Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sock time

The closets are full of leftover metal hangers from the dry-cleaners. Of course in my copious spare time I had to finally sit down and make a pair of sock blockers.

Sock blockers

Very easy! Can you imagine a closet full of these? All the socks hanging there, waiting? I'm almost tempted to do it, although I do have that nice box to keep socks in.

I've also been working on the Pomatomus socks.

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It finally seems like I'm getting somewhere, especially after I ripped out the first one after finishing it, down to weaving in the ends and everything. But there are still problems.

Pomatomus toe

This is what the toe looks like if you follow the pattern. Not cool, especially for my wide feet. And to add insult to injury, it's too short. So I'll be ripping it out and re-doing it.

Now, do I bring these and finish them while I sit in line and wait for the iPhone tomorrow? Or should I just take a book instead? I'm afraid the Bayerische socks would be too involved, and I'm not sure I want to start an entirely new project at this point. It doesn't help that I have to be ready to run home and jump on a plane as soon as we (hopefully) are able to get one of the phones. (It's not for me, I'm sitting in line as a proxy for somebody who actually has a Real Job. Gosh, wish I had one of those....)

The kitchen is a huge mess... I'll show you why at a later time, but now I have to go fight the stacks of dirty stuff.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grannie Smith

Since graduating from grad school (haha), I've found myself with unprecedented amounts of free time (most of which are supposed to be dedicated to finding a job). However, as you can imagine, I've decided to use this time for my own purposes, namely knitting. This is what's been going on in the past month or so.

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This is the majority of the Grannie Smith Cardigan, designed by Melissa Wehrle. I am in love with the idea of lacy cardigans (if sometimes not the outcome; my version of Serrano came out miles too small and had to be given away to my mom) and want to make several more. I love this pattern. It's well written and easy to follow, and obviously Melissa put a lot of time into the details. She's written several more patterns; some are free on Magknits and some are available for purchase on her website.

The only major changes I'm making are giving it 7 buttons instead of 5 (which required some re-doing of math and ripping of button bands) and subbing the yarn.

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The pattern calls for Rowan Kid Silk Haze. As I wasn't sure I was going to love this, or love knitting with it, I subbed in Crystal Palace Kid Merino, which is 28% kid mohair, 28% merino, and 44% nylon. It's about the same, well, without the silk of the Rowan yarn, and only about half the cost, which is a bonus. I was afraid I would hate the yarn and that it would be a little itchy like other mohair stuff I've made, but this looks like it will be just fine. I ripped out a major mistake in one of the fronts with no trouble, but had a heck of a time undoing some badly-executed buttonholes. I hope to not be ripping any more of it out, but the button bands aren't going on nicely. All that's left is the collar and sewing the armhole, sleeve, and side seams! I'm excited: this will be a relatively fine-gauge sweater (on size 4s) in about a month. I'm inspired to do more. There will be another Serrano for me (this time in the correct size and gauge) and another lacy cardigan that I'm going to design myself, probably in a sport weight.

In other news, I'm starting to seriously send out job applications. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Learning Curve

Finally, I have knitting to show you! The last few months of grad school really kicked my butt and I didn't get much knitting done. Now that I have some free time I've been able to work on the backlog of yarn I have.

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These photos don't show much except my learning to use the camera in my new cell phone. I'll figure it out soon, I promise.

These are just some generic toe-up socks in Koigu that I bought while I was in Santa Fe last summer; I don't remember the color number. But with two skeins of yarn I got two socks for my not-tiny feet which are almost too long. Hooray for not running out of yarn!

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I'm still(!) working on the Pomatomus socks as well as Eunny's Bayerische socks, but I may start something up again that is just plain stockinette. I've been watching a lot of movies lately and intensive cabling plus movie doesn't sound like a good combo.

And how about that yarn diet? Well, if sock yarn "doesn't count" (I've bought yarn for 2 pair), then I've only spent $10 on yarn so far this year, and the year's half over and I'm certainly in no danger of running out any time soon.

I am in the process of moving further south, this time into Virginia. I wonder how many sweaters I can continue to find useful... I see lots of fine-gauge or lacy things in my future. Doesn't sound too bad, really. In fact, I've got most of one done already....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Paprika Macaroni and Cheese

Chez V there is a great enthusiasm for pasta, especially fresh pasta. Our household has recently acquired two dedicated pasta making machines: a Marcato Atlas Regina and a Marcato Multipast. The Regina came in the mail first, so we've had more time to play with it. It extrudes 5 different types of pasta: two different types of skinny macaroni, two different types of larger ziti and rigatoni, and finally fabulous curly rotini. The Multipast is more of what you'd probably think of with a hand-powered pasta machine; it makes flat sheets and has different cutters for different widths, as well as a very exciting looking automatic ravioli filling attachment.

My first attempt at using the machine was a failure; I'm accustomed to making pasta that I can roll out on the countertop. To make it easy to roll, I've reduced the flour in that recipe to make a ratio of about 2/3 C of flour to each egg. This is a sticky dough that is pretty easy to knead and roll if you keep everything well floured, but it won't hold its shape when it's extruded out of the machine. The recipe that came with the machine suggested a ratio closer to a full cup of flour per egg, which is almost impossible to knead, but produces much better pasta.

The first successful attempt, then, were these paprika-flavored macaroni intended for mac and cheese.

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Here they are coming out of the machine. The machine is fairly simple, consisting of a die, a screw to feed dough to the die, and a hopper to put dough in. You clamp the machine to the countertop and crank a handle to turn the screw. This turned out to be more work than I was expecting, but I think the results are worth it.

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Of course, now you can make noodles any length you want; they don't necessarily come out of the machine evenly, either.

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This was the total output piled on the kitchen countertop. I think the paprika flavor was a little too strong, but they were still good, very fresh and delicious.

They even made pretty good mac and cheese, although I have to admit sometimes I like the powdered stuff that comes out of the box... don't shoot me!

Experiments are continuing with fewer eggs, more water, using real semolina, and flavored doughs.

What, think this is suddenly turning into a food blog? Well, there might be a lot more about pasta now that there are new machines to play with (I can't wait to make ravioli) but once I get my cameras and computers to agree on how to do things, I have some new knitting to show off, too.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Graduation Photos

Well, in the hopes of catching up with myself, I'm going to commemorate my graduation a few weeks ago. On with the medieval wizard costume! I think Masters' robes are hilarious because of the long sleeves and funny, non-functional hood. I kept joking about keeping snacks in my sleeves for the ceremony, but in fact I just had some cough drops in them.

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Before the ceremony, my advisor adjusts my hood while Mom looks on. This is a dubious process.

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All dressed up and no place to go! What's all the fuss about? The slightly crazed look in my eye is giving me away....

The shots of me crossing the stage and shaking hands were too blurry and small. But I did. I swear.

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And I'm done. See? I took the funny cardboard hat off. Get me out of this damn polyester robe thing! Worth $63 my ass....

This all reminds me that I haven't yet actually received my diploma. And of course since I've moved, I have no idea where the darn thing is going to end up. I'll keep my fingers crossed.