Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year In Review

Here for your viewing pleasure, slideshows of the projects I've completed in 2006. Clicking on the links should bring up mini slideshows with about 10 pictures in each.

Knitting #1

Knitting #2

Knitting #3


Other Miscellaneous Items

I realized as I compiled these slideshows that I neglected to take photos of a few things this year. I also have a few remaining projects that are nearly complete, but not yet ready for their photo shoot. There are handwarmers in my crockpot (being dyed), a few bobbins of singles waiting to be plyed, and a pair of booties to knit that will complete a baby set. I'll call them "nearly complete" for 2006, with photos coming in 2007.

Thanks for visiting during this past year. I hope to "see" you again in the New Year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Loose Ends

Over the last few weeks I've been working on unfinished projects trying to complete a few that have been nagging at me for awhile.

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These Latvian mittens had been laying about unfinished for quite some time. I finally got around to finishing them a few days ago. The colors choices are not my favorite, but I was just using up some wool that was given to me. I think with this project the stalling point was the fact that I don't actually WEAR mittens, nor does anyone I know. I started them more as a learning exercise and challenge. Now that I know how to make them, as lovely as they are, I will probably never make another pair.

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But that doesn't mean I won't be using the book I found the pattern in, even though it is exclusively patterns for Latvian mittens (okay, I think there is one set of gloves in there). You see, I originally bought the book for the beautiful colorwork patterns, not for the mittens themselves. I figure some day I will adapt some of the patterns for sweaters and such.

I am still plugging away on other unfinished projects, not all of them knitting. I have several spinning and wool combing projects demanding my attention as well. I recently finished spinning some wool for a guild project, I'm at the tail end of the tsunami of wool from this summer, and I'm combing my way through what remains of a dyeing project.

So, as 2006 comes to a close I am trying to find closure on a number of loose ends. Why? All in preparation for the New Year and it's NEW projects of course! I have some beautiful projects coming up and I don't want guilt over unfinished ones to tarnish the experience.

Photos of more finished objects in the next few days, and when the way is cleared I'll have some tantalizing new and ambitious projects to entertain me (and hopefully you!).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy Year Ahead

I love this photo of our daughter and her husband comparing tummies on Christmas day. The excitement builds as we count down the days. Their first child (and our first grandchild!) is due March 11, 2007.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my family and to my friends, those I know in "real life" and those I have only had the pleasure of "meeting" through the internet. May your celebration be filled with peace and JOY. If Christmas is not your thing, then I wish you peace and JOY anyway, in whatever way you choose to embrace it.

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Miss Shelby Underfoot decked out in her Christmas finery.

Thank you for a wonderful year. I enjoy your visits and your comments more than you might know.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Removable Stocking Liners

If you are a regular reader here you know I have spent quite a bit of time over the past year making heirloom, appliqued stockings for my daughter and her husband. The stockings were time consuming and a lot of work. My plan is to make one for each of my children as they leave home, another for their spouses, and one for each grandchild that is born.

The stockings are supposedly hand washable, but they are made of felt and are heavily embroidered, beaded, and sequined. To preserve the stockings over the years, I came up with the idea of making removable liners.

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These liners would keep fuzz off the Christmas candy (VERY important according to my daughter), while at the same time protecting the inside of the stocking. I also made them removable so that the decorative (and labor intense!) outer stocking could be carefully packed away, safe from sticky fingers and melting chocolate, after Santa makes his visit. The inner liner would be used to store the hoarded goodies.

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A ribbon creates a drawstring casing which is threaded with a shoelace. This provides a way of closing the top. Embroidered names sort out whose is whose so no post-Christmas battles ensue.

Here, as a reminder, are the more decorative outer stockings.

My daughter's.
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And her husband's.
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I have enough ribbon and the shoe laces tucked away to make the liner for the third stocking, which I will start in March when our granddaughter is born. :-)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Snowball Fight

How to set up for a snowball fight.

Mix up a batch of shortbread dough and thoroughly drain a 375 ml jar of maraschino cherries. Be sure you have a qualified supervisor watching your every move.

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Wrap a walnut sized piece of dough around each cherry.

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Roll dough/cherry ball in granulated sugar.

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Bake in 300 degree F. oven for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and prepare to begin the fight.

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The fight? That would be the one you war with yourself in a desperate battle to avoid over-indulging on yet another holiday goodie.

One jar of maraschino cherries and a full batch of shortbread makes about four and a half dozen Snowballs with enough dough left over for a dozen rolled cookies.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I Won, I WON!

Remember back in mid October when I did some spindling and entered a contest at Spindlicity? Well, I WON! Yippee!

This spindle spun hat, from hand dyed, hand combed wool ---

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--- has me winning a beautiful spindle with a Bloodwood whorl and an Ebony shaft, generously donated by Spindlewood Co. as a prize for the contest. My hat won in the "Best Use Of Color" category, while June Boutin's took "Best Use Of Materials", and Anne O'Connor's "Most Over the Top".

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Angelic Hobbies

Even angels like to relax with their favorite hobbies, and not all angels are musicians! These handknit lace angels prefer the fiber arts.

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What would an angel spin? Why thread of gold of course!

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A knitter enjoys a golden moment.

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Even the weaver can't resist a touch of gold.

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I've included a pencil here for perspective.

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The angelic trio of fiber artists are destined for my guild's Christmas gift exchange. The patterns are from "Angels : A Knitter's Dozen", by Gerdine Crawford.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shortbread Traditions

When I was growing up my mother always made Shortbread using the family recipe, handed down by her mother. It was shortbread the way it "should" be, three simple ingredients, butter, berry sugar, and flour. I believed in that recipe. I defended it as the best shortbread there was. Until I got married.

My husband grew up knowing shortbread from a different recipe, the one from the "Canada Cornstarch" box. We each thought "our" shortbread was the best. The good natured argument went on for a bit until one Christmas early in our marriage I decided to have a side by side "taste test". I made both recipes and we voted for our favorite. We both liked the cornstarch recipe the best so from that point on it was the one I used, except for one important modification. I made it larger. The recipe on the box only makes 2 dozen. Are they serious? That wouldn't last one evening around this house! Besides I kind of liked the way my grandmother's recipe used up the whole pound of butter.

So here's my adaptation of the cornstarch recipe. I've "super-sized" it so that it takes a whole pound of butter and makes about 5 dozen cookies and I've also simplified the mixing method.

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Using an electric mixer, cream together one pound of (room temperature) butter, 1 1/3 cups of icing sugar and 1 1/3 cups of corn starch. Gradually add 3 cups of flour. Turn out onto a lightly floured board/countertop and knead until well blended. Roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F. for 15 - 20 minutes until just the outside edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
The recipe itself has not been my only break with tradition. My mom used a medium sized cookie cutter with a wavy edge (like the cookies on the left). When I got married I could not find the same kind of cookie cutter and had to substitute the flower-ish shape on the right. For years I searched for a cookie cutter like my mom's so that I could have shortbread the way it "should" be. Finally last year I found one. In the meantime my own children have grown up with shortbread made with the flower-ish cutter --- the ones on the right.

A few days ago my married daughter mentioned that she had made a batch of shortbread. She was complaining that it didn't look the way it "should". You see, she can't find a cookie cutter with "bumps" like mine. All she has is a cookie cutter with a wavy edge. Bwahaha! Bumpy or wavy, there is one thing we both agree on: Shortbread must have three rows of fork pricks to look "right". Left plain they look naked, or blind, or somethin'.

I guess traditions are whatever you get used to.

Incidentally, I believe my mother has abandoned her mother's recipe and now makes whipped shortbread.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Frosty Greeting

He's done and now I can get on with other things.

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I don't particularly enjoy doing plastic canvas work, but this fellow was so darn cute I just had to make him.

My original intent was to place Frosty on our front door, on the outside, between the main door and the storm door. His slim profile works better in that narrow space than a wreath does. BUT, after all that work I want to be able to see him! We enter our home through a side door so, really, the INSIDE of the front door is seen a whole lot more --- and that is where Frosty will be grinning his greeting for now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Crushless Tarts

You know how sometimes when you are making tarts they boil over a bit and stick in the pans? If your pastry is flaky you will likely crush the tarts trying to get them unstuck. I've come up with a unique way of baking tarts so that this doesn't happen.

I use individual foil tart tins. (Stay with me here. There is a reason and I'm getting to it.)

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Once the foil tins are filled I place them into muffin pans. This is just for holding during baking. I've tried cookie sheets but it doesn't work as well - they slide around too much.

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As usual some of the tarts boil over a bit when baking.

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Now here is where the benefit of my method comes in: Normally tarts made in a tart or muffin pan cannot be turned over immediately because the hot filling will ooze out. But, if you let them cool the boiled over spots act like crazy glue sticking the tarts to the tins. If you try to dig them out with a knife, they break.

The beauty of individual foil tart tins is that they can be turned upside down, carefully, ONE AT A TIME while still hot. Even if they boiled over, the flipping can be done while the filling is still on the hot side and they slide out beautifully.

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Go! Run to a "dollar store" and pick up a few packages of individual tart tins. It will save you time, frustration and waste when doing your Christmas baking.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Relax, It's Fine

You know that extra curly bit of oddness I showed you yesterday? Well it relaxed in the water and now it's fine. No, really!

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The relaxed and s-m-o-o-t-h skein in the front is the very same one I showed you yesterday when it was all uptight and the new one shown in the back. The only thing I did was to wash it. I didn't even have to weight it. It now hangs PERFECTLY. It is not unbalanced at all. I don't get it.

What say all you spinning gurus? Why is the plyed yarn reacting like it does when it first comes off the niddy noddy, despite becoming perfectly balanced after washing? If you don't know yourself but have an experienced friend who might, could you send them over to my blog please? I mean, I'm relieved to know the yarn is fine, but I would like to know what causes this peculiar situation.

The only anomaly I can think of is that the singles sat on the bobbins for well over a month before being plyed. I let it sit on the advice of "The Spindling Scott", Judy, who suggested it might solve my problem with the yarn biasing when knitted into a swatch. I thought letting it sit would calm the singles? Perhaps it DID calm the singles and the corkscrewing is from the energy added in the plying process being out of sync with the now set singles? Did the water bring the singles back to life? Did it take some of the energy from the plying? Any ideas?

Monday, December 04, 2006


Last night when this skein came off the niddy noddy even my non-spinning husband could see that something was not right. He laughed. I, however, was having the crappiest day I've had in a long time and could not see the humor in the situation.

This curly, ultra-sproingy, wreath-like thingy was supposed to be a large, perfect, beautifully spun skein. Something to be petted, admired and used as a balm for my frazzled nerves. Perhaps even an object of "art" to be displayed so others could admire it as well. Instead I got THIS:

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The only thing that prevented me from bursting into tears was the persistent thought that I shouldn't jump to conclusions, that I shouldn't give up on it yet. The absurd bundle of tight little corkscrews hadn't yet had its post spinning bath. I had this mental image of it unwinding in a tub of hot soapy water. I mean when I'm tense and "wound up" a hot bath can sometimes do wonders. Why wouldn't a bath work the same magic on an overly tense and uptight skein?

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The instant it hit the water it relaxed dramatically! It is still too soon to tell, (it's still lounging in the rinse water) but I think it might work out just fine.

Maybe I'll be okay too.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Plastic Canvas Scarf

Honestly, I think I could knit Frosty a scarf in less time!

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm Canadian All The Way Through

You are 100% Canuck!

You rock, you are an almighty Canadian through and through. You have proven your worthiness and have won the elite prize of living in a country as awesome as Canada. Yes I know other countries think they are better, but we let them have that cuz we know better than they do, eh?

How Canadian Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Frosty Start

I went stash* diving yesterday and came up with a plastic canvas project that would like to be done in time for the Christmas season. THIS Christmas season......preferably the beginning of the month, not the end.

Say hello to Frosty. Well, what will eventually become Frosty the Snowman anyway.

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Frosty's hat was completed some time before this project was abandoned in the stash* for other, more pressing (or perhaps just more interesting) projects. A small amount of the head was also started. I picked it up again yesterday and the remainder of what you see was accomplished throughout the day and into the evening. That's a LOT of little white stitches folks. Sitting there for hours producing stitch after white stitch had an element of boring to it, but at the same time it was rather relaxing and meditative.

Is anyone else disturbed by Frosty's lack of eyes and a nose? They are stitched separately and added at the end.

* "Stash" around here means so much more than just yarn, needles, and patterns for knitting. No, around here "Stash" requires a room of it's own (and then some) as I also spin, crochet, embroider, sew, weave, needlefelt, cross-stitch..........if it's fiber related I have probably at least tried it, and more than likely I have been obsessed by it for at least a time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Beat the Deadline

I wanted this done by December first. I figured I could get it done by Thursday. I amazed myself and completed it ahead of schedule last night.

If you've been following along, this birdie was next in the instructions.

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It was appliqued in place here on Santa's hand.

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With the addition of the trim and sequins at the top, a plain backing, and a hanging loop, it's done. The empty slot at the top is for a name but the stocking is for our daughter, who will become "Mommy" next March so I will just leave it empty for now.

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I still want to add a removable lining but that is not a part of the kit and can be done any time between now and Christmas Eve. With the weather outside being so frightful I am not about to go out today just to buy the material for the lining.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Teeny Tiny Stocking

A teeny tiny addition to the larger stocking.

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It actually opens. Do you think Santa could resist popping a small treat in there?

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The fun little addition dangles from Santa's mitten.

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This photo of Shelby in her "Dog's Breakfast Pullover" was taken early yesterday afternoon. The snow kept falling for many hours afterward. Snow in this area of BC is infrequent. Huge dumps of snow are rarer still. Without the crews or equipment to deal with the snowfall, side streets are nearly impassable, schools are closed and authorities are recommending people just stay at home if possible.

Okay, I think I will.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Am I The Last?

I didn't work on the stocking at all yesterday. I was too busy fiddling with my new toy.

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I now have a cell phone. I think I may have been the last hold out on earth. Up until yesterday I didn't have a cellular phone and didn't want one. When asked to answer someone else's phone I would freak out, not knowing how to answer or hang up and passing it off as quickly as possible like it was the object of attention in a game of "Hot Potato".

Well it seems I have now joined the ranks of those "connected". I can be reached even when not at home. Not that this is a big deal for me as I rarely use the phone even at home and I figure most calls can wait. I can wait until I get home to place calls or I can use a pay phone, and those who need to get in touch with me can wait until I am available (at home).

That was my reasoning anyway. Anything to avoid having to deal with the scary new technology (and yet I am comfortable with a computer, go figure!). The reason for my cross over to the "techno-geek side"? A first grandchild on the way. When the time comes I want to be sure I don't miss the big moment because I was "out" and couldn't be reached. The birth of this child marks the moment that two Grandmas, two Grandpas, an Uncle, an Aunt, a couple of Great Grandmas, and a couple of Great Grandpas are created........Oh! and a Mommy and Daddy too!

I also bought this nifty cell phone pouch. When I carry a purse at all it is this small one and there is no room for a phone. The pouch snaps firmly to a strap which quite handily runs right down the side of the purse. For my more frequent non-purse outings it can snap to my belt.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sweet Details

Yesterday I added the final details to the toe section of the stocking. The elf got a candy cane and an arm and hand to hold it with. Both the arm and the candy cane are 3-D and hang free.

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He/(she?) also received the remainder of his hair. The central tuft stands free at the top. At his feet lies a present with a fluffy bow.

Yesterday's effort puts me one full day ahead of schedule, but I will need that advantage over the next couple of days as we have a busy weekend planned.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ahead By A Head

Not only did I make my self imposed quota yesterday, I exceeded it by a head. An elf head to be exact.

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The elf is by no means finished but I do have more done than I expected. I worked on him diligently for most of the day so that I could reach my goal and still go out in the evening to a spinners and weavers guild meeting.

And look what we have here. Knitting Content! Why yes, those who expect knitterly content on this blog won't be disappointed today. I find the business portion of the guild meetings to be dreadfully long and boring (not the executive's fault, just my personal aversion to that type of thing) so I am very glad that knitting during the meetings is not frowned upon.

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This is the beginning of an eyelet baby hat destined to adorn the noggin' of our first grandchild, due in March. I've done this pattern before when my nieces had their first babies. It's one of my favorites.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

An Arm an' a Leg

Yesterday I got the second arm and both legs/boots done.

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Doesn't look like much but it took me all afternoon and all evening. I finished just shortly before going to bed. The new arm is totally 3-D so the backside had to be appliqued too. It's not the applique that takes forever, it's all those sequins (each with a bead centered over the hole). Doesn't look like that many sequins to you? There are 77 on the white trim at the lower edge of Santa's jacket. The white cuff of his right arm? Another 31 sequins!

I worked out a "schedule" last night. If I work most of the day, every day, and get a minimum of 10 more pieces done each day, I will have the stocking complete by Thursday of next week. That's saying other things don't come up that interfere with my available time.

I have a meeting tonight that will cut into my available time significantly. I better get off here and get to work!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hat, Head

I managed to complete Santa's head and his hat yesterday.

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I'm working on this stocking pretty much non-stop in an effort to beat a December first deadline. I've done 27 of the 97 applique pieces so far. Nine days left for the remaining 70 pieces.

I just love the 3 dimensional aspects of this project. The pompom on his hat, the leaves on the pompom, the mustache and the belt buckle are all only semi-attached. His eyebrows and and nose are double thicknesses so they appear raised as well. Many of the pieces are lightly padded too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Armed and Belted

Progress so far:

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I have 10 days to do the remaining 87 pieces. Applique pieces that is. If you count all the beads and sequins I would imagine it numbers somewhere around 1,000....give or take a few hundred.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Four Hos

The rush is on. I have until December first to get this stocking done. With almost 100 applique pieces, some stuffing, a lot of embroidery and hundreds of sequins and beads to sew on it will take up most of my spare time over the next 11 days. Possibly longer.

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This stocking is for my daughter and she would like to decorate her home for Christmas on the first of December or thereabouts. You may recall that I finished my son-in-law's stocking a while back. I then took a break from appliqued stockings to knit, spin and weave. It seems my break was too long. Aack!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Paint Chips and Fabric Choices

Our grandbaby-to-be is now known to be a GIRL and the knitting and decorating begins in earnest. I've got something lacey and pink on the needles, as does her Mommy.

The baby's room has been primed and is ready for a coat or two of color. Still waiting on a final decision on that, but it might end up being the one in the paint chip here.

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The curtain fabric has been chosen, it's the printed strip on top. I picked up a few pieces of flannel in colors that coordinate and made three receiving blankets for her.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Handspun Sweater

It's been a long while in the making.

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I bought 1000g of Corriedale roving in the (now discontinued) "Hazelnut" colorway last year at Fibrefest International with a plan to make my husband a sweater. I spent a couple of months spinning it into a 2 ply sportsweight and then started in on the knitting. I designed the sweater myself using Sweater Wizard. I came up with the basic size and shaping using one of his favorite old sweaters and then used the ribbing pattern from "Leo".