Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Year is Nearly New

We had a wonderful holiday here and I hope yours was good too! We are gearing up for our first New Years out. Yes, you heard me. First New Years not tucked safely at home. I am kind of excited, and kind of nervous that maybe at 43 I am too, shall we say, 'mature' to begin living like it's 1985, but we will see. Wish me luck.

I knit a sweater for my mother-in-law's puppy, Max, in the 24 hours before Christmas Eve. I wanted a picture, but did not have a model, so I grabbed the closest thing.

Mel! Now, some of you may know that Mel was rescued by us (Girl, really) from a shelter after he'd been found wandering the streets, and had just come back to the shelter after a bad 24-hour adoption experience that left him labeled as "viscious" by his 24-hour-adopter. You can see from the picture above that he's a brutal beast. Terrifying even. I even still have all ten fingers AND my face! The pattern is a Drops Design and the yarn Berroco Comfort. I did make some modifications as I went along; the hood was left off, and stitch pick-ups for the legs were based on ratio not numbers.

Dinner here Christmas Eve day with three of our four kids and their partners/spouses was a lot of fun. Starting with Mr. Wonderful at the head of the table (far right) and going counter clockwise around the table, that's Rachel and Eric, Megan and Jeroth, and Selina and Brendon, the newlyweds.

It was a good day with lots of good food and good company. It's nice when kids are grown up and have learned to get along. Not once did I have to smack any heads together. They all got along like regular grown-ups. I am so proud.

In and around the holiday fray, I have been working on editing the new book. In my spare time I knit up owl hats with Katy's Owls and Tigers and Zebras, Oh My pattern:

(their faces will be along shortly!) and I work on this shawl:

I am loving it in a lot of ways. I love the way the beads sit on the yarn like fat water drops. I love the subtle (and difficult to catch with a camera) glow of the yarn which contains a good amount of tencel.

I love the rippling motion of the stitch pattern. The yarn is Buffalo Gold Moon and the pattern is my own. The beads are from Webs Beads. The pattern will be available someday, somewhere, but I can't say yet!

In the meantime, check out the pattern shop and grab yourself a copy of my new Moon and Stars Socks pattern!

I heard a rumor that there will be a knit-a-long with this pattern on Ravelry. Although Stella, the yarn the sample socks are knit in, is not currently available Carol's beautifully dyed Luna makes an excellent substitute. A little bunny tells me that until January 3, 2011 a 10% discount will automatically be applied at check out... ok, I read it on Facebook, but still - a deal is a deal!

This weekend our annual family Christmas on Sunday at my Dad's was cancelled due to an impending blizzard. I had planned to make a Butternut Squash Soup with the Vitamix, and had already cooked up the squash the day before. No one here likes that soup except me. After a couple of days of contemplation I decided to use up a few leftovers, including the squash. I present for you here my solution to leftover cooked squash, spinach, chicken and bits from the holiday cheese board. It has no name, unless we want to call it something like:

"Leftover Butternut Spinach Chicken Cheese Casserole"

1.5 cups chopped cooked chicken
1.5 cups cooked butternut squash, chopped or mashed
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 of a large purple onion, sliced thin
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup neufchatel cheese, softened
1 egg, beaten
1.5 cups shredded cheese (mine was a combination of roughly equal parts parmesan, fontina, manchego and cheddar)
1 teaspoon sage
10 cranks black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil (or 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 cloves or garlic, chopped finely)

Assemble all ingredients. Spray a 3-quart with non-stick cooking spray. Combine 1 cup buttermilk, neufchatel cheese and egg and beat well to combine. Set aside. Layer ingredients as follows: 1/2 of spinach, 1/2 of sliced onion, 1/2 of squash, sprinkle over all 1/2 of salt, sage and pepper, 1/2 of chickens and 1/2 of cheese. Repeat with remainder of ingredients. Pour buttermilk/cheese/egg mixture over all. You may want to use a chopstick or fork to help the liquid penetrate the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until the casserole is heated through, bubbly, and cheese is browned. Let it set up for a few minutes before serving. It was good! Ask the dog... he stole my lunch today!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice and a Lunar Eclipse, and a Pair of Socks, Too!

Tonight, or more correctly tomorrow morinng, there will be a rare occurance of a lunar eclipse on a Winter solstice, the first since 1638. The next one will be in 2094, and I hope to be dead by then. I may need to rise from my bed between 2:30 and 3 and have a look. Ironically, this weekend I released this sock pattern, rather aptly named Moon and Stars, given the astronomical happening we're about to experience! I have added the pattern to my little pattern store. I had to spend some time remembering how to put a pattern in there, which is an indication that I have been doing entirely too much of the wrong sort of work.
The yarn is Black Bunny Fibers Stella in the colorway Meteor Showers. The base yarn is very similar to Kraemer Sterling Silk and Silver, for which I have a deep weakness. Black Bunny Luna would make a great substitute for Stella as well.
The pattern is an undulating eyelet that lets the yarn show off both it's beautifully dyed colors and it's hint of silver...yes I said silver. That glint in the close-up is sterling silver!
I knit them on a US 1 at 8 stitches per inch. The pattern, written for top-down 2-at-a-Time knitting, includes directions bsaed on this gauge, and suggestions for knitting a larger sock by changing the gauge to 7.5 sts/inch.
Really they are just beautiful, which I think I can say even though they are mine! I am a bit of a sucker for the sparkly stuff. Add an amazing dye job and a deceptively simple stitch pattern and really, you need to knit these socks! They would make an excellent last-minute Christmas gift, or a stellar (no pun intended) New Years Eve accessory.
And aren't the pictures amazing? Thank you Katy!! Using my camera and her office, I think we got some pretty nice shots of these little lovelies!
I also, somewhere along the way, made this adorable owl hat that Katy designed. But now I don't know who to give it to. It needs a child's head. I can't really see April in it, unless it were red or maybe princess pink. And I need to move it's beak up. And make it bigger. It needs to be goofier, I think.
Yes, I know, it's not quite done. I can't find my button box, which is a very odd occurance here. Gene usually brings it up and puts it away when I need it. This leads me to believe that it is someplace over my head. I looked around a little but I can't find it. Regardless, it's adorable, and I want to make more of it and more animals (not really joking about the princess pink...maybe a pony...with sparkles!). The yarn is Berroco Vintage Chunky, color Chana Dal, and it knit up so fast I barely knew what happened. You can buy the pattern, Owls & Tigers & Zebras Oh My! from Katy's Ravelry store.

It's almost Christmas! I am hoping to have all or at least most of the kids here on Christmas Eve. I thought I didn't want to do it this year, I thought it would be too much with the book finishing up, but I think I need the connection with our little family unit, just for a part of a day. Just once, before they are all really grown up and gone!