hedge + hog

A visit to two adorable babies requires an equally adorable gift, does it not?

babies love hedgehogs!

On my Pacific Northwest tour, I got to stay a night with Julie, Andy, and their twins, Emmett and Malcolm. They’re nearly a year and a half old and walking around like gangbusters. They’re also into hugging things, so a pair of squishy, soft hedgehogs knit from a pattern by the Purl Bee blog were just the thing!

knit hedgehogs

I used a silk blend from Brooks Farm (I think it’s “4 Play”?) in blue for the faces and bellies, and then Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (leftover from this YMN cover!) for the bodies. US 5 for the DK weight yarn, US 8 for the big stuff. These were such a cinch to make and completely satisfying, with their lack of seaming and thus instant gratification.

hedgehogs

Plus the babies took to them immediately, hugging them and discovering that they bounce quite nicely when tossed to the floor! Julie and I tried to think up names for the hedgehogs and realized that our naming skills are of the most bland variety, leaving us with a set of “white hedgehog” and “brown hedgehog” or, perhaps, if we’re feeling saucy, “hedgie” and “hoggie.” The kids don’t seem to mind their namelessness, though. There’s really nothing better than giving someone a gift and watching them immediately incorporate it into their life, you know? The boys adopted the toys right away!

crocheted neon cowl

Every time I wear this cowl when around people who know me, I get a surprised reaction. People say things like “It’s just not very . . . you.” When strangers see me in it, however, they go out of their way to compliment me and say they love the colors! I stepped far out of my comfort zone with these colors, and it’s been pretty rewarding.

neon cowl

Neon has been a trend lately, and though I’m not one to clamor to follow trends (my trend-following is mostly subconscious, which yeah, I know), for the magazine we highlighted neons recently. And we put some Manos—to me, a traditionally rustic, wooly yarn—in screaming neons on the cover. Which meant I had a skein each of a bunch of highlighter shades. Last summer when I was in Wisconsin, I threw the yarn and a crochet hook in my bag and started on a long chevron scarf. I finished it soon after the trip and started wearing it this past fall, but never got any pictures of it.

neon cowl and chihuly

I confess I now have no idea what I did exactly but it was nothing special or outlandish as far as chevrons go. I wanted a pretty shallow zig zag, and I worked it in the round. I rotated through the three colors until it seemed tall enough. I might have made it taller. It’s long enough to double up, but it’s not snug to my neck so it’s best worn on transitional weather days, like I’m having while on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I wore it while sightseeing in Seattle this week—and I have loads of pictures to share with you of all I’ve seen here!

honeycomb hat for jason

honeycomb toque

A long while ago, I knit Jason a hat in a simple rib in a charcoal Cascade 220 to match the first scarf I knit him. But it tuns out he wants his ears COMPLETELY covered by hats, so it was slightly too small, and I set it aside to redo. I finally unearthed that project recently and decided he deserved a better pattern than a boring rib. Enter the Tweedy Honeycomb Toque.

honeycomb toque

I have a newish sweater from the Gap with a honeycomb pattern on the front that immediately became my favorite sweater of the year (I wear it at least 2 times a week). So I was perfectly happy to make him a hat that matches, ha. The pattern is fine but the resulting hat is too small for a man—I actually increased the stitch pattern part by 16 stitches in order to get it to fit him. This meant some finagling in the decreases, and they’re not quite as neat as the written directions, but it works! I cast on 96 stitches, increased to 112 (k5, kf/b), and went from there. I knit it in a few hours on a Sunday (I’d knit it as written in a few hours on Saturday, and then we realized we’d made a hat that fit ME perfectly).

honeycomb toque

Knitting someone a hat in March might normally seem like past the season, but this winter… I think he’ll still get plenty of use out of it!

knitterly retreat

This long weekend, my best knitter friends and I met up at a former barn-turned-meditation-center-now-airbnb-rental in rural Connecticut—it is our ninth such get together in six years! We played in the picture-perfect snow a little, but we mostly sat in our claimed spots on the couches, knit, and watched the Olympics. Oh, and we ate our weight in cheese and homemade bread. It was nothing short of perfect, except half of our group couldn’t make it this time.

knitting with friends

snowscape

follow your arrow shawl

icicles

photo shoot

silos

diana and specs

happy!

I knit on my Frankenshawl—I mean, my Follow Your Arrow. I finished Clue 4 but had forgotten to bring another ball of the yarn along. We also shot a quilt I finished and brought with me, but I can’t show you that yet!

salted caramel popcorn

Ages ago, when friends of Jason’s got married, I perused the registry and was elated to see they’d requested an air popper for popcorn. Something about an air popper makes me smile—even though I’ll be the first to admit that popcorn properly popped with oil in a pot is crisper and infinitely better—so I jumped at buying it for them. That year, Jason surprised me with my own air popper for Christmas. I don’t make popcorn all that often, and sometimes I still opt to cook it on the stovetop, but the air popper is always magical.

This weekend I decided to make a batch of salted caramel popcorn for a friend as a pick-me-up after she’d gone through a rough time last week. Out came the air popper and a look at Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for spicy salty caramel popcorn. I modified the recipe enough that I wanted to jot it down here for posterity—I just know the next time I go to make it I’m going to see “3 cups of sugar” and balk again, but I won’t remember if I successfully changed the recipe and just how. Turns out that is far more than is necessary to coat this much popcorn! The recipe below doesn’t have any spiciness; just add some cayenne to taste if desired.

salted caramel popcorn

Salted Caramel Popcorn
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Pam spray oil
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Pop the popcorn in  your air popper! Catch it all in a giant bowl that you sprayed with Pam. [alternatively, pop the popcorn with some oil in a pan.] Spray two large baking sheets and two spatulas with Pam and get them in position on the counter. Combine the sugar, butter, salt, and about 6 tablespoons of water in a saucepan over high heat. Leave it to bubble until light golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, and give it a good whirl in the pan to combine (it will bubble up). Pour it over the caramel and start tossing with the spatulas until all the popcorn is covered. Transfer to the baking sheets and spread out and separate into small clumps or individual pieces. When cool, store in an airtight container.