Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's The Little Things...

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. I've crafted only a very few, and very small gifts for this holiday season. I'm a little bit gift-challenged; I obsess and fret and worry that I've not done enough or gotten the right thing. This is in conflict with my desire to make gifts, as MY handmade gifts never seem quite sufficient to ME. I get around this by giving handmade stuff either in addition to store bought (crazy, I know-I'm working on it), or by making things to give away when a gift is neither required nor expected. That way, it doesn't matter that it's just handmade.

My very special friends in Berkeley, who will be having their annual dinner at Bucci's without me next week, will each be getting a bookmark. The light was extraordinarily crappy this week, as I tried to get photographs of these before sending them off.

They were fun to make and it gave me lots of pleasure to imagine The Moms, sitting around the table, drinking Cosmopolitans, and unwrapping these. (The first year I had to miss one of these dinners, I printed a photo of myself, drink in hand, and mounted it on cardboard so it could "sit" at the table with my friends. My desire not to be forgotten is pathetic great, I know.)

Six Bookmarks
Yarn: Perle Cotton #5, assorted colors, less than 1 skein for each
Needles: US #0
Hooks: I think I used a 2.1 mm, but it might have been something else
Crochet Patterns: Fan Bookmark, Shell Bookmark (That's a Ravelry link)
Knitting Pattern: I just made this one up using the Melon Stitch pattern from VLT
Most Fun: Picking out beads for each of them!

By the time I had finished and mailed the bookmarks, I had rather warmed to the idea of making gifts. I actually have a gift sock on the needles, but as it's the first of two, I've accepted that it won't be gifted by this Chanukah (and it's ok, I already bought and mailed the real gift.) That left me free to cast on for another sweater...

ornament! I love these wee tree decorations. This one is made from that recycled silk that was so popular a few years back. It's sort of on the funky side, but I love it. And the great thing is, it's going to a woman who totally appreciates hand made gifts. (She's getting a big Fruitcake, too!)

Jen's Sweater Ornament
Yarn: Recycled Silk
Needles: US#8 DPNs
Pattern: Last year I made a few of these by following Jared's recipe, more or less. Shortly after I posted about them, kt sent me mail and asked for help. Luckily, I was able to find my response to her and followed my own directions, which I would otherwise have had to re-figure out.
Best Thing About This Project: Near-Instant gratification!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Shetland II

I finally finished my Shetland Triangle. Why I thought it needed to be so big is unclear. It's lovely, and I'm happy to have it, but will I wear it?

Having gone to all the trouble to make it truly shawl sized, instead of scarf sized, of course I like it best worn as a scarf.

Shetland Triangle II
Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark, from Wrap Style
Yarn: Zephyr Wool/Silk Yarn used double throughout.
Needles: US Size 4, KnitPicks Options
Finished Size: Big. Something like 80" across and 40" from center top edge to bottom of point.
Modifications: Needles and yarn, and I worked extra repeats. I forget what the pattern originally calls for, but I worked 19. I also omitted the last two rows of the pattern (this is how Jared did it, way back when) to make the edge less pointy.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Fruitcake Day

I know it's an unlikely tradition for a nice Jewish girl, but every fall I bake a double batch of fruitcakes. I've been doing it so long - 26 or 27 years - I can't not do it. But it is a day long commitment to turn 15 pounds of dried fruit and nuts into 19 loaves. In the early years, I used the day we "fall back" to standard time so I could take advantage of the extra hour; I needed every minute of it. In recent times, I've gotten less obsessive more relaxed. (I've also acquired a free-standing KitchenAid and it makes all the difference.) I usually aim for the beginning of November, though Fruitcake Day has occurred as early as September 30th and as late as late November, but I don't think it's ever been quite as late as this.

Just to be clear, these are not your everyday fruitcakes. No colored candied plastic fruit pieces have made their way into these confections. They are just dense loaves of dried apricots, dates, raisins and pecan halves, with just enough buttery allspice-laced batter to hold them all together. After baking, they are soaked in a blend of brandy and orange liqueur, wrapped snuggly in aluminum foil and shoved to the back of the refrigerator to "age" for at least a month. Many of them will then be lovingly packed into boxes and hauled to the post office for the annual fruitcake migration. Others will be gifted locally, and the rest will be consumed by us. My boys have developed a taste for these over the years, and slipping thick slices into their lunch bags makes me feel like such a good mom!

Knitting content will be back with the next post. Soon, I promise ...

A quick shout-out to kt who sent me mail over the weekend because I hadn't posted in sooooo long. It meant so much, and was, of course, the kick-in-the pants I needed. Thanks, kt!