Saturday, December 09, 2006

Post-Finals Productivity

As you can imagine, I can get a lot more done at home when I don't have three papers to write.

Christmas Decorating
Yesterday I decided that once and for all I was going to have a Christmas tree in this crappy little apartment of mine. After an unsuccessful trip to two stores, a friend of mine remembered that they had just happened to have one sitting around in the trunk of their car. So, a little later I had a 3' tree. Well and good, right? Wrong.

Darn thing had tripod feet... but only one of them! So as you can imagine, it didn't want to stand up very well. After fighting with it for almost an hour to rig it to stand up and not bust all my ornaments, I gave up and tied it to the wall.



Photos of Christmas trees always turn out crappy, which is a shame, because this one is nice. I've got lots of handmade ornaments. It goes a long way towards making me happy for a couple of weeks, regardless of whether my boyfriend really likes it or not.

Knitting
That's why you're here, right? Or at least that's what I'd like to think.

I had to make these, even though they're ridiculous and I will probably never wear them outside the house. I don't know why I'm using the plural, because so far there is only one sock.



See? My other leg was getting really cold taking these pictures.



I'm using Lion Brand Magic Stripes, which, as most of you know, is not the greatest thing in sock yarn. But I really like this color combo, and it was cheap, and I don't care. I did a basic toe-up pattern, added some heel stitch on the back of the heel, and did tons of increases to compensate for my calves, and lots of ribbing to keep them on. I'm really happy with the fit, and they knit up super super fast. Time to start the second one!

Complaining
I do a lot of this, too. I was going to complain about the winter Knitty -- namely the small number of sweaters that they included -- but then I realized that I hadn't submitted anything, so maybe I shouldn't complain. I really like the looks of the Eiffel sweater -- it's even in the right Eiffel-Tower color -- but I don't think I've got the body for it. I am definitely going to make the Monkey socks. I have just the yarn for it. I really like Cookie's designs and I really want to start these right away, but I think I'd better finish my other Pomatomus or knee-high before I get into another sock project. Finally, I think Norberta, the little stuffed dragon, is really cute, too. The rest of it... didn't really jump out at me. And that's okay. I don't really need any more projects right now. At least the Monkey socks will help me knit through some yarn I already have.

Baking
Oh wait, that's later today. How about some Parisian Orange Cookies?

Cleaning
That's always a decision, whether to clean other parts of the house, or bake first. Any guesses? Happy weekend!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Delicious Muffins

Since writing papers is supposed to mean that I should put off knitting for a while, I baked instead. I got a delicious orange-chocolate muffin recipe from my sister and I am trying not to eat the whole dozen tonight.

As you can see, one muffin succumbed before I had a chance to take a photo. I know they look a lot like bran muffins or something less exciting, but trust me, they aren't.



See: observe the delicious interior of the muffin. Filled with yummy orange peel and chocolate bits (I had big blocks of chocolate instead of chips, hence the strange distribution of chocolate).



Aren't you hungry yet? Too bad there isn't internet with smells. Actually... maybe that's a good thing. Anyhow, I'm supposed to be writing. This is writing, right? Sadly this is not the writing I get paid to do, which is kind of a bummer. If only this writing contributed to the length of my other writing... guess I should get back to that.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Start-itis

The most effective forms of procrastination seem to result in the creation of something irrelevant to the procrastinatory goal. Okay -- let's not overlook the fact that I spent six hours in the library yesterday, but seriously, I probably don't need two new projects.



Toe-up knee high socks, from a general toe-up pattern. I'll work on the problem of leg increases when I come to them. And a glove. Really, it's going to be a glove, I promise.

Left over from Lacevember, here is approximately one third of my Lace Dream Wrap:



It's going to be really lovely, if I ever get through the other two balls of yarn.

And I was going to put up some more photos, but I realized I would have to censor them anyhow. So I'll save you the temptation of discovering what I'm knitting for Christmas.

Unfortunately, I've run into a knitting problem. Remember my Vintage Cabled Pullover? Those photos artfully mask the fact that the sweater is easily 3 inches too short. I double checked, hoping that I could cut off the bottom ribbing and knit downwards, but of course that only works in a stockinette stitch sweater. So after all the time I spent putting that collar on and doing the finishing, I get to take it all apart again and reknit it from the armholes. It's either that or I won't wear the sweater, so I guess when I'm all set for winter break I'll be doing some very careful sweater deconstruction and rebuilding. There's one good thing, though -- I'm in no danger of running out of yarn, due to my overly fudged yardage calculations. I knew those 600 extra yards would be good for something....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

All done Scribbling

Last night I finished the Scribble Lace scarf. What a fast and simple gift, yet how satisfying and impressive looking it is! I will probably have to make one for myself....

Here is a closeup of the texture:



And here you can see that the openness of it works about equally well as a small wrap...



As a big scarf.



Obligatory stats:
Pattern: Loopy & Luscious from Knitty
Yarn: 1 skein Trendsetter Yosemite and 1 skein K1C2 Douceur et Soie
Needles: #13 circular (because I don't have, or couldn't find, the #15s)
Size: about 16" x 55", but variable as the pattern says
Modifications: Amazingly, aside from yarn substitution, none

What's next? Not much on the knitting front. Mostly grading a big fat stack of papers and writing some of my own. Oh, and giving this lovely gift away! I hope the recipient enjoys it :)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Scribble Scribble

What would Black Friday be without a trip to the yarn store?



I just got a few things, including a cone of fingering weight wool for a shawl or three, some Trekking for gloves, Encore for a silly hat, and those plum colored things for a scribble lace scarf.

Yesterday I made the amazing discovery that scribble lace is really crack for knitters in disguise. I cast on (using this pattern from knitty)and suddenly couldn't stop knitting. It was freaky.



See what I mean? I think this is going to be a gift, but now I think I need one. Yikes! And unfortunately the yarn isn't cheap -- it's instant gratification, surely, but not what I'm used to doing with socks or ordinary lace. (Can we make this count for Lacevember? I'm not pushing the envelope....)

Now that I took it out to take photos of it, it's calling to me.... must.... knit....

Friday, November 24, 2006

Caramely Shrapnel

That's probably not a phrase anybody hears regularly, but today it's my favorite topic. I'm going to talk about my favorite holiday dessert and about how to avoid the dreaded caramely shrapnel.

Since you missed out on this dessert for Thanksgiving, file this one away and make it for Christmas. While lacking in impressive table presentation (perhaps some would argue otherwise), it's fabulous.

Welcome to Caramel Pudding 101.

Go buy one can of sweetened condensed milk. Don't buy evaporated milk or you'll be sorry. We'll wait here. Trust me, unless you have 50+ people coming, you only need one can.


Friendly can of sweetened condensed milk. This one is about 14 oz. It has no clue what's coming for it.

Remove the label.


That was easy!

Remember that reading the label is bad for you.


This warning is to avoid the caramely shrapnel. Trust me, if you follow my directions, all will be fine. They used to have this recipe on the label anyhow, so this is merely a public service to preserve it.

Now, here's the important part. Get out a relatively deep saucepan. Put in your can of sweetened condensed milk, and cover with cold water.


Kind of like this.

Turn on the stove and boil the water gently.


The pan will be almost full so there's no sense trying to bring this to a full rolling boil, but make sure you have bubbles coming up around it.

This is the very important, and final, cooking instruction. Boil for 2 hours. Whatever you do, do not leave the kitchen. Whatever you do, do not let the water level get below the level of the can and expose the can to air. You will probably need to add water every 10-15 minutes unless your saucepan is unusually deep. If the can is exposed to air, it will explode, covering your kitchen in caramely shrapnel.

However, this recipe is well worth the attention. Since it's a holiday, you're probably in the kitchen all day anyhow and you can stand to keep an eye on one more pan. If you get bored, turn the can over a couple times to make sure all sides get heated evenly. If you want to make ice cream topping, boil for about an hour. If you want something more crystallized and chunky, boil for three hours. But whatever you do, watch the water level.

After 2 hours, remove from heat and let the water cool. Drain off and refrigerate can.

When you open the can, this is what you get:


Pure delicious!!

If your family hasn't seen this one before, they will probably be confused when you arrive at the dessert table with a tin can and a can opener, but they'll be sorry they mocked your artless presentation.

Serve by the spoonful, with whipped cream. This stuff is rich.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Moment You've All Been Waiting For...

Wait, WHAT?!?! Is this thing always going to be covered in nipples?! Crap!

Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style, inside out and unblocked.

The miracle of blocking removes the terrifying nipples! Hooray! If I had something black to pin this to, I would have, but sadly no.


This shawl is about the perfect size for me, I think. Not too small, not too big.


And here it is, wrapped sideways. Too bad I can't always look this graceful.


Obligatory stats:
Pattern: Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style
Needles: #6 circular, the grey bendy plastic kind I like
Yarn: 4 oz. fingering weight custom dyed from Blue Swallow Handmade
Size: about 68" x 34"
Modifications: I added 5 extra pattern repeats because I wanted to use up as much yarn as I had. I'm very happy with the size this way. I was frightened of running out of yarn at the very very end so I didn't do one of the rows in the edging, but it's all the same to me.

This is a great project, it comes together fairly quickly, and looks great. I wore it to school today and got some great comments, particularly from our secretaries, who decided I should open a boutique! Haha. As if I could pay boutique rent... but seriously, anybody wanna go in with me? We can make up some patterns, right? We'll be sure to break even, right? Even my students thought it was very nice.

I hope to get some outside photos taken soon, so I can post better looking shots of this thing. Now to choose another lace project from the basket to finish... what do you think, little scarf for Christmas gifts or big scarf for me? There's lots of laceweight sitting around ready to knit in this little apartment.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lacevember Contest Entry

I am a newly minted Lacevember member! I'm not usually one to join lots of group blogs, but it seems like everything in my knitting basket right now is lace, so I figured it would be appropriate.

Since this contest could net me a delightful skein of luxury sock yarn, I'm in. Here goes.


The knitting questions, or the usual suspects

How long have you been knitting? I learned when I was about 6 or so. That makes it something like 17 years, which seems scary until I remember that I didn't knit for a whole bunch in the middle.

How did you learn to knit?
Mom, of course.

Favorite thing about knitting? I've always got something to do, and (hopefully!) something pretty at the end.

How long have you been knitting lace?
I just began to knit lace in the past year or two.

Favorite thing about knitting lace.
How something so impressive looking emerges out of something so scrunchy -- and easy to do!


The yarn questions, or flash your stash

Favorite lace yarn?
Don't know yet, but it might end up being Jaggerspun Zephyr.

Variegated or solids for shawls? I'd say solid, but right now I've got a variegated one going.

Favorite lace color? Natural white.


Technique, or show us your skillz

Circs or straights?
Circs! The all-nylon Susan Bates kind. If you have any, please send them to me ;)

Favorite lace knitting trick?
Underwater? Standing on my head whistling Dixie? I'm not sure.

Lifelines? If so with what?
Heh. Lifelines are for sissies. I'll say that now, until one day I find myself cursing and frogging something important.

Fancy blocking wires, or just sewing pins stuck in your carpet?
Blocking wires, sure. Fancy ones? Not so much. I got piano wire at the hardware store for a couple bucks and it serves me great.


Pattern, or can you follow directions

Shawls or lacey items?
All of the above.

Triangle, rectangle, or circular shawls?
I've got a triangle and a rectangle right now. I'd like to try some circular ones, too. I keep trying to convince myself that it's not "old lady" to be running around in a shawl....

Charts or printed instructions?
Depends. I think most like the written instructions, but the chart is nice for knowing where you are going to go at a glance.

Favorite lace you've knit? Some scarves as gifts... no photos, sadly.

Favorite lace you want to knit? Peacock Feathers. In white. For my, you know, eventual imaginary wedding. Oh, and the Rose is a Rose shawl from A Gathering of Lace. Anything immense and impressive, really.


Just Fun, yup that's right, just for fun

Favorite jelly belly flavor?
Juicy Pear, hands down.

Tell me everything you know about Eric the Red..... Uh, Viking guy, discovered stuff, probably killed a bunch of folks, red hair, that kind of thing. Sorry, mostly I do 19th century history.

Coke, classic or with lime? Orange pop. Or grapefruit pop. You heard me, I said pop.

Holiday carols, sing along, or wish they would be banned from all public airwaves?
If only they would come on for 1 week, instead of a whole month....

What is the definition of irony?
Whatever it is, Alanis Morissette got it wrong.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop?
Th-ree.

Why is my cat always puking in front of my son's bedroom door? Um, it probably has less to do with your son than what you're feeding your cat. But cats are weird, so I don't know.

What is your superhero power? If I could read and knit at the same time, I could take over the world. But my real superhero power is clumsiness. Don't ask how they're going to someday let me work in a museum.

If the laundry is 9 foot by 11 foot (just dreaming, that's a big laundry room), and the walls are 8 feet tall, and you are going to tile the entire room in tiles that are 3 inches by 5 inches, what color should those tiles be? Cobalt blue.

What's for dinner tonight? Who's making it, you or me? Because I'd love for you to take me out. Otherwise it will probably involve noodles again.

What is clogging my children's bathtub drain? Yeah, that's gross. But probably hair. You can get it out with a pliers. Hope you've got a good gag reflex!

Ok, back to homework and laundry.

Actual Knitting Content: I have 10 rows left to go on the Shetland Triangle. If the world doesn't collapse on me in the next few days, it will be off the needles and nice and blocked soon. Hooray!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Belated Hedgehog


I finished this a few days ago, but haven't had a chance to get on and get Blogger to upload all my photos.

Essential Stages of Hedgehogness:

Flat:


Attacking:


Friendly:



The stats:
Pattern: Fiber Trends Huggable Hedgehogs
Yarn: Ella Rae Classic, Lion Brand Fun Fur, and scraps
Needles: 10 1/2 & 11 circular

For all the time it took me to finish this, it was mostly delayed by my running out of fun fur. I know, what a horror. This, in my opinion, is one of the only appropriate uses of fun fur, and it came out well. It's a quick project, and comes out cute. The instructions are lengthy but comprehensive and easy to understand, like most Fiber Trends patterns.

Now... what to name him? Do I keep him? Give him away? Make another in a similarly obnoxious color?

... or just go back to my lace?



Shetland Triangle, at 10 pattern repeats. I've only used about one third of my yarn (thanks to my nifty new kitchen scale, I can figure these things out). Question is, how many more repeats can I do? The shawl calculator I have doesn't seem to be able to do this kind of calculation.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Just for Sarah



Serrano is now just like two tiny pair of pants. Hope you like it, Sarah!

I'm making these on some new Crystal Palace bamboo circulars. I'm not very happy with the needles, mostly because of the join. While Crystal Palace has done a great thing with their rotating, non-kinking cord, the metal ferrules they use to join the cord to the needles have a very square corner right where the cord hits the metal. I'm afraid they're going to tear up my yarn, and it doesn't allow the yarn to flow easily onto the needle. Bummer. Sadly, I've had a lot of difficulty finding my favorite nylon needles in smaller sizes, so I'm resorting to buying these.

I'm also working on my Shetland Triangle -- I've been through 5 sets of pattern repeats, which is technically half, but I have enough yarn to make it bigger than the pattern says, and 'half' is relative when each row increases the stitch count by four.... Anyway, it's making a slightly larger scrunchy lump in my knitting basket, but is no more interesting than a few days ago.

It's really bad when you procrastinate by doing laundry and vacuuming, but that's what I'm up to today.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Much Better



And to think I almost had myself convinced that blocking would cure yesterday's problem. I'm much happier with the way the new hem looks.

Despite this being on #2 needles, I'm still convinced it's going to go fairly quickly. I have 6 skeins of sock yarn to make it -- that's only 3 pair of socks, and that's not such a bad way to think about it. Of course, taking into account school and other distractions, I probably won't get it done until spring. That's okay, although faced with grading 65 8-page papers or knitting, I'll bet you know which one I would choose.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bad Knitter!!

See this?



In theory, this is the beginning of a Serrano sleeve. I'm sure you can see the problems it's having as well as I can.

Here's my dilemma: On the left, the hem is knit on smaller needles than the body, while on the right, the hem is knit on the same size needles. The one on same-size needles flips up annoyingly, but I'm worried the smaller-size hem won't block out as well in width as the larger-size hem.

I have to rip half of this thing out one way or another. I'm currently leaning towards the smaller-size hems, because they look neater, but what do you think?

(Bad knitter, going to knitting group with only one project and not the right needles....)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Birthday Fun

No, no birthday knitting. But that's okay. I made 2 cakes over the last couple of days instead so I could have a bunch of people over for my birthday yesterday.

Here is the pretty one, just a box bundt cake:


And closer:


The other cake (Chocolate Eclair Cake, a real treat) was delicious but not worth photographing.

And I got a lovely bouquet with zinnias, milkweed, and hot peppers! Fun!


Maybe when I dig myself out of the giant, gaping hole that is school, I will find more time to be productive in my knitting.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Irresistable

With some wonderful hand-dyed yarn I purchased a while back, I decided to try out the Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style. Here is an image of a sort of swatch in progress. Of course it's really not a swatch, it's the beginning. Who cares! I'm going to block the living daylights out of it anyway. Lace totally agrees with my knitting style -- intricate in thought and execution, yet without backtracking in preparation.



I have an opinion question: I will soon be knitting 2 lace scarves, one in a variegated and one in a solid yarn. Variegated yarns tend to give me trouble when choosing a pattern. I'm not sure whether to choose a small-scale pattern or a larger one. Any opinions?


Here's an opinion of mine. While I love the efficiency of a swift and ball winder, I far more enjoy the aesthetics of a hand-wound center-pull ball of yarn. Compare below:



For me, hand-wound balls tend to fall apart less, particularly when thrown into a bag for storage, and just make me happy because they look so characteristic.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What Happens when you Knit too Much

Did your mom ever tell you, "stop making that face or it'll stay that way!"?

...yeah. Maybe somebody should have told me earlier.





Fiber Trends hedgehog, fresh for the felting. And, um, you know, eating my head.


A few days ago, I couldn't resist casting on a Serrano sleeve:



Looks awfully fun, although the sheer craziness of knitting a sweater on #2 needles hasn't struck me yet. Trust me, though, soon I'll be saying, "what was I thinking?!?!" In the meantime, it's purty. Can't wait to have more dedicated knitting time!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Weekends are always better...

When yarn comes in the mail!



Here's my portion of the latest Knit Picks haul, including some lovely Gloss to make knitty's Serrano with. (The needles I picked up at my LYS, because my #2s were metal and only 16"... no fun.)

I've wound one ball, and I might cast on for the sleeves soon. I still feel obligated to finish other projects, but my desire for sweaters cannot be stopped.

I finished (finally) my socks for charity, and took those in yesterday when I bought my needles.

I'm also chugging along on my Pomatomus socks. Daylight or no, I still can't get these colors to photograph properly. There's grape, violet, cobalt, teal, turquoise, berry, and blue, all in there, regardless of whether the camera can see it or not. I'm still enjoying the pattern, although the heel as written is kind of a pain in the butt. The back side of twisted ribbing is even less fun, with p1tbl.



I think I should put down the knitting for a while and do a little grading. Yuck. You know which one I'd rather be doing....

Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Project Bag

I had a busy day that I spent being crafty instead of doing schoolwork.

Here is what I have been wanting to make for a long time:

A bag to carry around all my sock projects in! It is just the right size, and built to last.

It is fully lined (and heavily interfaced):


It was relatively easy to make, although it took some planning (and me fixing a major screw-up wherein I thought I was being clever but actually made the bag totally unusable). It's about 7" tall, 6" wide, and 3 1/2" deep. The fabric practically jumped into my arms at the quilt store. I had been thinking of going with a reproduction '30s print, but I couldn't find one that struck me. So this wonderfully bright floral came with me (anemones and tulips and gerberas, yum!)

And it fits a sock project perfectly:


Ooh, what's that? More Pomatomus?

Here's a closer shot:


One of these days I'm going to remember to try to take photos while it's light out, so these photos of the lovely colors don't come out so crappy.

Now that I've done a full repeat on the Pomatomus, I find I really like them, although all the ribbing might get a little tedious. I'm also kind of afraid that doing everything twisted is going to leak over to the rest of my knitting, but I think I'll be able to manage.

In other news, I spent the afternoon with the lovely Natalie. We knitted, I wound a bunch of yarn (no photo -- you know what wound yarn looks like!), and we blocked out her shawl for her wedding in 2 weeks!

I'll leave you this photo as a teaser, but you should really go visit her blog for the rest of the story.



Now isn't that beautiful!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Join me!



I'll bet you know what these are going to be! Pomatomus socks!

I know some of you out there were thinking of making them. Want to join me? It will be fun! The pattern so far has been pretty easy to memorize, but it's a little slow because it's in 1x1 twisted rib.

I'm using some Brown Sheep Co. handpainted Wildfoote, and I just love the colors. This picture didn't turn out great, but I didn't want to go back again and fuss with the camera some more, so that's what you get. You'll see more as time goes on, anyhow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Finito!

It was a few years ago that this magazine, sitting in my mom's pile of knitting stuff, caught my attention:

You read that right: up in the corner it says 1964.

In it were these delightful images and pretty decent sweaters; this one seemed so cute and classic, I just had to have it.


And this was what the magazine had to say about it:



Of course, it was so old I couldn't find the mohair they called for, even in my LYS' yarn books. So I had to guess at the yardage (I bought 7 balls and only used 4 1/2... but better safe than sorry). And I wasn't about to do mohair, as it drives me crazy, and while I love pink, I didn't think it was going to be the best choice for this sweater. I didn't think of it when I picked it out, but this color is really the color of real lavender to me. Yum!

(I know, you're saying, alright already, show me the sweater! All in good time, I swear.)

A sneak peek:


And here's me, trying desperately to look decent for my self timer:



And the sweater itself:


This was a great little knit, although it revealed to me the advances we've had in patternwriting in the past 40 years or so. For example: I'm wearing, believe it or not, the largest size, which is about 38". There aren't any diagrams of what shape the pieces should be in, or even what the finished measurements of the sweaters will be. The pattern assumes you do long-tail cast on, which I do, but many patterns now give the first row as the right side. The pattern also isn't as specific -- my neck ribbing is goofy because I thought it meant "repeat these 2 rows 3 times" when in fact it meant "repeat these 2 rows 3 more times", which is something entirely different. But it came out alright in the end.

The Stats:
Pattern: Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 1964 #36 Cabled Pullover
Needles: #2 (bottom ribbing), #3 (neck ribbing), #8 (body)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted (100% wool) in Platte River Blue
Modifications: I lengthened the sleeves a little, and added stitches to the front to make the seams match the rest of the body. Oh, and didn't use mohair!
Screw-ups: I didn't make the body quite long enough, but didn't discover this fact until I had bound off at the shoulders on the back. Whoops! Blocking fixed some of the shortness, and I'm short-waisted anyhow, so it's okay. I also probably could have made the smaller size, but I don't need really tight sweaters.
Other notes: Blocking did wonders for this thing. It was a smooshy, lumpy mess before blocking all the individual pieces. And of course it made seaming that much easier.

In conclusion: knitting from vintage patterns is great, but requires a little foresight. Sizing might be odd, directions might need a little more puzzling out than you're used to, and something knit on "big quick needles" might really be on a #6 or #7.

Now it just has to cool off enough for me to wear!