Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cookies were indeed swapped...

Oh and the cookies!  Check out the haul!

We each brought 3 dozen cookies and took home about the same.  Some highlights:
  • Orange nut lace cookies dipped in chocolate
  • Cranberry cookies with lemon zest icing
  • 2 different kinds of gingerbread
  • Praline Cookies
  • Shortbread
  • Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • Potato Chip Cookies
  • Cocoa Meringue Cookies
  • Eggnog Cookies

And then there came the party favors (my favorite part):

Carolyn is quite the quilter so she made us each a Mug Rug - a coaster big enough for your mug of hot chocolate and a little snack to accompany it.

And Charity, being Charity, raided her extensive shawl closet and brought us each one to take home.  This is an incredibly generous gift.  Charity has a great eye for color and design.  Each shawl is a one-of-a-kind work of art requiring hundreds of hours.

Jamie displays her chosen shawl

We each selected one and we all agreed that each shawl matched the recipient quite beautifully.  Except Jamie somehow ended up with my shawl...  Funny, that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cookie Swap 2011

This year, the annual Cookie Swap was hosted by Melissa.  She very graciously opened up her home to us for some nibbling and knitting.

Cookies to share
 That's Jamie in the corner.  Yes, sometimes we do put Baby in the corner.  Speaking of babies, Caryn is currently incubating one.  Atta girl, Caryn!

Some of us are shy

But not these two

That's Auntie Carolyn checking on the incubation progress.  So far, so good.

The usual suspects: Rebecca,Charity and Faith

Yes, it's true.  We have two of the virtues (Faith and Charity) in our little knitting group.  We are currently looking for Hope,. Patience, Prudence and Temperance.  If you know of their whereabouts, please send them our way.

The elusive and mysterious Kerrilyn, our resident Sock Guru

Faith and Helen discussing serious knitting matters
Shhhhhh.  They're doing math.

Resident Yarn Taster
This is Nabokov.  He likes to chew on yarn.

Hostess in a rare moment of relaxation
This is Melissa.  She's cool but she's very particular about where she sits in knitting group.  Middle seat facing the baristas; that's just how it is and it's not up for discussion.  Of course, in her home she is no different.  This is "her" seat.  Only she (and the Grinch) are allowed to sit in the Seat.  No one else.

Oh no she didn't...

Melissa trying to act nonchalant and failing utterly.

Nabakov says he can sit wherever he wants

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Cheer

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, not really - it's 70-80 degrees out and not to make you Northerners too envious but I sleep at night with the windows open.  Such a nice reprieve from the brutal heat and humidity of summer.

Anyway, what's a holiday season without cookies.  Every year, my knitting group holds a cookie swap.  This year, I made Yarn Widower's favorite: Gourmet Magazine's Basic Butter Cookies decorated with rainbow non-pareils.  Recipe can be found  here.

I make them with Plugra butter (higher fat content than regular butter; Whole Foods usually stocks it) and I have to admit, they are some mighty fine cookies.  I would make them more often but I always make a mess of it.  Flour everywhere. 

Where is that dang sous chef when I need him?

 On my second batch, I had a eureka moment.  I loosened the beater from the mixer and manually stirred in the flour to combine it just enough before reattaching the beater to do its job.  And voila, no mess this time.  I don't know why that has never occurred to me before.  Maybe it's because I don't bake very often - too fussy, too messy, too highly caloric.

Messy crumbly deliciousness

Highly caloric cookie log



More to come...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

La Domestique

Some people decided that sock knitting would be a great competitive sport:  Tour de Sock to benefit Doctors Without Borders.  I'm a little fuzzy on all the details - maybe one of you competitive sock knitters can fill us in.  My home team decided to call themselves Team Toe-tally Socksome.  (And yes, there are teams apparently all with equally punny names.)

Unfortunately, Team Toe-tally Socksome quickly became Team Toe-tally Sucksome as knitter after knitter dropped out.  Speed knitting is grueling work.  Which is why I much prefer to watch on the sidelines.  I'm lazy that way.

In the end, Kerrilyn stood alone atop the leaderboard but even she couldn't knit quite fast enough and without her team to back her up, her light slowly faded as other knitters overtook her lead.  OK. I'm being a bit dramatic for the sake of the story but Kerrilyn did prove herself to be one of the top 10 fastest sock knitters in the world.  Sock Domination on a global scale is no small feat.  Kudos to K-Ro!

But enough about Kerrilyn (she's got her own blog - I don't need to go on and on about her like I am wont to do).  Enter Melissa of Boynton Beach who decided to start knitting socks just for this competition.  She even trained beforehand - that's how dedicated she was.  But alas, she succumbed to the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. When she told me about this, I offered to step in.  I would be her domestique.

In cycling, a domestique is a team player.  This is someone who is willing to pull for the leader; i.e., give the leader a break by letting her draft behind for a bit, someone who will fend off attacks from other riders, dole out water bottles and power bars as needed.   I am that person.  La Domestique.  Actually, come to think of it, I'm more like a pinch hitter but let's stick to one sport metaphor per post. 

So I knit some socks:

Pattern: Calable by Regina Satta available via Ravelry or here if you are fluent in German.

Yarn: Araucania Ranco Solid (Fingering / 4 ply - 75% Wool, 25% Nylon. 376 yards / 100 grams)
colorway unknown - I don't have the label
0.75 skein used or approximately 282 yards for size 8

Needles: US 2

I ended up frogging Melissa's first sock because it was hard for me to match her tension.  Also, for the sake of simplicity, she had used one cable pattern for both the front and back of the sock.  I like the cable on the back of the sock.

I always worry that cables make socks too bulky but this wasn't the case here.  The cables are smooth and lie relatively flat while still providing some visual interest and texture.  I like cables - they're fun to knit especially if you knit without a cable needle.

However, I would not recommend this pattern for someone who hasn't knit a bunch of socks before.  Melissa is a fine knitter (she's knitting a Alice Starmore bohemoth; ergo, she is a total rock star) but this is not a good pattern for Sock No. 3 (Sock No. 1 being her practice sock).  The pattern is charted but it's unnecessarily complex and lacks the conventional charting symbols thus rather defeating the whole purpose of visualizing the end product.  And what little text there is, is poorly translated from the author's native German.  Having turned a good number of heels, I muddled through okay and am reasonably happy with the results:

I hope Melissa is too!