Sunday, December 22, 2013

Minnesota Winter

 Last weekend our neighbors were out on the pond skating around and clearing an ice rink complete with goal nets.  I guess I had no idea it was that easy to skate and play on a pond.

We've seen them playing almost every day and now they have a bench, a fire grill and a little warming hut out there.  Yesterday there was a small boy who could barely walk but he was out there skating with a small hockey stick.

They even have lights for night play! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Knitting

Once I finished that impulse scarf, I was able to get back on task with my Christmas knitting.  These are 2 pairs of beaded wrist warmers for my nieces I finished this week.  I had them pick out the yarn and beads when they were here visiting in October.  The yarn is Cascade fingering weight and the beads are Gutermann.  The way our family Christmas is looking, we might not get together until February to celebrate so I have much more time than I thought.  Somehow we can never find a weekend that works for everyone.  Oh well, more time to get gifts done!

These are a pair of gloves I knit for my mother in law.  The yarn is Patons Classic Wool and the pattern is from a Patons Next Steps booklet.  I knit a dark gray pair of these a few weeks ago for Dave because we don't know what happened to his gloves since we moved.  I'd never made gloves before and they really were quite simple and WARM.  This is a worsted weight yarn so there is a little bulk on your hands with these and the cuffs are nice and long and stick way down into your sleeves.  I'm going to quick knock out a brown pair for my father in law before Christmas next week and then I think I need to make myself a pair.  I've been knitting mittens forever and I like and appreciate mittens but I'm getting kind of spoiled by these gloves.  What a luxury being able to move your fingers individually while warm!  I love that they're worsted weight because I can use up all kinds of leftovers with a project like this.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Christmas is coming...

 Christmas is marching ever closer and I have legitimate gifts that need to be knitted in a timely manner and yet I have been dinking around wasting time knitting a scarf for no one in particular.  I keep seeing this Jared Scarf all over the interweb and have wanted to make one for some time.

It calls for 2 balls of Noro Silk Garden which is a variegated yarn.  I took my parents out to lunch a couple weeks ago when they were here visiting and then we stopped into the yarn shop next door and I hurriedly picked two different colorways of Noro Kureyon.  The Kureyon worked just fine as far as gauge goes and is warm and comfortable next to the skin but I wonder if the Silk Garden would feel even better.  I will remember that for the next one because I have a feeling I'll be making another one of these.  The colors are kind of deceiving when they're wound up in the store and when I wound them for knitting I wasn't sure I wanted to combine them for the scarf.  They look quite dissonant as colors go.
Once I started knitting, I couldn't stop because the colors were randomly pairing up so nicely.  I don't think you could pick a bad color combination with this yarn if you tried because it just works it's own magic. 
The temperature is currently butt cold here and we got our first few inches of snow this week and I wore this scarf today.  Lopi and I were watching from the front window as Dave made his maiden voyage on the driveway with our new snow blower and I snapped this picture of her.  She is just so cute and she almost matches our woodwork.  That electric candelabra was my birthday present from Dave this year and I just LOVE it!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

All done!!!

 I finished it yesterday, gave it a soak and it is currently blocking on the floor of my sewing room with a fan pointed at it.  I want to wear it on Thursday to my in-laws for Thanksgiving.  Technically this would have been done a week earlier because I finished the first sleeve and didn't like the fit so I ripped it out and started over.  This is a terrible photo but I was just so excited to post a finished picture.  I keep opening the door and just looking at it.  Maybe I'll put a little space heater in there to speed up the drying...
 I've had these buttons in mind for it all along.  These are fabulous juniper wood buttons I bought at the harbor market in Helsinki.  Note the small bag in the picture.  For some reason all over Europe, they put everything in these little paper bags.  Postcards.  Buns from the bakery.  Small shopping items.  I love them and I SAVE them.  These buttons have been in there since I bought them and the paper is actually stained from the oils in the wood and smells wonderful.  I can't wait to finish off the sweater by sewing on the buttons.
 My brother gave us a bunch of beef for our new freezer and I thawed and made these short ribs.  I'd never worked with short ribs before but I used this recipe and they were quite easy. 

 Here they are sauced before the oven.  I love how all the ingredients are things you already have in your cupboard and nothing special was needed.  I cooked them in my blue enameled cast iron braiser Dave gave me for Christmas last year.
Here they are 300 degrees and 3 hours later.  Num num.  We will be making these again.  And of course it is deceiving how little meat is actually there once it shrinks up and exposes the bone.  I thought about giving the bones to Lopi but I was afraid she'd choke on them or get marrow all over the carpet.
And speaking of Lopi, my little blond dog is slowly turning into a large dark dog.  We've noticed she is growing a darker coat of hair giving her a two layer effect.  In that sense, Lopi is an appropriate name for her because she has two layers of fiber like the Icelandic sheep! ;)

Here she is snuggling up to my heating pad.  Every time I get up to go to the bathroom or get another pop or for whatever reason, I come back to my knitting spot and she has stolen my spot.  Every.  Time.  What a brat, but she sure is cute!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

So Close!

Here is my progress on my NaKniSweMo project.  I finished the collar this morning and just have one sleeve left.  I've tried it on and it is going to need some blocking.  I am going to have plenty of yarn left over which is good because I might want to re-do the sleeves.  The length is perfect but they are narrower than I'd like.  I want to get this done this weekend!

Drapery Frenzy

 My parents came for a visit last weekend.  It was nice to spend some quality time with them and cook a little for them.  My super industrious mother and I made curtains for all the windows in the house!
This curtain was already in place.  We did this one when they first came to visit us and see the house back in June.  I'd had this piece of twill/canvas in my stash for YEARS.  I'd wanted to make a bed skirt or a rondastakk bunad skirt out of it but it went to much better use as the curtain for the upstairs deck door.  It has stripes of tan, gray/teal and maroon.  My brother John helped us hang up the hardware and curtain rod. 

This valance was also already in place since June.  This is my kitchen window with its fabulous view.  The fabric has a powder blue grid design with different herbs.

This was the first new curtain from this weekend.  It is not a "new" curtain because technically it is a hand-me-down.  Mom had made these for one of her guest bedrooms and took them down when she changed the decor.  She'd given these to me 2 years ago when I moved to Minnesota but our apartment had vertical blinds throughout so they sat in a bag in a closet this whole time.  They are maroon with flowers but not frilly frou frou flowers.  The maroon coordinates with the maroon in the deck door curtain across the room.  We don't have furniture for this upstairs living room yet so we have boxes occupying the room.  Mom and I hung up my great Grandma Elnora's shelf and put nic nacs on it and were able to clear out a few boxes but I didn't take pictures of the shelf.

This is the curtain in the downstairs man cave.  This plaid was already in my stash and put to good use.
This is the other downstairs bedroom.  This panel was a scrap leftover from a blanket I made a few years ago.

This is the curtain in our upstairs spare bedroom.  We often refer to this as "John's Room" because he sleeps here once a month when he does his Navy drill weekend.  I had my heart set on making a pair of lounge wear pajama pants out of this fabric but it was put to good use as curtains.  I like how the light shines through and the fabric looks sheer with dots.

Here is a close up of the fabric.  It just looks like mens' 1950's pajamas.  I like that this way I get to see the fabric and the colors every day instead of putting them in a dresser if they were pajama pants.

Here is the window in my sewing room.  Note the fabulous view.  This valance was made with a funky fabric I'm pretty sure I got at the Cancer Garage Sale last year.  We also hung up these blinds.  I am so loving this room!  And I love that we used all this fabric from my stash.  And eventually if we have kids or decide we want something different, I can just make new curtains.

We did go and buy fabric for the rest and I have to say we did a great job in the purchasing department.  Joann Fabrics is one of my favorite stores because you can use their 40% off coupons on non-sale items.  They were already having a Veterans Day sale and all drapery fabric was 50% off.  It was $40/yard regular price so we would've paid $20/yard for everything.  We looked but nothing jumped out at me.

Then we took a field trip to SR Harris.  Dave drove us because it was rush hour by the time we headed out there.  They put monthly coupons in the paper or you can print them online.  All their drapery fabric was $20/yard on the tag and then everything is always 50% off the tag price so it was actually $10/yard.  The featured coupon this month was luckily all regular $20 drapery fabric for $8.49/yard instead of the $10 price.  We bought fabric for the downstairs living room window, the downstairs walkout sliding door and our bedroom.  All told we spent a total of $140.  I was pleased.

Here is the downstairs walkout door curtain.  It is linen with rayon vine/leaf embroidery and I got it for $8.49/yard.  It is beautiful fabric and for real linen, it was a steal!

Here is a close up of the fabric.

Here is the downstairs living room window.  This was a woodblock style print of cherry blossom flowers.  It is one of those magic colors that changes depending on the light.  The darker color is kind of a charcoal gray/dark purple and the flowers are taupe.  It was 60" wide so we just cut it in half vertically to make the panels and turned the edges under.  We traced the valance from the upstairs window curtains and made a new one out of this fabric and backed it with muslin.  The sheer is from the second set of red curtains Mom had already made.  These went up a real treat and I can't believe the difference they make in the room.
 Here is a close up of this fabric.  This was $10/yard and we got more than we thought we'd need so I'll make some pillow covers out of the remainder.  I thought a coordinating dog bed for Lopi would be nice but Mom said it was too nice of fabric for that.  It is a beautiful polished/burnished material that was nice to work with.  Luke helped us with this hardware back in June and until now, we'd had some aqua hand-me-down sheers from my sister hanging up.  I'm saving those for a rainy day. 

This is a terrible picture of our bedroom curtain.  We hung a blind and curtain rod up in this window and then made these batik panels.  Eventually I will get around to making a tie-back for these panels.  I have an experiment I want to try involving a knitted beaded I-cord.

Here is a close up of the fabric.  SR Harris has the largest selection of batiks I have ever seen in one place and I have a weakness for batiks.  The price can't be beat either: $15/yard but actually $7.50/yard with the 50% off sale price.  This print was blue/taupe with vines and pomegranate-y florals.  Love love love it.  I'm already wanting to go back to SR Harris to get more batiks and they also had some bee-YEW-tiful printed linen like we saw in Estonia.  Fabric bliss.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

NaKniSweMo progress

 Here is my sweater progress as of yesterday around 1500.  I divided the work between the front and back after this picture was taken to make the arm holes.  I've also either been on the couch on call or sick for the last week so I've gotten a lot done in 6 days.  To get the correct gauge, I'm using a size 9 needle and the first half of the work was 2:2 ribbing and stockinette which moves along quickly.  It took a while to set the cable and seed stitch pattern sneezing and squinting through my watering eyes but once I had everything lined up, it has moved along at a steady pace.  I am working on my 4th ball of Patons Classic Wool.  I realized when I was taking the pictures that the scale isn't readily apparent so I brought in my measurement consultant...

Lopi volunteered to lay next to my sweater for scale.  What a good helper dog!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


 I got to be home on call all last evening so we got our pumpkin ready for today!  Dave cut it open and scraped it all out and I carved the design.  We used one of those carving kits with the little serrated saws and tracing patterns.  We roasted the seeds too and this year I boiled them for 10 minutes before roasting them but I didn't think it made that much difference.  I'd read they were supposed to be crunchier that way.  Every time I roast pumpkin seeds, I get so excited because they smell so good, but they are always kind of a disappointment.  I like the flavor of them but they are so fibery when you chew them up.  Maybe I just like the idea of them and I do it because it reminds me of my mom roasting them.

Tomorrow is November 1st and also NaKniSweMo which stands for National Knit A Sweater In A Month.  I think I am going to go for it!  I have my yarn all lined up--10 skeins of Patons Classic Wool that I already had in my stash.  I've got my needles and pattern at the ready and today I'm going to wind the first ball and do a little swatching.  The biggest challenge will be to keep at this sweater and not be distracted starting other small things along the way.  And in a way it kind of kills me because Christmas is next month and I've got a few projects mentally lined up for that.  So much yarn, so little time!
I keep forgetting to post this picture.  When Lisa and Luke came to stay for the Cancer Garage Sale, they brought me this Hobbit cupcake!  It was decorated with a ring of The One Ring.  I just loved it and now the ring sits on my kitchen window sill.  I'd never been a Tolkien fan but I really enjoyed the LOTR trilogy and was actually inspired to read the books as well as The Hobbit.  It is a rare thing for me to read.  I love to read but I'd rather knit and watch a fabulous Masterpiece Theater production of a literary classic.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment of The Hobbit last December and can't wait for the second film.  Dave is so excited to take me, NOT.  He is a good sport though!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crafting frenzy!

 My brother had his Navy drill this weekend so he and his wife and two daughters and two beagles came to stay with us.  We had a very productive Crafty Fun Time.  We made 8 batches of bath bombs for Christmas gifts and Halloween teacher gifts.

 We used my jack-o-lantern mold for some large spiced apple shaped bombs.  This was the first time they'd made these and they did a great job.  I tested out a jack-o-lantern bomb in my bath last night!

These were some Christmas ornaments that took about 3 minutes to make.  I'd bought these ornaments on sale at Michael's thinking they were plastic but they were in fact glass.  We had a harrowing moment when Annika dropped one on the carpet and it bounced onto the linoleum but didn't break.  I'd picked this greenery off the evergreen tree in our yard a few weeks ago and let it dry on the counter.  We just pulled the caps off the ornaments, snipped some greenery and stuck it in the ornaments and then put in some small red jingle bells and then put the tops back on.  We tied some ribbons through the loops for a hanger and we were done.  And yes that is my trusty old yellow Formica table.  It used to be my kitchen/dining table but now it is a full time craft table and lives downstairs in the family room.

We also made a slew of these Santa ornaments out of dried milkweed pods I'd picked last year around this time.  We painted them with acrylic paint and put the beards and fur trim on with Snow-tex paint.  These were such a hit that we decided to go out and pick more milkweed pods.

We drove out to Battle Creek Park to forage for natural craft components.  Battle Creek is not far from here and very close to our old apartment.  It is a lovely wooded area with paved walking trails and cross country ski trails in the winter.  We've seen deer and wild turkeys there and they have bow hunting in the fall.  The trail takes about 45 minutes to walk and is a favorite with dog lovers.
We found all kinds of good stuff:  acorns, pine cones, fallen birch trees for birch bark, big strips of regular tree bark, spongy moss and of course more milkweed pods.
We had beautiful weather for the walk and in places you'd swear you were in Norway or Finland.  We've already decided that we are going to do this every year.

Thursday, October 03, 2013


 This is my week where I only work one shift and I've gotten a lot done on my days off which always makes me happy.  Dave's parents called on Monday to say they had a good sackful of tomatoes that were ripe.  Now that it has cooled down, the ripening really has slowed down.  We went and picked them and I processed them the next day.
 I got 8 1/2 pints of tomato sauce out of them and it turned out really well.  We thought my brother was coming this weekend for Navy drill but it won't be until the end of the month.  I was a bit disappointed but now a bit relieved because tomorrow I don't have to clean and can spend the rest of my days off knitting and working on other projects.
 Speaking of which, I baked the first batch of these yesterday and packed them all up this morning.  I sent 16 with Dave to school for the faculty, I will take a container to my one shift tonight, and these are little gifts for Dave's parents and our neighbors.  I have to say I was quite pleased with how they turned out all packaged up.
I was especially excited to use my color coordinated twine.  I got this a while back at Joann's with a coupon.  I'm off to the couch to knit for a while and entertain Lopi who is quite antsy this morning for some reason.  I am loving this cold, rainy weather.  Blankie weather!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Baking Bliss

This morning is a beautifully chilly rainy day which is perfect for baking.  I work night shifts the next 2 nights for my weekend and I always bake cookies to bring.  Saturday morning is fabulous for baking anyway because I turn on all the cooking shows on PBS.  Those are my Saturday morning cartoons.  And I just love my kitchen helper!  She likes to insert herself between me and the counter in this little corner just in case I drop something.  The Gophers play later today so she is now wearing her doggy football jersey and she'll sit with her dad for the game.  What did we do without her?

Anniversary Outing

Dave and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Saturday.  Good grief, where did this year go?!  Since the first anniversary is paper, we were planning a simple night out to a restaurant and the movies with a paper admission ticket.  Well Dave brought home the goods this year!  A guy he works with gave him tickets to the Wild hockey game because he had a wedding to attend and couldn't use them.  It was so nice for once to be actually ATTENDING something when normally I am fighting traffic and crowds trying to get to and from my hospital downtown. 
It is no secret that I am not a fan of organized sports but I had a really good time.  I do like hockey, but I sit and knit while Dave watches it on the TV.  I must have been paying attention to all his instruction though because I answered his quiz questions correctly during the game.  ("Now Winnipeg has what here?"  "An extra player?"  "Yes.  And what is that called?"  "A power play?"  "Power play is correct.")
There is something too about being in a large crowd of people as they react together.  You could feel the excitement of an attempted goal and the collective despair if we missed.  I was also impressed with how well they entertained the crowd during breaks with the music and the big screens and the kiss cam, etc.  And I loved that Nordy the mascot had hockey hair!