Monthly Archives: November 2008

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Hat Knitting

Well Hello there!  If you’re in the US, are you sprinting to the finish for Thanksgiving?  I’ve lucked out this year and won’t have to do any baking, as we’re visiting the in-laws.  I will miss my pie baking though — my family always lets me bake the pies, which is really fun for me.  So…….sorry, there won’t be any fun Thanksgiving pictures here!

Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, since dear Hester is out of commission and I’m not in charge of any holiday cooking, I’m going to try to squeeze in a few hats for Jean‘s hats for the NYC homeless.  I started knitting one yesterday and it’s moving along pretty quickly.

Knit Hat

TheManoftheHouse says this will be too small, but not to worry. I’ve made these before and they fit just fine.  If they’ll fit my big-headed boys, they should fit most people.  In case any of you might like to knit some of these hats for Jean, I thought I’d share my favorite easy pattern.  Although, I must say, taking a peek at the hats already starting to arrive at Jean’s, I’m thinking I need to go in search of that rolled brim hat too — it’s pretty cute!  Oh, and check out this exciting post — Jean is giving prizes and some of them are REALLY cool.  Go on — go check it out — it will make you want to knit hats.  I’ll wait.


Ok.  Are you excited now???  So, here’s the pattern I’m using.  I got this several years ago from our LYS, which, sadly, is now out of business.  They used to give this pattern out for free if you purchased the yarn at their store.

Beginning Knitter’s Basic Hat

Materials:  1 skein of yarn + scraps if you would like to add a stripe.  Light worsted weight (Cascade 220 is nice).

Instructions are for knitting on straight needles, but I like to knit them on circular needles so that I don’t have to sew up a seam at the end.  If knitting on circs, start off with 80 or 84 stitches, depending on where you fit on the gauge spectrum.  Also, if knitting on circs, and adding stripes, there’s a fantastic tutorial here for making jogless stripes!


4.5 sts = 1″ on #8 needle

Beginning at lower edge cast-on 82 sts.

Row 1 (WS):  P2, *K2, P2, repeat from * across.
Row 2(RS): K2, *P2, K2, repeat from * across.

Repeat last 2 rows until piece measures 1″ from cast-on, ending with a WS row.

On next RS row dec 2 st evenly across row.  80 sts remain.  Continue in st st until piece measures 6″ from cast-on edge, ending with a WS row.

To shape top of hat:

Row 1(RS): *K8, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 2 and all WS rows: P.
Row 3(RS): *K7, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 5(RS): *K6, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 7(RS): *K5, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 9(RS): *K4, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 11(RS): *K3, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 13(RS): *K2, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 15(RS): *K1, K2tog, repeat from * across.
Row 17(RS): K2tog across.

Cut yarn leaving a 20″ tail, thread through remaining stitches, pull tight and sew back seam.

Abbreviations:  dec-decrease, inc-increase, K-knit, P-purl, RS-right side, st st- stockinette stitch, sts stitches, tog-together, WS-wrong side.

It will be a few days before I can do my normal blog visiting, but if you’re in the US, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  (If you’re traveling, travel safely!)  And if you’re not, you should make a pumpkin or pecan pie just because they’re so darn good!


TheEmptyNestChild Plays Host

Alrighty then!  I’m very happy to know that my readership is full of kilt lovers.  You are all a VERY funny group!  I’m sorry to say that I’ve exhausted my kilt pictures, but maybe if we’re all well behaved, some of our friends in Scotland could occasionally throw us a bone.  Ahem.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of TheEmptyNestChild and Sirius getting to know each other.


Ok, just kidding.  I WISH Sirius and Cassie could come for a visit!  Instead, we’re just as pleased to have TheSecondChild and his new 5 month old kitty, Paul, home for the Thanksgiving break.  Scruff and Paul have spent the last day tormenting getting to know each other.  They spent awhile sizing each other up, and then finally, Scruff threw the first punch.


He’s bigger than Paul and somewhat intimidating, but in spite of the fact that it looks like he’s going in for the kill, he’s been very gentle.


It didn’t take Paul very long to catch on though, and he soon escaped from Scruff’s grip.


He decided to show the portly old guy a thing or two and got him in a headlock,


and then threw him to the ground.


Before long, Scruff threw up his paws in surrender and begged for mercy.


And being the gentle, adorable kitty that he is, Paul complied and they took a two-minute breather.


Then they backed up and started all over again. That happened on and off all day except for naps and bedtime when we had to separate them so we could all get some rest. I suspect there will be more fun today, when we let them get together again.

Other than that excitement, there’s not much going on around here except that the $#@#$@ bobbin winder on my beloved Hester broke yesterday. That means she’ll have to go in for repair — right in the middle of my heavy sewing season. We. Are. Not. Happy. ;-(

So, instead of dwelling on that, here are a few happy things to think about:

  • How adorable is this??? I’d love to make something that pretty!
  • With Hester out of action for awhile, I’m really hoping to knit a hat or two for Jean. She’s going to collect hats for the homeless in NYC and take them there in mid-December. If you’re a knitter, you might want to give it some thought — it’s a good way to use up scraps and a simple hat really doesn’t take very long to make.
  • Raina is going to be sharing some Christmas traditions over the next month. If I can think of any ;-), I think I’ll join her after Thanksgiving. Maybe you’d like to play too?

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Men in Kilts

Guess What…Guess What???  TheManoftheHouse and I found some local custard powder!  I’m so excited!!!  One of our grocery stores (Meijer if you have one in your area) has just opened up an international aisle and they have custard powder in the “England” section.  It looks just like the custard powder I bought in Scotland, with one little difference:


We’re all freaky about our nutrition facts here in the US, so they’ve slapped a little sticker on the can so you can see if a serving of custard powder meets your daily nutritional needs.  It doesn’t appear to be vitamin packed or anything, but I personally DON’T CARE ’cause I LOVE those little custard shortbreads and I plan to make them and eat them and get fat.  ER.  FATTER.  And now I don’t have to hoard my one little can of custard powder.  Yay!  In case you don’t have a local shop where you can buy custard powder, my quilty peep Gurney e-mailed me and said you can mail order it from The English Tea Store.  I also had a few other people tell me that it can be ordered on Amazon.

I’ve always said, if you need to know something, just ask on your blog and someone will know the answer!  Thanks for all your custard powder help — you guys are great!  So, as a reward, here are some pictures of something I know you’ve all been waiting to see:

Men… In… Kilts!


(For you ladies in Scotland, you can be dismissed if you’d like — I’m sure you see this all the time, so the excitement has probably worn off by now.)  On our Saturday in Edinburgh we were very lucky and we came across three (!) weddings.  The guy above was the officiant (preacher?  priest? ???) at a wedding in the tiny little chapel inside Edinburgh Castle.

This little guy below appeared to be the son of the bride.  The picture isn’t great (it was cold and drizzly and they were on the move) but isn’t he cute, helping his mum with her wedding dress?


At a different wedding just down the hill from Edinburgh Castle, this guy was playing his bagpipe for the wedding guests as they entered the church.


How’d you like to knit those socks???  (Hey, they look suspiciously like the socks Finny recently finished knitting!)  I was amazed at how many men were actually wearing kilts.  I wish I’d taken better pictures of the wedding parties but there were crowds around them.  After all, they weren’t there for my picture taking pleasure. (And for the record, I wasn’t the only gawky tourist taking pictures.)

This guy appeared to be part of one of the wedding parties.  He was waiting where the cars were pulling up.   He was talking on his cell phone — maybe trying to figure out where someone important was?  Sending the all clear signal?  The picture definitely doesn’t do him justice.  (Insert Sharon’s “just sayin’” here.)


And this guy had nothing to do with any weddings.  He was just a tourist attraction, and not very excited about it, I might add LOL!


Hopefully this little kilt interlude was just the boost you need to get you through your week.  Only two days until the weekend!  (Because some of us can only handle counting the days until the weekend — NOT the days until Christmas!)


A Weekend Vanished

Ok.  Where’d the weekend go?  Did it whiz by as quickly for you as it did for me???  I meant to post sooner, but the weekend just got away from me.

I did get a lot done though.  Lots of sewing, and of course, being the time of year it is, I can’t show any of it here on the blog.  That’s one reason I enjoy the week between Christmas and New Year’s in blogland — everyone shows all the goodies they made for holiday gifts.  Anyway, other than sewing, I had a fun, quick trip with MeMum to pick up this quilt from the quilter.  (Binding will have to wait until after Christmas!)

I also managed to bake a quick batch of cookies.  When we were in a grocery store in Scotland, I noticed (and bought) some custard powder because I don’t think we can get it here, and I remembered seeing some good recipes requiring custard powder around blogland.  Fortunately for me, Lisa posted about her little Custard Shortbreads just the other day and saved me a bunch of time searching through archives.

Custard Powder

OhMyGosh!  We LOVED them.   They’re quick to make and they were a HUGE hit with TheManoftheHouse who doesn’t really like sweets.  He loved them so much he’s making it his mission to figure out how we can get custard powder!    Lisa — thank you so much for posting the recipe!

I also haven’t shown you my finished Mockery Socks (pattern here).

Mockery Socks

I finished knitting them on the flight to Scotland, and Sirius and I worked the kitchener magic to get them off the circular needle.  I love them.  They’ve already been worn and washed three times.  They’re SO warm!

Mockery Socks

These socks also have a new to me heel pattern.  I think it’s a little different than the eye of the partridge pattern, but maybe they’re the same?  In either case, I’ve always just done a standard stockinette heel but this heel is very cool and I WILL be making it again.

Mockery Socks

I love this yarn too.  I wish I could remember what it is.  I bought it from Cami over a year ago and I’m just awful at keeping track of the ball bands — partly because it takes me so long to make a pair of socks and  those ball bands get lost.  Maybe Cami knows what it is — I’d sure like to know ’cause it’s awesome yarn.

Mockery Socks

I think these will be my new favorite socks.  I took them off and laid them down in the leaves for one last picture.  Just as I was about to click the shutter, a little wisp of wind plopped that perfect maple leaf right onto my socks.  I love it when that happens!


A Highland Adventure

I hope you don’t get sick of hearing about our Scotland trip, but I wanted to tell you about a little adventure we had one day.  (If you’re in a hurry, you’ll want to skip this post!)  I’ll try to get back to the occasional normal post after this, although there’s precious little excitement happening around here.

We spent our first week in Scotland at Isabelle‘s exploring the beautiful area around Edinburgh.  There were castles, abbeys, churches, golf courses, and scenic little villages.  After that first week, we decided to go and spend a few days in the Highlands.  We stayed in a little hotel in Dornie, just within view of the beautiful Eilean Donan castle.


The first night in our hotel, we met a fun group — a camera club of 10 people from Darbyshire in England who were in the Highlands for a week to take pictures.  On the second night, we compared notes from our first day’s activities, and they said they’d been on a long drive to have lunch in a potting shed.  “You must go — it’s a real experience and it’s something you’ll talk about for a long, long time!” they said.  When my plan for the next morning sort of fell through, we set off with these instructions that I barely remembered — “Turn right at Shielbridge, go over the mountain and just drive until the road ends.”  So we drove.  Over the mountain.  On skinny little one lane roads.  Absolutely fantastic, unbelievable scenery.  And lots and lots of sheepies.


Did you see the sheepies in that picture?  Well, after driving for what seemed like a very long time, we thought we might have missed a turn somewhere, so we asked a young woman on the side of the road if she’d ever heard of the place that serves lunch in a potting shed.

Hmmm.  She thought for a minute.  “Yes.  I think if you go back up the road to the second house by the candle place, that’s where they serve lunch in a potting shed.”

We went back up the road and turned into the drive of a very pretty Scottish manor house.  Hmmm.  There was a shed.  And what looked like a small parking area.  But no signs.  So, I walked up to the house, and into a very cluttered vestibule to ring the front door bell.  A big pair of waders that had just been stepped out of stood in front of the door and there were two, wet, friendly dogs there to keep me company.  After a few minutes a …. ok, ManoftheHouse, you must cover your eyes now.  Ok?  So, a ….. HOT, mid-50ish gentleman with an even HOTTER Scottish accent answered the door.  (Think Sean Connery with hair.)  Flibbertygibbet‘s “breath in, breath out” advice was ringing in my ears.  Lost or not, this camera club adventure was really working out for me so far!

Ahem.  I asked Mr. HOT Scotsman if he served lunch in his potting shed.  (Stop laughing, I really did!)  He sort of laughed and I explained the whole thing to him.  He thought awhile and said I must mean “Sheena’s Tea Hut, but that’s about 20 miles from here.”  Then he came out to the car and showed us on the map where we needed to go.  And if there’s one thing we learned in the Highlands it’s this:  20 miles isn’t really 20 miles.  It’s WAY longer.  Maps, while an accurate picture of where you need to go, are in no way accurate about how long it will take you to get there.  But what the heck, we had all afternoon so we thanked Mr. HOT Scotsman and continued on our way, chuckling at the fact that his neighbor thinks he serves lunch in his potting shed.  (He’s probably serving something in his potting shed, but I don’t think it’s lunch, if you’ll forgive me for saying so.)

Anyway, we followed the map, and sure enough, we eventually came to the end of the road.


And the beautiful little village of Corran.  We crossed the footbridge over this beautiful little river (as instructed by Mr. HOT Scotsman.)


And on the other side of the bridge, lookie what we found!


A Buck!  At this point TheManoftheHouse is freaking me out by telling me if this guy decides to charge us, we’ll be in big trouble.  So we sort of freeze, except that I’m wildly snapping pictures.  We have to get around him, so we start inching forward.  And that big rack decides to walk up and sniff us!


I’m having a fit — although calmly snapping pictures.  TheManoftheHouse manages to get past him so I just sort of stood still and he walked past me.  You would have thought he was a skunk or something.  Anyway, we went to the end of the path, turned left and there before us was Sheena’s Tea Hut at long last.


It looks just like a potting shed!  There was a group of 5 people crowded into the little shed and we stepped inside.  One of them was having chicken noodle soup and it was drizzly and cold, so I told Sheena we’d like some soup too.  She was all out because “I had a big group of 10 people in here yesterday and they cleaned me out!”  So, we had a scone and probably the worst hot chocolate I’ve ever had but the atmosphere was wonderful and Sheena (a great grandma) was just as charming as could be.  We talked to her for quite awhile.  (And used the facilities too, ’cause the camera club said you should do that — she takes you into her house, through her hall, and into her own private bathroom!  Where, conveniently, I might add, there’s a little donation jar LOL.)

During the course of our conversation, Sheena mentioned that she gets lots of visitors.  “Supposedly, I’m on the internet.”  And, indeed, she is.  (If you click on that second link and scroll down to the end, you’ll see pictures of Sheena and of the inside of the hut because I’m a dope and didn’t take any.)  Sheena also told us all about the buck.  They think he’s about 18 or 19 years old and he’s been coming to Corran for about 9 years and as Sheena said “I love him to bits!”  The town feeds him and he’s always there except when he’s in rut.  There’s a long story behind it, but they’ve named this little buck Bin Laden.  Does this look like a Bin Laden to you???


Yeah, me neither LOL. The camera club was right though– we had a fantastic adventure driving to Corran and it’s something we won’t soon forget. Corran sits right on a little bay surrounded by mountains and the scenery is stunning. Look at these gorgeous little fishing huts, each with their own painted door.


And our timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  It was rainy and drizzly, but because it was fall,  we were able to see all the beautiful orange on the mountains. As you can see there was snow at the higher elevations too.


So.  If you’re ever in the Highlands, take the advice of the camera club and go visit Sheena — it’s something you’ll talk about for a long, long time.


P.S.  You need to run and check out Camille‘s blog — she’s having an AWESOME giveaway!!!