Friday, February 28, 2014

Love Cookies

I love making these cookies, but I rarely have a good excuse for them. My sons classroom celebration of Valentines day was perfect. His classroom has each of the children make ONE card to share with the class, then they swap the cards and every kiddo goes home with one that someone else made. I sure like that a lot more than buying cards from the store!

I started this recipe a few years ago with my basic sugar cookie recipe, something from a Christmas cookie book that I was given too many years ago to remember. It came from Goose Berry Patch, they called it Magical Sugar Cookies. Indeed, I loved the cream cheese in the cookie. Also, I found that the baked cookies tasted even BETTER a day old.

I can never remember if I used baking soda or baking powder in the recipe, but when I did it this time I used the soda. It gives it just enough lift to not let the cranberries make it overly dense.

The kids loved the cookie, as well as my knitting group who got the extras!

I am really bad about not getting out everything I need before I start, so this is good for me!

Liam helped me upwrap sticks of butter.

I love how pretty it looks with the cranberries in it!

Sharing the beater blade

Cutting out hearts

Ready to bake


Ready to decorate

All done!

1c butter - softened
3oz of cream cheese - softened
1c sugar
1 egg yolk
1tsp vanilla (I usually double this. I always double the vanilla)
1 c flour. (I use Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. It is fine enough to work well for this)
1 1/2c all purple flour
2/3 cup dried cranberries
pinch of baking soda
pinch of salt

Oven 350

In a stand mixer blend butter and cream cheese until smooth.
While that is working, toss the whole wheat flour, the baking soda and the dried cranberries into a food processor and run that until the cranberries are chopped into tiny pieces. Add some of the all purpose flour if it gets sticky on you.
Beat sugar into the butter/cheese mixture
Add egg yolk into the butter/cheese mixture along with vanilla and the flour as well as the cranberry/whole wheat mixture.
Mix until combined.
You can roll it out now and cut it out, but it works better if it chills for an hour at least.
Bake on baking sheet covered with parchment paper at 350 degrees for 8 - 12 minutes. You are looking for a slight browning to the edges.

For frosting, I use 1c powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and enough milk to make it the consistency you like. Add milk in small small small increments. Like 1/4 tsp at a time. The smallest bit too much and your frosting is runny and you can't make the little designs. I do this often and end up making 4 cups of frosting as I try to balance it out.

I imagine you can do this with almost any dried fruit you like. Cherries or apricots, mangoes or pineapple even!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Knitting Group

A while ago I joined a knitting group at my local yarn shop, Littlelamb and Ewe. I was kinda scared about meeting the people there. I am new to knitting, I can't always afford the yarn from the shop, and that whole thing about being anxious about being around people.

The first day there were so many people, but less than half an hour after arriving there was a conversation not worth repeating, but memorable. It involved... how shall I say it... objects used for happy fun fun naughty time. I blurted out "Well at least I know I didn't find a group of boring people!"

I got laughs, I got included in the conversation. I made friends.

Friends. Real ones. Two who came out of their office to say Hi when I walked by the window, and one who's home I visited yesterday. She wanted to borrow a non-knitting related item and while we were there my children WRECKED her house. No really. They did.

We came in and within moments Evie, Liam and her son were out on the back patio. Evie was digging up her planter pots of dirt. Evie tracked dirt inside. Liam came inside and had an accident. So now my daughter has made dirt piles, and my son has peed. I got him cleaned up and she loaned me some pants. I got Evie and Liam undirted and Liam dragged out the bin of tub toys from their bathroom. So now there is soapy tub water from the toys and its being rubbed on her carpet.

Evie then got into the paint from her sons art project.

THIS much paint.

She laughed through it all, but I feel like I owe her a playdate at my house where I clean up the mess. Which I would totally love to do!!!

I am so glad that I took the leap and joined the group. For two hours once a week I am in a room full of couches with people who have at least ONE thing in common with me. We play with yarn.

We are all a little bit crazy. In a good way!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I have always been fascinated with dying fabric and yarn with natural dyes. Those made from plants or tree bark or nut hulls. Sadly, it is the middle of winter and nothing useful is available for the colors I want to dye with.

When a project came up that I could not find the right color for, I started looking at dyes. My green dye was a failure because the color on the bottle was about 25 shades OFF from the color it actually was. Poopy. Big Poopy.

I did some reading and tried to dye with food dyes, I used some Wilton frosting color. Again, no good (and now I am very low on Leaf Green dye).

I read some more and found that I was missing something. Soda Ash and Urea are apparently needed to dye cotton. A trip to the craft store will remedy that, but it is not something I am going to do today. Today is a stay at home in pajamas kind of day.

Well, I stared in disappointment as the beautiful green washed out of my yarn during rinsing and felt defeated. Then I remembered that I had bought a wool blend to dye.

I got out my skein and laid it out and, tied it up so that it would not get tangled. I set it to soak in a water and vinegar bath for an hour like recommended. Next I prepared my dye.

Now, I was not sure if I was going to write about this event, so I didn't take any pictures of the yarn prep, but I will next time I dye. I DID use the concept presented here on Instructables though I knew I wanted it to shift colors, so I put my dye in one jar so I was only dipping part of it. You could do the same with a bowl though if you had more yarn.

I laid out sheets of plastic wrap on an old cookie sheet, drained the vinegar from my yarn and gently pressed the water out it so it was damp but not soaking. Next, I dipped all but 4 inches of the skein into the jar of dye. I pulled it out slowly and tipped up the plastic wrap, the bottom of the skein stayed in the dye for about 10 minutes. Once it looked about right I pulled it out of the jar, wrapping it up in the plastic wrap as I went, gently curling the plastic wrapped yarn into a sort of dog poo looking pile with the darkest part on the bottom of the pile.

 I set that in a glass bowl, dark part down and nuked it in the microwave for 3 minutes to heat it. It is now dangling in my sink, the plastic wrap tied to my faucet to keep the colors from bleeding UP. I have to let it cool all the way without touching it or I run the risk of felting the yarn a bit. I don't want that to happen!

Next I rinsed it out and WITHOUT wringing it, set it somewhere to dry. I used my bath tub, hanging it off the shower head.

It wound up being too light in the end, so I repeated the process in a new batch of dye and it came out perfect.

This time though, my daughter got to it once it was dry and I couldn't get a picture of the skein looking pretty.

And then I wrapped it all up into a ball.

I have a project in mind for this, I just need to learn a bit more about fair isle knitting! 
I wish I could fully describe how soft this yarn is. how perfectly the dye came out, how amazing the colors look. I would totally recommend dying yarn to anyone who wanted to try it. You get a one of a kind color that no one else in the world will ever have, because you made it yourself.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Knittion Impossible - The Norwegian Baby Hat

I found This Hat  a while ago and was just waiting until I had the yarn I wanted to make it with. At a random trip to a JoAnn's Fabric (which is rarely I place I go to look for yarn as it is usually filled with nothing but acrylic yarn) a couple weeks ago I found the yarn I liked. Serenity Garden Yarn in the color Crocus. I also bought that same yarn in some other colorways, but I am saving that for another time. It is a Dralon Microfiber yarn and its only downside is that the strands can come apart a bit as you knit, but if you are aware of that it is easy to watch for and correct.

When I got home I was so excited to start the hat, but after trying to begin in I ran into a whole host of problems.

First try: The gauge was off, my babies have HUGE heads, so I made the largest size hat in the pattern. After getting the border made I discovered that the hat would have been loose and baggy on MY head. I took it apart.

Second try: The pattern was translated from Norwegian, and I think it may have been written for someone with more experience and knitting smarts. So when it said m1, k1, m1 I just assumed that I would make one left both times. As you can imagine this did not work well and the movement of the stitches was off. I took it apart. 

Third try: This time, I did the m1 right, k1, m1 left. Well, of course, the hat is upside down for those ways, so the right side was trying to go left, and the left was trying to go right and oh goodness it was ugly. I took it apart.

Fourth try: Well, this time I was counting the stitches from the "knit 2 tog tbl – psso" part. I was ending each of those combos on the same stitch that had come together on the previous reduction. Well, that put me off balance for the rest of it, so that my increases were in the wrong places as well! I took it apart.

Fifth try: I don't know what happened here, I got three rows in and something was wrong. I took it apart.

Sixth try: I have learned from all my mistakes and finally I did it right!!!!!! I DID IT!!!

The Decreases done properly

The increases done properly

The finished hat

 The blog that I found the pattern on (through the Ravelry link) is called Grosblog and here is the pattern itself.  I have to wonder if some of the detail was lost in translation or if it was not there to begin with.

But in the end, I made a hat, I learned a lot, and now I want to make another one, but I have a baby blanket to finish first!