Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Diamonds...

... are a girl's best friend. No, no real diamonds, just the knitted kind!

I picked up the Diamond Lace Scarf the other day and it felt as if it was practically knitting itself. Suddenly, seemingly without much effort, I was halfway through the pattern.

diamond lace scarf

I'm hoping that blocking takes care of the unevenness, as it usually does. Argh to borders that don't quite match the width of the piece.

I used to think nasty thoughts about garter stitch lace, but now I'm in love. It's fast, simple, flat, and mostly reversible. Just a few more quick repeats and i can do the other border - or maybe I will make it a bit longer, as it looks like I'll have tons of yarn left over. Hmmm, maybe I should have made the wider version... oh well, I like this one.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spring Cleaning

No major changes here in blogland today, but if you're actually reading this on the blog itself and not on an RSS reader, you may notice a few tweaks to the sidebar.

I decided it was time to start a new list of FO's for the new year, so that's there.

I found a new knitalong for this year, 2klace. The idea is simple; for 2008, more than half your projects have to be lace or have a lace component or edging. Seeing as all but one project on the needles at this point is lace, I figured this would be a good thing. The ravelry group is here, and the full guidelines are here.

Finally, I found a great group blog to watch called Destash!. If you have stash to sell, join up and add it! Or just watch to see if anything good comes up.

In other news, the Interweave Knits Spring Preview is up! was up this morning and appears to have been taken down again. The link was http://www.interweaveknits.com/preview/2008_spring.asp and used to work and probably will work again soon. There were lots of cardigans, lots of feminine but not too foofy stuff, most of it actually wearable (unlike some things we've seen recently in, ahem, other knitting magazines). One pair of socks, two shawls. I'm looking forward, as always, to receiving my issue.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Socks!

There's nothing quite like a new pair of socks.

monkey socks

Here we have, fresh off the blockers, a very bright pair.

The stats:
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, colorway P837
Needles: #2 for the ribbing, #1 for the rest
Modifications: I did extra rows of ribbing and made the heel flap in heel stitch and extra long to take care of my high arches.

monkey socks

I've gotten to the point where I don't really read heel and toe directions in patterns anymore. I have some that seem to fit and hold up well, but sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out. I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I love this pattern, I love this yarn. It all goes so quickly.

And here's a closeup for you.

monkey texture

I counted yesterday and came up with seven (!) projects already on the needles. I have a feeling I'll need to finish some of those before starting something new.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Let the Sun Shine In

There is nothing to drive away the gloom of winter like a sunny day and the bright, fresh flavor of lemons.

I found Meyer lemons at the supermarket last week and knew they'd be good for something special. A Meyer lemon is thought to be a cross between an ordinary lemon and a tangerine or mandarin orange. They are supposed to be less bitter, sweeter, and more aromatic than ordinary lemons.

The ones I bought had thin orangey skin and did smell about halfway like a lemon and a tangerine. It took me a while to figure out what to do with them but I settled on this lemon skillet cake.

I even cut out a paper snowflake to put a design on the top, and then we got carried away eating it before I could get a decent photo in.

Lemon Cake

There is no leavening in this cake, just the slight fluffiness given by beaten eggs. All in all, it is good, very lemony, but not too rich. It might be a little dry (although I could have left it in a minute too long) but was very good with whipped cream.

Here, have a close-up, and then you can have the recipe.

Lemon Cake

No, it is not my recipe, but reproduced here for the sake of it.

Meyer Lemon Skillet Cake

3/4 cups sugar
Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Place an 8 inch cast iron skillet over low heat, and add the butter. Slowly let the butter melt while you mix the batter.

2. Place the sugar in a large bowl and add the lemon zest. Rub the zest and sugar between your fingers until the zest is evenly distributed through out the sugar.

3. Add the eggs to the lemon sugar and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix again, until the liquid is distributed evenly.

4. Add the flour and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until it is evenly distributed.

5. By this time, the butter should be melted. Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the butter into the batter. Set the skillet aside and mix the butter into the batter evenly.

6. Pour the batter back into the skillet, spreading it evenly across the pan. Transfer the skillet into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The top should just be turning golden, and feel firm to the touch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Too much time on my hands

Okay, I obviously need something constructive to do.

Oh wait, knitting is constructive, right?

You're sure? Good.

So I ripped out the pink and purple sock, because it was bugging me. Too chunky, too boring, too stripey.

Koigu Monkey

And re-knit it yesterday into a Monkey sock. I'm not sure why I chose Monkey. It may have been because I was wearing my other pair at the time, or maybe because the weird stitch pattern is satisfying. It does a lot in its weirdness... it's flat after it's blocked, it's interesting but really easy to knit, and moves the rows of stitches around a bit. It's still weird though.

I've also been working on my bedjacket, which has some of the strangest construction I've seen in a sweater in a while.

Bed Jacket

At least now it's beginning to look somewhat like a cardigan. I'm considering altering the pattern to use some different lace edging, but I'm not sure which one yet. I'm sure there will be something suitable out of Victorian Lace Today or another book.

In other news, having too much time has allowed me to determine what I want to de-stash, and there is quite a bit of it - a whole plastic tub's worth. I won't pester you with photos here, because all the relevant info is up on my Ravelry stash page.

Happily, it is also Restaurant Week here in the DC area, and we are hoping to try out two new restaurants before time runs out... otherwise we might not be able to try them. There's a great Mexican place and a Northern Italian one... both of them do some very innovative things with traditional ideas, so we're hoping to be able to get a table. Restaurant Week is good because you get to try places for cheap, but it's bad because it becomes crazy to go out to dinner. We'll see how we do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reference Post: 2007 Finished Objects




... plus several other pairs of socks that didn't end up with their own entries. 2007 wasn't much of a banner year, but with grad school and two moves, knitting got replaced with some more important stuff. The way 2008 is going, it looks like I'll be producing a lot more.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Something for nothing

One benefit of having a fairly substantial stash is that even though I may not have any income, I can still knit guilt-free. Even if all I did was knit, I think it would be quite a while before I really ran out of yarn (not that the stash is that big, only three plastic tubs). Anyway, this is what I did to keep my hands busy while watching lots of football this weekend:

Koigu sock

Just your ordinary sock, but the colors of Koigu really make it wonderful.

On our trip to Trader Joe's yesterday I spied some sad potted trees resting with someone's trash and decided I would baby them on the patio for a while to see if they would grow for me.

Trees

I don't know what they are. Unfortunately last night it was dark when I got the trees. I could tell they'd either been underwatered or suffered from frost damage, but what I didn't see was that they were infested with scale. Not heavily, but I'm going to have to decide how to treat them or whether to simply trash them... I guess you get what you pay for. What I end up doing will probably depend on what they turn out to be. I was hoping they were camellias but I am coming to doubt that. Just have to wait and see!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cakelets

For Christmas, I got the lovely other member of my household a gift of a mini multi-bundt pan. We really like cupcakes, but these... these cakelets are beyond compare.

cakelets

They are just like fabulous mini cakes, and thankfully they come out of the pan perfectly, because I think there would be no digging them out without scratching the non-stick finish.

I made chocolate cake from scratch (we need a new recipe, by the way) and it made 12 of these little guys and two extra little cupcakes. After they cooled, we glazed them and stuck a chocolate chip in each one.

cakelet

Just as simple as cupcakes and twice as much fun!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Quilting

Every so often I get this urge to quilt. Usually I realize that quilting tends to stress me out, with all its precise cutting and sewing and hunching over the sewing machine. But my old quilt is a bit too loud for a certain someone, so I promised I would make an all-blue quilt instead.

I gathered up all the blue fabric scraps in my mom's stash (ah, the joys of having a fabric stash to pilfer without the responsibility of housing it) and then bought lots of little packs of 1/8-yard assortments in brighter, deeper, more contemporary blues. Here are most of them.

Blue Quilt Fabric

There are lots of different prints, some floral, some batiks, a toile, some stars, plaid, abstract, even a 30s-style print with little dogs that remind me of Asta.

At first I thought I would do some very random piecing, maybe just squares all put together randomly, and then I realized that was going to be a complete disaster. So, like any good crafter lacking inspiration, I wandered through Google Images until I found something that caught my eye. Squares, yes, but on their points, and with contrasting centers. That would satisfy my need to piece, but be easy cutting and easy sewing, and help tie the randomness together. And it isn't too fussy for that certain someone.

Quilt Blocks

Please forgive me, for I am lazy and haven't ironed. But I really like the way these are coming out.

Another confession - I haven't done the math for these yet. The end result of this project will be a queen-sized duvet cover with an envelope back. We don't have the duvet yet, so I don't actually know how big the cover will be. All I know is that at 6" square, I will need quite a few of these blocks!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happy New Year?

After a very nice Christmas with my family and a low-key New Year's at home, this week has come as a bit of a shock. I was laid off from my job but I am confident that I will find something else, and soon.

In the meantime, I have caught an industrial-strength cold bug and am filling my new free time with a little knitting and scheming. In the spirit of catching up and starting new things, I have lots to show you!

Kaffe Fassett Socks for me

I finished the Kaffe Fassett Regia socks a while back. Admittedly the knitting was a bit boring, 3x1 ribbing all the way down, but I love the stripes and the ribbing means they fit my wide, high-arched feet perfectly. No more toe-up socks, I just can't get the heels positioned properly.

I also knit a similar pair as a gift this Christmas, and it seems they were well received. Hooray stripey socks!

There hasn't been much else in the way of socks lately, but lots of other knitting.

Logan River Wrap

This is about one ball into the Logan River Wrap, which I'm enjoying but I'm not sure I'll have enough yarn. Maybe it will just be a short wrap. It's very easy and very pretty!

I also finally found a use for some Spunky Eclectic yarn I had laying around that I figure is too thin for socks.

VLT Scarf

This is the scarf with open and solid diamond borders (or some other very long name) Victorian Lace Today. Again, nice, easy (I love garter stitch lace!) and no horrific pooling. I'll finish this one, for sure.

But the one thing that has been consuming me since Christmas has been making a nice cozy bed jacket. Maybe that's terribly old fashioned, but then again, maybe so am I. There's a wonderful pattern in the book Romantic Style, by Jennie Atkinson. I'm using Jaeger Roma, which is a nylon-rayon-angora blend that might actually be a little too bouncy for the lace edgings that are going onto this thing, but that's okay.

Here it was yesterday:
Romantic Style bedjacket

And here it is today:
Bed Jacket

Can you tell I've been busy? I just can't stop knitting with this yarn, it's so soft and squishy.

The bed jacket has some very strange construction. It's knit in one piece from the bottom of the back to the armholes, and then the sleeves are knit straight out from the body by casting on over a series of rows. Then a collar and finally a lace edging are added. I'm not sure this is the best way to make sleeves, as it makes a seam at the top and bottom of the entire length of the sleeve, but it does continue the pattern.

I've also been thinking about a quilt, but that's for another day. What's new in the new year for you?