Weekend Knitting

January 28, 2013

endpaper mitts in-progress #knitting #dsknits

After recovering from a week-long case of Second Sock Syndrome, I was able to finish my second pair of Monkeys over the weekend (and haven't taken them off since). My original plan to was to go on a sock knitting spree, but after I finished my last pair, I decided it was time to work on a project I've been avoiding for months.

So, last night I cast on for my Endpaper Mitts, a.k.a. my first stranded colorwork project. I was nervous because working with two strands of yarn at once has always seemed a little overwhelming, but I remembered some advice I read on the Ravelry forums about holding one strand continental, and the other english-style. I tried that method, and it worked out well for me.

Inside. #knitting

To tell you the truth, I'm having a lot more fun with this project than I thought I would. There's something really cool about seeing it come together before your eyes, and having control over so many different things happening at once. I'm still struggling with my tension, and the transitions between the needles, but it's no big deal.

On Instagram

January 24, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows blends in with the floor
Second sock syndrome. #dsknits Done blooming for the winter.

I held off on buying a smartphone for the longest time, but Matt and I finally broke down this week and treated ourselves to a couple refurbished iPhone 4s's. If I'm being honest, it was Instagram that won me over. At first I thought it was just a fad that would eventually pass, but it really is pretty cool. You can find me there under awoodennest.

Caramelized Onion Dip

January 18, 2013

Caramelized Onion Dip

I'm in love with this homemade caramelized onion dip recipe, and posted about it over at My Own Ideas. Check it out if you're looking for something to make for Super Bowl Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

Monkey Socks

January 16, 2013

Monkeys

Up until we moved in July, I was never much of a sock wearer. Even in the dead of winter, I'd tromp around with bare feet most of the time. Or, if it was really cold, I might put on a pair of slippers. All of that has changed now that I live with wood floors. Sad to say, my measly few pairs of holey socks aren't cutting it anymore.

So last week, I knit up my first pair of socks. Those of you who stop by regularly may remember a pair of Canucks that I finished back in September. It's true that they are sock-ish, but I think of them more as slippers, not socks, because they're made with bulkier yarn. My real intention in making them was to understand how a basic sock is constructed, anyway, so that when the time came to make real socks with fingering weight yarn and tiny double-pointed needles, I wouldn't overwhelmed myself with too much new information. That's why I'm calling these here Monkey socks my first official pair, and I love them.

Monkeys

And did you know that socks (gasp) keep you really warm when it's cold outside? You probably did, but my sock-free feet were completely unaware of how much heat they were losing due to exposure. Seriously, socks have changed my life. Wool socks even more so. And socks that fit really, really well? They're totally worth the hype. I've heard time and time again that hand knit socks are super comfortable, and I was really hoping it was true because I hate bunchy, twisty socks that fall off my ankles, or need adjustments every twenty minutes. I just want to put them on and forget about them, and with these socks, that's something you can absolutely do.

Monkeys

As soon as I finished my first pair of Monkeys, I casted on for a second pair. The yarn, a gift from my SIL two birthdays ago, is actually what inspired me to use this pattern in the first place. It's variegated, so I wanted to find a pattern that would prevent obvious pooling. Plus, it's one of my favorite sock patterns on Ravelry, and has been for quite some time.

As of now, I've got the first sock completed, and most of the cuff finished on the second, so I should have my second pair of socks knitted by the end of the week! After these are done, I'll probably start in on a pair or two (or three) of plain stockinette socks. And then, hopefully, I'll be good to go for the rest of the winter.

To Frog, or Not To Frog

January 11, 2013

Thermis Thermis

I've saved my last two knits from December for a separate post because they both fall into the To Frog, or Not to Frog category. The first of the two is a cowl I made for a friend. I like the pattern well enough, but I wasn't happy with my personal execution. For example, I think the wooden buttons are a little tacky. Simple fix: change out the buttons for something a little more sophisticated, true enough. Unfortunately, there are other issues. My button band is wonky, and it's not something I can block straight because the yarn is mostly acrylic. Still, I'll try to switch out the buttons, and if I still don't like it, I'll probably unravel it and make something else.

Textured Shawl

And second is my textured shawl. This is actually the second textured shawl I've knit, and possibly the second I've decided to frog as well. I love the pattern, I love the color and the feel of the yarn, but I don't love the two together, so I want to unravel the shawl and use the yarn for another project.

Thing is, I've had a lot of disagreement regarding my decision to frog this project. And while I'm flattered that people like it enough to make a case on its behalf, I also know myself well enough that this shawl won't get any use. Still, I haven't frogged it yet. I'm giving myself plenty of time to think it through and change my mind. Call me thrifty, but I'm not the sort of person to leave something lying around that won't get used, even if it's beautiful. I plan to make a proper textured shawl someday, with the yarn it actually calls for. I think it'll be worth the investment of time and money for me.

So that's it! The end of my 2012 knitting. It really is astonishing to me how much I was able to accomplish last year despite everything we had going on, and I'm satisfied with the way most of my projects turned out. As for this year, I've just finished my first pair of proper socks, and I'm in love. As soon as I finished my first pair, I started in on my second. Pics to come next week. Until then, have a happy weekend!

Christmas Knits

January 9, 2013

This weekend, Matt and I went out to my dad and step-mom's house for our belated Christmas gathering. Happily, there was just the right amount of sun and fog for our drive over, and the roads were dry, so we cranked up First Aid Kit and enjoyed the backroad scenery. And because I was finally able to give them the knitted gifts I've been sitting on since Late November/Early December, I can now share them here with you.

Dad's Fingerless Mitts
Dad's Fingerless Mitts Dad's Fingerless Mitts #2

For my dad, I made two pairs of fingerless mitts. I wanted to make him something he didn't have to worry about dirtying or damaging, so I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn, and based them off this free pattern. I really like how they turned out, and I plan to make some for both Matt and I to use at home.

Tricia's Mara

For my step-mom, I wanted to make her a shawl. She was actually the recipient of my very first shawl - one that I made back when I was first learning to crochet, and hadn't taught myself to knit yet. She wears it often, so I thought it was time to make her something a little nicer.

At first, I had my mind set on a textured shawl. It's one of the most popular shawls on Ravelry, and I drool every time I see it, so I thought it'd be really nice for her. Unfortunately, the yarn didn't show off the stitches very well, so I had to scrap that idea and figure something else out.

After awhile, I realized that a Mara shawl would be perfect for her. First, it's one of my favorite shawl patterns of all time. I made one for myself back in June, and I love it. It's simple and cozy, and I thought it'd be a great fit for the yarn (Knit Picks City Tweed), which is super soft and smooshy with rustic tweedy flecks. Anyway, I'm really happy with how it turned out. So happy that I decided to make another Mara for myself.

Willow Catkin Hood

Lastly, I made a crocheted Willow Catkin Hood for a friend who saw me running around in mine. She immediately noticed it, and it looked super cute on her when I had her try it, so I decided I'd make her one for herself. And although I hadn't originally planned to have it made by Christmas, I was craving some time with my crochet hook, so it just worked out that way.

That's one thing I've realized this year about creating things. It works best if I make something I'm in the mood for rather than forcing myself. Another thing I've realized (again) is that I can't commit myself to knitting a huge list of gifts by December 25 no matter how enthusiastic I am about it, or how little sleep I think I may need. So, from now on, knitted gifts are going to come as they may, regardless of the date.

There are actually two more knits from December that I haven't shared, but they'll get their own post. Until then!

Sweet and Salty Granola Bars

January 7, 2013

Granola Bars

Even though I tried not to overdo it on sweets during the holidays, my body has been craving sugar like crazy lately, so I know I need to help myself detox with lots of water and wholesome foods. That's why, after running across this post from The Little Red House, I knew I wanted to make these granola bars. They’re sweetened with dates, lightly salted, and you can mix in any kind of nut, dried fruit, or seed you want. I also like that you can store them in the freezer in an airtight container, and grab them in the morning for breakfast on-the-go.

Granola Bars

Sweet and Salty Granola Bars
1 lb dried pitted dates
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups raw unsalted nuts, roughly chopped
1 cup seeds
1 cup dried fruit
Salt

Preheat oven to 350◦F. Measure out two cups worth of raw, unsalted nuts and chop roughly. Spread chopped nuts evenly in a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring every five minutes, until nuts begin to brown. Remove nuts from oven and lightly salt. Allow to cool for ten minutes.

Pour the dates into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they break down and form a ball of paste. Transfer paste to a large bowl. Measure out the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

Using clean hands, knead the ingredients into the date paste starting with the rolled oats and the nuts. Next, add as many of the seeds and dried fruit pieces as you can until the mixture is uniformly sticky throughout. You don’t want the mixture to be too dry or the bars will have difficulty holding together. Taste for salt, add a pinch if needed, and mix again.

*Tip: If the mixture gets too dry, mix in a tablespoon or two of maple syrup.

Press mixture evenly into a baking dish lined with wax paper or parchment, and place in the freezer for one hour to harden. To remove the bars, pull up the sides of the wax paper or parchment, and cut into bars. Store in the freezer in an airtight container.

Goals for 2013

January 3, 2013

Monkey Socks

Before we get too far into January, I wanted to go ahead and list a few goals I've written down for myself for the year:

Don't eat out. Exception: eating out with friends. Matt and I are able to save loads of cash just by cooking at home. Unfortunately, we broke our rule and started eating a lot of take-out back in July when we moved from our old apartment to our house, and we haven't shed the habit since. This year, I'd like to re-dedicate myself to cooking all of our meals at home so we can bulk up our savings.

Organize my computer and internet space. This includes my blog, my Flickr account (make sure photos are tagged properly and in the correct sets), my e-mail (clear inbox by placing e-mails in appropriate folders), and backing up my hard drive. That being said, I'd like to...

Spend less time on the computer and in front of devices. Even when I'm working on something, I'll have a show running in the background, but I find this often diverts my attention away from my project and keeps me from getting truly focused and creative. I'd like to replace the tv shows with music, or even total silence, and spend less time sitting on my bum.

Beef up my wardrobe. I know this sounds a little strange, especially because most people are resolving to simplify their wardrobes, but I have the opposite problem. I really don't have much in the way of clothing, and most of what I do have is of poor quality. I'd really like to change that. In fact, part of the reason I taught myself to knit was so I could make myself garments, and as I said in my last post, I think I'm ready to delve into the world of knitting beyond the basics to accomplish this goal.

I'd also really love to learn how to sew my own clothes. I know, I know... I've listed this as a goal every year since starting this blog, but it still is very much on my mind. As for the rest of my wardrobe, I think it's time to start buying higher quality basics. I cringe at the thought of spending more than five bucks on a t-shirt, or $30 dollars on a pair of jeans, but Old Navy just isn't cutting it for me anymore. Fortunately, you can still get really nice clothes second-hand if you know where to look.

Get Healthy. Sometimes I get frustrated at myself when I think about this goal and how much progress I haven't made, but if I'm being fair, I've made some good choices in the past few years that have changed my life for the better (quitting smoking, for instance), and I'm ready to make another huge change this year regarding alcohol. I drink way too much. If I'm just hanging out with Matt, I'll have a beer or a glass of wine - maybe two - almost every night. If I'm out with friends, It's usually a lot more than that. So. My major goal this year is to completely change my drinking habits. Matt and I have agreed to not drink at all when it's just the two of us, and to cut way back when we're out with friends. I think this change is long overdue. And 3 days into January? So far so good.

I'd also like to get more active, and spend more time outdoors gardening, hiking, and tinkering around.

I think that sums up my goals for 2013! What about you? I always find other peoples' New Year's Resolution posts inspiring, so please feel free to share.

Knit and Crochet Projects of 2012

January 1, 2013

Knit/Crochet Projects of 2012

Yesterday I put together a mosaic of my knit and crochet projects from 2012, and I was astonished by how much I was able to accomplish despite our move this summer. There are still a few knits that I left out of the mosaic because they are gifts for people who haven't received them yet, but I averaged 2-ish projects per month. Not bad!

2012 was my first full year as a knitter (I started in June 2011), and I can honestly say that I've fallen in love with the craft. There are times when it gets frustrating, or when things don't turn out the way I want them to, but I find myself really happy with my work more often than not, and the satisfaction that comes from creating something functional and beautiful never gets old. In the coming year, I plan to take my knitting to the next level with socks and sweaters. And if my Ravelry queue/favorites list is any indication, I foresee a serious cardigan addiction.

Anyway, I know a lot of people roll their eyes at New Year's Resolutions, but I really like to take advantage of the start of a new cycle to focus my thoughts and make some realistic goals for the coming months. I'll make a more detailed post on that a little later this week.

Happy 2013 everyone!