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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Yarn Along: End of the GAL and an Anniversary

Nejat's birthdayChristmasbirthdayChristmas starry night afghan is finally complete! I still need to weave in the ends and sew down the borders, but I am counting it as complete. She will be so happy to have it. I have one GAL project I'm working on now, Eve's Leaves. In my effort to work from stash, I am making it out of some teal and cream superwash merino I have left over from Hoar Frost. This is my 20th anniversary present to Rich, which was his favorite of my list of GAL projects. The traditional gift for 20 years is china, and I think we'll be finding a piece or two, but I think this one will be more memorable.

It's the last four days of the 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long but it's not too late to join in the fun with us! It's shawl week on the blog. I think I mentioned that I picked up several. I'm highlighting a few more shawls I fell in love with from GAL designers:

by Faye Kennington

I actually bought this one before the GAL began. The border detail on this makes me so happy, and I even have enough stash yarn to make it already, so it's kitted up and there are great plans for it. Faye's designs tend to go toward either representations of nature or whimsy, and I like the style of both of those paths she takes. Check out her work - there is a stocking in her shop that I really like as well.

by Sarah Jordan

I've had my eye on this shawl since she first shared it in May. When it came out, I put it in my favorites, but I didn't buy it until the GAL. As I'm still trying to work from stash, and I wanted to make this in green, I dug around, and found a great green to blue yarn that I bought while on the quest for the perfect turquoise. It is waiting patiently to become this lovely creation. Sarah's use of texture and color are just up my alley, and usually have a little fun twist to them.

Sun in Glory
by Kate Poe

You may not know this, but I love all things celestial. I love suns, moons, stars, planets, comets, galaxies, you name it. They are also some of the only things I know how to draw. So, when I saw this, I knew it was going in my shopping cart. Kate is not exactly a new to me designer, but she hadn't been on my radar. That is a shame, because her shawls and other designs are truly lovely. I picked up her Titania shawl some years back, as well. She is someone whose work I will be watching.

We haven't been doing a lot of reading, but we've been on our annual Christmas movie binge. We've watched several Hanna Barbera cartoons, the Grinch, Charlie Brown, the Muppets' Christmas Carol, and we'll be on to Mr. Bean's Christmas show and It's a Wonderful Life, and the Claymation ones, the stop motion Rudolph, as well as Yogi Bear. It's a fun tradition for the 12 days of Christmas.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Menu Plan: The First Seven Days of Christmas

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath given rise to the light of knowledge in the world; for they that worshiped the stars did learn there from to worship thee, O Sun of justice, and to know that from the east of the Highest thou didst come O Lord, glory to thee.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

This is the first day of Christmas, the day when the Eternal intersected with the temporal, when the One who created time entered it to reconcile us to Himself. The Incarnation is so important, and can be forgotten or misunderstood when we only see this as Jesus' birthday. He doesn't somehow turn 2000 some years today, and He didn't come to exist on that day 2000 years ago. He is. He was. He always will be. The Son, the second person of the Trinity has always existed, but He became Incarnate of the Virgin Mary in a specific place and time, and that is what we remember.

We will not be fasting at all for the next 12 days. I'll be making different cookies and cakes each day. This week is full of feasts and commemorations, including our 20th wedding anniversary. Since there was the possibility of us going to Paris in 2017, we kind of scrapped our original plan for our anniversary, which was to go to a resort our friend runs in Mexico. We still aren't sure what we're doing, though. There have been more low key years, and years where we planned big parties or trips, but this is the first time we just can't really decide. A few ideas have been floated, so we will try to get that figured out after today. For now, we worship in joy, we celebrate in hope.

Blessed feast! May the Light who entered the world enlighten your heart and mind the whole year! Glory to God in the highest!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Yarn Along: Success and Disappointment

Just about three quarters of the way through Carlota Cabled Boot Toppers, I found out that I wouldn't have enough yarn. I'm really frustrated about that, but it was my own fault. I had yarn leftover from another project that I wanted to use, and I knew it wouldn't be enough for the whole project, but I had some other yarn that coordinated well with it, and I was going to make the ribbing with that, because the amount I had should have been plenty to make the tops of the cuffs. I am about eight rows short. In the positive column, however, I finished and blocked my spiral hat. It's blocked and ready to send off, and I'll work on getting the pattern written up for this year.

There are 11 more days left in the 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long and there is still time to join in the fun with us! This week, I have three designs to share from fellow designers in the GAL:

by Christelle Nihoul

I'm always excited about a great pattern for boys and men. This is one of them. It's not knit with too heavy a yarn, and it has subtle details that make it interesting for the knitter, but not too outrageous for a boy or man. It's sized for an eight year old boy up to an extra large man. I could make this for any of my boys or for Rich.

Tiny Buds
by Charlotte Walford

Here is a lovely shawl that uses multiple colors. I actually like quite a few of Charlotte's shawl, scarf and cowl designs. There is a tea cozy pattern that I wish I could get a hold of to make. I enjoy her use of both color and texture. Give her work a look.

by Dieuwke van Mulligen

This is another great shawl. I love the color and lines of it. The shape is nice, I'm partial to crescents and semi-circles, and shows off the simple patterning well. There have been so many shawl patterns I've discovered in the GAL so far that I'm afraid I have bought more than I can reasonably finish in the near future. In fact, next week, I'll have two or three more to show you.

What little reading I have done has been in Birds of a Feather. It's a great story, but I've been too tired to really take a good run at it.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Menu Plan: Fourth Week of Advent

This has been a rather hectic and disorganized Advent, it seems. Alexander has been working quite a bit with a Christmas season job, and we're still taking girls to ballet for one more day. My days have been truncated with ferrying people about and doing extra errands. But it has been a good season, and it is winding down as we approach the feast of the Nativity. After that, Rich and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, which is pretty exciting.

The weather here has been pretty miserably cold, enough snow to be a nuisance, and enough respite to trick you into thinking it will be better, then dumping more snow or freezing rain or sleet so you have to start over again. Since I am not a fan of winter, anyway, this hasn't been nice for me. We've been below zero pretty regularly, and colder than Siberia, yet again, as it seems fairly common of our winters.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Yarn Along: Over Halfway through the GAL

If you are looking for a menu plan, I just haven't gotten the post complete. We are eating, but between the final weekend of Nutcracker, the excruciatingly cold weather, and Alexander starting work this week, it has been a challenge to sit down and type. I'll try to get it posted before the week is out, just to have a record and help people later on, but it might not be until Friday.

Victoria Station is finished and ready to give this week! Amira was such a trooper to model it in 10 degree weather, with no coat or gloves or hat. We snapped just enough pictures, and ran inside. That is why my other shot is indoors. I've started the Carlota Cabled Boot Toppers, which I'm hoping to have ready to give this week, too. Look at those cables! I tried to fiddle with them to make them better, but I ripped that out and did it exactly as written, because Em's design was really just right as it was. As part of a design challenge, as well as more gift knitting, I started a spiral hat. Actually, it's basically finished, except for the crown decreases, but I'm not happy with the first way I did them, so I'm ripping that out and doing them over. I want to be able to mail this with some other gifts by Monday. This is a busy week for me with regard to knitting.

The 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long is more than halfway through, but there is still time to join. Loads of free pattern codes have been given away and the midpoint physical prizes have been awarded. There are still more, though, so come and have fun with us! This week, I have two designs to share from fellow designers in the GAL that I really think you will enjoy:

Unicorn Hoodie
by Emily Ringelman

Rich wants one of these in an adult size. I bought this pattern with the idea to make matching unicorn hoodies for everyone in our family. Only Rich and the little girls are excited about this. Don't you think it would be awesome, though? I'm not sure if I can pull off such a thing, but I definitely want to make one for the littles and for Rich and me. The boys and Amira will have to go without. Amira thinks that her Hunicorn hat is enough.

by Jo Torr

This designer is a virtual friend of mine, and she released the pattern during the GAL. It is so much fun, and would be a great way to show off some hand painted yarn or variegated yarn, without all the pooling. And the bobbles are made without purling! When I'm finished with the gift knitting, and get some other projects under my belt, this is definitely going to be knit up here. I can think of a few girls in my house who would love it.

I've gotten more reading done this week than last. I started and finished The Fabrics of Fairy Tale. The fairy tales themselves were excellent, but I didn't really like the translations/adaptations done by the author. My impression was that they were great stories that would have been so much better if they were told by another storyteller. I also started Birds of a Feather. I haven't gotten that far in it, because I've been reading it at night when I am just bone tired. So, I think I'm halfway through the first chapter. The first book in the series was interesting, so I'm fairly certain I will enjoy this one, too.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Yarn Along: Gift-A-Long and Pattern Profiles

In case you missed it: Saint Nicholas is released - and you still have time to knit it if you hang stockings for Christmas (or work on the pattern for next Saint Nicholas Day)! In honor of Saint Nicholas, whose feast is today, I have the pattern on sale for 25% off through 12:01 a.m. PST on November 7. That's tonight!

Saint Nicholas brought me a knitting mug filled with fancy chocolates and a reindeer stirring spoon. The kids are pretty convinced that Saint Nicholas loves me best, but hastened to tell me to tell others that this was perfectly alright with them.

As for my knitting, I have finished Desert Pines and I'm nearly finished with Victoria Station. Both are gifts, so I am not going to say too much more about them (I did start another project, too, but I'll have more to say about that next week). Both are patterns I picked up as part of the 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long, too. This is my first year participating, both as a knitter and a designer, and I've already won a pattern in one of the random trivia games! Check it out:

Passerine Stole
by Jen Lucas

I'm going to be highlighting a pattern or two by participating designers each week to entice you to join the fun. You have until 11:59 pm EST on December 31 to get in on it! (And you can win prizes, too!) Aside from the gorgeous items you will find in Jen's Ravelry shop (and you did peek at her designs, right?), this week I'm profiling:

First Snow Mittens
by Aet Terasmaa

I love all things snowflake, which is odd given my loathing of cold and snowy weather. Maybe not, as I like snow you visit, because it is pretty, and then leave to go to your warm home. So, knitted and crocheted or embroidered snowflakes, as they bring no cold or wet with them, are perfect. Anyway, look at these mittens, and then take a gander at her other patterns. You are sure to find something you like in her shop.

Speaking of patterns, for the past few years I've found Interweave Knits a little less exciting than it used to be for me. There were still great patterns, but the paper of the magazine was thin and tore easily, and a lot of the patterns seemed more simplistic than I used to find in it. The magazine I loved included a range of patterns in different skill levels, with at least a few in each issue that were aspirational, and challenging, or taught a new technique. So, the Interweave Knits Winter 2017 issue is the first one I've bought in a while. I let my subscription lapse, but when I saw the preview of this magazine on Ravelry, I fell in love with several of the patterns. This is much more like the magazine I knew and loved. The paper is improved, though still not the thick glossy paper it used to have. The new editor has been at the helm for a year, I think, and it looks like she's done an excellent job at picking articles, as well as patterns. The holiday issue also looked interesting to me. So, I've been looking over the patterns and reading the articles this week.

Mostly, though, we have been watching this series. I picked up the DVD set from our library. Although we enjoyed some of the "house" series, like Frontier House and Manor House, most of them were like reality shows with people who didn't really want to try to live as the people of those eras actually lived. This series (and there's a Victorian and War Time Farm series, as well a Victorian Pharmacy, and several others) is done by a historian and a couple archaeologists, so they are at least knowledgeable and trying. I caught a food science error in one of the episodes, but it may have just been poor communication. Anyway, everyone in the house is enjoying it, and learning quite a bit.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Menu Plan: Second Week of Advent

I had forgotten about Amira dancing in our local Agricultural parade when I planned the menu last week, so I have a few repeats that we had to push aside for rehearsals or the parade. Also, I didn't realize that we still had several pie crusts in the fridge, so we're eating several savory pies this week.

This week, we have our last two performances of Nutcracker, which will keep the three oldest girls busy, and either Alexander will be back as a party parent, or Dominic will take his place. There are several feasts this week, as well, which gives us a nice treat in the middle of our abstinence. Alexander has a few days left in his school term at the college, and he's hoping to begin a Christmas job to earn a bit of money and get an in with a company that might hire him later as an aviation mechanic. We'd definitely appreciate some prayers on that score.

This makes for a pretty busy week for me, too, but it's nice. I'm looking forward to a break from performances and costumes and hair and makeup, and the running around for school.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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