Monday, June 30, 2008

Out with the old...

In with the new.

The Logan River Wrap is no more, and it has been totally frogged and balled back up.

Logan River Wrap

Anybody want 5 balls of Noro Cash Iroha?

Noro Cash Iroha 97

Because it is hotter than hot here, even my winter knitting needs to lighten up. So no more worsted weight wraps. Fingering weight is the only way to go!

I'm working on a skinnier fingering weight Clapotis in Trekking, color 105. I hope a good wash will soften it up, but right now I don't mind because I'm totally in love with the color. I also can't believe I'm making another Clapotis, but I love the one I have and don't want to make another Lace Ribbon scarf so soon.

Clapotis

I keep telling myself I should try to break away from knitting everything in purple, blue, and green. It makes all my knitting look and feel the same.

I have also started the Shetland Shorty sweater with the yarn that I dyed. Casting on and working garter stitch on over 250 stitches is a little tedious, but that's OK as it's the whole sweater. Last night, of course, I realized that 5 rows into the actual pattern I'd already botched it, so I have to rip out a few rows before I can go on. Here it is in a tangle, because my circular needle is too short.

Shetland Shorty

Incidentally this was precisely the color of my cup of coffee this morning. Yum.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Finally Finished!

It's time for my first finished object since January (well, one that I can actually talk about).

Lace Ribbon Scarf

What's this, you say? Hooray for the lovely Lace Ribbon Scarf designed by Veronik Avery. Incidentally I think I want to be Veronik Avery when I grow up. I wouldn't even have to change my name very much! In any case, I'm so glad this scarf is done, mostly because this is the third incarnation of this yarn.

Poor Spunky Eclectic Super Socks... I loved this yarn (now, sadly, unavailable). It was beautifully dyed, the colors were unique, it was nice and soft and squishy... and just didn't want to be anything I wanted it to be.

Here is the yarn, so innocently awaiting a project, months and months ago.

Spunky Eclectic

First I tried to make it into a pair of socks. Yuck! They didn't fit and the colors pooled oddly, which was a shame for this yarn.

lozenge socks

Then I tried to make it into the Lace Diamond Scarf, and got all the way to the end before the edging got screwed up. It looked nice for a while, though.

VLT Scarf

diamond lace scarf

Finally it found its true calling in this beautiful pattern.

Lace Ribbon Scarf

Super speedy, easy to memorize and modify, and a gorgeous result. This is an excellent pattern. Yes, it might be a little tedious in the long stretch, but it gives fabulous results and you can work on it anywhere. Make one!

The stats:
Lace Ribbon Scarf, by Veronik Avery, published in Knitty.
Spunky Eclectic Super Socks in Berry Pickin'
#4 nylon circular needles
My Ravelry page for it is here.

And then I promptly gave it away. A friend of mine is moving away to take a new job, and I wanted to give her something to take with her. I loved this scarf, but I've found the things I love best come to be the most lovely gifts.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hats

Today I finally sent off four hats to the 300 Hat Project started by Kristy. Kristy is going to the Ukraine in September and is planning to donate the hats to an orphanage. I had hats that I didn't need and figured they could get better use. So off they go!

Of course I forgot to take a photo before I sent them, but that's OK.

Want to make some hats for this good cause? Check the links above for more details. You have until early September, and there's prizes involved!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Foodie Friday: The Icebox Cake

A year ago, I had never heard of something called icebox cake, which is apparently a classic, made with Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers and large amounts of whipped cream. In my house we always made Chocolate Eclair Cake in the summers, another no-bake dessert made with graham crackers, vanilla pudding, Cool Whip, and chocolate frosting. In any case, with company coming, someone insisted that we make it - partially so we didn't have to eat it all!

Icebox Cake

While the recipe and photo on the Famous Wafers box isn't particularly inspiring, a quick search brought us to this fabulous entry at Smitten Kitchen. That, my friends, is a cake to be proud of, baking or no baking.

There is nothing difficult about this cake, except getting over the idea of three cups of whipping cream, and perhaps finding a way to protect it in the refrigerator overnight, which I'll get to in a bit. You have to use real cream, none of this stuff in a spray can.

Icebox Cake

But first, the super-simple recipe. This version comes from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, and evidently via Oprah before I found it on Smitten Kitchen.

Icebox Cake

3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies
Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings)

In a large bowl, beat cream, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Make sure it's not runny, as you'll need it to hold its structure as you build the cake.

On a flat serving plate, arrange 7 cookies side by side in a circle, keeping 1 cookie in the center.

Spread with 1/2 cup whipped cream, making a 7-inch circle. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making 11 layers of cookies and ending with a layer of cream (there may be a few cookies left over). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, dust top lightly with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.


For ease of refrigerating and serving, we ignored the serving plate and constructed an armature of cardboard and aluminum foil instead. This is not a large cake, so we laid the seven wafers in a circle, traced around them, and discovered that the resulting support would fit in one of our large pans with a lid. As we don't have a cake safe, this was the best way to get the whole thing in and out of the refrigerator safely. We covered the cardboard disc with foil and made two long foil strips attached to the bottom to lift the cake out of the pot.

Icebox Cake

Here it is, safely ensconced.

Icebox Cake

Thankfully we had a big crowd visiting and all but a quarter of the cake vanished instantly. This thing is rich! Eating it in tiny slices is about the only way to do it, but it is well worth making. If we do it again, it may be with a liqueur flavor added to the whipped cream. I'm thinking orange. And what to do with the last cup of whipping cream? I'm thinking we made ice cream with it, but I also had the luxury of pouring it in my coffee on at least one occasion. Yum!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Goals

You may recall that I listed a few knitting goals for spring just a short while ago. Seems that summer is upon us and it is time for some new goals! It was hotter than hot here last week, but thankfully it has cooled down again a bit and we can once again venture outside without collapsing under the humidity.

As last time, the goal project and giveaway is being kindly hosted by Ali at Skeins Her Way and I was notified of it by my good knitting friend Dove.

Considering the fact that I did so poorly on my springtime goals (I only succeeded on 3 of 16 of them), I think it may be best to cut the list down a little bit for the summertime.

1. Finish the bedjacket - I'm probably half done with the edging, so this shouldn't take long. The body of the garment has been washed and blocked, so there are very few steps remaining.

2. Finish the lavender lace blouse to go over summer dresses.

3. Start and finish the aforementioned Shetland Shorty, again for summer dresses.

4. Find more sample knitting - getting yarn in the mail as payment has been quite exciting. (More on this soon!)

5. Knit up a baby sweater for someone I know who's expecting.

6. Blog more often.

7. Knit through some sock yarn stash - not that I have to make socks!

That's enough for now. Time to go knit more edging.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dyeing, not dying

As you probably saw, the new Knitty came out a few days ago. While there were a lot of gems in this season's issue (my Ravelry queue is growing!) I was immediately struck by the little sweater on the front cover, Shetland Shorty. Summer here is pretty miserable by my estimation, so I've been expanding my summer wardrobe to include lots and lots of dresses. Of course not all of them are really appropriate for all occasions, or sometimes I get chilly in the evening. I knew right away this was the perfect little sweater to go over a dress.

Of course, the last thing I need right now is to buy more yarn. But I do have a big bag of Knit Picks "Bare" or "Color Your Own" - whatever they're calling it now. And I didn't really want the white color, so it was time for a kitchen experiment.

I don't keep Kool-Aid around, but I did have a couple boxes of cheap or old tea. It was time to brew up a whole lot of it!

Tea packaging

It was kind of amusing, standing there and ripping apart all the little tea packages. I dumped in a whole box of Earl Grey as well as three or four big scoops of loose tea and set it to boil for a while. I was reading about tea dyeing online and some sources said to let it simmer overnight, but I'm impatient and that seemed like a waste of energy.

Tea brewing

After the house smelled pretty strongly of it, out came the tea bags...

Used tea

And in went the yarn to simmer for a while. In the meanwhile, I had dinner and did some other things around the house, and shut off the heat and went to bed.

Simmering yarn


The next morning, I had some nice brown yarn to rinse. It took four or five rinses to get the extra tea out.

Rinsing yarn

And then I hung it to dry over the sink and left it alone for the rest of the day.

Yarn drying

The finished project is a nice, even caramel tan color. I could have handled it being a little darker, but this is not bad and in my opinion a pretty successful dye job (seeing as I didn't know what shade it was going to be). Thankfully once the yarn was dry all the loose tea came out with a few shakes.

Tea Yarn

Now all I have to do is finish some other projects so I can start a new one! While summer here seems neverending and unbearable, I know in knitting time it will be over all too soon.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Neverending Knitting

I haven't finished a knitting project (commissions and samples excepted) since January. The only knitting I've actually finished for myself this year has been two pair of socks. I'm serious. This was my last finished object.

I've discovered it's really hard to finish anything when all your knitting looks like this:

Sweater?

And this:

Scarf?

I'm not knitting from balls of yarn anymore, just nearly-completed projects I've decided I no longer want. The sweater? Too small, too boring. The scarf? I couldn't get the final edging on right. Maybe I'll like the new projects more.