Hobbit Vest with pocketses











I easily made my deadline of Thanksgiving day. I love my little Hobbit wearing his new Hobbit Vest. I also love that vests keep a little one's core warm on a crisp day but still allow for plenty of action room. Brooklyn Tweed Shelter Yarn was a perfect fit for both color and texture. The Hobbit Vest was designed by one of my favorite children's knitwear designers, Lisa Chemery of Frogginette Designs and comes in size 3 mos. to 10 year. I made the size 6 for my big 3 year old grandson, and while it's a little large, I know it will last the entire season. Everyone is happy as it’s easy to put on, easy to wear, and the pockets are a big hit. When we first put it on him we thought we might want to stick a pipe between his teeth. Hello Professor! 

As an aside, these leather buttons have been in my button box since forever. I have a feeling they were taken from a car coat of mine when I was a teenager. They are in good shape considering the age for heaven's sake and I'm very happy to see them in use after all these decades.


A few pattern changes:

I did not make buttonholes and instead sewed the buttons to the bands because I knew it would always be worn closed.

My texture stitch was simplified to:
R1 (RS) K
R2 P

R3 K
R4 K1, P1 to end

Everything else was done as per pattern. Very happy! 

Find Hobbit Vest with Pocketses here. My Ravelry page is here and has all my yarny details. You can purchase Brooklyn Tweed Shelter here, and it's on sale through Dec. 4. The sale will support West Coast wildfire victims.

The hat is the Sunset Slouch and came in a beautiful kit from Hudson and West. The kits are always selling out but I did see some in stock at Monarch Knitting.

Thank you for stopping by. Please make a comment by either clicking here, or if on the website, you can scroll down. xo Kristen


Soup finale





This is part two of a two-part series. Read part one here


I'm back again for the last day of soup making. Yesterday took about an hour of active time with chopping, straining and washing up, and today's active time will take even less. Your stock is now chilled and jelled because yesterday's long slow cooking released the healthful minerals and collagen that causes jelling, and it also released the fat and scum. Scrape the layers of fat and sediment with a spatula to reveal the jelled broth hidden underneath, see pictures below. I was left with 10 cups of rich golden yellow broth.  I wanted 12 cups, so I added water and a large chicken bouillon cube (our secret). Put the broth, sliced carrots and celery into a large soup pot and heat on high until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. There may be a little foamy scum that rises and I spoon off most of that. 


Note, I toss the fat, but some cuisines use rendered chicken fat in recipes, so maybe turkey fat too? Anyway, I'll pass. While the veggies are cooking:


-Make rice or noodles. 


-Stem and chiffonade the spinach: stack leaves and slice into thin 1/4" strips


-When vegetables are tender, add chopped meat and spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary.


-To serve, put a spoon or two of rice or noodles in soup bowl, ladle with soup and sprinkle on garnish such as chopped parsley or toasted pinenuts if desired. I don't add the rice or noodles directly to the soup pot as they can get mushy when reheated.


Freezes well for up to 3 months. 


If you don't have time to make soup today, the stock as is can stay in the refrigerator for up to two days. You can freeze the broth for later soup making: defat then simmer to melt the broth and put in freezer containers leaving 1/2" headspace.


This is the same way I make chicken stock. I save bones in a big container I keep in the freezer, and when it's full, about every two months, I make chicken stock.


Enjoy your beautiful soup! Thanks for joining me. I hope you thought it was fun and informative. I love to share my joy of stock making! 


xo Kristen




I purposely didn't show you a picture of the turkey carcass because who wants to see that?
I'm only showing these unattractive pictures because I want you to see what it looks like
before it becomes beautiful soup. 😳



I'd love to hear from you, especially if you made stock with me.

To comment, scroll down if on the website, or click here.

Turkey soup--let's begin!

 


Hello and happy day after Thanksgiving!  I’m happy you’re here for turkey soup 101. It takes so dang long to roast a turkey and get the whole shebang on the table, why not take a little bit more time and use every last morsel of that beautiful bird? Today we're going to make turkey stock, then we'll chill it overnight and tomorrow we'll defat it and make delicious turkey soup for dinner. It can be done in one day, but I don't like to hurry it along. If you don't have time today, the bones will last for a few days refrigerated. They can also be frozen for up to two months. I save chicken bones in the freezer and after a few months I seem to have enough bones to make stock. So every few months I make chicken stock in this same way, but will adjust the amounts of vegetables to the amount of bones I have.


I make a very traditional turkey soup with just a few ingredients. If you haven't yet done your shopping or your prep, here's what you need to do: (Adjust your list if your turkey is small.)


Shopping List:
-12 large carrots
-1 large onion
-1 large bunch celery
-4 cloves garlic
-1 bunch fresh spinach or 1 bag baby kale
-herbs; I use fresh parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary, although dry herbs are fine.
-2 C uncooked rice or 1 bag dry noodles, depending if you like turkey soup with rice or turkey soup with noodles. If you are a pasta maker or can purchase fresh noodles, your soup would be a worthy recipient.
-1 big ole' turkey carcass. If you have a smallish turkey, don't worry, even small turkeys can make soup! If you have stuffed the turkey, it's ok to leave tidbits of stuffing inside. 

This year we will had a 20 pounder even though we were only 6 people. I always make a big turkey because we love leftovers. You may or may not have leftover meat, and if not, don't worry, you still have the carcass and you can still make soup. My husband and I prepare the leftover turkey meat in this way:

-Save the nice slices for turkey sandwiches.
-Prepare homemade "TV dinners" with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. (I use these restaurant containers. They are reusable and my pack of 50 looks like it will last me a lifetime.) We send guests home with a few containers and the rest I put in the freezer for busy nights when I am too tired to cook. This year I was able to make 6 single serving dinners for the freezer.
-Pick every last bit of the meat off the bones and cut into small, soupspoon-sized pieces and refrigerate. We'll use them tomorrow.
-Put the carcass and any undesirable bits, such as floppy skin and fatty bits, the pope's nose and any leftover juices and drippings you did not use for the gravy, into a large stock pot. Put some water in that roasting pan and scrape away until the tiny leftover browny bits are loosened, then throw all that into the pot too. I also scrape off any gel from the cutting board and add that. It's all adding flavor. If you did not use the giblets and neck for gravy, add them to the pot too. Add water to cover and put the pot on low.

-Prepare vegetables by washing first.  

-Peel and rough chop onion.
-Halve and smash 4 cloves garlic.
-Peel and thinly slice 6 carrots and set aside. Save the peels and rough chop the remaining 6 carrots
-Slice off 1/2" root stem of celery and discard. Thinly slice the nicer green ribs and set aside. Rough chop remaining celery, white ends, the center, all of it.
-Stem and chop parsley. Set aside parsley leaves for tomorrow. 




Cover the carrots, celery and parsley that were set aside (above in glass containers) and refrigerate for tomorrow. The spinach that was on the shopping list will also be used tomorrow. Put remaining rough chopped vegetables in the stock pot. Add water to cover if necessary. Add fresh herbs, unchopped, stem and all; I used sage, rosemary and thyme. If fresh is not available, add one teaspoon each dried herbs of your choice. The above three herbs are the most traditional for stock. Add 1 teaspoon of both salt and dried black peppercorns (or ground pepper) and a shake of dried red peppers (optional). Additionally I squeeze in the juice of one lemon, totally optional, but that is the California in me--lemon enhances everything! Adjust the fire to highest setting and bring to boil. Once boiling, lower heat to just a simmer. Now here comes the easy part: relax with your knitting and some Christmas music or decorate your tree or take a snooze, because your concoction needs to simmer for 4 hours. Check on it occasionally and give it a stir and add more water if it's getting too low, but you do want the stock to condense so adding a lot of water is not necessary. 

I have to warn you that the stock will look like a mess while it's cooking. Don't encourage your family to peek at it during this stage because they will surely turn their noses up at the sight. But don't fret, all will be well in the end, I promise. 

She may be no beauty queen right now--she has to go through a few transformations. 😋


After it has simmered for a good long time and you feel certain that the bones and veggies have given up all their goodness, it's time to strain. I like to cool it for a half hour then use a series of strainers; the first pass is through my chinois strainer although a regular colander will be fine. If you do decide to purchase a chinois strainer, make sure you get one with a stand and a wood pestle. Mine has been in constant use for three generations and is one of the kitchen utensils I would hate to part with. I give the mass a good push to release all the juices out of the bones and vegetables. Discard bones, etc. Next pour the stock into a fine strainer a few times to remove the smaller bits. Discard those too. Your stock will look cloudy. Refrigerate overnight. When it is thoroughly cooled, the fat will be at the top. Beef fat is white and solid and chicken and turkey fat is yellow and semi-solid. The stock underneath the fat will be wiggly and jellied. Congratulations! You've done it right! Long and slow simmering releases the minerals and collagen that were hidden away in the bones and tissue which makes the liquid gel when cooled. Remember watching old movies or reading old books when invalids were given chicken broth? Broth is easy to digest and has health benefits beyond compare, health benefits you can't get from a can or a jar, and certainly not from a bouillon cube. Now, aren't you proud of yourself? 

Keep it refrigerated overnight and we'll remove the fat and finish the soup tomorrow.

I'm going to pop in this afternoon to see if there are any questions. I'd love to know if you are making stock today, so please, please let me know. I'm feeling giddy to think we knitters may be cooking together today! If you are an anonymous commenter, I cannot reply back personally to you, so you'll have to come back here for my reply. If you are on the website, you can scroll down to the comments section, or click here.

xo Kristen

This is what my stock arsenal looks like. The stock is simmering away in my big stock pot. On the right is my chinois strainer. After hours of simmering, I'll most likely be left with broth that will just fit into the pot on the right. The fine strainer is used for the final straining. I'll pass the stock through that a few times.


Let's make turkey soup together!

 






We can't pretend that Thanksgiving and Christmas won't look and feel very different this year. I hope you are all in the very best of spirits this holiday season even though I know keeping spirits merry and bright can be a challenge. Feelings of melancholy pop into my thoughts too often these days but I have a few temporary pick-me-ups that get me back on track. Besides reminding myself of all that I have to be grateful for and look forward to, I'm listening to Christmas music, crafting a little here and there, and keeping up with some of my cooking traditions, though on a smaller scale. Those little things make me happy. Thanksgiving will be small but still full of all the foods we love, and in the days after the big feast, I'll make my traditional turkey soup and that will make everyone happy. I'd love you to join me in my after Thanksgiving tradition. 

So...let's meet next week about this time and make some turkey soup together! I hear from so many of my friends that they toss the turkey carcass away thinking it's too much trouble to bother with. But they will be missing out on one of the best things about the Thanksgiving feast. Humble as turkey soup may be, it is gorgeous and quite the beauty queen of soups, plus it is healthy and soulful and completely delicious, and contrary to what you might have heard, not a hassle at all, in fact, it's a cinch. For decades it has been my tradition to make turkey rice soup after Thanksgiving and serve it to a crowd on Sunday evening before we would head downtown for the annual Christmas Parade. The parade is of course cancelled this year, but the soup is not. I hope you'll come back next Friday and I'll show you the how-to. It is a two day process, one day to make stock, and the next day to defat the stock and make the soup, but most of it is hands off simmering so you can merrily watch TV or decorate the tree or do whatever you like to do on that long weekend. 

If you can join me you'll need to add these things to your shopping list:

-12 large carrots
-1 large onion
-1 large bunch celery
-4 cloves garlic
-1 bunch fresh spinach or 1 bag baby kale
-herbs; I use fresh parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary, although dry herbs are fine.
-2 C uncooked rice or 1 bag dry noodles, depending if you like turkey soup with rice or turkey soup with noodles. If you are a pasta maker or can purchase fresh noodles, your soup would be a worthy recipient.
-1 big ole' turkey carcass. If you have a smallish turkey, don't worry, even small turkeys can make soup! If you have stuffed the turkey, it's ok to leave tidbits of stuffing inside. 

This year we will have a 20 pounder even though we are only 6 people. I always make a big turkey because we love leftovers. If you are going to join me and make soup, you need to prepare the carcass on Thanksgiving evening after the feast. I know, big groan. If you are absolutely too pooped after dinner, just cover that turkey in foil and refrigerate and deal with it the next morning. You may or may not have leftover meat, and if not, don't worry, you still have the carcass and you can still make soup. My husband and I prepare the leftover turkey meat in this way:

-Save the nice slices for turkey sandwiches.
-Prepare 6-8 or more homemade "TV dinners" with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. (I use these restaurant containers. They are reusable and my pack of 50 looks like it will last me a lifetime.) We send guests home with a few and the rest I put in the freezer for busy nights when I am too tired to cook. 
-Pick every last bit of the turkey off the bones and cut into small, soupspoon-sized pieces and put in a separate container. 
-Put the carcass and any undesirable bits, such as floppy skin and fatty bits, the pope's nose and any leftover juices and drippings you did not use for the gravy, into a large stock pot. Put some water in that roasting pan and scrape away until the tiny leftover browny bits are loosened, then throw all that into the pot too. If you have not used the giblets and neck for gravy, add them to the pot too. Cover and refrigerator for Friday's stock. 

I'll see you back here next Friday...to be continued...🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃

xo Kristen

My neighbor invited us over to pick one of the last of the pomegranates from her tree.
We chose this massive one. Seeded, it produced TWO cups of seeds. 
Into the freezer they go to use on Thanksgiving and Christmas day.


Late roses and an early paperwhite!

My sous chef.


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or scroll down if you are on the website.





Dino Softies--a hand sewing project


I don't know why I suddenly had it in my mind to make a felt toy. I hadn't made a toy in years but I was itching to make something tiny and sweet out of felt.  I usually go along with my crafty whims (they won't go away until I give in) so I went on an online search to see what the world had to offer these days. I quickly narrowed it down to dinosaurs as we are big dino fans around here. There were many patterns available but most of them were too cartoony looking for my taste. I zeroed in on this set from Aimee Ray of Little Dear as it was exactly what I was looking for. The set included the important big-five all-stars: T-rex, triceratops, pterodactyl, brontosaurus, and stegosaurus. They were also small enough to fit into a tiny hand, looked more sweet than scary, and being two-dimensional they looked like they would be fairly easy to sew. But the tipping point for me were the sprigs of embroidered wildflowers.  I'm a gal who loves the little details and my heart melted when I saw the posies. The set was super fun and fast to make. Each one took less than an hour. I know this because I made all 5 while watching the first 4 episodes of The Crown season 4. (Yes, The Crown is back!) The dinosaur set has now been wrapped up as a Christmas gift for my 3 year old grandson. I already miss holding them and looking at their cuteness! I have a feeling that they will be squished and hugged and smothered with love and attention. 


I purchased the PDF download from Little Dear on Etsy. The pattern includes a color page for reference, see picture above, plus the patterns and simple directions. She has done a nice job creating the pattern and it's simple to follow. Don't feel you need to be an expert hand sewing seamstress. Far from it. Just take your time and work with some good light and you'll be fine. Toy making requires a good quality felt. Cheap synthetic craft felt won't do for a toy you are going to put hours into. I purchased my wool blend felt from Benzie. It is very soft but firm and is lovely to work with. I loved Aimee's sophisticated color choices so I tried to recreate the look with one of Benzie's color bundles. Benzie has something close to 100 colors to choose from, so a color bundle that they already put together was the easiest way for me to shop. I'm just thrilled with my prehistoric pals and can't wait until Christmas morning. If you'd like to try your hand at making felt softies, Aimee Ray has generously offered my readers a 20% discount on any of her PDF patterns with the code KNITIONARY (all caps), good for the next two weeks. She has many animal patterns, but also adorable soft books, candy and fairy homes, plus embroidery patterns. See the pictures below for some inspiration  and let me know what your next project is going to be! 


Shopping Links

Dinosaur Felt Animals pattern from Little Dear on Etsy

Use the code KNITIONARY (all caps) for a 20% discount on any PDF pattern

from the Little Dear shop on Etsy.



Benzie carries an array of high quality wool and wool blend felt

in a selection of gorgeous colors.

I purchased a pretty bundle called Boho Garden.





This is a book, and it's opened below. So cute.



Thank you for popping by. I'd love to hear from you! You can click here to make a comment, or scroll down if you are on the website. xo Kristen


winter scene night lights--a Christmas craft




Is it too early to listen to Christmas music? Not for me; I've had it on since November 1st. It's my music to craft by. My husband has suggested we wait until after Thanksgiving before we turn on the Christmas full force, but everyone knows that crafters start Christmas early for heaven's sake. For the first time I actually feel like I'm ahead of the game: I've started wrapping presents (yay me, I'm early for once) and besides completing the one craft below, I have two other Christmas crafts going: one very big one (that honestly I'm not sure I'll finish this year) and one very small one that is finished and drying. I've also set up the Christmas ornament hospital. I am determined to repair and restore broken wings, bald glitter spots, chipped paint, literally every. single. thing that has bothered me over the years. If I cannot fix it, it's going to get tossed. Wish me luck friends. (I'm really glad you can't see my craft room now; it's a holy mess.)


But today I have a totally finished craft to share. I had so much fun making these Christmas night lights. It's an easy craft and I'll go through it step by step.  If you craft with younger people, this is a craft appropriate for an older child. I made the mistake of starting this with my 3 year old grandson. I gave up after a few minutes and we just played with the deer and smooshed the clay around. When he left, I went back to the craft room and got cracking. Here's the step by step:


Gather your supplies. For the greenery I cut up a small plastic Christmas tree I never really cared for. I gathered up little plastic figures and trims but ended up preferring to use only the deer and the mushrooms. I went through my mason jars to find six jars that did not have embossing all around. Most of mine had "Ball" or "Kerr" embossed on the front side but were plain on the back. You'll want your jars to have at least one plain, unmarked side for this craft. You'll also need the screw cap but not the lid, white air-dry clay, glue that dries clear, and a little bit of faux snow. Next you'll need one package Transform Mason LED Lighted Lid Insert per jar. This light comes with both a regular sized lid and wide mouth lid so you can use either size jar. Lastly you'll need 3 AAA batteries per jar. Shopping links are at the end.


Wash and dry the jars. They need to be sparkly clean.


Roll out the clay to approximately 3/8" thick. Cut rounds (I used a small jar) to make a base that will fit into the jars. While clay is still soft, dab a bit of glue on your greenery and figures and poke them into the clay. Let this air dry overnight. See the pictures below.


When your figurine base is dry, dab a bit of glue to the bottom and place it in the jar. Sprinkle a tiny bit of faux snow around the base. 


Insert batteries and affix the light to the lid as per package direction. Screw the light fixture onto the jar and push the on/off button. Voila! The light is just bright enough to illuminate the charming wintery scene.


I ended up making 6 total and am giving them as gifts with a note saying, "open me now" since they will be so pretty to have out at Christmastime even though I plan on having ours in our bedroom year 'round. They are adorable and I'm so happy with them.


Holy cow! After I wrote this post and was gathering my shopping links, I found that the LED light inserts are near impossible to find for a decent price. I bought mine for $7.50 each but they have now sold out. I found them on some other sites but they were closer to $20 and I don't think they are worth that! Perhaps you'll have better luck than I did with a search. Search "Transform Mason LED Lighted Lid Insert". Good luck and let me know how it goes. As an aside, I also have some solar fairy lights for mason jars that I was planning to use this summer. I wonder if they would work for this craft. They would not have an on/off button, but would be fun for an evening, you'd just have to recharge it the next day with sunshine--no batteries!


LINKS:


My favorite air dry clay is Delight. If you've never used lightweight air-dry clay, you are in for a treat. It's soft, clean and easy to use. 


These adorable little deer are identical to the ones I had in my stash.


These mushrooms look very similar to mine.


Transform Mason LED Lighted Lid Insert: This company is out of stock but they say that more are coming soon and you can get on their notify list. It's as good a price as you'll find. They also appear to be out of stock at Joanne's.



Since Carter is totally in love with Rudolph, I painted a red nose on the reindeer I am giving him.





Thank you for visiting.
If you'd like to comment,
please click HERE
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xo Kristen xo


granite fade









I don't think these pictures showcase how beautiful this sweater really is. I love it so so much. The pattern was designed to be worn with either the stockinette or reverse stockinette side showing, but it is so sophisticated and gorgeous on the purl side, I know I'll never have him wear it any other way. 

The pattern: City Limits by Tanis Lavalee is sized baby to XXL adult. I seem to remember that Tanis offered this as a free download for one week at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown. How nice. I thought I would knit the pattern for me but realized I only had enough yarn for a smaller one. The pattern suggests you make a fade with two strands held together. That's just what I did and I ended up with a fabric that looks like an ancient piece of granite. On the first picture at the top, you can see the side details of the slipped stitches. Tanis is an experienced, eloquent pattern writer and City Limits is a little gem for the entire family.

The yarns: Swans Island Natural Colors Fingering in charcoal is 100% organic merino hand-dyed in Maine using natural dyes. Heavenly soft. This yarn is a great value at a whopping 525 yards per skein! I held it with another fingering weight wool, a mini set of Destination Yarns Postcard which is a merino/nylon superwash hand dyed fingering weight wool blend. I have no idea what possessed me to purchase this crazy mini set at Stitches a few years ago, see the last picture below. Variegated yarns aren't usually my thing, but I remember their booth being so gorgeous there was no way I could walk out without a little something.  I  love it mixed with the charcoal and very happy with the overall look of the fabric. I did wonder if it was wise to mix two hand dyed yarns together  but very little dye was released in the bath, so all was good. I also questioned mixing a superwash with a non/superwash, but it was patted into shape easily and seemed to have none of the limp characteristics of superwash, so that was good too. End product was a scrumptious super soft sweater for a finicky tot.


The photo shoot: Our local park is now open. Yippee! On this day we ran into several friends with their grandchildren. It was wonderful and felt like the old days. Carter was so excited to be back on a playground with its swings, slides, and rock walls; the same play structures his mommy and daddy played on a few decades before. After a good play, we walked up the dry creek bed that meanders through a redwood grove, careful to be on high alert for big bad wolves and dinosaurs. He walked ahead talking about all the predators we were likely to encounter, and got himself so scared he had to run back to us and hug our knees for a few minutes before he could feel brave enough to lead the way again. Who cannot love the mighty bravado of a three year old?

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reverse stockinette side

stockinette side

a mini set of Destination Yarn Postcard and Swans Island Fingering

 

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