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Friday, December 27, 2013

gift yarn

Buying Christmas gifts can be hard. What on earth does this person want? What will not be shoved guiltily into a closet to collect dust? What will I probably forget about so that I don't feel bad that my gift was relegated to the closet? 

Buying yarn for knitters is also hard. 

It's like buying lingerie for a friend. Which, in fact, I did receive this year. My lovely roommate introduced me to the world of lace panties this Christmas. 

So for several Christmases, I have received no yarn. Although it's something I will definitely love and use, most of my family has shied away from that gift. 

Until now. 

My grandmother gave me a lovely wrapped box. When I unwrapped it,  the box says "Holiday Bless This Home Tray." I thought I had a new serving tray for the apartment that I'm going to get next July. But when I opened it, I was amazed to see seven gorgeous balls of Willow yarns, which I have not used before. 

And the dreaming begins. What will I make? I have so much of this color-shifting yarn, which, by the way, is machine washable. :) I have four balls of a dusty, desert rose color way and three of a blue, green, purple color way. I'm thinking of a circular vest that spirals outwards. 

Any suggestions? What are the best gifts you gave this year? Do you give your knitting friends yarn or yarn related goodies?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

preemie baby caps: free pattern

roughly 80 yards of worsted weight yarn (I used Malabrigo in a blue colorway).
size 4 double pointed needles

Cast on 60 stitches, divided between three double pointed needles, twenty on each needle. Join in round without twisting the stitches.
Knit two, purl two across row for four inches. 

Knit two together, purl two across row.
Knit one, purl two across row.
Knit one, purl two together across row.
Knit one, purl one across row. 
Knit two together across row.

Cut yarn, leaving a 8 inch tail. Using a tapestry needle, thread through the remaining stitches, pulling the circle closed. Weave in ends. 

Because it takes very little yarn, it doesn't take long or very much yarn to knit two, the perfect gift for preemie twins. The edge can be folded up or left down.  If it is knit longer, it will work for a full-term babe as well. Because it is knit in rib the entire time, it is very stretchy, which works well for babies who grow really fast.

If you have any questions about this pattern, or want to leave a link to your baby cap, please leave a comment below!

Happy Knitting!

second finished baby sophisticate

I finished the second baby sophisticate. It takes gumption to get going and actually finish a second sweater. This is why most knitting projects are left abandoned in knitting bags and baskets in attics and closets with one mitten, one sock, or if knitting an adult sweater, if you make it through the back, it gets abandoned in disgust somewhere during the second sleeve. 

But I did it! I conquered the "second" syndrome. And it's adorable.

It's tiny, so it will definitely be for a newborn, but it's cute. 

And the buttons match perfectly.

And, quick side note, I hadn't purchased enough buttons (I was short just one button), so I called the yarn shop, hoping that they still had it. I felt slightly ridiculous, calling someone, asking them "do you still have a half-inch button, it's kinda gray-blue, with an orange stitched border? It has two holes." And they had it!

So I drove back to Apex to DownTown Knits, and Michelle had the button waiting for me at the front. And it was exactly the one I needed to match the other three I already had. So over last weekend, when my family celebrated Christmas early with my grandparents, cousins, and aunt, I sewed in all those annoying tails and sewed on my buttons. 

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

gray cabled hat (finished)

I finished the gray cabled hat about five days after I started it. It is so rewarding to be able to start a project and not have it drag on forever. I loved working with the Quince and Co yarn, which helped keep me motivated.

It turned out beautifully and my friend, Alyssa, loves it. It will help keep her warm over Christmas break in New York. :)

How are your Christmas projects going? Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas redemption: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

My red nail polish is chipped. It's broken. So much like me. 
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, it's a plea, a begging, Emmanuel, God with us, I need that. I need Him with me. With us. 

Brokenness is all around me. A graduate of my college was killed by his brother a few days ago. My friends struggle with which parent they going to see first when they go home on break. Families regather for the holidays expecting conflict and tension. The homeless in my city are cold. And wet. And yet it's Christmas.

People rush around the city buying decorations and gifts they can't afford, hoping to please friends and family they may not even genuinely know or love. Because being fully loved requires being fully known. And being fully known is dangerous. And threatening. And vulnerable. 

Where's the beauty in this? 

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

He's coming! He has come! Hallelujah! He cares to come sit in my pain and my brokenness, in the pain and brokenness of the world, of my neighbor, of my city.  

Psalm 147:3-5 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.

He is the Divine Namer. That's who He is. And by naming us, He knows us. Knows us in our most vulnerable place and still says 
I love you. Knows us and all of our wrong and still says I'll die for you. Knows us and all of our pain and says I'll know your pain, too. He doesn't just want our happiness, pasted on smiles, singing Christmas carols and decorating the house. He wants our loneliness, our loneliness in a crowd, our broken hearts, our anger and hatred, our loss. He wants us. 

When Jesus became a little baby in a cold stable (the King of the Universe didn't even get a proper home) and slept on a pile of scratchy hay, and slept surrounded by the smell of cow and sheep manure, He was saying something very loudly. I'm here. With you. And I'm not leaving. I'm here for everything that's broken, to heal it, to walk beside you, to weep with you. Later in his life, when his friend Lazarus died, he wept. He didn't just sweep in on a white horse in shining armor, but He sat down next to Lazarus' sisters and wept.

And He sits down with me. And with you. And He weeps. He wipes away the tears running down my face and still whispers I love you.

So if this Christmas is less than what we see on the Hallmark Christmas channel and you are feeling empty or disappointed, please remember, Christmas is our celebration and our reminding ourselves (because we forget so easily) that Jesus is with us. And that He is whispering I love you

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. God with us.

(The inspiration for this post came from Ann Voskamp's raw post 3 keys that salvage any christmas about redemption at Christmas). 

the beginning of the gray cabled hat

A few weeks ago, while going through my winter hand knits, my roommate requested a gray hat. I sent her a few different patterns that I found on some lovely knitting blogs. She picked the 3am blue cable hat from Smariek Knits

On Black Friday, I went to Warm N' Fuzzy and purchased a light gray skein of Quince and CoOsprey yarn. It was the best Black Friday ever, going through a yarn shop with very obliging knitters chatting about their Christmas projects. 

Osprey is 170 yards of worsted weight, three-ply 100% American wool. It's a blend of Merino, Roulette, and Columbia wool. It's durable, soft, and squishy. Look at Quince and Co.'s website! It's beautiful! It's like a woodland walk in rows of squishy hand knits and gorgeous trees. All of their yarns are named after different birds. Their thicker yarns are named for bigger birds and their thinner yarns are named for the littlest of songbirds. Among the yarns are Owl, Puffin, and Chickadee. All of their yarns are produced entirely in the United States in a mill in New England. The story of how the company is very sweet and definitely worth reading.

Pictures of the finished hat will follow soon. Happy Knitting! I hope all of your Christmas crafting is going well. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

acorn squash soup recipe

Before Thanksgiving, my family and I ate a light chicken soup made from the leftover chicken from beer can, spicy chicken. The soup stock had pureed potatoes, mushrooms, celery, carrots, Celtic sea salt, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper. 

I froze a quart of this soup to save for later cooking adventures in my dorm. :)

Today is reading day. I have plenty of studying and writing to do, but I wanted to start with a healthy, yummy meal instead of heading to the dining hall for something less appealing.

I put the frozen soup stock in my rice cooker. I had an acorn squash I had bought the week before I hadn't done anything with yet. I tried to peel it. Ladies and gents, acorn squash, shock of all shocks, does not peel. I ended up having to cut extra squash away with the peel, but in the end, it worked. I chopped the squash into 1/2 cubes and tossed them into the rice cooker. 

I let it cook for about 10 minutes. Then I transferred the soup into my smoothie maker and blended it until smooth. I then put in back into the pot to continue simmering and let the flavors meld. I poured some into a bowl and sprinkled cheese on top, and now I have a delicious, bone-warming soup, perfect for this wintry, reading day. 

Every recipe I looked up online required you to roast your acorn squash before adding it to the soup stock. I don't have an easily accessible oven, so I just chopped it and let it simmer longer.

The recipe is as followed:

1 qt chicken soup stock
1/2 cup carrots
1 stick celery
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/4 onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 spoon sea salt (sea salt tends to be very potent, so only the tiniest of pinches is really necessary)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 acorn squash

Put chicken soup stock in rice cooker, or in pot on stove on medium high. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Peel and chop acorn squash carefully, or use leftover roasted acorn squash. Butternut squash will also work. Add to soup.

Let simmer for 10 minutes. 

Add all of soup to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth. Return to pot. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into bowl, sprinkle cheese or sour cream on top, and enjoy! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

a mountain thanksgiving break

this thanksgiving, I went to my family and then headed up to the mountains to visit my grandparents for a few days. it was really restful and stunningly beautiful.

my barren blue ridge mountain 

the mountains majestic in all their barren glory,
even the mountain stripped clear for timber,
looking like a young boy's crooked, cropped new hair cut,
the sky achingly blue against the gray of lonely trees.

my mountains once blue, are now aching gray,
waiting for spring. only the pine remains in 
scattered clumps, clinging to the hilly crests. 
wispy clouds skirting over the ridge.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and I pray that this December will be a peaceful and restful once as we are reminded again of Jesus' love for us. He is coming! 

finished baby sophisticate

I have finally finished this little Baby Sophisticate! I found a set of adorable 1940s vintage glass buttons that I found at Warm and Fuzzy. I feel like it helped make the sweater classic. It's a classic, baby boy "grandpa" sweater now, complete with shawl collar and squishy fabric. 

Happy Knitting!