Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Knitting Contrisstmas Eve!

Tomorrow is December 1st---------- I'm not quite sure how it happened as one of my last memories was mowing the lawn in early spring. But, there you have it, time marches on and the official start to the holidays (here on the KC blog anyway) begins tomorrow. My gift to you dear blitters----- a veritable parade of knitterati, quilterati and cookerati (is that a word???)

May your holiday season be perfection whatever your creative pursuits are, and I hope everyone can find time to create those hand-made gifts your heart dreams of. After all, at the beginning of the season we think we CAN do it all!

Cindy asked what the pattern was for the fingerless mitts. I found one I loved from the endless parade of such on Ravelry and decided on the "Cabled Fingerless Mitts" by Joelene Wiggins and Allison Blevins. It's a freebie from the fine folks at Tangle.

Friday, November 28, 2008

3 Days and a Wake-Up

Why do they call it Black Friday anyway???? Somehow it sounds grim to me and perhaps this year it will be grim to retailers as well. Another reason to be 100% hand-made for the holidays!

With Thanksgiving behind us all now, it must be almost time for Knitting Contrisstmas 2008!!! I am SO excited I can't stand it! SO, three days and a wake-up until December 1st, the kickoff of this years star studded event----- creative 'celebs', a recipe or two, and some great ideas for the holidays.

THE Norah Gaughan returns along with Suzan from Knit Cafe, Martha Sacco from Green Mountain Knitting Bags, Cirilia Rose, Melissa Morgan-Oakes, Kate Gilbert, Marta McCall, Lisa Boyer (Dorky Quilts), Knitterella, Valori Wells, Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice, Mrs. Lear from The Runcible Bin, Sylvie from Chez Plum, Cat Bordhi, Iris from ArtYarns, Cindy Taylor Oates, Bari J, Ysolda, Joanna from Fig Tree--- and MORE!

Don't miss a second--------- (like you even would!!!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day USA...................... probably my favorite holiday! While the turkey bakes (after finally reaching the thawed state that allows such) and family gathers, please indulge me as I spend a small amount of time to list the things I'm thankful for........... a short list, not nearly complete.

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let There Be Pie & Chai

Thanksgiving Eve------- the list seems long but as the compulsive that I am, lists have been made and I think I'm ready for the big day tomorrow.

Pie today------ the obligatory pumpkin for me and the request pie of chocolate cream for others who don't do "orange vegetable pie". The fact that there will be more pumpkin pie leftover does not make me sad but only that there will be more for moi. Always a good thing.

The turkey is making progress, it is not like a brick anymore but I think it will benefit from a little time out of the freezer today, just in case. Please do not turn me in to the turkey police over at B*utterball, the outcome surely can't be good.

I'll be up early tomorrow making pumpkin chai tea (recipe to follow) and getting everything ready to go, the turkey needs to hit the oven at 9:30.

And the balance of the day today will be spent knitting. I have the most zen-like and completely brainless project of all-------------- more super simple dishcloths that will be pressed into service in the gift baskets as facecloths. How is it that the simpler the project on the needles the more I dream of the Project After Christmas, the one to be cast on December 26th---- the one that lives in my dreams as more complex, yet still peaceful, the one that shall be serviceable yet lovely?

Happy Thanksgiving Eve----- if you're heading out, travel safely.

For those of you who love chai, or the impossible to find M*ystic Chai, or those like me who mourn deeply the loss of the Borders Pumpkin Chai Latte Mix I bring you my version. Not as good but one that will do the trick.

Contessa Pumpkin Spice Chai

1 cup of Pumpkin Spice Creamer Powder(found at your local grocery store seasonally) * if you can't find this you can substitute regular creamer powder
1 cup of French Vanilla Creamer Powder
1 1/2 cups of instant tea (feel free to go cheapie)
2 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup of powdered nonfat milk
1 tsp. of cinnamon if using the Pumpkin Spice Creamer OR 2 tsp. if using plain creamer
2 tsp. of ginger
1 tsp. of cardamom (pricey but SO worth it)
1 tsp. of cloves

Toss everything into the food processor with the metal blade and let it buzz for about 4 minutes. Stuff the feed tube with a damp paper towel as the powder loves to escape the tube like messy smoke.

Remove it and place in a zippy bag. Start with 2 tsp for a cup sized serving, more for a mug. I have an insulated travel mug and use a heaping 1/4 cup measure. It is truly to taste.


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Monday before Thanksgiving--

----oh man----- my Mom and her man-toy (aka the fiance) left this morning. It was a very fast visit (often the best, no?) and they are on their way down the road, pulling a trailer behind their borrowed big ole' dooley truck. Should you see them puttering down the highway wondering how to make their GPS work or digging something out of the glove box, I would very strongly suggest you get out of the way. No kidding. We had to move the truck/trailer twice from the city street in front of the house as the local fedarales were not big fans. My Mom is in her 60's and her fiance is in his 70's, you would think they are 14. The kissing and cuddling are simultaneously adorable and irritating. I guess the bottom line is that it is good not to be alone and wonderful that there is love. It is always all about the love.

So they are gone and have left me with a desk once again piled high and plans to make for Thanksgiving. My 20 pound turkey has been out of the freezer and in the fridge since Friday night and I have to say that I have seen absolutely no change in its' state of frozen-ness. Only a few more things to pick up at the store (because I forgot the evaporated milk for the pies)--- and assuming the turkey reaches less than a brick by then I'm good to go. 6 around the table and all the trimmings, should be a good time. I'm a stickler (near obsessive) about tradition and the only change to the table will be my Mom's cornbread stuffing------- without sausage. Any great recipes out there before I putter with it? It'll be served alongside of the tried and true herb stuffing, just in case.

Knitting? I think I might have forgotten how and the now seemingly endless intarsia beckons.

Quilting-----I have a few projects for gifts that I need to get to as well or the recipients will receive a box of fabric and a spool of thread.

Gifting? The heavy box laden with salts and beeswax and flavorings and scents arrived with the cute little swivel up lip balm containers and the cutest soap molds you have ever seen. I feel a big crafting day coming on.

After I blow out the last leaves from the yard. And try to clear the desk. And coax the turkey.

So it goes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

100% Hand-Made Holidays

100% Hand-Made Holidays? I'm fully on-board................. ready to go, lists made, supplies ordered, enthusiastic and full of cheer. I'm not the only one, times are tough and the budget is tight when it comes to holiday gifts this year for all of us. Normally I create a lot of gifts anyway up in Santa's Workshop--- aka the sewing room. This year, I'm going 100% hand-made and have taken the pledge. Not that I have pledged this to anyone other than myself but the gauntlet as it were, has been thrown down.

Because time is as tight as the budget knitting, sewing and quilting are smaller scale projects but hopefully no less smashing, or appreciated. I'll be creating gift baskets with a tres cool assortment of lip balms, body scrubs, cute soaps and fragrance oils---- all in an assortment of flavors and scents for each recipient along with custom labels and tags. I'll package them up with some handpainted mugs (base mugs purchased at the cheapie store) and a paper cone of my home-made chai. Other recipients will receive fingerless mitts knitted up along with a beret or two, a few wee little wall quilts made from "handprinted" fabric and the obligatory assortment of cookies and candy.

Stay tuned------- the workshop will be busy. The trick I think is to seek inspiration and encouragement from each other and the blog world as well as many websites are rich sources for both. Martha is even having a contest, with some nice prizes!
With Knitting Contrisstmas coming up in TEN DAYS (woo hoo) and lots of hands on preparations for the holidays I have to say that I'm really excited. Plans to get the trees and decorations up early this year have fallen behind a bit due to the visit this weekend of my Mom and her manfriend----- but it'll all work out.

What are YOU planning for the holidays? How hand-made are you? Please feel free to grab a 100% Hand-Made Holidays Button, over on the sidebar, if you're taking the pledge this season as well!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Bliss-Ness

No wedding last weekend---
  • An entire day alone, to myself, peace and lovely quiet. Dinner guests (corn chowder, stuffed pork tenderloin and pumpkin cheesecake) followed by a couple games of Spades where I actually had great cards most of the night.
  • Nothing crazy on the studio horizon this week
  • And, although my nephew (sigh) lost the MVC championship soccer game---- no trip to the NCAA this year. I had a great time watching the game on Sunday despite the loss.
How could things be better to start a fresh, new week?

While not a lot of knitting has happened other than finishing another (my third) pair of fingerless mitts and one lone row of the Ravenna Satchel I have caught up on laundry AND ironing, the house is relatively clean, and the basement on the way to total organization. I've decided to break many years of tradition and decorate for the holidays EARLY, that is before Thanksgiving. Only one year has this happened, the year the house was on the holiday tour and that year (3 years ago) I started the madness right after Halloween. That year I think I started taking stuff down the day after Christmas, I was SO sick of looking at it! My mother (and eeeeek boyfriend) are scheduled to arrive later this week so perhaps all bets will be off.

I'm SO excited to be getting ready to kick off Knitting Contrisstmas for 2008.The second annual event will feature some of the "rockstars" of knitting, quilting and more------ no doubt the coolest thing ever. Stay tuned for the kick off on December 1st and every day throughout the month of December. Happy Holidays to come indeed!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day

In Canada today is Remembrance Day. Isn't that a lovely notion? Old fashioned and contemporary at the same time because------ after all it is about the human condition at its best.

I'm remembering those that I loved and lost
those that still grace my life and bring joy
people who have taken the mundane and made memories
and even pets that brought me love.

In gratitude, with remembrance.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Last Rose

Push finally met shove today and it became necessary to take the morning off (which I loathe to do when there is not a bit of fun involved!) and finish putting the yard to bed. I had already done much of the back but the last frost had made short work of the basil and oregano, so all of the herbs were cut back with many sprigs left to dry. The smell of the thwacking of the herb garden is one of life's lovely pleasures no matter how barbarian it seems at the time. With blower and rake as companions I set out to get the leaves out to the back alley and two hours later it was a done deal. Unfortunately the leaves still have not fallen completely off and while they are lovely at this point I wish they'd just get it by jiggy over with. As I moved to the front pruning back the last rose, "Rio" she is, the last rose of the season was brought in to hold court. She is always gorgeous but somehow knowing that she won't be dressed again until spring makes her all the more special.

I took a bit of a break from the bloody endless intarsia of the Ravenna Satchel. Not that it is hard, not that it is not fun (sort of) I think I just needed to step away. Because my hands (particularly that dreaded right hand) is always like a block of ice in the winter I thought a pair of fingerless mitts was the answer. When I work at home I love to sit in the kitchen and enjoy it while I work (food is close and it is my favorite room in the house so usually clean). Old house, leaky door---- cold hands. In really blindingly fast time a pair of mitts came off the dpn's from chunky wool leftover from the Boogie vest. Love them! I think that this may be my knitting madness this season for the holidays since it is becoming more obvious by the day that not a lot is going to be gifted in the oooooooooooh aaaahhhhhhh category. Quick down and dirty little stash eaters---- how bad can it be?

Now if I can just tweak my typing a bit while wearing them, things get kind of funkitated.

Knit group was a wonderful reprive Sunday afternoon, so good to be back! I packed my knitting in the back of the car and actually blew out on a couple of afternoon sessions, walking through the park to the gelateria where we meet. The leaves were still hanging in, the yellows and golds still clinging and the reds and russets bringing up the last. Definitely past peak but totally gorgeous. Have I mentioned it was cold? It was! It was great to wear my mitered square sweater again, that baby is warm as toast. Check out my unique and marvelous fastening device! I lost my copper pin somewhere in the leaves of Tower Grove Park.

Plucked from the ground under a lovely maple tree, snapped off at just the right length, rubbed between my fingers for a few minutes of burnish----- voila. As the sweater itself is rather rugged (ish?) I think it looked pretty great, and you sure could not beat the price. I'm keeping it, just so ya' know. On the funny end of it, Jake my favorite young man who works at the gelateria was handing me a lovely large Pumpkin Spice Latte (no whip) and they do make a fine one, "hey, you have a stick in your sweater." Because Jake knows us from our weekly haunting of the establishment and frankly gets a bang out of us, it did no harm to smile sweetly and say "Yes sir, I do."

The carders? Love them but they have not been actually used to card wool fibers for, hmmmmmmmmm like, maybe 25 years? They are part of a vignette in the sewing room and this shot is for you Sylvie! Sylvie and I are considering a bit of a trade---- whatcha think Syl, will they do?

Stay warm. Count your blessings, pass one on. It seems to be the most important thing we can do these days. Oh, and Get Knittin'!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Face down into the pillows & knitterly bride

So I came home from a crazy weekend to include celebrating the birthday of a friend at his choice, Harrah's on Friday night. Much fun, no winnings. Saturday was one of the last weddings of the year, looooooonnnnng day but good. Sunday was a full day in the park with family portraits and engagement sessions. Monday was spent unpacking gear and uploading and all sorts of other things and by the time Tuesday arrived I knew I was getting a cold. A good one. I could hear my dear Gramma saying "it's going to be a blue eyed dilly"! X*ycam purchased along with every flavor and variety of cold medicine I was ready to take it on. I think that voting on Tuesday afternoon was one of my last strong memories before I descended into Sick Soup.

I lost, and lost BIG.

Before I knew it, my valiant efforts at working through it kicked me in the butt on Wednesday night and I simply fell head down into the sheets not to arise until today. I'm still achy and sneezing with only one (or the other) nostril working simultaneously, looking tres chic as a haggard mouth-breather! I do consider it a victory that I can sit in front of the computer and do anything at all!

Late photos of the lovely knitterly girl in white from last weekend. She is one of those sweet rather old fashioned girls that gives the impression of a kinder and gentler time and I think her dress is quite "her".

It is sort of rare to have a non-strapless bride, and I always commend those who do not bow to fashion and strike out on their own when they have another vision in mind.

Her colors were Pear and Aubergine, which to be quite frank I was not entirely on board with until we arrived at the church for the first glimpse. They turned out to be stunning and every element of the wedding was both elegant and comforting.

The darling girl is holding the Ravenna Satchel (with quite a bit of the nasty danglers tucked up) in the way that only a non-knitter can!

I've made not much in the way of progress on it, when I could have been knitting this week I chose instead to snore and wheeze. Row 45, 15 to go and then what will be the endless and no doubt tedious tucking and weaving of all the squzzimillion pieces hanging from the back.

I think I'm heading back to the comfort of my sheets and the box of tissues that has in fact rubbed my nose to reddened bits. I'm hoping that with a bit more laying about I might be in good form to tackle the wedding tomorrow and another full day in the park on Sunday.

Hope YOU are feeling strong and wonderful. My advice is not to do as I did and blow off the flu shot because you are busy but to run out and get one! Right this very minute would be a grand idea!

Monday, November 3, 2008

November in New Time

Not only can I not believe that it is NOVEMBER already, but that Daylight Savings Time has arrived and taken with it an hour of light in the evenings. Man, I hate that!!!! The weather here in St. Louis has been GLORIOUS, near balmy for heavens sake! in the 70's all week long, woo hoo. As I was really behind schedule in overseeding the lawn with rye grass, I've been happy that those little seedies can have a fighting chance.

Once again I missed knit group yesterday due to the shooting schedule at the studio. It is a harbinger of the fall/holiday season when work cranks 8 days a week. Sigh.

My bride on Saturday did a spin with the sticks and was adorable, I'll be posting shots later this week, her gown was lovely and quite different than the 'usual'. At one of the engagement sessions yesterday one of the bride to be's said that she remembered that I said I was a knitter and she was interested in learning. I might have to figure out a bride knitting class, wouldn't that be fun?

On the knitting front absolutely NOTHING has happened, and I mean nothing. I'm kind of cranky about it to be honest. The Ravenna Satchel still languishes and other projects are starting to show up in my dreams holding a sign that tells me how many days until Christmas I have to get things done. I hate it when that happens.

And lastly, I have to add this one to the can you believe it category:
on Martha's email today, the "craft of the day" was a tote bag. Shockingly (to me anyway) it is not sewn at all but created from duct tape and staples. No kidding!

Should you be curious, you can check it out at Martha's website and click "Craft of the Day". I shall be foregoing this method of construction lest I be run out of town on a rail.

Hope the first Monday in November is treating you well-------- is everybody already starting their gift knitting?