Sunday, November 30, 2014


For as long as I've known Dave, he's raved about the sausage rolls his grandmother use to make. Every time I'd buy a box of store-bought frozen ones, he'd go on and on about how his grandma use to make her own puff pastry from scratch.

I had my doubts about this... I grew up with people who loved to make baked goods... not one of them made puff pastry, because it was just too time consuming. I tried to tell Dave this, but he insisted that she did.

Then one day, I'd whipped up some Pillsbury flaky rolls. And sure enough, Dave declared it tasted just like his grandmother's puff pastry. My suspicions almost confirmed, I decided to grow straight to the source.

The secret was out... Grandma's puff pastry wasn't by Pillsbury, but it was from the freezer aisle. I grabbed a box last grocery day. And Dave had had a rough week this week, so it was the perfect time to make him a treat
Now you may not know, traditional Scottish sausage rolls are made with ground beef. (I was surprised too!). And with pre-made puff pastry, they were quick to make up. I used this recipe.

It's basically just a meatball mix wrapped in pastry - perfect for entertaining. Dave ate several when he walked in the door. The rest have gone to Grandma's for her approval.

I had a fair bit of meat mixture left after all the pastry was used up...
So now I've got some meatballs ready for mid-week spaghetti! I think I'm getting the hang of this cooking thing!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

FO: Burton Bear for Nora

If you've been on facebook lately, no doubt one of your non-knitting friends with kids has posted the chunky animals cowls by Velvet Acorn Designs. Burton Bear and Failynn Fox are the two most popular. And, at least on my feed, it seemed like everyone was gushing over them, and begging the knitters they knew to make one.

While Nora's Daddy wasn't one of those people, I knew it'd be perfect for Nora. I went with Burton Bear, because I didn't have the colours for the fox, but I was pretty sure I had some chunky pink yarn that would work for Burton. (Pink bear? Why not!)

So I bought the pattern, only to discover it calls for super bulky! I toyed briefly with the idea of buying something, but I really wanted to use my stash if I could. So, I went up to check out what I had.

The chunky yarn I was thinking of was some Bernat Alpaca I'd bought eons ago. It was in a sale bin at Walmart, $1 a ball. I'd bought 10 with the intention of mixing it with some other novelty yarns in an afghan. And naturally, I never got around to it.

So earlier this week, I gave it another look and decided that if I doubled it, it should approximate something reasonably close to a super bulky
It worked out pretty well. The cowl knit up crazy fast - I did it over three evenings, but were I to sit down and work on it non stop, I'd estimate about hours for the total project.
The yarn is 70% alpaca and 30% acrylic so it's going to be nice and warm. The alpaca gives it a lovely halo. Though it was a bit of a pain to knit it doubled on such big needles.

I have my reservations about how well it's going to fit. It fits my head, so it won't be too small there; it's the shoulder area I'm worried about. Were I to make it again, I'd do a bigger cast on, then decrease more for the hood. The model in the pattern isn't wearing it with a coat. With one, I don't think it will fit over the shoulders. Worn underneath, I think it will be too bulky and uncomfortable. But we'll have to see when Nora tries it on. Her Daddy just hopes that it's a hat that she'll actually want to keep on.

I do have a couple small complaints about the pattern itself. It's another one of those pattern that, in order to change pattern size, you change needle size. This drives me crazy. What if you don't like the fabric that the larger, or smaller needle gives you? Then you have to make a billion adjustments to get the size you need.

Also, while this pattern gives a gauge, it's only for stitch count (no row count), only over one inch, and it doesn't specify for which size (critical in this case, since the sizes use different needles.)

I did whip up another pair of mittens to go with this cowl
 And yes... I crocheted another chain... and it's no prettier than the first...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Free Shipping Weekend!

I hope all of our friends south of the border had a fabulous Thanksgiving.
Since we are thankful for all our customers and knitting friends, we are offering Free Shipping on everything in the shop from now until Monday. Just use the code FREESHIPPING at checkout. 

Now is the perfect time to make sure you've got a little something yarny under the tree!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mrs. Downy

We've got a new character in the backyard parade of birds...
Meet Mrs. Downy Woodpecker! I saw her mate a few months back (easily distinguishable by the red spot  on his head), and Dave says he's seen him a time or two munching on the suet brick, but this is the first time we've seen the female. She came by Sunday morning and flitted from the suet to the bird feeder and back.

I love how they just hang on to the side of the fence like that!

We've also seen an Eastern Towhee a time or two, though he always comes by around dusk when it's too dark to get a good picture.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Warming up for winter

The problem with being a blonde, when your natural hair colour is so dark it's almost black, is that it requires a heck of a lot of maintainence to stay blonde.

You will remember that back in the middle of October, I bleach my hair out, then dyed it to a lovely, soft golden blonde.
Well, within two days, my roots were starting to show (no surprise, my hair grows really fast, and as I said, it's really dark). But I'm just not one of those girls who's into a lot of maintenance, and touching up those roots ever week or so certainly counts as maintenance. So I let it go for about a month, and then this weekend...
Hello, Red! A nice warm coppery shade for winter! Next month I'll darken it up a bit more to keep on top of those roots.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Keeping my Prince Charming warm

 I restarted Princess Franklin with 45 stitches and I think I've got the perfect width now!

Since this is all just garter stitch, it makes perfect TV knitting. It's also easy to pick up and put down, so it's been marked out as my weekday evening knitting, with Cygnus saved for the weekends (because we don't want any more tinking!).  

I've managed to complete about a repeat and a half, but I've got a long way to go until I can start the weaving again. How long do you think it should be for a 6 foot man? I'm thinking about five feet...  
... so only 51 inches to go....

Monday, November 24, 2014

Got apples?

... cause I do!

Every Sunday after work, Dave heads to his grandma's for dinner. Since his family all live within five minutes of each other, it's not unusual for one of them to pop in.

The other week it was his aunt, and she sent Dave home with a buttload of apples... and I mean it, I think it was about four dozen!

Now, I like apples (prefer my Pink Ladies from New Zealand when it comes to an nice eating apple), but there's no way we could eat all these apples before they go bad. I ended up giving half of them to Mom. But that still left me with two dozen apples to use up.

Then my facebook feed threw up this recipe: Awesome Country Apple Fritter Bread.

It looked delicious and I had apples to use up, so this weekend, I thought I'd give it a try. Sadly, it only calls for two apples (so it didn't put much of a dent in my stash), but I threw in an extra one because mine are a little on the small side.
I have no idea what kind of apples they are (they are small, and not very crisp) but boy do they smell good. If only I could keep them around just for the smell.

Now, I don't bake a tonne (only when I've got a craving for something sweet), but I've got all the tools to do it, thanks to Mom.
When I moved out on my own, Mom furnished me with a bunch of baking tools... and not just any baking tools... the ones I grew up with. The measuring spoons above are the same ones I used as a child. I'd stand on a chair beside Mom at the counter, and she'd let me measure out the baking powder, cinnamon and salt as we made peanut butter cookies together.
Flour and sugar were measured out in these Tupperware measuring cups that are at least as old as I am. I love that I'm still able to use them. (And since I gave up the gravy boat to my brother, these are even more treasured.)

The bread was very easy to to put together... and all those apples, sugar and cinnamon...
I just wanted to eat it out of the pan as it was.... completely unbaked! But I was good...
I let is cool and drizzled it in gooey icing. And I even waited until Dave got home to slice it up.
 And it was good, though it's definitely more of a cake than a bread. (I've got some ideas to tweak it... I'm thinking it would be killer with some raisins and pecans and a touch of nutmeg...).

I sent most of it to work with Dave on Sunday. And the rest went up to Mom. Since Dad can't have sweets any more, she doesn't bake like she used to (our was always the house our friends wanted to hang out in, because there was never a store bought cookie in sight!). I figure since she's the reason I can bake at all, that I really should share the results.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tink, tink, tink...

Yep  - that's the sound of my needles going backwards.

All was going swimmingly, if a little slow, on the red Cygnus. Since it's top-down, those rows before you put the sleeves on holders can get quite long. But row by row, I was getting there. Wednesday night, I was just about to complete the last pattern row when it happened
I realized that on the last pattern row, about half way through, I'd some how left out all the yarn overs of the stitch pattern, and only did the decreases.... and since it's a four row pattern, that meant tinking back all those rows and all those stitches to even be able to fix it.

I couldn't look at it, so I tucked it away under the couch until I was in a better frame of mind to tackle all that tinking and re-knitting.

I finally felt up to it on Saturday afternoon and set to it. It took until bed time, but I'm finally ready to split for the sleeves. Hopefully it's smooth sailing from here on out!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Frozen toes

It's been a chilly few days here, though things have warmed up quite a bit today. It's well above freezing and  the snow is starting to melt. Of course, that means a certain someone thinks it's spring again...
"Let me out!!!!"
That is, until he gets out there and get's his paws on the ground.
Oh noes! Frozen toes!
Then it's right back inside.
"I'll just keep you company while you knit"
That sounds like a plan to me, Rocky.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Winter growth

I am happy to say, I've managed to keep my house plants alive.  It's been two months since I brought my orchid home, and she's still going strong.
One of the bloom stems dropped all of its flowers the other day. But the other one is still going strong.
So gorgeous.
I really can't get over it! I need more orchids!

And Rocky has completely ignored the Lemon Fern and Elephant Ear plants. He hasn't tried to eat them even once! They are doing so well that I decided it was time to repot.
Ol' Ellie* got the terra cotta pot that used to house the mini rose I killed. And she looks quite a home there. Lots of room to flourish

 But I don't have anything else for little Lulu...
So she'll have to wait until pay day for a new home.  But at least she has a butterfly!

*yes... I named my house plants...doesn't everyone?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roses for winter

With Dad's boot socks off the needles, my lunch time needed a new knit. I flirted briefly with casting on a pair of Christmas socks for Dave, but since I've already got his scarf on the go, I decided to be selfish.

I wanted to cast on for Pirate Danger, but I think it's just too involved for travel knitting, so I went on the hunt for something else. And that's when I remembered Blackrose. 
I'd made a pair back in 2011 out of Jungle Cat. I'd always meant to make another pair, as the colourway I used (Nana's Brooch) didn't allow the beautiful lace panel to really shine. But I have a skein of Twisted House Cat that will

The colourway is Volcanic - an incredibly deep, rich red that's almost black.I cast on early this week.
This is a great pattern for anyone wanting to try lace socks. It's just one small 17-stich panel, and then stockknit for the rest. I've changed to a picot hem, but the orginal calls for ribbing.

With these being a travel/lunch hour project, I don't expect them to be done any time soon. But I think they are going to be stunning when they are finished!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Into hibernation

The weekend brought the snow
My poor little bee garden, all covered in snow
It's not uncommon for it to snow this time of year (it's November in Canada after all) but for where we are in Southern Ontario, it doesn't usually stick. It's mostly just flurries.

This one started Sunday morning and continued on for several days. Not a huge accumulation, but enough to upset a couple of kitties who don't like cold paws.
"Awww... nuts!"
For Tux it's not too bad. He's content to sleep away the winter. Someone else though...
It's a giant ball of pent up energy. He yodels and screams to be let out. When I finally give in, he's back inside within two minutes and yelling again.

Fortunately, we've got a nice long front hall
And a stash of bouncy balls
The hall is long and narrow, so one good throw and it's bouncing left and right and eventually makes it back to the thrower (since cats aren't generally great at fetch).
As you can see, Rocky is a wee bit on the "rotund" side, so a few good throws and he's usually ready for a nap. And I'm more than ready for the peace and quiet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This week must be the week of forgotten projects. Remember this?
It's Princess Franklin. I started a scarf version for Dave way back at the end of January. It was suppose to be a Valentine's present, but I didn't get it done in time. It got tucked away and I figured I'd pick it up again before Christmas.

As Christmas is usually such a busy time, I didn't put it on my list. If I got to it, great, if not, I already have a few things put away for him.

But as you know, my Christmas list is in fantastic shape this year. So the other day, while cleaning up the craft corner, I pulled it out and dusted it off (literally.... I really need to dust on a more regular basis... AH-CHOOOO!)

But the more I thought about finishing it, the more I just wasn't happy with it. About halfway through knitting it, I realized I'd made it too wide. Being loathed to frog, I kept going and finished the knitting.
And as you can see in the first picture, I'd even started some of the weaving.  Put when I pulled it out again, I realized, not only was it too wide... it was really too short. Oh, it was an alright length for someone like me; someone who isn't crazy tall and prefers shorter scarves. But for Dave... over 6 foot and built like a linebacker.... it was just going to look ridiculous!

Let's try this one again, shall we?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Swan song

Remember this?
The pretty little lace cardigan called Cygnus that I designed before we went to Virginia last year? I'd always intended to release the design for sale.

And designing itself is pretty easy, once you get the hang of basic garment construction. Working up the pattern so others can follow what you do? Well that's a little harder. And when it's something like a cardigan that requires multiple sizes... well that's just a whole other can of worms.

So, I made a few notes, but the actual pattern writing got shoved to the side and thoughts of releasing the pattern languished. Until last week.

After  getting my pretty red boots, I was itching for a pretty red cardigan.
Mom had given me some Bugga in Longhorn Beetle back in May before I went to Chicago for another cardigan. I've since fallen out of love with that cardigan, so I started scouring Ravelry for another. I found one, started it, but quickly lost interest.

As I was frogging it, I looked down at myself. I was wearing Cygnus. Being light-weight and white, it's one of my most-worn cardigans (Not to mention, it's really pretty!). I wear it with my sundresses, I wear it with my jeans. Heck, I've even thrown it on over my pajamas in the summer.

And then I started thinking about how nice it will look in red. Then I stopped thinking, dug out my notes, and cast on..
I'm almost through the yoke. And as I've been knitting, I've been working on the math for the other sizes. I've got to dye up some yarn for Samantha, who's going to test knit it for me.

(And yes, this means poor Old Town has gotten bumped to the back-burner again...)

Sunday, November 16, 2014


You know it's a labour of love when I whip out the crochet hook.
I hate crochet... and it hates me right back. I don't get me wrong - I respect the craft. I love the look of crocheted afghans... but actually executing said craft is a nightmare for me.

But Nora's Cat Hat needed a matching pair of mitts.
And since Nora is only two and a half, those mitts needed a string!

I could have done an i-cord, or gone out and bought some ribbon, but I figured a crocheted chained would be quicker...
If not prettier (that might be the saddest looking crocheted chain ever). But it will be inside her coat. And she's two and a half - it's not like she'll care.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

FO: Boot socks

Well this is definitely the fastest pair of socks I've ever knit
While they took two weeks to finish, if you total up the actual hours worked, it's really only about 15. No real pattern here - I cast on 48 stitches and knit them on 4 mm needles. The result is a nice thick sock! So thick! I can't even imagine wearing these. But they will be warm.
The yarn is Big Fabel, a worsted version of Drops' regular fingering Fabel. It's very sheepy, but should be nice and strong. I used a solid grey for heels and toes and a matching print yarn for the main part of the sock.

These will be tucked away for Dad's birthday next month, and sadly, he's all done his hunting for the year (no moose or deer this year :(  )... but I'm sure they will still get some use...
Winter is coming!

Friday, November 14, 2014


While I'm not a spinner, one of the things I love about spinning is how much each stage of the process changes the look of the product.

Last weekend, Mom started spinning the merino/silk that was my first attempt at dyeing fiber.
I'm happy to say that I didn't wreck it and she had no problems spinning it. And while it looks mostly pink in the braid, I actually used several different dyes on it - Burgundy, Paprika, Saffron, Brick Red, and Maple Sugar.
You can see a few of those shades much better now that it's spun and plied. It looks so different than the braid. And it will look even more so once it's knit up! Word is this is destined to become a cowl... some day - she has a lot on her list, but I've already been told I can't steal this one...

(And we might have made a trip to the fiber store to get some more bare fleece to dye...)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A study in scarlet

Don't ever let anyone tell you that facebook advertising doesn't work.

Last month, there I was, innocently posting inanities on my wall when up popped an ad featuring a cute pair of red boots. I clicked on it because - hey - they were darn cute.

But I didn't have any money at the time, so I just went on my merry way. But since I clicked that link... I was doomed. Everytime I logged onto facebook, they were there... in the side bar... taunting me. The red velvety material called to me, the black buttons gleamed like shiny little beacons, saying things like...
 "Think of how good we'd look with your little red top and black mini-skirt."
"We're so festive, and Christmas is coming!"
"You don't have red boots.... you need red boots..."
"You deserve it..."

It took two weeks, but I finally caved and clicked the link again... just to give them another look...

...and they were on sale...

...and I could get free shipping...

...and they accepted paypal...

...and then I told myself, that my birthday was coming up...

...and I always buy myself a birthday present... what if it's a month and a half early... the buttons were right, I totally deserve it.

They arrived this week.
They fit perfectly and absolutely love them (though I think I really need to get a move on making a red cardigan now)... but from now on, I'm clearing my cookies after clicking on any too-tempting links...