Monday, January 30, 2012

weekend snippets: homebody

sweet sweets.


first attempt at basket weaving. 
as you can see, it's not quite a basket yet.

i've wanted to make this bread for years and finally the stars aligned.

casting on for the knit along. 

 afraid those 160 stitches will intimidate the new knitters in our group.

perfect for warming up on a lazy winter night.

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how was your weekend? i'd love to hear about what you enjoyed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

yarn along: braided cables

I've been knitting like a madwoman this week--finishing up Amy's present, swatching for the Baby Surprise Jacket, working on a hat for a friend, getting in a few rounds on a pair of socks for myself, and making the first of a pair of braided cable mittens to complete my snow day set. Whew! You'd think it were Christmas again with this amount of yarn and needles flying. I'm racing to finish these woolens before the end of winter.

* * *

Recently I've found myself taking a hot bath about once a week. There's no set schedule. It's just that at least once a week I get to feeling worn out or stressed and nothing will cure me but a bath. So I fill the tub, light a few candles, and soak. A good book is vital to the bath-taking experience. We Took to the Woods has been my companion of late. It makes my life seem easier when I read about spending nights out in the freezing Maine winter trying to pack down the snow for driving and working for whole days out in the garden trying to move a single boulder. It's a book about daily life, full of practical advice and funny anecdotes. I've also been reading bits of Fifty Days of Solitude before bed. It calms my mind before I sleep. Both of these books were recommended by Liesl. The girl has good taste in books.

* * * 

Are you yarning along today? 

I'd love to hear what you've been making and reading lately.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

homemade peanut butter cups

The women on my dad's side of the family make Christmas candy every year. My aunts and cousins set up little candy-making factories in their kitchens and churn out toffee, fudge, peanut butter cups, and more. I'm easing my way into candy making. My grandma let me help out with her Christmas candy a couple of years ago, and my one day apprenticeship made me bold enough to try out some simple candy on my own.

These peanut butter cups are the easiest candy to make. They're a great place to start if you're a beginner or if you just want to put in minimal effort for maximum candy deliciousness. I know Christmas is many months away, but peanut butter cups would be a perfect Valentine's Day (or really, any day) treat. These are much tastier than a box of store bought candy!

* * * * *

Peanut butter cups

Makes approximately 75 peanut butter cups.

2 lbs. chocolate (I used milk chocolate; Mom uses white. Dark chocolate would be divine.)
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar

Candy molds
Paint brush

Peanut butter filling:

Make the peanut butter filling first so that it can chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least a couple of hours. It's much easier and less messy to work with when it's cold.

Cream the butter. When it's soft and smooth, add the peanut butter. Beat until completely combined. Whip in the powdered sugar. Refrigerate overnight.


Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Drop a small teaspoon of melted chocolate into each candy mold. Use paintbrush to spread a thin layer of chocolate over the bottom and sides of the mold. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes until the chocolate has hardened.

Roll peanut butter filling into marble-sized balls. Place one ball in each candy mold, pressing down slightly to flatten. Cover with melted chocolate. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. When the chocolate has solidified, unmold the candies. They should slide right out. These peanut butter cups keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, but they never last that long at our house.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


28 things about me

1. A mug of tea almost always cheers me up.

2. I'm related to Abraham Lincoln and Jim Beam.

3. Right now I'm very excited about a knit along that's starting at work in February. We're going to knit the Baby Surprise Jacket.

4. I am messy. I like messy activities like baking, ceramics, and playing with all of my yarn at once.

5. I've am trying to be a tidier person. My two goals are to leave the bathroom counter clean every morning and make my bed before I go to work. Right now? The counter is clean, but the bed is unmade.

6. I studied in Amsterdam for a semester. One of my favorite things to do was bike along the Amstel River. I'd stop for lunch among the windmills and sit on the bank to watch the boats go by.

7. My favorite flower is lilac. Peony is a close second. I need to find the perfect spot for both in my yard.

8. I recently (as in this morning) received some very good professional news out of the blue.

9. I love trying new restaurants. My current favorites are Eiderdown, Simply Thai, and Roots.

10. Sometimes I wear headphones on the bus but don't turn on any music. Nobody bothers me, and I get to eavesdrop.

11. If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, it'd be The Royal Tenebaums.

12. I also want to steal Margot Tenebaum's style. And the whole Tenebaum house. I want it.

13. In a typical week I talk to my parents and sister every other day.

14. Growing up, I wanted to be a writer or the lead singer of an all-girl rock band.

15. I'm currently undecided about what I want to be when I grow up. I'm taking suggestions.

16. I used to be a night owl, but now I'm a morning person all the way. Give me a cup of tea (or coffee) and a whole day ahead of me and I'm a happy camper.

17. Most of my closest friends live far away. Shout outs to those in Minneapolis and Berlin!

18. I love my blog friends, too. It's weird to feel like I know people I've never met, but I do.

19. I taught high school in Japan for two years. I also led a conversation group and tutored a 3-year-old Japanese girl.  She was so tiny and cute! Somehow I kind of taught her the word mustache, which she loved. She'd hook her finger over her upper lip and shout, "Mustar!"

20. You can usually find me listening to the radio and knitting on Sunday nights. Sunday nights are hands down the best nights for radio around here. From 8 until 11 the Country Gentleman plays bluegrass, traditional country, and old-time country. He's 81 and such a hoot. You can stream it if you aren't lucky enough to live in Louisville.

21. My favorite ice cream is salted caramel from The Comfy Cow. Butter pecan is a close second.

22. I try not to watch much TV. However, I can't stop myself from watching Modern Family, Downton  Abbey, and Parenthood.

23. I put off doing dishes as long as I can.

24. In high school I wore a pair of tight sparkly jeans in public. More than once.

25. Also in high school, I voluntarily attended a personal finance class that started at 6:30 AM because my friends were doing it. Peer pressure for nerds.

26. The college I attended has a crypt in the administration building. Every Halloween they'd draw names of students for the privilege of staying overnight in the crypt. I never put my name in that creepy raffle.

27. I'm happy.

28. Today is my birthday. I'm entering my twenty-ninth year. Let the adventures continue...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

yarn along: trade secrets

I've been secretly knitting for Amy this week. She sews. I knit. We decided to trade. She posted  a sneak peek of what she's been sewing, so I thought I'd return the favor.

I won't say much about the project I'm knitting because I don't want to spoil the surprise for Amy. She told me she favors neutrals, plum, and rose, so I hope this color will suit her. The knitting is simple, but constructed in a pretty interesting way. Garter stitch, ribbing, and lots of short rows. I finally understand short rows! For this project they add a cozy fullness.

This week I am reading We Took to the Woods thanks to a recommendation from Liesl. If you enjoy reading about people living in the woods, this book is for you. I happen to love reading "roughin' it memoirs" as Liesl calls them. This book has been my refuge at work this week. Lately I've been making sure to take my breaks (I sometimes forget) and for fifteen minutes I get to imagine myself in the Maine woods, chopping firewood, knitting, and getting snowed in. The loveliest moments of my workday!

I also devoured Made from Scratch, a book about homesteading also recommended by Liesl. It was fun to live vicariously through the author as she raised chickens, attempted beekeeping, adopted Angora rabbits, and played a bevy of stringed mountain instruments.

* * * 

Yarning along with Ginny today.

What are you making/reading this week?


Sunday, January 15, 2012

snow day set

{snow day set, ready and waiting}

We got a dusting of snow this week. School let out two hours early. No joke. People in Louisville go a little crazy at the prospect of snow. We rush out for milk and bread, cancel school, and batten down the hatches at the mention of a flake. 

By happy coincidence, I finished up my cowl and hat just before our tiny winter storm. I got in a few extra hours of knitting because I stayed home sick one day this week. I knitted rounds on my hat in between fever dreams. I always think a bit of myself goes into each thing I craft, so perhaps memories of those bizarre dreams are tangled up in the stitches. Fantastical images of the moon falling down and then bouncing right back up into the sky. Then there was the dream where I was tiny and traveling through my own synapses and muscles looking for the root of my sickness. I haven't had a fever in over a decade, and I hope I don't have one for another 10 years. Fevers are weird and exhausting.

Now that the fever is gone I can comfortably wear my Hermione Hat. I absolutely love it! The plump cables wind their way to the top where they form a snowflake design. The pattern was very easy to follow and quick to make without a cable needle. 

The Cloud Cowl doubles as a chunky knitted necklace. I thought about blocking it, but actually like the way it looks unblocked. Maybe when I want a change I'll block it.

I'm ready for the snow! Come on, winter...


Frosting (cowl)

Grandma Hearts (bunting, first photo)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

yarn along: cables and lace

My bus rides this week have been spent knitting the Hermione Hearts Ron hat, a delicate cable and lace beanie inspired by one Emma Watson wore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The hat indulges my Harry Potter nerdiness and satisfies my cable obsession. I can't wait till it's done so I can wear it! It'll complete the cream hat, cowl, and fingerless glove set I'm making for myself. Although I'm also considering adding mittens and leg warmers to the set, so maybe complete is the wrong word.

This week I've been reading through seed catalogs and dreaming up where to plant all the flowers, vegetables, and herbs that I want. We have a tiny yard, so it'll be tough to squeeze in everything, but with some planning I think I can do it. The problem with seed catalogs (especially this one) is that the descriptions of plants make me fall in love with each one. I want ALL of them.

* * * * * 

What are you making/reading this week?

Sunday, January 8, 2012


action: my word for 2012

I am a dreamer. I could happily spend my days thinking up places to go, crafts to make, and foods to bake. However, I'm resolving to make a year of action. I want to do things instead of just thinking about them. I want to be out in the world living.

Recently I've heard a number of people eschew resolutions. They don't like to set goals because they'll feel bad when they don't achieve those goals. Pshaw, people. Leave that negativity back in 2011 and move on. Resolutions are my favorite part of the new year, in part because I'm a list-maker anyway and also because I don't get worked up if my goals don't get checked off. There's always next year, right?

2012 To-do List

  • Try out new crafts. Basket-weaving, spinning, and woodworking are all possibilities. 

  • Knit like crazy. Experiment more with knitting and be unafraid to veer away from patterns.

  • Try new crochet stitches. Write and share more patterns.

  • Make cheese. This one I've already done, so I'll change it: Make more cheese.

  • Submit writing for publication, online or in print.

  • Get outside more. Walk, hike, play.

  • Use time more wisely. Curtail computer use. 

  • Send more snail mail. Hopefully this will result in receiving more mail. Yay!

  • Design and create a lovely backyard garden.

  • Travel somewhere I've never been. Maybe the Grand Canyon or Yosemite? I also want to go to Mammoth Cave and Gethsemani

As part of my plan, I'd like to curtail my computer use. I've written before that my job requires me to spend long hours in front of the computer. When I get home at night, my eyes feel strained and my body is tired, yet I continue to log evening hours online just for fun. There are so many blogs and websites that give me inspiration, but what use is that inspiration if I have no time or energy to create on my own? I absolutely want to continue crafting and writing here on Field Wonderful, so I need to carve out more space for myself to do that and be more mindful of how I use my time.

* * * * *

What are your resolutions for 2012? I'd love to hear.

* * * * *

Resolutions for 2010 and 2011

An article about quiet, stillness, and time away from electronics (via). 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

yarn along: fluff

I've been having fun this week knitting fluffy cables and reading Mindy Kaling's light collection of essays Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Reading her essays is like chatting with a friend.

The project is a Frosting cowl, which taught me to cable without a cable needle. In my nerdy knitting world this is a great advancement, akin to climbing a small mountain or something else normal people consider impressive. The whole universe of cables is open now. Perhaps the Rocky Coast cardigan is in the realm of possibility? The Frosting cowl is a fast knit, plus I've been knitting in overdrive because I'm very excited to wrap up in a cowl on freezing cold mornings, and I need the needles for another project.


Monday, January 2, 2012

craft year


A collage of my 2011 finished knitted and crocheted projects (plus one that is almost finished--can you spot it?).

3 adult-sized sweaters
1 baby sweater
5 adult hats
2 baby hats
1 pair of socks
1 pair of slippers
6 pairs of mittens/fingerless gloves
3 scarves
1 blanket
1 rug
4 crochet accessories
1 crochet block of my own design
(I'm pretty sure I forgot to show the finished version of this last one)

My hands kept busy this past year, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope to keep my hands even busier in 2012.

 Happy New Year! I hope you have a creative and productive year.


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