Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Yesterday was a beautifully sunny day, so I grabbed my camera, popped in some new batteries, and went on a brief walk.  (Sunny days are always the coldest in the winter.)

I wandered down to the Mississippi River - three blocks from my house - hoping that I would be able to find some decent pictures.  It had been quite warm for a couple of days previous and I knew that icicles would be in abundance.  Let me tell you though, they're not that easy to photograph.  My rock climbing skills came in quite handy...

...because I was climbing around on the cliffs along the river.  It was a bit more dangerous than my usual rock climbing because I wasn't climbing in designated areas, I was wearing winter boots instead of climbing shoes (as well as jeans and a coat, which limit one's mobility), I had gloves on my hands, I wasn't tied to a rope, and everything was covered in ice.  I risked my life for you all, I hope you're happy.

The river itself looked a bit dismal barren ominous desolate:

but I was still able to find running water in a couple of places.

and after climbing for a bit, I found what I was looking for (though I wish I were able to take better pictures.)

It was only a little after 3pm, and the sun was already on the horizon...

One icicle was growing on a vine, which allowed it to grow quite long.  It was almost 6 feet in length and very pointy, so naturally I laid under it to take a picture.

and with the sun going down and my batteries malfunctioning*, I snapped one more picture and headed home.  I wish my camera continued working because I didn't feel like I got what I wanted, but whatchyagonnado, right?

Brigade is almost done, I've done both arms and joined the pieces and am now making my way up the yoke.  Hopefully it'll only take a couple more days to get it finished (I thought I should throw some knitting into this post.  I don't have a picture though).

*In sixth (eighth?) grade I did a science fair experiment that tested a battery's life-span and the flashlight in the freezer definitely went out before the flashlight on the countertop.  I think that's what happened to my camera batteries too.  Now that they're warmed up again it's working fine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Today's Cookie

Melting Moments:

These little things are delicious!  It's a super simple recipe too.

-1 cup butter
-1 cup flour
-1/3 cup powdered sugar
-3/4 cup corn starch

Soften butter and stir in dry ingredients, mix well.  Roll into large ball and chill in refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

Roll into little (about quarter-sized) balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Frosting:  My directions simply said to mix melted butter, milk, and powdered sugar, so I just did whatever I wanted and it turned out just fine.  (I did 1 cup powdered sugar, roughly 1 tablespoon melted butter, and added milk slowly until the frosting was relatively thick.)

These cookies are delicious, and they really do melt in your mouth.  Delicious!  I think they would also be good with a bit of lemon in the frosting.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

With Christmas less than a week away, and having appointed myself the cookie baker for this year, I've been keeping busy trying to bake at least one type of cookie every day until Christmas.  Sound like fun?  I thought so too!

A couple of days ago I made at least 8 dozen Snickerdoodles using this recipe.  I baked mine for 8:30 instead of the recommended 10 minutes in an attempt to lessen the crisp factor, but they still turned out rather crispy, which is fine and they're now frozen waiting for more people to arrive for the holidays.

Yesterday I baked a new-to-me cookie called Ribbon Cookies.  It's a little more involved than your average cookie, but they were fun to make.  Armed with the recipe scribbled all over a quarter piece of paper (in no real order),:

...I got to work, hoping for the best.  What happens is that you mix the dough, and then split it into thirds, each third getting a different treatment.  To the first you add almond extract and chopped marachino cherries:

The second third gets some green food coloring and chopped nuts, and then in the last portion you mix in some chocolate:

These then get layered in a bread pan and refrigerated for a while.

Once chilled, you can take it out of the pan and cut it up into slices that are then baked and made delicious.

I only made a single batch, which yielded four dozen, as I didn't know how they would turn out.

Today I made another eight dozen gumdrop cookies (my favorite!) and prepared some dough to be chilled for tomorrow's cookies, Melting Moments.  Tomorrow I may also make some Chinese Almond Cookies or Chocolate Curls.  I haven't decided yet...

(Hey Cookie, I think this is the most times I have inadvertently mentioned you in a blog post before!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And The Knitting Continues

On our walk home from Whole Foods the other day (picking up some Cream of Tartar so that we could make snickerdoodles), my little sister asked me if I would make her an "animal hat."  Of course I will!  This is the little sister who was given a hat a year ago and she loves it so much that she declared she would never ever wear another hat again.  She sure knows how to appreciate hand-knits, am I right?

Of course, I knew instantly which hat I wanted to make her, and after showing her the pattern, she agreed.

Oh hi, I'm a fish.

The Fish Hat from Knitty, Winter 2008 has been on my radar for quite a while and I'm glad I finally had a reason to make it.

I was even able to do it using only yarn from my stash.  To be honest, I didn't even know that my stash was capable of something like that.  The only yarn I brought home for my winter break was yarn I thought I would be using over break ...and all of my malabrigo, because you always need malabrigo.

I just laid out the yarn and my sister picked what she wanted.  Then she happened to see the leftover orange yarn from my nephew's scarf and I used it for the lips and fins.

Pattern: Fish Hat from Winter 2008 Knitty
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted in Apple Green, Bobby Blue, and Lettuce
RYC Cashsoft DK in colorway 510 (orange)
Needles: US size 6
Time: Started on December 16, 2009.  Finished December 18, 2009

My sister was also in charge of what she wanted the eyes to look like.  Yes, they are intentionally funny looking.

I used a smaller needle size in order to get a slightly smaller hat.  I'm still considering tacking down the rolled edge "lips" so that they don't unroll, but I doubt I'll ever get back to that.

As we're on the subject of scaly creatures, I would like to introduce you to my beautiful Brittany.  I don't have a cat to showcase on my blog, but I do have a wonderful ball python.

Isn't she pretty?  We had a little photo shoot a week or so ago and although she couldn't sit still (which is why her head was blurry), I managed to get this shot.  I think she's so pretty.  She was a birthday present from my sister four years ago and, in fact, she just herself (Brittany, not my sister) celebrated her fourth birthday last week.

Sometimes she likes to help me knit.

I'm still working on my Brigade pullover too, I only have an inch or two before I'm done with the body.

Hooray for quick knits!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

D Is For Darby

Last week, one of my sisters asked me to make my almost-two-year-old nephew (her son) a scarf.  Obviously I said yes.

She wanted a warm, soft, machine-washable scarf, and so I headed to my LYS and came across some RYC Cashsoft DK that fit all three categories.  I picked up two balls in blue (514) and one in orange (510) and set off to make a small tube scarf.

After casting on the first time, I thought it would be a fun idea to duplicate stitch his name or initials into the scarf, but after charting both out, I realized I didn't have the right number of stitches, so I ripped out.  I cast on again, this time with more stitches and smaller needles (because I didn't want his scarf to be too wide), but then I scrapped that idea, but I can't remember why.  I then cast on again with the original needles and a larger, but not as large as the last time, number of stitches and knit for a bit, but it was just too wide.  So I ripped that out, and cast on one final time after deciding that I would just duplicate stitch a "D" into the scarf instead of his name or both initials.

So I looked up how to duplicate stitch and went to town:

...and I didn't like it.  Not only was it not centered (and I'm not sure how because I counted and counted and counted to make sure I had the right number of stitches and rows), but I also didn't like the way the duplicate stitch looked.  I didn't like the blue peeking through the vertical lines, which I'm assuming is just a flaw with duplicate stitch because it doesn't actually cover up a stitch, but rather makes a new one between already existing stitches.  Which I guess is another flaw, because it then sort of distorts the knitted fabric.  Anyway, I wanted the D to be part of the scarf, not some oddity stitched on top of it.

So I ripped out again.  No harm done, it's only a small scarf and I had lost a total of a day, and that's not too bad.

I think my new D looks better, but maybe that's just me, and I'm sure the old one would have been fine, but I like to make things difficult for myself.

You see, this time I actually carried the orange yarn with the blue while knitting and did an odd sort of mix between stranded knitting/intarsia-in-the-round to get the D into the scarf.

It was slow going, but I like the results.  (You can tell that the yarn was starting to get a bit fuzzy at this point).

Now that the D was done, it was straightforward knitting until I was done, and pretty soon I had a finished scarf.

Pattern: None
Needles: US 5
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft DK in blue (514) and orange (510)
Time: Started December 10, 2009.  Finished December 13, 2009

I can also now show you the sweater that I'm working on because shortly after I published my last post, Todd published the pattern for his new Brigade pullover.  I'm this far right now:

That's all for today, happy Tuesday everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Came Early This Year

To begin with, I made my most favorite cookies this morning, which makes me happier than ever.

I just love Gumdrop Cookies*.  (and I admit that I am terrible at making food look delicious, but I assure you that these cookies are just that.)

Aren't you completely stunned that I was able to distinguish between the red and the green ones?  No?  You must not know me well enough...

The real Christmas gift I'm talking about is the fact that the wonderful Todd Gocken, of Expedition designing fame, has designed another sweater which I edited and then he sent me some yarn to knit one up for myself!

Briggs & Little Heritage in Khaki - I thought it was fitting as the sweater is called "Brigade" and is a military style sweater.  The pattern hasn't been released yet, but I'll let you guys know when it's up.  I can't wait to start knitting on this one.

*Recipe for Gumdrop Cookies, if you're interested:


- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups oatmeal
- 1 cup nuts (optional)
- gumdrops

Mix butter and sugar.  Add eggs, mix.  Add sour cream, mix.  Add flour, soda, and salt, mix.  Add oatmeal and nuts (if you want), mix.  Ta-da!  Dough is done.

Scoop, spoon, plop, toss, or drop cookie-amount globs of dough on cookie sheet and gently press three gumdrops onto each one.

Bake at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

My batch made exactly four dozen cookies this morning. Deeelicious.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Milestone

This is my 100th blog post!  I know, doesn't it make me sound like a newbie?  I guess I am, but I don't feel like one.  Oh well, it's still a milestone, right?

Everybody has been blogging about the snow they've been getting, so I thought I'd share my first snow of the season - Minnesota style:

How's that for snow?  We still have a couple more inches to go before it's done tonight.  This is a very fine, powdery snow that gets blown around in the cold wind.  I love watching it as it zig-zags behind cars, blows across the yard, or forms little tornados in the street.  You can see on my neighbor's roof that the wind is also attempting to do a bit of sculpting with this snow.

I wonder how long it'll take for that to blow down?

Anyway, on to the knitting.  Here are a couple more pictures of my Expedition pullover, in which you can a) see the whole thing and b) see what the back looks like.

...although my poses aren't any better.

I also just finished a scarf for my brother the other day.  He wanted a Ravenclaw Scarf, so I picked up some Cascade 220 (love!) in gray and navy blue and knit up a striped tube scarf for him.

Pattern: None.  Just cast on 70 stitches and went to town.
Needles: US 7
Yarn: Cascade 220 in gray and navy, two skeins of each
Time: Started December 1, 2009.  Finished December 8, 2009

This scarf only took me a week to knit and it was mindless the entire time.  My brother and I have gotten into the habit of watching a movie every night, so most of the knitting was done in the dark while enjoying a movie.

Although I knew I was going to block this scarf flat, I still attempted a seamless jog between stripes to make things look nice.  It wasn't really any extra effort, and I think it looks good too.

He didn't want tassels on the scarf, so I made sure to have nice ends as well.  I used Judy's Magic Cast On for the beginning, and then I kitchenered the end closed so that it would look seamless.

See?  Beautiful.  And now he has a scarf.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sometimes You Just Have To Remind Me

I think Todd was getting a little impatient to see my finished Expedition.  (Kidding Todd!)

...but really I don't blame him.  I should have had it finished and photographed weeks ago.

Pattern: Expedition Pullover by Todd Gocken (rav. link)
Needles: US 7
Yarn: Bartlett Yarns 2-ply Fisherman's Wool in Light Heather, 6.5 skeins
Time Taken:  To knit? September 23, 2009-November 17, 2009.  To finish?  Add another three weeks.

I finally went outside today to take some pictures and, well, they're less-than-stellar.  It was getting dark (at freaking 3:30pm!), I was by my onesies, and I was all sorts of cold.  I'll try to force someone to go outside with me tomorrow to take better pictures.

I do like my buttons, I think they finished off the piece nicely.  It took me about two weeks (really only about 5 minutes) to sew them on.

I also threw in a contrasting hem on the cuffs and the bottom of the sweater.

The pattern features an underarm gusset, which I tried to show you here, I think it's a nice touch.  And do you see that cable?

I didn't really get a good picture of it, but I love, love, love it.

It goes around the armholes in the front and the back.  ...the back being the other thing I didn't photograph today.

and I'll leave you with some blurry great pictures of me in awkward poses making strange faces.

I'll do better tomorrow, I promise!   Off to record another podcast episode (woot!)