Category Archives: Inspiration

Inspiration: Christmas Cookies

I mentioned on Wednesday that I’m getting ready to begin my yearly Epic Baking Adventure.  I’ve been doing my Epic Baking Adventure just about every year since college, with more or less Epicness depending on the year.  I usually make a half dozen (or more) types of cookies, give them out to friends, take them when I visit someone’s house, and (honestly) eat more of them than I should.

Every year, the menu varies slightly (usually by adding on an extra variety or two).  This year, I’m making sugar cookies (of course), chocolate crinkles, spritz, pfeffernusse (a must-do holiday tradition in my husband’s family), mocha meringues (if it doesn’t rain too much), and soft caramels.  And, maybe I’ll add on a cookie or two if I get done with those too quickly.  (We’re having a small Christmas this year, just the two of us, so I’m trying not to go too over the top.)

Let’s celebrate Christmas Cookies with some cookie-themed patterns:

This little guy is too cute!  I love the big red gumdrop buttons and the “piped” icing details.  I’m not actually a big fan of gingerbread cookies.  If I’m going to make gingerbread, I usually make a big old gingerbread cake and serve it with generous dollops of whipped cream.  Yum!

Christmas Gingerbread Boy by Teresa AlvarezI love that this designer made patterns for 5 different cookies.  I think the variety is really what makes Christmas cookies special.  When else do you get to make (and eat) dozens and dozens of different cookies without guilt?

Christmas Deco Cookies (Set of 5) by Eva PolaripopAnd how could you forget Santa?! The most fiendish of cookie fiends!  When we were kids, my brother and I would always leave out cookies and milk for Santa (even though we didn’t super believe in him, it was better to be sure… just in case).  I love these cookies- you could totally use them as super-cute coasters this winter.

Santa’s Cookies by Jessica SpencerI can’t wait to get baking this year!

What cookies are tradition in your house?

 

Inspiration: The Final Countdown

Cue the 80’s glam metal, because it’s time to start counting down (almost).

December’s right around the corner and that means it’s time to break out the advent calendars!

I love a good advent calendar.  It’s the best combination of waiting (which I am very bad at.  I get very impatient), and opening presents early (which I enjoy doing quite a lot).  The past few years, I put together a beer advent calendar for my husband, where he got a new bottle of fancy holiday beer every day.  Last year, he made me a yarn advent calendar, where I got a new mini-skein of yarn every day.  It was the best!

When I was little, we had advent calendars, too.  My brother and I each had our own tiny fake tree, and we picked out small ornaments for each day. By the end of the month, we barely had a square-inch of tree visible beneath all the ornaments.  I still have a bunch of the advent calendar ornaments, though my little tree has gotten lost along the way (though, maybe it’s at my folks’ house… I should check the next time I visit).

It might be a little late in the year to put together an advent calendar, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try!

I like this one because it includes a very cute little tree!

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar #294 by ShiFio’s PatternsThis one looks even simpler- maybe you could get it knit up by the end of the weekend, if you really put your mind to it? I particularly love the teeny tiny balls!

Advent Tree Wall Hanging by Roxanna JuneBut if you felt like getting really fancy, I kind of love this garland!  I like that each day is a totally unique ornament, and I love that they hang from all those little buttons.  If I had a million hours of free time, you’d better bet that I’d be all over this project!

Advent Garland by Frankie BrownDo you have an advent calendar tradition in your family?

Inspiration: Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy early Thanksgiving, everyone!  If you’re in the US, you’re probably already prepping for the big meal tomorrow.  (I know I am!) My whole family is coming into town first thing tomorrow, and my husband and I are doing the whole spread- turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pie, the works.  (I’m actually roasting some pumpkin for the pie and making some candied pecans right now… my house smells very good this morning.)

I’m actually vegetarian, so I don’t really care about the turkey (that’s my husband’s thing, but I’ve been told he makes a mean turkey).  For me, the whole point of Thanksgiving dinner is the sides.  So, let’s talk about my favorite sides (with some knitting, because that’s what I do).

Stuffing might be my favorite savory side.  I use the same recipe that my dad used when I was a kid, it’s full of sage and thyme, apple bits and big, juicy raisins.  So good!  The first time I made it, I was shocked because it starts by melting a whole cup of butter, then sauteing a bunch of celery and onion, basically making butter soup.  No wonder everyone likes it!

Stuffed Mittens by TECHknitterMashed potatoes are a staple in our house- I probably make a batch of them every couple weeks (I’m from the Midwest, after all).  My usual mashed potatoes are pretty chill- un-peeled potatoes, a little butter, a little of whatever milk I have in the fridge, and salt and pepper.  For Thanksgiving, I pull out all the stops- I put in the effort to peel all the potatoes, and step up my game with sour cream and whole milk, the whole nine yards.  So creamy and tasty!

Mash Potato Socks by Verena Cohrs

One side that most people keep strictly to Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce.  I am not most people.  I’m a cranberry fiend.  The moment fresh cranberries come into season, I stock up.  I make cranberry muffins, cranberry pancakes, and generally have a bowl of home-made cranberry sauce in my fridge.  I love it on cheese sandwiches (I realize this is weird), with mashed potatoes, or just plain, eaten with a spoon.  My favorite!

Cranberry Sauce by Brittany Tyler SimmondsBut the best part of Thanksgiving might be dessert.  Specifically pumpkin pie.  I gotta say, I make a mean pumpkin pie.  I go fully from scratch- make my own crust, roast my own pumpkins (though this year I’m using Blue Hubbard Squash, because my grocery store was out of sugar pie pumpkins!  The horror!) and garnish with homemade candied pecans and bourbon whipped cream.  I mean what’s not to love?

Pumpkin-Pie by jo columbineDo you celebrate Thanksgiving?  What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods?

Inspiration: Stormy Weather

When we moved to Seattle, I knew what I signed up for.  Rain (often, but not a lot), cloudy skies (a good excuse to stay in the house and read), and cool weather (perfect for wearing sweaters).

This year, that has not been the case.

We had warm weather (in the sixties) almost all the way through September with sun (SUN!!) nearly every day.  Then the weekend before last, we had snow (SNOW!!) for several days in a row.  It didn’t really stick, but, still!  And the last three days we’ve had pouring rain and whipping winds.  (My yard is a disaster- leaves and branches everywhere!  But I figure I should wait to clean it up until the storms have passed, so I’m just sitting here looking out the window at the mess outside.) It’s like being back in the Midwest!  It’s bananas!

I guess there’s just one thing to do.  Knit.

(What, you can’t really be surprised that that’s my response?)

I love this cowl.  I know the lace pattern is supposed to be waves, but I think it looks like my big pine trees whipping back and forth in the wind.

Storm Water Cowl by Kim McBrien Evans

And this little pullover is too cute (and too cozy) for words.  It’s exactly what I’d want to wear on a stormy day if I was a cute little kid.  Ah, who am I kidding, I’d wear this today, if it was big enough!

Stormy Day Jacket by Hannah FettigAnd this shrug is so perfect- I might actually need it.  It would bring me one step closer to my goal of wearing nothing but blankets all day.

Stormy Shrug by Charm KnitsI’ll keep my fingers crossed that the weather breaks soon, but in case it doesn’t, at least I have some cute knitting to think about.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Inspiration: Candy Hangover

Happy “Half-Price Candy Day,” everybody!

I think yesterday’s Halloween celebrations were a success, at least in my neck of the woods.  I dressed up as a spooky witch for work, then put out candy and jack-o-lanterns for trick-or-treaters, and left to hang out with friends, watch spooky movies, and hand out candy (their neighborhood gets a lot more kids than mine.

I ate a bunch of candy (oops), a slice of delicious pumpkin cake, and more cheese and crackers than is strictly necessary.  It was all delicious.

But this morning I’m feeling a little like I need to spend my morning munching on something a little healthier.  And maybe my knitting should be a little healthier, too.

I’m not sure if it’s true, but “they” say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  This hat might not have any healing properties, but, dang it’s cute!

Lil’ Apple Hat by Iryna BoehlandAnd there’s nothing better for a nice healthy breakfast than a big bowl of fiber-rich oatmeal.

Oatmeal Pullover by Jane RichmondI’m not a huge fan of kale, but I make myself eat it anyway, since I know it’s super good for me.  I’d make this shawl in a heartbeat- what a pretty way to get your kale!

Baby Kale Shawl by Celeste YoungDid you overindulge last night, too?

Inspiration: Halloween Candy

Halloween is next week, and all my students are going bananas.  They’ve all sewn extra-big trick-or-treat bags for themselves, and are talking about nothing but their plans for Halloween costumes (so far it seems like there are going to be a lot of Princess Leias and a lot of very creative “slash” costumes:  Vampire-slash-witch, dragon-slash-kitten, mummy-slash-bride).

But, when you’re a grown-up without kids, you don’t do much for Halloween, except make sure that your house is well-stocked with candy for the trick-or-treaters.  So far, I’ve not picked out my candy yet (I have very little self-control when there’s a massive bag of Almond Joys and Snickers bars in the house, so I try to buy it last-minute).  Maybe I could knit my candy instead of buying it?

I could go classic with candy corn.  People pretend like it’s some weird old-fashioned candy that no one admits to liking.  But, I call bull on that.  It’s candy!  It’s made of sugar!  Of course it’s delicious!

Candy Corns by Purl SohoOr I could be fancy, with these delicate little striped bonbons.  How cute are they?!  I bet they’d be a great way to use up tiny little leftovers, too.

Sweet Stripes by Tricia McDonaldBut I think if you’re looking to make Halloween candy you can’t get any more appropriate than this flipping adorable zombie candies.  I mean, honestly, could they be any more perfect?

Creepy Halloween Candy-Zombie by Dawn Finney(Don’t worry, I’ll give out real candy on Tuesday.  I imagine that giving out knit candy would be a great way to get our house TP’d.)

What are you doing to celebrate Halloween?

Inspiration: Christmas

It’s October 25th… you know what that means.  2 months until Christmas!

That means you have 61 days to get all your Christmas knitting done (or at least started enough to have a good excuse when you wrap up a half-finished scarf in the wee hours of Christmas morning… not that I’ve ever done that).

Might I suggest a few patterns- a few of my free patterns?  These are some of my favorites, they’re small, simple, and fun enough (if I say so myself) to whip up a handful in the next two months.  Plus, they’re nice enough that even the pickiest gift-receiver will be happy to open them up on Christmas morning.

I love the Snowbank Spa Cloth.  It’s a super simple dish-cloth (with almost no finishing-just two ends to weave in!).  The pattern calls for fancy-pants cotton yarn to make it a “spa” cloth, but you could use any cotton you have on hand, and just rename it “dishcloth” or “washcloth” depending on how soft your yarn is.  It’s a simple repeat of knits, purls, and slipped stitches, surrounded by a nice garter stitch border, so it’s easy to work up.  Make a stack of them, or just one and wrap it up with a fancy bar of soap for a lovely gift.

Get the pattern hereI’m also a fan of the Snoqualmie Cowl.  I can’t wait for the temperature to drop enough so that I can break mine out again.  It’s worked with really bulky yarn at a massive gauge, so it works up in almost no time.  I used fancy leftover yarn from a big shawl I made years ago, but you can use whatever you have on hand- the colorblocking is perfect for using up leftover bits and bobs of your fancy bulky yarn that you couldn’t bear to throw away.

Get the pattern Snoqualmie Cowl.

If you ever need a super fast gift (for Christmas or otherwise), you’d be hard-pressed to find a simpler (or easier) project than my tiny Coffee Sweater.  Worked in the round with just enough cabling to make it interesting, this little guy knits up in an afternoon.  Use your favorite yarn, or whatever worsted-weight yarn you have laying around your craft room- it doesn’t take more than an ounce or two. If you start now, I bet you can make Coffee Sweaters for everyone on your Christmas list before Thanksgiving has passed!  Wrap up each sweater with a gift card to your favorite coffee joint- and I can’t imagine a better gift!

Get the pattern Coffee Sweater!What are your go-to patterns for gift giving?

Inspiration: Headache?

Y’all.  It’s been a rough week, I’ll be honest with you.  I’ve had a headache for probably 6 of the past 7 days (Saturday was OK for some reason).  I’ve tried everything.  Painkillers, extra caffeine, removing caffeine, more sleep, less sleep, sitting quietly in the dark, going out and running errands to keep my mind off of my headache, extra hydration, hot packs and cold packs.

At most, I’ve gotten a relief for an hour or two at a time, but my headache keeps coming back.  It’s now managed to migrate from my head, down into my neck and shoulders (probably because I’ve gotten so stressed about it, I’m tensing up the muscles in my shoulders… sigh.)

This morning I’ve been sitting quietly in a semi-darkened room, knitting and listening to podcasts (because looking at screens (like the TV) seems to exacerbate my headache), drinking a Coke (because coffee sounds gross right now, but I wanted to see if caffeine might help my head this morning), and taking turns with the hot and cold packs.  It seems to be helping, and hopefully by the time I need to leave the house for work this afternoon, I’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (or at least I won’t be dragging as much as I have been the last few days).

I’ve got a bunch of cold packs left over from when I used to play roller derby, but none of them have sleeves as nice as this- I might need to make one or two to have on hand the next time my head gets the best of me.

Knitted Ice Pack Cozy by Ampy Versalles-CurtisI’ve got a heating pack that I made years ago that I filled with barley.  I like it a lot (I’ve got it on my shoulders right now).  But, it’s gotten a bit stained and worn over the years, so maybe I should crochet up a cute little pouch for it.  I like the little crocheted buttons, especially

Comfort Pack by Donna Hulka

I’m so ready for this headache to go away!  Do you have any remedies for a stubborn headache?

Inspiration: Pumpkin Spice

Y’all.  It’s that time of year again!  And I think you know what time I mean.

Pumpkin Spice Time.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the OG Pumpkin Spice Latte (too sweet for me), but I love all other things Pumpkin Spice.  I mean, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice?  You can’t go wrong!

I made some applesauce the other day with some Pumpkin Spice in it (very tasty), and I’ve been known to whip a batch of pumpkin pancakes and a loaf or two of pumpkin bread (with pumpkin spice, natch).  Not to mention several pumpkin pies every fall/winter.  I mean.  Can you think of a better breakfast than a slice of creamy pumpkin pie with a steaming cup of coffee?  (Of course pie is a “sometimes” breakfast, I’m not completely a monster.)

Anyway, let’s celebrate the reason for the season with some Pumpkin Spice knits!

This baby hat is too cute to be trusted.  I bet that baby is scheming to steal my pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin Spice Hat by Cuie Patootees

 

This cowl is such a lovely combo of textures and colors, I can’t think of anything better.  Except maybe a Pumpkin Spice chai?

Pumpkin Spice Cowl by Agnes Kutas-KeresztesI couldn’t talk about Pumpkin Spice projects without including a coffee sleeve!  Perfect for your next Pumpkin Spice Latte. (You can’t use it for a regular drip coffee, or even a vanilla latte.  It’s particular.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes only.)

Pumpkin Spice by Evan MiddletonWhat’s your favorite part of this time of year, and why is it pumpkin-spice everything?

Inspiration: Trixie

I’ve been ramping up another work project, which means I’ve been spending even more time than usual on the couch, knitting like the wind.  Which, in turn, means I’ve had more time for catching up on TV shows I’ve neglected.

And this week, I’ve been catching up on Call the Midwives (because I apparently felt the need to cry all over my new knitting). The last time I watched the Midwives was over a year ago, when I caught a few scattered episodes of Season 5 when they were airing on PBS.  And, since Season 6 has just gone up on Netflix, I figured it was as good a time as any to get all caught up.

Of course there are insane knitted layettes for the newborns, adorable knit vests on the school-kids, and twee little cardigans on all the nurses, which are all lovely.

But, in Episode 1 of Season 5 (actually these sweaters show up throughout the season, but they make their appearance in Episode 1), Trixie is shown wearing a really cute sweater.  One that’s so classic, yet so modern, I kind of want one for myself.

Trixie is a new devotee of “Keep-Fit” a proto-Zumba organization that she’s joined during her post-rock-bottom/post-break-up self-improvement phase.  It’s really a lovely few scenes, actually.  It could have been handled very poorly- a bunch of young ladies doing silly Jazzercise routines in neck-to-toe black leotards.  But Trixie gets to give a couple of really heartfelt speeches about the importance of her new community, and its ideals of self-empowerment, and women’s rights.  (It actually reminded me a lot of the things that the women on my roller derby team used to talk about.)

But we’re not here to talk about women’s empowerment (though I could do that all day if you want).  We’re here to talk about sweaters.

Everyone in the class wears long, black leotards, except the instructor, who gets to wear a totally cute, cropped, tie-front cardigan.

Trixie’s instructor has hers in a lovely periwinkle blue.And when Trixie starts teaching, she gets hers in a fiery scarlet (naturally).(I’m now looking more closely at these sweaters, and it actually looks like they might be made of sweatshirt jersey, not knit, but we’ll just pretend, shall we?)

I love the criss-cross front, and the super flattering 3/4 length sleeves and cropped length that hit right at the natural waist.  I don’t think I want to go flouncing about in a leotard like the ladies in the Keep Fit class, but I do think I want one of the instructors’ sweaters.

I love this one, with the subtle all-over mistake ribbing and twill ties.

Penny by Debbie BlissAnd this one might be most like Trixie’s- the length is right, and the three-quarter sleeves.  I like the little picot edges on the cuffs, but I might change them to a simple ribbing, I’m not really a “ruffles” kind of gal.

Yoga Wrap Sweater WR1705 by Lisa GetryThis one is just too sweet for words.  It’s not really as practical as Trixie’s (what with the short sleeves and the deeper V-neck), but I love the style of this one.  The textured sleeves, the lovely soft color and the feminine shaping that isn’t too girly.  Man… this one’s a contender for sure.

Gardenia by Martin StoreyIf I had more time, I’d definitely get one of these bad boys on my needles as soon as possible.  As it is, I still might… Work can wait when there are cute sweaters to be made!

Have you spotted any cute sweaters on TV lately?