Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has great plans for this evening!  We are actually done celebrating as we attended a British themed New Year's party and that means we celebrated at midnight GMT, which for us was 7pm.  It's a great idea for folks with kids or who lack the desire to stay up late.  We should be up anyway, but are now safely tucked away at home.  

Asti Spumanti for the bubbly.
Way better than traditional champagne
in my opinion.

We had lots of fun and had great food and music to go with all the wonderful company. We ended up making Indian food since curry is so big in England.  It turned out to be a pretty good recipe.  You can find it on under Indian Baked Chicken Pockets.  My only suggestion is to make only half the amount of rice that the recipe requires, otherwise the curry flavor isn't particularly strong.  Now if you like things on the light side of flavor then it's fine as is.  Our household typically enjoys flavors that punch you in the face, so our change was a good one.  

The Curry Chicken Turnovers hubby and I made. 

Homemade beef pasties made by our hosts.

Our DJ for the evening - Full of Irish and Scottish folk music.

Bonus points go to these two for theme costumes :)

Counting down!

Still counting....

7pm - It is the New Year in Britain.  Huzzah!

New Year's self portraiture at it's finest.  Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year, New Big Project!

Cascade 220 Superwash Paints in Vino
So I've been wanted to try making another sweater for a while now.  I thought about spinning up my own yarn for it, but I don't think I quite have the chops to pull it off.  So I hemmed and hawed, looked at bazillions of patterns, and finally after receiving a lovely Christmas present of a boatload of yarn is a fabulous color, I made a decision!  I am making the Brattleboro Cabled Swing Pullover by Valley Yarns which is a semi-local (2 hour drive away) yarn company.  

I am very excited about this sweater for a bunch of reasons:  
  1. It will be a challenge.  This things is covered in cables.  A friend of mine made a gorgeous cabled sweater this past year and it placed at The Big E's Creative Arts competition.  I haven't done a ton of cable work before so I need to practice.
  2. The sweater looks phenomenal.   I love my first sweater but it is definitely of a first ever knitted sweater variety.  I was something more elegant, that I could actually wear out to a nice dinner somewhere.  Also, I want someone to mistake something I hand knit for a store bough product.  That's the best compliment ever!
  3. The fit.  This sweater is basically a-line and has a scoop neck, both of which looks great on me.  I am of a body type that can be challenging, so to find something that should really work and be flattering at the same time is really important. If you didn't look at the link to the pattern above, look now.  They have a great picture that you can enlarge to see more of the detail.
The first three repeats...
So, I started working on the first part of the sweater a couple days ago. I have only finished three repeats of the first chart (out of 38, sigh), but I am loving how it is coming out.  As you can see, I'm making a narrow strip, and yes that does seem an odd way to start a sweater.  The pattern begins by having you knit the yoke band which runs around the entire circumference of the piece at the shoulders.  After doing that you pick up stitches from the top and bottom of the cabled yoke to knit the rest of the sweater.  That way you can have cables going perpendicularly to each other.  It's pretty neat actually.

So, that is my exciting new project for the new year.  I have no idea how long it is going to take me to finish, but I'm thinking I'll give myself a couple months as a goal to be realistic.  Well, I at least have to start doing more than one repeat a day or it's going to take me 38 days just to finish this little section, which probably is only 10% of the whole project!

Anyway, wish me luck!  I'll keep you up to date ;-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stuff &Things

So, it's been a busy... few months. I looked back and realized that I've probably only posted 3 times in the past couple months and that is most likely being very generous. There have just been so many neat and/or time consuming things going on to occupy me. Due to the inherent time destroying capability of the season I think I'm going to dub this time of year Anti-Blogsmas!

At first work was really busy and hat always cuts down on my blogging energy... and then all sorts of other and more fun things arrived to capture my attention.

First, the next expansion of World of Warcraft came out around Thanksgiving. Cataclysm is fun, addictive and a joy to my inner gamer. I have been playing so much now that there is so much new content available. Here are some screenshots of my in game shenanigans.

My new Goblin (Igotwutuneed) in her lovely rocket boots
Thayolin cruising around Vashj'ir on her new seahorse mount
After my little wow distraction, the busyness of Christmas loomed and I got into my usual last minute crafting and baking extravaganza.  I didn't do a whole lot of present making this year, but I do have a couple neat things I can share.

Murray the Reindeer made for the Yankee Swap at my Knit Night

A Tiny Cthulhu I made for a $1 Yankee Swap with some friends
So, I've been a bit busy, but it's been for good reasons.  Should have some neat updates to share soon.

- Posted using BlogPress for my iPhone

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just thought I would drop in and say hello for the first time in almost two months.  Hopefully I'll be able to get back to posting regularly soon.

But I wanted to say that our little family hopes you have a lovely and restful Thanksgiving full of family, friends... 
and food (of course).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crafty Goodness: Reusable Advent Calendar

I take lots of classes... No really, I mean lots of classes.  At least once a month I take a cardmaking class at my LSS (local stamping store).  This month, in addition to my usual class, I signed up to take one to make a reusable Advent calendar.  Advent calendars are something my mom gets for me every year as far back as I can remember.  There is something so fun about opening up the little door each day to see a picture, read a verse or get some candy.  The calendar I made today is of the candy variety (although I could add some random verses when I set it up for us this year).  I have always wanted an Advent calendar that is more permanent than the flimsy card stock ones that are sold in stores.  So, it was a real treat to get to make one for my little family.

This is the first year our instructor Jenn, aka Creative Chick, has brought her yearly Advent calendar class to my LSS.  How she made it is really cool.  The base is a metal bulletin board and each day is a little metal tin that is decorated and then stuck on the board with magnets.  Here is a close up so you can see what I mean.

Isn't it sooooo neat!  I'm so excited that I just kind of wanted to put it up now instead of waiting until Dec. 1.  Now all I have to do is figure exactly what kind of candy and cat treat I am putting in each one!

Friday, October 1, 2010

On my iPhone

New Apps:

Lose It! is a really neat free application for your iPhone that allows you to track what you eat, your exercise, your weight and even can post updates to Facebook and Twitter for you when you exercise weigh in or meet your goal.  The software allows you to do all this on your phone or through a website.  Very cool!   

New Music:

I apparently have been listening to the song Little Lion Man by  Mumford and Sons for the past week or so since it has been playing on 92.9 for awhile now.  I had no idea who sang the song, I just had liked it, but didn't think much about it.  I was listening to one of my podcasts the other day (Spin Control - a podcast about spinning, knitting and sewing) and at the end the host Shilo always shares a song.  After hearing this past week's song, Winter Winds, I checked the group out on iTunes and discovered everything on their album Sigh No More is just wonderful.  They very folky and can sound either Celtic or bluesy depending on the song.  Overall, I think it's a great album with good lyrics and would recommend it to anyone who likes that genre of music. 

New Podcasts:

The iMake podacast is pretty new to iTunes with only 4 episodes, but it promises to be a really neat.  The host talks about a wide range of different crafts and even has a segment about her culture and life in Guernsey, Channel Islands where she lives.  The podcast is really entertaining and I like how she talking about all crafts, not just one. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things in Your Refrigerator Right Now

Not much!  Our refrigerator seems really bare for some reason.  Oh yeah, it could be that we actually cleaned it out :P
  1. Dole Caesar Salad Kit
  2. Stop & Shop Cottage Cheese and Pineapple
  3. Chocolate Fruit Dip
  4. Apple pie
  5. Lots of onions...
  6. Butter
  7. Sour cream
  8. Leftover kielbasa from last night
  9. Mayo (leftover from epic pasta salad making last week) 
  10. Condiments galore!  And I mean everything you could ever think of too.  We adore condiments in my family and my mom always seems to have some neat new mustard or sauce every time she sees us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Project Happiness!

So, I've been kind of in the knitting doldrums lately.  Not a lot about what I have been working on has really done it for me.  Dont' get me wrong, I have plenty of projects to work on already, just none of them have been speaking to me, so I've been neglecting them.  

Today I got an email with a free shawl pattern in it and finally I became excited about a project again.  The free pattern is called Schooner and it is a lovely shawl knitted in worsted weight yarn.  Now I don't really have enough of any yarn in that weight, but I do have this beautiful aran weight yarn I bought online at WEBS back in the spring.  It is called Monterey by Valley Yarns and is a two ply of wool and cotton.  To me it really looks handspun rather than a commercially made yarn because it goes both thick and thin throughout the skein. 

Luckily, I have a ton of it in natural and three more skeins in teal, green and pink, so I decided to knit the main body in the natural, add a repeat to make the shawl a bit bigger and therefor fit me better.  Then for the edging, which I assume will take up a lot of yarn, I will switch to one of the other three colors.  I think it will work and will end up being a generously sized shawl since I'm using a slightly bigger yarn and needles than the pattern calls for.  What's even better is that I only paid $5 per skein of this stuff and I have been holding on to it for months specifically waiting for that perfect shawl pattern.  There is no way I will use more than 900 yards of the yarn and for those three skeins I will have only paid $15!  Talk about a bargain :D

Right now I'm trying to convince myself to stop typing and go to bed, but my the first few repeats of my Schooner are temping me from across the apartment.  I wish I could knit while I sleep.  Or knit instead of sleeping for that matter.  I would be way more productive that way!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I certainly have some catching up to do...

So apparently I've been MIA waaay longer than I thought.  Oops!  So, I guess I have to do a montage post of all the things I've been up to lately.  I figure this is the easiest way because I have a ton to share!

"Hurricane" Earl Cape TripLabor Day Weekend 2010

Despite the threat of Earl, we went to the Cape anyway.  The first thing we did was go to the beach and I checked into the hurricane via Facebook  I have to say, Earl was pathetic.  The only things we got was a bit of wind on the coast, a few feet of storm surge and a night full of rain.  We did however, benefit from the storm with some nice wind a waves while we were sailing a couple days afterward.

A church in Hyannis that was still boarded up to protect the stained glass.
It was a tad bit windy at Craigville Beach
A stalwart seagull
Still windy...
Sailing after a pseudo hurricane is always exciting.  We were heeling pretty heavily once we left the bay, so no pics were taken in the Sound.  I didn't want to lose my camera in the drink!

Amy's Bachelorette PartySeptember 12th, 2010

White Sangria - Yum!
Enjoying our dinner or arancini, calamari and sushi!

Amuse Card Class @ Ink About ItSeptember 16th, 2010

I took another of of Jenn S's awesome Amuse classes this past week.  We made wicked cute Halloween cards!  Jenn is so talented and fun.  I'm really lucky to be able to take classes with her!  I can't wait for the one in October and the Advent Calendar one in a couple weeks :)

Leicester Harvest Fair and World Wide Spin in Public DaySeptember 18th, 2010

This past Saturday my fiber group, Fiber Knot Just for Knitting, demonstrated knitting, crochet, weaving and spinning at the Leicester Harvest Fair.  We had such a blast!  This is the first tome we have ever done demonstration as a group and t was really cool that so many people came over to look at all our projects and what we were working on.  It was really fun.  I'll share just a  few pictures now, since this post is getting pretty long.  I'll post some other neat stuff tomorrow.

Camera addicts, Sheepish1 and I both have a problem.
 CaitCreates weaving on her loom.
DDKA, our intrepid leader at her wheel.
Sheepish1 spins too!
TaraLyn with her papoose!
Tokafur drop spindling
LadySpendcer crocheting away.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Large Project-itis... but I finished SOMETHING!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have large project-itis.  This means that I have way to many big projects going on right now and I don't want to work on any one of them.  So, in typical Jo fashion, I just cast on another project :)
Sherwood Forest colorway in Polworth Wool
This time however, it's a small one.  I just bought a new book, Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman, and had wanted to make the seamless yoke sweater (yet another large project) contained in its wisdom filled pages.  I wanted to make this sweater out of handspun too (because buying the yarn is just too easy, right?).  I had an idea of the color I thought might work out so I spun up a skein of FatCatKnits Polworth in Sherwood Forest and ended up really liking how it came out.  

My handspun in its single phase.  Looks pretty already!

Now, for something like a sweater, you really need to make a swatch.  Now, I didn't do a swatch for my first sweater and lets just say I was incredibly fortunate it fit me at all.  It is a bit big in places, but I'm ok with that especially given I could have faced disaster.  So, I decided I would be a good kid and knit up a swatch for once so I wouldn't tempt fate twice.  In her book, Elizabeth Zimmerman suggested that instead of just making a swatch, why not make a hat.  If you make a plain stockinette hat, you can both check your gauge AND have a nifty little gift done and ready to go.  I liked this plan and it fit in nicely with my large project-itis symptoms, so I churned out my swatch/hat in just three days.

My handy little sweater swatch all knit into something actually useful!
So, for today's post I give you the first item that I have both spun and knitted and am actually proud to admit to making.  There were a couple things a month or so ago that did not quite earn that distinction...  So, bolstered on by this small success, I am trying to figure out what do do for the colorwork section.  I'm thinking I want to do some leaves or a vine, but haven't found a whole lot that I love as of yet.  I have two options right now and they both are nice, but neither scream KNIT ME!  

So, I'm still trying to figure a few things out.   I don't think I'll be knitting the sweater for quite awhile though, since it's been in the 90's lately and I don't care to wearing a knitting blanket in that kind of heat.  I'm thinking I'll get started maybe in October or early November and then hopefully I'll be able to wear it around Christmas and in the cold of January.  

You know, I need to find more models for my finished projects,  While I like this hat and Brian did a fine job taking a picture of me wearing it, I hate not having photographic control... I just need to clone myself I guess.

So you can see what the back looks like.  I love decreasing using K2tog because it makes this neat swirl at the top of the hat but doesn't draw to much attention to the fact that the hat is getting smaller rather quickly.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recipe: Cherry Tomato Compote

A few weeks ago I had a bumper crop of fresh and juicy cherry tomatoes, so I decided to experiment one Saturday when Brian wasn't around and make myself some fresh chunky tomato sauce.  It turned out really well, but was so think it was less like a sauce and more like a jam or compote (yet still delicious on pasta).  So, I thought I would share my very basic and easy recipe. 

The only thing I would change would be to remove the skins from the cherry tomatoes by putting a little X in the bottom of them and dropping them into a pot of boiling water for maybe 30 seconds then tossing them in ice water.  After you do that, they should peel easily.  I didn't think of this beforehand, but some people may not like the skins in the sauce.  I got over that quite quickly however.  


2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half (can also use fresh regular sized tomatoes, chopped)
1 tbsp. Fresh Thyme, minced
1 tbsp. Fresh Oregano, minced
1/2 cup White Wine
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

So, it's pretty simple, I just prepped all the produce and herbs, then sauteed the onion in the olive oil until the onions started turning translucent.  
Then I added the tomatoes and let them cook down a bit.

Next came the white wine, which poured in and  then let cook off for a few minutes to take the raw alcohol flavor out of it and let the flavors meld.  Then I added the balsamic and let that reduce a it as well.  Finally I put the fresh herbs in and stirred everything around right before serving it on top of angel hair pasta.
This was totally good.  I'm going to have to try it again sometime.  Sorry if my measurements are a bit weird.  I tend to just pour this in and dump that in.  Since it's not baking and don't have to worry about messing much up, I just do as a please and play with the seasonings as I go.  Oh, and you should put some salt and pepper in after you saute the onions, oops!