Friday, August 31, 2007
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: This newish book by Barbara Kingsolver about her family's efforts to eat locally for a year - including farming for their own food and buying from local farmers. It's not heavy-handed; it is inspirational.
- The Sweetie's meals. He's home for now, until school starts, and he's been cooking locally. Last night, we had roasted vegetables, cucumber and tomato salad, and pasta with beans. Mmm!
- The Flexitarian Table. After reading about it from someone's blog, I got it from the library. It is full of inspiration of how to cook fresh from the farmer's market foods in a vegetable-emphasized setting.
I guess what this means is other than knitting, I really like food. =)
Have a great weekend, especially those of you in the U.S., who have a long weekend!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
So I swatched (gasp!) with seed stitch, which is the border stitch, and I got pleasing fabric with size 5 needles. The only sort-of hitch is that it's sportweight instead of worsted. I'll make the largest size, which I think will either fit this year (or hopefully will still fit next year). My knits, especially for babies, are usually on the big side.
After all that about the gauge "in pattern" or not in pattern, I'm just doing my own thing after all!
The yarn is so beautiful. I was running around Knit This, Purl That looking for a worsted-ish yarn that was washable. I was running out of options, until I found this: Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks yarn, in such wonderful tweedy colored blues. The color is a bit darker than the photo shows. I imagine it with little woven-leather buttons - so manly and cozy!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Probably what started the whole thing was KnitPicks' announcement that they're making 16" circular needles in sizes larger than US3. I've been making hats on old Susan Bates Silvalumes, and their cables have been driving me crazy - twisty and tangly. So I got some needles and to put me above $45 (that discount on the books made me buy yarn, right?) I added 2 more colors of Swish Superwash DK. Now I can make me some booties and hats. Right.
Next up is actually a baby sweater for a far-away friend who had a boy baby. I've decided on Trellis, and I did a swatch last night. More on that later....
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I made a truly local dinner - local figs and honey, grapes, raspberries (golden and red) and blackberries, cheese, and crackers, olives (which might have been local; they were from a local distributor), local wine from Wente, "local" pasta (Monterey pasta company in Salinas) with fresh pesto (local garlic, basil, walnuts, olive oil; nonlocal parmesan cheese - but at least it was from Parma, not fake parmesan!), tomato and cucumber salad with basil, roasted vegetables, corn on the cob, bread from a local bakery, and strawberry shortcake (flour, oil, sugar, and baking powder were not local, but we made the cake from scratch). Otherwise, everything we ate was local except for salt and pepper. I got most of it at the farmer's market that morning. It was a great, hearty feast! If there's any time it's easy to eat locally, it's during August in California.
I had intended for nearly a year to knit fingerless gloves for The Sweetie (and some for myself, too), and I decided that it was just doable during the week he was gone.
I knitted at lunchtime while taking a walk (I was the crazy lady at the beach walking around knitting instead of looking at the water, or at where she was going....). I knitted in the evenings watching TV. And these gloves really didn't take very long - they're mostly 4x1 rib with some cables thrown in for interest. It sports a peasant thumb, which was my first - very cool, except that I did have holes which I sewed up when I wove in the end. (There was some blog entry I read a while back that said peasant was where you used waste yarn, but afterthought was when you cut the yarn to make the hole - this one uses waste yarn!)
They fit, although the cables cause tightness around the forearm. It is my suspician that they are intended to fall right at the wrist, but then the hand is much too long. On further thought, it is probably a difference in row gauge - I used heavier yarn than called for, in a smaller needle, but I bet the row gauge threw me off. The photos don't seem to be nearly as long. In any case, the tightness will stretch out and it's not uncomfortable.
Pattern: Dashing, the smaller size.
Needles: Size 5 DPNs, Lantern Moon. It's a medium-brown, maple-ish colored hardwood.
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, color 14ns, Denim, purchased last winter from The Knitting Zone for just this purpose!
Mods: None! Probably next time, if I use a heavier yarn like this, I should shorten the number of rounds between the cables and the thumb to compensate for the row gauge. Duh!
Monday, August 27, 2007
I took myself to the local knitting shop (which I think was Auntie Jean's Handiworks in Clinton, NJ - no web site) and picked out some nice Brown Sheep Wildfoote - 2 skeins each in blue with white, green with pink, and black with pinkish mauve. I had grand plans to make socks for all of The Sweetie's family for Christmas. Oh, and I got a pattern pamplet (Peter Gregory?) with lots of sock patterns, and Brittany birch needles in size 0, 1, and 1.5.
I started a basic sock pattern - ribbed cuff, stockinette leg. But approximately 2 inches past the ribbing, I got bored with the basic stockinette, and I decided to continue on to the interesting bits. I made the socks short to fit my short feet and must have figured out Kitchener stitch from the instructions also. The socks were initially actually a little too short and the cast-on slightly too tight.
I decided to wear them around the house inside my slippers on cold nights. They have stretched just enough that the foot just barely fits and the cuff is no longer noticably tight. They wash and dry beautifully in the machine, with only slight felting on the bottoms. I really adore these socks, mostly because they were my first.
I made one more sock from the pattern pamplet, a lacy sock with a hemmed picot cuff. This one turned out way too tight (why did I not try it on before finishing it?) and I never made its mate. I still have it, though, and I plan to reclaim the yarn and make some socks I will like!
P.S.: Suzanne has summarized the popcorn experiment.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Last weekend, we celebrated The Sweetie's parents' 40th wedding anniversary. We went to church where they were married, followed by brunch at the Palace Hotel in the Garden Room.
It is a beautiful room, with glass ceilings, presumably lit by natural light, crystal chandeliers, and overall ornate decor. They had a live jazz band and several stations with breakfast, lunch, cheese, salads, omelettes made to order, sushi made to order, and dim sum. It was a beautiful place to have a wonderful meal.
More photos here.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
But today, I present a finished scarf - the Chevron Scarf! I started this back in May as good travel knitting. I finally finished it, and I wanted to show you last week as it was all done but the blocking. I broke out the new interlocking rubber mats I got from Amazon and laid it out down the hallway. I was feeling lazy, so I just spread it on a towel with my fingers, rather than pinning it. There is still a noticable ridge between the "feather" and the "fan", but oh well. When it was dry I wove in the ends.
Boy, is it hard to take a photo of yourself wearing a scarf!
Pattern: Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Socks That Rock, Prove It All Night (won in a contest) and Undertoe
Needles: Knit Picks Options, size 5
Mods: None. I just knitted in the pattern until I deemed it "long enough" and stopped.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I swatched a lot. I tried Argosy. Too big and bulky-looking. I tried Steam (pdf). Meh. I tried Palindrome. Meh.
I thought to myself, why don't I like this? It's because the blue is not Cal Blue. It's so UCLA. What can I do to darken the colors? Maybe I could get some carrying yarn, like Kidsilk Haze or something, in navy, to darken the overall color.
We were visiting The Sweetie's parents in Pleasanton, and we took a walk to the Farmer's Market, and I wrangled a side trip to the LYS. It had been a nice yarn shop before, but I was so blown away because it had changed owners and is now a wonderful shop! It's called Knit This, Purl That and they carry Lorna's Laces and Malabrigo and Blue Sky Alpacas and some custom small producer handdyed sock yarn and...and...and...! And the owner and her daughter were really friendly.
I found some lovely navy blue yarn, 50% merino, 50% Alpaca - Cascade Lana D'Oro, which I've never seen before. It's a light worsted weight and so smooshy and soft! Slightly hairy, which is what I was looking for to combine with the slightly hairy 100% merino of the blue and gold.
I took it home and tried holding the two together. Yuck. I was about to give up and sell it to some UCLA fan.....when I remembered BrooklynTweed's Noro Scarf. That was it. After only 4 stripes or so, I knew it was the right thing. The Sweetie wholeheartedly agreed. It's all 1x1 rib and so I also tried (hot off Yarnival) the Italian tubular cast-on. It was a little confusing in the beginning, but I got it in the end.
And look - you can see the yellow zigzag back and forth! I never would have even hoped to plan that. Shazam! I am loving this scarf - it is the most amazing thing! And so easy to knit while watching TV, endlessly fascinating to see where the color changes, and reversible! Mine is 30 stitches wide, and when I change the yarn, I knit both colors together on the first stitch. I think I have enough yarn for 2, maybe 3 of these. The whole family can be outfitted!
So there you have it - serendipity indeed!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
And the prize? Harvey Farms yarn, handdyed by Anna, the owner of Harvey Farms (they normally sell their yarn undyed), and a set of Hogwarts stitch markers. You should have seen the look on The Sweetie's face when I made him guess what the theme of the markers was.
Harvey Farms seems to be a special kind of place - they raise their own sheep and have been doing so for generations. Read more about Harvey Farms here. Burrobird herself spent a heavenly-sounding day there. I feel so blessed to have such a special skein of yarn given, so generously!
Thank you, Burrobird!
Can you stand the suspense? I'll reveal the Cal scarf tomorrow!
Monday, August 20, 2007
I started with this:
I popped the corn using a Whirly-Pop hand-crank stovetop popcorn popper. It popped all of the kernels. I kid you not - I looked inside for any laggers, and there were none.
After popping, I had this:
Now, the measuring cup on the left I tried really hard to level off at 4 cups. The one on the right has what was left. Let's say between the 2 there is one more cup. So 1/4 cup became 9 cups of popped corn - an increase of 4 x 9 = 36. A 36-fold increase in volume! That's my answer. Repetition, of course, would improve the precision.
Thanks to all of you for the input on the scarf! What did I go with? I'll give a hint. It's E) None of the above, and I may have taken a page from Brooklyntweed. Stay tuned this week for a yarny prize, more scarf action, old FOs, new LYSs, and who knows what!
Friday, August 17, 2007
However, when she went to send them, she found she had only one, so she emailed me and asked if I wanted one skein, or she offered to dye me similar skeins in 100% merino (she couldn't get the merino/alpaca anymore). So I requested the merino, and here it is! The blue is a bit deeper and less turqoise in real life.
2 x 4oz skeins/193 yds, 100% merino wool, worsted weight. MMmmmm...I'm planning to swatch several different scarves to see which I like best:
- Sand River (just bought it this morning)
- Palindrome - I liked the Irish Hiking Scarf, but Palindrome is similar but reversible!
- Steam (pdf), another reversible cable scarf.
What would YOU do?
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I reported the project specs here. The pink and purple one ended up being 52" x 5" (although at the cast on end it was 8 inches; I prefer to consider that a "design feature"), and the turquoise one was 48" x 5". Both respectable lengths, and long enough to do the "fold in half, wrap it around your neck, tuck the ends through the loop thing".
This concludes this week's FO parade. There might be a straggler early next week. And maybe some casting on. I knew I'd be in trouble with 3 lace projects at once!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
So, over 4th of July, I pulled the long-ignored sweater and decided to just try doing a decrease round before adding the ribbing, to see what the effect would be. It did slim down the arms a bit without being tight or causing poofiness. But, I'd done a special sewing sort of bind-off, and I didn't have my technique books with me. So the sweater came home and waited some more.
Last weekend, I finally got out The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques and did it - it was the Kitchener bind-off for 1x1 ribbing. You put the knit stitches on one needle and the purl stitches on the other, and kitchener them together. It looks nice, but mostly I like it because it's stretchy. Only I had the stitches on a lifeline, and I didn't put them back on the needles. It was just as easy to just sew with the stitches on the lifeline!
My blocking "technique" for this was to wet it in the sink and then put it in the dryer with an old towel - first on medium, which dried it to damp, then again on low, which dried it perfectly. Gotta love Shine Sport!
I wore the sweater Monday to a new-to-me knitting group (hi, ladies!) and they instantly recognized it as a newly finished sweater and oohed and aahed - I totally blushed! After a day of wear it was a little bit stretched out, but hey - it'll come back together if I wet it and put it in the dryer again!
Pattern: Green Gable, size L (I think), 5 skeins
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport
Needles: Knit Picks Options, sizes 4 and 6
Modifications: I added some waist shaping, and made it shorter, to fit my own shortness. Also, the sleeves turned out pretty big so I decreased before doing the ribbing.
Cast on: Knitted.
Bind off: Sewn / Kitchener.
At first, I thought I'd have problems with rolling at the neck, but after I "blocked" it, and put it on, the neck didn't roll at all!
If I made this again, I'd consider making a smaller size and using short rows in the bust to make it bigger. I'm pretty sure that's the culprit for my large sleeves. And I might make it a bit longer - it's almost too short even for me!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The Sweetie went to Cal, also known outside California as Berkeley. We go to all of the home football games (yes, it is a bit of a long drive) and when one of his friends from college told us they were about to adopt a little boy, I got right to work on this. The colors are blue and gold, and they are the bears. In fact, whenever fans meet, it is customary to say "Go Bears!"
Pattern: Georgie Stripe Yoke Jacket, from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms, 12-18 month size. I worked out a graduated stripe sequence and put it at the bottom and cuffs; it kind of resembles and old-fashioned letterman's sweater.
Yarn: Cascade 220 superwash. Yep, it's for a baby, so it's washable! I ordered this from the WEBS Anniversary Sale when my stash diet ended. When I looked through my stash to see what I had - there it was. Perfect!
Needles: KnitPicks Options circular needles, sizes 5 and 6.
Modifications: Striping sequence changed and moved, as noted above. I had these great buttons with bear claw prints, but the 6-row button band was too narrow. I widened them to 10 rows and they're perfect. I also did the fronts and back as one piece as far as the armholes.
Details: YO buttonhole was still big enough to get the buttons through (it's a tight fit, but hey, it'll only loosen up). I also did an intarsia-esque Big C in the middle of the back. I just drew it out on a scrap of paper, and worked it. The vertical portion of the C puffs out a bit, but I think it'll be all right. And I carried the blue yarn - hence intarsia-esque. (Is this still called intarsia?)
The pattern also calls for holding the top of the back on the needles and "sewing" the (bound-off) collar to it. I chose to kitchener it, and I must say it ended up with a nice, thin seam. I started in the center of both and worked left, and then right. I think I've finally gotten this Kitchener stitch thing figured out! Then I used mattress stitch (1/2 stitch selvedge) for the rest of the collar. The sleeves were sewn in and seamed with mattress stitch, 1/2 stitch selvedge. I also love how I got the stripes in the sleeve to match up perfectly by mattress-stitching them.
I knitted this in a hurry, hoping to have it done in time for their baby shower....didn't make the deadline, but it did arrive before the baby! (Oh, no, I will not be held responsible for holding up the adoption process by not finishing a sweater!)
I really love how this sweater turned out, and in fact am contemplating making a full-sized one for myself!
Monday, August 13, 2007
So here is my little review of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac. I've only read as far as May, so it's not a review of the complete book, but I think I've read enough to get a feel for it.
Once upon a time there was an old woman who loved to knit. She lived with her Old Man in the middle of a woods in a curious one-room schoolhouse which was rather untidy, and full of wool.
At last one day, he said, "Darling, you ought to write a book."
"Old man," she said, "I think I will."
This is from the opening of the book (which is also the excerpt you can read on Amazon). At once, EZ puts you at ease, invites you to sit with her and knit along with her.
The Good: I love EZ's voice - it is inviting and encouraging, like everyone says. She describes how to construct the item (sweater, blanket, etc.) which you can follow along, and make similar decisions in order to make it what you like. These are more like recipes than patterns - she says what her stitch counts are, in a way that invites you to figure out your own. At the end of each chapter, she gives "Pithy instructions" - that is, what most of us would recognize as the pattern. These vary in detail from very detailed to sketchy (say, for a blanket) and includes the chart for charted patterns.
A note for the wary: The patterns are sometimes patterns, and sometimes sketches. I'd really have to sit down with EZ someday and make one of her patterns, following her stream of exposition while making it. This is what people who talk about having her as your knitting teacher are talking about. The result, I am sure, will be that I will be a more thinking knitter, a good thing. But until I do, I won't be making her February sweater, because her Pithy Instructions are just that - pithy. Brief, and not what we spoiled rotten knitters of today expect of a pattern. If you like getting pattern books, and want to sit down and make one of the patterns, this isn't really the book for you. It does not always have a gauge (you can figure out for yourself how many stitches you need to cast on....) and does not always have a schematic. But that is not the point of this book.
All in all, I want to become a better, more thinking, more self-confident knitter, and this book, as well as other EZ books I'm sure, will nudge me in that direction. But I don't see myself making that February sweater anytime soon - like a school lesson, it will take more time to absorb how to make it than, say, the baby bolero from One Skein.
Last word: If you just want patterns, you might be disappointed. This is a knitting text - good for reading for inspiration, great for knitting instruction for getting untied from patterns and just making things. It's also pleasant reading on its own.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I'm in Dish Rag Tag. All of the participants (203 of us) are organized into 10-person teams (I'm not sure how the math works out....) and it's a relay race. Each person who receives the team box takes dishcloth cotton out of it, knits up a dishcloth, includes new dishcloth cotton, and sends it to the next person. The teams organized themselves with private team forums, so that they could choose the route that would be the fastest. All teams in the US are using Priority Mail. So far, my teammates on "Going the Dish-tance" are keeping the pace:
I just hope I don't let them down - I'm supposed to be last!
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I'm sending my secret knitting off today, so hopefully I'll get to show it to you soon!
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Pattern: Ruffled scarf (pdf), 8 stitches per row.
Yarn: ONLine Linie 194 Solo, color 08 plum/mulberry, 3 skeins, purchased from Fuzzy Mabel.
Needles: Size 7 KnitPicks Options circular.
Super easy TV knitting, and a great-looking product. The Harlot was right. This scarf has the highest bang for the effort: really great effect, super easy and almost no pattern, really.
I'm working on Ruffled scarf #2.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
I also have been...ahem...knitting things on my Options circulars and having to leave them on the needle, then starting up fast little things and having to take the needles off, so I thought a few more cables would be in order. I neglected to notice they come in packs of 2, so I ended up with 4 cables, but I'm sure they won't go to waste - cables are stitch holders, right?
And while I was looking for something to put me over the $45, I saw the new IWP book, Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters: A Knit-to-Fit Workshop. I'd been eyeing Big Girl Knits for the instructions on fitting sweaters to your body, but that was out of stock and this looked pretty good, too. I'll let you know.
And to round out the order, I decided to to try their new Swish Superwash DK, for baby booties and hats (you know, for trying out the books I got last time. I got lots of colors:
I gave the upside-down flower hat to my friend last night - and she loved it! She even talked about having her baby come home wearing it! Now that would be special.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Pattern: Upside-down flower hat, from Itty Bitty Hats. I started the hat on 64 stitches, because it called for heavier weight yarn than I was using.
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport, in Violet, a small amount of Butter, and teensy amounts of Green Apple (the light green) and Grass (the dark green). In the original pattern, the part I used light green for was pale pink, but I think the two shades of green work well.
Needles: Lantern Moon size 5 DPNs. But I'm so going to order 16" needles from Knit Picks! I prefer to knit hats on a circular - it's even faster!
It's being modeled by a bottle of Soju. For all you out there who know Korean or know someone who knows Korean, can you identify what this is? I bought it at duty free coming back from Seoul, because of the beautiful bottle, but turns out it's really great stuff. Where can I get more?
Full photo of the bottle:
And yes, the only thing I can read is 45% - alcohol, I expect. Like I said, it's great stuff!
Friday, August 3, 2007
It's Socks that Rock, Fire on the Mountain, in the mediumweight. I see that Christy has made some rockin' knee socks with this exact colorway (and her Sockapalooza socks aren't too shabby either).
I'm hoping to finish all of the sewing up this weekend, and have 2 FOs to show you on Monday! Have a great weekend!
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Last night, I finished all of the knitting on the upside-down flower hat. I hadn't noticed until well into the hat that it calls for 4 colors of yarn - the hat main color, the flower petal color, and two for the stem. The original calls for "shell", a pale pink, in contrast with a green stem and white petals. Since I had two shades of green, I went with light (Green Apple) and dark green (Grass). All of the yarns are Knit Picks Shine sport, my current favorite baby yarn.
Speaking of Knit Picks, their 40% off book sale continues until August 17. All of the books they sell (which is quite a few) are 40% off! And shipping is free with an order of $45 or more.
I also noticed in their most recent catalog, their 16" circular needles are now available in sizes larger than US3. This is great, because Knit Picks left you out in the cold if you wanted these sizes - the Options set starts at 24" cables, and the 16" were previously only available in sizes 1-3.
So now all there is is sewing the petals onto this hat and weaving in ends - 16 yellow, 4 green, 2 purple. And maybe I can sew buttons on to the secret project and get it sent, so I can show you all what I made!
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
I'm planning on this to become the Upside-Down Flower hat from Itty Bitty Hats. You can see Alison's, who with her many hats from this book inspired me to get it,