Happy New Year!

2008 has been a long year. For us there have been great highs and deep lows. It has been a year of learning, triumphs and laughter and had more then it's share of hardship and sorrows.

In 2009 I don't intend to have as structured a goal list as past years. I'm a New Year's Resolution person. Applying self-inflicted accountability works for me. 2009 will have a shorter and less strict list then in years past. I may be one of the few people that still makes and stubbornly keeps resolutions. I have found myself scrambling in the last months of a year to complete them, but I do. I'm the sort of person who hates to disappoint others, even myself.

I have been learning to say no and not feel guilty about it (stop laughing those of you who know me well). I'm going to make a point of relaxing a little more, enjoying more of the little things, getting more exercise and being sleep deprived less often. Particular goals will be less numerated. I intend to knit more sweaters and cardigans including the Wrapigan by ChampagneMaker (Rav. link here) just because I love it so much. That warm hug of knit comfort is going to be mine . And lace ~ not just basic lace I've knit in the past ~ but a pretty shawl will be patiently tackled and my 'fear of knitting one of those' overcome.

2009 Chase will complete his UTDX tracking and Rally titles and begin trialing his Obedience titles. Eating healthier (which is not hard after an uber-indulged December), finishing the backyard garden projects (almost got there this year!) and finding a yoga class for Nicole and I. My past lists have all been much longer and more specific. This year I'm learning from my friends to be more lenient with myself. That's an improvement from me... baby steps to cutting back. Perhaps my biggest goal?

The Not Noro Striped scarf from my last post? Loving it. Thanks for the encouragement to keep knitting. I've not had a lot of time to sit and knit, but it's growing slowly but surely.

I wish you all a wonderful, happy, healthy and joyous New Year!


Not certain about this one

I'm not certain about this new scarf. It was my car knitting on Christmas day, although it was dark on the way home so just entertained me on the way there. I have tried to pick out colour combinations from Noro to knit the Striped Scarf a la Jared Flood. Either I don't like what's in stock, they're short one ball of what I like or it's completely sold out. I'm usually partial to solid and semi solid yarns or very softly variegated colourways. Except for self striping socks I have never knit anything striped. I've had a yearning to knit this scarf for a long time and when The Harlot succumbed to and described the pleasures of knitting this project on her blog Nov. 18 of this year I knew I would too ~ except then skeins of Noro Silk Garden became a hot commodity in Ontario and were suddenly flying off store shelves. It was Rowan Tapestry that finally won my favour and the 70% wool/30% soybean protein fibre found it's way home with me.

It's a more subtle look and the yarn has a nice halo. Would I really wear something this striped? Have any of you knit this scarf in Noro? How do you like it? Do you wear it very often? Maybe I'm ambivalent because now I'm itching to knit up another Knotted Openwork scarf for myself?

Should I keep going or frog and make something individual out of the colourways instead of mixing them together? I'm usually a very decisive person, but I can't make a decision of whether or not to keep knitting this one. The colours remind me of saddle leather ~ which is a good thing ~ so maybe I'll keep plugging along... it really is tagging my interest as each row changes colour. The colours are gorgeous ~ ok, I've convinced myself ~ I'll finish knitting it and then see how willingly or not I'll wear stripes.

ETA: The further along this knit progresses the nicer it's looking. Thanks everyone for encouraging me to not frog ~ you were right ~ it's turning out lovely!


Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! I hope today finds you and yours happy, healthy, warm and well.

Click here for the video clip for the Christmas Yarn Giveaway draw to see who won. Unfortunately the video clip I had embeded here isn't working now, I'll try to get it fixed if I can. The link works though.

We had a fabulous Christmas Eve at my parents century stone farmhouse and are heading out shortly to another farm to spend Christmas Day with Don's family. It's a long drive so car knitting is packed and ready to go.

You may notice the quilt hanging over the couch now behind Chase is different then the one that was hanging there just a few days ago for pictures. It was gifted last night to my brother, I think he liked it a lot. The quilt in the video clip is for a bed, but until I get the Latte quilt completed it'll hang over the couch. The draw winner is pictured below as well for those of you on dial up. Thank you everyone for posting such sweet comments, this Christmas Yarn Giveaway has been so much fun that it'll be an Annual event here at ReneeKnitsToo. I am thankful for all my blogging friends ~ you are all inspirational. T Does Wool is our winner! Theresa, if you email me your address the green Plucky will be in the mail to you as soon as the Post Office is open again. Have a wonderful Christmas Day!


FO for my mom

Pattern: Knotted Openwork Scarf
Yarn: Merino Superwash Fingering from The Plucky Knitter
Needles: 5.5 mm

We celebrate Christmas at my parents farm on Christmas Eve and I'm very happy to show you this scarf that was a last minute gift for my mom. It's blocked and ready to be wrapped and gifted this evening. Nicole likes it very much and would like one for herself.

When I make this again I'll add 2 stitches and slip the first stitch of each row purl wise, yarn held in behind.

I also intend to purchase blocking wires for my lace knitting. I blocked it on towels and hand pressed it out using my rotary cutting quilt ruler as a guide for pinning.

My mom's not a fussy person. I think the simple styling of this Knotted Openwork pattern will appeal to her. It's a versatile wear and lovely for the neckline of a dress coat.

I'm very much a scarf girl. We got dumped on by another 38cm (15") of very wet and heavy snow overnight and scarves are just a necessity for Canadian winters.

Wishing you all a very wonderful Christmas Eve! Tomorrow morning we'll do the Christmas Yarn giveaway draw so be sure to check back to see if you won.


Christmas No-Bake Recipe #4

You are the nicest people! Thank you so much for all of the very sweet and kind comments to the Christmas Yarn Giveaway!! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to read your comments and to send one of you out this scrumptious skein of fingering Plucky goodness. Hugs and good Christmas cheer to you ~ you are really the BEST! If you haven't left a comment yet and would enjoy giving this green yarn a new home then please leave a comment on the giveaway post by Christmas Day.

We had a 3rd major snow storm yesterday and there's another forecast for Christmas Eve. The pristine whiteness of the snow cover is so clean and bright it just puts me into a good mood. Too bad it takes us hours of shoveling, plowing and using the tractor and giant blower to dig out from under all this stuff. Nicole went tobogganing with friends and was chilled but had a great time. The city is glistening and the farm it looks like a post card Winter Wonderland. This morning has been chores, errands and grocery shopping. I just made up more cookies and plan to spend a much anticipated afternoon of knitting and watching tv and listening to Christmas CD's. This no-bake is a great bite-sized treat.


Melt in a bowl over hot water:

1 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Blend in 1/4 cup of sifted icing sugar.

Add 2 cups of desiccated coconut.

Drop from teaspoons onto wax paper. Chill for 30 minutes. Store at room temperature.

Makes approximately 2-1/2 dozen cookies. Enjoy!


Christmas Yarn Giveaway

Post a comment and you could win this lovely yarn. I am delighted to be one of the lucky people receiving a ball of Leslie's tweed yarn from her Rose Hill post. She is generously sending out yarn for other people to enjoy. I want to keep the circle of giving revolving by sending out 400 yards of "Keep It Real" colourway from my all time favourite indy dyer Sarah aka The Plucky Knitter.

If you would like to give a new home to a festive green skein of 100% Merino Superwash Fingering yarn from The Plucky Knitter then leave a comment to be added into a random drawing on Christmas Day. It's the most wonderful time of the year!


Christmas Baking Recipe #3

Lemon Cake is great for any season and is my only not-made-from-scratch recipe. This cake has been a staple in my baking repertoire for over 25 years. Brand names are really important ~ I've substituted other cake mixes and pudding brands ~ it's the Duncan Hines and Jello together that result in the best taste and texture. These instructions are not the ones printed on the cake box ~ but they should be!


1 Duncan Hines Super Moist (Extra Moist) Lemon Cake Mix (used to be called Supreme)
1 Jello Brand Instant Lemon Pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup Mazola Oil (you can substitute vegetable oil if you want)

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixer on low for 1 minute, then on high for an additional 2 minutes.
Bake in a lightly sprayed spring form Bundt pan (so the centre bakes done or it stays wet). It doesn't always bake through in the centre in a sheet pan but does make nice cup cakes.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 46 - 50 minutes or until the cake top cracks open and a cake tester comes out clean.

ICING options:
1. Leave it plain.
2. Sifting icing sugar over the top of the completely cooled cake.
3. Make icing by combining icing sugar and lemon juice. Make it thick so it will drizzle off a spoon over the top and sides of the completely cooled cake.

Mom's lace scarf is about 20" long now unblocked and there will be a knitting frenzy this weekend to complete it. I used fingering instead of lace weight so it's growing quickly. It's so nice that another skein or 2 of my sock yarn will be knit in this pattern again.

There's a fun Christmas Carol Quiz on Teresa's Knitting The Blues. Give it a try, I scored 90%. Do You Know Your Christmas Carols? Test

We're in the midst of our 2nd major snow storm today. It just keeps coming down and has started to drift with another blizzard expected on Sunday. I have some new books to keep me company during this storm: It Itches from Franklin Habit as recommended to read by Norma, Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders and I've pre-ordered Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. I plan to curl up with them and my knitting this afternoon. It Itches is hysterically funny and the perfect stocking stuffer for a knitter, I have yet to have a chance to check out the One Skein Wonders. Be well and hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

ETA: Ryan wanted to me add that Lemon Pudding Cake is his all-time favourite cake EVER! I've also made this recipe by using Duncan Hines Chocolate Devil's Food Cake mix and Jello Brand Instant Chocolate pudding mix. It is the best chocolate cake ever too.


This and that

Suddenly deciding this morning to add a lace scarf project to my Christmas knitting queue for my mom is likely not my best plan, but I can't help myself. Nicole was my swift as I wound the skein into a ball. Chase decided to run a little interference and just wanted to get himself into a photo op.

It's going to be the Knotted Openwork Scarf.

The house feels and smells festive. There's been more baking going on and yesterday I had my dog show friends over for the lasagne dinner Christmas party. The last time we tried to get together we were hit by a blizzard and had to rescheule. Tonight I'm off to another Christmas party and am wondering just when I think I might have time to actually get this new lace scarf knit on top of all my other projects??

I can't believe how quickly all the baking disappears. Quick Drop cookies, gingerbread and a lemon pudding cake are on this weekend's To Do list.

Hope all your holiday projects and festivities are going along smoothly and everyone is enjoying themselves. Be well and happy knitting.


What I got for me for Christmas

Two of my favourite hobbies are knitting and poodles so it was pretty much inevitable that something like this would happen. This is my boy Chase as a sock blocker. I can't begin to describe how much these hunks of oak wood art delight me! Knitting socks is something I really enjoy but I've never had blockers. Seeing so many lovely socks on Ravelry on unique blockers sent me on a mission to find myself some with poodle cut outs. I couldn't find any. What I did find was Chappy of Chappy's Fiber Arts & Crafts and her wood working husband John. They make and sell gorgeous sock blockers in most any motif you could desire and now also with a poodle. After emailing Chappy about using one of my dogs as a model we were off and running.

They put a smile on my face every time I look at them. I'm on a sock knitting bender and have to begrudgingly admit that I am smitten with knitting on circs. I didn't think I could be lured away from my dpn's. I'll keep using them but I doubt very often because the knitting is so smooth and fun with the Magic Loop Method and there's virtually no laddering to worry about.

Is it possible to be infatuated with an inanimate piece or 2 of wood? Um, yeah it is. What would you have cut out as the decorative part on a sock blocker if you could choose anything your heart desired? I ordered 2 pairs because one is a Christmas gift for my dear poodle owning/sock knitting friend Dawn. I'm not letting the cat [poodle] out of the bag here since I couldn't keep the surprise and already told her about them. I think I might need a horse pair in the future. Thanks Chappy, they're wonderful!

I just love what I got for me for Christmas. Did you buy yourself anything just for you this year?


Christmas Baking Recipe #2

Christmas cake ~ do you love it or do you hate it? This recipe is not the typical Christmas cake served as it's a light coloured cake. I've made this recipe every year that we're married except last Christmas. I thought people had had enough of it and last year we only baked cookies. I was wrong. My mom, brother and husband each asked me to make Christmas cake again and not miss any more years.


Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 6 small 3 x 6 inch or 2 regular sized loaf pans with waxed paper.

In a large bowl combine:
2 cups slivered citron
2-1/2 cups Sultana raisins
1 cup candied red cherries, halved (for more colour you can use 1/2 cup each red & green cherries)
1 cup blanched, slivered almonds

Sift over the above mixture and toss until well covered with flour:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a mixer cream together:
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs (add one at a time until well combined)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup undrained crushed pineapple

Add the wet ingredients by hand into the dry mixture. Combine well, spoon into loaf pans and press down to level. Bake at 275F for about 2 hours or until the cakes are lightly golden on top and a cake tester comes out clean. Wrap cooled cakes in foil and keep refrigerated until serving. They will be ready in 7 days.

Notes: We brush some of the loaves in rum every few days or wrap them in cheese cloth soaked in rum before wrapping in the foil.
This recipe doubles extremely well and can be kept in the freezer after baking for a few months.

I've also being doing some knitting and sewing. My sock got frogged back to the heel turn and I'm working on that again, love this yarn! It was too big for my tiny feet so I've got a much better fit going on now. My Urban Sweater sleeve is slow going, I seem to just get started into it and something else keeps coming up. I intend to wear this sweater soon so it's going to get more attention in the next few days. Like Kelly at Celtic Cast On I would really like to finish up my started projects before the end of 2008.

Sewing has produced 19 blocks and there's 11 more to sew. I've been calling this my Latte quilt because there's a coffee bean motif in some of the fabrics. The black/brown colour combo is a pleasure to work with. The black fabrics are kept diagonally on the left side and brown fabrics are on the right. This block has a traditional log cabin centre with star points and then 2 more rows of log cabin on the outside. I plan to assemble the blocks with a 3-column sashing and 9-patch corners. The finished top will nicely cover a queen sized bed.

Only 2 more weeks until the kids are on Christmas vacation! Yeah!! The Christmas cake will be aged and ready to eat by then.


Christmas Baking Recipe #1

Sweet Marie Bars are the ultimate Rice Crispy treat without the usual sticky marshmallow mess to clean up after.


Melt together and stir until smooth in a double boiler:
(I use a ceramic bowl over a little sauce pan with about an inch or 2-1/2cm of water in it on medium-low heat.)

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Remove from heat and mix in:

3 cups Rice Crispies and 1 cup of salted peanuts

Press firmly into a 9 x 13 inch or 8 x 8 inch buttered or non-stick sprayed pan. Compress them really well so they hold together nicely after they've been cut.

Also melt and stir until smooth in the double boiler.

3/4 cup chocolate chips and 3/4 cup butterscotch chips if you use a 9 x 13 inch sized pan.
1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butterscotch chips if you use an 8 x 8 inch sized pan.

Let them set in the refrigerator to make them easy to cut. Store at room temperature. These are easy to put together and oh so delicious.


Christmas Meme

I saw this at Andrea's blog "At Home Mommy Knits" and it's lots of fun. Join in if you want as well!

1. Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags? Both, wrapped gifts with ribbons for home and family and bags with tissue as hostess gifts when we go to dinners and parties.

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial. Last the whole season without being a fire hazzard and I no longer feel guilty about killing a tree from my parents evergreen bush every year. We cut a few branches to bring in that smell lovely.

3. When do you put up the tree? On the 1st Advent ~ 4 Sundays before Christmas.

4. When do you take down the tree? January 2nd.

5. Do you like Egg Nog? I don't like it at all, my husband wants a carton as soon as it show up on grocery shelves and then he's satisfied and doesn't need any more.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Books and clothes. No one gift in particular.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, it's ceramic figurines that go on the dining room china cabinet.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My parents.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My kids and knitting friends.

10. Mail or email Christmas Cards? A phone call or visit.

11. Favorite Christmas Movie? Newer Christmas movie is The Holiday. Every Christmas Eve I watch the original White Christmas.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies!!

13. Clear lights or coloured? Clear mini lights. The old ones, not the blue hued led.

14. Favorite Christmas Song? Tie between White Christmas and It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I've never been able to decide.

15. Travel or stay home at Christmas? Stay home. But we have to travel too. We try to hold a balance and get to relax some too.

16.Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph with his shiny nose and "Olive" ~ the other reindeer. No idea why everyone always forgets her??

17. Angel or Star on the top of the tree? Angel on one, stars on the rest.

18. Open presents Christmas Eve or Morning? We're German, definitely Christmas Eve!

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People who are Grinch's.

20. Which looks best, theme trees or homey trees? I love them all! I really enjoy seeing people express their personalities decorating their trees.

21. Gingerbread or Sugar Cookies? Martha Stewart's Gingerbread cookies. Exactly as written in her recipe except we eliminate the black pepper.

That was fun! I'd love to read everyone else's Christmas Meme. Consider yourself tagged!


It's started

I collect Christmas CD's. Martina McBride's "White Christmas" is the best. Give her a listen ~ she's wonderful. I'll wait here while she puts you in the Christmas mood. This year she's released a "Blue Christmas" with Elvis Presley. Get a load of her hair! It really looks like they're singing live together even though Martina was only 2 years old when this footage was actually recorded by Elvis.

It's started. Decorating for the holidays in earnest. I switched out the swag my grandmother bought us as a house warming gift 14 years ago for a big wreath that I'll add live evergreen sprigs to. The garland lights give the room a lovely glow. I've collected ornaments for about 35 years and buy them for the kids to start their own unique collection.
In the evening when the stove is on with the garland and Christmas tree lit and candles are flickering it's the coziest place in the house. There's a glass sliding door on the wall opposite the quilt. We turn on the outdoor deck lights while it's snowing and the room turns into a winter hideway.

We're hosting our first Christmas party here on Sunday so this week we'll be decorating more inside and out. It's stayed cold so it's still white outside with more snow in the forecast. Looks like it will be a wonderful White Christmas this year.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We've had a few dustings of snow around here already and it's beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas ~ my favourite time of the year! This photos is taken part way down the lane of my parents century stone farm house just after the sun rose. We have Christmas parties marked on our calendar, days set aside for baking, decorating and some serious knitting and sewing. My friends come for a lasagna dinner and visit. This year it's going to be after the last day of the Caledon Dog Show and Obedience Trials the end of this month, all of their poodles are invited too. It's so much fun to fill the house with so many great friends and a herd of poodles. It's delightful to see the dogs all getting along so well, enjoying the event as much as we do. These are the same women and dogs I spent a weekend with last July at a cottage in the Muskokas. That was blissful, I can hardly wait for next year's trip there!

The kids, dogs and horses love the new snow, but Bonnie especially. She snuffles and plays with it with her muzzle.

I feel the Christmas spirit earlier each year. It's hard to resist bringing out all the decorations too early. We wait until after my dad's birthday on November 13th and then it's daily bits of preparation so we're in full swing by the first Advent. Christmas planning, shopping, list making, organizing and purging the house and getting ready to decorate. Some people have a big spring cleaning, I dig in more just before December. All this snow has me ready to go. I've cut evergreen branches from the farm to add to our front porch urns with funky outdoor LED lit branches.

This year I bought The Holiday DVD to add to our holiday collection. Between the fun storyline and great locations ~ not to mention Cameron Diaz's character wears some amazing knits ~ it'll be a great movie to knit to while the Christmas spirit nestles in to our home. And Jude Law - yum!! Yeah, after this weekend I'm going to start Christmas decorating a little at a time and the trees goes up just before our first party in 2 weeks. I usually like things more minimalist, neat and tidy, but at Christmas it's decorations in overdrive. Trees, the mantle and window are all adorned.

This is the before shot of our family room mantle, next week I'll post the 'after' when it's all decked out. Tradition dictates the mantle is the first thing decorated in the house. favourite recipes only made at this holiday, places we shop only before Christmas, movies and music, decorations that hold wonderful memories, the candle light service on Christmas Eve and cookie baking on a huge scale... I love the familiarity of it all. We spend Christmas Eve with my family and after everyone has gone to bed I stay up late to watch White Christmas on the VCR.

I'll post a Cookie of the Week in December to share our most favourite Christmas baking recipes. I love to collect new tried-and-true cookie recipes and would love to get some new ones from other blogs. I scored a fantastic one last year from Norma! Love these Dutch Letter Cookies!!! Not really a true cookie, I guess. Don't believe the title or first line in her post ~ these are so good they're angelic. They're the first people reach for on the assorted cookie plates I bring everywhere we visit and serve to guests in our home. I can resist most temptations during the holidays, except the cookies...

Dawn is coming over for a day of baking and sock knitting and I'll get to add new recipes to my repertoire from her. We're also planning to make Claudia and Mr. Puffy's Almond Crescents, my husband Don's favourite holiday cookie.

Seeing the evergreen pine bush at the farm tipped in snow brings on my festive mood! Christmas day we drive to Don's family a few hours away. Boxing Day is crashed at home ~ just the 4 of us and the dogs ~ I knit and watching way too much TV. New Year's Eve is a fondue supper followed by a big pancake/bacon/eggs and goodies brunch at our house to bring in the New Year on Jan.1. It's a lot about the food and completely about guests and going visiting with family and friends.

I edited and still used the word Christmas 11 times not including the title in this post! Oops, that's 12. It really is my favourite time of the year. I love our traditions during the whole of December. What are your favourite traditions and cookies?


My Favourite Quilt Shop & a LYS

Everyone has a favourite place to shop when they have something specific in mind. When I need more quilting fabric I head 20 minutes up the road to the small town of New Hamburg. It has a delightful little historical strip of shops and restaurants. I've been a patron of Heart'n Home Creations since it opened and Esther's store has become the only fabric shop I frequent.

She has an incredible inventory of quality quilting fabrics, patterns and notions as well as gifts and scented candles. I can't leave without at least a few fat quarters, even when I'm just passing through town and really don't need anything. There's always something new and wonderful to find and a welcome stool to pull up to the counter and visit. Esther is friendly, knowledgeable and extremely helpful, she makes you feel at home as soon as you walk through her door.

There are all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies of merchandise and fabric bolts in this store. It's a sensory delight. If you're in the region this is a destination shop worth stopping at.

On the quilting front here at Chez Koch there has been sewing. Some of my friends were interested in the quilts I make and I've taught them to piece tops. I've also gotten a few of them reaquainted with their forgotten passion for knitting. We try to get together once a month from fall to spring for a day of sewing, lunch and scoot to Esther's shop if time permits. It's great to get together with so many talented and enthusiastic friends for a day of fibry indulgence. What a great way to spend a day! We're talking about turning these sewing days into a weekend retreat.

There's a new LYS opened just a short walk from Esther's called Shall We Knit. Karen's store is full of lots of yarny goodness. We're planning a weekend of a pajamas sleep over, great meals, sewing, knitting and carrying on. We have so much fun when we get together ~ there's as much laughing as there is stitching. I have fabulous friends ~ I am truly blessed.

My Magic Loop sock made some progress today during my car knitting time. I'm almost the the heel portion. Will see - the true test if I like the Magic Loop vs. my dpn's will happen between the start of the heel and finishing the gusset... I'll let you know how it goes.


New socks and day trip knitting

This was in my mail box yesterday! The 1st instalment of my 1st sock club: Riverview Drive colourway in MCN fingering that arrived packaged with a magnet and 2 delicious Dove chocolates from The Plucky Knitter Classics. Thanks Sarah!

I wound the yarn before rushing in to work this morning and cast on at break time. I've got startitis and I've got it bad! These are the first socks I'll knit on circs in Magic Loop which I learned about in the sock knitting workshop last Saturday. Dawn and I had a fabulous day out having lunch and sitting in the rocking chairs by the wood stove at Camilla Valley Farms in Orangeville while it rained, hailed and then snowed outside. I love my DPN's so I'll see how I feel about knitting with this technique? I'm a hard sell, I really am fond of my DPN's. I'm an extremely tight knitter, so these are 4.5mm addi turbos to get a reasonable gauge.

After checking out all sorts of sock patterns to compliment this yarn I opted for my favourite comfort sock: a simple K3P1 rib on the leg and stocking stitch foot. These were almost Charades but when the hand dying is this gorgeous the yarn can speak for itself without pattern work. I adore the look of fancy patterned socks and enjoy knitting them, but I don't find them comfortable tightly laced into my boots. I've got a weak right ankle and have had 3 reconstructive surgeries on the ball of that same foot so my pretty open toed sandals and dressy high heels are getting dusty in my closet. It's hiking boots for serious support lacing up my leg now or high quality running shoes. Function has become a priority, so pretty ~ but plain ~ socks it is! I pampered my feet with regular pedicures, painted toe nails and luscious hand knit socks sticking out the top of my footwear. This yarn?? Divine!

Friends and I are heading out on Sunday to Fort Erie which is about 2 hours south of us close to the Canada/USA border for a day of Tracking Dog tests. I'm not entered but will be cheering from the gallery and taking pictures. I'm also not driving which means 2 hours knitting time in the car with great conversation. Hopefully I can knit on the way home too, but it's doubtful there will be any daylight left. I'm casting on Cascade 200 in dark gray for Toast. Check out the beautiful photographs with this free pattern from Leslie of A Friend to Knit With. This will be the perfect project for this trip, I can chat away and just knit round and round and round. No counting after I've cast on, just keep knitting.

Excuse me, I need to go knit now...


My first Quilt

I've always had an affection for quilts. When my husband and I were first married we went to an Apple Butter and Cheese Festival that also held a Mennonite Relief Quilt Auction. While I'd always liked quilts ~ that was the day I realized I loved them. I had to have one - or lots - eventually. Annual trips to the International Plowing Match (IPM) found me in the Hand Crafted tents drooling over the quilts on display. Winners and entrants in the various categories all hung up for me to enjoy and women wearing white cotton gloves turning them over for anyone who wanted to see the stitching from the back too. The quilts were the reason I went along each year although I did enjoy the other displays, especially the horses in the plowing competitions.

Six years ago I was standing in the aisle looking at a quilt at the IPM . It was done in the colours I'd chose if I knew how to make a quilt. My husband was standing back further on the opposite side of the aisle waiting for me and I though he and I were alone. I told him I wished I could make a quilt like that one. An old woman with a scratchy and annoyed voice over my left shoulder said, "Well learn, dearie!" She startled me speechless. As she walked off Don grinned at me with a 'she sure told you' look on his face. I couldn't stop thinking about what she said. Learn? Me? To make a quilt? Why not?? Why couldn't I realize that myself, I needed a stranger to tell me to do what I really wanted to do? I was in a class within a month.

I love fabric: the colours and endless combinations and the idea of creating something that will wrap someone else in warmth made by me with love. I enjoy every part of the process of making them. Some projects weren't my thing, like stained glass. I was happy with my finished objects, but really wasn't keen on the making them part.

This is the first quilt I ever made. It's a scrappy Twisted Log Cabin in browns and earthy tones made for my son Ryan when he was 11. He helped pick out some of the fabrics and chose the backing. We drove to my favourite quilt shop 'Heart'n Home Creations' owned by Esther. I can get lost in her little shop for hours. I sit and visit with Esther when I go to New Hamburg and feel the inspiration seeping into me from the bolts of fabric and finished quilts on display.

Ryan asked me to hang his quilt it in the front entrance so it doesn't get wrecked or worn. It was machine pieced on my old Singer sewing machine. If projects are a reasonable size I machine quilt them on my Brother now, I've done some hand quilting and more often then not quilt tops are sent out to be long arm quilted. I've made lot of quilts since this one, learned a lot and improved my skills, but this one is my favourite. It makes me smile when I look at it and remember that woman's voice and what she said. She was the kick in the butt I needed to stop mooning over other people's work. This quilt wasn't even done yet when Nicole and I were out picking fabric for me to make her a quilt too.
My goal is to own my own long arm quilting machine with a stitch regulator. I need to convince Don that our living and dining room would be great if we added French Doors, removed the furniture and made it into my sewing & knitting studio with my own Gammel...


I can't sit still

I found this in my mail box. 100% Cashmere 2ply lace from Plucky. 800 yards of hand painted goodness. There's 4 skeins of fingering headed my way soon too for some serious sock knitting. I really need to sit down and knit. Take a holiday. Maybe go away somewhere for a weekend to knit? And take Piper and Chase. They don't mind my knitting a lot.

I started a blog. Then 2 blogs. Now 3. In one month. #3 is a passionate project I'm working on. It's been rattling around in my head for a long time and has me very excited. Yesterday I secured a domain name for a web site I plan to build over the next year that will be linked to that blog. I haven't a clue about building a web site. It's going to cut into knitting time, like my first month on Ravelry. I need to look into the regulations regarding copyrighting the name. Not sure if I need to or not? It won't be an operational business for a year or 2 while I make prototypes and wash and test them and build a business plan. It's a sewing endeavour. I love fabric as much or more (did I say that aloud??) then yarn. Shh, don't tell my yarn stash. I have a pretty impressive fabric stash too. I hope to develop a Cottage Industry type business. No idea about anything like that so I'm at the beginning of a huge learning curve. The suffering manufacturing industry vs. a stay at home cottage one is making it looking more appealing now. Made in Canada with Canadian and American materials. Made in my home. In my kitchen. By me. No made in China merchandise that litters the shelves of the local pet stores with no concern for the North American floundering economy or safely regulations concerning lead and other dangerous content. I am a huge supporter of things like Moms Unite.

It's too bad I need an income. I'd happily stay home and be a mom and taking care of my family and craft to make gifts for family and friends. But that wouldn't last long. I need to be challenged. To work and create and do something! I need to learn from the Diane Keaton character in Baby Boom and make something from all the excess apples in my life.

Me being me, I can't leave things alone. Get a new recipe ~ tweak it after the first try. New knitting pattern ~ a little more shaping here, maybe some extra length? It didn't take long until I noticed Blogger blogs that were tweaked. I can change things?? This blog started out with a blue background. Then I decided white would compliment the various colours of my knitting and photos better. Then the header looked too plain... I can be a tad obsessive (stop laughing Dawn) with things that interest me. Things shouldn't change too much more here at Renee Knits Too, after I figure out how to change the font on my header to one that isn't available from Blogger. But that's not a promise, I like to make things nicer when I can so colours or layout just may change here still... I'm still trying to figure that HTML edit out. And I'd like to add 2 bands of colour down the outside margins of the body and sidebar. I tried a few tutorials. Change the background colour of the blog, then edit the html codes to make it white again behind the body and sidebar. I'm sure it's a simple enough edit, I just haven't made it work yet. Soon, I'll figure it out soon. Like a dog with a bone I shall persist.

Notice the frame around my little garden angel? I discovered the toys on Big Huge Labs. That's where the frame and mosaic tools I used on an earlier post came from. I'm determined to find a way to change the font in my header (see I'm like a terrier... can't let that change go until I kill it or fix it). Tried 4 different free fix ideas. None worked. I'll keep trying. Anyone been successful at doing that on Blogger?? If you know how, could you put me out of my misery? Helpful advice from friends ~ priceless. I'm enjoying the challenge of figuring it out and I won't give up. I'm German. If nothing else I am stubborn and determined. It's in my DNA, it's not my fault...

Little angle dude? He's not doing so well. He's made of cement. He's been in my garden for 20 years. I took the picture with the lush ferns just before I started this blog -- before killing frosts and snow came. Actually, it was the very first picture I took on my new digital camera. Last winter I forgot Angel Dude outside.

He was buried under snow early in the winter and didn't resurface until spring. Water got down into his neck shearing his torso in two when it froze. He's been decapitated too. He's perched precariously there in amongst the ferns and propped up from behind by driftwood. I don't want him losing anything else so he's coming in for the winter. I don't dare forget again, he's already lost his head and the tips of his wings are crumbling away. He's still smiling though. Gotta love that about an empty headed cement cherub.

Knitting is progressing slowly. I'm outside most of the time I'm not at work. Soon though, I'll keep telling myself that. Soon I'll have more time to knit. Until then it's a sock that is travelling around with me for a few minutes here and there. The urban sweater finally has a sleeve, one more to go. I've made more Luxe neck warmers for gifting and started a scarf. Dawn and I will be going to a sock workshop on Saturday in Orangeville, ON. That's should spark a frenzy of sock knitting around here to coincide with all the Plucky sock yarn on the way.

No day for me is complete without a little knitting, even if I can't sit still for long.

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