It’s Freezing Here So I’m Knitting

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It’s 25 degrees here in upstate New York on this April 5 morning.  Something much less with the wind chill.  Perfect knitting weather although I’d really like for our just-sprouting crocus and daffodil greenery to not freeze.

Here’s what’s been happening in the frozen tundra….

Some knitting!

I finished the Paris In Berlin cowl which I love!:

Class coming up next week at The Spinning Room if you are local and want to come!

I kept working on my semi-secret project which I really need to pick up the pace on:

I started another project that I hope to teach as a class, the Lin-Lin Shawl:

Very pretty with lots of new techniques (including interpreting a slightly confusingly-written pattern –  I hope I can interpret it!).

And I even worked a little bit on my Apple Blossom Socks which I started last year and had a big problem with two different sets of needles (round and square) giving me different gauge.  Remember that? Read about it here.  I have restarted them with two sets of square needles in a size 3 and I’m well on my way:

The pattern is by Helen Stewart whose patterns I love and I have made many.  I just recently signed up for her Handmade Sock Society and now I’m dying to cast on more socks. Even though I haven’t finished these….

In other news….. well there’s not much other news, so enjoy some pics of us with Smudge:

He’s very tolerant of my hugs and squeezes. (Do I look tired?  I think I look tired. Note to self: Remember makeup next time.)

Squirrel watching.

 

 

He’s In!

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Today’s knitting blog post is starting with drag racing (don’t worry, there is knitting later.  And banana bread)….

Paul has been thinking about trying to do this HOT ROD Drag Week for a few years.  Drag Week consists of 400 cars, drag racing during the day for five days straight.  After drag racing each day, they have to drive the car they raced in to the next drag strip which is between 2.5 and 5 hours away.  They have to fit all supplies and tools they may need to fix their car in their car and are not allowed to have any other car following them to help. Paul drives a 1970 Buick Sportwagon so he’s got a bit of an advantage over some in the roominess department.

It’s crazy.  Crazy FUN, apparently.  Did I mention the racing starts in Altanta, GA, moves to Darlington, SC, then Concord, NC, then Bristol, TN, then back to Atlanta, GA????

So, this was the year to try and get in.  After teaching my Amulet shawl class last Saturday, I had to make sure I was home by 2:30 pm, well ahead of the 3:00pm start time for registration, so I could help with the process (I can type really fast. Paul can’t.).  There are only 400 spots and last year, it sold out within 5 minutes!  We were in front of the computer at 2:50, anxiously watching the clock turn and refreshing the page every minute just in cast it came up early (it didn’t).  At 3:00 pm registration opened and I typed fast and furiously.  Paul got ticket number 207!!! It was sold out shortly after.  Stay tuned to this blog for preparation updates and race recap (race is in September).  Jury is out on whether I will be attending with him (I’m the jury).

Meanwhile, in the knitting world, I’ve been slowly working on my Paris in Berlin cowl by Joji Locatelli:

It starts off like a shawl and now I’m 4 rows away from joining in the round the make it a cowl. It has a really pretty, subtle textured look and soon will have some slipped stitch details.

I’m also working on a crochet something for someone:

Sorry, that’s all you get.  It’s a semi-secret project.  This is a zig zag pattern that I learned in a class at The Spinning Room.

And in winter-will-apparently-never-end news, we had a whopper of a storm the other day:

About 26″ total.  And we have another storm going on today for which we are in the 12″-20″ range.

The bad news is…..

There sits the Jeep, which Paul has pretty much declared he is done with.  He spent many hours trying to fix it and get it through one more winter.  We’ve been doing that for 10 winters now!  Looks like this is it.  He’s on the hunt for a plow to attach to his truck for next year (in case anyone knows anyone who may have one to sell…).

In the meantime, we are making do with a small plow attached to the ATV and a small snowblower we are storing for Paul’s mom.  Smudge supervised the plowing:

He’s pretty much become the household supervisor in general, even while I’m knitting:

Want to try a new recipe? I made this Chocolate Banana Bread from Two Peas and Their Pod the other day and it was good!….

I dare say it is a tad TOO chocolately (if there can be a thing) and I might put 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup cocoa powder next time.  I did use the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, so that might be a factor.  But, overall, very moist and yummy!

If you try it, let me know if you like it!

 

 

Lesson Learned?

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Well then. That was a long hiatus. The holidays happened.  The new year is here and we’re in the second month already. I was very busy knitting up a storm and completely aggravating my elbow tendinitis. I knew I was knitting too much. But I was so tired of not knitting, so I kept knitting. Now I’m not knitting again because, guess what? It hurts too much.  Lesson learned? I don’t know.  History says no.  In the mean time, I have lots to show you!

I finished three shawls that were each about 75% done but I had gotten distracted by other patterns.  They are all by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade.  I really like her patterns and have joined The Shawl Society for the past two years.

The Amulet Shawl:

The Fairyhill Shawl:

And the Sprite’s Fen Shawl:

I also made a few things in order to schedule some classes to teach:

The Amy Shawl (the second commissioned one, for which the owner is letting me use it as a class sample!):

The Sugar Twist Cowl:

And my take on the Rick Rack Scarf:

I also started a mystery sock knit-a-long with Knitter’s Brewing Company:

That is going very slowly because the smaller needles are harder on my elbow. A row here and there.

Since I used up some of my stash with all these projects, I couldn’t pass up the sale at my LYS The Spinning Room. If you got there at 6am, your purchases were 50% off!!! That’s CRAZY! The discount got lowered as the hours passed.  I got there at 5:50, in the dark, and I was not the first one in line.

Here is the madness at about 6:45am:

And there was a beautiful sunrise when I left:

In non-yarn news, I baked a couple of things that were AWESOME!….

Peanut Butter Fudge Buckeye Cake from King Arthur Flour:

And Stromboli from Smitten Kitchen:

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately with some very short reviews:

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrick Backman: Loved it.

Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel by the same author was also great.

Starry Night: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber: Nice love story.

Hardcore Twenty-Four: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovick: Fun.

Wedding Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery) by Joanne Fluke: Meh.

Necessary Lies: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain: Good but sad. Brought me back to my social work days.

And lastly, a Smudge montage…..

2111111111111. (those numbers were his contribution, stepping on the keyboard)

New favorite toy:

Like he has no idea how my scarf and project bag got there:

“Helping” me work:

Still his favorite spot:

Hopefully I’m back to a regular blog posting schedule.   If my lesson has been learned, you’ll be seeing slow progress on not many projects. Ha! Maybe more book reviews or recipe reviews or other ramblings.

 

 

Hat, Hat, Hat, Hat, Cat, Cat, Cat, Cat

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HAT #1: NFL Superfan Hat Recipe for my boss Tyler…

HAT #2: Hannah ponytail hat for Miss Ladybug…

HAT #3: Super Basic Hat for Mr. Doodlebug (his will get a fun applique too…)

HAT #4: 21 Color Slouch for me!…

No I’m not weaving in all those ends. (You wouldn’t know unless I showed you.)

CAT favorite spot #1: On his condo, in the window, watching the world go by….

CAT favorite spot #2: On my lap while I’m working…

CAT favorite spot #3: On the couch, on a blanket, between Paul and me…

CAT favorite spot #4: On the chair in our room (but not at night because he turns into an awake ninja at night)…

Happy Holidays! See you in the new year!

 

A List

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Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we move on to the preparations for the next holiday! In the meantime, here is a list:

1) This happened since the last post…

It didn’t last long but I didn’t really welcome it.

2) I made the Meatballs Marsala with Egg Noodles from my new Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites cookbook

They were DELICIOUS! Looks just like the picture in the book, right???

3) I finally snagged a skein of the Gauge Dye Works sock yarn in the All Together Now colorway:

I got obsessed with it after seeing a finished sock (click on the link up there to see it) and missed out on  two of the shop updates before finally getting this one.  Starting it soon…????

4) Here is what happens when you temporarily lose your TWO Portuguese knitting pins:

Found one at the bottom of my knitting bag and the other attached to my sweatshirt that went through the wash.  I predicted this would happen the moment I started learning this technique.  There is nothing like opening the little tin you have for storing your knitting pins and finding it empty.  Thanks to The Google for the knitting pin hack.

5) In other knitting news, it was Shop Small Saturday and I did….

….at The Spinning Room.  It was BUSY in there! (I made a tree with my purchases, in case you couldn’t tell.)

6) How about some Smudge pictures?  He is growing and creating kitten-y havoc around here and we love it.

 

Plopped right down on top of my knitting and started purring, looking for some pats and scratches.

 

 

Cooking and knitting and the cat

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Wow, fall is in full swing around here.  Colder weather, leaves are gone from the trees, leaf raking has happened, and lots of cooking going on.  And a little knitting.

I told you a couple of posts ago, that I received the Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites cookbook for my birthday.  I love this book!!

I made the Sausage, Kale and Crouton Saute:

So delicious!

And then I did a holiday test run of the Bakery-Style Butter Cookies:

Boy, did they pass the test!  I will definitely be making these again and again and again.  Butter cookies with jam in between, dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. So YUMMY!

And tonight I am trying the Chicken Marsala Meatballs with Egg Noodles.   Stay tuned…

In knitting news, I taught two oldies but goodies recently…

The two socks on one circular needle class:

And the Noro Striped Scarf:

I love my Noro striped scarf – it is my go-to scarf for those really cold days because I can wrap it around my neck a few times.

I got a few rows done on my 21 Color Slouch hat and started my second commissioned Amy shawl.  Not much progress on those so I didn’t take a picture.  Hopefully I’ll have a finished hat to show you next time….

In kitten news…

I realized I didn’t tell you how old Smudge was in my last post.  The picture of him makes him look grown up.  But he’s just a baby! 12 weeks or so.  He has come out from under the bed and hasn’t stayed still too often for pictures…

And we made the big splurge:

HOWEVER, he now has a virus/cold that he apparently obtained from the shelter where we adopted him.  Poor guy has the sneezes and the sniffles and the runny eyes.  An early trip to the vet this fine Monday morning resulted in eye ointment and medicinal treats and the vet saying he will be ok in several days!

So I definitely needed my tea and cookie treat and knitting and subtle daily reminders today…

 

 

 

 

Smudge

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Just a quick post today to introduce you to this little guy:

This is Smudge.  [All of his markings are symmetrical except for that little smudge on his nose.]

He came to live with us this weekend and he is very cute.  We were pretty sure of this anyway for the past two days… he has spent most of his time under the bed so far.  He did come out to see us finally for a few minutes today to confirm that he is, in fact, cute.  Then he went back under the bed. [The bed that, shortly after he came home, we had to upend because the fabric underneath the boxspring, covering the wood and springs, had come loose on one side and he had climbed up inside of it….]

We have not had pets in our home for several years, and no baby pets since I adopted Phoebe the cat back in 1997 (waaaaaaay before I met Paul), so this is kind of new to us.  Stay tuned for stories on how he is ruling the household…..

[I will not confirm or deny that we may or may not be making another trip back to the store for a super-duper cat condo thingy.]

 

Portuguese Knitting and Rhinebeck

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In my quest to find knitting techniques that are easier on my arms/elbows, I decided to try a method recommended by a couple of women at my local yarn shop.  Portuguese knitting has now become my go-to knitting technique, and I even prefer it over the continental knitting method.  I was having a really hard time with my tension when doing the continental method and I’m not having that issue with the Portuguese method.  Once I heard that this method was also good for those with some hand/arm issues, I was all over that.  After borrowing and studying some books and videos, I was really hooked.

The Portuguese knitting technique involves using a knitting pin, attached near your left shoulder, which the yarn is looped over and helps to tension the yarn.

Then, the main movement for knitting or purling is flicking the yarn with your left thumb to wrap it around the needle.  It’s really very easy and, unlike English or continental knitting, purling is EASIER that knitting.  No joke.  I utilized the Portuguese knitting technique to finish my Dreaming of Spring hat:

Dreaming of Spring

I’ll be teaching this hat as a class November 18 at The Spinning Room if you are interested!  At any rate, it turned out great and I love it.

I also used the Portuguese knitting method to make my Big Herringbone Cowl:

I modified this pattern to use a size 15 needle and cast on 250 stitches (as opposed to a size 17 needle and 220 stitches cast on).  I used Malabrigo Rios which I love, Love, LOVE knitting with. And it will be another class I’m teaching in December at The Spinning Room!

And I am currently using the Portuguese knitting method to make my 21 Color Slouch hat:

(that’s the pattern picture)

Yes, it looks inside out becuase I am knitting it that way so I can purl the body of the hat, instead of knit it.  (See aforementioned purling is EASIER than knitting.)  There will be a gazillion ends to weave in because of all the color changes but I love this hat so much, I will put up with it.  Or wear it with the ends not woven in.  Who would know?  Besides you.

I will be teaching basic Portuguese knitting techniques in the next couple of months at The Spinning Room if you are interested!

By the way, I was working on that 21 Color Slouch hat on our way to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck!

It was the most beautiful fall day and we had a great time as usual….

Here is my haul by about 9:45 (gate opens at 9:00)….

(That is a fried artichoke/artichoke French combo in case you were wondering.)

And here is the end-of-day haul:

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Wonderful stuff I can’t wait to work with.

In cooking news, I finally made an apple crisp with apples from our local orchard Indian Ladder Farms:

It is so yummy – Paul and I can’t get enough of it.  Recipe is from my trusty Good Housekeeping Cookbook that my mom gave me when I moved into my first apartment in 1992.

Also, on the suggestion of my friend Sue, I’m testing out making my own vanilla extract!

(Great book, also given to me by my mom: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch–Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods)

It needs to sit in the jar for a couple/three months but I’m hoping to try and use some of it for holiday baking.  It is definitely MUCH cheaper to make your own than buy at the store.  And so, So, SO easy!

And finally, I got the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites, from my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece for my birthday:

I love Smitten Kitchen and can’t wait to try some of these recipes!

So, as you can see, fall is in full swing here, including starting up the furnace and the wood stove! Bring on the cozy knitting!

 

 

 

 

Shawl Design at Harrisville

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I had the BEST time taking a two-day shawl design class with Bristol Ivy at Harrisville Designs in Harrisville, New Hampshire.  It was EXHAUSTING, but fun!

But the fun started way before arriving at Harrisville.  Sue picked me up and after a stop to pick up cider donuts (freshly made, still a little warm….) at The Gade Farm we made our way to WEBS in Northampton, where we met Lisa, Christine and Robin.  Needless to say, we bought some yarn.  Just a little.  Here is my haul selections:

And this, which is my favorite purchase from there:

I already started it:

(Did you see the project bag?  Knit More, Work Less!!)

Then we had lunch at Paul and Elizabeth’s (yes, that is the name of the restaurant!!!!) and then made our way to meet Lynn at Harrisville.  The six of us stayed in their boarding house which was on the third floor of one of the old buildings in town.  Several rooms, bathrooms to share, a full kitchen and a great, comfy living room to knit in.

What a beautiful, picturesque New England town!…

I made this really yummy (if I do say so myself – but others did too!) tomato focaccia to share at our appetizer-y dinner that night.

It is a Martha recipe and she rarely disappoints me.  I will definitely make this again.

The next day was Shawl Design with Bristol Ivy at Harrisville Designs, just across the road from the boarding house.

That first day we made 8 tiny shawls, to demonstrate the various shawl shapes that you can make:

Yes there is only 7 there.  Somehow I didn’t get the pi shawl in there.

Homework was to choose the shawl shape we wanted to design the next day.  It is a hard decision!

The second day we spent starting the design of our shawls.  We spent the whole day on it and here is how much I got done:

It’s a lot of work!!

Others got a little further but most only had a little bit.

We had lunches at the Harrisville General Store,,,,

….where I had a cheddar sandwich with maple caramelized onions and apples. OMG.  I had it both days because it was so good.  I also had their famous kale salad which was so delicious.  Here is a link to their recipe:  Harrisville Kale Salad.  So good for you too! I’m making it this weekend.

At the end of the second day, Paul picked me up and we went on to spend the night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  We stopped at the Portsmouth Brewery and I had my most favorite ever in the world sandwich, their fried eggplant sandwich. So. Good.

Then we had breakfast at our most favorite (aside from Jordan’s Pond House in Acadia) popover place, Popovers on the Square.

Before breakfast, as we were waking up in the hotel, Paul and I had this conversation…

Me: Did you lock the car last night? [good time to think of it, in the morning]

Paul: No, did you?

Me: I don’t think so.

Paul: What’s in there to steal?

Me: All my yarn.

Paul: Oh.

Me (after thinking for a minute): Actually, no one would steal it.  Non-knitters would look right past it to find something “more valuable” (as if).  Knitters are so great that they would see it and lock the car for us to make sure no one else would steal it. But really, no one else would  steal it. [see non-knitters comment]

We made our way back home via Vermont and saw some beautiful colors on the trees…

We made a stop at our former favorite ice cream place from when we lived in Vermont, Ice Cream Fore You (at a driving range)….

They had my favorite flavor:  Campfire S’mores!

And had to make a stop at King Arthur Flour (man, I love that place)…..

Then, on the way home I regretted not buying the Nordic Ware Harvest Bounty Loaf pan when we were there so I ordered one from Amazon in the car!

And made a pumpkin cream cheese swirl bread from the recipe on the pan label….

It was YUMMY!

And then I saw they have a mini version…. Nordic Ware Harvest Mini Loaf Pan, Bronze and I’m a little bit trying not to order that one too.

WHEW!  A great few days.

 

 

 

 

Kindness of Knitters

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Knitters are a special breed.  The community that knitters have created is amazing.  Enthusiastic, encouraging, helpful to each other and supportive (see my last post) because we all share this common obsession. But it is the kindness of knitters that, while never surprising to me, never ceases to amaze me.  Kind to other knitters and also the non-knitters. You see knitter’s knitting things for others or to donate to charity but it’s not just that they are kind with the things they knit. They are kind in so many other ways.  Want an example?

The other day, I went to Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru for a frozen coffee.  After being slightly disappointed that they were out of the pumpkin flavor (again), I arrived at the window and the woman handed me my drink but would not take my money.  She said, “This has been paid for by someone who loves to knit!”

WHAT?????  HOW????? HUH?????

Then I remembered:

My license plate says, “KNIT.” It must have been the woman behind me in the drive-thru line.  I looked in my rear view mirror and waved frantically but I’m not sure she saw me.

How great is that? Seriously. It made me smile all day and even two days later.  I’m proud to call myself a knitter because I know that I, too, try to be kind, supportive, and helpful in my everyday life and now I’ll find a way to pay that free frozen not-pumpkin coffee forward to make someone else smile for a few days!