January 13, 2010

Mittens: They're not just for hands anymore

These have changed my life.  I'm not joking not one little bit.
Originally intended as a gift, I freaked out at the last minute and decided they weren't right for the intended recipient. But they were right for me.

Pattern: Lulu Leggings, by Rachel Russ for Spud & Chloe
Yarn: Various fingering weights from my stash
Needles: US1/2.25mm and US3/3.25mm
Started: September 19
Finished: December 3

I honestly wasn't trying to be selfish when I settled in these for a Christmas gift, I was feeling inspired.  But sometimes it happens that I'll decide on a project for a friend, and then sometime later, usually right before I finish it, I realize that it's much more suited to my taste than to theirs (no worries, I made her something else and she loves it).  And so it went with these.

I fell for this pattern as soon as I saw it, even making a lunch hour run up to Purl  one day to purchase it.  I used almost all yarns from my stash, but I did buy a skein of Spud and Chloe Fine in Cricket.  One of the yarns that I used, the purple, was a total pain to work with.  It's super old and kept breaking, so I'd wet splice it back together when I could.  It was also pretty rough on the hands, which detratced from the fun of making these (side note: the offending yarn was blue at one time, but was one of the skeins that I dyed with grape Kool Aid last summer).  Each legging took me a week to complete, with a 2 month break in between.

Now, how did these change my life?  Well, I'm a skirt and dress person, all year long. Usually I get by with tights and my long down coat, but still, when it's 20F outside, the wind is whipping about and I'm running errands (remember NYC means no car for me), it can get cold.  But with these on, I don't feel a thing.  They are like mittens for my legs, only better, if you can imagine.  Trends come and go, but I am a leg warmer convert.  They just make sense!

(See the rabbit ear in the background?  That's right, no cable TV for me!)

Some of the gifts I made for friends last year actually were delivered to their intended recipients, like these:

Not soup crackers, but rather Pepparkakor, or Swedish ginger cookies.  I made them for Niclas, a Swede who married my friend Beth last summer and, since they live in Brooklyn now, spent the holidays away from home. I'd been reading a lot last year, on blogs and in magazines, about Swedish Christmas baking, and since I know what it's like to be away from one's family at the holidays, I thought he could use a little taste of home.  When I decided on these, I knew that I had a cookie cutter stashed away, and was pretty sure that it was of the Christmas variety.  Wrong.  My best guess as to how I ended up with a duck is that I made sugar cookies one Easter, but honestly, I have no recollection of doing so. 

These are a bit time consuming, as each batch must be returned to the refrigerator for a few minutes after rolling and cutting but baking, but they're worth it.  Simple and delicious on their own or with tea, they're also very nice with ice cream (but really, what isn't).

Here's the recipe (adapted from Saveur magazine):


3 ¾ C flour
3 t ground cloves
3 ½ t ground cinnamon
2 ½ t ground ginger
1 ¼ t baking soda
11 T unsalted butter, softened

1 C packed dark brown sugar

½ C golden syrup or dark corn syrup
½ C heavy cream
2 C confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 t fresh lemon juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and baking soda; set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and golden/corn syrup using a handheld mixer set to medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add the reserved spice mixture and the heavy cream in 3 alternating batches, beginning and ending with the spice mixture, until the dough just combines. Transfer dough to a work surface, divide in half, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour.

 Heat oven to 350°. Unwrap 1 disk of dough and place on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 1⁄8" thickness. Cut out cookies using the cookie cutters of your choice and place cookies 2" apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, rerolling scraps. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until browned and set, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

To make an icing, if you like, whisk confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and egg white in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer icing to a resealable plastic bag (or a pastry bag). Snip off a bottom corner of the bag and pipe icing onto cookies in a decorative pattern.


Note: I was able to make approx. 72 cookies from this batch, and the dough freezes very well so you needn;t use it all at once. Also, I didn’t have parchment, and had no problems removing the cookies from the trays, so I think you can safely skip it. Lastly, when a recipe calls for ground clove, buy ground clove.  Trying to grind whole cloves into powder fine enough for cookie dough may well drive you to drink (in which case, you should invite me over).


littlebirdbigcity said... Best Blogger Tips

I love the legwarmers. I have to agree, the legwarmers I knit for myself last year have changed my life. I wear them on a very regular basis. It really makes a difference, that extra warmth around the ankles. Lovely work, again, my dear.

Sayschnicklefritz said... Best Blogger Tips

Mercy buckets, doll!
I bet yours are handy when riding the cycle around town. how glam!

Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

Melody loved/adored these cookies. If you can get a thumbs up from her, it must be a winner. The ducks are super cute.

Leg warmers will ne next on my list after I knit a pair of socks.

Jess Brown said... Best Blogger Tips

I became a legwarmer devotee several years ago. I saw some in a store and just felt the 80's calling me. Plus, I've never been much of a sock person, so as the weather got colder and I continued to bare my ankles, leg warmers became handy. They are even great under pants to prevent drafts up the legs. This was all before I became a knitter. Now that I am knitting my own socks, I am totally into wearing them. However, I am also now super-excited about the idea of using sock yarn remnants to knit my own funky legwarmers.

Completely unrelated to this post: that photo of the deer on the beach is SO STUNNING it looks fake. Where is that?! Did the dear actually get that close to you or did it let you get that close to it or did you have a super-telephoto lens?

Sayschnicklefritz said... Best Blogger Tips

I took that pic on Fire Island last summer. An entire family of deer came bounding up to us and freaked me out because (1) they usually avoid humans and (2) they'e really big up close. My friend Pierre shooed them away, and they went running off TOWARDS more people.

All: Yeah legwarmers!!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi there Schnicklefritz!
LOVE your blog. Couple reasons I just HAD to write to you. First and foremost......you're from BROOKLYN!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh. It's my one and only home. Regardless of the fact that I live elsewhere now. For now. OK. Another reason is that you look JUST LIKE my friend's daughter. I wrote her and told her about the resemblence and told her I just might have to adopt you you look so much like my sweet Sara. Then I could have a Sara too. Then as I'm cruising around your blog I see that one of your favorite blogs is 'Things I Want To Punch In The Face'. HYSTERICAL!!! My kind of humor. So I think to myself 'if Schnicklefritz loves that one she'll really get a kick out of 27bslash6. Read the Spider Drawing. HYSTERICAL!! I'll go now and let you ruminate over this strange missive. Again...I just LOVE your blog. OH...and before I go...LOVE the 'where sauerkraut meets collard greens'. !!!!! OK...ta ta for now.

jackie from Brooklyn but not right now.

Rima said... Best Blogger Tips

Apart from those legwarmers that I want to now make, the next thing are those duckie cookies! They are great looking.

sarah said... Best Blogger Tips

Have you taken those things off yet? You are wearing them every time I see you. And now a blog post. You truly are smitten! You totally need another pair (or 7, one for every day of the week.....)

Sayschnicklefritz said... Best Blogger Tips


Hi! Oddly, I'm often told that I look like someone's friend's daughter or sister. I was once chased down in a cafe in Portland, OR because I was mistaken for "Debbie." I'm glad, though, to remind you of someone who's a good egg. And yes, Things I Want to Punch in the Face is fantastic. It's rather like she's reading my petty little mind.

Rima: Thank you!
Sarah: I'm working on pair #2 right now. Boo ya!

WhiteStone said... Best Blogger Tips

Found your blog while googling schnicklefritz. My dad, whose German parents immigrated to the USA in the late 1880s, often called us schnicklefritz meaning "you cute little scalawag". LOL
Love the leg warmers. And I've copied your cookie recipe and pasted it to my "recipes" doc. They look yummy.