Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Lights Cardigan Started

Hi,

I've gotten a pretty good start on the cardigan based on the December Lights Tam. You can see the XOX pattern that comes from the tam pattern. It still has the rest of the second peerie repeat (just started at the top of this picture) and then one more XOX pattern repeat to go before the shoulders... and sleeves and bands, of course.

Below is the sleeve steek. Isn't it pretty? It seems a shame to cut it. It makes me realize why folks do "seed" stitch on the hands of mittens and gloves. It isn't just simple; it also looks nice!

Below is my rough working chart of the peerie pattern. It is colored with my son's crayons. There is a fuschia row at the top that doesn't show up very well. It starts with the right column and continues with the left column. (I ran out of paper...) The red dots are where I'm doing neck decreases.


These peerie patterns are pretty standard stuff, seen in several of the fair isle books. I basically started with a picture from Michael Pearson's book, but I've seen them other places, too, including charts in Alice Starmore's "Book of Fair Isle Knitting."
So far, I am really enjoying the project! If I have any reservations, it is that the marine heather and edamame peerie is a little eye-watering.
Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

CPH in the News

Hi,

It has been an exciting day in knitting adventures, since Kathleen Cubley at Knitting Daily mentioned my variation of the Central Park Hoodie (CPH) with Viking Cables on their daily email (also available via the web). The article's link goes to the design page on Ravelry, and you have to be a member to get to the link. If you're a knitter and haven't joined, I can't recommend it enough.

I had previously been sending an MS Word pattern by email to anyone that requested it, but I hurriedly assembled a pdf this morning and posted it to Ravelry. As of this writing, it has already been downloaded 105 times! My blog hits were at a completely unprecedented high, I received many emails, and I've been answering Ravelry comments off and on all day.



Thanks to everyone who emailed or commented. I'm very flattered and amazed. What a cool thing the web is (and what power publishers have). Wow.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Robot Follow-Up

Hi,

I had fun telling Mitchell all about Sojourner, the robot (rover) that Momma helped send to Mars. I also mentioned that there are two newer robots, Spirit and Opportunity, that went to Mars and are still functioning there. I talked quite a bit about there being three robots, and repeated their names a few times to try to make an impression.

I asked Chris to read the robot blog post from yesterday, because I thought it was interesting and fun. He didn't say much about to me, but when we were putting Mitchell to bed, he asked Mitchell:

Daddy: "Mitchell, what's a robot?"
Mitchell: "Momma, you answer." (Haggling ensues, and eventually Momma answers.)
Momma: "It's a machine people build to do something for them."
Daddy: "Like a toaster?"

At that point, we digressed into robots walking, etc. Then, Daddy followed up with:

Daddy: "Mitchell, are there robots in space?"
Mitchell: "Yes, there are three."

I guess an impression was made!

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Momma, What's A Robot?"

Hi,

Mitchell and I took a quick trip to Target and the Chef's Shop, ostensibly to exchange some skillets I got Chris for Christmas. The Target is in the same shopping center, and it was convenient to get a few things I needed. Also, it interested Mitchell in the outing, as he got to look at the toy section. Even though we just finished Christmas, he said he needed a toy. Well, there's need, and then there's NEED, of course, but I'm a softie.

Imaginext came to the rescue again, this time with their "Space" series. The little symbol in the corner of the box is a silhouette of Saturn... or a ringed planet, in any case. They have a launch platform and vehicles, some monsters, and several different robots. Mitchell picked out a robot, one that came with a man (of course, in the typical Imaginext dimensions) and a couple disks that the robot can shoot.


As we continued walking through Target, picking out laundry detergent and other normal things, Mitchell asked a lot of questions about robots. The question of the day was, "Momma, what's a robot?" He kept asking variations of the question all morning, and I had to consider whether I was answering it properly, because apparently I wasn't meeting some kind of expectation or providing sufficient clarity.


I started with, "It's a machine people make to do things for them." That didn't really seem to quite capture it, because a toaster meets that description, right? The next time, I described gears and electronics. Hmmm. He asked if they were metal. I said they could be made out of anything, but metal is good because it is strong, though one might use plastic...

The questioning went on through Target, the Chef's Shop, and on to Border's Books. As we walked through the lot into Borders, Mitchell asked, "Are there really robots in space?" That struck me as an odd leap in logic for a moment, and then I recalled that "Space" was the theme of the robot toy. My initial response was, "No." Well, not in the way he meant... Then, I had to tell myself to take the time to answer the question. After all, consider the potential...

So, I said, "There are a few. Did you know that Momma worked on a robot that went to Mars?" Honestly, sometimes being a mom is so cool.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sledding

Hi,

You may have noticed the snow in the background in the last couple of posts from today...


The guys got in some sledding while I took knitting pictures. And, I took a few pictures of sledding, too!


It seems like a great day for curling up inside with some wool...

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Homespun Socks

Hi,

Back in November, I finished my first Sock Homespun. In early December, I finished a basic sock made from the yarn. I have about half of it left. I've just now gotten a picture, because we haven't had any sun.


I used the Basic Sock with Gusset Heel from "Socks From The Toe Up." I added a few increases in the calves, since they were a bit snug and the yarn isn't very stretchy.

Happy Knitting!
Lisa Kay

Tam O'Shanter

Hi,

I finished my "December Lights Tam," a tam o'shanter from Interweave Knits (2007 Holiday issue, and reprinted in the 2009 Accessories issue), by Mary Jane Mucklestone.

I used Knit Picks Palette yarn. I was eager and was familiar with it... Otherwise, I'd have been searching for yarn... I may try Jamieson's Spindrift for my next project. Hmmm.



I like it so much that I cast on to make a cardigan. It seems like I have a lot of yarn, but I may need another ball of a few colors. I used the "body" chart from the tam (the two sets of XOX patterns, but not the hearts), and then I put together some "peerie" patterns based on a picture in Michael Pearson's "Traditional Knitting: Aran, Fair Isle, and Fisher Ganseys." (I don't own the book. I borrowed it from the library. I wish I did have this book!) I used the bottom band design from the "Water-Lily Jacket" in Alice Starmore's "Book of Fair Isle Knitting," and will use the bands for the front/neck/arms, too.

It is a big leap from the tam, dealing with steeks and a lot more knitting. It has a steek for the cardigan front, and I just put in the armhole steeks this morning. Steeks freak me out. It means cutting the knitting. Ack! But knitting in the round all the way to the top seems compelling. I'm trying to decide between a steek for the neck (V-neck) vs. knitting plain to the shoulders and then sewing/cutting per the instructions in, "The New Stranded Colorwork," by Mary Scott Huff. That looks like the more obvious approach, but it seems a shame to do that much extra knitting just to cut it and throw it away. Hmmm...

Happy Knitting!
Lisa Kay

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas, Part 2

Hi,

We had turkey for all four grandparents on Christmas Eve.

Then, the big event was obviously Santa's visit that night. Santa delivered the requested Imaginext Bat Cave and Playmobile Whale... among other things.



The Bat Cave is really neat, with lots of gizmos like a three-story elevator. Mitchell already had several of the figures, along with the Bat Copter. I think he has about everything in the set, now.

Here he is, putting together his Handy Manny Speed Boat.

After a Christmas Eve of rain all day, it turned to snow this morning, and we got just enough to ice up the walks, and, I suppose, to call it a White Christmas. I enjoyed it from indoors!


Happy Christmas!
Lisa Kay

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas, Part 1

Hi,

We met at Uncle Dave's for the "E" family Christmas, today. Dane is five months old, and a little trooper. He stayed awake until a few minutes before we left, even though he has a cough. (He was just getting back from the doctor when we got there.)



I held Dane as much as I could. Chris looked over at me and just said, "No." (Gee, I can't imagine what that means...).


Dane had the cutest Christmas outfit with little Santas on the feet. They were apparently tasty, too!


Dane has just recently started rolling over, and he demonstrated for us and got some "belly time."



Mitchell was already handing out lots of cousinly advice. He's very helpful. He tried to tell Aunt Stephanie how to get Dane to sleep, too.


Three generations of E's. See any resemblance?


Proud Grandpa!

Edited to add:
More pictures from Grandpa's camera...


Mitchell's gift from Grandpa and Grandma was an Imaginext Dragon Castle. Mitchell was very entertained. He also added another dragon to his collection.


Mitchell kept saying for the last few days that he wanted to see Dane. "Are we going to see Dane, today?" Well, now you got to see him, Sweetie!

This one will be great in the "Cousins" frame that Uncle Dave and Aunt Stephanie gave to Mitchell. :)

Happy Christmas!
Lisa Kay

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Hi,

Grandma spent the day with us and baked Christmas cookies. Mitchell had fun with the cut-outs. We have two kinds of cut-outs we always make, classic sugar cookies and spice cookies that we call, "Gingerbread Boys," although I don't think they are technically gingerbread. Then, we ice them all with almond-flavored icing. (Recipes below!)

Here is one of our first pans of the day, filled with Gingerbread Boys. This was the larger size. We also have a smaller, bite-sized boy.
Grandma did most of the cutting out. We've been doing this a long time... It is neat to add Mitchell to the tradition.

Mitchell helped straighten them on the pan. Mostly, I think he was snitching pinches of dough.

Above is the pile of both kinds of cut-outs, ready for frosting. (The Kitchen-aid mixer in the background is dandy. It was a wedding present. Two thumbs up.)

Above, you can see that we made some reindeer out of the spice cookie dough, too. They have red noses, of course.

Note that there are a couple of different kinds of airplanes in there. You can see some of the smallest (bite-size) boys on the top right.

Grandma was glad to be done frosting. We always do the end of the batch with green food coloring, for the holly leaves and Christmas trees, and, oh, yes, a few red-eyed frogs, of course. Aren't those traditional? They are at my house!

And finally, six dozen pecan tarts. These have been a family favorite for forty years, too.

Recipes:
Sugar Cookies: I have these in my recipe book as, "Mom's Sugar Cookies." She told me that she got the recipe off of a pan wrapper in 1965. After all this time, they're a "family" recipe:
I usually at least triple this. When we were kids, we did 6x at a time.
2 c sifted flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg plus milk to make 1/3 c
1/3 c veggie oil
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sift dry ingredients together and add oil. Cut in well with a fork or pastry blender. Mixture will appear dry. In a separate mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add the flour mixture a bit at a time and beat together. (If you don't have a work-horse mixer, you may have to add some flour with the mixer and then do the rest by hand.) Refrigerate for at least an hour. I usually do it overnight.
When you roll it out, take only enough from the fridge to roll out at once. When you get done with a section and roll the scraps again, add some more cold dough out of the fridge. This helps keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. (Also, use flour, but sparingly.)
Bake at 400 for about nine minutes (not really browning, yet) and immediately remove from pan to a cooling rack.
Spice Cookies: These taste like spice cake. And is it any wonder? They start with a cake mix...
1 yellow cake mix
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c molasses
1/2 c margarine or butter (softened)
1 egg
Beat together all ingredients and refridgerate overnight or at least a couple hours.
Roll out and cut with your favorite cutters. The dough is quite soft, so simple and/or small shapes work the best.
Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on the pan before removing.
Icing: Depending on how many cookies you make, you may need to double this (or more)... We made double the recipe for 3x the sugar recipe and 2x the spice recipe. We only had a little bit left over.
2 lb confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 c milk
2 tsp almond extract

Beat together ingredients. Continue to add milk in small amounts until desired consistency. Dip the cookie's top face into the icing and drag off the excess with your finger or a spatula. Sprinkle them with sugar or jimmies before the icing dries. It helps if you have someone else to sprinkle them. It's a good job for your four-year-old!
Pecan tarts: You have to have the mini-muffin pans... I doubled this recipe to get 6 dozen plus a bit extra (the larger brulee pans in the picture).
Shells:
1/2 c margarine
1/2 c sugar
2 egg yolks (discard the whites)
1 tsp almond extract
2 c sifted flour
Mix until smooth. Press evenly into tart shells (mini muffin pans). Bake at 450 8-10 minutes, until just browning on the edges.
Filling:
Bring just to a boil:
1/2 c margarine
1/3 dark Karo corn syrup (or I use light corn syrup sometimes)
1/2 c powdered sugar

Stir in 2 c chopped pecans. Spoon into shells. Top each with a pecan half. Bake for 5 minutes at 350 in order to toast the pecans.

Happy Christmas Cookie Eating!
Lisa Kay

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mitchell Turns Four

Hi,

We had Mitchell's birthday party at Gma and Gpa W's. We had a lot of fun with a small group of friends and family. The cake had Winnie the Pooh figures on it. We always let Mitchell look in the case for a while at Dierberg's, so I made a point of getting the cake there. We all went to pick it up, together, and it made it a special treat. Mommy and Daddy helped him blow out the candles.


Happy Birthday, Mitchell!
Lisa Kay

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Feral Knitting

Hi,

We made a shopping outing, today, with one of the stops at a book store, perfect for Christmas gift purchases. I couldn't resist browsing the knitting section, and I picked up Alice Starmore's "Book of Fair Isle Knitting." (So, I got something for myself, too. That's life.)


I read several sections to Chris, after we got home, because he has Scottish family background. The early sections of the book give a history of Fair Isle knitting and the evolution of knitting in the Shetland islands in general. The writing is quite interesting, actually. Chris started paying attention part of the way through, and he said, "What is this called? 'Feral' knitting?" Hee, hee! I envisioned wild, obnoxious sheep, attacking Scotsmen. Too funny.

I have been tempted on numerous occasions to start playing with colorwork, and I noted once again the "December Lights Tam," by Mary Jane Mucklestone, in latest special issue of Interweave Knits, the "Accessories" issue (Nov '09).

The same pattern has been published before (2007's "Holiday Knits" issue). I looked at it longingly, then, too, but I still wasn't ready for colorwork. Now, I'm thinking of giving it a go... Hmmm.

One of the intimidating factors in Fair Isle is the "steeks." (You have to CUT your knitting. Gasp!) A tam would be a nice way to start some colorwork without taking on steeks in the very same project. I'm such a chicken.

Happy Knitting!
Lisa Kay

Monster Socks

Hi,

I finished my "monster" socks for the monthly knit along, which are intended to be using "leftovers" from other socks.

The orange is Creatively Dyed Calypso, color "HotHotHot," leftover from my "On Hold" socks, and the green is leftover Creatively Dyed Calypso, color "Good Will," from my "Sea Weed" socks, both other monthly KAL socks. I used about 2/3 skein of each for a pair, so 1/3 skein of each just about used up the rest.


I used Meg Swanson's Jogless Stripes Technique, shown on Interweave Daily. It makes it look like there is one less row in the first stitch of the round, but it removes the "jog" associated with the beginning of the round at a color change. In the picture below, the needle is pointing to the first stitch in the round. I used three rows per color, and you can see that the first stitch in each round looks like it only has two rows per color... but no jog.


Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We're making dinner for the grandparents, all four, tonight. The turkey is in the oven. Last night, we had dinner at Maggiano's with Dave, Stephanie, Dane, and my folks.

We had the "family style" dinner... they bring you as much as you want! Wow! Two appetizers, two salads, two pastas, two entrees, and two desserts. It was out of control, and the food is amazingly good, too.

Dane was really laid back and just took it all in. He got a bottle at the end of dinner and was ready for bed time.

Mitchell was excited and talking to everyone and wanting to hold Dane. He entertained the table next to us with magic tricks.


Now, we're just going to have turkey... and some family time.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Lisa Kay

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nice November

Hi,

While it rained all week, we've had two gorgeous weekends in a row, and we made another trip to the park, eeking our last hurrah out of fall.





Chris seemed to think this was a silly hat. I like it, but then, it's mine!



Do you have your turkey, yet? I've got mine ordered... I pick it up on Wednesday!

Happy Turkey Week!!!
Lisa Kay