Craft Friday

I love Thanksgiving and always have. I love the simple focus on family and food. I love that there are no gift-giving expectations. I love the reminder that I actually already have everything I need – and a whole lot of what I want.

Given that I actually need nothing more than what I have, I am very happy to decline the frenzy of shopping on Black Friday. I choose instead for this to be a gentle, quiet day at home, with my family. As I pick up my needles and yarn, as I put my feet on my spinning wheel, as I practice ancient arts passed down through generations, as I use tools provided by the earth and the animals, I will do so with ongoing gratitude. I am mindful of what a great freedom it is to opt out of consumerist compulsion, and what a great privilege it is to create.

So I’m joining the Craft Friday Party!

A few things I’ll be working on:

handspun colorwork mittens

handspun colorwork mittens


A test-knit for Kirsten, which I had to set aside for a quick gift knit that I finished up in the wee hours last night (pictures and story of that soon).

handspun pi shawl

handspun pi shawl


Of course!

Hello Yarn Romney, "Tideline"

Hello Yarn Romney, “Tideline”


After a few weeks of no spinning, my stash finally told me what needed to go on the wheel next.

cross-stitch!

cross-stitch!


Yep! I started this on Craft Friday four years ago – ’bout time I picked it back up!

So those are a few things I’ll be working on today. How about you?

Happy Thanksgiving! (and a trifle) (and a sweater)

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear readers. I’m grateful for you!

I’m also grateful to report that, after blocking, my sweater fits perfectly! Full modeled shots soon, but here’s a peek:

Reis + Trifle

Reis + Trifle

I’m beyond thrilled with it!

And I’m super-excited to be digging into this trifle later today. This is the second year I’ve made it. It’s the Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle from the Browneyed Baker. Trust me: it is very, very worth it to make everything from scratch. The gingerbread is so dark and rich and molasses-y. And of course real whipped cream is the only thing that should ever go into a trifle, in my ever-so-humble opinion. (This isn’t Paleo, obviously!)

To my American friends, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving! To my friends elsewhere, I hope you have a great Thursday!

Casting on for all the things

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Yes, I have one more new thing on the needles. The shawl is still happening, and so are the handspun colorwork mittens, but this project is important too, and had to jump the queue.

Also, the sweater is officially blocking (a full blocking, not the steam blocking I considered doing), and I’m nervous about it ruining the perfect fit but hopeful that all will be well.

Saturday Morning Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, Two Ways (vegan and paleo)

I inadvertently started a tradition in my household some years ago. I made chocolate chip pumpkin muffins one fall Saturday morning, and suddenly my kids declared it a thing to be done every Saturday of fall. When my kids love something I’ve done for them, it’s very hard for me to say “no” to doing it again. Maybe I’m a pushover, but I do it because I realize that a day will come when they are not asking me to make pumpkin muffins for them anymore, and I’m sure I’ll miss it. So for now, pumpkin muffins they shall have.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

I think I’ve probably posted about these before. It’s a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock*. I’ve always loved this book. It no longer jibes with my paleo ways, but it’s my kids’ favorite pumpkin muffin recipe, so I oblige. I adapted it to exclude soy milk (which we do not drink), to lower the amount of sugar, and to include chocolate chips.

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour

1 C sugar

1 T baking powder

1/4 t salt

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t ground nutmeg

1/2 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground allspice

1 C pureed pumpkin

1/2 C unsweetened almond milk

1/2 C canola oil

2 T blackstrap molasses

1 C ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, almond milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill the muffin cups 2/3-full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not try to bake bacon in the oven at the same time, or you risk burning the muffins. Trust me on this. Maybe you never try to bake bacon at the same time as anything else, but I do! Let cool for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

I love pumpkin muffins, too, but my husband and I prefer not to eat all that flour (and sugar and canola oil). So I’ve begun making paleo pumpkin muffins from one of my favorite paleo cookbooks, Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great*. Here’s my adaptation of her recipe:

2 C blanched almond flour

3 T coconut flour

1 t baking soda

2 t cinnamon

3/4 t ground nutmeg

1/4 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground cloves

1/4 t sea salt

3/4 C pumpkin puree

1/3 C pure maple syrup

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 T coconut oil, melted

1 t pure vanilla extract

1/2 C ghiradelli chocolate chips

1/2 C chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with baking cups. Sift together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, spice, and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the remaining wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat on high with a hand mixer. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix till smooth. Gently mix in the dark chocolate chips and chopped pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup 2/3-full. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Danielle Walker doesn’t mention anything about sifting the almond and coconut flour, but I have found it absolutely essential to creating a better muffin. Otherwise they seem to turn out a bit grainy. However, I’m getting ready to order a superfine almond flour (this one:Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour Super Fine Grind Gluten Free Cholesterol Free albs)* and I’ll see if it makes a sifter unnecessary.

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Paleo Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

These aren’t as pretty as non-paleo muffins, but they are moist and delicious. I serve them with a pat of grass-fed butter and a cup of hot spiced tea. Perfect for fall.

So, that’s our Saturday breakfast tradition. And it is our Sunday breakfast tradition, too – the recipes make enough that there are plenty of muffins to heat up before church on Sunday (and I put a tray of bacon into the oven to bake while we get ready, because baked bacon – that’s how I roll!). How about you? Do you have any favorite paleo muffin recipes? It will soon be winter, and when that happens, my boys will no longer expect pumpkin muffins every weekend. So I’m looking for some wintry ideas!

*affiliate links

What I Have to Show for Today

Spoiler alert: it’s not very much.

I woke up sick this morning. I didn’t know I was sick when I first got up – I thought I was just having extra trouble waking because I was tired. But two things happened almost immediately that alerted my groggy brain to the fact that I was indeed sick: I couldn’t knit and I couldn’t manage to drink my coffee. Ugh! I always know I’m sick when I don’t have the strength or energy or presence of mind to knit. To find myself unable to drink coffee, too, well that’s just adding insult to injury!

At any rate, I went back to bed and slept half the day away, which is not really the way I prefer to spend a Friday (my day off), but it was all I could do. When I got up midday, my husband made me his specialty, Toads in the Hole (fried eggs in the middle of fried toast), which is what I always want when I’m sick. It really does help. By late afternoon, I was feeling a little less punky, and managed to start doing some of the things that had to be done.

Now the end of the day is here, and I seem to have little to show for it (can you tell I’m a very impatient patient?). But I did do this:

ends! woven in!

ends! woven in!

I had been dragging my feet all week about finishing up my sweater. I just haven’t had a lot of knitting time, and what little I did have, I wanted to spend actually knitting not weaving in ends. I did get most of the weaving done a couple of days ago, but there was still the niggling matter of grafting the underarms. That’s what I did today. And then I wove in the ends for the arms and the underarms, and now, at last, I am really, truly done with the sweater. Well, except for the blocking.

sweater innards

sweater innards

I love the inside of the sweater almost as much as the outside.

So, that’s what I got done, knitwise, today. And I wound the yarn for the rest of my shawl, so there’s that.

Sometimes I Have to Rip

For those of you who don’t knit, we call this “frogging,” because you have to rip it, rip it. We knitters are hilarious, wouldn’t you agree? When the situation is less extreme, and doesn’t require actually ripping back, then all we have to do is tink, which is “knit” spelled backwards. To tink back a little bit hurts the heart less than frogging, I can assure you. But there are times when the ripping is unavoidable.

After knitting merrily along on my handspun colorwork mittens, and getting roughly halfway done with the first one, I had to come to grips with a reality I had been trying my best to deny: my colorwork was puckering, an indicator that my tension was off, despite my best efforts.

I let the mitten sit for a couple of days, then I took a deep breath, and then I ripped:

handspun mitten cuff

handspun mitten cuff

It’s emotionally difficult to rip. Knitters, am I overstating things? Those stitches represent time and energy, so it feels like a loss to undo it all. That’s why it’s so hard to do sometimes, even when you can tell you have made a mistake in your knitting. This ability to rip back, though, is a benefit of knitting that we don’t always have in life: the clean slate, the chance to get things just right. I’ll take it! So now I’m ready to try again. As I pay renewed attention to my colorwork tension, I am happy to hear any tips you might have!

sneak peek :: Autumn Reis pullover

At last, on the cusp of winter, I have finished knitting my autumn sweater. As I mentioned, I kind of knit the yoke intuitively, using the pattern more as a suggestion than as actual instructions. Others who have knit this sweater mentioned that they didn’t care for the fit of the neck as written, so I knew I was going to modify that part. But I also ended up modifying the height of each strip band of color. Also, my gauge was somewhat different than the pattern gauge, so all my numbers for the stitches in this sweater were different than the pattern called for. I managed to not keep a single note about that, though, so by the time I got to the yoke, I didn’t really know what my numbers should be anymore. So that’s why I just let my intuition guide me. Actually, I suppose I could’ve gone back and counted up the stitches of the body and arms, to see what I had come up with when I cast on, way back in July, and then make some calculations to see what I needed to do. But I was in such a good zen-like flow with this sweater, that I preferred to just do what felt right.

Autumn Reis yoke

Autumn Reis yoke

The fit of this sweater currently is so perfect as it is that I’m a little worried about blocking it. The last time I blocked a perfectly fitting sweater, it never did fit quite right again.

Autumn Reis, pre-blocking

Autumn Reis, pre-blocking

Not blocking it isn’t an option though. As you can see, it needs the finishing that only blocking can provide. Do you think a spritz blocking would do? Meaning, if I spritz block, would that give it a good finish without risking making it bigger than intended?

Hunkering Down

My denial about the polar vortex is officially over.

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mid-November, really?

The little red exclamation point is letting me know that we might get 4 inches of snow tonight and the wind chill might drop below zero.

So basically, if you need me this winter, I’m going to be right here:

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Not a bad way to spend the winter, amiright?