Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Few Special Gifts

I was very spoiled this Christmas - lots of fabulous gifts - including a new camera from DH (that I've yet to finish figuring out how to use!). It has enhanced stabilization and should make it easier to take good pictures. DD got me a couple of really fabulous camera cases for my new camera in addition to a number of other gifts. DH also got me a Turkish Coffee set - I can't wait to use that - I just LOVE Turkish coffee!

DD really went all out and I still have more on the way! Unbelievable! I got the book "Making Mathematics with Needlework", the "We Rogues of Wool" tote bag, and some adorable "lambie slippers" - I just love them! They're so soft and cuddly! They're almost too cute to wear!

My friend Lisa made me a gorgeous purple scarf from a very rich Asian fabric. For some reason, both the camera and my computer screen show it as a blue, but it's actually quite a lovely deep purple. The design includes some Foo Dogs. It's just gorgeous! I love it!

I even managed to work in some knitting over the holidays. I finished my "Opal" socks on Christmas morning. Wahoo! A finished object. If I could just finish stitching together my "MaggiKnits" blouse I'd have another finished object.










I then started on some gorgeous socks using Helen's Lace sock yarn in turqoise and purple. They feel soooo soft! There's a big difference between the wool in the Opal sock yarn vs. the merino wool in the Helen's Lace sock yarn.

More Christmas Adventures

OK...sometimes, things just don't quite work out the way you had planned.

I thought it would be great to have Christmas Waffles after we unwrapped the presents. I had some fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries to top them with to make them look festive. I even had pure maple syrup as an added treat. However, my can of non-stick spray was quite old and I decided that it should be tossed. No matter. I decided I'd just brush some canola oil on the waffle iron instead, heat it up, and proceed to cook the waffles.

Oh, such a simple plan....but it went oh so wrong!

It all started with the batter. It was a bit too thick and wouldn't pour through the special spouted pitcher I'd bought specifically for pancakes and waffles. Instead, it flowed over the sides making quite a mess. I decided to use plan B. I put the special pitcher away and went back to the "old method" of using a ladle. No problem.

I finally got the proper amount of batter in the waffle iron and it began to cook. Steam was rising from the sides....the scent of fresh waffles wafted through the air. All was going well until I attempted to open the iron. The waffle split leaving 1/2 on each side of the iron. No problem I thought. I just unplugged the waffle iron and decided to "nudge" the waffle loose. Since the iron itself has some "non-stick" properties, I couldn't use metal, so I "nudged" it with my brand new heat resistant spatula.

Hmm....it didn't budge....not one bit! I tried a little harder. Drat! I'd thought it would be easy but the waffle just wouldn't budge had kept right on cooking until it was a bit crisp. I decided to dig the spatula in there a bit and really scoop at it. Hmmm. All I succeeded in doing at that was to flake off crispy chunks of waffle. What a mess! (I should have taken a picture). Oh, my.....I discovered some creamy white stuff - uncooked batter???? Oh....no.....! The spatula was melting! Every place I'd touched the iron had telltale melted bits of white spatula. UGH! So much for "heat resistant"!

Still, I did not give up. I truly wanted Christmas Waffles topped with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.

I decided all was NOT lost. I tossed out all the "chunky bits" I'd "chipped out", cleaned out the rest from the waffle iron, and finally removed the melted bits of spatula. I remembered that the last time I'd made waffles, the first one stuck a bit to the iron, but the second one came out perfect. Ah ha! The iron was seasoned now...that must have been the problem! I just KNEW that all would be fine and the next waffle would be perfect. Unfortunately, that was NOT the case. This time, the waffle stuck even harder and wouldn't even budge! It appeared to have "become one" with the waffle iron.


Needless to say, I decided to change my plans a bit. I made pancakes instead. I did still top them with the fresh berries and pure maple syrup, but it just wasn't the same.

For now, I've sworn off "waffle making" - at least until I get more non-stick cooking spray!

Christmas Prelude

Ah....the holiday season!

This year, I started celebrating with a few "firsts". I've NEVER been to the Kennedy Center - not even to tour it! However, on December 21st, for a holiday party, I got to both eat there and attend a delightful musical, "Legally Blonde". I also had rockfish for the first time ever. It was delicious!


This wonderful celebration was provided courtesy of my friend, Amy, the owner of Nature's Yarns. She treated all of her employees to this fabulous holiday party. The musical was wonderful and we all had an aboslute blast. What a fabulous way to kick off the holidays! Thanks Amy! You're the best!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

God Jul!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Although we don't have the Christmas snow that several other states have, the spirit of Christmas is definitely alive and well here at my house. Lots of love and presents....and the annual viewing of "The Christmas Story" - a family favorite.

This Christmas is very special - my DD is home for over a week for a visit! Wahoo! AND....best of all....she cooked Christmas dinner - filet, roasted garlic green beans and garlic mashed potatoes with a port wine reduction sauce! What could be better than that? (By the way...everything was perfect - she's a fabulous cook! All that and she'll have a PhD in Chemistry in May! I'm definitely a very proud Mama!)










All the best to you all for the holidays and throughout the coming year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kiitoksia oikein paljon!

.....which means "Thank you very much" in Finnish

Wow! What a fabulous surprise I got yesterday when the postman rang my doorbell! There was a lovely box from Finland. It was my first box from the Secret Pal 13 Swap and it was jam packed with wonderful goodies. My pal did an awesome job figuring out my favorite colors, fibers, and treats! Everything is just perfect!

My pal had sent a note when the package shipped and has kept in contact with me every few days. She was hoping that it would get here before Christmas. Now I understand why - it had to travel all the way from Finland and it took nearly 3 weeks to arrive! It was well worth the wait. Check out the adorable giant postcard with the elves - isn't it cute?



The box was so crammed with goodies that I don't know where to start with my description. I guess I'll start with the non-knitting/non-spinning items. All the goodies/treats are perfect:
  • Tea lights - these smell absolutely wonderful - it's a "Winterberry"scent that smells good enough to eat!
  • A packet of Glogg mix (all of us or Scandinavian decent are familiar with glogg, though I've never actually tried it) - "Glogimauste"
  • Dark chocolate candies (mmmmm, mmmmm!)
  • Tutti-Frutti candies in the "Nordic Berries" flavor - how perfect!
  • Organic coffee (LOVE coffee!)

For knitting and spinning "treats", I received hand-dyed fiber AND yarn! And they're gorgeous! The fiber is hand-dyed grey Finn Wool in purples and violet-blues. It feels yummy! Then there's some incredible hand-dyed sock yarn. The colors are so rich - it's a coppery-brown with mauve and maroon overtones and several other colors - there's even a touch of purple mixed in! All these colors really give the yarn depth and I'm sure it will make absolutely stunning socks! Oh...and as an added bonus, knitting and wearing socks made from this yarn should be a healthy experience as there are vitamins and jojoba added to the yarn. Pretty cool, eh?

But wait, there's more!

In addition to all the goodies for the swap, there was a very special Christmas present as well - it was the blue present in the "open box" photo. Since my pal said I could open it before Christmas, I had to do that. What a fabulous package! When I tore open the wrapping, I founda fabulous pair of hand-knit socks nestled inside a darling "knitting bunny" mug. The socks are gorgeous! And they fit perfectly!



The socks are incredibly soft and the pattern is gorgeous! I can't believe my Secret Pal spent the time to knit me a pair of socks - especially this time of year when everyone is SO busy!

Kiitoksia oikein paljon! Thank you very much! I'm a VERY spoiled pal!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jultrefest and my Christmas Knitting Progress

Last Friday evening, we had the annual Sons of Norway Jultrefest - lots of yummy food as well as a visit from the Nisse who brought gifts for all the girls and boys in the group.


"You better not shout, you better not pout, Julenissen is coming to town!"

We finished the evening with a dance performance by the Nordic Dancers. Click on the video below to get a short taste of the festivities! They also invited all of us to participate in a number of folk dances and the end of their performance. I can definitely say that a good time was had by all!


video

Now, on to the knitting progress...

Earlier, I'd mentioned the scarf I'd knit for a Ravelry exchange out of the lovely Malibrigo that my partner sent. The colors remind me of caramel....and it was incredibly soft and wonderful to work with! The pattern I chose was "The Boyfriend Scarf" from the book, "Chic Knits". I love how the cables move from the edge of the scarf to the center. It was a lot of fun to make. If you haven't tried cables and want to give it a whirl, this is definitely a nice pattern to try.

I liked the yarn so much I decided to make scarves for my parents out Malabrigo as well. I've finished dad's scarf (green) and am well on my way to finishing mom's (blue) - it's about 3/4 done in the photo. I'm using the "Irish Hiking Scarf" pattern again as it's easy for my to work on from memory and is pretty close to "mindless knitting"....a definite bonus this time of year! The yarn doesn't stripe but instead has very subtle mottled look with some spots being darker than others giving it a lot of depth.

Progress has also been made on my Opal socks - I'm already to the heel shaping on the second sock. I think I'll probably have these finished by Christmas as well - perhaps a present for myself??? Once I reach the halfway point on a sock, it seems like the rest of the sock "finishes itself". Once I'm done with these, I think my next pair of socks will be with some lovely Lorna's Laces in purples and turquoise.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Norwegian Christmas at Union Station




Once again, I helped with the Norwegian Bazaar that's part of the annual Norwegian Christmas at Union Station in Washington, DC.






As in prior years, there was the lovely 30' Christmas tree donated by the people of Norway to the people of the USA. The model train was making its usual rounds as well.











It was very dark inside when I tried to take some pictures, so most were very dark. However, I did manage to get a few passable photos that should give you the idea of the goodies offered there this year. Here's one of our Sons of Norway members wearing her lovely Bunad while manning the jewelry table.



And of course, I had to get a shot of the table of goodies the Norwegian Church Service offered. I also managed to get a fairly decent photo of the giftware, glassware, and pewter...or at least what's left of it! (Much of it sold on Friday, so there was a limited amount left for sale on Saturday).





This year, I tried some of the featured Norwegian delicacies at the "center cafe" restaurant in the grand hall. It was fabulous! Oh, my. What a wonderful blend of flavors! I tried 2 appetizers and the dessert. Mmmmm! Definitely well worth the indulgence!






The first appetizer was somewhat unusual - it was smoked salmon wrapped in a tortilla. It was quite good. But then again, you really can't go wrong with smoked salmon, right?





Next were the lemon butter scallops with capers and sugar snap peas on a bed of pureed cauliflower. They were delicious as well.




Finally, I topped off my meal with the Troika cake. It was very good. Never having had Troika, I guess I was expecting a slightly different texture. In spite of my surprise at the texture and composition, I found it too to be very good. Of course, the chocolate on top only added goodness to the flavor!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lots of Goodies!

Wow! This past week I received LOTS of goodies in the mail....and it's not even Christmas yet!

First off, my friend Mia did some "personal shopping" for me when she went to SOAR this past October. She selected some "Optimum" fiber for me in a gorgeous lavender shade. She also selected some Pygora in absolutely "to die for" colors - varied shades of purple. Finally, there was some fabulous laceweight yarn from Polworth wool - in purples and blues. The selection and colors are absolutely perfect! I have NOTHING like it in my stash! Oh...and in case you're wondering, the tin in the picture is absolutely STUFFED with homemade cookies and fudge. Thanks sooooo much Mia! DH and I have been really enjoying the home baked goodies!

Secondly, I received my scarf and goodies from my Ravelry "Monthly Adventures" exchange. Catherine, from MA, did a fabulous job both in the knitting and in the selection of a pattern. I had sent Blue Heron beaded wool and she crafted the perfect scarf for me. It's absolutely gorgeous! Every time I wear it, I get complements on it. The pattern is basically the "Misti Chunky Ribs and Ruffles Scarf" only modified to cast on more stitches to use a worsted weight yarn.


On Dec. 3rd, we had our knitting guild's holiday party and several folks showed off their finished projects. As a result, I'm suffering a bit of envy as a few of my friends have just finished some major projects - and they're gorgeous! Catherine has completed her lace piece - it's beautiful beyond words! Oh, my! Just the THOUGHT of the number of stitches that go into a lace piece of this size makes my fingers ache!

Pamela, another very driven knitter, tackled the Berroco Foliage Jacket. I just love all the colors - especially the way they spiral in the jacket pattern. Isn't it luscious? This is definitely a "must do" on my list - or perhaps it will just remain a "dream project"?

Finally, there's the prolific knitter, Yvonne. We all just received the issue of "Creative Knitting" that this pattern was in and she's already FINISHED and is WEARING one of the designs! Isn't it gorgeous? It makes me want to dig through my stash and start one for myself. Maybe I'll have more time to knit in January???

Monday, December 01, 2008

Whoo......Whoo.......

I FINALLY got a good picture of the owl that my dog and I keep encountering on our evening walks. This guy was quite big - a very impressive specimen. I've never seen an owl in the wild before - I'd only seen them at the zoo or in books. Every time I'd walk my dog without bringing my camera, he "taunt me" with his presence. Tonight, I caught a great shot of him in a tree - pretty cool, eh? (Double click the picture for a closer view)


I guess the moon and the planets must have aligned to make this possible. Wait! They did! The moon, Venus (the brighter "spot" to the right of the moon) and Jupiter (the less bright "spot") did "magically" appear together tonight! (You'll need to double-click on the picture to get a closer view).


I did make some knitting progress. I started an Irish Hiking Scarf for my dad out of green Malabrigo - yummy! I'm about 3/4 of the way done (left). I'm also in the process of blocking my teal Irish Hiking Scarf, the Nordic hat, and the scarf I made for my Ravelry exchange partner (right). Sorry....I had to block the photo of the Ravelry scarf as the pattern needs to be a surprise!