Flotte Socke Christmas

I am loving working on my sweater of many colours, but it has become just a little bit too large to comfortably carry around in my purse. I mean, I could always buy a larger purse, but I am generally most comfortable with one that fits my wallet, cell phone, a paperback novel, and a small knitting project. The last time I carried around a Mary Poppins-sized bag was back when the kids were really little and I always had to have diapers, extra onesies, blankets, and bottles on hand. I’m really glad to be past that stage, to tell you the honest truth.

But if I was leaving the sweater at home, I needed another, more portable project to occupy my hands during downtime. (I know that I can always read, but I can actually now read and knit at the same time, so long as the pattern is simple and I don’t have to hold a physical book open.) So I dug around in my stash for a ball of sock yarn that I bought before Christmas so that I could get started on gifts for next year — or maybe something for myself for a change? Who knows, it’s usually far in advance for me.

I bought the yarn during the Christmas stocking rush and I knew I’d drive myself crazy trying to complete yet another pair of socks in time for the holiday, so I didn’t even try. I’m really liking how it’s coming together now, though. The self-striping pattern is really cute and the yarn itself is actually quite soft (75% superwash wool, 25% polyamide). The yarn is Flotte Socke 4f Christmas by Rellana Garne in color 2401. One way or another, even if I knit the sweater at home and the socks on the go, these Christmas socks should be done in time for the holidays.

If it sounds a bit like I’m trying to justify starting a second project while the first isn’t complete, honestly, that’s exactly what’s happening. I learned a long time ago that if I have too many projects on the go at once, I end up finishing nothing! I try very hard to limit myself to one type of project at a time, i.e. one knitting, one sewing, one costume (except during final con crunch), etc. Working on this pair of socks seems like I’m breaking a rule somehow.

Sweater of Many Colours

I needed a new knitting project to work on after completing my socks of many clours and another pair of wrist warmers (which I swear I will post photos of eventually). Neither of these projects made a big dent in the bag full of sock yarn scraps that I was hoping to work my way through, so I thought I’d try a larger project. I decided on a top-down cardigan for Thing 2 based on my favourite how to improvise a top-down sweater tutorial.

It hasn’t been very fast going, since the yarn is a smaller gauge than I usually work with for sweaters. So far I have completed the shoulders and knit down the chest about halfway. But I have worked my way through reasonably-sized balls of leftover yarn, which is encouraging. I’m trying to progress gradually from oranges and earth tones (Thing 2’s favourite colours) into blues and cooler colours further down the sweater. So far, so good! Thing 2 seems very enthusiastic about the project, although at the rate I’m knitting it may not be complete until it’s too warm to wear it. Hopefully she won’t have grown out of this size by next fall.

A Taste of Summer

Over the weekend two of my friends celebrated their birthdays together — the same two friends that I baked birthday pies for around this time last year. I asked them if they would like pies as gifts again this year, and they seemed to think that this was a marvelous idea! One of my friends even requested the same type of lemon meringue pie as last year, since it went over so well.

I don’t think the meringue was as fluffy this time, but I was much happier with the level of browning on the top — which I think can be accounted for by the oven, which we replaced in the meantime. I find that while it does have its own challenges (it runs pretty consistently 50 degrees F hot), it provides a much more even heat overall.


Photo by Karen Turnbull.

Sadly, the meringue topping got a little bit mangled in transit, but I’m assured that it still tasted fine! Once again, I used half of a crust recipe from page 73 of The All-New Purity Cook Book (Elizabeth Driver, 2001), the lemon meringue filling from page 687 of the Joy of Cooking (Rombauer & Becker, 2006 edition), and Soft Meringue Topping #1 on page 798 of the Joy of Cooking.

My other friend requested a change-up from last year with a fruit crumble instead of a pie. He really wanted rhubarb, and he was lucky that I still had some left over in the freezer from last summer’s harvest, because it’s well out of season around here. I mixed the rhubarb with some strawberries and green apples for added flavour and texture, and I did add a cup of sugar to the fruit because rhubarb is so very tart. To make this dish I used the Apple or Fruit Crisp recipe on page 392 of the Joy of Cooking. The final product kind of looked a mess, but I find that most crumbles do! I got to taste a bit of this one and I was quite happy with how it turned out as well. It was like a little bit of summer stuck smack dab in the cold and snow of February.

Socks of Many Colours: Complete!

I’m still trying to adhere to my New Year’s resolutions, so I’ve been knitting away at my socks of many colours. I managed to get through a small pile of yarn scraps, but I haven’t made as big of a dent into my total accumulation as I was hoping.

It seems like I spent more time sewing in ends than I did actually knitting.

But I am rather happy with the final result! These super-warm woolen socks have a stretchy ribbed knit and are very comfortable. I rather like the colours, but I’m sure they’re not to everybody’s tastes. I rarely keep my knit items for myself, so I’ll have to figure out who has feet similar sized to mine who also likes this particular pattern mishmash. My kids would very happily wear them, but the size is much too large.

On to the next scrap project! I’m thinking that I need a new pair of wrist warmers, since my hands have been getting rather chilly when gaming in the evening.

Kitchen Gifts

Of course, because my friends and family know that I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, a lot of my Christmas gifts this year centered around that.

One of my friends gifted me with some delicious Chex Party Mix and a lovely loaf of Makivnyk (a Ukrainian style poppy seed tea roll) from the Black Walnut Bakery. Oh, and Thing 1 gave me the Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix In A Jar that she’d made, thus ensuring that she would get to eat some of them too.

I also acquired a number of cookbooks over the holidays, some as gifts, others from thrift stores or as bargain books.

The Perfect Pie Book by Anne Marshall, 1984 (thrifted)
Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook, Hershey Chocolate Company, 1971 (thrifted)
Anita Stewart’s Canada by Anita Stewart, 2008 (thrifted — and I’ve wanted my own copy for quite a while)
Bread! Simple and Satisfying Recipes for Your Bread Machine by Kathrun Hawkins, 2006 ($4.00 at Dollarama)
Pumpkin Butternut & Squash by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern, 2000 (gift)

My parents gave me an Instant Pot and a handmade apron, my brother gave me a copy of Jamie Cooks Italy (since I’m a huge Jamie Oliver fan), and a friend gave me a Paderno tamagoyaki pan.

I can’t wait to try out all of my new toys!

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care

Candy Cane was found checking out the music box on top of the china cabinet in the living room this morning.

(Please ignore the fact that the elf is out of focus. I didn’t notice until after she had moved to her next location.)

More importantly, I managed to get all of the Christmas stockings done! It only took every spare minute of my time for a number of weeks. Left to right, they belong to Thing 2, Thing 1, my husband, and me. I finished the last one (mine) during my husband’s family’s Christmas Eve get-together, which meant that it was done with only a few hours to spare before it was hung in preparation for Santa’s arrival… But it was done!

Merry Christmas!

Beer Advent Calendar Tutorial

We found Candy Cane checking out the books on Thing 2’s bookshelf this morning:

Today I decided to make a beer advent calendar for the husbeast at his request, even though we’re already a few days into December. (What can I say, I am running behind in a few things.) I’d seen them advertised online, but they’re not available commercially anywhere around here that I’d seen. I’ve also seen them for wine and for little airline bottles of liquor. I honestly think the best thing would be to build a divided wooden case with 24 little hinged doors on the top and reuse it year to year, much like some of the older traditional advent calendars (only larger). However, I’ve totally run out of time for that, so I went for a cheaper, quicker alternative.

I started with twenty-four different beers, which conveniently fit into a standard flat. Now, a proper box with those little cardboard dividers would have been optimal, but those only tend to be available for bottles. Because I didn’t have a proper box, I needed a second empty flat.

Using a craft knife, I cut about 1/2cm in around the edge of the box. It doesn’t have to be perfect, since it will be hidden.

Then I put the cardboard ring I’d created around the top of the cans of beer.

Next I wrapped the case of beer like a gift. I normally would hide my seams along the bottom of the gift, but since I couldn’t turn it all upside down without it all falling apart, I put the seam along one side instead.

Using a Sharpie and a ruler, I drew a grid above the cans of beer. I could feel the edges of the cans through the paper, so I could easily figure out where the lines should go. Then I randomly numbered the grid from 1 to 24.

My husband tried opening the advent calendar at first by punching holes in the paper, but it tore too easily into the other sections. We found that the best bet is to use a craft knife or scissors to cut a hole a little smaller than the grid markings, so as to keep the paper from disintegrating.

Once the calendar is opened, it’s possible to see the kinds of beer from the side of the case, or to displace everything inside by picking it up. This can be solved by making a cardboard grid and putting it inside the box before the cans. But if you’re not too picky, it works just fine — and my husband, for one, is too happy with his calendar to really care.