Fun with Leaves

DH and I have spent several days dealing with the pile of leaves produced by our most spectacular ash trees in the front yard.

fallen leaves

I spent one day raking them into piles that DH could “vacuum”.

piles of leaves

Let me just say that the gathering part was a lot more fun when the boys were small. The photo below was taken when the kids were about 2 and 3 years old. That’s Twin One on the left pulling leaves out of his mouth, Son One (the goat herder) in the middle, and Twin Two on the right, laughing the loudest.

Three boys in leaves, 1995

They’re not in college and beyond so we don’t see them very often. Oh, how I miss them!

Mitered Stash Afghan Winner

beauty 14 final

The winner of the Mitered Stash Afghan pattern is Karen, who wrote:

Hmmm. Since my birthday is tomorrow this might be my lucky contest. Right now I have quite a bit of a blue/purple color wave that would be great. I think it might need a bit of bright yellow or orange to make it really pop.

Congratulations and happy birthday Karen! Your color choice sounds lovely. I’ve notified you directly by email but if it didn’t go through, let me know and I’ll resend it. I hope you enjoy the pattern! Please post photos on my Ravelry group Budd’s Buds.


A New Pattern

Despite all odds, I managed to upload a new pattern to my website and Ravelry. It’s called Mitered Stash Afghan and is the combination of my own handspun alpaca, and handspun alpaca that I’ve collected from other handspinners.

beauty 14 final

I took a somewhat random approach to the blanket, using Vivian Hoxbro’s mitered garter-square technique and combined two sizes of squares for somewhat of a patchwork look. I think this would look great in any combination of yarns, so long as they are somewhat compatible in size. In fact, one of my hanspun yarns was fingering weight so I doubled it to better match the other worsted-weight yarns. The doubled strands make for slightly thicker squares, but you have to look (and feel) carefully to find them.

I encourage you to sort through your stash and make your own version. You could make it smaller by using sport or fingering weight yarn or larger by using bulky yarn. Or you can change the size by adding or subtracting squares. The pattern comes with a cartoon of the sequence of squares so you’ll be able to use it as a springboard for your own ideas.

To get you started, I’ll raffle off a free copy of the pattern. Just respond to this post and tell me what yarn you’d like to dig out of your stash. I’ll announce a winner Friday morning, June 5.

Mitered Stash Afghan

For this afghan, I combined an assortment of five handspun alpaca yarns, some of which I spun myself and some of which I purchased from other handspinners. Most of the yarn are worsted weight; all are in natural colors. I chose the colors randomly as I knitted two sizes of mitered squares in which one builds on another.

This is a great stash project. The mitered garter squares are tolerant of slight gauge differences. After the first square is worked, all the others are worked onto existing squares at a rate of one stitch picked up for every garter ridge. This makes it easy to know where to pick up stitches and further evens out discrepancies between the gauges of different yarns–some squares are simply denser than others. A solid-color garter-stitch edging unifies the piece.

The afghan shown used 300 yards (275 m) of Color A, 300 yards (275 m) of Color B, 874 yards (800 m) of Color C, 400 yards (365 m) of Color D, and 200 yards (182 m) of Color E.
The completed afghan weighs 750 grams.
You could easily work more or fewer mitered squares to make a larger or smaller afghan.

Seasoned Greetings

Every holiday season I make spiced nuts for friends and family. They have just the right combination of sweet, salt, and spice. They’re great on salads or just by the fistful. Each year, the list of recipients grows. Last night I cooked up a record eight (8) pounds of these tasty morsels, which amounts to a veritable mountain.

spiced nuts

I included a skein of yarn for scale. (Okay, it’s a mini skein, but you get the idea.)

I can’t make them for *everyone*, but I’m happy to share the recipe. Maybe they’ll become you’re holiday tradition, too. “Seasoned” greetings to you!

Glazed Spiced Nuts

2 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp mace

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 lb pecans or other nuts

Preheat oven to 250. In large skillet, melt butter, then add sugar, orange juice, salt, cinnamon, mace, and cayenne pepper. Stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Add nuts and stir until thoroughly coated (coating will be sticky). Pour onto foil-lined cookie sheet and place in oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to large chilled mixing bowl. Use two spoons to lift and stir the nuts until they no longer stick together. Transfer onto waxed paper to finish cooling.

It’s a Wonder I Get Any Work Done

I haven’t posted anything for a while because most of what I’m working on has to remain under wraps until announced by the publisher. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! Just look at my desk.

my desk

That’s mine in the front — the messy one. My husband has the desk in the back. Every night he cleans is off and puts all of work into tidy piles. I try to clean my desk once a week, but it’s hopeless. As soon as I start to work, it’s covered with papers, files, books, and of course, yarn.

Today is my mother’s 86th birthday. She has dementia and no longer understands the concept, but we’ll have a party anyway. I’ve made our family standard birthday cake: devil’s food cake with homemade fudge frosting.

birthday cake

It may not look like much, but oh, is it ever tasty. I don’t know where my mother found the frosting recipe in the first place but it’s been a staple for decades.

Try it for yourself:

1/4 cup melted butter

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (Mexican vanilla is best)

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix the first four ingredients together, then add powdered sugar until smooth.

Nap Time!

I finished my handspun alpaca stash blanket and am pleased to announce that I finished the edging with yarn to spare.

finished blanket 1

I would have posted a photo sooner, but as soon as I took the photo, I decided that I needed to try it out for an inaugural nap. Oh, my, does it ever feel good! I could swear I’m sleeping on– er, make that under– a cloud. Good thing the temps have returned to their seasonal highs or I might lie around all day!

Alpaca Blanket Final Stretch

I’ve taken advantage of the unseasonably cool weather these past few days to work on my handspun alpaca stash blanket. I worked a border of small mitered squares around all four sides, but it still looked unfinished. Fortunately, I think I have enough of the dark brown to add a garter edging around the whole thing. I sure hope so — I’ve picked up 670 stitches and I’d hate to run out of yarn before I finish.

adding the edging

It sure feels nice in my lap as I work on it!

Artistic Miters

Whenever the evenings are on the cool side, I’ve been knitting on my alpaca blanket. The piece measures about 27″ wide and 42″ long at this point, which limits me to photos of artful folds, etc.

folded progress folded progress 2

The photo doesn’t do justice to the amazing drape and luxurious hand of this garter-stitch fabric. It’s going to feel fantastic on my lap when I curl up to knit this winter!

I’m running low on yarn so I’m planning to work a border of small mitered squares around the edges, then, if I have enough, I’ll add a narrow dark brown edging.