Friday, September 13, 2013

Kicking off Fall with Socks and Granola

If you've never worn a pair of hand knit socks then you just don't know what you are missing.  In fact there are some knitters who only knits socks and, while I'm not one of them, I totally get it. The appeal is partly due to the beautiful sock yarns to suit everyone's taste from classic solids to wild space dyed variegations but that alone wouldn't be enough.  It's the amazing comfort that a custom knit pair of socks provides.  I'll also let you in on a little secret.  Wearing hand knit socks at night during the Winter means you can get up in the night and have toasty toes if you need to use the "facilities."  Just saying in case some of you get up in the night.

If you have never knit socks it can be confusing trying to figure out how many stitches to cast-on and the needle size and the last thing you want to do is invest the time into knitting socks only to have them not fit. But the nice thing is that once you figure out your "formula" (i.e. number of stitches to cast-on and the needle size) it works every time and with most patterns.  For example, I wear a women's US size 7 shoe and my "formula" is to cast-on 64 stitches using size US 1 double pointed needles and begin the toe decreases at 7 inches.  But with socks there is a certain amount of "give" and my Mom comfortably wears socks that I've knit using this formula and she wears a women's US size 8 shoe.  You also want to have a certain amount of "stretch" in the cuff and this is the cast-on method I use:

How to Cast On for Socks (cuff down):

Using the long-tail method cast on stitches over two double pointed needles held together.  Carefully remove one needle and then divide your stitches onto remaining needles and join for knitting in the round being careful not to twist cast-on stitches.  By casting on your stitches over 2 needles you create extra "give" in the cast on edge that will help make the cuff more stretchy and easier to fit over your heel. 

Particulars: Embossed Leaves Socks designed by Mona Schmidt; US 1 needles; 1 skein Sundara Sock yarn.  This is a wonderful pattern and I've actually knit it three times!  The first pair I have no pictures as I gave them to a good friend before taking pictures of and the second pair I gave to my mother (blogged as Because You Can Never Have Too Many) but this pair I think I'll hang on to for myself.  I love Sundara yarns and have used it to make a number of projects including my Milkweed Shawl; Bird of Paradise Socks; and Sockamania Socks).

Basic Granola Recipe

I eat granola all year but it's particularly nice in the Fall and Winter.  I've shared recipes in the past but I particularly like this one because it's a great basic recipe that works well for a topping or snack and it has a nice wholesome crunch and nutty flavor.  It was shared with me by Kate a fellow knitter who is also a German Shepherd lover and so it's no coincidence that we met on the Ravelry forum for German Shepherd Lovers which is my absolute favorite place to hang out on Ravelry as it's a fun group of women. Kate graciously gave me permission to share her wonderful granola recipe and I know you will like it as much as I do.  For those of you who don't know Kate, she recently lost her father and wrote a wonderful tribute to his memory and if you have a chance I highly recommend you take a minute to read what she wrote as it's a beautiful testament to a wonderful man's life.  Have a hankie handy.

Basic Granola Recipe (crunchy):


2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup wheat germ (or whole wheat flour in a pinch)
2 tablespoons packed dark brown organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (kosher - large grain)
1/2 cup raw whole almonds (I do not chop them up)
1/2 cup large flake coconut - unsweetened (found in the organic section of grocery stores or in health food stores)
1/4 cup agave nectar (Kate uses maple syrup but I like using agave nectar but either is fine)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 (or more) whole dried cranberries or whole dried tart cherries (I prefer using whole cranberries/cherries as they give a nice pop of flavor and don't seem as dried out. They carry them at Trader Joe's here in Southern California and probably most health food stores)


1.  Line a roasting pan with silpat or parchment paper and preheat oven to 275 degrees;
2.  In large bowl combine oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, almonds and coconut;
3.  In a small sauce pan bring agave nectar, oil, and water to simmer over low heat.  Pour over oat mixture and stir to combine and then  using hands squeeze mixture to form loose clumps;
4.  Spread mixture onto prepared baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.
5.  Remove from oven and stir in dried cranberries (or cherries), cinnamon, and sea salt and baking until golden about 20 minute more.
6.  Remove from oven and cool completely and store in airtight container.

To make a raspberry topping (compote) simply combine fresh raspberries, sugar to taste, and enough water to cover berries by approximately 3/4 inch.  Stir constantly on rapid boil until sauce thickens.  This can take a few minutes and it is tedious and boring so I generally stand reading a book as I stir away but find a fresh raspberry topping is worth the effort!  This topping is wonderful over Greek yogurt with the above basic granola in the morning which is how I generally enjoy it.  It's also terrific on ice cream, waffles, swirled into oatmeal or by the spoonful!

Until next time be well and love well and may you have fun this Fall decorating your home, baking wonderful treats, and knitting socks to keep you, your toes, and your loved ones warm.