Joyous Jelly Beans

holiday loot

Who needs a calender when you have Trader Joe's? During the week after Thanksgiving, while most people are braving the crowds at the mall, you can find me at my favorite hangout sampling the free chocolates and tea. Happy Holidays and Joyous Jelly Beans!


Giving Thanks

I am thankful for so many things. In these tough economic times, I am thankful for a comfortable home and steady income. I am thankful for having my family close to my heart even if some of them are halfway around the world. I am thankful for having a patient and understanding husband who is my helpmeet in all things (except the housecleaning), who gives me space to enjoy my hobbies even if he still doesn't know the difference between wool and acrylic. I am thankful for my precocious little boy who allows me to see the world through his unique point of view. Happy Thanksgiving!


Surf's Up!

My little boy must have been programmed at birth to be a surfer dude. He would wear flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts in the middle of winter if he could get away with it. So showering him with hand knitted sweaters has never been an option. The only way he indulges his knitting mama with her yarn thing is by letting me knit him hats. This holiday I have chosen the BOTANIC HAT pattern by STEPHEN WEST, which is super exciting for several reasons. I have had a knitting crush on Monsieur West for the longest time. I think that he has such a unique and modern point of view. This pattern also uses slipped stitches which is one of my favorite ways of working with colors and textures. Slipped stitches always make me feel clever and I am never one to pass up the opportunity to feel smart. Plus, the hat is reversible, which is always a fun feature. And in addition to all that, I can "borrow" it because my little boy has an adult sized noggin. Here he is showing off the EAR COZIES that I knitted him last year.

Head on over to TAMI'S blog for WIP Wednesdays, flip-flops are optional.


History Repeating Itself

 knitting ninjas!

While hanging out with my two nieces and their friend, we became involved in a heated discussion about music. They are currently into a band called the Black Veil Brides. I told them that speed guitars and shrieking was not my cup of tea. To which they responded that I was a nerdy knitter with uncool taste in music. Being a nerdy knitter is a badge of honor in my book, but having uncool taste in music?!! That went straight through the heart! Just as I was getting ready to respond to their insult, the constant stream of corny Vietnamese love ballads that my parents used to play during every childhood road trip popped into my mind. I kept my mouth shut.

(artwork by my niece Bleach)


My Sister Extraordinaire

which ones?

My little sister is one of those people who knows how to do everything. She sews, quilts, crochets, knits, crafts, cooks, bakes, gardens, and (I suspect) even makes her own dog food. And she does all these things beautifully and effortlessly. So you will understand that she was the last person I thought of when I saw this wonderful pattern knitted up at my LYS. It was greedily going to be mine, mine, mine! But then, inconveniently, holiday knitter's guilt crept in. I started to wonder if my sister extraordinaire ever was given a handmade anything because it was just assumed that she could make it herself. So this year I will be gifting her with a SHAWL COLLARED COWL by ALANA DAKOS of NEVER NOT KNITTING. I am using Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande (sooo soft, plus quick to knit up). I, of course, also picked up two skeins and some buttons to make one for myself (knitter's guilt is so fleeting).
For more projects to add to your ever growing knitting list, go to TAMI'S blog for WIP Wednesdays


Perfect Excuse

There are days when I just want to stay home and do nothing but knit. Okay, so that's everyday. But to do this, I sometimes need an excuse. Here's where this recipe for what I call "Perfect Excuse Beef Stew" comes in handy. It's by the extremely witty cookbook author Ann Hodgman. You will need:

2 pounds suitable-for-stew beef, cut into 1&1/2-inch cubes
6 carrots, cut into thick slices
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 large baking potato, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1 10-to-11 ounce can Campbell's Tomato Bisque Soup (or regular Tomato Soup if you can't find
Tomato Bisque) and food snobs need not sneer...this is really the best base for this soup
1/2 to 3/4 soup can water, depending on wether you prefer thick or thin stew
*I also add a cup of green peas towards the end because we are a pea loving family

Here's what I do:
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees
In a heavy, lidded casserole that holds about 2&1/2 quarts, combine everything and stir until well mixed. Cover the casserole first with a tight layer of foil and then with the lid. And then here comes the "perfect excuse" part.....bake the stew for FIVE hours! Yup, that's 5 whole hours of "Oh, honey, I can't go to Home Depot to buy that plunger you need because I have dinner in the oven." That's 5 whole hours of knitting & playing time with my little boy with the added bonus of a wonderfully tasting stew to show for it!

Warning: do not overuse! They will catch on and decide to boycott.


Peaceful Solitude

Went for an early morning walk,

then made a pot of tea for one,

spent some time with these,

and then knitted some more of this. A morning well spent!

Grab yourself a cuppa and head on over to TAMI'S blog for some crafty goodness.


Let It Snow

Look what just came in the mail! It's the Snow Day felt ornament kit by Alicia Paulson. She's the creator of so many beautiful sewing, embroidery and crochet patterns. You can find her website HERE. She also has a wonderful blog that I love to read, HERE. Can you tell that I'm a fan? Anyways, I love handmade Christmas ornaments. They just represent everything good about the holidays to me. My tree might be a little mismatched and goofy looking with all sorts of things that I made or collected over the years, but it holds many memories. I try to knit or craft a few things for it every year to add to the memories. And now my little boy has added a few of his own little creations, too!


A Field Study*

Broken Rib Socks

Grapevine by Heidi Kirrmaier

There are as many species of knitters out in the wild as there are fishes in the sea. But some commonalities do exist. The first major subspecies observed share a trait call "startitis". These knitters tend to impulsively cast on for any and all projects that catches their eyes. They usually have multiple projects on the needles, but that does not prevent them from starting more. As for finishing any of these projects? That would require another study altogether. Then there is the (extremely rare) subspecies that have maybe at the most two projects going at once. One for travel knitting and one that requires more concentration. They have the compulsion to FINISH these projects before they can cast on for another. Did I mention that sightings of this subspecies are EXTREMELY rare? And then there is a subspecies that possibly is a hybrid of the two listed above. These knitters have a reasonable number of works in progress, say 9 or 10. Not too many that they can't finish any of them (so they tell themselves) but not too little that other knitters would consider them strange. The problem with these knitters is that they GET BORED with their current WIP's very easily. For example, they might stop knitting a pair of socks just at the point where decreasing for the toes begin and the dreaded Kitchener stitch comes into play (exhibit A). Some of their WIP's might be finished save for a missing sleeve (exhibit B). For more examples of any of the above subspecies (you be the judge) go to TAMI'S blog.

*no harm was done to any knitters in the making of this study


Start Your Engines.....

It's November 1st. The official start of Christmas Knitting Season! This year, I made things a little bit easier for myself by finishing some gifts early. But never fear, there will still be a dramatic last minute dash to the finish line! What's Christmas knitting without a little stress and drama to spice things up, after all? My finished objects so far are a couple of scarves for my nieces, a hat for my nephew, and a pair of mittens. My elf list still includes another pair of mittens, a hat for my little boy, a couple of toys, a scarf and bracelet set and The Socks. Wish me luck! What's on your elf list?