Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Knitting Year-End Review

Christmas is over, and I'm afraid I dropped the ball on timely decorating yet again.  We did manage to get our tree up a week or so before Christmas...

I put a few touches of red around the house, too.

I will plan better for next year, though!  At least I got my favorite decoration up:  the felt stocking that my great-grandmother pieced together for me, along with the little brass ornaments inscribed to commemorate each of the first six years of my life. 

Now that all the Christmas presents are opened, I can finally show some of the knitting projects I worked on this year.  It's a lamentably short list, though.  I made two pairs of socks for myself:

I worked on an endless sweater for myself, only to be defeated by the placket collar at the end.

I will eventually return to it.  I made a pair of snake socks for my snake-fearing husband.  I'm happy to say that they're a perfect fit and he loves them!

I love these socks, from the scaly bottoms to the winding snaky body.  I even find pleasure in the tidy stitches inside.  I've made him many things in the past that haven't fit, so I'm glad that I'm finally getting this knitting-sizing-thing down.

I knitted a little bat for a friend, and a baby blanket for a new niece.

My big project was a cardigan for my sister-in-law.  I chose an ambitious project:  a cardigan with a cabled back panel and sides that grew out of the paneling with a series of increases.  Pockets, three quarter length sleeves, and a pick-up-and-knit front garter stitch border.  I started it in September and worked on it on our Savannah trip...

I made a series of mistakes, though.  I messed up a back cable and had to frog back.  I pulled the pocket holes too tight and had to frog both side panels...a good two weeks of work.  I made some mistakes around the neckline, and then I ran out of yarn before finishing the sweater.  The yarn had been discontinued, so I originally decided to knit to pocket borders in bright contrasting red to match the pocket interiors.

It didn't look right, so I ended up knitting the pocket borders in a slightly lighter blue and hoping for the best.  Plaid pockets = the most charming embellishment ever.

It's always hard to make a knitted garment without the exact measurements of the recipient, so I had a similar-sized friend at the Y try it on.  We were rushed and I didn't have time to really fit it on her properly, but it seemed to fit...

Thankfully, it was a perfect fit for the recipient.  Huge relief!!

Now I can catch my breath and finish those knee socks I've been picking at.  So close!

Todd surprised me with a super fancy camera lens that's perfect for wildlife photography.  I'm looking forward to improving my skills in the next year!

Here's to a great 2015!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It will taste awful...a mailable waffle!

There's nothing like starting the day out with a delicious waffle breakfast, right?

Well, that's not what I did today.  This is not an edible waffle.  Do you remember the mailable foam-and-caulk cake slice I made last year?

This is a waffle version!  I bought some air-dry clay...

...and pressed it into my waffle iron.

Two point two pounds of clay yielded three 'waffles' and some leftovers.

I bought a small package of yellow clay and shaped butter pats.  I spray painted these waffles with yellow and brown spray paint and affixed the butter pats with hot glue.

I mixed glue and brown food coloring for the syrup.

It gives the 'syrup' a nice realistic quality.

A circle of cardboard is spray-glued to the back and written on like a postcard.  Let me tell you, there were puns aplenty!  "Butter" believe..."syrup-titious"...etc., etc.  Unfortunately, I did not take care to make the first mailed waffle tidy on the address part, and it was never delivered.  I'm sure it's nailed up to a post office wall somewhere!  But I was more careful on the second waffle, and it was delivered in just a few days.  There will be more mailable food in my future!  :)

The turkeys, having made it through Thanksgiving none the worse for wear, spend a lot of time hanging outside my office windows.  I love watching them.

I finally got a few 'action shots' of them flying across the pond.  They're really beautiful!

Besides working and watching turkeys, I had two holiday parties to bake for this week.  I made a big spread...

Brown sugar bundt cake from the Back in the Day Bakery, Oreos (recipe blogged here), a funfetti cookie cake (recipe blogged here), chocolate chip cookies (too crispy for my taste), snickerdoodle cupcakes (eh, not as good as other recipes I have), and a pumpkin roll.  I used my M1 tip for making both buttercream roses...

...and the frosting 'stars' on the funfetti cake.

I used Brown Eyed Baker's pumpkin roll recipe, but added a handful of cinnamon chips, of course.  The chips made it harder to roll the sheet of pumpkin cake, but it still worked.  The basics of making any kind of jelly or cake roll are the same.

Bake your cake in a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.  Carefully turn the slightly cooled cake onto a clean damp towel that's been generously dusted with powdered sugar.  Roll it up and put it in the refrigerator until it's cool.

Unroll and dollop your frosting on top.

Spread it out...

Roll it up.


I didn't get to taste it, but Todd said that his co-workers gave it high marks.  I'll probably make another one in January so I can have a slice myself!

After all that baking, the kitchen was absolutely destroyed.

Oh, well!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wandering Cables and Cards for Your Tables

The busy holiday season is upon us!  I barely had time to make Thanksgiving cards before going out of town for a week...AFTER being out of town for a long weekend.  I don't usually make Thanksgiving cards, but since I flaked out on Halloween this year, I felt more motivated to make something for this typically low-card-yield holiday.

These cards were easy to make.  I cut out brown rectangles for doors and used a ticket punch for the panels.  A large brown brad made a simple door knob.  I used my leaf punch for the wreath, and stamped out a tiny "Thankful" sign to hang beneath it.  Foam stickers beneath the door panels and the wreath gave them a more three-dimensional look.

I put each card in a clear plastic envelope and sealed them with a glittery oak leaf sticker.

I'm very please with how they turned out!  But speaking of leaves...we were absolutely inundated with them in our absence...despite two Saturdays with the leaf blower!

There's a driveway there somewhere!

The cats love to be outside in the leaves.  I try to take them out on the back deck every week to sniff around.

Most of the time, though, ESCAPE is the only thing on their minds.  I have to be very diligent.

We have stray cats around that like to loll on the deck and peek in our windows.  I like having them here, but I can't risk them fighting and potentially injuring our cats.

We also have lots of birds of prey, like this red-tailed hawk.  They've carried off neighborhood cats before!  (Click on photo for larger view)

While we're on the subject of birds...I spotted a flock of these interesting creatures on our yard this week.  They resembled turkeys, but were much smaller.  I assumed the white one was a female.

My bird-expert uncle told me that these were actually female turkeys.  Female turkeys apparently flock together separate from male turkeys for part of the year.  The white turkey above could very possibly be partially albino, the result of inbreeding.  So interesting! 

I have been frantically working on my Christmas knitting in my spare time and just finished yesterday.  What a relief!  The project I've been working on is pretty labor-intensive and in the final stretch, I've started knitting a little something for myself on the side, just to have a breather from the Christmas project.  I'm knitting myself a pair of knee-length German stockings. 

I had one sock finished almost down to the ankle when I realized that I'd misread the instructions, as I so frequently do.  The nobby "V" shape beneath the cable is the mistake.  The increases are supposed to be much more gradual.

So, I frogged the entire sock and started over.  Second time's the charm!  This time has been much better.

It's hard to appreciate how pretty the cables will look once spread out on your leg:

I've actually just got half a foot to knit on this one, now, and then I can start on the left side.  It's not an incredibly complicated pattern, but you have to keep a close eye on things.  There are over 40 sizing combinations for it, so you have to make sure in each sock "section" that you're knitting the proper number of stitches for your specific size.  You also have two rows of cables that are wandering off in different directions, and a gradually increasing moss stitch center.  I've greatly enjoyed this project and will post photos when they're done!  They'll be perfect to wear over tights with a plaid skirt this winter. 

We just got our Christmas tree...

...and I can't wait to do my Christmas decorating.  I found these cool postcards at a flea market in Indiana:

They're quite old, over 100 years!

I like spreading them around on holidays or framing them.

A good find. 

Hopefully I'll have a recipe to post soon.  I've done a great deal of holiday baking, but have been too busy to photograph it.

Have a great week!