Yes, I’m still Here

OK – so I know most of my posts seems to start with “Sorry this took so long”.  It’s just that sometimes life (and the holidays) get in the way.

So, I have been knitting.  The biggest bulk of my time was taken with this:

Mom’s Christmas gift. I’m really proud of it!  Although it was a lot of work, and there were a couple of times (one night in particular) when I though I was going to have to rip the entire thing out and then go wallow in a pit of despair.  But, thankfully, all mistakes were caught and corrected before I had to toss the whole thing. Still not loving the border  – I think borders are nicer in crochet – I mean, really, how much can you do with a knitted border?  (Yes, I know, there are a lot of nice knitted borders out there – it’s personal opinion.) And then – after the fact, of course – I found out that somewhere out there there’s an Option B for the border that is actually nicer, but I haven’t been able to find that option.  So here’s the pattern.  It’s called Frosted Ferns by Herbert Niebling.  If you’re going to attempt it, get used to counting and find a place to work with NO distractions!!!

Also managed a couple of other Christmas items, which I haven’t had a chance to photograph yet. AND made the Ashley Hat twice. There’s no gauge in the pattern, so I guessed the first time and the hat, while lovely, was way too big.  So I donated it to charity, dropped a couple of needle sizes and tried again.  Here’s my second try:

Size-wise it’s much better.  But, I think I could have gone down even another needle size on it.  Of course, it looks even bigger on my daughter, but she wanted to model this one for the picture.  It’s still MY hat, although I have a feeling she might steal it when I’m not looking.

I’ll get pictures of the other items somewhere along the line – really, I will.  I’ll do my best to snap them before they are gifted away.  In the meantime, our tree is (finally) up and decorated!  Not my favorite activity, but Jasmine wore me down. She actually did most of the decorating part.  I concentrated on putting it together and adding the lights.

The kids are happy with it, and it does look pretty!

So, Happy Christmas everyone! Go read Luke 2:11!

(“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown”)

Remember Me???

OK – I know it’s been a while. Sorry!  I have been busy though with lots of things to show!  And, before you ask, no, I haven’t started any socks yet. BUT, knitting is supposed to be fun – and I have enough deadlines and schedules, so I refuse to feel bad for changing my knitting plans.  The socks will get done.  Probably when I decide that my feet are cold.

In the meantime, let’s start with the Vampire Halloween swap – which was awesome, by the way – I had the best spoiler!  So anyway, I made two bookmarks for my swapee’s package, and was very happy with both:

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One is crocheted – I really like the way it came up in black – I may have to make one for myself. And for the 2nd, I pulled out the tatting shuttle and tried my fav bookmark pattern and red and black – I think they both look appropriately vampy, don’t you?

So speaking of the vampire swap – check out my awesome swag!

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There was so much awesome stuff in my box! Check out the Malabrigo sock!  Also included were a cute little skull notebook, my favorite candies, a sock pattern to use with the Malabrigo sock, the first Vampire Diaries book, some awesome earrings from my Etsy favs(!!!!) aaaannnnndddd, fingerless gloves ala Mitchell from Being Human (my new favorite show!)  WOO HOO – best swap ever!!! Thanks to my fellow jersey gal knittothebottom for being an awesome partner!

So, while I had vampires on the brain, I decided to test knit the Urban Bat Sweater for submission to the Vampire Knits book. It was a quick knit, and came up pretty well:

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The pattern called for Simply Soft, so that was what I used.  Simply Soft in general wouldn’t be my first choice for a sweater, but this drapes surprisingly well.

Then, while I had all that leftover purple simply soft I offered to test knit a 2nd pattern for submission to the same book – a sleep mask:

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Jasmine claimed this before I even finished it.  Although, she’s not crazy about the ties – it fell off her face during the night when she tried to use it. So I may pick up some elastic – that may work better.

And then, of course, my queue changed again because I saw all kinds of wonderful new patterns that I wanted to try. Here’s what I finished up today:

skulltotew

The skull is light pink (I think it looks more white in the photo – but it really is pink.) I’m very pleased with this. Although, I was worried for a minute there – I put it in the wash to felt and then forgot to watch the time, so when I ran down there to check it, I was afraid it may have gone too far.  It is definitely a very solid felt, but I don’t think I would have done it any lighter, so I’m happy – YEA!!!  And, while I was at it, I whipped up this little bowl (rav link):

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I’m very pleased, because I wasn’t sure this was even wool when I was making it.  Although I had a pretty good idea. I found this yarn in a bag of “unknown” mill ends at AC Moore, although I compared and it looked just like a colorway of Patons classic wool, so I decided to take the chance. And, YEA, it worked!!!!  The bowl itself seems a little fuzzy to me (probably because I forgot it in the wash when felting), but it’s still cute, and will work to hold stitch markers, etc. on my hutch.

So, now I’m all caught up.  Halloween is over – boo hoo!  But it was fun. We all managed to get over the illness that hit the house in time for trick or treating – YEA!!!  And this means that I’m already behind on Christmas knitting (especially seeing as I haven’t actually started any yet) – but am I stressed?  Do I feel guilty????  NOOOOOoooooo.  In fact, I think I’m going to live dangerously, and put it off a bit longer.  So there!

Wicked Stepmother (not) socks

Are you proud of me?  I started swatching with the wicked stepmother.  And then decided that, while I was getting gauge, my knitting looked too loose for making a sock (at least in my opinion).  And since the pattern I wanted was not easily adjustable for gauge, I decided I’d better look for a different pattern.  Then I noticed that the yarn band says “hand wash”.  So, my question is, do I go forward with socks and hope that if I toss them in the wash they will survive or do I go with something else? Spent last evening looking through sock patterns and getting nervous about the whole washing thing. And then decided that Wicked Stepmother wants to be something else.  I think it’s finally time for Ishbel . . .

The only question is. Do I want to buy the pattern or the whole collection.  Hmmmmmmm.

Thistles & Butterflies

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Whose bright idea was it to crochet a doily in three days?  Oh yeah, that was me.  See, friends of mine are getting married on Saturday, and I do have a very lovely gift prepared, but I got to thinking on Monday, “Wouldn’t it be nice to actually make them something as well.” (Yes, I know – big ole slice of crazy pie, but what can I say?) Of course, doilies are my go-to gift.  So I hit the Ravelry pattern search for ideas, and it turned out that I actually owned one of the patterns that caught my eye.  (It’s also available for free here – gotta love out-of-copyright patterns!) It’s called Thistledown – very appropriate for the bride and groom (Scottish – see the “Thistles” in the pattern?), and I’ve been meaning to work this one up for years anyway.  Perfect! So, anyway, it took a little finagling, but I did manage to crochet it up in lest than 72 hours (YEA ME!), blocked it yesterday, and it is now all wrapped up with the original present and ready for gifting.

Yes, I really do plan to make a new pair of socks soon!  Promise!

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In personal news, yesterday was the big “Butterfly” parade at the school to celebrate the completion of the 1st grade’s Monarch Butterfly science unit. I was the very proud mama, since my daughter was picked as one of the (only 2!) readers – YEA.  The classes had 11 butterflies to release – it was so pretty to see them fluttering around in the mesh before the release.  And the kids loved it!

Mojo Here

Yep, I’ve been knitting away! Actually, it looks like more than it is – I just haven’t blogged in a while and these are all pretty small projects, but still, I think they look impressive.

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

First, the wand cozy for my brother’s birthday wand.

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That’s the Alivan’s wand I got him for his birthday.  He still hasn’t received it, so I’m hoping he doesn’t see this before the big combo birthday bash next weekend (I doubt he will though). The cozy is based on one of the Charmed Knits (Amazon link) patterns, but the original knit to gauge comes up about 2″ wide – more of a sword scabbard than a wand cozy in my humble opinion.  So I pretty much cut the pattern in half.  I’m relatively pleased with it. If I were to do it again, I’d work it in the round, since seaming it at the end was a pain in the you know where, and I think seamless would have looked nicer, but live and learn, right?

I also knitted up a quick pirate hat for the boy:

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Not as pleased with it as I was with Jazzy’s.  I went too fast, so there were some spots where I held my white a little too tightly. But, since he hates the hat anyway, no great loss.  I’m wondering if I’ll be able to get it on his head at all this winter.  In any event, pattern is here. I cut out one repeat and also cut about eight rows of the pattern (another reason why I like Jasmine’s better) in order to make it fit a smaller head.

And, now, my very favorite recent project . . . .

Remember how much I loved Hermione’s new gray hat in Half Blood Prince ?????

Well . . .

Wait for it . . . .

LOOK!!!!

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It’s so perfect!!! I can’t even tell you how pleased I am with this hat. I even splurged and used the Rowan Cashsoft that I originally planned for my Rose Gray.  It’s amazing how wonderful it is to knit with quality yarn. And Cashsoft is soooooo soft.  Mmmmmm. Don’t worry, I have other gray yarn for the Rose Gray, so that hasn’t been forgotten. But I’m very, VERY pleased with my choice for this one. YEA!!!

So what’s next on the list? Well, I really HAVE been continuing on with the purple shifting sands.  I’m well over 2/3 of the way done, so that one should be finished definitely before the weather gets cold. AND, although I promised myself a break, I signed up for another Ravelry swap.  I know, I know, don’t say it . . . but hey – it was a Vampire / Halloween swap – I HAD to do it!.  So I’m tatting a very cool red and black lace bookmark to add to the package. I’m thinking I should try to pick up a book to send with it, but I’ve already gone past the swap price, so I’m trying to think of options.  And then, I really, REALLY want to start another pair of socks with my KnitPicks Imagination.  It’s the wicked stepmother colorway – you HAVE to love it, even if it’s only for the name!

Ysolda’s Plum Cake

Just in case you were wondering, Ysolda Teague is my favorite knitting pattern designer. I love pretty much every pattern she has, and, if it weren’t for my budget (or lack thereof) and the fact that I’m already so backed up on the knitting queue, I’d be the proud owner of every one.  If you haven’t seen her stuff, definitely worth checking out!

So, anyway, it only makes sense that Ysolda’s is one of the blogs that I follow regularly. About a month ago, she had a non-knitting entry about an upside down plum cake – with recipe. Well, I don’t know if it was the photos in the post (which were drool-worthy themselves) or the fact that plums are in season and consequently all over my local grocery store, but I broke down and had to try it.

People, this cake was AWESOME!!!  Soooooo good.  Take a look:

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I will definitely be making this again, and I already have all kinds of ideas for variations.  The next one will replace the plums with peaches and raspberries.  I’m expecting gastronomic heaven.  The recipe is in Ysolda’s blog post here. Oh – and extra little bonus, it uses a spring-form pan which is always a fun adventure! YEA!!!

Knitting has slowed a bit as we’ve been crazy busy.  It’s one of those – “Oh wow – school is going to start soon and we haven’t done any of the stuff we wanted to do this summer, so let’s squeeze it all in within the next two weeks.”  Plus, some work I’ve been waiting on came in – of course at the same busy time – so it’s been nuts here. I did manage to finish my “Bella Scarf” but I shudder to show it to you, because I’m very disappointed in it.  My fault – I know.  First of all, this was supposed to be just a fun “try-it-out” project, so I didn’t really worry about yarn choice.  In fact, I tried a new brand one, which also just happens to be about the cheapest yarn ever.  And, by cheap, I’m not just talking inexpensive.  It was pretty much horrible, and I will never ever buy it again.  And, no, I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I should have known as soon as I picked it up in the store.  Add to that, the pattern takes major finishing work (bane of my existence), since it’s all little squares and rectangles that have to be sewn together.  I couldn’t figure out a way to sew them together that didn’t look strange, and the poor quality, blocking-is-not-an-option yarn did not help matters.

But, at least it’s finished – because my own UFO’s tend to annoy me.  (Other people can have as many as they want, but having them in my basket makes me tense). So, here it is:

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Maybe I’ll try to give it away if I can find a Twilight fan who’s not too picky about quality. Oh, and here’s the pattern (Rav Link).

So, now I’m making a wand cozy for the magic wand I bought my brother for his birthday.  (I really don’t think he reads my blog, so I should be safe – if not, well, then I just spoiled the surprise.) I’m using one of the patterns from Charmed Knits, but cut it in half, since the gauge works out to a finished product that’s about 2.5″ wide – much too wide for thin little wand in my opinion. Since we’ve been so busy, it’s coming along slowly, but so far I’m pleased.  I used it to teach myself to purl backwards so that I don’t have to turn my work after every row, so I’m also pretty proud of myself right now. Pictures will follow once it’s done.

So I leave you with a vacation picture.

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Once again we were blessed to be able to use our neighbor’s shore house. That meant I got my El Portal Mexican food, and  my WingIt wings, AND we discovered the best ice cream parlor EVER. It’s called Fleck’s.  I swear all the best restaurants at the shore are in Villas, NJ! OK – Aside from the Lobster House.

By the way, if you hit the Lobster House for lunch you get the same food for a much lower price. This year’s trip was not the best – we mis-timed things and arrived at what should have been nap-time. Needless to say, the boy was a handful! Food was still good though – we just had to wrap some of it up to take home.  Oh well . . .

Can’t believe the summer’s over . . .

Happy Birthday to Me!

This past weekend we celebrated my birthday – YEA!!!! So, in honor of my big day, I made my very favorite dessert – Raspberry Trifle.

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This is a photo without any decorative accessories (whipped cream, rose petals, etc.) because, really, I could have put those things on, but it wouldn’t make it taste any different, and I’m all about the flavor!

And, no, it’s not a big deal that I made my own “cake” because this is what I really wanted, and no one else makes it like I do.  And, before you think I’m being egotistical, I’m not.  Because, it’s not that no one else “can” make trifle like I do – it’s just that no one wants to.  And I can’t blame them.  This is one of Graham Kerr’s recipes and it’s been my favorite since I was in high school.  It’s from one of his healthier cookbooks – I did a quick search for the recipe on the internet, but didn’t see it – Otherwise I’d post a link.

In any event, I make this recipe from scratch – yes, scratch – the cake, the jelly and the custard.  And, while I know you can cut corners (pound cake, Jello and Bird’s), it just doesn’t taste the same unless you start from scratch – which also means starting a few days early.  And that, my friends, is why no one else makes a trifle as tasty as I do.  There’s still a bit of it left in the fridge, so I may have to have some for lunch today 🙂  Mmmmm – soooo good!!!!

The birthday itself was a lovely relaxing day with dinner out at an actual restaurant (with a waitress and everything) meaning no cooking for me – WOO HOO!!!  And, the kids knew that for that one day, they were to ask Daddy first when they needed something – HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! All together a great day!!!

And, I’m excited that I seem to be getting some of my knitting mojo back – YEA!!!

The CanCans – they are finished!!! (Did I mention that I also decided to paint my nails for my birthday?)

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Love them!  The second went much more quickly than the first – probably because I actually worked on them, rather than letting them languish on the hutch. They fit great – I plan to wear them all winter!

Also managed to do a few more rows on the purple Malabrigo scarf (Let’s say it together – “Malabriiiiiiiiiiigo – Mmmmmm), AND whipped up a face cloth for a swap I’m doing.

AND, as if that weren’t enough! I decided to look for some pirate hat patterns.  I have a couple queued in Ravelry, and plan to make one for my little guy for the winter. Anyway, the pattern I finally decided upon is adult size, and since Jazz is so into pirates (and saw the picture and wanted one too), I decided to do hers first to get a feel for sizing. My original thought was to do hers in pink with white skulls, but she was determined to have black and white. So we compromised – black with white skulls and pink decorative bands.

Here’s the finished product:

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She loves it and wants to wear it today. (She has no concept of what 90+ degrees and humidity in the summer means). And, although colorwork isn’t my favorite, the colors really weren’t too bad.

Now, I think I want to dig into some of the sock yarn I got from Knit Picks earlier in the summer.

Oh yes, the Mojo is back, Baby!

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