Sunday, December 21, 2008

Finished Amulet Bag

I felted the amulet bag by hand last night. It really wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. I used a small basin of hot water with a little wool soap, and I scrubbed the bag with a crumpled up plastic bread bag for 30-40 minutes. A good workout for the arms and hands! I did some shaping after I rinsed to keep things symmetrical as possible. This morning it was completely dried.

I'm pretty pleased with it. I think the only thing I would have changed about it is maybe having knitted it smaller. I'm thinking about adding a loop and a button - wooden or shell to keep with the natural, organic look.

Tough taking pictures in natural light today, but here it is:

Mr. Biddles! D'oh!

What's that tail doing in my picture? Sigh.

I really love how the colors blend. Manos del Uruguay yarn - have I mentioned how much I love it? If you look hard you can probably see there several spots where it felted in a way that almost looks like french knots, all twisted and curly. I'm happy about that because it adds interest and dimension.

Just a reminder what it looked like before felting:

It was still snowing this morning. Hi Crow!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


We got some serious snow overnight, and it is still snowing.

So pretty...

This tree looks familiar.....

Ah, there he is:

Tufted titmouse enjoying some seed:

Knitted by candlelight last night during the power outage. Here is the amulet bag, pre-felting. Looks pretty horrible, doesn't it? LOL

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Felted Amulet Bag

I'm making my first venture into felting (well, felting on purpose). It's going to be a gift so I hope it comes out ok.

Hopefully (fingers crossed) it will come out looking something like this:

The pattern is from Judith Durant's recent book. I'm really loving this book so far. Nice projects and what's really cool is they are arranged in the book by yarn weight. I'm a big fan of short-and-sweet projects and this book is chock full of really nice ones.

I love Manos yarn. I just love love love it. Beautiful to work with and the most gorgeous colors.

Most projects almost always teach me something new and unexpected, as this surely did. I didn't realize you could make a tube by knitting on DP's and slipping stitches. I was a little perplexed when I started the pattern, then when I saw the tube magically growing, I said, "WHY didn't I know about this trick before???!!!" It's pretty nifty, I'll tell you.

I just need to bind off and make the cord. I'll keep you posted.....

Let's check in with Biddlepants.

A-ha. He is doing his eggplant impression.

Hi cutie!

Aaaah. Nappies. Zzzzzzzzz.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cookies Cookies Cookies

Ok so I've been on a roll lately. I love cookies. They are little pieces of art. Don't cookies make people happy? They make me happy, for sure. So fun to make, even if it is a lot of work. Christmas gives me the perfect excuse to make a mess of cookies. I planned ahead which ones I wanted to make, wrote up an ingredients list, and have been slowly working away at it and putting them in the freezer. The ones that need to be iced (like the chocolate trees at the bottom, and the sugar cookies I'll be making later this week) will be thawed out and iced Christmas Eve Day.

Here are the latest. I have used my shortbread mold. The tricky part is getting the cookie batter to fill in all the design. You can't tell if you managed to do that or not until after the cookie is done baking. Next time I use it, I'm going to experiment a bit to see what is the best way to do this.

The mold:

Slap that batter on a greased mold:

Pat it down with your fingers:

Poke the top with a fork. (I forgot this step once, and it didn't seem to make a difference, fwiw)

It is done baking: (I sprinkled a little raw sugar on it before it baked.)

Let it sit for 15 minutes or so, then flip it and hopefully it will pop right out. I only had trouble once because I forgot to re-grease the pan (lightly with olive oil), but it didn't give me a hard time.

See the indentations where there shouldn't be?

Ah well, still pretty and yummy!

I made ginger shortbread, lemon shortbread, plain shortbread of course, and orange spice shortbread. The recipe for shortbread is so easy and well - short - that just changing the flavoring ingredients is all it takes to alter the recipe.

Then I made chocolate cookies. Lots of cocoa in these babies! YUM! Ah the sun is setting on the trees. A fun day of baking.

Mr. Biddles was close-by to supervise. See how excited he is about all the cookies?

Yup. It's a tough life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Springerle Molds for Speculaas

After reading about these cookie molds in a recent Martha Stewart magazine, I was so captivated by their beauty and texture (and history) that I had to give it a try.

I bought the molds from House on the Hill. The really cool thing about these molds are that they are replicas of molds from as late as 500 years ago. They even leave in the 'imperfections' of the originals for a true copy.

The recipe I used was the one they supplied with the molds, although you can find many recipes online for Speculaas. Here is a nice informational about the history of Speculaas.

So last night I began baking, and had a blast. The aroma from the mingling of spices is truly intoxicating. I wish blogs had smellovision. Just imagine citrus, cocoa, cardamom (which is a party of aromas within itself. If you have never smelled this spice, I suggest you get to your grocers STAT), mace, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.

Low light is my camera's handicap, so please forgive the poor quality photos:

The 3 molds I have. The house is my favorite.

A poinsettia cookie before baking:

MMMmmmmm! A tray of cooling speculaas!!

One very important thing I learned. See the cookie on the left? See how much clearer the imprint is? That is what happens if you put the molded cookies in the freezer for 20 minutes before putting them in the oven. A critical step, I'd say, and one I will be sure to do in the future.

Again, cookie on left was in the freezer before baking. Big difference, isn't it?

I love these houses. Have I mentioned that yet?

House speculaas!
I sprinkled some sanding sugar on them. It gives a slightly sparkly effect, without being gritty.