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!

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