Monday, December 28, 2009

Post-Christmas Wrap-Up (get it? wrap up? HA HA)

Ah, another Christmas come and gone. Gus and I have been spending a lot of quality (and quantity) time in our pajamas, vegging out. He has been busy with Legos and Wii and I have been indulging in a sort of frenzied orgy of non-present knitting. It's all for me! It doesn't have a deadline! I can knit anything I want! I am giving myself this week to indulge because once the new year starts, it's all business for me, knitting-wise!!

But first, what I knit for gifts. I knit 2 berets for my sister Laura, one pink and one cream, as requested, but never got to take a picture, so that was stupid. One was the 3-Gauge Beret by Nancy Lindberg and one was the Star-Crossed Beret by Natalie Larson.

For my other sister, Sarah, I knit a Snowman Family representing her, her husband Jon, son Charlie, daughter Grace, and cat Clyde.

By the time I got to Clyde my hands were killing me, but I had to finish and he is so funny that I laughed out loud every time I looked at him.

I also went cuckoo-nutso for this pattern and knit 4 of these little red cabled sweaters, 3 as Christmas ornaments for some dear friends and one for our tree.

The other big undertaking was a vest for my husband Matthew. I've knit hats and scarves and slippers for him, but never a sweater. He puts holes in the elbows of his sweaters, so a vest seemed like a good idea. I found some beautiful forest green heather Berroco Vintage Wool in Boston, pulled out my handy Knitter's Book of Patterns, turned to the Basic Vest pattern, and then the fun began. I did a gauge swatch like a good girl, picked out the appropriate size and stitch count and knit away. When I got up to the armholes, I realized that I had been on crazy crack and my stitch count was off by like 18 sts! Say what?! I readjusted everything and soldiered on, but I wasn't sure that it would be okay until Christmas morning, when this vision appeared:
My good husband in his PERFECTLY PERFECT-FITTING vest!!! I actually got weepy!! But that was the crazy crack again. I see dozens and dozens of lovingly (and more mindfully) handknit vests in this poor man's future!!

So that's that. One last note about holiday knitting: I knit tons and tons of impulse projects this past year because I wanted to kill some time or try a new technique or get rid of some yarn or wanted to knit what everyone else was knitting. The result was a huge amount of hats, mittens, scarves and miscellany, more than I could ever use in a lifetime, that made great last-minute gifts for co-workers and friends and relatives. I highly recommend this.

Hope you all had lovely holidays and are enjoying some relaxing time off. Soon Gus and I will get out of our pajamas....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cinnamon Pinwheely Goodness

I've gone into cookie overdrive here chez Momogus Knits. I tried a new recipe this year and liked it so much I thought I'd share it with you.

Look how adorable! (Don't be fooled by weird photo perspective - they're about 1 1/2" across)

Like little cinnamon buns, but not sticky. They look a little complicated but they're not. Here's the recipe:

Cinnamon Pinwheels of Goodness

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff). Shape into a disk and refrigerate, wrapped, for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each piece into an 8"x12" rectangle (this was hard for me - my rectangles ended up 7 1/2" x 9" or 10 1/2 x 11" - a general rectangle shape is fine). Sprinkle with a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used half of this on each of the 2 rectangles). Starting from a long side, roll each rectangle into a log. Refrigerate until firm (this doesn't take long). Slice 1/4" thick.

Bake on a parchment-covered baking sheet until just brown, about 13-15 minutes. Transferring the slices onto the sheet is messy - the pinwheels do not stay structurally sound and the cinnamon-sugar stuff starts flying. But persist and don't fret. It all comes together in the oven.


Monday, December 14, 2009

How's Your Holiday Knitting Going?

Mine is kind of going. I have a big project on the needles that is a gift for someone special. It has run into some difficulties, all of them me-induced. Gauge, stitch count, measurements - I have goofed up on all of them. What gives?? You'd think I never knit before! I think I've resolved most of the issues, but it's been humbling. I think I can finish before Christmas, but then again, I seem to have lost track of time a little - how did it get to be the 14th already??

Here's something I can show you. Look how teeny tiny!!!
I cannot stop making these ding-dang little sweaters! So fussy! So silly! So quick! Here is the genius pattern. Thank you, Liz!! These little sweater ornaments will be gifts for some mom-friends of mine. They're quick enough that you could whip them up for a last-minute hostess or whatever gift! Plus they're fun to make and take just a smidgeon of sock weight yarn.

Hope you're enjoying the beautiful holiday season!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A List of Charitable Organizations

I love giving and receiving presents as much (okay, maybe more) as the next person, but this time of year, it's good to take a break from your gift list and think about how you can make your world better. Here's a link to Interweave Press's list of charitable organizations and their guidelines for giving. Boy, just reading the list gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling!
Though every one of these programs is doing fabulous wonderful necessary work, one of my personal favorites is Heifer International. They donate animals, trees and other stock to needy families around the world in order to increase sustainable self-sufficiency. They have a "Knitting Basket" donation that provides two llamas and two sheep to a family for income-producing wool.

Each year Gus and I go through the catalog and pick out an animal to give. Two years ago we had Merry Chicksmas and last year was Merry Cowmas. He donates all of his December allowance and then asks relatives to each donate a few dollars too. And that adds up to a lot of chicks! Or one cow!

Most of these organizations will accept donations on behalf of someone else, so think of it as a nice alternative to a gift card to the local mall. A donation to a charitable organization is especially nice for a teacher's gift.

And, as I tell myself 10 times a day this time of year, stay calm! Take some time to stop and smell the pine and cinnamon scents around us, hear the beautiful holiday music, watch the twinkly lights, sip some hot chocolate, and appreciate all the little good things we have in our lives.