stash busting

finished the shelburne mittens today!

i still have close to three skeins of the rowan big wool left in my stash, too. i've had this for an embarrassing amount of time - nine or ten years? eek.

still, it's getting some love now. and based on the fact that the last, lost cowl i knit of this took two full skeins, i predict that the cowl i've just cast on will use up all of the rest.

i'm using the same stitch pattern as for the mitts - p1 k2, with the k2 doing a cable twist on every second row. it's super stretchy, with more character than a plain rib. i may do a drawstring to make it hat-able as well, i think there's a pattern in one of my vintage books for a hat that is basically a tube with a drawstring - maybe in the lux book? we'll see when i get there.

whether cowl or hat, it will be a great companion to these thick warm mitts!


sick day!

i have been trying to fight off a head cold for the better part of the week, and i think it has finally got me. so, to bed.

but the good thing about that is knitting! i've finished a mitten this morning, and right away seem to have lost the 5mm circ i knit it on, so can't start the second. back to the madtosh cardigan i suppose.

speaking of madtosh, i got a skein of sock in esoteric in my stocking! will need to hunt down another one (or two?) for a cardigan in that. i am all fingering-weight cardigan all the time right now.

but still sad that my zigzaggy cardigan in knitpicks stroll got felted a bit in the wash. sigh. still wearable, but just not the same...

more xmas presents!

another present has been delivered, so here it is!

my cousin had asked for a pair of convertible mittens, so that was a no-brainer for me! i had started these ages ago, but the first pair turned out on the small side. fortunately the kiddo's teacher has fairly small hands, so those went to her.

then i cast on again with a few extra stitches!

these are patons classic wool dk; i really like working with it. i made a little shell out of it for myself too, in a different colourway. i have a feeling i am going to end up with more of this stuff. but i reeeeally need to stash-bust first.


xmas presents!

now that the day is past, i can post a picture of the scarf i knit for my sister!

i had always wanted to do a noro stripe scarf, but couldn't quite face the miles of 1x1 rib before. but after seeing the ninja colourway in mosaic, inspiration tipped the balance!

i paired it with another purplish colourway called fantasy (i think) and they really worked well together. as tedious as 1x1 rib is, watching the colours change and complement each other in different ways made this a really fun knit.


holiday party time!

just had our annual tree-trimming party! i laid on a big spread:

that's not even all of it. there were latkes that disappeared in seconds. and cheese cookies. and shrimp puffs. which disappeared quickly, so i didn't get a shot of the finished item.

i started with a quarter-batch of home-made puff pastry, rolled out super thin:

i counted how many shrimp i had and measured the pastry to ensure i'd have just enough for all the shrimp. my pound of shrimp counted out to 34.

i even used a ruler! then i put a dab of home-made pepper jelly on the end of each strip, and started rolling.

the wrapped shrimp went in the oven for 20 minutes at 400f. definitely need to be baked on parchment - the jelly inevitably oozed out and made a bit of a mess!

another savory hit: the goat-cheese tarts with red onion relish:

am i the only one who hears the voices of paul hollywood and mary berry every time i bake pastry? no soggy bottoms!

goat cheese tarts with red onion relish

for the pastry:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup pastry flour
pinch salt
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
ice water

cut the butter and lard into small pieces and chill. combine the flour and salt. using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter and lard quickly into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. mixing with a fork, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the mix and a spoon of ice water. gradually add just enough ice water to make the pastry hold together in a ball. chill.

for the filling:
1 package goat cheese (10 oz)
1/2 package cream cheese (4 oz)
2 eggs
salt & black pepper

blend the two cheeses with a wooden spoon. beat in the two eggs, and season with salt a grind or two of black pepper.

roll out the chilled pastry into a rectangle about 1/8". line 24 tart cases. spoon the cheese filling into the pastry and bake at 350f for 25 minutes, watching carefully.

for the red onion relish:
2 red onions
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

slice the onions as thinly as possible. combine with the sugar in a heavy bottomed pot, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes covered, then uncover and cook for 15 minutes more. stir in vinegar, and cook, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. allow to cool.

and because i didn't get any pics last time, the hamantaschen:


it's beginning to look a lot like...

so behind schedule this year, but i finally have some xmas presents wrapped and ready to go under the tree! have a few more tucked away, will get them wrapped tonight. hooray!


knitting knitting knitting

i have finally reached the point where i can start shaping the neckline on my madtosh argylette cardigan!

i am working the fronts & backs together up to the armholes, so while it feels endless, i know i've got a lot done. the plan is to have a deep "v" neckline; i also figured it was time to draw up a little schematic so i do the right thing at the right time:

i'm not having much luck getting the pattern/colour to show up nicely in photos, but here's a close-up:

if it weren't raining, i'd take it out to our patio table. no such luck though.

and i am finding my fingers getting a bit sore from working on 2.75mm needles. may need to take a break to work on something else (especially since christmas is coming, eek!).


one done, one on the way!

it's so nice to have a finished object to wear!

i finished blocking this picot top-down raglan pullover this morning, and i am so pleased. fits perfectly and looks exactly as i wanted, a bit of 1930s librarianish charm.

and, i finally finished the seemingly endless ribbing on my madtosh cardigan. and now the work is going much faster - you can start to see the pattern already! this yarn is so lovely to work with, and the colour is gorgeous! i have noticed the dye coming off on my fingers a bit though; will have to be careful not to let it near anything when wet. any tips on setting the colour in madtosh? i really really don't want it to change a bit!


casting on

wound a skein of madtosh into a cake during doctor who on saturday night, and worked a swatch yesterday!

i have a thing for argyle/diamond patterns, especially using texture rather than colour. i have about eight million diamond lace patterns. but as always, nothing is ust right, nothing can be left un-tweaked.

this swatch started with a stitch pattern i had printed off aeons ago. and i have to say... some of the instructions were completely inscrutable to me, so i just did something that seemed to get the same result. some i understood clearly what i was supposed to do, but i'm still not sure why... and some things i just wanted to change for my own design reasons. i switched the k2togs for ssks and vice versa, so as to make the decreases less "ridgy" and increased the overall number of sts per repeat, to give the pattern more "breathing room."

so here's my non-square swatch, starting with one pattern and ending up with another:

i'm quite pleased with the revised version.

and this yarn is absolutely gorgous to work with! i want more more more!



so when i had my appendix out, i decided i needed a bit of pampering. which justified my indulgence in something long-coveted: madtosh in tart! the wait was forever (um, almost two weeks), but it finally came yesterday! i ended up getting the merino light. it's a little finer than expected, but that colour! so gorgeous!

and i'm almost finished this little picot shell in patons classic wool. i improvised it using the custom raglan generator, the webpage for which seems to be gone. glad i saved it! i may type it up with my revisions to share. we'll see.

i love how these colours work together, too. the madtosh will end up as a cardigan; i think the two pieces will work well together!

i hope to finish the shell and block it this afternoon - but first i need to bake a cake for my father-in-law's birthday tomorrow! and i need to wrap a present. and pick up printouts to make our xmas cards. and go out for brunch. busy day.


bedtime, finally.

i got a lot done this weekend considering i spent basically the whole thing playing at being a single mum! tg had a megaevent for work that took up friday and saturday both, so we basically went 48 hours without him. and then he came down with a man cold, 'nuff said.

still, i got my fruitcakes done!

i wrap them in a double-layer of parchment paper and then a double-layer of foil, leaving it openable at the top for "feeding" with a little booze. doesn't it look a bit like a crazy sunflower?

for posterity, here's the full to-do list for holiday baking:

i actually have quite a lot done! but still tons more to do. i have all of my doughs and pastry done though (oh wait not true, i need to make the pastry for the goat cheese tarts) and that's the messiest thing with clouds of flour and spills of molasses and whatnot. now that that's out of the way, i can focus on tidying and organizing and making the house festive, and then just have a massive bakefest in the days leading up to our fete.

it is also nice to know our party is basically done & paid for!

and, i'm well into the second ball of patons classic wool (had forgotten how nice it is to work with!) for my shell, and past the point of dividing off the sleeves and joining the torso. whee!


i did it! i really did it! i made puff pastry that puffed!

so glad that the day i spent yesterday has paid off so well. yum yum. the instructions i followed are here; i used a quarter of the pastry and got almost two dozen palmiers (21 nice ones, two blobby end bits that i baked anyway - probably could have had an even 2 dozen if i'd planned it).

the rest of the pastry will go for mushroom puffs or gambas en gabardinas or cheese straws.

here's the rolling process:

ready to go in the oven:

look how they puffed!

and look at that lovely burnt sugar! they were flaky and crunchy and oh so good. and i think they've all been polished off already...

while waiting for them to come out of the oven, i worked on a sweater:

then i put my fruitcakes in the oven:

also made some more cookie dough, for pecan crescents. next up, gingerbread dough. yay productive weekends!

gack! another christmas is nearly at our throats!

being largely out of commission for the last... three weeks? has it been three whole weeks? i guess it has, maybe even four. yikes. surgery does that to you, i guess.


this weekend i had a little panic about the holidays being almost here and our party being just three weeks away and needing to send out invites and and and...

so after spending friday morning at the paediatrician's with a sick kid (he woke up literally sobbing with pain from an ear infection) i got to work. i started by writing a cookie dough inventory (cookie dough is one of those things you can do ahead and freeze): imperial cheddar, viennese icebox, hamantaschen, sugar cookies, chestnut shortbread, done. and today, i'm going to make gingerbread dough. nice to get a few things ticked off the list.

then, i made a list of everything i need to make for the party and xmas dinner, and started in. fruitcake needs to be done early so it can "ripen," so i started by digging through the freezer to find candied peel i'd made earlier. found lemon, orange, and grapefruit! all currently soaking in sherry and rum so i can bake my fruitcakes today. also found a bag of organic cranberries, so made cranberry sauce. and while i was at it, red onion relish and red pepper jelly. picked the last of the arugula from our garden and made artichoke dip, subbing the arugula for spinach. candied some more peel too, since i ate a couple of grapefruits yesterday (need vitamin c!).

and a bit of good/bad news; the bad news is the health food store in our neighbourhood is closing. the good news is bulk foods are 40% off, so i bought a ton of flour of various kinds, along with pecans and cashews and sea salt.

finally, i decided to try my hand at something that's always frightened me a bit - puff pastry! it's resting in the fridge now, and i'm thinking - the brick you can buy frozen is 400g (divided into two squares of 200g each) - this is about double that by weight, so i am going to divide it into pieces, freeze most, and use one today as a tester - that way i'll have an idea about whether or not it worked! also i love palmiers, so i am keen to make some. will post pics later, hope it's a success!


knitting mojo: lost and found

off work for two weeks and knit nothing! could not think, let alone follow a pattern. sigh.

today i came home early for a rest, but couldn't sleep (hello, coffee). so, i thought i'd whip through a quick project to get my knitting mojo back

so far so good: one mitten down, one to go!

pattern to follow, i swear.


ghostbusters costume: done!

just realised i never posted pics of the completed ghostbusters costume! it nearly killed me, but the kid was thrilled, yay. he asked his teacher to call him peter venkman at school.

more pyjamas!

sitting quietly at a sewing machine seems to be the one thing that is easy for me to do while recuperating from surgery! so i am working my way through half-started sewing projects. it's quite embarrassing the number of things i cut and pin and abandon. oops. today's project: pyjamas!

i love tailored pyjamas. i think they make the kid look handsome and sophisticated. this fabric i like especially, because from a distance, it looks like the sort of classic pyjama that william powell might have worn in the thin man...

... but if you get a little closer, you see that the fabric is actually inspired by another 1930s classic, the wizard of oz.

hmm, now i am thinking i should make the kid a smoking jacket, for the full effect.