Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rearranging and the Great Cookie Bake-off, part 1

I've been crafting a LOT, which is why I've been quiet around here.  I have 3 more Christmas gifts to knit, and then I'm still working on the 2 quilts for the kiddos.  In the meantime, here's all but two of the finished gifts:

Little Red Riding Cowl (in pink) for my grandmother

 Malabrigo Rasta Chunky Cowl (seed stitch) in Ravelry for my mom

Malabrigo Rasta Chunky Cowl (for some reason I can't find the pattern I used) for my MIL 

Catherine Cowl for my dad

Surprisingly, Little Man took these pictures for me.  Not too bad, given it's his first time behind a camera.  Here's a fairly decent picture of Skelf as well:

It's not my preferred picture, but I have to say, he did a good job.  I have also finished another Mallory cowl for my husband's aunt, and I just cast off socks for Hubby.  I have 2 more pairs of socks (DK weight, so fast knitting) and a scarf to do.  There are 26 (almost 25) days until Christmas.

Now about those cookies...I'm going to throw together a spreadsheet listing out the differences in the ingredients, because I'm that kind of baking nerd and I live in Excel.  It won't be hard to do - just toss all the standard ingredients up and put the measurements underneath.  Then, time to compare with each taste of cookie.  It's amazing what taking the same ingredients and changing the ratios slightly can do.  We finally baked what was left of all 6 previous cookie doughs, and baked the big one as well, so we have 7 different types of chocolate chip cookies.  No, seriously.  We have 7 different kinds of chocolate chip cookies - and I had to STOP myself at 7.  There are probably THOUSANDS of chocolate chip cookie recipes out there, and I limited myself to only 7.  BTW, thanks to all the ladies in the Luvinthemommyhood group on Ravelry for passing their favorites along to me.  As we've tasted the cookies each week, Little Man has rated every one a "10".  Let's face it, he's a kid who loves chocolate chip cookies, so it's not like he's really picky.  There were a few he wasn't a fan of, probably because they weren't baked so well (sometimes I got them a little overdone).  But, they are all good.  No lie, really.  Trust me, I tasted each one with him.  And then some.  *grins*  Once I have that spreadsheet done, I'll post links to all the recipes, and even post the spreadsheet, so you can see the comparison.  It should prove rather interesting.  Oh, and here's a picture of the first of the quilt blocks for Princess's quilt:

A lot of them look similar, but each one is unique.  I'm still figuring all this quilting stuff out, and I'm working with all I've got.  We've talked about rearranging some furniture, so that maybe, just maybe, I could eventually get my grandmother's old Singer sewing machine (from the 1940's or 1950's) out of storage and start sewing on it.  That's the machine my mother learned to sew on, and made all kinds of dresses, pants, formals, and anything and everything else she made before she was married.  It's a basic machine, not a lot of bells and whistles, but I like that.  I don't need 250+ embroidery stitches.  I just need a machine that won't un-thread itself every 20 inches or so.  I'm still working on making good, solid, straight seams and not sewing too fast to ensure that the seams are straight.  Let's hope that rearranging will work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I now only have 5 Christmas gifts left to complete.  There are 27 days until Christmas.  I may be able to make it, but 2 of those 5 gifts don't have to be actually finished, as they are for my children, and they aren't that interested in the gifts anyway.  They may be belated Christmas gifts.  I do have some travel time coming up, which should help complete at least one of those final 3 and get started on another one.

I'm taking a cue from the Yarn Harlot this year, and I've made a Christmas Planner spreadsheet.  Sure, it may sound a little Type-A, but it helps tremendously.  I've got my gifts in there, my food, my stockings (we do old-fashioned ones, and I like to make sure everyone has one - they actually come out more like gift bags, but one of these years they might actually be in stockings, or shoeboxes, as in days of yore), and my Christmas card list.  I can keep all the pieces together this way, and hopefully just use it year after year, unless someone moves.  It's easier than manually transferring all the names and addresses to a new planner each year, and it will also be easy to do a mail merge for labels for the cards.  Yes, I know - it's not exactly handmade, but let's face it - how many people actually send out Christmas cards anymore?  I don't get all that many (not that I ever did, but I did get more than Charlie Brown) and most people would rather send an email than an actual card or letter.  I'm not doing the whole "Family Letter" thing - to be honest, there haven't been that many changes in the past year to write about.  Maybe one year, if we have a HUGE year full of massive, major, life-changing events happen.  But for now, everyone just gets a picture of the family with Christmas wishes.

The presents for my kiddos are quilts.  Here's the interesting thing: I'm the first one in 2 generations to do this.  The last one who actually quilted by my knowledge was my great-grandmother, after whom I'm named.  Go figure - I've picked up a lot of her stuff.  I've been working with my sewing machine, which is about 8 years old, and although it was expensive at the time (over $300 on sale), it's a cheap machine.  I have to keep the tension on 0 in order for it to work; otherwise, the thread is all screwy on the back.  But, it does what it needs to in order for me to start these quilts.  I'm learning as I go, mainly because 1) no one else in my family does this and 2) I could take a class if it weren't for 2 big deciding factors - time and money.  I could possibly squeak out the time, but the money is another issue.  Perhaps one of these days I can take a class, and then I'll figure out all the things I've done wrong.  Or maybe, I'll wait on the rest of the quilt tops until after the first of the year, take a class, and then complete them.  I started on the one for Princess, and I can tell there's some issues with the pieced blocks - squaring them up will be a trick and a half.  But, if I can make some mistakes, learn from them, and fix them, then so much the better.  I like learning experiences.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stealth Knitting

Knitting the socks for my hubby is taking longer than I had anticipated, because I have to do it while he's not around.  He's not always the most observant of individuals, but I don't want him to get suspicious either.  He does occasionally ask, and the one time I don't want him to, will be the one time when he will.  I'm almost done with the first one, and I hope to get a picture next week.  I'm using Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's sock recipe in her Knitting Rules book.

You know what's funny?  I actually have these exact same socks.  They were the first socks I ever knit.  They're big, but so comfy, and they're perfect comfort socks.  When it's grey, and rainy, and cold, those are the socks I love to grab and put on.  Happy weekend - this weekend's going to be filled with Thanksgiving preparations.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gift Time

I’ve figured out sometimes I have to get what’s in my head out, and until I do, I can’t do anything else.  So, here it goes.  I’ve been thinking about Christmas, and how to make this a handmade Christmas.  I’ve done a good job so far, but I’m coming up a little short for a few people.  The list looks something like this:

  1. My mom: cowl – finished
  2. My dad: cowl – finished
  3. My MIL: cowl – finished
  4. My grandmother: cowl – finished
  5. My uncle & aunt: cup cozies – finished, except for detailing
  6. My hubby: socks – started
  7. My FIL: ???
  8. My SIL: cowl – started
  9. My brother: ???
  10. Friends’ son: scarf – not started, but all pieces waiting (pattern & yarn)

Then there are my two lovely children.  I’d love to work on sweaters for them, but I still have at least 3 more gifts to knit up.  I’m trying to figure out how long my hubby’s socks will take.  They’re DK weight, and I’m knitting them on US6’s, so they should (in theory) go quickly.  In about an hour, I’ve completed the cuff on the first sock.  That’s 2 inches, including the cast on.  That’s a pretty quick knit.  

I was reading the Yarn Harlot’s blog from 2006 where she started knitting a sock a day.  In reading that blog post again, I realize that I’m sure I can fit in a few basic socks between now and Christmas.  Maybe the kids will get socks as well.  I might, just might, be able to squeeze in 5 pairs of socks, a cowl, and a scarf before Christmas.  This includes cleaning the house, prepping menus and food, Thanksgiving, and decorating.  I’m making great strides, even while working.  I take every opportunity to knit on a gift and I’ve put my sweater(s) on hold.  Gemini will be on hold, as well as the Owls sweater that I finally got the yarn for…and several other sweaters.  Gemini right now is kind of at a “boring” part – it’s all stockinette stitch until the increases.  I’ve also decided to make longer sleeves, knowing full well I’ll have to decrease since they are designed to be fuller cap sleeves.  I’m not too worried about it right now.  Right now, it’s all about the Christmas Gifting.

Friday, November 09, 2012


I’m terribly behind in blogging.  I know.  I keep meaning to post something, and either forget, or don’t have time.  And sometimes, to be honest, I choose not to.  I choose to knit instead.  So shoot me.  But, here are some interesting pictures for you.

This one is my Cloudy Day.

There used to be more, but I lost track and stitches came out, and I wasn’t thrilled with the bobbles, so I ripped back to the brim, and started again.  It takes a lot of concentration, since every row is patterned. 

This is the beginnings of Gemini. 

It’s much farther along now.

The lace pattern was actually pretty easy, and if I hadn’t screwed up somewhere, I wouldn’t have had to rip back to the end of the lace pattern and start all the increases again.  That cost me about 3 days.  But, I still might get it done by Thanksgiving.

This is the Catherine Cowl. 

It’s done now, but needs to be blocked.  It’s out of Royal Alpaca from Blue Sky Alpaca.  Isn’t it lovely?  The yarn is soft and yummy – it makes you want to cuddle it. 


This is leftover stash yarn from a shawlette, and it’s getting made into cup cozies for Christmas.  Should I get a prize for alliteration?  Christmas Cup Cozies Can Cajole Candice.  There.  I have no idea who Candice is, or why she needs cajoling, but there you have it.  My stab at alliteration. 

I’d like to get a sweater done for me each month between now and Christmas.  I got my Skelf done for Halloween, and I’d love to have Gemini done for Thanksgiving.  I’d then adore completing my Owls sweater for Christmas.  I guess I should mention that the rest of my yarn for that one finally came in, and I will purchase the pattern this weekend, along with one for the kiddos. 

Have you decided on any projects for Christmas?  I did, and I already started knitting!  I actually have 4 gifts already completed: two chunky cowls, a Little Red Riding Cowl in pink, and the Catherine Cowl.  The rest of it will be the cup cozies, a scarf (maybe), the sweaters for the kiddos (maybe), another Little Red Riding Cowl in blue, and socks for Hubby (maybe).  It depends on how much I can cram in.  I may need to rethink the sweaters for the kiddos, and put them aside until later.  They may be belated Christmas gifts.  One might turn into a birthday gift, since Little Man’s birthday is in January.  Just so you know, there are 46 days left until Christmas.  Use your time wisely!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Creepy Critters

I hope everyone had a great and safe Halloween.  We had a great time taking Little Man and Princess trick-or-treating.  They had a blast.  So, I did finish Skelf:

Here it is blocking.  I haven't had a chance to get pictures of it on, but soon.  A week or so ago, we did make Cookie Recipe #4.  Here's the picture of what's left:

I have figured out that staging is everything for pictures.  Don't they look delicious?  So, these were really good.  I was slightly skeptical, but they turned out well.  More on that later.  I'm exhausted due to all the trick-or-treating with 2 small children and winning a costume contest.  Here's the makeup I did:

Realize that was at night, just before we went out, so it had been on all day.  It's still not too shabby.  This was the real prize: