Shaping the Season
"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together."
A week ago I went to the 45th annual Southern Christmas Show. I hadn’t planned on attending, as a visit years ago to this enormous event held in a huge local convention center fulfilled any need in me to indulge in an excess of Christmas decorations, quirky scarves, and gimmicky kitchen gadgets. However, one of my closest friends, Lauren, was going out of town and generously gave me two free tickets she'd received and couldn't use.
Even though I visited the show after a two decades’ absence, oddly enough, my return there didn't impact me with a sense of the passage of years. This happening is the sort of entity that seems impervious to time. The displays, food samples, and shops, with a few additions of novelty items, seemed essentially the same as they did years ago. Also, when I spent time strolling through the show with its Christmas village and holiday shops, I realized that perhaps I was a little too cynical in my anticipatory thoughts about venturing there. The part of me that actually owns two doll houses (stowed away in my attic and sometimes dragged out at Christmastime) enjoyed the large display of miniatures, and my inner foodie appreciated sampling gourmet items. This foodie also impelled me to purchase goodies such as maple butter and locally made poppy seed dressing. The knitting blogger in me, as well, had a grand time getting a look at the handmade and mass-produced knitwear featured at the show.
|The socks and hats are machine made but provide some inspiration for|
cute projects. The dog sweaters are hand knitted.
From my perusal of various stands and boutique shops, I surmised that animal-themed ear flap hats are all the rage as are scarves, ranging from those made from recycled sweaters to silk ones featuring a Velcro fastener for creative-scarf-wrapping challenged individuals. I was also able to visit a booth sponsored by Baskets of Yarn, a local shop, although most of the items on display there were yarns and needles designed to make quick knits (types of garments I’ll probably need to do soon if I don’t speed up my Christmas knitting projects).
|The animals are crocheted and then sewn onto the tie-dyed T-shirts. This yarn |
was sold at the booth of Baskets of Yarn booth.
Finally, at the show I also learned that stores or booths with the term “diva” in their name should be avoided by anyone who harbors no desire to own pink polka-dotted hostess aprons, hand towels and pillows with “Wine a Little” or “Born to Shop” embroidered on them, handbags adorned with lots of rhinestone “bling,” or cute flip flops for wine glasses to wear.
After the sensory overload of the show, the following long Thanksgiving weekend afforded me a change to unwind and afforded me some much-needed respite from my daily routine. On Thanksgiving morning, I cooked a Pavlova, a recipe I saw featured on Judith Hamid’s blog, I Read, I Sewed, I Crocheted. In the past I have not been a big fan of meringue (I sometimes scrape it off the tops of pies I'm served), but I am now a convert (at least to the crunchy variety of this food item) and my taste buds are still savoring the memories of this wonderful dessert. The meringue base is made with egg whites and caster sugar, an ultra-fine substance which makes for a dainty, light, super-sweet, and crispy foundation which I filled with homemade whipped cream and fresh raspberries and frozen blueberries (from last summer’s crop). I also made a pumpkin pie, a crab meat-and-artichoke dip, and a wonderful torta made with goat cheese, mascarpone cheese, and smoked salmon. I used some leftovers from this last dish to make a quiche, which I’ve frozen for a later time (as I don’t think my arteries can handle another high-fat infusion at the moment).
|I increased Judith's recipe, using five egg whites instead of two and adjusting|
the other quantities accordingly (through guestimating).
|The recipe for this torta can be found at Williams-Sonoma. I toasted some baguettes |
as the recipe suggested, and they went well with this appetizer. I also sliced some
German pumpernickel bread I'd purchased to serve with it.
|The hat is cute, although I made a size the seven-week-old |
baby's head isn't quite bit enough for yet. Creating this hat
reminded my why I love Debbie' Bliss's yarns so much.
|At present I'm uncertain about these tiny circulars, but I'm beginning to|
see how they do prevent the constant switching sides and pulling
cords of the magic loop method and the sometimes unwieldy nature of
knitting with double-pointed needles.
|Paton's Yarn has an entire booklet devoted to knit and |
crochet sock monkey projects, including stuffed animals
as well as hats, mittens, and scarves.
I worry that these knitting projects along with so many others either already started or occupying a "cast-on-soon" queue in my brain may become a burden as I try to complete them for holiday gifts. I think that I am going to scale back my seasonal knitting aspirations rather than add to the mayhem that comes with wrapping up the end of the school semester and preparing for the holidays for my family. I've already been busy making some felted eyeglass cases that aren't as time consuming to create as knitted gifts. I hope to show them in a future blog post.