Monthly Archives: December 2006

Christmas Presents & More

Christmas Eve, I found out that I had won a basket full of beauty products from the salon that I go to and I was able to pick it up that same day. But I was good and waited to open it on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day was a gray and rainy day here in the mid-Atlantic. (I can’t really remember the last time that we have had a really true sunny day.) My brother picked what time we were supposed to go over to our parents house. And as usual, he was late. Okay, I can be honest, his wife is not known for being on time – ever! And as usual with most knitters’ families, no knitting goodies. Except that my mother gave me a nice gift card that I can use anywhere. And it shouldn’t be any big surprise that I used to to buy yarn on Boxing Day 😉

My oldest nephewpc250005.JPG took care of my music needs with a little gift of iTunes. I love my iTunes. Just exactly how much music, audio books, and podcasts do I have in my iTunes? I am not telling but I did add some today!!! Yeah, new music!!! (And the little boy in the photo is my youngest nephew with his new favorite toy – “C” or better known as Cookie!!!!)

pc250002.JPGI did open the basket and there is a ton of beauty supplies in there. And since most of them were for people with straight hair, I let my mother have her share. I only kept the stuff that I can use on my curly hair. And the cat seems to think that the basket belongs to her, so I guess this really nice empty basket will be staying at my mother’s.

I did receive yarn goodies courtesy of Santa Pris on Boxing Day as well. And as usual, she was extremely generous. What all did she include in the box besides candy? Yarn of course!!!! But the best thing in the box was a Christmas ornament of a rubber duckie with a Santa hat on his head!!!! Can you say cute?pc270027.JPG

Santa Pris included the Holiday Rescue kit from Philosophy, some Japanese recipe cards, and some gummy candies in kiwi and grape, some hot chocolate mix, a Santa ornament fill of candy,a Santa purse full of truffles, and a tree shaped cookie cutter with a chocolate tree inside it. (There are also two Christmas mugs that I forgot to put in the photo.)

Oh, you wanted to know about the knitted goodies that she included as well?pc270018.JPG Okay, sock yarns were in the box. We try to get each other sock yarns from indie dyers that the other one has not heard of and given that I tend to buy quite a bit of sock yarn, Pris has a hard time of it. But here is what she came up with to surprise me – Peppermint Twist from Cider Moon Hand Dyed, Sweet Georgia in Berry, Painted Yarns in Gypsy. She also sent me Chinese Fireball from Dani at Sunshine Yarns. We were IMing each other the day that Dani updated the store and I actually introduced Pris to Dani’s wonderful yarns. Pris also sent me a key chain sock block kit. I see plenty of sock knitting in the near future…..


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Take a Day or Two Off

I am not ignoring the blog. I am just taking a day or two off to knit. Look for holiday photos tomorrow.

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Shopping Done, Still Need to Wrap

Yesterday was productive. I managed to finish up all of my holiday shopping. I just need to wrap everything. Okay, it is all gift cards but that is what everyone wanted. And I found the the perfect add in to everyone’s gift bags – good organic chocolates!!!! It is hard to wrap gift cards so I am going to be using gift bags that I found on sale (60% off!!!) at Jo-Ann’s yesterday. And the open stock ornaments were on sale at 60 to 70% off as well so I picked up several to use as decorations on the bag handles.

When I went grocery shopping afterwards, I found several tempting treats at my local co-op. And realizing that no one in my family, with the exception of my youngest nephew, will turn down sweets, I picked up several different organic cookies and chocolate bars to insert into the gift bags. And the only reason that my youngest nephew will turn them down is because he isn’t quite 2 years old yet. I bought several Endangered Species chocolate bars since they were on sale. And these are the big bars. Normally it is the small bars on sale. I also bought some Lake Champlain Chocolate. The co-op has never had this chocolate before and I decided to try it since they had the sampler bars. I am anxious to try the Aztec dark chocolate.

I will spend tonight getting everything in the right bag with the right chocolate for the person. I will be decorating the bags with different ornaments just to add something extra to each one.

And in knitting news. O have some one wanting hats. One of the teen-agers who helps out the fire hall asked me last night if I would make her a hat to wear. This girl is a senior in high school, honor roll student, fantastic softball player, taking college classes, and also still has time to help out on the family farm. (And yes, she is normal teenager in with a life.)And since I happen to like her, she will be receiving one of the hats that I just finished. And I will also give her one of the new hats that I just started last night.

I managed to find time yesterday to swing by the LYS and pick up a ball of yarn called “Big Ball”. And yes, it is a chunky big ball of yarn. I started another diagonal swirl hat last night and in just a few rounds I am already at 4 inches. I like quick results sometimes. I am thinking that I will get 2 or 3 hats out of this big ball of yarn. I will post some photos as soon as I finish one and the light is better. Today’s weather is rainy, damp, and gray.

And I have also finally managed to cast on for my Stranded project. I am still on the brim of the hat but there will be photos soon.

I hope everyone has a nice, enjoyable holiday!!! And of course, we will will hopefully get yarn and all sorts of other yarn related stuff.

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Bits and Pieces

Today, I am going shopping and finishing off my Christmas list. So here are some odds and ends to think about…..

One of my favorite authors is Barbara Delinsky and she has a new book due out in February of 2007. The title of the book is Family Tree and she has the first chapter up on her website. From reading the first chapter, it looks like the lead female character is a knitter. There are several references to knitting in the first chapter alone. But my favorite line is “You’re not a knitter. You wouldn’t understand.” This is said by Dana to her husband, Hugh, as he realizes that she has several skeins of a heavy worsted yarn in her bag that she is taking to the hospital for the birth of their new baby. This is her something small to work on! I think we can all relate.

Seen on the board in the engine bay, “the three wise men were firemen, they came from afar.” (Around her, sometimes the word is pronounced as fire.) Yes, our sense of humor is quite different.

Well, off to shop and try to avoid buying any new knitting books for myself when I go into Borders. 😉


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Favorite Songs

Does everyone have a favorite song to knit by? Or a favorite Christmas song? My favorite Christmas song is Snoopy’s Christmas (Snoopy vs The Red Baron) by the Royal Guardsmen. But the version in my iTunes play list is by the Clumsy Lovers. I also have Snoopy vs the Red Baron (60’s Mojo Mix) in my play ist. This is definitely not a Christmas version but it is still pretty good.As it stands right now, my Christmas play list in my iTunes is at 91 songs. The other songs on the list that I have rated at 5 stars are “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake and “Gabriel’s Message” by Sting. And the Chipmunk song is always good to listen too. (And just so you don’t think I only listen to a few songs, there are currently 91 Christmas songs in my Christmas play list!)

The one thing that I love about “I Believe in Father Christmas” is that it written by Greg Lake in opposition to the commercialization of Christmas. Check this link out for more details.

I love Sting’s voice and he is one of my favorite singers. I just his voice in this song.

I also happen to love “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by U2. Bono. Need I say more than just his name – Bono! Sexy and intelligent; what more could you want in a man? And yes, I have been listening to the band and have been a fan since “war” came out in 1982. A very long time.

I did a fire prevention/station tour Monday night and one of the kids reminded me of Alvin in that he never paid attention. And I do remember this particular little boy from both last year and this year teaching in the elementary schools. If he couldn’t be talking he was off wandering around. I made a bet with him that he could sit still and not raise his hand for 5 minutes. His mother was all for it. He didn’t even last 15 seconds before he had his hand up in the air. Sometimes working with kids can be entertaining.

And what brought on this line of though is that “Desert Rose” by Sting with Cheb Mami happened to pop on on my iTunes shuffle. I love that song. Actually I love the part at the beginning where Cheb Mami is singing the best. I will listen to almost any type of music and until this song I had never heard of rai music. I had listened to Arabic music before though. Because of the song “Dessert Rose,” I have become hooked on Cheb Mami’s music. Yes, I have very eclectic tastes in music. (My reading lists are just as varied.)

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Christmas Knitting

My Christmas knitting is almost done!!! I have one fingerless glove to finish up. My hats are done, washed, and blocking as I write this. The funny thing about my Christmas knitting is that none of it is for my immediate family. I only knit for people who will appreciate the care and time that goes into the making of the item. And I am not saying that my family doesn’t appreciate it but my niece and nephew are at the ages where it is not “cool” to wear stuff like that. They want it and will wear it so long as their friends can’t see them wearing it. The pre-teen years are so hard at times.

pc190011.JPGLast year, I knit my fire chief a hat because his than 3 year old daughter told me that “daddy needed a crown.” She was very specific in her requirements for daddy’s crown. I translated the crown into a hat. I gave the hat to his mother and she wrapped it up and gave it to him on Christmas Eve. He actually wore the hat on a fire call Christmas evening. And he has been wearing that hat since. It fits underneath his helmet and that is why he likes it. So this year, I knit him a new hat in a dark blue Rowan Felted Tweed. This color is one that he can wear under his helmet at work. (He is a career fire fighter as well as a volunteer chief.)

I also knit his now 4 year old daughter a new hat in her favorite color – pink! I used a dark pink and white Dale for her hat. I don’t have the labels handy so I can’t remember which yarn but it is machine washable. I also knit her baby sister a hat in pale pink Plymouth Dream Baby. I knit baby sister’s hat sized to fit an 18-month old simply because it is better to knit big for babies.

My chief’s mother works at my local post office and I will be handing off the hats to her tomorrow. She will take care of wrapping them and sneaking them under his Christmas tree. My chief’s wife is in on the new hat for him and she appreciates that I will knit for her girls.

And I finished up the hat I was knitting yesterday. I still have about 50 yards of the yarn left and I am debating whether or not to try and get a third hat out of the leftovers. But that will have to wait until after the holidays. And what will become of the 2 hats that I finished out of the same ball? Well, I am waiting to see if a certain person reads this and gives me a clue as to which one she likes better. They will both fit her head. So you know who you are, so please give me a clue.pc190008.JPG

More later, I need to try and finish off the glove.

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All Hats

Do you ever get on a kick where you knit the same thing like 3 or 4 times in a row? Socks are not included in this kick since they are their own separate addiction. I do have a hat that I need to have finished by Thursday night because it is Christmas present for a baby.

Is it finished? Nope. 21 centimeters of st-st in the round will drive you crazy. But I am going to fudge the length and start my decreases for the top at 20 centimeters. One centimeter in a baby hat is not going to make that big of a difference.

But I did finish another hat pc180009.JPGthis weekend. I was in my LYS Saturday and I needed to buy another copy of a pattern that I know I own. But as usual, I can not find the pattern. So I had to buy another copy of the pattern. I have half a ball of Rowan Felted Tweed that I need to use up. (The first half of the ball is in a hat.)

pc180011.JPGAnd since I had hats on the mind, I decided that I needed to knit a hat in a big chunky yarn that wouldn’t take too long. Well, I kept looking at this nice and chunky yarn called Murano. It is one of those wonderful variegated yarns. This particular colorway has pinks and purples in it. And given the yardage in this yarn (240 meters if I am reading the label correctly), the price is reasonable. I knew that I could get two adult hats out of one skien.

I have one hat completed. The second hat is down to the final 4 rows of decreases and I think I may have enough yarn left over to make either a kid’s or small adult hat. I probably would have had enough to make a 3rd adult hat if I hadn’t made the 2 hats sized to fit a large adult head. See I have this friend who has a big head and she may end up with one of these hats.

I also spent most of yesterday cleaning. Yes, that dirty word – cleaning!!! But since the cleaning involved rearranging my living room and moving my scarves, mittens, and hats out of the basket where they were overflowing into something else, I was able to fondle yarn. Actually, I own one of the large Bocca Baskets from Lantern Moon and I had some odds and ends stored in it. It is now the hat, scarf, and mitten basket. And the basket that had previously held the mittens et all is now the basket holding my living room sock yarn stash. What you mean you don’t have a sock yarn stash in your living room??? I though everyone did.pc180013.JPG

The next room to tackle on the cleaning sweep is the studio/sewing room. That is a room that despite it’s small size if a black hole. It may have to wait until after Christmas though.

The other fun thing that I did this weekend is cook. I decided to roast a turkey breast yesterday just so I could have plenty of leftovers. Left over turkey on top on a salad is a perfect dinner because it means less time in the kitchen and more knitting time. I think I may have finally come up with the perfect recipe for roasting a turkey breast. And here it is –

Simple Roast Turkey Breast

Preheat the oven to 325F. In a small bowl, grind quite a bit of black pepper, a generous amount of sea salt (I used Celtic sea salt but that is my favorite sea salt), and a generous amount of dried granulated garlic. Set aside. Peel an entire head of garlic or several cloves, slicing several of the cloves into thin slices, and set aside.. In the bottom of a roasting pan, throw in some quartered, peeled onions, a whole thing of celery cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces, a big bag of baby carrots, and half of the garlic cloves. Gently loosen the skin on the turkey breast and with a small knife cut several slits into the turkey breast. Insert the garlic slices. Pour some of the salt mixture into your hand and rub directly onto the turkey breast at the same time. Season the underside of the turkey breast. Place the turkey breast into the roasting pan. Pour a generous amount of olive oil into your hand and rub it onto the turkey breast skin. Sprinkle the rest of the salt mixture on the oiled skin. Stick in the oven. After washing your hands, you should pick up your knitting for an hour.

After about an hour, melt a small amount of butter in a glass dish. Mix the melted butter with a generous pour of olive oil. Brush this onto the turkey breast and pour over the veggies. After washing your hands again, pick up your knitting again until the thingie pops out on the turkey breast which will vary depending on the size. But you should be able to get another 45 minutes or more of knitting time. Depending on whether or not you have teenagers at home or boys, you should be able to get 2 or 3 meals out of this. If you have teenagers or boys at home, well, I hope you get some food….

If you have potatoes on hand, I suppose you could throw them in at the start as well. But I didn’t have any potatoes on hand so I didn’t use any. And the amount of garlic that you decide to stick in the turkey depends on how much you like garlic. Sticking garlic into meat is a very common technique used in Cuban cooking. My abuela used to use a whole head of garlic on a small roast.

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Recipe Friday

Sheri, over at The Loopy Ewe, has been posting recipes every so often so I will give her and everyone a recipe that I have been playing with lately. I thought I had lost the website where I had originally found this recipe but after searching for about a half hour, I finally found it. Here is the link to the original recipe which is call “Peel ‘n’ Eat Mexican Shrimp” at the Global Gourmet site.

I am not known for following recipes. I love to tinker with them and change them. The original recipe has been morphed into a Mexican style shrimp scampi. And one major note, I happen to love cilantro so I will add it to anything I can. If you do not like cilantro, you can either leave it out or use flat leaf Italian parsley instead. Try both versions of the recipe and see which one you like. Both versions are easy and quick to make. It is excellent for a quick meal or a nice appetizer to share with friends over a beer or glass of wine.

Mexican Style Shrimp Scampi

1 pound of shrimp
3 to 4 limes
fresh cilantro to taste
3 to 5 cloves of fresh crushed garlic (to taste really)
several grinds of fresh black pepper
a healthy pinch of good sea salt
a quick pour of good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Juice the limes into a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish or a casserole dish that will hold the shrimp. Add the cilantro, garlic, black pepper, salt, and olive oil to the an. Add the shrimp and toss to coat well. Cover the pan with foil. Place in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. Toss the shrimp at the 10 minute mark and return to the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes. Add more fresh cilantro after taking the dish out of the oven. Serve over rice if you want to use it as a scampi dish. Serves 2 to 3.

Note: I will take the shells off the shrimp if I am using this as a scampi before cooking them. If you buy a few bags of shrimp on sale you can always have most of the ingredients on hand.

And here is a link to another recipe that I found for a Mexican shrimp recipe that looks interesting – Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce)

And just for those of you who were not able to take part in the wonderful recipe swap that Amanda over at clothesknit hosted earlier this fall, I am including a one of the extra recipes that I send in along with my recipe cards. I really do love these cookies. If I remember correctly, I think I originally found this recipe in the Washington Post. And I buy my crystallized ginger at my local food co-op. I think I need to make some of these cookies this weekend…..

Double Ginger Crinkles

A dough that’s energized with a double dose of ginger in the form of the ground spice and chopped crystallized ginger creates spicy, bursting-with-flavor cookies.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup packed chopped crystallized ginger
1-1/4 cups sugar blended with 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the shortening for 2 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the egg. Blend in the molasses and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, beating just until the flour is incorporated after each addition. Stir in the crystallized ginger. The dough will be very soft. Cover tightly and refrigerate until firm enough to handle, 3 to 4 hours. (If necessary, transfer the dough to the freezer until firm, about 1 hour.)(IF it is really cold outside, I have been known to stick the mixing bowl in the snow with the top covered of course.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Form the dough into balls of about 1 tablespoon. Roll each ball in the ginger-sugar mixture and then place them 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 13 minutes or until set. During baking the cookies will puff, then deflate and form crinkled surfaces. Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin. (About 3 dozen cookies)

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on little cat feet

Last night was the first night of my Instructor 1 class. And I am not sure if I need to worry or not because my deputy chief is in the class with me. I had no idea that he was taking the class until he walked in last night. The class was supposed to be split into 2 classes because of the number of people who preregistered for it. But as usual, not everyone showed up. So the instructors decided that the class would be taught as 1 class for the lectures and we would split up for the speaking portions of the class. We have tag team instruction! One of the topics we covered was how to read your class room. And he listed several signals to look for such as people not paying attention, body language and knitting. Because several of the people in this class were not in the previous class, he quickly explained that during the last class, I had knit during the lectures but that did not mean that I was not paying attention that it was just my learning style. He also explained that everyone learns differently and that some people actually learn better when their hands are busy and that if they saw me knitting in class during the lectures not to be concerned because I was actually paying attention.

I was hoping to finish off either a baby hat or the pair of Fetching fingerless gloves that I have on the needles today. I need to finish both of these before Christmas since they are presents. I want to start my colorwork hat but I also know that I need to finish these 2 projects first. And the operative word today was hoping to because just before noon, I heard 3 beeps on my pager and than the words Box 15-16 and I was headed out the door. Today’s photospc140001.JPG are from the fire grounds. Luckily the damagepc140031.JPG was mostly confined to the bedroom but there was still damage. pc140013.JPG

And just so you know today’s title comes from a poem that I really like. When I was driving home from class last night the fog was rolling in. There were places were there no fog and other places where the fog was like pea soup. So if the first person to give me the title of the poem, the author, and for extra points, the whole poem, you will win a prize of some yarn. So go at it…..

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Stranded Colorwork Decision

I signed up to take part in the Stranded Colorwork Challenge. And I have been really bad about not posting about it. I had at first decided that I was going to do the We Call Them Pirates hat using the pattern at Hello Yarns. But some one at the yarn shop knit it up and she had a few problems with gauge. And since I was planning on using the same yarn as she had, I had to rethink my decision.

So after thinking about it, I decided that I really like the colors I had picked out for my hat and I really want to use them for something. So I went through all of my patterns and books and decided on mittens. And now that I had decided on mittens, I had to decide which mitten pattern to pick. I have pretty much settled on a pattern out ofpc110005.JPG the Latvian Mittens book by Lizbeth Upitis. And the colors that I will be using are the same orange and pale green Baby Ull that I had picked out for my original plans.

Except that I am brave enough to admit it, I am a colorwork virgin! Last night, I went in to my LYS and talked to my favorite teacher and she suggested that I start with a hat first. The reason is that I am a Continental knitter and I need to make sure I am comfortable carrying the yarns in both hands. So what I found at the shop was the Wellington Hat pattern by Friends of Cabin Fever. It is really a toque. And it should be quite fun.pc130002.JPG

What colors am I going to use? Try this combination of colors – raspberry, purple, and white. I am thinking that the raspberry will be the main color with the purple and white as the contrast. And to make sure that I do not have any excuse for not starting like saying that I do not have the right size needles, I went ahead and bought them. Yes, I know that I probably have the right size in my needle stash but this way I am postive that I have the right size. And I also bought size 5 dpns because beleive it or not, I do not own that size!!!!

I also picked up a package yesterday in the mail that I forgot to mention, Pris sent me 9 ruby red grapefruits from Texas!!! I love grapefruit. I east them the way most people eat oranges. My mother is trying to talk me into giving her all of them but I will not do that. I did give her some though. Thank you Pris!pc120001.JPG

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