Friday, April 25, 2008


Wistful. That is how I feel mostly. A feeling of wistfulness pervades much of my knitting in both choice of pattern and yarns. I wish for a time gone by that was simpler and passed more slowly. A time when sitting on a garden bench to simply enjoy the surrounding beauty was common place.

Some will say there never was such a time. But there was for me. As a child I could not have had a more idyllic start in life. Days were sunny and long and weekends and summer were a time to enjoy family outings and tasty food. They say a good childhood lasts a life time and indeed it does. The memories stay and become part of who you are and what you expect from life. I have been fortunate, I know.

Shawls capture for me a feeling of a slower and simpler time and provide me with a connection to an era that has passed away not only for me but for our society at large. I realize that I have romanticised times past. I have seen third world countries and know what living without modern conveniences is like. But there is something in the way we live now that has lost something important too. The hustle and bustle associated with much of how I live my daily life, and observe to be the same with others, lacks a contemplative element that enriches the soul.

And that is why I knit and wear anachronistic shawls. This shawl is designed by Evelyn Clark and, as with all of her designs, it is easy to knit and a good choice for a beginner. I used a beautiful wool and silk blend yarn hand dyed by Melinda at Tess' Designer Yarns. The yarn is slightly variegated and about as variegated as I would go with any shawl pattern. If the yarn is strongly variegated the pattern of the lace becomes obscured and neither the yarn nor the shawl is shown to it's best effect. Trust me on this. I've recently demonstrated this point to myself by swatching with a variegated silk yarn on a lace pattern which I wisely chose to frog.

Specs: Flower Basket Shawl; 1 skein silk & ivory (50% silk 50% wool) ~ seashell colorway~ Tess' Designer Yarns; US 8 needles; Dimensions: 26" x 56" unblocked.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Some Bunny Loves Me

I have never knit anything for a baby before. So when friends of ours had a grandchild I didn't know what to make. Do I knit a hat, blanket, booties, bib, sweater? There are just so many choices. But once I saw this picture of him I knew instantly what I would knit. I have some Schaefer yarn in my stash that is an exact color match to the outfit he's wearing! It was a sign, no?

I bought this Schaefer yarn to knit a bunny toy. Below is a picture of the bunny from the pattern cover. It's manly enough for a boy baby I think. The pattern is #308, Lola Bunny Love, and it is now available for free as a pdf download on Ravelry (Ravelry link: here). Yarn: Schaefer Lola 100% merino wool superwash.

Now that that's decided......


Here at Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog we focus mainly on tea treats. Lest you think we never eat anything else I'm starting a new category of recipes with the heading "What's For Dinner." These recipes will focus on simple and flavorful meals that are easy to make. Spring is a wonderful time of year as all the fresh spring vegetables and herbs are newly arriving and one herb I look forward to in particular is basil. One of the ways I enjoy using basil is in a pesto and here is how I make it:

Pesto Recipe:

Fresh basil
lemon juice
olive oil (Greek preferred)
walnuts (or pine nuts)


This is a very forgiving recipe. All of the ingredients are just to your personal taste. Combine all of the ingredients in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Add olive oil and/or lemon juice until the mixture is a soft spreadable consistency. Refrigerate and use within 1 or 2 days.

I love pesto and use it to garnish sauteed portobello mushrooms, grilled chicken sandwiches, broiled swordfish, hamburger patties and lots more. Last night I made burgers which I topped with pesto. This burger recipe comes from my mother.

Burger Recipe:

Approximately 1 lb. ground turkey meat (I don't use the extra lean that's a bit too dry for me)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 chopped green onions (white part only)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (Tamari preferred)
Lawry's Seasoned Salt (to taste)

Steps: Combine all ingredients and form burger patties. Place on foil lined baking pan. Broil approximately 10 minutes on each side. Serve with a dollop of fresh pesto or steamed spinach.

Lastly, where is Flo you ask? Well, my week did not play out as I had planned. But I'm feeling happier today because I've reached a decision. I'm not seaming Flo. I am not. I'm going to treat myself to having it professionally seamed. Mr Puffy and I discussed it and decided that was the only reasonable course to follow. He and I were a little giddy after the difficult week we have had and while playing with some of the pieces of Flo, he suggested that I just take it in and have someone else seam it for me. What a great idea! Tomorrow I'm dropping it off.

What would I do without him?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Felted Once Again

I've knit several felted bags, but this one is by far my favorite. It's made from a Fleece Artist kit and, as has been my experience with other Fleece Artist kits, it was easy to knit and I love the final product.

I've been thinking about felted bags lately because I have a strong feeling that I'm going to succumb to a Noni Bag! Have you seen the Noni bags? They are so pretty and are decorated with these amazing felted flowers. They are really such creative designs I simply must have one! I'm leaning toward a small Evening Bag which is decorated with beautiful Camellia Flowers. Since I don't have a fun evening bag, in a way, it's almost a wardrobe necessity that I get this kit!

Before I forget, I do want to point out a feature about this bag that I think is particularly nice, and that is the wide handles and the way they are attached to the bag. Unlike some bags I've knit, these handles are very securely attached and as a consequence are stable and make this a most enjoyable bag to use. I also want to mention that the yarn that came with this kit (blue-face Leicester) felts extremely well and was a pleasure to knit. This bag is also appealing in person due to the wonderful colors and texture and I receive compliments from women of all ages when I am out and about using it.

Project Specs: Fleece Artist Felted Bag - kit; US 9 needles; 250g blue-face leicester yarn.

This week Steve will be traveling on business so it's just Mr Puffy and I holding down the fort. That means we will tuck into lots of goodies and have plenty of time to lounge round watching videos, nap (Mr Puffy), and knit (Claudia) and hopefully this week, somehow, I will finally finish up Flo (Kim Hargreaves sweater kit). Speaking of which, Mr Puffy has been extremely helpful with his suggestions on the finishing details and overall general encouragement to finish Flo. I really must do something special for him as a thank you!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ripple Linen Basket Liner

Starting the morning with a nice basket of warm muffins sets the tone for the whole day, don't you think?

This basket of muffins also happens to be modeling my new Ripple Linen Basket Liner. Muffins are a fun treat to serve when you have company and serving them in a basket with a pretty liner adds a festive touch.

For those interested, this is a basic blueberry muffin recipe from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, but any muffin recipe will do!

When I have company and plan on serving something hot in the morning, I employ this little trick to lessen the preparation time in the morning:

Baking Tip #1: To make things easier and faster when you have company, prepare in advance by mixing the dry ingredients together the night before and also preparing the baking pan. That way in the morning all you have to do is add the wet ingredients and pop the muffins or whatever you are baking into the oven!

Seeing that muffins by themselves are perfectly delightful but do not make for a balanced breakfast, I generally also serve a fruit salad and something hot such as Irish style steal-cut oats.

I have toyed with the idea of knitting a basket liner for some time as I am always baking dinner rolls or muffins of some sort. I'm not sure that I chose the best pattern, though. Despite the seemingly simple design, I did not find this to be the simplest of knits. The first tricky bit is that you employ a figure-8 cast-on which I suspect is not the easiest technique if you are not familiar with using double pointed needles. I did find Hello Yarn's series of photos demonstrating this cast-on technique very helpful; having seen the photos, as well as being very comfortable with double pointed needles, I did manage just fine. The next tricky bit is working with the wet spun linen itself. I found the yarn to be stiff and uncomfortable to knit as well as having a number of small breaks in the skein. It is linen, though, and the finished product is worth it!

Project Specs: Approximately 1/2 skein Euroflax 100% wet spun linen; US3 straight and circular needles; Island Moss colorway; pattern: Ripple Linen Basket Liner from The Knitter's Book of Yarn; blocked dimensions: 13" square. The only modification I made was to continue the increases until I had 48 stitches between each marker. I did this as the finished dimensions of the pattern as written was for a 12" square, and I thought that seemed a bit skimpy.

Mr Puffy has asked if he might also have a basket liner for his treats. I've told him "we'll see."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What is it?

What is it? Why, it's obviously a Sugar Mummy, that's what!

This is my entrant into this week's Gracious Hospitality Tea-a-Thon. The Assignment: Share how the theme of tea has influenced your home decoration.

I found this whimsical sugar mummy while on vacation in New Zealand and instantly fell in love! The artist is Marion Mewburn and she is known for her teapots, fairies, and sugar mummies. To find such a thing in the remote region of New Zealand's South Island, specifically the town of Franz Josef (named for the Franz Josef Glacier) made it the perfect souvenir!

As an aside, New Zealand is a wonderful place to visit. I thought at the time what a great family vacation as there are so many family oriented activities such as exploring caves, kayaking trips, mineral springs, tramping, world class fly fishing and, well, you get the idea. It also has a well preserved indigenous Maori culture . As a bonus, the food is rather delish. The baked goods are particularly wonderful and while there I ate some of the best meat pies, muffins, and cookie bars ever!

Back to my Sugar Mummy. Please note the ample (and partially exposed) bosom. All of the sugar mummies had this distinguishing feature. It amuses me because it brings to mind the Regency era dichotomy of seemingly prim and proper behavior (drinking tea, naturally) and the decidedly risque feminine attire often worn during that period.

My little Sugar Mummy happily resides on my kitchen counter next to my everyday teapot and she brings a smile to my face every morning!

Oh yes. I almost forgot! The reason she's called a Sugar Mummy is because when you lift her up - you find a sugar bowl!