Friday, December 30, 2011

December YearLong YarnSong

I made it! Just in under the wire.
Hey, I have a New Year's Eve party to plan tomorrow :)

But now, here's December's YearLong YarnSong.

Solstice Stag
Solstice Stag is a warm, beautiful, long-sleeved and cowled sweater. With a staghorn cable running along both arms and sides of the pullover, it creates a very sexy silhouette.
XS(28-30") to XXXL (52-54")
Solstice Stag - on Rav

Berries and Sugar and Joy
A very versatile piece, Berries and Sugar and Joy can be a wrap, a cape, a hood, a shawlette and a scarf. All in one!
Grab a cute pin and fasten it to accessorize a dressy outfit.
Flip it over your shoulder, or wrap it over your head, to keep the cold winter wind at bay.
Two sizes: S/M and M/L
Berries and Sugar and Joy - on rav

Home Glow
Home Glow are a textured pair of mitts, with a simple cable detail running up the edges. Keep warm this December with hand-wrapping moss stitch!
Two sizes: S/M and M/L

For Candles
For Candles is a versatile, simple knit. Wearable as a long cowl, close neck warmer, and even ear warmer, a basic moss stitch shows off your lovely yarn to perfection!
For Candles - on rav

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
And especially, it seems, for wee Ellie.

Here you see her sporting her new sweater. She's not so keen on getting her paws through the arm holes, and has to be bribed with delicious, delicious dog treats to be en-clothed.

Below is a pic of the samesaid dog, this time enjoying another part of her gift. She seems to be fully in love with this new squeaky toy.

She just got it last night, at my parent's Christmas Eve shindig. It's already fully displaced all other toys.

Enjoy your time off!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holly Day Time; Or, Here Be Some News and Stuffs

I had these grand plans of posting all sorts of questions and info re: holidays this year, but I guess the whole crux of the thing is that it's busy at this time of year, thus the posts would capitalize on that, but then I got "too busy" for the posts.

So, I've decided to give ya'll a bit of an overview as to the knitty-and-otherwise-general-goings-on round my woods.

Knitting! I was busy working away, happily, on the YearLong YarnSong knits (which I always test knit myself, buuuut) which lead me to discover I have a bit of a .... wrist problem. This is incredibly frustrating, as it prevents me from knitting. The doctor says it's nothing to worry about. He says, "Just lay off the knitting for a while, and it'll be fine".
HA! Mr. Man, methinks. We need to come up with a better solution than that, because I needs my knit times.

This unfortunate situation has led me to scale back my gift ideas, and I'm afraid it might affect the publication dates of upcoming YLYS issues. So far, I'm behind, but hope to still publish within the month it's meant to be published! (she typed, as she also realized THIS month's issue is so-very-close to done, and yet just not).

Me, hamming it up at the photoshoot for the December issue of YearLong YarnSong.
Coming soon.
I swear.

And, Otherwise!
Ok, I'm trying to compile The Ultimate Christmas cd. I have a few favourite songs, but I was wondering: What's your favourite holiday music?

And, if you've read the above, you'll see that my knitting Christmas gift ideas were spoiled. I shake my fist at my wrist!
Regardless... I generally don't knit gifts for people, but I was wondering: Do you knit gifts? Who do you knit for? Is there a general, go-to pattern (or type of pattern) that you find to be a crowd pleaser?

Shortly, I hope to return triumphant, virtual book in hand, glorious trumpets sounding around me, colossal arches built to my honour, doused in delicious expensive wine and riding a chariot filled with sweet desserts and pulled by prancing alpaca.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Kristen Fanning
Blog: Knits Who Say Needles
Rav ID: texotexere
Some Great Designs: texotexere's Rav Designer Page

It's that time of year!
I was so busy, I failed to post Indie Designer day on Indie Designer day!

And so, I present to you, rather late, last week's Indie Designer, texotexere.

See the pictured Amphitryon for a great introduction to her aesthetic and designing strengths. A great gift, this beret has lovely, simply shaped cables which show off a beautiful skein of hand-dyed.

The Crooked Cable Hat utilizes cables and lace in a great dance around your noggin. A good, basic shape with interesting design elements, I'm a bit surprised that this free pattern only has 4 projects listed on Ravelry!

And one more hat for you: a pretty beret, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Feminine, pretty lace stretches out across this knit, creating a piece that looks fantastic from all angles!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I, I Love You Like a LoveBird Elbie!

PhotobucketAnd You Keep Tweet, Tweet Tweet Tweet Tweet Tweet Tweet Tweet!

(I thought myself very clever when I stumbled upon the really rather perfectly serendipitous alignment of Serena Gomez's "Love You Like A Love Song" and the silly insertion of Elbie-inspired lyrics. I had to share).

Ok, here's the story of Elbie:

Back in March, I had this great desire to add to my (sadly dwindling) flock. It was around that time that I only had Butters and Hilts (the elderly canaries), and so added Henry and Anne. Shortly thereafter, Henry and Anne added a total of six finch babies for me.

Hanging out on Kijiji can be a recipe for disaster (for the pet lovers among us, certainly). I spotted two ads that were almost impossible to pass over: a lovely male Gouldian finch, and a hand-raised peach faced lovebird.

Elbie was born/hatched in March, so he's still just a wee young one.

But my on my, let me tell you, after having had only "simple" birds (canaries and finches) for a very long time, adding a clever, curious, loud, playful, destructive and downright adorable lovebird to the mix does tend to change one's attitude towards birds.

That is, the little jerk is (most likely) smarter than me.
This, I do not care for.

I like to be able to outwit my birds. I know, I'm petty. I can predict their movements, laugh at their silly ineptitude and feel certain that their food likes and dislike (yes, birds do have these, and they're all individual from each other!) will remain constant.

Elbie is another story.

Being stubborn, he refuses to eat his veggies.
Instead, he picks them up (very carefully) and deposits them in his drinking cup.
Little jerk.
Broccoli that's been sitting in water all day just isn't a great scent to be greeted with upon your arrival home.

While he's never bit me, it's quite clear that he hates hands. I guess they're big, scary things for birds.
So, after he's let out for a fly, I have to retrieve him with a badminton racquet.
Srsly, a badminton racquet.
Little cute jerk.
He'll happily step onto this bird-wrangling device, and be delivered back to his cage in a usual huff.
Here, in this picture, you see him bugging Butters.
Butters, I think, looks really rather annoyed.
"Hey you! Get off my cage you jerk bird!"

Thus is the story of Elbie. He's generally naughty and funny. I promise if he ever does anything amazing (like, behave himself!) I'll get photographic proof and show you.
For now, he's quite keen on thrashing his bell toy against the cage, and snacking on the random (and much appreciated!) sunflower seed or rice cereal puff that's gifted his way.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Mindie Tallack
Blog: Knitting if not Eccentric
Rav ID: Mindie
Some Great Designs: Mindie's Rav Designer Page

Looking for some lovely, comfy and cozy wee knits for gifts? Mindie, this week's designer, has a nice selection for the whole family.

There might be nothing better than a nice pair of warm, hand knit and felted slippers.
Duffers - Revisited are adult-sized slippers
which would suit the purpose nicely. (pictured right). I really like the colour-change detail on the toe.

Want some slippers for the little ones? Little Duffers is the child/toddler version of the above pictured slippers. It's a very cute idea to have matching family slippers!

Lest you think slippers are the only item Mindie designs, I'd like to point out her Greengage Scarf. This scarf is very versatile. I can see it being worn on men or women, young or old. The basic stitch texture and detail creates visual interest, but remains wonderfully evasive of gender or age categorization.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Help Me Plan My Holiday Bash, Part Two; Or, The Massive Cookie List

PhotobucketI promised last week that I would share the Massive Cookie List, and here it is:

Apple Butter Thumbprint Cookies (with my own home made apple butter! Boo yeah!)
Apricot-Chocolate Triangles
Brown Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Covered Coffee Bean, Toffee and Almond Cookies
Chocolate Covered Port Cake Balls
Chocolate Espresso Balls
Chocolate Mints
Chocolate Orange-Cream Bars
Cinnamon Buns
Coconut Dreams
Date Squares
Empire Cookies
Double Chocolate Espresso Brownies
Ganache-Covered Mini Cakes
Graham Cracker Sandwiches
Green Tea Shortbread
Holiday Candy Fudge Bars
Iced Sugar Cookies
Lemon Squares
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Orange Date Nut Cookies
Orange Dream Cookies
Pecan Butter Cookies
Peppermint Candy Shortbread
Rice Krispy Squares
Rum Balls
Smoky Bacon Ginger Cookies
Tipsy Date Squares
Whoopie Pies

Many of these recipes come from the book I've photographed above. This is, rather unfortunately, now out of print. I've found it to be the best collection of cookies recipes I've come across; they're really reliable, simple, easy to follow recipes with readily available ingredients.
I've bolded the recipes on the Massive Cookie List that come out of this book.

The italicized recipes are from one of my many Martha Stewart mags. Now, I love Martha, her stuff is always beautiful and wonderfully put together. But I've found the majority of her recipes I've tried to be overly complicated, with hard-to-find ingredients.

Case in point: Smoky Bacon Ginger Cookies.
These include smoked sea salt (who knew? I might be living under a rock, but I'd never encountered this before), as well as sorghum syrup. I've done my googling, and discovered that this is a popular ingredient in the southern parts of the States, but (again, possibly due to my habitation under aforementioned rock) I've never heard of this syrup before.
Substitutions suggested have been unsulphered molasses, but with the caveat that "it's just not the same".

Has anyone ever tried sorghum syrup before? I suppose it must have a distinctive flavour.

Anyway, after that tirade, you might wonder why I've still included so many of her recipes on the Massive List. Well, I like to try new recipes, and they all do look so very delicious! You can likely find some of them by googling the recipe name and Martha Stewart.

As a parting note, I thought I'd share an image from my so-far-very-successful goodie baking extravaganza.
This is (me version of) an Empire Cookie.
I make the (basic sugar cookie) dough with icing sugar, not granulated (makes it yummier!), I don't put that icky maraschino cherry on top (because it's icky!) and the icing has fresh lemon juice in it, instead of almond extract. These are possibly the yummiest cookies ever.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Michelle Blohm
Blog: My Daily Fiber
KnitPicks Bio
Rav ID: MyDailyFiber
Some Great Designs: MyDailyFiber's Rav Designer Page

In my present-making mode, I present you today with a designer who's created an array of pieces that would all make for great presents! (that's right, present three times in one sentence. I could have said gift, but I chose present and I ran with it!)

With beautiful crochet work, The Diamond Exchange scarf (pictured) makes great use of a shell pattern and coloured yarn. I can't think of a single knitter/crocheter who wouldn't love a piece like this!

Cascading Stylish Shawl is another wonder in crochet. If you ever hear people (ahem... knitters...) bad mouthing crochet, send them that link and I think they'll have their minds changed. This is a delicate pattern, with variety and interest created through changing textural effect/crocheted shapes. Utilizing the strengths of crochet in the best of ways!

Finally, I'd like to point out her Plumeria Frill scarf. This piece is no-kidding-fantastic. I love the ruffle shape it creates, and how great it looks in both self-striping yarns and solids. It's also pretty rad that it's categorized under scarf, cowl and collar. Depending on how you wear it, this piece could be all three!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Help Me Plan My Holiday Bash, Part One; Or, This is Far Too Exciting

Lifelong learning is important. Certainly, when it intersects with fundamental, as-yet-undiscovered and untapped internal resources and inclinations, it can be downright exciting.
PhotobucketThat's where I find myself at the moment.

It's pretty clear I like making things; but over the past few months I've discovered I'm really way super keen on party planning.
Arranging the house, planning meals, creating decor, all these things float my boat.

And with a house at my disposal this year, it seems the stars have aligned and I'll be able to host my very own family Christmas dinner.
Actually on Christmas! No joke! It's true; I'm all grown up now.

The guest list stands at nine adults, and I can't wait to get going on planning this shindig!

But first, I have the Massive Cookie List to tend to.

What, never heard of the Massive Cookie List? (likely not, since I just made it up. Like, right now).

This Massive Cookies List is a personal challenge I've issued myself over the last few years.

For the holidays, I bake goodie platters to give to (usually around) 25-30 people. The challenge lies here: each year, I try to make more recipes.

The first year came in around 24: this year, I'm shooting for 33.

I'll happily share with you my list (in a few posts!) but first I wanted to ask: what are your favourite goodie recipes? I've learned the hard way that some recipes in my massive collection don't really yield the greatest end result, despite any mouthwatering photographs accompanying said instructions.