Well, it's not smocked dresses and Eton suits anymore for my more- than-hip grandkids, Zoe and Charley. Truth be told, Charley never wore Eton suits, but his Uncle Jim did. Uncle J despised them, BTW, but that is another story. Anyway, They are going to an annual holiday party tonight. Their mom dropped off their party clothes for them to slip into when we get home from see the new Narnia movie this afternoon. Zoe has this bright new outfit complete with new shiny boots.
This is Charley's go-to "going out" outfit this fall. He loves his boots, all three pair.
He gravitates to this totally hip shirt every party.
Can't wait to see the pics of them all decked out and charming the room. What, me prejudiced?
Ten little buckets, each packed with about six kinds of tiny cookies ready for friends and neighbors. Wish I had a catchy way to say that, but I'm about out of sparky words right now. I don't know how I let myself get on this holiday rush train. I am waking up each day with a list in my head.
Today I get to take a break and go spin with my friends. Oh, and deliver a few buckets.
My Colorado family is having a different winter. Abundant snow has given son, Jim, a glorious playground for his high back country skiing on his telemark skis. Here he slogging through the trees at Berthound Pass, altitude 11,000 feet plus. That looks like nothing but torture to me.
Granddaughters, Sophie and Stella look frozen to me on their first day of skiing last week. God love 'em. They are becoming little whizzes on the slopes.
Meanwhile, a friend sent me this shot of my condo in Harbor Springs, Michigan. They are getting hammered with snow and cold there. Dallas, however, cannot decide on balmy, silly spring weather, or blustery cold. Today, 78 to 80 degrees. Christmas eve, maybe 50 with lows in the 30s. I think I will take the latter.
Shifting gears from madly knitting fingerless mitts for Christmas shipping, Jen, Zoe and I hit my kitchen to knock out two of six kinds of Christmas cookies we have planned for holiday parties and gifting. First I made Helen Corbitt's Sand Tarts, little balls of butter, powdered sugar, cake flour and chopped pecans. Melt-in-your mouth sweetness. My mom used to make these as little crescents, but my current family prefers little balls.
Then on to the decorated sugar cookies pictured at the top. I found these tiny little Christmas cookie cutters of trees, candy canes, ornaments and stars which Jen decided would make perfect little bites for her Christmas Eve Tasting Party with everything small scale. Wow, a doubled recipe for "Rich Roll Cookies" in the trusty tome, The Joy of Cooking, p. 711 made acres of cookies! We were icings and sprinkling toppings for what seemed like hours. Oh, and the kicker is, the icing needs to set for 5 hours before you stack them in a tin. Guess who got to do that at 10 P.M.??
Zoe loved really helping this year. She manned both the big KitchenAid mixers with ease. Jen's newer model blue baby is much less libel to blow flour around as it is added to creamed butter mixers. Just FYI, folks, if you are in the market for a new mixer.
Jen kept checking our math. We've been off sometimes in previous years with hilarious results.
Zoe loved scraping the dough off the beater.
These are tiny little 1 1/2 inch cookies. So pretty!
Next up, Rachel Ray's fudge ring and Aunt Betty's shortbread.
FIBER: dyed, spun, knitted. I promise it's been happening in the studio, but, yikes, it has been almost two months since I posted here. I have no explanation but am determined to get with it again.
My makeshift garage dyeing studio was a favorite hangout during the mild days of fall. This skein of hand spun evolved from the Heirloom Tomatoes colorway of superwash Blue-faced Leicester roving below. One of my twisted spinning sisters bought it, spun it and let me photo her gorgeous work.
Keeping rovings dyed with crazy Olive colorway in stock as been hard. They are snatched up before I can get them in the shop.
This bobbin is Kate's plied version, spun with kid mohair locks.
I have been experimenting with unexpected colorways of warm and cool colors mixed as in the Accent 1 BFL roving here.
I spun and plied it on itself, never got the skein photographed before I took it to Arkansas Fiber Extravaganza at Mt. Magazine where it sold! There will be more of this look. One is already in the wings. Stay tuned.
I am a shareholder at Fancy Fibers farm. Part of my share was a batt of Border Leicester wool. I carefully tore it into roving, dyed it with salmon and ercu. After it was spun, I had about 210 yards of two-ply yarn, more than enough for at least one pair of fingerless mitts.
I love that they are co-ordinating but not matching.
I think I have enough to even make one more pair. Love that!
I'm back into fingerless mitts again this year, big time. These two pair are headed off to my SIL in Connecticut today. I think they are meant to be gifts. Wish I had time to make dog sweaters, too. Those are about sold out of the shop.
This lavender-and-pearls number has been one of my faves. It's being mailed out today. Love Christmas shoppers!
Part of what I like about dyeing here in my makeshift dye studio in the second half of my garage is setting up my IPhone speaker deck.
I listen to audible books. Right now I am loving the readers at Audible Books. I am a big fan of Phillipa Gregory's historical novels. I have read about five. Most noted by her is The Other Boleyn Girl. Yesterday I finished The Red Queen, about Lady Margaret, the mother of Henry VII. Bianca Amado made it come alive with her reading. Of course, you can get the book at Amazon. I read the first four.
I was so into the book that I only took one photo. Even then I didn't remember to take pic before I sealed sock blank in plastic wrap. I am excited to do black on socks for first time.
Now I am reading/listening to Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It's been recommended my numerous friends. So far, it holds my attention.
Back to the dyeing: First off I dyed some larger eight ounce BFL superwash rovings. Here is my version of Cornflowers on the drying rack this morning.
Sorry, I couldn't resist the flimsy pun. My Wrap-Me-Shawl/Scarf is finally finished. I blogged about it way back on August 28. The finished piece really can double as a light shawl or a substantial scarf. I used Chris de Longpre's addendum for converting shawl into scarf. It ate yarn. I used about three and a half skeins of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn in two colorways and then a solid mocha sock yarn and a coffee sock yarn. I would guess about 1500 yards of fiber knit on #4 needles. I LOVED knitting this thing. Every block was an adventure. I really didn't want it to end.
My KnitPicks add-on needles really saved the day when I was knitting the garter stitch on the long edge. Here it is in full length. Wish it were a bit straighter but won't matter when it's on.
Added this last block of wager welt pattern per Chris's suggestion for a scarf. Then added my own touch of a random bobble band. I loved doing the picot edge.
The multi-directional piece in the upper right top is knitted separately and then attached with the 3-needle bind off. Best to do this with a needle several sizes larger to keep the flexibility in the scarf.
Having the ruffle running through vertically adds such a whimsical touch.
I am already planning my next one. Wonder if I have enough handspun of the same weight to give that a try? Off to check my growing/groaning stash!
Whole Foods had a huge bin of these right smack in front of the door when I walked in yesterday. I discovered these last year. "Heirloom" says I'm way behind, but nevertheless they are the best tomatoes of the season: flavor, texture and eye appeal with their color. I personally love the purplely-red ones and the yellow ones. I make big tall tomato sandwiches with tomato slices, slices of iceberg lettuce, whole grain bread, light mayo and Country Dijon mustard. Lots of chewy yumminess!
Wonder what the neighbors think? The mailperson (she's a very nice woman) stepped around it. It's not sun tea for sure. It's still so hot here, I decided to try putting water, vinegar and about 1.75 ozs. of Romney roving into this jumbo jar. Then I drizzled Violet, Cherry Red, and Salmon dyes into the jar. ("Violet", "Salmon" and"Cherry Red"-Jacquard dyes). The fiber went in dry so that it would absorb the dye unevenly.
This is what it looked like about six last night. I think I will use less water next time for more more uneven-ness. I haven't checked it this morning.
I loved knitting sock blanks that I dye. After the blank is soaked in Dawn and water, I squeeze it out, thread lace stretching wires through all four edges, then lay it out on plastic wrap. I apply the dye with 60 cc. syringes, then carefully mop up excess moisture with paper towels. Next I place a top layer of more plastic wrap on top, seal it up, fold it up and place on wrap in roaster oven that I have rigged up as a steamer.
Main color is Jacquard "Violet". The sidebars are ProChem "Key Lime" and "Apricot".
I think this one is going to be great fun to knit.
Dye Day: Part 2 coming soon. Lots of wacky rovings and a little silk, locks and Firestar to show you.
I decided this summer would be the real test for my Kindle which I have had since Christmas. I was blissfully away from the heat at my condo in Harbor Springs, Mi. Verdict! I loved it. Travelling with it was great. Tucked into it's lime green case it slid into my computer bag. Once there I ditched the cover and just had the slim device to take out on the porch or put on the nightstand. One drawback for air travel is the device must be turned off during take-off and landing.
The next cool thing in the Kindle App for IPhone. This thing blows my mind. It syncs up with the Kindle to the exact page I was reading on the Kindle. So, if I am stuck waiting in a doctor's office, snuggled up to my latte in Starbuck's, I can just pop out your phone and read a bit. Right now I am following Lisbeth Salander in Larssen's third novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. This is complete magic to me. Gotta love technology.
Yesterday afternoon tornado sirens started blaring about 5:30 p.m. Hard to hear over the air-conditioning, but I went outside to confirm the sound, then looked at the TV. "Take cover now, go to a safe spot in your house." Yikes! The live radar showed this monster headed to my area of Dallas. I grabbed the laptop, IPhone, knitting bag(duh), and Trinket, and trundled down to the studio which is bunkered into the slope of my lot. Joey and Marta, my neighbors, and Pikawa, their tiny, shivering Yorkie joined me. We watched the news on-line as the twister lifted and headed north. Whew!
Outdoor check showed only a little damage to landscaping. Even the persnickety satellite never lost it's signal. Hermine's wind are headed north. Take cover, folks.
I'm a sure enough Dallas native who spent a good part of my life in northern New Mexico, where I learned the arts of spinning, weaving, and dyeing. Combining those skills with my long time love, knitting, is what I do best these days.