Cozy chunky knitting | Cozy chunky knitting

chunky knit cowl

With the frigid winter weather comes a craving for warm and cozy anything. I have a theory that if your neck is warm, you are warm so I turned to the knitting needles.

This is knitting on an exaggerated scale – chunky knitting. The absolute best thing about working on this scale is the speed at which you progress. It is totally gratifying to sit down and see major changes in your project quite quickly. I used a wool, acrylic blend Patons Cobbles yarn in Super Bulky weight and size 19 knitting needles and worked horizontally rather than in the round. This made it easier to judge the size because I wasn’t using a pattern but making it up on my own.

yarn and needles

chunky soft knitting

I cast-on 19 stitches and worked a seed pattern which is one knit, one pearl alternated with the next row worked in the opposite one pearl, one knit. It’s a really simple pattern but has a great texture and is the same look on both the right and wrong sides.

chunky seed stitch

I kept knitting until I felt it was the right length to be cozy and not too floppy. About 46 rows of knitting. Cast off and simply sew the short ends together and that’s it. This is one of the simplest knitting projects ever and is a great introduction to knitting.

The finished cowl is so soft and cozy, it’s like wrapping your neck in cotton balls.

Three ice lanterns to make | Ice lanterns

Globe ice lantern

Winter has really hit with a vengeance here in Toronto. Let’s keep in mind, though, that we are Canadians and we do winter really, really well.

So invite a group of friends over for the evening, cook up a great meal and welcome your guests with the glow of warm twinkling lights.  These ice lanterns look really special on a front porch or lining the front walkway and are super easy to make.

The first example I made was from balloons. Simply fill the balloon by sealing it over the faucet, fill to the desired size and tie it off. Either place on a flat surface in the freezer or set outside as I did. (it was minus 17 the day I made these) Let them sit until the majority of the water is frozen but there is still some left inside the sphere. Bring it inside, cut off the balloon and pour out the water. Set either a real or battery operated tea candle inside.

balloon ice lantern

The second example was made from a mixing bowl and a plastic cup. I simply placed the cup into the bowl of water and secured it with tape so it would stay in place and set it outside. (see photo at bottom) I simply ran some tepid water over the bowl to loosen and remove.

bowl ice lantern

bowl ice lantern

The third example was made from different sizes of plastic storage containers but I inserted bits of cedar boughs into the water. I also tried one with orange slices, you can see that below. You could easily use cranberries, pomegranate seeds, kumquats or anything else colourful.

cedar ice lantern

cedar ice lantern

three ice lanterns

You can see below the lanterns in the deep freeze.

ice lanterns

I can absolutely picture a cold night, the snow sparkling and crunching underfoot and these warm, inviting little lanterns welcoming your guests.

 

Spiced nuts for a cold winter night | spiced nuts

Happy Friday! I’m headed out for a wonderful day of skiing with some friends. Everyone is bringing part of our first night dinner. I’m responsible for appetizers and because I have to drive for two hours and hit the ground running so to speak, it’s got to be a quick trip from the car to the plate.

My go-to solution for a situation like this is a selection of lovely cheeses and some interesting crackers but I’ll supplement this with a wonderful bowl of spiced nuts. A little sweet, spicy and fragrant they complement the cheeses really well.

spiced nuts

 

I’ve tried a lot of recipes for spiced nuts but the best one I’ve found is from Trish Magwood’s book Dish Entertains which can be found on Amazon here and on Indigo here. This book is one of my favourites, virtually every recipe I’ve tried is great. I have made these spiced nuts so many times that I have made my own slight modifications to the original recipe.

Spiced Nuts

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups mixed unsalted nuts
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Mix together all ingredients except nuts and sugar in a bowl. Add nuts and toss to coat well. Spread nuts on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet of nuts and sprinkle with the the 2 tbsp of sugar. Stir nuts gently to coat and spread out as much as possible again. Bake for 10 more minutes, remove and cool on the pan. When cooled break apart the nuts leaving some in small clusters and enjoy.

These nuts never fail to garner rave reviews. You know a recipe is a keeper when you open the book and the page is stained and marked from repeated use.

Happy weekend.