Have We Met?

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Have we met?  I’m a knitter.  Right?  I’ve been knitting for a loooong time.  And for the past 7 years I’ve been knitting practically non-stop and have 288 completed projects on my Ravelry page. Two. Hundred. Eighty. Eight.  So tell me this:  Why in heck can’t a get a basic hat knitted up???????

I finished the way-too-small-because-I-was-trying-to-knit-it-tightly-and-used-smaller-needles hat:

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Then I cast on and knit 3 inches of ribbing on the now-this-one-will-fit-because-I’m-using-the-asked-for-needle-size-and-I’ve-added-some-more-stitches hat:

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It is still too &@#$-ing small.  What in the name of sheep that give us this darn wool am I doing wrong?  I have no idea.  This is a new pattern, so maybe something went wrong there.  But the cast-on number seemed about right.   So, out it comes.  Again.  Paul said I should just buy a wool hat for this person.  Yes, other knitters, he said that.  He said that, and I gasped as if he had said the worst swear word ever said.  BUY A KNITTED WOOL HAT??????  How awful would I feel that I have knit more than 288 things, especially this, and I can’t knit a simple hat to give as a gift?

To his credit, he was trying to be kind, because he saw my frustration, especially after last night where for some weirdo reason, I didn’t sleep, and he knows I’m tired and running out of time.  So his second plan was to convince me to knit the hat that I knit for him several years ago that stretches out (it has alpaca in it) and is not warm enough for him (which it would also not be warm enough for the person I’m making it for because they have about the same amount of hair).  But we think maybe with 100% wool it will turn out better.  Can you guess how this might turn out?  Stay tuned.  Last resort is an I.O.U.  Especially because I still have one more gift-in-progress to finish.  I just don’t think I can muster the courage to buy one.

I did finish the Alaska Color Homesocks for my sis:

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And on tap this weekend is to felt the slippers for my nephew.  Then it’s just the one other thing and “THE HAT”.

In crafty Doodlebug news, it was a crafty week:

A hand print wreath for the door ( got the idea here):

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Q-tip trees for Miss Ladybug and me (Mr. Doodlebug was not interested):

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And construction paper chains for the tree:

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All while listening to Christmas music on Pandora.  Which really was a marathon of waiting for Frosty the Snowman to play. (It didn’t.)

And Paul did a little more decorating:

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And it looked really cool when I looked out the window the other night when the big door was open, but I don’t think my camera really captured it:

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Some day I will get a better digital camera. (I always say that, but it’s also much more convenient to use my phone.)

Ok, off to The Spinning Room yarn shop to work for the day.  This is the last weekend before Christmas so you can only imagine what will be going on around here.  Knitting.  And also some baking.  But mostly knitting I think.  A hat, probably.

Last Weekend, Last Week, This Weekend

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The craziness of this time of year is catching up to me.  I was going to show you a post about my busy knitting class weekend that I had LAST weekend. And then last weekend happened and now this weekend is coming to an end.  I think from here on out, possibly, maybe, things may be calming down a little.  Maybe.  Possibly. LAST weekend, I taught the Oatmeal Stout Cowl class: IMG_4413 A full class of 6 people and they all got a good start! And then I finished up teaching the Colorwork Christmas Stocking class: IMG_4415 These are two of the four in-progress stockings. The next day I taught the Mobius Cowl class and apparently by the end of that one I was too tired to remember to take a picture.  A full class of 6 people and they were well on their way to completing their cowls. That weekend, there was also this: IMG_4417 IMG_4408 Which a few days later was followed by this, last week: IMG_4426 IMG_4429 IMG_4464 IMG_4467 IMG_4474 (that’s a snow angel up there) IMG_4446(2) And then I finished up teaching another class, the Kaweah Hat: IMG_4481 And somewhere in there, I was working on some Alaska Color Homesocks for my sister and things went terribly wrong: IMG_4477 I read the instructions wrong, increased in too many places and ended up with that misshapen thing up there.  So…… IMG_4478 And now one is done: IMG_4503 I know, still looks like  a misshapen mess right?  But NOW look at it: IMG_4506 Pretty cool, huh? (They are very comfy.) And also, I worked on some holiday decorating: IMG_4422 Then, THIS weekend…. I made Olive Oil and Maple Granola (granola is my new obsession): IMG_4483 so, So, SO yummy!  (Don’t worry, I will be getting back to my cupcake obsession. Hopefully this weekend.)  I made the granola so I could bring some to our friends Elaine and Steve when we went with them to: IMG_4488 That’s Elaine about to throw snow at Steve.  But here’s a better picture: IMG_4489 These two are tons of fun and we had a great time, driving up to Vermont and seeing the beautiful scenery: IMG_4484 IMG_4491 IMG_4495 (Steve pointed out all these beautiful shots to take – and slowed the car down sometimes – so I could put them on my “blog-a-roony”.) We shopped and had lunch at the store.  We also stopped at a farmer’s market (at a local elementary school) on the way up and the way back to get maple syrup and fig-wine compote.  We were the first customers, there way too early while they were still setting up, AND the last customers, holding them up while they were trying to go home.  But it was worth it (for us, and we hope for them too) for the yummy goods. Then, Paul and I made our way back to New York, while they made their way back to Massachusetts. While riding in the car all that time I worked on a Christmas hat: IMG_4498 I knit all but about an inch of this in the car.  I was almost ready for the crown decreases this morning and decided to have Paul try it on, to make sure it would fit an adult.  It was waaaaaaaay to small.  AAAAAAARRRRGH!   So, I will still finish this because I am way too far along to rip it out, and it will likely go to Mr. Doodlebug next year, because it really will only fit a child.  And here I was, thinking I was just knitting it nice and tightly so that it would fit closely and be nice and warm.  So, it was off to the yarn shop to get a new skein for another hat. On my way there, I stopped at the Altamont Community Traditions Victorian Holiday Celebration to see the tree decorated by The Spinning Room: IMG_4501 These are all hats knitting by the yarn shop customers (mine is in there somewhere!) and will be donated to Halos Of Hope. And then I came home and decorated our tree: IMG_4509 So, as you can see, things have been pretty busy.  And I suppose you won’t mind if now I collapse on the couch and watch Love Actually .

Block(ing) Party

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I have knitted several Christmas gifts but had not yet blocked them – as usual, putting off the not-as-fun part of the knitting.  Blocking involves soaking your knitted item in cool water with a wool wash soap for about half an hour to allow the water to penetrate all the fibers, plump them up, even them out and relax them.   Then, you squeeze out the water and lay it flat to dry, sometimes having to pin the item into a certain shape.

But I finally bit the bullet, decided to do them all at once, and gave them the plunge:

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And laid them out to dry:

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Now they are ready to wrap up and deliver!  After that not-as-fun task was done, I assembled a bunch of knitted items to sell at The Spinning Room for the holidays.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture of that, but if you are local and are interested in buying some handknitted items for the holidays, my items will be there as well as items from the other ladies who work and/or teach at the shop!

In other news, it was a busy week with the Doodlebugs.  There was lots of outside playing (even though it was chilly, we ran around a lot to keep warm!) along with some sorting:

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Glue, construction paper, crayons and tape:

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Making a book road:

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Then reading the book road:

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Busy weekend ahead with three knitting classes to teach!  Hopefully, I’ll be organized enough to show you some pictures on Monday….

The List Goes On

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How many ways can I complain about having a cold?  Ask Paul.  Especially because now he has it!  According to someone in the know (my doctor), this is just a virus.  A virus that seems to be lasting a loooooooong time (10 days so far).  So, you are getting a continuation of the list from the last post……:

8) It snowed a lot the day before Thanksgiving:

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9) The next day, Thanksgiving, it was pretty:

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10) On Thanksgiving, Paul and I did not go to the Boston area to see my family as planned.  Instead we were both on the couch, feeling unwell, and we ate pancakes for our dinner.  I made my sweet potato casserole too but it came out crappy.  (Good thing I didn’t bring it to the family dinner!)  And no pie.  And we missed the creation of, and eating of, this:

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(Thanks Aunt Christine – I swiped this from your Facebook page!)

11) On the plus side, while hanging out on the couch for all this time, I was able to get back into some Christmas knitting:

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I might actually be in good shape with getting my list knitted on time. (Knock on wood).  And the time on the couch gave us a good start to our Month-of-Watching-Sappy-Lifetime-Christmas-Movies.

12) Luckily, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this thing.  I went to work at the yarn shop yesterday but needed a nap when I got home.  Paul is not there yet.

13) This is my last post involving complaints about my cold.  I’m hoping to have lots of pictures of blocked knitting to show you next time!

14) Couldn’t end the list with unlucky #13.

A Cold List

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Today, for you, is a cold list.  That is, a list because I have a cold and I’m tired and can’t come up with anything else.  NOT because it is cold outside.  Because it’s totally not.  A balmy 66 degrees which feels hot compared to the 20 degree weather we had recently.  Anyway, on with the list….

1) Paul finished the puzzle without me:

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It was hard and it took him a long time.  (I was doing Jigidi puzzles….)

2) I finished this:

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Turn a Square by Jared Flood.  Easy hat.  I just realized the back is in the front.  I can see my jogless stripes technique.  Can you spot it?  If not, that’s a good thing.  They are the elongated-type stitches up there running from the brim to the top.  A great technique for making sure you don’t have big jogs in your stripes, which happens in circular knitting.

3) It is called Turn a Square because of this:

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4) Christmas knitting was seriously hampered when I didn’t feel like knitting and instead felt like watching a million re-runs of The Pioneer Woman and playing Jigidi.

5)  But I did start this:

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6) I’ve been obsessing about making cupcakes from this book that my mom gave me for my birthday:

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 Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes: With 50 Decidedly Grown-Up Recipes

I’ve been reading and re-reading the instructions for how to make French Buttercream. It’s a many-stepped process including using a candy thermometer and pouring hot sugar into egg yolks slooooooooowly.  But “they” say it’s the absolute best buttercream ever and I just have to try it.

I was going to make the Crème Brulee cupcakes this weekend.  They look so yummy— you put vanilla custard into the aforementioned buttercream.  And you make caramelized sugar to crumble on the top.  But…. the thing I said about knitting in #3?  Same thing about cupcakes.

Then today I was going to try and rally to make but then I realized I didn’t have enough butter. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds.  That’s because all the recipes in the book make 24 cupcakes, not the usual 12.  Oh, and the cupcakes take another half pound. Plus, I’m tired, so now would not be the time to try the aforementioned many-stepped process.

Maybe I’ll try making them this weekend. You know, after that huge day of eating coming up, that I am making sweet potato casserole and pie for, with the all-kinds-of-leftovers for days.  It will be a great time to make 24 cupcakes and eat them.

7) HAPPY THANKSGIVING! (I am thankful there are still people reading my blog….)

My Latest Obsession

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Surprisingly (or maybe not), my latest obsession is not knitting related.  It’s not my obsession with getting all-the-things knitted for Christmas.  Or my obsession with a new yarn, Llambrosia, at The Spinning Room yarn shop, which I’m picturing 80 things I want to knit with it.  Or my obsession with wanting to knit about 80 of the patterns in the new Wool People 8. (Ok, there are only 17 patterns, but I want to knit a lot of them).

This obsession is Jigidi. An online jigsaw puzzle website.  Thanks to Bea for introducing it to me!  I think.  I’m totally addicted and it’s a complete time suck if I’m trying to knit all-the-things for Christmas.  I was skeptical at first, wondering how one could do a jigsaw puzzle on the computer/iPad.  Oh, but you can.  Here is the latest one I worked on, appropriate for the season!:

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You just click and drag, or drag with your finger.  It times you, and by the time I finished this one, it had taken my about 2 1/2 hours.  I don’t know if I’d do one with many more pieces because they would get really small on the screen.  And now that I have the screen open, because I went there to get the link to put in this blog post, I’m trying really hard not to click over and start a new puzzle.  Your lucky I care about this blog and your desire to read it.  I seem to have abandoned the one on our dining room table, in favor of the comfort of the couch and the lack of glare from the dining room light.  Paul may be on his own to finish that one.  (It’s really hard, too, which may or may not be another reason I abandoned it.)

Earlier this week I had an unexpected day off since one half of the Doodlebug duo was sick.  So, I knitted and had tea:

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Started on this:

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Can’t tell you what this is yet.

Then took a break to do this:

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In other knitting news, yesterday I started this:

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….a hat for my nephew.

Later in the week, when everyone was healthy, we played outside in the crisp winter autumn air. Running around helped keep us warm and we saw this:

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Later that day, after her nap, Miss Ladybug and I somehow got into a conversation about wearing bibs.  I think Farmer Pickles was sitting at the dollhouse table and she mentioned he was not wearing one.  I asked her how old you had to be to not wear a bib anymore and she said, “Fourty-four.  Because that’s how old my daddy is.” (Just as an FYI, before her daddy turned 44, I never saw him wearing a bib.)

Ok, now that you have a blog post to read, I’m off to Jigidi….  I have some time to get a puzzle started before I head to work at the yarn shop!

Owl Hats and Apple Pie (Because they go so well together…)

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Saturday morning around here was cooooooooold.  The pond even started icing over:

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….and the grass was crunchy.

So it was a perfect day to teach my Owl Hat class – to make a nice cozy hat for kids or adults (the pattern is called Chouette):

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I love it when a class goes well.  Most of the time they go pretty well, especially because I’m a nut about making sure I’m prepared and stress out about not forgetting things.  But sometimes, due to various circumstances, a class gets derailed a little, or just doesn’t go as smoothly as I had planned.  But on Saturday, the Owl Hat class went very smoothly and everyone commented that it was a great class and they were just thrilled with how their hats were coming out.  Sue came to class with more than her homework done and therefore was able to finish her hat by the end of class….

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(Sorry about the blurry picture.)  So adorable.  And she’ll be making another, teeny tiny one to give to her due-in-March granddaughter.

Here is almost everyone’s progress (someone had to leave early):

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Then there was my test pie.  I decided that in addition to a sweet potato casserole, I would bring a pie to Thanksgiving dinner.  Since I’m still not terrific at pie, and I had heard about a new crust recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (found an online version here), I decided to make a test pie before making one for Thanksgiving.  This recipe has vodka (!) in it, which is supposed to help with the flakiness. (The alcohol cooks out.)

Right about here in the blog I was supposed to put pictures of the sticky dough (because of the vodka and water), the lots of flour needed to roll it out (because of the sticky dough) and the yummy apples and raspberries with browned butter and vanilla.  But I was so wrapped up in getting all the steps down that I forgot to take them.

So, you get a picture of the pie in the oven:

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The cooked pie:

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And after it was cut into, since I forgot to take one of a piece on the plate:

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Looks pretty messy because we ate it while it was still warm.  And, boy was it tasty!  The crust was definitely crisp and flakey.  And sweet since I sprinkled sugar on top.  The inside was yummy too, although I still have to figure out the secret to the crust sinking with the cooked filling so there is not a huge gap.  Maybe there is no secret.  Maybe it just does that.  Paul and I both gave it two thumbs up and I will definitely make one for Thanksgiving!   If you are interested, I used the vodka crust recipe above with Martha’s Brown Butter Apple Pie recipe and added raspberries.

Not much knitting news to report except I worked on this:

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And I’m hard at work on my next design!

Not Quite Ready

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Last night this happened:

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Can you see it? (No, it’s not that I need to take down the hummingbird feeder…. but I do.)

It turned into this:
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I think winter is “ok”.  Not my favorite season, but I don’t mind it terribly.  But I’m not quite ready for this yet.  Mind you, it didn’t stick to the roads and it’s expected to be gone by the end of the day….but still.

Good thing I’m doing lots of knitting.  It will keep me warm while I’m knitting it, and keep those warm whom I’m giving it to. (Was that grammar correct? Who. Whom.  To whom I’m giving it?)

First up is that I finished the modified Trellis Scarf and the modified Irish Hiking Scarf.  But I can’t show them to you yet, since they haven’t been blocked.  That’s on my list for today.

Then, in one short day, I made this Hannah hat for my niece Erica:

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Now, last year I asked her mom if she thought she would wear it, and she wasn’t sure, so I didn’t make it.  But this year, I decided to just give it a try because it’s darned cute and maybe she will love it and then maybe her 14-year old friends will all love it and they will want Erica’s aunt to knit one for all of them.  Which I would do.

And I’m working on this too, which I can’t really show you:

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And I finally blocked my Duane Park Triangle:

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I love it.

In other news, I got a new teapot:(Tea Forte Pugg Ceramic 24oz Teapot – Cherry Blossoms)

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Hooray!  I’m sure you were wondering….  But now I can knit the Festivity Tea Cozy.  Maybe in 41 days (after the Christmas knitting is done).

Matchy

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I did something.

….I knit this:

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You might be thinking, “Big deal Liz.  You knit a lot of things.”  But, not only did I make it, I DESIGNED it!

…to go with my High Plains poncho:

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It is a very basic cowl, and my first stab at designing.  I thought my poncho needed a little more coverage up top if I was going to wear it as an outerwear garment.  And I didn’t want to just wear another cowl that I have, in fear of my outfit looking like I was just wearing everything I’ve ever knitted all at the same time.  I wanted something that would match my poncho but blend in so it wouldn’t take away from the pretty lacey bit of the poncho.  So, I used the same yarn and worked the ribbing that is in the poncho onto the cowl.

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I made this to match my poncho, but it’s a great, basic cowl to go with anything and keep you cozy.  Next:  Writing up the pattern, having someone check it over, knitting it again to make sure it’s right, and publishing it, since maybe you will want to knit it too!

(And taking better pictures so that it doesn’t look like it’s a different color in every picture.  The middle picture is the most accurate.)

Keep Knitting

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As it is getting deeper into fall, Paul and I are having a sort of contest to see how long we can go without turning on the heat.  We are using the wood stove but so far haven’t turned on the heat, which means the house hasn’t gotten below 55 degrees yet.   That’s our turn-on-the-heat threshold.  It was close once, at 57 degrees.  Silly.   But also, who knew on November 8 we’d have this…..

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AND this?:

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So nice to see some color sticking around when everything else is just getting brown.

While I was hoe-ing and raking that garden up there this morning, the only thing I could think about was, “I hope this doesn’t make my hands tired because I really need to keep knitting.  That Christmas list won’t knit itself.  Why in heck is this taking so long???”

I did get something almost done since my last, frantic, post (it helps when you wake up at 4:15am and can’t go back to sleep):

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Slippers that are humongous right now but will be felted (shrunk) to fit.  I’m not saying who they are for.  You might be getting a lot of that as the knitting list gets worked on.  Or some cryptic descriptions with no pictures.

Off to work on that list now, in between laundry loads and house cleaning.

OR, I could do this:

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A much better idea.  Just KEEP KNITTING….