Monday, December 22, 2008

So this is Christmas...

Or rather, it will be in a couple of days.

To be honest, this year is not what I had hoped it would be. Me and DW have been trying very hard to keep with the holiday spirit and maintain a level of cheeriness that we are accustomed to, but for some reason it just doesn't "feel" like Christmas to me. Maybe it's issues we've been having in the RL world having to do with a car accident that occured a month ago (well, accident is being nice. In reality it was a car slaughter since our car was parked when some stupid woman smashed into it head on...), or maybe it's just because of all the other troubles going on in the world around this time.

I really don't know any of that. All I do know is that this year, Christmas will be thrifty. Gifts will be handmade with inexpensive enhancements meant to personalize them, and hopefully everyone that receives them will enjoy them. I think they will. I like to think that my family prefers handmade seeing as those kinds of gifts really require more thought, time and care than just going to the store and buying them. And this happens to coincide with my decision to make the handmade pledge this year, so that's good news! However, me and DW have decide to hold off on exchaning gifts between us this year until the end of January. It's kind of sad, because I hate not giving my wife anything to open on Christmas...but in a way it's not.

I suppose in retrospect, despite my lack of Christmas spirit, I'm reminded of what Christmas really is about. It's not about toys and glitter, and all the lights and sparklies (although we do have lights and sparklies thanks to our pretty tree all lit up in our parlor), it's about family and friends and spending time with the people you care about. I may not get a gift from DW this year, but I will get my wife's company, and the fact that I have her is amazing to me, and I'm thankful for it. Also, we are getting a new puppy soon, so that, in a way , is a Christmas gift for both of us. I still plan on getting her at least some little stocking stuffers though, so that way she has something to enjoy from me. :)

So, on the handmade scene, I've been baking and candy-making up a storm. I'm going making my homemade marshmallows, some peppermint pinwheels , and some fudge.

So far, I've made the marshmallows and that's it...but the rest will be done in due time. I've got a couple of days. :) And if I can find the other box of gelatin I have kicking around somewhere, I'll be making some peppermint marshmallows with some crushed candycanes in them for additional gifts for family and friends that I couldn't afford to make baskets for.

On top of all that, I still have to make meltaways and pb&J sandwich cookies...dunno if they want me to make rolls or not.

So what the hell am I doing here? I gotta get cracking!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Busy Little Bee

That is me!!!! Life has been a flurry of activity this past week, including actual knitting activity! I've been cranking out the last-minute additions to Xmas gifts to beat the band and I finally have some photographic evidence of the fact, and I swear I'll include it shortly.

I've decided that while I shouldn't necessarily wait until the week before Xmas to actually go out and start shopping for presents, I'm really good at it. Actually, me and DW are good at it. In fact, we're so good that present shopping for roughly thirteen people only took an hour and a half and each gift still manages to portray that a lot of thought was put into every single one! It's great when stuff works out like that, isn't it? Now all I have to do is bake, make fudge and marshmallows and put together baskets...which isn't a big deal because DW is a genius when it comes to arranging things prettily. Odd isn't it, that for all my craftiness, I am incapable of artistically arranging gift baskets? Well, we all have our talents...

Anyway, on to the finished (or even semi-finished) gifts I've whipped up so far!

First on my list are Michael's Manly Mitts! I made these for my mom's boyfriend because he's one of the few grown men I know of that actually appreciates handknit items - and knows how to care for them! Last year I gave him this simple 4x4 rib scarf made out of this gorgeous chunky weight baby alpaca yarn and it still looks like it did when I gave it to him! So, here are the mitts.

Pattern Details
* Pattern: Boku Fingerless Gloves (Free Pattern Handout)
* Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Boku Colorway #60 - 1 skein
* Needles: US8 DPN - set of four
* Modifications:None
* Size Made:I made it exactly the way the pattern said to.

These mitts were literally cranked out over one single 8 hour period of time and were such easy knitting that I found I didn't have to pay too much mind to them until I got to the point where I had to start measuring. My attempts at matching up the stripes from glove to glove were a failure, as they usually are, but I thought I'd fouled it up a whole lot worse than I did, and when I saw the finished pair together I was relieved to be able to see that they did look like they came from the same ball of yarn at least. The Boku was a dream to work with, and I'm already plotting an entrelac stole knitted out of it for the future.

Next up, we have my brother's Big Head Hat. That's not the actual name of the pattern, but well, my brother has a sizeable noggin, so I thought that it was fitting.

Pattern Details
* Pattern: Helping Hat - Made in the Style of the Cranberry Hat
* Yarn: Plymouth Encore Chunky - Colorway 389
* Needles: US9 - 16" circs and US9 DPN's for decreasing
* Modifications: After the cables are finished, the designer recommends doing 19 rows of the ribbing, and I think I only did 12. My brother's head is big, but not pointy, and he likes his hats to fit quite snugly and I just had a feeling that if I made it as tall as the designer said to, he'd wind up with a point on top of his head.
* Size Made: Sized to fit my brother's head as best as I could without actually measuring it.

This took me no longer than three hours to whip up, and I did this while catching up on some old episodes of CSI and without a cable needle - which was surprisingly fun! I think I need to figure out how to do other types of cables without a cable needle as they can sometimes be awkward.

Third on my knitted objects list are yet another pair of fingerless mitts, intended to be made for my friend Faith, but inadvertently sized down for my shorter, stubbier hands. So, it looks like I have an early Xmas gift and I'll just have to make Faith another pair.


Pattern Details

* Pattern: Fetching
* Yarn: Wilfert's Verona in Colorway 60 (I think, couldn't tell, the label wasn't written in English)
* Needles: US6 DPN's
* Modifications: In order to conserve yarn as I wasn't sure I'd have enough to complete a full pair, I sized the hand down just a tad by only knitting three rounds above the thumb placement, and then only two rounds before the picot bind off. Also, I only knit two rounds for the thumb and then bound off. The result was a smaller, tighter fitting glove that was more suitable to my stubby fingers than Faith's...oops!
* Size Made: Basically the size the pattern recommends.

This yarn was a dream to work with and I love it's silky sheen! It's so soft, and so warm and just so mmmm...and the color is so rich! I'm secretly glad that I get to keep them because it would have broken my heart to give them away.

And finally, my most recent forray into last-minute gift knitting - a pair of footies for my friend Randi


Pattern Details

* Pattern: Cable Footies - "One Skein" by Leigh Radford
* Yarn: Universal Yarn Classic Worsted Tapestry in Rose Garden
* Needles: US8 DPN's - set of four
* Modifications: None
* Size Made: Size for a foot that wears a size 8 shoe.

Okay, normally, I hate yarns with a lot of acryllic in it, but I wanted to make something that was machine washable for Randi simply because she has a child and this child is not only energetic, but typically (and accidentally) destructive. So, just in case her little girl spills something on them,she can just pop them in the wash. And this stuff is nice and soft and not plasticky feeling - and the colors were so pretty I just had to!

My only issue with this pattern is that it knits up rather large. Not necessarily for Randi's feet, as hers are bigger and slightly wider than mine, but if I were knitting these for me, I'd drop down to a size 6 needle rather than stick with the size 8. That way I'd get a tighter fit. Still, these will do quite nicely for Randi and I'm sure she'll like them. Besides myself, DW and my mom, Randi and her boyfriend Ian are the only two people I would knit socks for. I just know that they'd appreciate them more than some of my other friends.

Ah well. In other news, I finally got my knit picks order in, and let me just say that the customer service people are excellent there! It turns out that I was waiting and waiting, when it was never gonna get to me that way at all seeing as the address part of my address went mysteriously they were shipping to just Apt 3 in Fall River Ma with no house number or street name at all! Silly me! Still, it's all here, and it's all lovely!


Yay for the swag! :D From top to bottom I have here: 2 skeins of Knit Picks Imagination in "Lost Boys, 2 skeins of Knit Picks Imagination in "Seven Dwarves", 2 skeins of Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in "Porcini", and 2 skeins of Knit Picks Palette - 1 in "Blue Note Heather" and the other in "Golden Heather".

I have plans for most of this stuff already. The Lost Boys are going to a pair of Zombie Socks[ravelry] for DW. She's obsessed with all things zombie and I know she'll love, love,love them. Plus, she won't have to steal the handknit socks I make for myself when she has her own! For the Gloss, I was thinking of making the Anniversary Socks [ravelry] from Favorite Socks. The color of the yarn is so elegant to me, and these socks just seem to scream elegance. Plus I think the pattern would look lovely in a pale, solid color.

Now the Palette is where I get sticky. See, the Golden Heather didn't look nearly so orange as it does in person...still, I think I'm going to plod through and hope for the best with what I have in mind for these two skeins. See, I've been itching to try colorwork, and a lot of people recommend starting off with Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts [ravelry]
, and at first I thought they weren't all that attractive. Yet I'd still go back and look at the pattern often and I'd admire other people's FO's in this pattern. Eventually it grew on me, and now I've decided that I must have them. I just hope they'll look all right in the colors I've chosen. If they don't, I'll gift them to someone and buy up two more skeins of Palette in different colors for myself.

All that leaves me with, is the Seven Dwarves...and I have no idea what to make with it. I mean, I don't know how the yarn knits up. Does it stripe, or does it merely pool? Anyone have any clues? Anyone have any recommendations? Maybe I'll come up with something...

In the meantime, knitting isn't all I've been up to this past week. I've humiliated my dog yet again.
And bought and decorated a Xmas tree - which made me realize that no matter what we do, our Angel topper is always going to look HUGE.
And baked some gingerbread men from scratch(well, a couple of 'em got turned into drag queens thanks to DW)

Once DW gets her next day off, we'll be putting together our holiday gifts, and putting together a gingerbread house as well. We're determined to stuff our holiday full of as much xmassy goodness as possible since we pretty much crapped out on Halloween and so far, it's working.

Now, I'm off to forage for food in this house of mine, because I'm suddenly and irrevocably, starving! Cheers and thanks for reading! Also, if I don't get on here before then, I hope everyone has a very happy holiday - whatever they may be celebrating!

A little snippet in time...

I took the 43 Things Personality Quiz and found out I'm an
Extroverted Self-Improving Believer

Hrmm...not sure if I can believe my results...(apparently I'm an Extroverted Self-Improving Believer and only 1% of the 5552 people who have taken the quiz are like me), but it was entertaining to say the least.

Oh, and I swear, knitting pictures and a real blog post coming soon!!!! I just have to get off my ass and take the piccies and upload 'em to the computer and what not!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

So, I haven't blogged in a day or so, but I've wanted to and just haven't had all that much to write about. Until this!
I've been tagged by YarnPiggy...and when I'm done, some of you guys out there are about to be tagged as well! :)

Here's how it works:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things about GirlMeetsNeedle:

1. I have grays...lots of them and I started to go gray when I was 18.
2. I can eat an entire jar of kosher dill pickles all by myself.
3. I am deathly afraid of tornadoes...even though I've never seen one/been in one in my entire life.
4. I am 27 years old and still do not have a driver's license.
5. I used to weigh 85 pounds all the way up through my sophomore year in college.
6. When I was nineteen, I worked as a stripper, but wound up quitting because I couldn't stand dirty old men trying to peek into my private parts!

Tag, you're it!


HummingBird Knits

Friday, December 12, 2008

This IS a knitting blog, right?

So, this week, I actually did some knitting. Some real, honest to goodness knitting! I (belatedly I know) started knitting one of the little "extras" for Christmas that I'm trying to include in all the gift baskets me and DW are putting together, and I finally finished knitting my Pomatomus Socks!


Pattern Details

* Pattern: Pomatomus
* Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Potluck Blues/Purples
* Needles: US2 DPN - set of five
* Modifications:N\A
* Size Made: Whatever size the pattern allows for! :)

I realize that the picture is crap and truly, I'm sorry for it as it doesn't show the awesomeness of the colors or stitch pattern to the socks' fullest advantage, nor does it show how truly cute my shoes are. You'll just have to trust me on this. The shoes are teh cute.

Anyway...on to the next thing I knitted. A cozy neck warmer for my momma! And yes, it's being modeled on top of my space heater. Sadly, I had no better lighting anywhere else, so I had to make do being as it was raining and winding way too frickin' hard for me to even consider going outside.


* Pattern: Tudora
* Yarn: TLC Cotton Plus
* Needles: US6 - 16" circulars
* Modifications: Well, rather than bind off at an angle, I knit it a little longer and bound off straight across, but sewed the buttons on in such a way (and made the button holes in such a way) that they'd button at an angle and leave a little room at the bottom for the wearer to be able to pull a bit down to form kind of a cravat-like thing...if that makes any sense.
* Size Made: One size fits all!

I'm pretty sure my mom will love it, being as she asked me to make her one sans upper flappy bit.

However, there my Xmas knitting has hit a stand still until I can get to my LYS to snag a few extra little bits for hats and mitts and such. Luckily, it doesn't take me all that long to whip up a hat, so we should be in good shape. :) Hopefully.

So, since I have no more knitting to write of, I thought I'd finish this post off with a recipe. And yes, I know this was supposed to be dinner, but I was hungry now,so I ate it for lunch.

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrots and Potatoes



1 Natural Pork Tenderloin
1 packet Onion Soup Mix (the powdery kind)
2 tbsp. Flour
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Onion Powder
2 1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp ground sage
1 c chicken stock
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Vegetables:

Red potatoes - washed and cut into chunks
Carrots - peeled and cut into quarters
4 tbsp Olive Oil (or more depending on how many people you're hoping to serve with the veggies)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 packet onion soup mix

**EDIT #1** Prior to rubbing the tenderloin with the spices, take one of the packets of soup mix and thoroughly mix it with the chicken stock and let stand so the onions in the soup have some time to rehydrate. I microwave the mixture for 30-45 seconds to help the powdery stuff dissolve better and then stir it up and let it stand. :)

Rub the tenderloin with half of your spices and the ground sage (ie: 1 tsp of the garlic powder, etc.) and let sit, covered in the fridge for half an hour to an hour. Mix the rest of your spices in with the flour and remove tenderloin from the fridge. Rub with a little olive oil to moisten and then thoroughly dredge in the flour mixture. Heat up about two tbsp of oil in a frying pan and place the meat in the pan, making sure to brown each side before putting in a lightly greased, shallow 11x9" baking pan and pour in the chicken stock/onion soup mixture you made before.

Next, take the vegetables and put in a gallon sized freezer bag. Put in spices,honey oil and entire packet of onion soup mix and close bag and shake vigorously for about five minutes, making sure to thoroughly coat the potatoes and carrots in the mixture then spoon out of bag and place around the tenderloin, making sure to pour any excess liquid over the roast itself as well as the veggies. Then put the roast, uncovered in a 425 degree oven on a rack in the middle slot for 25 minutes or until veggies are tender. Remove from the middle rack and cook on a rack set lower (about 5" away from the flame) for an additional 5 minutes and then remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before removing from pan and putting on a serving platter.

For the Sauce:

Drippings from the roasting pan
1/2 cup of medium-dark beer (similar to Sam Adams Octoberfest if you don't have the actual Octoberfest on hand)
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. light cream
1/2 tsp of corn starch + more if needed

Spoon the drippings into the pan that you used to brown the tenderloin, and stir on low heat...scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon. Add the beer, and bring to a boil, stirring all the while so as not to burn it. Once it boils, reduce heat once the sauce begins to reduce a little and add the butter, cream and half of the corn starch at first. Whisk, and then add more corn starch as needed to get desired sauce consistency.

Allow the tenderloin to rest about twenty minutes total, then slice up and serve the slices with a thin line of sauce down the middle.

Also, if you like like less of an oniony flavor, you can use one packet of soup mix and divide it in half between the stock mixture and the vegetables, or you can use it all with the stock and nix it on the veggies. It's up to you. :) I just find you get maximum flavor with both packets.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Baguettes of EXTREME HATE!!!!!

Oh, baguettes. You should have been a chewy golden triumph of deliciousness. You should have been tender and soft, with a quite tasty and texturally pleasing crust holding all that softness in. You should have been perfect! I started with the "sponge"...and it fermented beautifully, and even fell like it was supposed to. It couldn't have been more ideal! When the fermentation process was finished, I added in more yeast, more flour and yes, a bit more water and mixed you all up until you were a scrappy ball of toughness that needed to be kneaded. And knead you I did, with nothing but love in my heart, and threw you into the counter forcefully enough to let you know I meant business this time, and I know you liked it. The recipe says you like it rough, and I don't expect a recipe to lie to me. I added the perfect amount of salt (I should know because I measured it exactly as the recipe said), used just enough water without keeping you too wet (Because we know you hate to be soggy from past experience) and by the time I was finally finished kneading you (a full 20 minutes later), you were supple and pliant, with a powdery smooth finish and were definitely not wet. You started out life as the perfect bread dough! And lo and behold, when I put you to rise, you rose beautifully! Perfectly! You were doubled in size at the exact moment you were supposed to be, which helped me keep you to your baking schedule. And then when it came to rounding? Piece of cake (er, bread actually). You continued to be compliant, and I appreciated it. I appreciated it even more when you shaped up nicely and doubled in size in loaf form over a period of 9-12 hours (as the recipe said you should). I suspected things would go wrong when I had to proof you, as when the knife slashed across you, you defensively deflated, but when I placed you in the puffed right back up again and once more you were showing only signs of perfection. So, why...why did you let yourself wind up looking like this on the bottom crust?


Why did you have to burn? I worked so hard to make you perfect, so you could be enjoyed by anyone who happened to want a slice, and here you are, betraying me once again by screwing yourself all up! Don't you know that you're meant to be eaten? I'm not some kind of bread cannibal, damn it. That's what bread's for. For dunking in soups, for munching on with layers of butter, and for cubing up for stuffings and panzanella salad. I thought you understood. In fact, you lead me to believe that you did understand, and now I realize that it was just part of your dastardly plot. You lured me in by tempting me with the prospect of still-warm bread right from the oven and then allowed your bottom half to turn to charcoal. You are EVIL. EVIL I say and I'm pretty sure I won't be attempting you again for a little while...but rest assured, oh baguette of hatred, I shall conquer you some day in the future. When you're least expecting it.

And the ironic part in all this, is that upon tasting a patch of the golden brown, perfect top part of the bread, the taste was perfect! No play-dough without the salt...just perfect. Oh the agony! Still, at least I can salvage those top parts for bread crumbs or something.

Ugh. What a disappointment! I'm pretty sure I missed something somewhere in the maybe a part where it said I was supposed to turn the heat in the oven down from 500 degrees to 425...I don't know. I'll have to read it more thoroughly next time. Meaning, months from now when I forget about this little forray.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Operation: Train Wreck Watch!

Last night, I indulged in a glass or two of Sam Adam's Winter Lager, and some train wreck spotting. Oh, it was not what it usually is on a Wednesday night at the Bayside. There were no warbling old ladies with three inches of wrinkly, fake-tanned cleavage exponsed above a tacky, tight fitting zebra print top trying to shake their booties for the crowd to prove they were man pleasers (and I was kind of disappointed...but it seems that the other deejay only draws that kind of crowd), but there was a girl wearing the Belly Shirt of Doom, and that made for some entertainment. Especially since the girl obviously thought she was the hottest thing in the place, and was strutting around like all the mens up in there thought so too. She was probably wearing her vodka goggles when she got dressed, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt - but believe me when I say there are just certain people that should not wear belly shirts, and she was one of them. Still, it takes a lot of confidence to go out in public like that and stripper-dance on guys like it's your job. So I give her props for that. Other than that, there weren't any other real train wrecks, except for "Crazy Dancing Girl", who was amazingly entertaining to watch as she swung arms and hips in circles that you only see in bad tv musicals. It was great, and me and my friend Randi enjoyed it most thoroughly. Oh, and of course there's always the stranger that comes and sits at your table to drunk-talk to you, so we weren't disappointed on that score either. At least he was a nice drunk-talker. Very polite, and even stated that he liked my shawl(read Clapotis) and asked if I knit it myself. I was impressed...and if he slurred the word shawl a bit, I forgave him.

So, after a night spent enjoying some bad karaoke-singing (and some really good since both my friend Alex and DW were there...and they're both exceptional singers),some tasty beer and alone time with DW, I woke up this morning feeling great! A bit floaty to be sure...kind of like every time I moved I was moving under water, but still nice. No headaches. No achiness...just wonderful,limbery, liquified limbs. It's the way I like to wake up after a night like that, so yeah, I was happy. So happy that I didn't want to move, and actually didn't until four or five hours later when I came to the conclusion that I needed to do some grocery shopping and that it sucked because I didn't want to get out of bed. I wound up dragging DW out anyway, if only to get the essentials considering I'm not planning on doing too much cooking this weekend. Of course, into the cart of essentials went not one, but TWO boxes of Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge brownie mix...and needless to say I'm thrilled! I finally get my brownie reward, and the house is a mess again. Go figure! DW agrees though, so I still get my chocolatey, fudgy yummy goodness, and will actually set about making them after she leaves for work so she can have some for breakfast when she gets home.

On the knitting front, I almost have the full pair of Pomatomus socks done, and will have pictures to prove it up here soon. They're coming out beautiful, and if there's a couple of little "oopses" in the legs of them, even I can't tell so obviously they're not that bad. Besides, according the Wampanoags, if a thing is perfect, then it's bad luck. I mean, if they weave a basket perfectly, they will undo the whole thing, re-weave it an purposely put in a mistake to make it good luck...and since DW's a Wampanoag Indian (along with being Scottish, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, and English), I get to adopt that theory and adopt it I will. So these socks will be good luck Pomatomus and that makes me happy!

On the NaBloPoMo front - I did it! I wrote on here for 30 days straight and I'm proud of myself. I just wish I could find a badge that says so on the site...because I'd like to add it to my blog.

And on that note, I'm taking my leave for a moment considering DW just woke up and I have to get her dinner all ready for her take to work! :D