Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yarny Year in Review

Like many people, I'm spending part of today scribbling down a New Year's Resolution list.  I also like to take time to look back over the past year and evaluate it.  One of my questions is always:  Now what did I knit this year?  I don't feel like I spent as much time knitting in 2013, but I did get some things done.

I always love to knit for others.  Various friends this year received:

Baby booties.


Baby cardigans.


(But oh, what a lot of strings to weave in!)

Funny squirrel gloves.

I ran out of yarn on these FOUR LINES FROM THE TOP and had to order more.  I almost didn't make the Christmas cut-off.


I made this hot water bottle cover for my brother-in-law...

And this hat for my stepfather-in-law:

The cables stretch out nicely when the hat is worn, and it's long enough to be pulled down low, or the brim can be turned up.

My nephew got these goldfish mittens.  I love the tails!

He also got this sweater...

...with an owl yoke.

For myself, I made a hat...

...and gloves.

I knitted this pillow for our living room.

For every success, there were many failures.  Poor Todd, nearest and dearest to my heart, got nothing.  I knitted these superhero gloves for him, twice:

The first pair (knit in fingering weight yarn with size 2 needles) was so small that they barely fit me.  I ordered sport weight yarn and used size 4 needles to knit another pair, which was too big.  I think this project may have defeated me.  And just yesterday, I picked up Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns and decided to make a pillow with this stitch pattern:

I knitted lines 1 - 9 over and over, not realizing that the pattern continued, lines 10 - 20, on the next page.  Therefore, instead of the lattice-like pattern on the page, I got zig zags:

Well, I'm going to keep going with it as it is.  I also broke my resolution...

...not to buy more yarn. 

I hope you had a good year, yarny or otherwise.  Happy 2014!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

a familiar yarn

Every year, KnitPicks has a huge half off yarn sale.  Every year, although I have plenty of yarn, I succumb to temptation and order a little more.  I mean, you can't beat half off.

I was surprised to discover that my newest skeins would not fit into my yarn cabinet.  I knew it only had a limited capacity...

...but I was caught off guard to open the doors and see balls of yarn sproinging at me like accordion snakes released from a confining can.  It was an absolute mess:  loose strands hanging, colors out of order, and yarn I'd totally forgotten about stuffed in the back.

I decided to haul it all out and organize it.  I was pretty surprised (and somewhat chagrined) by how much I had.  This is just the fingering-weight yarn:

The whole shebang:

Once organized and consolidated, though, it all fit neatly (albeit snugly) in the cabinet.

Success!  Now, no more yarn purchases for a while...

This week, too, I decided to bake some cookies to mail out.  Even though I only did half-batches, I still ended up with a lot of cookies!

I took the most popular chocolate chip cookie from allrecipes.com and split it into two equal (half-size) batches.  To one batch I added chocolate chips.

They baked up nicely:

I took the other half-batch and added peppermint chips.

I much preferred these to the chocolate chip ones.  So tasty!

Of course, I had to make Nutter Butters (recipe link here): 

Last year I purchased the Two Peas and Their Pod e-book, Cookie Cravings.  I decided to modify the Double Chocolate Oreo Chunk cookies found there by leaving out the Oreos but including the last of my peppermint and chocolate chips.

They were, in a word, AMAZING.  Soft on the inside, very slightly chewy along the outside edge...and the chocolate/peppermint combination continues to be my favorite.

I had enough cookies to send a huge box to Todd's work, as well as make up several decorative bags to send out.

Ah...holiday baking!

It's been below freezing at night here in the South, but it's usually in the upper 50s during the day.  I've definitely been pining for snow.  I have to keep reminding myself that for every brisk snow walk:

...winter project...

...surprising discovery...

...and beautiful flake formation...

...you have cold, blowing snow...

...and hazardous ice.

Shoveling, cold fingers and toes, dangerous and slow driving, sniffles, high heating bills...I'm trying to convince myself that warm is better, but I sure would like to see a white Christmas this year!

Merry Christmas to everyone, and I'll touch base again in the new year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Frost and Frosting

I had a birthday about two weeks ago!  I will admit that I'm pretty childish about birthdays.  I don't want to go out for a fancy meal, and I don't want to have a party.  I want to be home in my pajamas all day long.  Todd has to be home, too...pajamas on.  I bake my own birthday treats.  Forget cake, which is too light and fluffy for a birthday.  I want something thick and rich, so I always bake birthday brownies (chocolate) with homemade vanilla buttercream, covered in sprinkles, served with peppermint chip ice cream.  Every single year.  The only difference comes when I mix the two together and have ice cream cake (same flavors). 

We always play board games for hours.

We're always surrounded by our beloved pets.

It's a pretty special time.  Todd is usually pretty good at gift-giving, and he found some really cool things this year.  First, he purchased some vintage nature books.

Then he tracked down the original painted artwork and had it framed for me.  The detail is amazing!

The first print, like the book, has a mustard-colored background...

...but the other, regrettably, is pretty close to neon green.

Because of the color, we aren't quite sure what to do with it.  Hopefully inspiration will strike!

We've had a recent warm spell, which brought days of beautiful fog.

It was so warm that my spring bulbs started popping up.

Thankfully, the temperatures did finally drop, and now we've got some lovely frost.

When you look closer, the ice crystals are so beautiful.

The heat has been on, and Tabitha has discovered that under the living room couch, a register blows out pretty pleasant air, creating a hot pocket that she spends most of her time in.

My Christmas cactus has bloomed.

It reminds me so much of my beloved cosmos.

I've been taking a lot of comfort where I can find it lately, because we've had a family tragedy.  Two days ago, my dad committed suicide by jumping from the top of a tall building in Japan, only a week away from the anniversary of my beloved grandpa's death.  My dad and I weren't close, but it's always sad to me, trite as it may sound, when someone who has turned their back on God dies without reconciliation.  I've had a string of tragedies and a great deal of loss in my life, starting from a very early age, and each one has tested and strengthened my faith.  I am grateful for my many blessings, and I am grateful that I don't have to worry about the reasons why bad things - sometimes very bad things - happen.  God never said the common phrase so often attributed to Him:  "God will never give you more than you can handle."  We frequently DO have more than we can handle, don't you think?  It's during these overwhelming times that I think of Psalm 23:4:  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."  The concept of God being with us is a theme throughout the Bible. 

Joshua 1:9:  "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Matthew 28:20: "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Hebrews 13:5:  "...be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Romans 8:38 - 39:  "  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

It's a pretty powerful message, and one that gives me great comfort and peace.  

'Til next time...