Soft Molasses Cookies

We are close to releasing a new pattern. Alice is working on the pattern layout  and my sister Peg has a fox on her needles right now.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This fox has been knit multiple times. I have churned out 7 hats with tails and 3 large fox toys and a slew of mini fox toys. The mini fox takes only a small amount of yarn so I played with the dimensions and shaping while knitting it.

Short rows are perfect to form the large ears that stand at attention on the fox. A fox is always alert and listening when you see them in the wild. They are ready to pounce at a moments notice. They are very cat like in this regard.

I played with traveling stitches  to define the brows and decreases to make the snout. The way the stitches line up on the face makes the eye placement so easy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I found a gingerbread man  button at the local Ben Franklins I knew it had to be part of my fox toy. I am sure every child knows the story of the gingerbread man that ran away from home. He could run faster than anyone except for the clever fox whom he asked to carry him across the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I sewed a gingerbread man to the back of the hat so  you can button and tie the fox tail onto the hat. This way if a child doesn’t want to wear a tail on his hat he or she could take it off. Or maybe somebody would want to tie the tail onto the handlebars of their bike just like in the 50’s teens would tie a raccoon tail to a roadster and when they drove it would flap in the wind.

On the toys I sewed the cookie onto the pocket of the fox because we all know a little fox needs to have a snack in their pocket.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

while waiting for the fox pattern I thought it would be fun to share my family’s favorite gingerbread man cookie. I have tweaked this recipe a bit — the original recipe was printed on a card that accompanied a plate of cookies I bought at my son’s school bake sale.

Occasionally I will substitute sorgum for the dark molasses.If you don’t have buttermilk you can substitute yogurt or make sour milk by adding a little vinegar or lemon juice to milk. You could roll these out and cut them into squares or make drop cookies but cookie cutters are so much fun. I love old cookie cutters and find myself checking the bin of cookie cutters at St Vinnies every time I go there. There is just something about all the cute and unusual cookie cutters that draws me in. Who cares that my family is on a gluten free diet– I still add to my cookie cutter collection when I find an old one I don’t have.

SOFT MOLASSES COOKIES

cream 1 cup butter, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 large egg

add one cup molasses(or sorgum)

sift 4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp salt,  2 tsp baking soda

add flour alternately with 1/4 cup buttermilk

refrigerate to chill mixture(about an hour)

roll 1/4″ thick and cutout. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350* for 10-12 minutes.

be prepared for the wonderful spicy aromas that will waft through the kitchen as you bake these. I might have to make some of these even though I can’t eat them so I can enjoy the lovely smells. Maybe I could half the recipe and then give them to my neighbors to get the tempting cookies out of the house.

If you are a fan of spice cookies check out my TRIFECTA GINGERSNAPS for another tasty treat.

clearing out older projects this week. there was  an old green sweater in the closet–one I never was quite happy with. the yarn pilled every time I wore it. It was a nice design but the cheap yarn was a mistake so I frogged.

and finally the old sweater was just a memory.

…….still it can be hard to let go completely

so I decided to add it to a project that I have been sketching out in my head for awhile. I don’t know if it will work but at least if I knit it I can get it out of my head.

next I dug out a pair of mittens that have been sitting unfinished since last year. I like this design and originally started these for my husband but they were a little on the snug side so I started over again in another yarn and thought I would finish these for myself later.  Now a year later they are finally off the needles. they are thick and warm with nice long cuffs but I don’t know if I will keep them for myself.

next up is a pair of miter mittens from EZ knitter’s almanac. Its been years since I knit a pair of these. I love the pattern. I made these extra long also. The yarn is special to me — my daughter spun this yarn. It is the first yarn she ever spun so it is a little uneven. She wasn’t sure what kind of wool this was and she didn’t care much for the colors of the batt and hated the way the colors muddled once spun. But I think the end result is lovely. the wool softened up quite a bit when I washed them. I knit them extra large so I might even felt them the next time I have to do wash.  these aren’t fashionable mittens they are  working mittens the kind you wear when you are going to be shoveling the walk or walking on the ice in febuary ….they don’t need to be pretty – just warm.

I finished another fox scarf now I just need to sew in all the ends

there is a hat to match but it needs a pair of eyes.

four watchman caps are ready to be mailed to a charity group I belong to.

I also uncovered this sad excuse for a granny square blanket. and decided that maybe I should finish it and put it out of its misery. It was hidden in the bottom of the closet. I was trying to teach myself to crochet when I started this. the stitches are all wobbly and uneven.  I used leftover yarn and my combinations are anything but wonderful. I really don’t think I have a knack with color.  And its been so long since I worked on it that I will have to look up directions to figure out how to do it again. I have 10 squares started but not added to the blanket so I think I will add those and then start a plain border around it to make it a little larger. Then if I just plain hate how it looks I will throw it in the washer and felt it and use it for a rug by my side of the bed. It doesn’t have to be pretty just needs to keep my feet warm when I get out of bed.and speaking of fugglaly things ……this whatch-a-m-call it  keeps growing nicely.

Its been a busy week

Vixen

I had a letter this morning from a friend at the cabin with spectacular pictures. Look at this beautiful blue sky. Debbie and Paul live just up the road from me and live full time at the lake. This is the view behind their house. They have a rock bluff in their back yard.

but wait Debbie wasn’t just sharing a photo of bare oak trees, blue skies and  grasses….look closer what is peeping over  the rock.

She blends in so closely to the fall colored grasses and the stone that you have to look quite closely or you could miss it.

Can you see it now……a beautiful red fox sunning herself on this fall morning. Looks like she is half asleep but those big pointy ears are keeping track of everything that is going on below.

The fox was content to sit her for several hours and watch the coming and goings of Debbie and her family and their 2 dogs Buck and Hunter.

aren’t these pictures spectacular…………….but there is more…….lookPaul and Jeff were in the garage and suddenly the fox was up there investigating.Her nose must have picked up that the two hunter were butchering a deer shot earlier. this lucky vixen shared a meal of venison.

and I am lucky to have good friends that keep me up to date on what’s going on at the lake.

is there anything quite like waking to a perfect saturday morning?

 

dusky pinks and pale lavender hovering on the horizon

 

the water so still and quiet doubles and reflects into a never ending pool of color

 

coots swimming in send ripples through the image and interrupt the dreamy, misty image

 

 I want  to share pictures of the morning but what do you call a post of sunrise pictures. in my book they are perfect well not perfect photos just beautiful colors and feelings. mornings like this where the colors are so faded and mist is rising as you look across the lake but in the bay the water is so still that it mirrors the sky and the trees doubling the beauty it is like waking in a fairy tale.

time for a walk and then breakfast. but the perfect morning doesn’t end here. Meva is so happy and content – she had a nice walk and an even better breakfast. her belly full she decides to sing her appreciation of our morning.

 

listening to her sing always makes me happy. her song starts out low and escalates until she hits her high note and then it quivers and warbles and descends down into a low note that hangs in the back of her throat.

She throws back her head and closes her eyes like a choir boy singing a solo. at the end of her solo she keeps her eyes closed listening to hear if anyone will join in and sing about their morning.

 

in the distance I here a couple of other dogs sing out a chorus to her solo. she listens too and then sends out another aria. finally I have to remind myself that others may not find Meva’s singing as wonderful as I do and we head inside.

 

I realize Meva is right – sometimes there are no words to describe what we see and feel and a her song is the only way to describe it.

Photo shoot

I have been working away on this toy fox pattern. I have been playing around with a new computer program to write my charts and they are almost done. Yesterday was very cold but it was sunny  so I went out in the yard to take some pictures. I had lots of help….Meva needed to check out every angle. She has lots of her own stuffed toys and leaves the ones I knit alone but she did find it odd that I brought my toys outside in the yard.

She is a big ham and when every she sees me with a camera in hand to take a picture of a flower or anything else she always gets front and center so she can be in the picture too.

 

Here she is striking her ‘look at me I am so much prettier than those stupid toys that you have been knitting for a month–take my picture’ pose.

 

 

Of course part of the problem might be those antlers that I found..she is fascinated with them and even though she won’t take them off the coffee table or the shelf where I keep them she has wondered about them. Now that I put them in the yard to take a photo of she is hoping she will get the chance to have a much closer look and maybe be able to gnaw on them. Eventually she gave up and wandered off to watch the coots swim close to where she was sitting on the pier. All the while muttering to herself  ‘stupid fox-I am much prettier-Mom should knit a wolf toy that looks like me!’

VINI

Doesn’t this look beautiful?  It is an oasis of green in a block of warehouses.

Read more about it here

http://myfavoritememphispeople.com/alice-laskey-castle-post-one-the-most-terrific-space/

buttoned up

As with any knit its the details in finishing that make or break a project. Its the one detail that many knitters would rather skip. I was one of those people that dreaded the finishing. But knitting toys is changing that for me. I like watching an animal come to life as I sew the seams and stuff the body.

here is a view of the back end. I still have a few ends to sew in on the tail and next up is the hardest part for me……. the faceor more specifically the eyes. The face and the eyes are hard for me. I try to make it easier by keeping the embroidery to a minimum on the fox I switch to a black yarn for the last few rows and that makes a nose. And then I went hunting for eyes in my button jar  yesterday.

Because I am easily distracted that turned into a sorting party. I found some nice bins at Target that stack together with clips on the side. I spent a happy hour sorting my buttons. For a mini animal I love old shirt buttons.

you can buy a jar of buttons from St. Vinnie’s for a couple of dollars. Some of them have a little scrap of fabric on them and others are kept together with a thread. My favorites are the shell buttons made from mullusk shells – shiney  white on one side  but flip them over and you can see the colors of the outer shell. Many of these white buttons are worn and chipped  and look like tiny baby teeth. I love the way these were saved to be used again even though the shirts were too worn out to wear and cut up for rags. The wear and tear on the buttons make me think that these buttons went through a wringer washing machine. The yellowish button with big holes in it might be made of bone.

I separated according to size and the ones above are the large and really large ones. When I was a kid we would raid our mother’s button jar for really big buttons and put them on a loop of string and make wonderful whizzing toys with them.

I put all the metal buttons in there own bin. I thought about using these somehow for the foxes – they would look so nice on a vest for the larger fox or maybe a button on the pocket.

I have been using old worn shirt buttons for the minis and some of the larger ones have leather buttons for the eyes. but I found a pair of old horn buttons for this hat and I love the dark centers with a white streak at the top that look like eyelids.

but here are a few other choices I have considered. This hat is one of the early ones when I was still working out increases – the fox looks a little worried or maybe angry because of how I spaced the decreases but I do like the look of these old leather buttons.

I love these polished wood buttons on this hat. And see the little gingerbread button I found at Ben Franklins – its tucked into the pocket of the mini fox.

So I will spend the morning sewing in ends and adding eyes and finishing this skulk of fox.

Then maybe clean up my very cluttered tiny knitting room and the overflow mess  in the living room unless I decide to cast on yet another toy.

Short rowing

it doesn’t look like much here but it is coming along nicely. it’s flat knitting I can finish a body in a couple of hoursafter stitching up the body I pick up stitches for the ears.

 

I am loving the rich colors of this yarn.

 

it looks so velvet-y ….the colors of this yarn are so woodsy and wonderful….perfect for this little mini. The yarn is Tippy Toes from Interlacement Yarns and the color way is Canyon Lands Plus.

once the stitches are picked up I work on mini short rows. I must say I like short rows for shaping. I love to play with short rows to see what it does to a flat piece of knit fabric. The results add an extra dimension. Did you notice I found some short short double point needles to work with? They are only 5″ long – I found them in a basket of vintage needles at the thrift store.

Learning and practicing short rows on a toy perfects your technique for when you want to add it to a sweater. I have a couple of cardigans picked out that I want to shape with short rows to better fit me. What better than a swatch that you turn into a stuffed animal for learning what a short row will do.Look at the way short rows make a perky ear on these fox.

Knitting fall flavors

its getting cooler here and the work of getting everything ready for winter is slowing down. can you see the cranes in the picture? I haven’t heard or seen any for a few days these 2 were the last they are probable flying south now and won’t be back till spring.the geese are still here. Meva enjoys stalking by the ponds to see what she can hunt upit was her lucky day we saw geese and ducks and cranes – she even managed to find  a ground hog to chase.and then we spotted these deer across the pond from us. all in all a perfect walk I think.it seems like I am knitting with the same colors I see outside my windowpicking up stitches for a tail and then I just have to weave in the ends.this orange yarn was flavored with cosmos flowers and a quick dip in a walnut bath. I have been knitting up a whole family of animals in fall flavors and as soon as there is a sunny day I will get outside and take some pictures to share.