Solstice Time, or Trifle Recipe

It’s that time of year again. We are having our winter solstice dinner tonight for neighbors and friends. I have a six course sit down dinner for 10 people and I should be cooking instead of blogging. I posted a photo of the trifle on FB, and a family member asked for the recipe so here it is. This is a little updated for how the recipe has morphed a bit over the years.

Lorette’s English Trifle


1 large clear glass bowl

Sara Lee frozen pound cake, 2 of them.  I actually only used about half of the second cake. If you slice it thinner you can get by with 1 cake.

Whipped cream, I used about a quart of whipping cream, whipped with a bit of sugar and vanilla. Use real cream, heavy whipping cream works best, and beat it fairly stiffly so it doesn’t wilt on you.

Vanilla pudding…NOT INSTANT, it will separate out in the trifle unless you eat it right away. I used 2 large packages of Jello brand pudding.  Make this the day before so it can chill. Warm pudding won’t work.

Fruit.  Fresh berries work best, of all the things I’ve tried. Raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries hold up best and don’t get soggy. And kiwis for the sides and top.  A big trifle like this one used a dozen or so kiwis, peeled and thinly sliced.  I probably used 3 or four cups of berries plus the kiwis.

Seedless raspberry jam.  I used about a quarter to a third of an 8 oz. jar.

Sherry.  Doesn’t have to be really expensive, but make sure it is not cooking sherry, use something you would actually drink.

Slice cake into about half inch slices, then cut these in half or thirds and line the bottom of the bowl.  Spread a thin layer of jam on the cake pieces.  After trying various utensils to do this, I decided that just using my fingers to spread it around works best.

Sprinkle with a bit of sherry…I used about 2-3 tablespoons per cake layer, maybe more, maybe less.

Stand your kiwi slices on end around the side of the bowl.  See picture.
The idea is that you see the layers of kiwi slices through the glass, so you have to be a little fussy about placement.  Putting the kiwi in place before you plop on the other layers keeps it all neater.
Layer fruit next, then a layer of pudding, then a layer of whipped cream.
Now do another repeat of the same layers…cake, sherry, jam, kiwi, fruit, pudding, whipped cream.  Depending on the size of your bowl you might get a third repeat, but my bowl holds 2 sets.

On top of the last layer of whipped cream, arrange fruit slices in a decorative pattern.

Chill for at least 2 hours, then serve.  You can make this earlier in the day as well.  If you make it the day before, things get a little soggy, and the whipped cream doesn’t hold up as well.

You can vary this by using different fruit, different jam, flavor your cream, etc. I’ve seen variations that use chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, etc.  If you’re not feeding the whole neighborhood, obviously you can cut this back and do it in a smaller bowl.  The leftovers are great for breakfast, though, and people will eat more of this than you think.  Even after devouring about twelve pounds of prime rib, we ate two-thirds of this bowl last night.

If you were Martha, you would make your pudding from scratch instead of a mix, and would make real pound cake yourself instead of buying it.  It’s good even with the shortcuts, though. There were grown people standing around the bowl just digging in with spoons by the end of the party.


There you go. I’m getting back to work.

Changing Colors

I promised a mini-tutorial on how I'm doing the color changes for my crazy many-stripes Toboggan hat. I'm changing colors every four rows, and the thought of weaving in all those ends was enough to make ME crazy.

Here's how I did it.

Knit to the spot where you want your color to change. My new color will be the first stitch on the needle to the left.

Put a safety pin in the yarn coming from the last stitch you just knit. Snug it right up to the finished stitch.

Now unknit the last three stitches. Your safety pin will be in the working yarn right at the point of the third stitch (now unknit).

Take your new color, and crossing the two yarns, make interlocking loops as in the photo below. Make sure your “tail” end of the new yarn will be enough to knit three stitches and a little bit. You want the point of crossing right where the safety pin is in the first yarn.

Now, get your fingers tight right where the two yarns meet, take the safety pin out, and arrange your yarn so you can reknit those three stitches, this time with both strands of the first yarn color. Keep a good grip on the point where the yarns cross until you have at least one stitch knit to lock it in place.

Ready to knit the first stitch. Once you've knit the first stitch, you can let go of the death grip on the point where the yarns cross.
Two stitches knit, ready to knit the last white stitch.
Now knit the first stitch with the new color (mine happens to be on the next double point needle).

Three stitches knit with the new color. If you put your safety pin in the right spot, and didn't let the yarns slip, the color should change with the first stitch.

And there you go. Color change right where you want it.

The yarns should be overlapped enough that you won't need to weave them in further, especially if it's a nice wooly yarn. I suppose if I were doing this with something very slippery, I'd leave a longer tail and weave it, but with the Peace Fleece, I'm just trimming it to about 3/4 inch. It's on the inside of a hat, so it won't show.

Of course, on your next row/round, you'll need to remember to knit those two-strand stitches as one stitch.

Here's my project bag for the hat. The shawl I bought in Ecuador came with this bag.


Toboggan Hat (And Ecuador!)

We're back from Ecuador as of late yesterday. This was a contender for one of the best vacations we've ever done. I've got the first load of laundry in the washer, but other than unpacking haven't gotten much productive done, such as download photos from the camera. So another major Ecuador post will have to wait. John is planning on doing posts on his blog One Eclectic Guy, so I might just leave it to him. I do have some fiber tourist photos though.

I found yarn shops in both Quito and Cuenca, but nothing was inspiring enough to take up suitcase space for the ride home. Most of it was fairly brightly colored yarn in big unlabeled skeins, so it was tough to even identify fiber composition. Here are a couple of photos. The one with all the yarn was in the back of a clothing shop.

The one souvenir I did buy was a woven shawl from a tiny little weaving shop we stopped at on a day trip out of Cuenca. It is a family run operation, they dye the yarn with natural dyes (those photos are on John's camera), then weave it and make shawls with hand tied fringe. Here are a couple photos.

The blue shawl I'm wearing in that photo is the one I bought.

That yarn was in a big basket in the shop. It wasn't for sale.

I am sort of discombulated today after a long travel day home. We left our hotel in Cuenca about 6:30 PM Thursday night, and got home from the airport aroung 2 PM yesterday. I have gotten some knitting done this morning on my Peace Fleece Toboggan hat though. I am making good progress on this. I took some photos of the technique for changing colors, but I'll save those for another post. Here's the hat.

I have lots more mini skeins in many colors to choose from for stripes!



And we're off again! This is John's big birthday bucket list trip, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it too! I figured I'd do a quick update since we leave for the cruise part tomorrow and who knows what the wifi situation will be at that point.

We left home Wednesday early AM. Our flight took us from Seatac to Atlanta, then on to Quito, Ecuador. Yesterday was our first full day here. We had a lovely 6 hour tour that included walking through part of the old city center. We saw some fabulous churches, including the San Francisco Church, which is right across the plaza from our hotel. Because all the good photos are on my good camera (and the little widget that transfers them to my ipad is conveniently at home), you get iphone and swiped web photos. You can't take photos inside anyway.

That really doesn't do it justice. You just need to make a trip here.

Here's the other major church we saw, the La Compania Jesuit church, which is also magnificent. This one has more gold leaf than anything I've ever seen.

Here's part of the lobby of our hotel.

And our hotel from the plaza. It's the taller building on the right, peeking through the umbrella.
We went up to one of the volcanoes outside the city for lunch, there is a little restaurant that looks down on the caldera. The volcano is Pululahua, and a couple hundred families actually live and farm down at the bottom of the caldera. You guessed it, the photos will have to wait until I get home.

After lunch we went to the Equator! Those of you on Facebook have seen these photos, but this was a total touristy hoot. There is a nice monument that has a cool museum inside, and a yellow line painted on the Equator line.

And that's us standing on the Equator. John's in the Northern Hemisphere, I'm in the Southern Hemisphere.

I'm off for a bit of a siesta before dinner. Quito is at about 9000 feet, and the altitude is kicking my butt just a bit. More updates later!


Project Roundup

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile. There’s a reason I had all my projects out on the floor of my office, which I’ll get to later. First here’s what’s up in my knitting world.


The sock in progress. Slow progress, but I do have one finished and the second one started.


Douglas Fir Hap for Harriet Lorette shawl. I finished the increase section and now just knit straight on until I have a about a third of the yarn left then decrease again. I was struggling with this until I decided to change needles. I started this on Knitter’s Pride straight needles, and I have to say, I really wasn’t enjoying knitting with them. It didn’t help that the needle body is made out of some kind of black carbon fiber composite, and made it almost impossible to see what I was doing unless I was in bright light. I switched to my Chiaogoo circulars and am having much more fun with this.


Hawk Affection. The Seahawks finally won this week, so I guess this won’t have to get burned in the back yard after all. That’s a good thing, this yarn is Hazel Knits Divine, and it really is divine. It would be a shame to burn it.


Rogue! I’m having a blast with this one. The pattern is as much fun as the first time, and of course I love Peace Fleece. If you can’t figure out what’s going on in that photo, the sweater is knit in the round to the underarm shaping. You start with ribbing, then purl a turning row, then knit more stitches, then turn up the hem and stitch in place. Then you knit a few rounds and put the main body on a holder while you knit the pocket. The cables at the sides are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. And this time I get to knit this using Knit Companion, which is a whole lot easier. This pattern is well written, but it is a bit on the wordy side, with about eleventy billion pages. Knit Companion lets me just see the parts I really need.


And a new project! This is a hat. A Toboggan hat, to be precise. The original pattern was written with 2 color wide stripes and a rolled brim. I hate rolled hems on anything, so I did ribbing. I then got the bright idea to buy a million little mini skeins of Peace Fleece in many colors and do mini stripes. It will be a stocking cap with a long tapered end and a braided tassel. And I’ll probably have enough leftover mini skein-lets to make more of these! Or, I know, a sweater! I have a whole sweater’s worth of that grey that I did the ribbing in, I could do a sweater with one row stripes of many colors!

When I get a minute I’ll show you the neat trick I learned to change colors exactly where you want it to change, while weaving in the ends at the same time. Remind me if I forget.

Last but not least, this one is in time out.


This is the Ruby Slippers Cathedral Stole. It’s a fine pattern, with gorgeous yarn. I just had too many lace things on the needles. Once I finish the Hap shawl, this one is next in line.

So, back to the original question of why all my knitting projects were out of bags and on the floor of my office. The exciting news is that it’s time for our big fall vacation extravaganza. This one is John’s trip, he is having one of those big birthdays this week (sssshhhh, he turns 70 on Friday), so he got to pick the trip. We are going on a cruise, but not just any cruise. Wednesday we fly to Ecuador, spend a few days there, then fly to the Galapagos Islands where we hop on the Silversea Silver Galapagos for a week. We will spend a few days back in Ecuador then home.

I do have the knitting projects packed. I’m taking the first three projects in that line up. Because I’m delusional an eternal optimist, I have a spare ball of sock yarn packed as well. I also, uncharacteristically, have everything else packed as well except the last minute stuff. I get to work Monday and Tuesday, and we leave for the airport Tuesday right after work, so I need to be ready. I’m sure I’ll pack and repack a few times before then. Who knows what the internet situation will be once we get there, but if we are wired, you will hear from me along the way.

I’m off to find what else needs to go in my suitcase!


The New Shiny

I need a new sweater. And it's October, so it needs to be wool. I've got a cardigan in progress, but I'm just not inspired by it. It's a top down thing in a lightweight yarn, and I'm just not loving the pattern. It's one of those patterns that has you go through all sorts of contortions while knitting just so you don't have to sew a few simple seams at the end. So it's been in time out, and I finally realized why I'm not working on it. Perhaps the time out will be permanent.

Instead, I started this.

As usual, the color isn't quite right in that photo. This is Peace Fleece, the color is Amaranth. In real life it is a deep garnet colored red, with tiny flecks of an almost blue-black. It is going to make a gorgeous sweater. Here is a photo lifted from the Peace Fleece website that shows the color better. Go buy some, so I don't feel so guilty about having enough Peace Fleece to make six or seven sweaters.

This, my friends, is the beginning of a new Rogue for me. I knitted one of these back in 2005. Those of you who have been hanging around with me for a long time might remember a little escapade involving a wine glass and three months off work that delayed the completion of my first Rogue.

Here's what the first one looked like.

My old one is starting to look a bit bedraggled, though still wearable. This pattern is so much fun, it almost knits itself. This time I have no plans to try to cut my hand to pieces with a wine glass stem though, so maybe it won't take all year to finish.







Project Details:

Pattern: Evenstar, by Susan Pandorf

Yarn: Colourmart Cashmere/Silk 2/28 NM lace weight, 1500 yards

Needles: 2.75 mm

Started: February 12, 2010

Finished: September 18, 2015

For: Me!

Modifications: None

What I Learned: Oh boy. I learned that slow and steady gets you there eventually. This is easily the most complex thing I’ve ever knitted. The pattern itself isn’t that difficult. The yarn I chose is just a hair heavier than thread, and has absolutely no memory, and it’s a bit on the slippery side. So this wasn’t mindless knitting by any means. And the border is endless. You knit the whole thing in big concentric rings, then knit the edging on perpendicularly to the shawl. The edging is a mindless 20 row repeat, but in thread and with beads so it took forever. There were a couple of complex stitches in there but mostly it’s just following a series of charts.

The pattern is well written, this is the first of hers that I’ve done, but it was clear and mostly without errors (there is a link to errata on the Ravelry page). The lace is charted and written, though why anybody would want to knit lace from written text is beyond me. I started this before I was using Knit Companion, but used it for the last couple sections after I pulled this out of the UFO pile to finish.

Lora asked in the comments on a previous post about the blocking process. I soaked the shawl in slightly soapy water (Kookaburra wool wash), then rinsed in cool water. Silk and cashmere aren’t as durable as wool when wet, so you really need to support the wet lace when pulling it out of the bath. Then I blotted most of the water out with a bath towel, and pinned it out on my blocking mats, which are foam play mats that you can get in carpet shops or places like Costco. I have a ton of them so I can block almost anything.

Before I tossed it in the water, I ran a cotton thread through all the points, then pinned the thread and not the actual shawl. I forgot to take a photo before I had all the pins out this morning, but here’s a mini-recreation to illustrate.


Lora, I start by stretching it out gently by hand into as close to a circle as I can get it, then start pinning the running thread between the points to stretch. It takes a few times around, pulling a little more each time, and smoothing out from the center to get it as even as possible. I probably could have blocked this a bit larger, but I wanted to retain just a bit of the texture of some of those stitch patterns. I use a yard stick to measure in places to see if I have it even, but mostly I just eyeball it.

I love this one! It’s by no means a practical warm shawl, but I can see wearing it for special occasions. In fact, we have symphony tickets tonight, so I’ll wear it there. I’ll probably leave the tiara at home though.


Edited with one more photo. John wanted me to add a photo of just the edging. Here you go.


Bath Time

Blocking Day at last!

The first step was to run a fine cotton thread through all the edging points to make pinning easier later. Then it's into the bath for a soak. I use Kookaburra wool wash and cool water, and at least a 15-20 minute soak to make sure everything is saturated. This has also been hauled all over the place for 6 years, so it likely needs a good wash anyway.

Update to follow!


Omg Omg OMG!

It is DONE DONE DONE. I can't wait for blocking to show you a photo. I won't be able to finish this officially until I get home and have a few hours to block it properly, but I know you are all waiting on the edge of your seats to see it.

Sweetpea for scale. And one without the bear.

This is easily the most complicated thing I've ever made. Project Details will follow when the blocking is done.



The End is Near

One repeat of the edging left to do, then graft the beginning to the end, and block. This might actually get finished.

We're on the Oregon Coast with my sisters and spouses this week. Here are a few photos, all phone photos. The car was packed so full that there wasn't room for the camera bag.

The Oregon Coast is a yarn shop rich environment.

And there has been a little studying going on. I'm hoping Sweetpea remembers it all.




It’s finally off the blocking board, after a little mayhem. I tried to expedite things and just pinned the bottom edges instead of running blocking wires through it, which resulted in a nice scalloped border. I looked at it for a day before I did the right thing and put in the blocking wires, then steam blocked the edge to straighten it out.

Project Details

Pattern: Boneyard Shawl, by Stephen West

Yarn: My own handspan, spun from Bluefaced Leicester wool on my Watson Wheel. I then dyed the yarn using Coreopsis flowers from our deck plants. I blogged about the dyeing here. The fiber came from Paradise Fibers, the brand is Ashland Bay. It was nicely prepared and very easy to spin. It also takes dye beautifully, which is a good thing, since I bought 4 pounds of it originally. This was 366 grams worth of yarn, about 790 yards.

Needles: 4.5 mm

Started: July 16, 2015

Finished: September 3, 2015

For: Me

Modifications: None

What I Learned: Oh my. It is really a lot of fun to see a project through from fiber to a finished wearable item. This is one of those patterns that could be adapted to a wide variety of yarn types, or even color stripes. He has a second version here that uses extra increases to make it wider and shallower. A nice bonus is that it’s a free pattern. I predict that this will get a lot of wear. It’s just the right size for a little warmth around the shoulders, and nice and squishy soft.






I’m calling this one a success!


It is finally done. I can’t wait for the blocking to show it off.



It’s getting a bath and then will be blocked.


I was able to use almost all of the yarn, there were 17 grams left, which MIGHT have been enough for another row, but I hate ripping out a bind off if I’m wrong. The garter rows use more yarn, and the stretchy bind off I use really eats up yarn.

There will be a Project Details post when it’s blocked and dry.

So what’s next? I suppose I should just finish something already on the needles, but where’s the fun in that?

Here’s some new yarn. It’s obviously Hazel Knits, this is her Divine fingering, which is merino, cashmere and silk.


What might this become? I know I said I would never make another Color Affection, but that turns out to be one of the most versatile shawls I have.

And what might have inspired that color choice, which is rather on the gaudy side?


It is football season, after all. I’m off to wind up yarn.



This past work week was a bit hectic. To compensate, I've done nothing but just what I wanted to do all weekend. There is no better antidote to a crappy week than a Saturday and Sunday spent knitting, reading, playing flute, and cooking with my husband.

The cooking was scallops and grits. Here is the finished project.

Scallops with red pepper, green onion, a little jalapeno, garlic, parsley, and white wine, served over cheese grits. Yum.

Here's the knitting.

I've finally gotten to the last ball of the handspun yarn. I wet spliced it together this morning.

This is a pretty simple shawl pattern, the only challenge will be to guess how much yarn I need for the 12 row garter border. Since this is handspun and hand dyed, I want to use every bit of it that I can.

Out came the trusty drug dealer's scale. The last row I did took 2.6 grams of yarn. I have 126 grams left. Of course the rows get longer as I go, so I'll have to keep weighing as I knit, but I should be able to get several 12 row repeats done still. This should be a nice big cozy warm shawl when it's done.

We're off to the market for provisions, then back to knitting!