leaving for the shower. (Plenty of time to spare!) The pattern is from Fawn Pea on Ravelry. She calls it Super Natural Stripes. It's a great little pattern, knit from the top down. The yarn, Bernat Cottontot (100% cotton) in Country Red, Country Taupe, and Country Green, is what was on hand that could be washed in the machine--as I'm certain there isn't a lot of garment pampering in the household. The color changes are done on the reverse side in garter stitch, which is an effect I enjoy. I laid the little sweater on a bed of sage and then a bed of thyme for the photos. (I'll be so sad when the frost comes and these fresh herbs are no longer available just outside my doorstep.)

This is a good pattern for a beginning knitter. Don't get overly hung up on numbers in the pattern. If you are a little off at some point, just use common sense (as in some strategic increases or decreases) and it will all work out. I believe this will be a standard pattern for me to use when I need a quick baby gift. Let's see...that would be this Saturday, wouldn't it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Little Bit of Fun

The Knitted Squirrel gave me a bewitching award for my blog. I'm not sure how magically domestic I am but I do enjoy pottering about the house. A stack of colorful and clean handknitted dish cloths gives me pleasure, as well as a freshly baked pie cooling on the rack. Using my great-grandmother's cookie cutters connects me in a magical way to my ancestors. Stirring up a cauldron of soup on a chilly day and smelling it as it simmers is a simple joy. I love sitting in my sunporch or on my deck and watching the wildlife in our woods while my knitting progresses quietly in my hands. So yes, I accept this award and proudly display it. Besides, I love the shoes on that witch. Especially if they could be red, my latest obsession.

Some of my favorite people who bring a bit of magic into my life are:

Joyknits who is a knitting friend from "way back when". She takes wonderful nature photographs.

KPiep...read her blog and you will see what I mean about magical. Greenwoman comes knocking at her home.
Jen at Knitters-Knitters is one of the most prolific knitters I know in cyberland. I wish I could write like her! She is inventive and funny.
And do visit Deb at Homespun Living. She embraces creativity, home, and peaceful living. She also has an Etsy shop.
There are so many wonderful bloggers out there. If you want to accept this award and pass it along, please do so!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Little Danish Undershirt

When the Fall 2009 Issue of Interweave Knits arrived I could hardly wait to cast on this little undershirt designed by Robin Orm Hansen. In fact, very little else in that issue called to me. There seem to be a lot of bulky garments and huge collars-that-ate-Manhattan out there, which although they might appeal to some folk, do not do anything for me. I used Bernat's Cottontot's because it is what I had on hand. The "Country Red" and "Country Taupe" stripes look quite nice together. The size is supposed to fit a newborn to 24 months since the cord can be used to make the neck opening smaller, or even be removed altogether for a larger child. The finished size is supposed to be 20 inches. This one is 19", so just a little smaller. The only modification I did was to knit the neck border with holes for the cord instead of crocheting it. Maybe I'll try the crochet edging sometime, as I'm sure I'll be making more of these little vests. I think it would look adorable with little denim jeans or brown corduroy pants.

And I thought I could show a better view of the Damson, both front and back. I wore it again today, tied at the shoulder and not looking so granny-like, and several people commented on it. I can't wait to start on another one! This design is surely one of my all-time favorites!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Finished Damson...Plum Dandy!

Just for laughs, this is me trying to look like Ysolda Teague, the young Scottish designer who created Damson, Ishbel, Liesl, and other clever designs. I am holding the camera out with one hand here. Ysolda has a winsome, wistful look in many of her photos and I just look plain ol' silly. And the worst part (or best) is that this was one of the better photos. Just so you know.

I am so in love with Damson that I wore it on Monday when the temperature was over 80 degrees.

There is not a single thing I would change in making this shawl. Well, I did do the edges slightly differently, a technique I have already mentioned in this blog. Instead of knitting or slipping the first stitch do as follows: Knit to last stitch. Bring yarn forward and leave it there. Slip the last stitch. Turn work. Knit into the back of the first stitch. Makes a lovely, tidy edge.

I feel like starting another Damson right away but I have been invited to two baby (girl) showers in the next two weeks so bring on the pink!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies make the Dean's List!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies have a basic heartiness that appeals to me. One of the reasons I like the Best Recipes Cookbook is that each recipe is tested, retested, and tweaked numerous times. In the test kitchen the experts start with several good recipes and find out what works best. If I were going to have just a few cookbooks in my kitchen, this would be one of them. What I like most about Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies is that there is a tiny hint of nutmeg, so small that you can't really pick out what it is. Usually I put cinnamon in Oatmeal Raisin Cookies but after making these I have to agree that the plainer cookie really brings out the flavor of the oats and raisins. My husband is a Raisin Man. Seriously, he goes through a box of raisins about every 3 days. These cookies also live up to the "chewy" part of the name. Believe me, this recipe is going in the family recipe box. They look just as good as they taste, too! My "grader" thought it would only be fair to try them with ice cream. Just in case the first 3 might have been flukes, he tried a few more. Oh, and better check them out with vanilla ice cream, too!

My paternal grandmother, gave me a wooden recipe box that belonged to her mother, my great-grandmother, Jane "Jennie" Anderson Finger. Sadly, there was only one recipe left in the box. I do not know for certain that it is Jennie Finger's handwriting, but I like to think it is. She had a reputation for being a fabulous cook, who could whip up a meal for company at a moment's notice. Several years ago I made this recipe with great anticipation and truthfully, the cookies were...awful. (Traitor!) Perhaps there was something about the ingredients and the fact that cooks back then assumed everyone knew how to bake (which I do, but maybe not quite like they did on a wood stove.) Anyway, if I pass an oatmeal cookie recipe along, it will be the one from The New Best Recipes Cookbook. I could handwrite it on a recipe card, couldn't it?
Anyway, I do like the way she spells "Cooky" and "Rasins".

A Little Bit about Damson and Piping, Too

It's been a long time since I've update my blog. I've been busy with the pipe band on the weekends. We went to the Quad Cities for their Highland Games two weeks ago. Were were one of 3 bands that played throughout the day in small groups, solo, and then together in a "Battle of the Bands". The small groups were fun as it was like being wandering minstrel's/pipers. Between our gigs we roamed around the fairgrounds and sat in our little encampment, trying to stay out of the sun. It was a beautiful day with perfect temperatures in the low 70's but most of us ended up with a suntan line across our foreheads where our Glengarry (hats) end. The Glengarry is great for staying on the head during a stiff wind (Scotland) but not so great for keeping the summer sun out of the face (Illinois).

Last weekend I played a charity benefit for an off-duty policeman who was killed while helping a stranded motorist. I piped a color guard in at a golf course and then played Amazing Grace.

This weekend (Saturday) the band traveled to Waukesha Wisconsin to compete in the Highland Games. This competition was the last of the season. We placed 2ND (again) but it is probably the best we've played in competition this year. The 3 bands at our level were fairly closely matched. And aren't these two little guys adorable in their kilts. They are so happy to be just like their papa, who is a piper in our band. We hope they will be pipers in our band someday. Somewhere between these two piping events I hosted a bus of folks to Chicago to meeting Tami Longaberger and Bernie Kosar. Yes, I've been busy.

Today I've been preparing for the Official Visit for my P.E.O. Chapter. This event happens periodically when a state officer comes to observe our chapter and make sure we know what we are doing. Our visit is going to be September 14 but I have a lot going on in the days prior so I have to get everything done ahead of time. This afternoon I finished all the paperwork and weeded out our files. Now all I have to do is prepare an agenda, which is what I normally do for a meeting. So I feel pretty good about getting all that done.

A few days ago I couldn't resist casting on another project. Ysolda Teague's Damson Shawl is #1 on the Ravelry pattern list of new patterns and it is practically irresistible. It uses one skein of sock yarn and I just happened to have the exact yarn called for in the pattern, Malabrigo Sock. That happens so rarely that it seemed destined. At first I wasn't sure how the variegated wool would look in the shawl but it is turning out beautifully. Ysolda is such a talented young designer and she is cranking out the patterns faster than I can knit them. There is always something in a pattern that I have not seen before. In Damson the clever way of starting the shawl is a method totally new to me. If she came up with this idea, all I have to say is one word: GENIUS. If she didn't invent it then, kudos to whoever did. I can see myself making several Damsons for gifts and for myself. Put in your order now, Fam.

One caveat if you knit Damson: Pay close attention to the stitch count in the garter section. That may seem obvious to many; however, I didn't look closely enough at what was coming up. (Reading the pattern completely is a concept I apparently have not grasped in 35 years of knitting.) The chart of rows/stitch counts is very handy but only if you use it. When I finished the garter stitch section I was sadly off by several stitches and never did figure out where to put them in properly. It took me the better part of Sunday afternoon to get the stockinette section started correctly, after a bit of number fudging.

I am trying a new recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies out of The New Best Recipe Cookbook. There will be a report on these after my Official Cookie Tester returns home from teaching tonight about 9 PM. Yes, at this university classes are in session on Labor Day, and that includes evening classes. I'm sure he'll be happy to do a little more grading when he gets home and it might take several tries before he can make a decision as to whether this recipe gets an A or a B. I can tell you it won't be any lower than that!

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