Thursday, January 30, 2014

ice ice baby

First off, it was so nice to read all of your fantastic and funny comments on my little knitting experiment. Thank you!  Carly Carter shared an article on twitter about the connection between yoga and knitting.  I thought it was a great read and doesn't surprise me one bit.  Although,  after all of these years of knitting, and knowing how much I love everything about it (The yarn, the feel, the rhythm, the sound;  the entire process, not just the finished project.) I feel like I will put out an effort to be more mindful when knitting.  More in the moment .   Unless, of course, I am working on a favorite mindless knit.  Because, I believe there is room for both.
On a freezing day earlier in the month, we froze bubbles.  It really was SO cool.  The bubbles would freeze almost instantly (in negative temperatures) and shatter when they hit the frozen earth.  
Stevie left a comment on how her family likes to make ice lanterns.  What?  We are all over that!  I love a good winter craft.  
I made a couple of mistakes along my ice lantern making journey.   First off, I used paper dixie cups in the center where the tea light will go.  Have you ever tried to get paper off of ice?  What was I thinking?  (I'm sure I was thinking of knitting.  Refer to last post.)  I used little pebbles to hold down the cup in the water.  That seemed to work well.  
The other mistake would have been that I didn't wear plastic gloves when removing the ice lantern from the plastic container.  The food coloring temporarily stained my hands.  Plastic gloves would make the process a whole lot neater.  
We had a lovely candlelight dinner by ice.  
The lanterns didn't melt too much.  They went back outside where they will remain frozen awaiting their next icy display.

Make the most of these cold days!

Friday, January 24, 2014

auld land syne mitts and an experiment

So, let's chat.
I'm curious to know how your brain functions when you are knitting.  Are you focused on your knitting and find it easy to sit and knit and do nothing else?  Or do you stop at every thought and act upon it?  

Last week, after finishing my first mitt, I was leafing through the book and noticed the "knitted gifts planning guide" which gives an estimate of how long a project should take.  These mitts are in the category of "4 hours or less". 

4 hours or less!  No.  Way.  It took me all week to make one mitt.  There is no way possible that it would have taken one mitt 2 hours.  No.  Way.  
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and challenge that estimated time calculation.  
I gathered everything I needed, including tea and excluding my phone, purposely leaving it in the other room.  I sat down at the kitchen table and cast on for the second mitt.  

To say this was painful is an understatement.  It was torture.   The voices in my head started.  "Oh, I need to text Shelly."  "Hmm.  Who's teaching tomorrow's yoga class?"  "What year was Beetoven born?" "Who just text me?"  "I want to look at instagram."  "How many minutes per day should I be practicing piano?" "What is the balance in my checking account?" "I should really be calling mom."  "Oh shoot, I should have put those clothes in the dryer."  "When is Andrew's basketball game?"  "I want to check my email."  "I wonder if those boots are on sale."  "I should order those long johns for Charlie."  "Do I have an extra yogurt in the refrigerator for Libby's smoothie?" 

OH!!!!  It went on and on.  I wanted to pick up my phone a hundred times.  I wanted to pop up and do things a hundred times.  It was exactly like when I meditate and have to constantly bring myself back.  Over and over I had to bring myself back to my needles.  Listen to the sound. Watch the pattern unfold.  
But, I did it.  And from start to finish that mitt took two hours.  Including the time spent sewing in the label into the inside of a mitt.  
A gift for a friend.
Knit in 4 hours or less.

Pattern:  Auld Lang Syne Mitts, 50 knitted gifts for year-round giving
Yarn:  Stash
Needle:  5 and 6 dpn

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

when it's not just a hat

Sometimes, so much satisfaction can be derived from the simplest of patterns.  I can't even begin to tell you how finishing this hat in less than twenty four hours felt.  I have made my share of hats.  I love them.  And I love how it feels when you give them away.  But this one seemed extra special.  Maybe it was the fact that I haven't had that quick of a knit in a while.  (Although, this pattern is even faster.)
Or maybe it was because my sweet mother sent me the yarn along with the pattern.  Enough yarn for two hats.  So that I can give someone a warm hug for their head and keep one for myself.  
The tweedy, stripy yarn was so great to work with.  A new color surprising me, knitting a subtle stripe into the hat.

Pattern:  Candide Sailor's Watch Cap (Love how they spelled purl.)
Yarn:  Berrroco Lodge
Needles:  size 10

A two hour delay this morning because of the temperatures dropping below zero.  I've been hoping for that email that tells us that they cancelled school.  I have my hot coffee.  Three sleeping children.  And a hat to knit.

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

easy striped cowl

Well, I had to do a little bribing to get Charlie to model the easy striped cowl.  
I was looking for a quick cowl pattern that would suit a male and this is what I found. (Charlie doesn't think men should wear cowls.  I, personally, LOVE a man wearing anything hand knit!)  I had stash yarn from this sweater and this sweater and decided to combine the two.  
I ran the opposite color through each row and thought that perhaps it can be worn the opposite way as well.  A reversible cowl?  Even better.

Pattern:  Easy striped Cowl.
Yarn:  Berroco Peruvia Quick
Time:  Quick!  Love it!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

baby it's c o l d outside!

There is nothing more than I love than a snow day.  And one that is referred to as a polar vortex, where the kids are stuck in the house with me, was an added bonus.
We baked.  And baked some more.  THESE were the perfect treat.
Libby and I ventured outside in the negative temps (while the boys watched from the heated house. Oy.) to try a fun experiment I learned from Heather.  
The bubbles freeze almost instantly and shatter when they hit the ground.  We tried desperately to have one land and not break but could only try for about 1 1/2 minutes before running back into the house giggling.  It was SO cold!
There was knitting.  AND a finished project.
So grateful to have a warm home with a day like this to remember.

Monday, January 06, 2014

calzone love

These c o l d days have me craving comfort food.  You know, the kind that warms you through and makes you sleep well under those down comforters.  I pulled out an old recipe from a couple of winters ago.  It was a winner!
I haven't had bread rising in a bowl on the kitchen counter for a while.  It felt so good.  
This, my friends is about to make 8 delicious calzones.  
You can really fill them with any of your favorites.  I prefer spinach, onion and ricotta, but just did ricotta this time around. (The kids favorites.)

Serve with a salad and some homemade marinara on the side.   And perhaps a glass of red wine to really warm you!

The dough:
1 cup of warm water, 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast, 1 Tbs honey.
When bubbly add:
2 1/2-3 cups flour (mixed whole wheat and white, or just white), 1 1/2 tsp salt.

Knead 10-15 minutes (I mix mine using the electric mixer fit with the dough blade and let it run for about 5 minutes adding water or flour depending on what is needed to form a ball.)  Cover, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.  About an hour. (Prepare filling while dough rises.)

The filling:
1/2 lb ricotta cheese, 2 TBLS minced fresh onion, 1 cup mozzarella cheese,  a couple spoonfuls of marinara.   You can add any veggies you have sauteed.  Add a bunch of garlic if you like, too.  Really, anything goes.

Punch down the risen dough and form into a ball.  Divide into 8 sections and roll out in rounds 1/4 inch thick.  Fill with 1/2 cup filling on one half of the circle, leaving a 1/2 inch rim.  Moisten the rim with water, fold the empty side over and crimp the edge with a fork.  Prick the top.  Bake on an oiled cookie sheet in an oven that has been pre-heated to 450˚ for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned.  Brush each pastry with a little butter as it emerges from the oven.

We don't have school tomorrow due to the cold temperatures.  I can't wait to be stuck in the house with  some yarn, the kids and the oven!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2 0 1 4

Happy 2014, my friends!
I wish you all the best, filled with health and happiness.
Can't wait to see what all the talented hands out there create!
xx,
leslie