Friday, December 2, 2011

The Mittens that Ate Manhatten

Ok, the mittens didn't eat Manhattan. Not even a few buildings. But they have eaten my life the past few days. I'm making them on commission for an Etsy customer - I'm using Adrian Bizilia's really excellent pattern - find it HERE.

I love how the colors have turned out, and I think the inside of the mitten is just as beautiful as the outside...

This, folks, is why you block. Unblocked mitten right, blocked mitten left.

My super fancy blocking frame? Yep, wire coat hanger. Works great.

I just have to knit the lining - I have some nice alpaca yarn. Back to mittens!

Oh, and remember, our 15% off sale at AWM ends December 3rd at midnight. Visit the site for a list of participating shops. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lots of Thankyness (Thankiness?)

Here at the Underhill House we are thankful for a happy, healthy baby, a warm house, good food, good friends and a fast internet connection. And yarn, of course.

A few things - help out your economy and community. Join the local movement this year and do your shopping with small businesses as much as possible. Here is a nifty site that makes it easy to track done small businesses in YOUR area:

If your area includes Western Massachusetts come and join the fun with Artisans of WMASS  - There are sales, specials and some great artists to discover!

Gah. Enough shopping stuff. If I'm being honest, this Black Friday stuff makes me shake my head and want to never buy anything ever again.

But then our cats would be hungry. Like this. Wow. He is thinking:

1. I am in a chair where food is delivered. Turkey would be nice.
2. I will now get food.
3. Otherwise you die.
4. Numbers 2 and 3 are not mutually exclusive. Timing is key.

I'm thankful my cat has not murdered us yet. How about you?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Twisted Minuet Wrister Pattern

Happy Sunday and start to the holiday season - in honor of the giving spirit I've finally transcribed my pattern for the companion wristers to our Twisted Minuet Scarf. You can still find the scarf pattern HERE - enjoy the new wristers and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!

If you like these wristers but aren't quite sure that knitting them yourself is your style... They can be made to order! 

Twisted Minuet Wrister Pattern

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Remembering Greener Days...

It is about 40 degrees, gray and drizzling today in Massachusetts. We had to get out of the house. E and I had some fun this morning visiting friends at the vet clinic and doing a little second hand shopping. This girl is growing like a weed, and even though she has her 3 month birthday tomorrow, she is already wearing 6 month sized clothes! We found overalls - overalls are awesome and she will be rocking them as soon as they get washed...
Brand new overalls for $4. We love the consignment shop.

I feel a little nostalgic for the garden today - probably because of the weather. I never posted pictures of the garden this summer, so I think now is a perfect time for a time lapse series of our raised beds. Today we'll do the cold crop and onion bed - with beans and cucumbers later in the season.
April - Broccoli, Onions, Kale


Late June

Late July. Hooray!
After this point... baby E came along so we don't get the slow decline into weeds and brown foliage - the garden pictures stop at the height of their beauty. I'll add some of the other beds in future blog posts. This really cheered me up!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A little baby knitting

I'll admit it, I've taken full advantage of knitting for a wee one over the past year. How could I resist when there are books like Kristen Rengren's Vintage Baby Knits? The book is full of updated, adorable patterns... I finished E's pixie hat and immediately cast on some purple yarn for a sweater. I'll let you know how it goes.

Our little pixie
In case you had any doubts that these were legitimate vintage patterns... here is E's great uncle modeling HIS pixie hat back in the '50s.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shop Handmade!

Remember to shop locally this holiday season! Follow the link to join a group of folks who are dedicated to handmade vs box store gifts.

Here is a fun collection of items to get you started - a baby boy treasury in honor of our good friends from Michigan who welcomed a healthy baby boy into their lives yesterday!

You can also find a great group of artists at - for all of your holiday gifting needs. Shopping handmade! Woot!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Baby Wipes - Tutorial

We try to be reasonably green around here... and I like to keep the chemicals touching my baby to a minimum. We cloth diaper as much as possible and I wanted a way to use plain water to wipe the little baby bottom. Although we ended up with several baby washcloths from a variety of sources, I didn't really like them for wiping. Most were just not squishy and absorbent enough to do the job.

I grabbed some 100% cotton WASHABLE worsted weight yarn and went to work.
This is the easiest knitting pattern. Ever. I mean, seriously, if you can't knit a scarf but want to knit your friend a baby gift? THESE ARE PERFECT. And if you can knit decently, they'll just go really fast.

I used size US 9 needles... I happened to grab my trusty dps, but straights work just as well.

Cast on 16... or 18, or 20. Your wipe will just be slightly larger.
Knit back and forth in garter stitch until the wipe measures 2 inches or your desired width. This is about 16 rows. No purling, just knit. See how easy?

The finished product! These wipes are also great for facial cleansers... not the same ones as the baby wipes of course... perhaps color code?

So they look pretty freshly made, but you may wonder how they hold up. The following is a picture of some wipes after heavy use and many trips through the washer (Hot water!!) and dryer (Hot air!). They actually become MORE absorbent the more they are washed... just like cotton cloth diapers.

Happy Wiping!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

By Candlelight

Dawn on Sunday morning

Trees down in the backyard
We were in the epicenter of Saturday's October snowstorm and are just starting to get back to normal. We currently have power (probably because there is a warming shelter on our street), internet (just got that back tonight), and heat (wood stove... never lost this!), but many of our local friends and neighbors are without all three.


Saturday night was very strange - thick, heavy snow falling quickly with occasional green flashes, the cracks of falling trees and branches, and pink flashes and sparks as transformers blew. Quite surreal. We kept ourselves occupied by lighting candles, keeping the stove stoked, and trying to keep the basement from flooding. And we learned that beans and toast can be prepared quite well on the wood stove!

It will be quite some time before the area will be back to normal. Our thoughts go out to all of those still in the dark - stay safe and warm!

The view went from this...
To this!

Here are a few more stories about the storm from local friends...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Morning Goodies

Need some delicious finds to accompany your Saturday morning cup of coffee? Look no further!

Click on the pictures above to visit the treasury and see the wonderful items up close!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Applesauce, applesauce

As you may have surmised from yesterday's photo, the little tyke and I recently visited the apple orchard. We went to Cold Springs Orchard, a teaching, research and working orchard maintained by the University of Massachusetts, on a stunningly beautiful autumn day. We strolled through the rows of trees heavy with late fall fruit and then headed to the cider barn to pore over the tempting varieties.

I'll let you visit the Cold Spring website yourselves to get a full idea of the range of apples available. We picked out some Honeycrisp, Winter Banana, Emerald and a few more for eating fresh, then picked up 2 peck bags of seconds for turning into applesauce.

All these apples should make about 16 pints of applesauce, but they would need to be done in about 4 batches due to the space chopped apples consume. And if each batch needed to simmer for HOURS, well, with a 2 month old to watch and hold I knew I needed a better plan.

Enter the pressure cooker! About 10 or 12 minutes to come up to pressure, 5 minutes at pressure, cool under cold water, and done!

You don't need to peel or core the apples... just wash well, quarter, and throw them in the pressure cooker!

A nifty food mill
 After cooking the apples will be mushy and saucy. To remove the skins and cores I used a strainer, ladle, and a little elbow grease, but a food mill or similar item would make this job even easier...

I decided to freeze some of the applesauce in ice cube trays for later use as baby food. Makes it easy to grab just a few servings from the freezer.

Finally I wanted to can some of the applesauce since our freezer space is getting tight. Mostly from all of the peaches our tree produced this year (yum!).
The easy 15 minute waterbath canning process is very well spelled out over at Pick Your Own, so I won't repeat that here, just leave you with a tantalizing photo of the finished product. And my helper.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And... We're back!

When I last blogged it was early spring and things were just beginning to grow, including me! Throughout the spring and summer I nurtured the garden and a little baby. Now it is fall, the garden is done, and and baby is here and not so little! I'll be trying to catch up with some good posts as I'm able (the long awaited Kiwi yarn post, applesauce and PIES), but in the meantime I'll leave you with a few photos of the babe and me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Digging out

Spring is finally approaching in snowy New England, and not a minute too soon. We're starting to see patches of lawn through the snow and I *think* I spotted a few daffodils shoots springing up.

In the meantime we're getting ready for the growing season and counting our blessings as we keep in mind those who have been affected by the horrific earthquake/tsunami in Japan. Speaking of this, click HERE for info helpful to those wanting to help the 4-legged victims.

I've been starting seeds for my garden already, which has the triple benefit of getting a jump on the growing year, saving money on buying started plants, and keeping me from going stir crazy. I recently attended a gardening workshop led by the dynamic father/daughter team Ron and Jennifer Kujawski and got some great new ideas. They have a new exceedingly practical book that I am loving - click on the picture for more info.

Inspired by their words and lacking a sunroom or even good south-facing window I decided to invest in some additional lighting for my little seedlings. A quick search online and in the local garden store showed that unless I was willing to shell out $100 or more for lights and a stand I was going to have to get creative. Luckily I found some handy websites that helped me do just that.

Marion Owen has a great 1 page resource for seed starting in general at - she confirmed the idea that a plain old $15 shop light will be completely suitable and that seedlings like a whopping 14-16 hours of light per day.

Cornell University's Extension added another helpful piece of the lighting puzzle with complete plans for a cheap, easy to build PVC light stand at the following page:

One afternoon visit to the hardware store, about $30, half an hour of work (with a little help from the husband) and my lighting stand is complete!
These are my cold weather crops - Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, and Lettuce. I didn't get them under the lights quite as early as I would have liked so they are a bit leggy, but I'm hoping I can correct this when I transplant the sprouts into individual pots. The clementine box is an ideas from the Kujawski book.

Happy almost spring - next task is pruning the apple trees!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Kiwi at heart?

We recently returned from a long awaited trip to New Zealand for some winter vacation and family visiting. Everything you've heard about the beauty and friendliness of the country is true, and we really can't wait to go back.

Some highlights:
1. A 19km hike over an active volcano at the heart of the North Island.
2. Seeing endemic wildlife like the Kaka and Tui bird, the living fossil lizard the Tuatara and giant Weta insects.
3. Sea kayaking with shags (cormorants), sting rays and moon jellyfish.
4. Finding Lord of the Rings filming locations and re-enacting scenes :o)
5. Possum yarn!!!! This last deserves a whole post of its own, so stay tuned for that.