Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas is for families

Christmas is for families. If you don't have a family, create one with your friends or people in the neighborhood. I'm very lucky I have a family that comes back home from all parts of the country.
This year we were at my cousin's house.

We have many traditions that have gone by the wayside (Santa hasn't visited us in the afternoon for several years) but one tradition that WILL NOT be denied is our cookies. Every family brings their usual cookies and some new ones. The E family brings lemon bars and the Christmas wreaths; the S family brings decorated sugar cookies, cherry bars and peppernuts and my family - well this year I kind of fell down on the job and didn't bring the C family traditional cookies. Beside all the ones listed above every family brings enough cookies to over feed everyone there.

This means lots and lots of cookies on the cookie plates. Here's 2 cookie plates being made up. All those tins on the table are filled with cookies.

Just in case you think that's a lot of cookies and how could 14 people eat that many cookies, let me should you what is on the floor next to the table.

That my friends is another bag filled to the top with more tins of cookies. If we were to eat nothing but cookies for a week, we would not have come close to finishing all the cookies.

Of course, there was the meal. My cousin does not do Christmas small. She made ham, turkey, potatoes, dressing - there was 2 vegetables, salad and oh so much more. For supper we had even more wonderful food. Yup, my family knows how to do Christmas food.

We also know how to spend time enjoying each other's company. Layla is now very firmly established in her 2's and she talks non stop (in a good way!). She found the village and spent a lot of time carefully playing with the people that were skating, the children making snow angels and when she found the horse and sleigh, Layla broke into a chorus of Jingle Bells - delighting all of us.

The week before Christmas Layla's parent took her to Shedd Aquarium and she loved the penguins. So, I decided I had to make her a penguin hat and mitten. Only problem was I couldn't find any penguin mittens so I found a good hat pattern and came up with a mitten design that would work with the hat. I'm pleased to say she loved the hat and mittens and had to show them off to everyone (I got a big hug out of the deal!) Unfortunately, my camera was in a different room and I didn't get any poses.

Christmas Eve I was watching TV - the 8 millionth sappy Christmas movies I've watched this year, and decided to make another hat for Layla. This is just leftover yarn and a real quick knit. No real pattern, I just made it up as I went.

Quick Child's Hat
Worsted weight leftovers
Size 7 needle

CO 80 sts. Working in the round, make k2-p2 rib for 1.5". Switch to knitting around and work striped for 6-7". Bind off using kitchner stitch. Make 2 pompoms for the corners.

After Christmas I love having a day to sit around and enjoy the company of my boys. Bert and Chief were very pleased with the warm weather today (a record high for Minnesota 52F) and they spent the day sleeping in the sun.

I did not sleep all day. I got up and ate twice!

I'm not sleeping. See I'm standing right here on the floor and my eyes are almost open. Me sleeping!?! Nope, not me!

If you look closely at Bert's pic you'll see the kitty afghan. It a long, fairly thin scarf like piece I made several years ago to fit on the back of the sofa. It has cats dancing across it and fits perfectly to cover the back of the sofa and protect against some of the fur that collects back there.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dyeing can be fun!

This weekend was the dyeing experiment. Friday night my friend, Sarah, came up from southern Minnesota and we planned how we were going to go about dyeing. We had sent several emails back and forth the previous weeks and Friday night decided to go with Kool-aid dyeing this time around because that meant we wouldn't have to worry about chemicals and could use regular kitchen utensils.

Before the dyeing began we did 2 things. I gave her the Christmas present I made for her and can finally post a picture of it. The pattern is in the Berroco Flicker free ebook/ The pattern is called Gurie. I made a few changes. The original was created to use 1 skein of Flicker (a wonderful, soft alpaca chain yarn). Because it only used 1 skein, the neck portion went down to only 10 stitches and was fairly short. I made it wider and longer but kept the 2 ends exactly as the pattern showed. It's a beautiful yarn and I love the design of the 2 ends. Sarah seemed to be happy with it too.

The other thing we did before dyeing was head over to Lila and Claudine's for a quick trip. Sarah hadn't seen the new expansion and me, well, I just like to go over there cause they're so friendly and have a great stock. The expansion now includes a lot of gift items. Something for everyone.

So, time for dyeing. We stopped by the store on the way back and grabbed a bunch of kool-aid.

The yarn - I had bought a pound cone of WEBS fingering weight yarn. We wound the yarn off into 50 gm skeins. We got 8 skeins and a 12gm skein. Sarah also wound off a 25 gm skein of a merino-alpaca blend she got at Lila and Claudines. All the yarn went into a bath to get it ready for dyeing. The bath was lukewarm water with a small amount of dish soap.

While the yarn was soaking, we made up the dye mixes. We had 5 colors so made 5 cups of 2 packs of the same color with a splash of vinegar and a 8 oz of water. The rest of the kool-aid, we made cups of 1 pack and 4 oz water so we could mix colors or do multi-color skeins.

With everything ready we did our first attempt.We also decided to use the microwave. 2 minutes - check the yarn - 2 minutes more - check yarn, etc until the water was clear. Most of the skeins took 3 trips to the microwave.

After the microwave each skein was allowed to rest for a few minutes then we transferred the skein to a different container without its water. Once the yarn was completed cooled, Sarah gave each skein a final wash in tepid water and a small bit of shampoo.

After it's final bath the yarn was squeezed of all its water and hung in the bathtub to dry. As you can see some of the yarn was done solid - some tonal and some multi colored.

We had a great time giving this a try and both of us agreed this wouldn't be the last time we dye yarn. Next time around we'll try the jacquard dye I buy a while back or possibly Wilton's food dye. I understand Wilton's has more ready colors available.

If you haven't try dyeing yarn give the kool-aid dyeing a try. It's fun and easy and you get to knit something totally your own. Plus, its best to try it with a friend cause we had a GREAT weekend!

While we were dyeing yarn, Chief was busy amusing us by trying to tangle himself in the chair.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Dying this weekend

If you aren't into knitting and all things yarn and fiber I'm guessing that the post title took you by surprise. Rest assured, there's no terrible disease going on in my household - the dying is all about yarn. I have a friend coming to spend the weekend and we have lots of plain yarn to dye. It will be the first attempt for both of us and we've been emailing lists and instructions back and forth. I don't know what the results will be but one thing I know for sure - there will be pictures..... lots of pictures.