Every Christmas and birthday I ask for yarn, and this year was I was gifted with some real beauties. Scroll down and have a peek:

A sweaters worth of Rowan Island Blend in white. The yarn is very squishy and soft. I think this will be  a V neck pullover because I love a plain V neck made out of gorgeous wool. I'm dreaming of going out to dinner in 2021 and wearing it with black pants and heels. Maybe with my pearl earrings and a chunky bracelet. Order a glass of wine. See lots of people. You can tell I haven't been out in a long time 🙋

Two dozen Freia minikins in what is supposed to be a box of neutrals, although there are quite a few pops of color among the neutrals. Maybe it will be a luxurious afghan, but I think I can get 2, maybe 3 sweaters out of this loveliness. 

Rowan Selects Patinia in a pretty mid brown. It has the most beautiful shimmery golden highlights dancing  through the strands. Intended to be a cardigan with balloon sleeves. 

Aren't yarny gifts the best kind of gift? Take care and I'll see you back here in 2021. xo Kristen

Here's my yule log from Christmas Day. It turned out fabulous and I made it with ice cream and cookie crumbs, not cake. We think it was the best one yet. I'll see if I can write up the recipe. It's a keeper, and so easy.

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Merry Christmas to you!

While 2020 brought us an abundance of simplification, Christmas brings a message of appreciation, and I think the two go together beautifully. As we close on this difficult year, I want to let you know how much your readership, support, and kind comments have meant to me. You have lifted my spirits and given me much to look forward to.  I wish you peace and goodwill in 2021.

My table above is set for Christmas breakfast with my mother's Spode Christmas Tree. We will be dining with a very excited three year old and I'm hoping that the table setting with crackers and a tiny village will keep his interest through breakfast.  

After breakfast and present opening, we'll settle in for a quiet day of playing with new toys, taking a walk, reading a new book, and surely, knitting a few rows. In the afternoon we'll be snacking on appetizers and Christmas cookies. My daughter-in-law is bringing this beautiful appetizer and her mother is bringing stuffed mushrooms. 

For Christmas dinner, to make things easy on myself, I'll use the basic elements of the breakfast table, same tablecloth, centerpiece, cutlery and glasses, but I'll change out the china and napkins to give the table a more elegant look that reminds me of a fifties Christmas. My aunt's gold-rimmed Lenox Harvest china takes me back to my childhood and the large family gatherings at my aunt and uncle's beautiful home in Bakersfield in the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley, the "breadbasket" of the nation. My uncle grew cotton and table grapes and I remember huge sacks of pistachios, almonds, dried apricots, mandarines, and lemons on their patio, all gifts from local farmers. I'm certain they would both be happy knowing how much I love using their pretty things and the good memories they bring.  Our dinner menu is classic fifties too: prime rib with horseradish sauce, popovers, green beans with almonds, potatoes au gratin and green salad. Dessert will be a Yule Log that is still under construction. I've made it in a unique and time-saving way and it could be fabulous or a flop. I'm taking pictures as I go and if it turns out as good as I hope it will, I'll post it. Fingers crossed.

Merry Merry, Kristen

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gathering of angels

The inspiration for my sweet angel congregation was a YouTube video I happened upon by accident; a factory tour of Wendt & Kuhn, the German company that makes charming, tiny painted wooden figures. I collect Wendt and Kuhn and am also strangely attracted to factories so finding this gem made my day. The documentary was in German and I understood not a word, but I was spellbound. When I saw the assembly line spending their gentle work day painting armies of tiny wooden angels I knew with certainty that I too would soon be painting an army of angels. Dream job! Perhaps the oddest thing is that I already had all the supplies in my craft room. (When I told this to my husband his eyes almost rolled out of his head.) So just like Wendt & Kuhn I gathered my supplies and set up an assembly line, but that's where the similarity between Wendt & Kuhn and me ends. My angels use supplies and a skill set that is more approachable to the average crafter. Creating these little gals lifted my spirits no end. I kept calling in my husband at every stage to admire their cuteness. I made them over two days then gave them a third day to make sure they were good and dry. I slipped them into our Christmas cards and the next few days my husband will drive me around to drop them off at our friend's mailboxes. We're hoping to make some fun outings of it and bundle into the top-down Corvette if it's not too cold. I made 60 and I think I'll be giving away every last one of them. They make a touching Christmas greeting that can be hung on the tree or tied to a gift.

Fun DIY below with shopping links at the end. 

The 2" wooden peg dolls are very inexpensive and easy to find. They are great to have on hand for little ones to create their favorite storybook friends. My grandson and I have made many storybook people such as The Big Bad Wolf and The Three Little Pigs. Before we can read the book we have to scramble around and find our little peg people. For this project, I left the face unpainted and with two coats of acrylic paint I gave the girls a short bob with a side sweep of bangs.

Use a toothpick dipped in paint to make eyes and a red mouth. Now they begin to take on some life. 

To insert screw eye pins:
Make a hole at top of head with a push pin. Push the tiny screw eye pin into this hole. Give one or two twists with your fingers and then insert a toothpick into the screw eye to use for leverage. Twist until fully screwed in.

Now it's time to add the glam! Paint bodies with white glue and sprinkle on fine glitter and let dry overnight. I used gold, silver, white and dark gray.

To make wings: cut a piece of wool felt approximately 2" long by 5/8" wide. Fold in half and snip a little wedge out, see above. Next cut a scallop and unfold.

Dot a bit of white glue to the wing center and attach to top back. I planned to be done at this point but I knew something was missing. The halos! I tried a dozen ideas with felt, pipe cleaners, and paper but liked nothing and almost gave up before a lightbulb went on. Button halo. Perfect. 

Buttons were hot glued to the backs of the heads, and voila, 
the angels are finished and angelic-adorable. 

I love a project that can make use of my vintage button stash.

Shopping Links

Use Tiny Screw eye pins suitable for jewelry making.

I used extra fine glitter. The brand I used is no longer made, but I found this pretty

Other supplies needed are buttons, small amount of white felt, white, red and black acrylic paint and clear drying white glue. A hot glue gun helps with attaching the buttons, but a fast drying glue could work just as well.

This was a super fun project and I couldn't be happier with the way they turned out.

Did you like this project? Would you be interested in seeing more of my crafts? To leave a comment, please click here or scroll down if you are on the website.

xo Kristen

I slipped the angels into a small paper bag and put them in my cards.
Unfortunately I couldn't seal them!

My current black and gray and white WIPs

I don't know how it happened that all my current works-in-progress are black and gray or black and white, but even with no color, there is some very happy knitting on my needles. Below is Betagen by Theresa Shingler using Rosy Green Wool's Manx Merino Fine, a blend of Merino wool and Manx Loaghtan, a sheep breed I hadn't heard of. This came as a kit from the Rosy Green site. The yarn is gorgeous and soft and I have high hopes that I'll love this sweater; it sure is fun to knit. I keep this project in my knitting room. It uses size two needles throughout so is fairly slow going.

The project below is Fonda by Caitlin Hunter. another fun knit that I keep in the family room. This pattern just struck my fancy and when I realized that I could use the marled Shelter I had in my stash and just maybe the big bobbles would look like the aggies we used to play with as children, I knew I had to make it. Those beautiful swirled agate marbles were the ones I loved the most. We had a lovely bag of marbles that I think came from my grandad's house and might have been our uncle's marbles. I do remember they were gorgeous. Do kids still play marbles or jacks and even knows what aggies are? I was huge jacks fan and a bit of a champ in my little neighborhood group. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will love this sweater as much as I think I will.

Lastly is a little vest for my young grandson. I have kept this on the back burner for the last month thinking that I was going to have to frog it as it's coming out way too small. However I have brought it out again and will finish it and block the stuffing out of it and see it I can block it to fit. I'm using leftover Rowan Valley Tweed with a mosaic slip stitch pattern so I think I can do it, but if not, it will be gifted to a tinier tot. Fingers crossed. It's a sophisticated stitch pattern and another very fun knit. The pattern is the Escapade Vest by Triona Murphy.

I'm also getting some yarn for Christmas. My husband asked me if I had bought myself a gift that he can wrap up and give me. I told him not to worry that he was going to give me a doozy of a present. I hope it arrives before Christmas! You all take care!

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cookie traditions

With so much focus placed on displaced traditions and all the restrictions we face this holiday season, it's especially important to brainstorm new traditions we can enjoy. I have friends who rather than having the big Christmas dinner with their children and grandchildren, are hosting a socially distant outdoor cookie exchange on Christmas Eve day. I love this idea. Another friend zoomed with her grandchildren while they baked Christmas cookies together and then had a milk and cookie tasting party. All the cousins had a blast and apparently Grandpa and at least one dad crashed the party. So adorable. Today I'm sharing four of our favorite recipes that are part of our holiday traditions. With really no one to share our cookies with this 2020 Christmas, for both the cut-out sugar cookies and sandbakkels I divided the dough by four and individually wrapped and put them for the freezer. I've been taking out a little parcel once or twice a week to bake and have fresh cookies. Every little thing helps to keep things festive around here. 

The cookie blob on the bottom left above is the dog cookie. The last bit of dough that is too small to gather up and re-roll is formed into a blob shape and is given to the dog. Everyone in the family gets to join in the fun! 

Crushing peppermint candy canes was a favorite job.

But then so was smooshing the crushed peppermint into the shortbread.

Poking the shortbread with fork tines is also fun.

I love my recipe for cut-out sugar cookies. It's a classic Christmas cookie and many American households, such as the family Knitionary, cannot imagine celebrating Christmas without them. I decorate ours with a light sprinkle of sugar.  My husband and I differ on the best way to eat these; he is Team Milk and Cookies and I am Team Coffee and Cookies. In the pictures you can see that we like ours to be over baked and on the crunchy side. If children are helping you with these, make sure you have plenty of colored sprinkles on hand! Cut-out Sugar Cookies recipe.

Every Christmas I make a few Scandinavian cookies as a homage to my heritage, but this year made only one--Sandbakkel, the Norwegian sugar cookie. They're baked with beautiful sandbakkel molds and are crumbly with a distinct almond flavor. Sandbakkels recipe.

Shortbread and is an ideal baking activity to do with children. Skills required are counting, scooping, leveling off, mixing, and patting and pricking the dough, so even the youngest can lend a helping hand. Shortbread recipe.

Finally there's a candy recipe that I make only two times a year: once before Thanksgiving and again before Christmas. It is a highlight of the holidays and when the last of it is consumed, everyone sheds a wee tear knowing that they won't see it again for a very long time. I make this recipe when I am home alone; molten sugar boiling away on the stove needs undivided attention. Candy making may appear to be difficult but it's not really and your family and friends will think you are amazing.  And you are. Toffee recipe.

Are you baking this year?

The Recipes

Classic Shortbread

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies


Chocolate Toffee

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I'm so happy with this cozy sweater. I've made the Penny Straker owl sweater dozens of times but the yarn made this one extra special. I used Rosy Green Cheeky Merino Joy, a sport weight organic merino wool that is sourced in Patagonia and milled and dyed in Portugal and England for a German company. Phew! It's very soft with a gentle handle, creates even stitches and is easy to manipulate into cables, plus it comes in sophisticated colors. It is superwash but does not behave badly like a superwash often does. It came out of the water bath perky and ready to be patted into shape. This is my new go-to sport weight wool. LOVED it absolutely. The pattern is one of those iconic children's sweaters that deserves a spot in every child's wardrobe. It is hands down my favorite child's sweater pattern ever--it's handsome and fun and oozes nostalgic charm. 

On this photo shoot we were on our morning walk to admire the Christmas decorations that have popped up all over the neighborhood. We counted the wreathes until we lost track. We wished it was nighttime so we could see the lights. Somehow he talked me into walking right up to front porches to see everything close up. There is something about holding a three year's hand that bestows one with enough bravado to be a little nosier than you normally would be/should be.

I get asked how I get my grandson to take nice pictures. First, I am fast. I get less than a minute. Secondly, my husband was behind pretending to put a stick in my ear. That got a few good smiles out of him!

Owl Sweater by Penny Straker size 6, 12, 24 month
My Ravely project page has all my knitty details
The super cute hat is Sifis Christmas Hat

I don't know how it is in your part of the world, but here in California we are hunkering down with another lockdown that will last through the new year. I know it has spoiled a lot of holiday plans but everyone I have talked to is resigned to it and just looking forward to when it's finally behind us for good and all. It won't be long now, she says with fingers crossed behind her back. 

xo Kristen

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I leave you with a picture of a Buddha's Hand below. It's a type of citrus that is more ornamental although it is edible. It's an oddity that a few of my neighbors grow and they ripen at Christmastime. I wanted Carter to stand by it so I could get some pictures but he wouldn't get near it, lol. It was a huge one, about the size of a baseketball.