Saturday, December 20, 2008

Night Cap Anyone?

For Christmas I've knit a night cap for my Dad. He feels the cold at night so what could be more useful than a night cap? It's not as if you can find these readily at your local mall. At least not here in Southern California anyway.

For the modeled photo I specifically told Mr Puffy to look jolly and whimsical. However, he disagreed and went for something solemn and more dignified. I told him he looked like Captain Hook from Peter Pan. But, what can I do? He's his own man, Mr Puffy, and he would model it his own way.

Particulars: Basic Hat Pattern; Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns; 1 skein Hand painted Cashmere DK weight (Tess' Designer yarns); US 6 needles. The edging is a simple 2" turned hem without the picot edging. My dad just isn't the picot type. The hat is stockinette as I didn't want anything to detract from softness of the fabric. I added the tassel because all night caps seem to have them. Check out Twas The Before Christmas if you don't believe me.

I haven't talked much about my dad, but he's a pretty special person. He grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota during the great depression. Not an easy life. He describes getting up while it was still dark out to milk the cows before school and hunting with his brothers to put food on the table. But his mother made life as nice as she could and they ate well on the farm. Stacks of hotcakes in the morning, plenty of fresh baked bread and pies.

The follow picture is one of the few that were taken of the boys on the farm. My dad is the one standing farthest from the camera.

After high school my dad fought in the Korean war and was awarded the Bronze Medal for his bravery in combat. His unit was responsible for laying communication lines on the front with only fox holes for protection, which was a very dangerous assignment.

After the war, he was able to afford college with the assistance of the G.I. Bill. This resulted in a long and successful career as a civil engineer. He's retired now and he and my mother enjoy good health and a happy marriage in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. At age 79 he's still golfing, fishing, camping and enjoying life to the fullest. And he deserves it all because you'll never find a more honest, decent and hard working person than my dad.

Since I'm on the subject, I thought this would be a good time to share the recipe for his favorite Christmas cookies. They are a buttery walnut cookie and I make them every year, just because.

Festive Walnut Christmas Cookies:
A modified version of a Betty Crocker recipe.

2/3 cup unsalted butter room temperature (150g)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (it's best to chop the nuts by hand as the irregular pieces are nice)

Garnish ~ candied cherries (cut into quarters). You can find these at the grocery store over the holidays typically sold in plastic tubs.

Note:  This is a rustic cookie and is best made using old fashioned stirring with a wooden spoon.  So put aside your electric mixer for this one.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
2. Using wooden spoon cream butter with sugars and then stir in egg, vanilla and water.
3. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt). Add to butter mixture with a wooden spoon and stir just until incorporated. Add walnuts.
4. Decorate cookie dough with cherry pieces; and
5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookie is set and slightly brown at the edges.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, meaningful, and happy Christmas. And if you happen to have a night cap, say a toast to my Dad and those like him.


Knitterary said...

Mr. Puffy has that look in his eyes -- the one that says, "Go ahead and try to take this hat away from me. I dare ya." He's no fool, that Mr. Puffy. Knows good stuff when he's wearing it.

Renee said...

What a great night cap, you're so right ~ it needs a tassle. I notice Mr. Puffy, unlike Steve, is willing to pose in his birthday suit.... ;)
Your father is a wondeful man and what an incredible life! I'm definitely going to bake his favourite walnut cookies this year, thank you for sharing the recipe.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Hugs, Renee

CelticCastOn said...

aww love the picture of the human horsey's :) Good times :)
Those cookies look amazing!!! I want some NOW.

Windyridge said...

It really looks like those boys have barbed wire in their mouths?

Merry Christmas to all those in Puffy Land. That pic of Mr Puffy the Model is a perfect picture for a caption contest!

kasiaiscarly said...

think i'm going to have to try those cookies! merry christmas!!

SissySees said...

Love the photo of Mr Puffy. The cap is beautiful - as are all of your projects - and I thank you for sharing a glimpse at the wonderful man who is your father.

jillian said...

A beautiful cap - and the tassel makes it!

I greatly enjoyed the story of your dad. To come through all that and be such a kind and gentle soul, what a man. I know he must be so proud of you!

Merry Christmas to you, Steve and Puffy (bark bark)!

Anonymous said...

Lovely about your dad.

t does wool said...

oh,what a great nightcap...and your Dad-what a special person,Claudia,I love the childhood picture os him!! I do...and what incredible cookies...did you say nuts? lol!!

Teddy Rose said...

Oh, Mr. Puffy! You look so handsome in that cap!

Anonymous said...

Your dad sounds very special Claudia. And the nightcap sounds just perfect for him. There's something quite Christmassy about the idea too. :)

Monika said...

I'm here for the third time, and hope I don't get interrupted again, so I can finally leave a comment! :o)
Loved this post! Mr. Puffy's picture is too cute! He can show his feelings so well. :o)
I also love the picture of your dad and his siblings or friends, that's wonderful. He seems to be a wonderful man. Your cookies look so delicious, I can almost smell them. I used to bake those as well, but instead of candied cherries, we put a half piece of walnut on top. Now I don't make them anymore, because besides me, nobody really likes walnut cookies in my little family. I wish you Happy Holidays!

amanda said...

The night cap is such a great idea. I hope your dad loves it. You obviously have a wonderful dad, and I'm sure he feels lucky to have such a great daughter!!

Merry Christmas!

Hilary said...

This post totally made me tear up when I read it two days ago, and rereading it now, I teared up again! Darn you, Claudia! :) Your dad sounds like an absolutely amazing person. And he's got to love that cashmere night looks so comfy and it's gorgeous (but not in the girly way).

Willow said...

I love your tribute to your father! I'm sure he'll enjoy the night cap far more than Mr. Puffy who has his own fur cap.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

That night cap is fantastic! It looks just like the one from the night before Christmas ;). Your father sounds like a wonderful man and thank you so much for the cookie recipe. Merry Christmas to you!

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Thank you Ursula.

Anonymous said...

Happy holidays to you!

Cat in the Foxgloves said...

What a great nightcap! I have to say that although Mr. Puffy doesn't look whimsical he's certainly stylish. What a great post...I especially like the photo of the kids! I bet they were able to mix a lot of fun in with the work.

Smashgirl said...

Mr. Puffy does look very snappy in your Dad's new cap! I loved hearing the story of your Dad's Dad also was a civil engineer. Wishing you and Mr. Puffy a wonderful Christmas!
smashgirl and Lucy

Lara said...

I loved the story of your dad. That was so sweet. The picture of the boys is great - something to certainly treasure! I am sure your dad will enjoy his nightcap!

sweetp said...

What a lovely post. I really loved the b&w photo, how precious xx

Hope you had a great Christmas

Firefly Nights said...

Solemn and dignifited? Aw, Puffy looks like he started celebrating New Years a little early.

Enjoyed reading about your Dad and thanks for the recipe.

Ally Jay said...

A tassle would look great if it was for Mr Puffy, perhaps not for your dad. Hope you had a very happy Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Such a sweet depicition of your father. I'm glad he can enjoy the rest of his years with his family, snuggly warm in his nightcap. The color is perfect for a distinguished gentleman. It only seemed proper that Mr Puffy stood for the model shot. He's such a gentleman himself.

Anonymous said...

That's one classy night cap. Apparently, Mr. Puffy has been taking a cue from my models--he's adopted their expressions when I ask them to wear one of my creations, lol :)

Tracy said...

Hi, Claudia...and Mr. Puffy! He makes a great model! ;o) Love the hat and cookie treats...mmm...and what a brave man your dad. :o) Hope you've been having a happy holiday there. So glad to catch up with you last and see you're enjoying a wonderful holiday! We're just back from our Christmas tripto the US and getting over the jet lag and settling in...ringing in 2009 will be quiet here-LOL! Wishing you& yours love & joy in the New Year! ((HUGS))

knittingdragonflies said...

Durn,,,more cookies, and I love them so. Thanks for another recipe. I'm glad to see Mr. Puffy I was missing him. He looks very distinguished.
Happy New Year!!
Love the photos of your Dad, both new and old.