Wednesday, December 30, 2009

holiday sweets

Every year I have great intentions of baking and cooking holiday sweets as gifts, but until this year it has never happened. This year I did get a little carried away, but the sweets were well-received and resulted in family members hiding their stashes so they wouldn't have to share with everyone else! That, of course, (despite not exactly promoting the Christmas spirit) made me very happy.

I've mentioned before that I have never gone wrong with Orangette's recipes. I made my favorite granola, and these cookies, which I learned about here. I ate an entire batch of those cookies in about a week, and then had to make another batch for gifts. They have to be one of my favorite cookies ever.

Then I went a little crazy with candied citrus peel. This was on my list of things to make last year, but Levi's birth was on time and therefore citrus peel making never happened. I used this recipe, and did 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges, and 4 lemons. I boiled them all together and they still maintained their individual flavors. Also, I cut the grapefruit peels a little thicker before I started freaking out that I was leaving too much pith (and therefore cut the lemon and orange much thinner), and I actually ended up liking the texture of the grapefruit the best.

Making candied citrus peel is not a quick undertaking. Although it wasn't especially labor intensive, it was time intensive, but the results are incredible. I dipped half in bittersweet chocolate and left half plain. I did not have any suitable packaging and couldn't bear to package my citrus peel in zip-loc bags (!), so I sewed little pouches out of parchment paper. They ended up looking great, but one caveat is that the citrus peel will dessicate if it is not in an air-tight container, so I stored these little gift bags in zip-locs and instructed their recipients to do the same!

After almost 8 hours of citrus peel making, and with Levi down for a nap, I looked at Adam and said "do you think I would be crazy if I made homemade marshmallows right now?" Homemade marshmallows have been on my list of things to make since the December 2003 Martha Stewart Living came out, and then this post really inspired me. I used the instructions from the link on the Angry Chicken post and they turned out perfectly.

I dipped some in dark chocolate and sprinkled them with crushed walnuts for giving. Next year I want to make snowflake-shaped marshmallows and give them as gifts with homemade hot cocoa mix.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

organic cotton washcloths

I just love handknit washcloths. They are the best thing to have on your needles when you want a mindless project, and they are the perfect gift. I have made several in the past out of handspun hemp, but this time I didn't have time for spinning and instead used this amazing soft (and cheap!) organic cotton yarn. I used a lace pattern called "Elfin Lace" from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting patterns and did enough repeats for an approximately 8" square washcloth. Each cloth took less than a half of a ball of the organic cotton yarn, meaning these beautiful little things cost less than $1.25 each in supplies!

Add a nice bar of soap, and you have a lovely little gift. It would have been great if I had time to make some homemade soap for these, but that did not happen this year. I recently saw this post from melissa of tiny happy, and it seems that she had the opposite problem...time for the soap-making but not the knitting!

I wrapped each washcloth in brown tissue paper, tied them with string, added a hemlock branch from our woods, and they're all ready to be given as holiday gifts!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


My baby turned one last Friday. It hardly seems possible that a year has past since this amazing sweet boy came into our lives. For the occasion, cake was made and devoured, friends came over to play, and owl-themed party favors were made.

I knit these tiny owls and put them on hair clips for the little girls and pins for the little boys.

I originally intended to make small versions of these as well, but in an especially enlightened moment I came up with the idea of making little owl bean bags instead. These are filled with organic popcorn and I will definitely be making more of them. I think Levi needs a set of 5 for tossing!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

dodie's mittens

This is another pair of May mittens, but this time I made them in October! Consequently I used more autumnal colors than my last pair of springy mittens. I made these for my mother-in-law for her birthday, which was back in October, but I just gave them to her this Thanksgiving. She is one of my few readers, so I thought I'd hold off on posting them until they were gifted.

Again I used Noro silk garden. I'm still not sure about Noro yarns...once again I had to split out several of the colors from the skein because I thought they were ugly and clashing. I am happy with the colors that remained though. The bright blues remind me of my mother-in-law (I don't know why!) and the oranges and browns are a touch of my preferred colors. Once again, an enjoyable pattern and a pretty final result!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It has been a couple weeks since I have knit anything. I guess I needed a little break after the flurry of knitting I've done recently. During my knitting lull, I did manage to finish a spinning project. This skein of yarn is merino & soysilk and is soft and lustrous and gorgeous. The roving was dyed by the talented Pigeonroof Studios. It is part of their "luminosity project," which I was a little obsessed with for a while (and still am, but I am taking a break from buying spinning fiber). The colors are really deep and intense and I love yarn that has subtle variegations but is mostly a solid color.

I generally don't wear much pink and I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what I should knit with this very pink yarn. It really is beautiful though, with all the different shades of pink, and I have enough yarn (the skein is about 4 ounces, 457 yards) for a scarf or shawl or other medium-sized project. When I was pregnant with Levi, I went through a major pink phase as some weird response to finding out I was having a boy. Maybe I should hold onto this skein in case I find myself in a similar situation one of these days!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I've never had a triangular shawl before, but somewhere along the line three shawl patterns ended up on my "must knit" list. I like that small shawls can be worn like scarves and that they usually only take one skein of yarn. This shawl pattern is Ishbel, and I made it with a skein of green Malabrigo lace that I have had for a while. I had started knitting a scarf with it, but hadn't knit a single stitch on that scarf in over 2 years, so it was ripped out in favor of this project.

I have to say (now that I have my first triangular shawl) that I actually prefer the triangle shape to the typical long rectangular scarf. For some reason, to me it seems more versatile. My favorite things about this particular shawl are the scalloped edge and the amazing yarn. It is so soft and fine and I love the subtle variegations in the yarn. It feels really light around my neck and I didn't want to take it off after photographing it today, even though it was 60 degrees outside.

This was a really great fun pattern, a little addictive (my family did a lot of groaning as I ignored them to work on this one), and I'm really happy with the outcome. There is definitely more shawl knitting on my schedule for this winter!

Monday, October 26, 2009

simple blue hat

It is so funny trying to photograph a baby because you never know what you are going to get. For my last post, I had a very cooperative little boy who basically just sat in the grass and smiled at the camera. This time, when I tried to photograph this little blue hat, I literally chased Levi around the house for at least a half hour. He was moving around so quickly, and I was determined to not use a flash, so most of the dozens of pictures I took were just blue blurs. Somehow though, I got some seriously adorable pictures of Levi (check out the drool in that above picture!) that show off the blue hat quite well!

It is a very simple hat, scaled down from this pattern (yeah, I know, I even managed to get a basic hat pattern from Jared Flood), but it is a gorgeous turquoise blue, which is perfect for my little blue-eyed boy. The yarn is the super soft Malabrigo Worsted in color Touareg. Once again, I purposely knit it on the big side, with hopes that he can wear it next winter too.

little cobblestone

I finally knit my baby boy a new wool sweater. This is the Cobblestone Pullover, yet another Jared Flood design. I'm not going to lie and say that this is the last of his designs that you'll be seeing from me - I think 4 of my next 6 projects are his patterns. A little obsessive maybe, but I really like his designs and they suit my style of knitting very well.

I have had the magazine with this sweater pattern for a couple years now, as I have been planning to knit this sweater for Adam. Other knitters have scaled the pattern down for children, and that (along with the fact that I happened to have a few balls of random tweedy yarn laying around) inspired me to knit this for Levi.

One really great thing about the sweater is that it will definitely fit him for at least another winter, if not two, and he can wear it now with the sleeves rolled up by about 2 inches. This was my goal - a longer-lived sweater for Levi. I got really sad putting all his tiny newborn handknits from last winter into storage, and was determined to knit something with a little more staying power. I really love this little sweater - it was super fun and easy to knit (all in one piece = no seaming = wonderful!), and it looks really cute on little Levi. Hopefully I'll get around to knitting this pattern for Adam, and then the two of them can be adorably matching in their cobblestones.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I love this hat so much it almost makes up for the fact that our fall weather didn't last very long this year before cold wintery temperatures kicked in. At least I can wear wool every day! I knit this hat from the pattern book "Made in Brooklyn" by Jared Flood. I almost never buy pattern books, but this one has about 4 patterns that I seriously want to knit (or maybe I just want to wear) right this very second. And because they are designed by Jared Flood, I really couldn't resist buying this book - his designs are so elegant and usually involve very little seaming, which is the kind of knitting I love.

This is the Quincy hat, which I knit in Classic Elite Ariosa. It is a super soft blend of merino and cashmere and is pretty bulky, so it knits up really fast. The hat pattern is amazing. You basically just knit a long garter stitch band, twist it, sew the ends together, and then pick up stitches for the top of the hat. Super easy, but brilliant...and I love wearing it. Oh yeah...and did you notice the lack of handknits on my poor cold baby? That is being remedied...stay tuned!

Friday, September 25, 2009


Here is my latest handspun yarn. It was spun from (yet another) Pigeonroof Studios roving, in color "peat." It's 80% merino, 20% tussah silk. I have to admit that I started spinning this about a year ago and then got wrapped up in teaching and taking care of Levi, and it got ignored. Well, with all this goat frenzy as well as wanting something to enter in the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival, I finished the spinning over the past few days.

It is navajo plied, which is a method of getting a 3-ply yarn from a single strand of singles yarn, and I did this to preserve each individual color of the roving. So, instead of ending up with all the colors plied and blended together (resulting in a tweedy yarn), I got a yarn that will give a more stripey effect when I knit with it. I'm really happy with how it turned out and now have 3 skeins of yarn to enter in next week's wool festival!

Speaking of the goat frenzy, it seems that there are at least 3 other people, if not more, with way more votes than me. That's okay, we'll be patient until the day when we finally have some fiber animals of our own. I am grateful to all my family and friends who solicited votes for me. I'm especially grateful to my siblings, who got involved in this quite passionately. I didn't know that they understood my passions and interests as well as they apparently do...and I feel very lucky to have such supportive people in my life!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

angora goats

Please vote for my essay in the amazing goat giveaway from Hudson Valley Fiber Farms. This would be a dream come true for all of us! All you have to do is click on the star below my essay and your vote will be counted for me. There are almost 50 entries, but it's worth a shot! The winner will be announced on October 2nd.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Part of the fun of watching Levi grow up is seeing his reaction to new things. If his interests as a 7-month old were any indication of what he would grow to love, this baby would be a botanist. Every grass spike and flower we show him is met with such interest...pursed lips, outstretched hand, close inspection.

But water is a different story. We've tried to acquaint Levi with water in the form of bathtubs, lakes, and most recently the ocean, and he's never really loved it. He now tolerates baths, but only with me, and only for a short while. We couldn't wait to show him the ocean...and on a recent trip to visit family in Newport we stopped to dip his little toes in. To say the least, he was not immediately thrilled with it...but I think he'll come around eventually!

Monday, June 15, 2009

alders and acorns

When Adam showed me this beautiful bowl that he turned out of red alder wood, the first words out of my mouth were "I love it. Is it for me?" He laughed and told me that I could have any bowl I want. This one is just so simple and beautiful. I love the little foot it rests on and the colors in the wood. And it is the perfect size for me to fill with little treasures...

So I finally made my felt acorns! It might seem like felt acorns would be better suited for an oak bowl, but I've never been a huge fan of alder will have to do!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6 months

I can't believe that my sweet baby boy is 6 months old today. The older I get, the faster time seems to go, and it seems inconceivable that a half-a-year has passed since Levi was born. I already miss little things he used to do, but then every day there is something new to love. Happy half-birthday, dear Levi.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

may mittens

Elizabeth Zimmerman says that you should always knit mittens in May. If you knit them in the winter-time, you are rushed because you want to wear them so badly, and you might end up with imperfect mittens. In May, you take your time so they always end up just right. I have to say that I totally agree with this advice - while knitting these mitered mittens (from The Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman), I ripped out an entire mitten just because I wasn't happy with the way the colors played out. Would I have done that in January? Hmmm...

I used Noro Silk Garden color 255, and Kathryn Ivy's thumb gusset modifications. The yarn is one that I never ever would have chosen if I saw it in person. I ordered it online and was disappointed with it when I received it. Luckily, I love these mittens, so the yarn ended up not being a huge mistake. I did, however, only use partial skeins so I could avoid the colors in the yarn that I really hated. I do love the turquoise and rust colored stripes, and how they work with all the shades of green.

I just love this pattern, and think the yarn was a perfect match for it. The only bad thing about making mittens in May is that now I have to wait so many months and months before I can wear them!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

spring food

The wild leeks are pretty much done for the year. They are starting to look trampled and some have little flower spikes. Last spring I didn't get to enjoy them a whole lot as my morning sickness wouldn't really allow it. But this year we put them in nearly any recipe that called for leeks, onions, or garlic. We made wild leek pizza, wild leek pasta, and best of all potato and wild leek soup. The soup was so delicious that I made it twice, using this simple recipe, but using two bunches of wild leeks (whole leeks, greens and all) instead of the regular leeks.

Also on our spring menu is mass quantities of rhubarb. I am sad to say that I have never lived in any place long enough to justify planting rhubarb, but our wonderful neighbors have kindly kept us stocked with all the rhubarb we want. Every spring, I look forward to this recipe, and I end up making it dozens of times until I am thoroughly sick of it. Last May I still had frozen strawberries that I picked the year before, but this year I don' I have been omitting the strawberries and using 3 cups of rhubarb instead of 2.

Unfortunately this year we have not been lucky enough to go foraging for copious amounts of my favorite spring food, but today Adam found these two gigantic morels underneath our back porch. How morels ended up under our porch, I have no idea...but we will be sure to enjoy them sauteed in butter tonight.