Knitting Help–Ask Me Anything!

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Johnny from New Stitch A Day has asked me to be on Knitting Help, which will be broadcast live tomorrow! So tune in on Google Plus at noon Central time; have questions about podcasting? Running an online magazine? Shawl, cowl or hat construction? How many cats I have? Please ask questions in the comments here, on Twitter with the hashtag #knittinghelp, or live on Google Plus tomorrow, and I’ll do my best to answer them. To join in the discussion, just add New Stitch a Day to your Google Plus groups (if you’re on G+).

If you won’t be able to make it to the hangout tomorrow, the New Stitch A Day team will edit and re-release the show on their You Tube Channel.

So please, ask away! Can’t wait to talk to you tomorrow….

Jaala

IMG_2461Meanwhile, we’ve got a bona fide blizzard here. The kids are home from school, sledding and making cookies as the flakes keep coming down. So far, we’ve got 12 inches and counting (the object bottom right in the photo is our birdbath…)

Peace and Comfort

candles

Inspired by Knitsophrenic’s post. In dark days; we look to light and hope.

This chime uses candelight to turn the windmill, speed the angel’s flight and make a rhythmic bell sound. Every day during December, we light it during mealtimes.

Right now, we’re especially grateful for our family and for our children’s safety, and send out love to all of you. We are all together in this, and we will get through this, and make life better for our children, together.

Big and Tiny Trees

IMG_2397Oh, Christmas tree!

This weekend, we took the kids to the same Christmas tree farm we always went to when I was a kid.

christmas tree farm sign

Summer’s lies just outside of town, tucked between beautiful, rolling hills.

It was strange to be there without snow; usually, the kids bring their sleds and romp around as we look for the right tree. When they were little, we pulled them along behind us, wrapped in their puffy snowsuits.

But the place was just as cheerful as ever:

cottage front

This year was a big moment; Li’l Buddy wanted to cut down the tree himself!

cutting down the tree

He got that saw in there and worked away, and did succeed in felling the tree (with a little help from dad).

carrying the treeWithout snow and sleds, Mike and I used our muscles to carry it back.

With lights, paper chains and all of our favorite ornaments on our sweet fir tree, we’re ready for the holidays!

giant snowball 2

Oh, and we did get our snow, just a day later.  🙂

Our tree gets its own tree

Last week, I had the dear pleasure of having coffee at the Sow’s Ear with Susie Anderson, whose mitten and tiny ornament patterns are causing such a stir on Ravelry.

tiny tree

This weekend, I made her Tiny Tree, and liked it so much, I’ve already cast on my second one! It would be so fun to make one for each of the members of the family, each with their own color of embroidered ornaments…

We also got the holiday baking rolling with Thumbprint Cookies from the book Gluten Free Christmas Cookies. Belle loves both chocolate and lemon curd, so that’s what we made!

chocolate gf thumbprints

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Next, a new recipe: Coconut-Apricot cookies from Carole Walter’s Great Cookies (a splendid gift from my mom in a Christmas Past).

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These looked like shortbread cookies:you roll them into a log and slice them; but they have the soft, moist chew of a macaroon. Definitely a new favorite.

In the lair

It’s Yarn Club package time again! All last week, I’ve been winding, dyeing and working on getting all of the treats together. Clubbies, your packages will be going out in the next day or two!

Have a great Monday,

Jaala

Holidays Start

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I just love the holidays! It’s extra work and planning, but so much fun.

One tradition we started when the kids were younger was to give them one beloved Christmas book a day; I wrap them in simple tissue paper tied with yarn, and we read it sometime that day.

Last weekend we began our crafting and treat-making.

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Belle and I found wonderful, 18-colored construction paper, and we couldn’t resist sorting the strips chromatically and making rainbow chains. One for the fireplace, two for the tree, and one each for Grandma and Grammy.

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Next, we made Peppermint Bark; a longtime kid favorite, because it involves crushing candy canes with a hammer.

IMG_2350It’s so simple, and delicious.

Peppermint Bark:

You crunch up one package of mini candy canes inside two zip-top bags, with a hammer or other blunt object in a safe place, like the garage.

Then you melt one package of dark chocolate chips on low heat in a medium-sized saucepan, adding about a half teaspoon of mint extract.

When the chips are melted, add about one quarter of the candy cane powder.

Spoon the chocolate onto a baking sheet covered with parchment, or lightly buttered.

Sprinkle another quarter of the candy canes over the top and put in the refrigerator until the candy hardens.

When it hardens, break into pieces with your hands.

Store in a covered container int he refrigerator for up to 3 days.

The first batch we just kept for ourselves to enjoy, We’ll make more just before we deliver the cookies in a couple of weeks.

Have a great Monday,

Jaala

 

 

Cyber Monday One-of-A-Kind Yarn Sale

 

Midnight Mystery

I call these skeins One Man Bands: I love trying out new colorways and combinations, and these skeins are true originals.

Today and tomorrow, reward yourself for all of that holiday hosting and shopping with a fun-one-of-a-kind skein. All of them are 20-25% off in the Knitcircus Etsy Shop.

This one reminds me of the eighties; gray and pink!

This Mulberry color is one of my new favorite shades. I may try to replicate this one…In this case, the MCN base was too hard to keep in stock, more’s the pity.

 

Some of my favorite One Man Bands…

Long Weekend

I hope all of you Stateside had a wonderful weekend; we hosted 15 people on Thursday, and everyone pitched in on the cooking and cleaning, so it went pretty smoothly. Our family has so much to be thankful for, and we toasted it up right with our water glasses! At the end of the toasts, Belle had drunk up all of her water!

The hit of the meal this year was the homemade chocolate pie. Li’l Buddy really wanted to make it, so we used what has fast become the family favorite: this Chocolate Pie recipe from Instructables.com. Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any photos, but it looked very much like the pictures form the recipe site. I made one homemade regular crust and one gluten-free. For the GF crust, I used 1/2 cup of butter (one stick) plus one cup of our all-purpose GF flour mix. It didn’t need any water, since the GF flour tends to absorb less liquid. We cut the cold butter into small pieces and used a pastry cutter to mash it together.

On Wednesday, LI’l Buddy’s class had a Thanksgiving Feast, so he and I made 2 more chocolate pies to share with the class. It was a bit of extra trouble, but I have to say, of the 6 pies there, ours were the only ones that didn’t come in a bakery box. I guess hanging out with a crafty and foodie crowd IRL and online has skewed my worldview to thinking that everyone makes things from scratch!

The rest of the weekend, we enjoyed brunch at my brother and SIL’s house, and see more adorableness from the twins, now three-and-a-half. Littlest Buddy loves to make music and dance, and Tiny Belle wears a princess dress every single day.

The kids wanted to go to the mall on Black Friday (they’re getting older!) and we did some bowling and saw a movie in the theater, Wreck It Ralph. It was definitely fun and over-the-top, and we all got a big bang out of it.

Mostly, with our house still pretty clean from Thursday, we enjoyed hanging out and actually relaxing (knitting, reading, throwing the football around, fixing things) without a big agenda. We didn’t want it to end! But now we’re rested up for the big holiday rush. Hope you are, too. 🙂

Happy Monday,

Jaala

 

 

 

Snow is Glistening

…Not quite sleigh bells in the lane yet, even in Wisconsin, but we’re ready!

 

Every year for Thanksgiving, the kids and I decorate the windows with snowflakes, with hopes for big drifts this winter.

 

In the past, we always used big, circular coffee filters, but this year, we used templates from Belle’s class. They’re based on real snowflake crystal structures. Unfortunately  they appear to have come from a book, and I can’t find the same thing online, but did find this site with info about snowflake crystal structures and some cool photos of snowflakes by Ken Lebo.

Some similar and fun snowflake templates are on Marcel’s Kid Crafts or Curbly Essentials (free download if you like their Facebook page).

 

We used ordinary white paper and put them under the dictionary to flatten for a couple of hours after cutting. To make the garland, take three yards of red rickrack and paper clips; the wire tips can punch nice little holes in the snowflakes, then work the snowflake to the inner oval, and hang from the outer.

Maybe the next step is these beautiful 3-D snowflake decorations from Ellinee!

We’re getting in holiday gear; last night after dinner, my mom, Grandma and I pored over mom’s file folder of favorite holiday ideas. Since our family has Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Serbian Orthodox branches, we get to pull from a lot of traditions!

 

I can’t wait to try some of these gift tags, decoration ideas and homemade treats to give…

In knitting news

Eight wonderful knitters joined me yesterday at Stitcher’s Crossing for a Cowls class; I spread out all of the samples from the Knitting Recipes book, and they tried on and measured and all decided which size cowl would fit their style and their favorite yarn. They even gave up their Packer game knitting time to learn the knitted cast-on, stretchy bind-off and simple twisted infinity technique; that’s devotion to a craft! Thanks so much to Sharon and the Stitcher’s Crossing crew, who had everything so well-organized for us!

Have a great Monday,

Jaala

Halloween, Mochimochi and Yarn

Halloween

Hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!

The kids chose polarfleece fabric and I sewed up Jedi and ghoul robes; they had fun running all over with their friends. Unfortunately, they were in such a rush to get out, I didn’t get a photo!They’re getting so big now, they both went to different neighborhoods with their buddies this year. Sniff… But Mike and I had a relaxing evening at home.

We got 35 kids at the door this year, which is about par for the course. When I was a kid, my dad used to always buy a huge Hershey bar and give it to the 50th trick-or-treater with much fanfare, so I always wish it were a bit more… Maybe we could do it for the 25th next year!

Mochimochi

 

Thanks to everyone who entered the Super Scary Mochimochi giveaway!

The winner is CJ, and she’s been notified.

If you’d like another chance to win a great book, hop on over to designer (and my trusty photographer) Elizabeth’s blog for a Sock Yarn Studio giveaway!

Yarn Club(s) in the works

The lovely Amy D is coming over to help me package up yarns and treats tomorrow for the first installment of the All Wrapped Up Yarn Club! Thanks a million to all of the Clubbies for joining in the fun. I’m so excited to give you your goodies. 🙂

If you missed this one, the Spring Sparkle Club is in the works for February, March and April; glitter bases, guest designers and a special handmade silver pendant for all the participants! Watch for more on that very soon.