Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Bagel Making

We're always on the hunt for a fun new food project. Somehow all food experimentation becomes a project, complete with research, shopping expeditions for unusual ingredients, and full-fledged destruction of the kitchen.

So. Bagels.

Why bagels? Well, why not bagels? They have great potential for yumminess. Onward.

The Mr. did the research - I don't have the patience for it. He came up with what was described as a recipe for the genuine article, which is apparently more genuine in Montreal than it is in New York these days. Whatever. Go read the writeup about it; I'm not going to get into an argument. At the end of this long article of discovery and experimentation is a recipe, which we followed almost to the letter. I substituted bread flour for all-purpose. The weird ingredient requiring a shopping expedition was barley malt syrup, which we found at Whole Foods in the baking aisle, next to things like molasses.

Here's a note for technologically advanced cooks: if you have an iPad 2 with the smart cover, you can use the magnets in the smart cover to stick it to your fridge and use the iPad to read recipes off of. Magic!

Bagel Making

The dough was pretty easy to make and nice to work with. It rose nicely. We had a little trouble making it into nice-looking rings, but that can come with practice. The boiling wasn't as bad as I'd feared - what if the rings fell apart into some kind of mush? Nope, no problems there either.

Bagel Making

A little glaze and some toppings later, and they went into the oven.

Bagel Making

I have approximately the world's crappiest oven, so to counteract everything burning, I have to double all my baking sheets for an air cushion.

All the prep was well rewarded. We ended up with a dozen small bagels (about the size of your average donut), and they will be all gone in 24 hours. I'd make them again. They were chewy and soft and fluffy and crunchy on the bottom. The only thing I'd change in the future is maybe the salt/sugar ratios - these were a little sweet for my taste.

Thanks to mom for the home-grown poppy seeds.

Bagel Making

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Featherweight Cardigan

Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I've been partnering with Miss Babs to knit samples, work shows, and hopefully come up with new ideas. Here's one of the samples I've knit for her booth.

We were looking for a simple, straightforward garment to show off the qualities of the yarn and ended up with Hannah Fettig's Featherweight Cardigan. The original sweater was knit in Malabrigo Lace, which is oh-so-soft but frankly not very durable.

I was the first person to get to knit a sweater with her new Northumbria fingering weight yarn. It's 100% Blue-faced Leicester wool, which means it's smooth and strong while still being soft and a little silky. Let me just say I love this yarn for garments! It's lightweight and I'm sure it will wear really well. The colors are also incredibly vibrant (this color is called Aubergine, if you like it).

Featherweight Cardi

Here I am. I knit the 40" size, even though I'm closer to a 36" bust, for two reasons. My gauge was off - the pattern calls for a size 6, but I liked the fabric I got better on a 5. Since I was using a smaller needle, the 36" sweater would have come out too small, and I like a little positive ease in my sweaters. I don't think anyone looks good in a skin-tight sweater! So the finished sweater ended up being about 38" - perfect for me. I also lengthened it by a lot, because I don't care for cropped sweaters. It's a top-down knit, so this is a very easy modification. Just keep knitting.

Featherweight Cardi

I visit the sweater and wear it any time I work a show with Babs... but I think it's time for me to make one that I'll get to keep. It's a lot of mindless knitting, so here's hoping we don't run out of James Bond movies and soccer matches to watch.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The continued bamboo saga

The bamboo that had invaded my lawn was removed. It took the work of strong men with axes, but it was removed.

However, bamboo is tenacious. Bamboo can only really be stopped by several feet of concrete, and then only sometimes.

This bamboo hit the foundation of the house, couldn't go any further, and shot up from there. When people say bamboo grows fast, they aren't joking around. Compare the bamboo to the window frame. The left photo was taken on Monday. The right photo was taken today. That's a good 18" of growth in two days.

It can see in the windows now. I think it's watching me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spinning Beginner Yarn

Visiting fibre space and Alexandria was good. I got to knit a lot, work the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival with Miss Babs, and hang out with people I hadn't seen in six months.

The other thing I did while I was there was to try some wheel spinning. I’ve done some spindle spinning before, but just like knitting I like to go FAST. I love spinning with a wheel. On the other hand, I don’t need another hobby, another expense, or another piece of furniture in the living room, so I don’t own one.

Thankfully this is where Lesley comes in. Lesley just got a beautiful Kromski Symphony and agreed to let me spin on it. I am still very much a beginner, so I tried out some mixed light & dark BFL from Miss Babs. She always says it’s good for new spinners – not as slippery as merino or other silky fibers.

So here I am spinning. Please remember I have no clue what I’m doing, so I’m sure I have atrocious posture and there are probably seventeen other things wrong with this photo.

My yarn is a little uneven, but that’s ok – it’s beginner yarn! I don’t know all the smart words about spinning, whether I should talk about plies or twist or drafting or whatever. I’m just excited to have made yarn that looks mostly like yarn. It averages out to be worsted weight or so. I hope there is enough for a hat.

Lesley is also awesome and agreed to spin some yarn just for me! She has a lot more practice than I do, so her yarn looks a lot nicer. (Just like real yarn!) This is from Polwarth fiber from Squoosh Fiberarts, in a color called Fathom. It’s over 500 yards and probably sportweight. I have no idea what I’m going to do to show it off. Maybe a shawlette? Anybody have any suggestions?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Monday

How was your weekend?

Book sale haul

Our weekend was busy. We went to a book sale at the public library and brought home two big stacks for less than a dollar a book. I have been able to fit the non-fiction into the bookcase. The fiction is another story.

Oops, that wasn't intended to be punny. No really, where are all the books supposed to go?

Also going on this weekend was the Mountain View A La Carte and Art festival. The main street was closed down and filled with art, craft, and food vendors. As usual, not much of it was to my taste, but I did have to go back the second day for a great t-shirt from Limey T's. Her booth was packed with goodies, and she has an etsy shop here where you can see it all. There's a whole line for kids, too.

I love the barn owls. She had some shirts with peacock feathers and lilies of the valley that I also wanted... but one thing at a time.

Of course there was knitting, but it was mostly the secret kind. How was your weekend?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sock Roundup

Since leaving for California, I've finished eight pair of socks. Some of them were for me. Some of them were for other people. That's the nice thing about socks - most people seem to think they're a really cool gift. Anyways, nobody needs to read individual things about eight pair of socks, particularly the ones that were knit plain.

So I used the mosaic maker over at fd's flickr toys to make you a pretty photo of all the socks. If you're really curious, you can look at all the details over at my Ravelry project page dedicated to socks.

Sock Mosaic

Okay wait, I'll write about one pair. For a Sock Knitters Anonymous challenge, I knit Skew (top row center in the above photo). Eighty-six zillion people have knit these socks. Some people love the way they fit - and some don't. I have high arches and wide feet, so I was a little afraid they wouldn't fit. Miraculously, with virtually no modification, they did. I was so excited. I'd never knit a pair of socks so quickly (the plain stockinette helped). They probably won't wear well - I had to knit them on 2's to get something approaching a size that would fit me - but they were a lot of fun.

What next? I now have 30 pair of socks. I have actually reached a saturation point. It's more than I can fit in the sock box. Even with wearing hand knit socks every day (and for probably 9 months of the year here in Northern California), it's more than I can reasonably wear between washings. They don't seem in danger of wearing out any time soon.

And yet - this should come as no surprise - I have lots of sock yarn in my stash just waiting to be knit up. Yep, I could knit socks for other people. I could knit more shawlettes. But darn it, I like knitting socks for me! I like wearing them! Maybe someday the old ones will wear out and I'll have a good excuse to make lots more.

I suppose I should take this as a sign to knit more sweaters. I actually need more sweaters. Hm.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Something new on the needles

New project

I can't stop knitting. It's PINK. SO PINK. I am not a "pink person" but it is so HAPPY. I sat in the sunshine for hours to be with this yarn today.

It's Miss Babs Yowza in a one-of-a-kind spectacularly unrepeatable shade called Scarlet Ibis. The camera can never pick up the colors right. It's every shade of pink imaginable, plus a little red, berry, and coral. I am in love.

Of course, it's not for me. Someone I love dearly has had a little girl, and this is going to be perfect for her. For both of them. But when I'm all done, there will be a pattern for you. Soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Actual Knitting Content

Note I didn't say new knitting content.

As usual, all my current knitting is super-secret in one way or another. I have some designer samples, some gifts, and some really terrible swatches for new designs (that aren't working properly) on the needles. However, since I haven't blogged in approximately forever, I have an immense backlog of old finished knitting to share. Aren't you just beside yourself with excitement?

Before I moved to California, I started some wonderful Citrus mittens. After over a year (sock yarn on US #0, anyone?) they were finally done back in December. They have snuggly double cuffs to keep out the cold. I have worn them exactly zero times. I guess they are nice to look at.

I made plans for making SpillyJane's super-cute Carrots & Beets Mittens as a gift for my mom, who is an ardent gardener, for Christmas. A week after Christmas (I know, I’m a terrible daughter), they were finished. Let’s not talk about how long it took to weave in all the ends, okay? At least in Chicago they are useful. And I hear they were admired by all of my Mom's knitting group, which is pretty awesome.

I knit these up in Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool Fingering, which is a lovely thing. I think there's nothing else like it on the market right now, a 2-ply fingering-weight non-superwash merino in tons of colors.

Between all the socks I've knit (those can have a post all their own) and projects like these, I'm starting to amass quite a lot of fingering weight leftovers. I love love love to knit colorwork, so perhaps building up a stash of many colors can only be a good thing. No more full mittens, though - not in California anyway. I am however lusting over the Härkeberga Guldmantel mitts. They might become my next stranded knitting project. I have the yarn - just have to buy the pattern and find the time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sometimes, I'm organized

Even though I had unpacked all the books immediately, it took me four months after we moved in to alphabetize the bookshelves.

Now, madness has set in and I'm organizing the fruit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Aliens have emerged

In the almost three weeks I was gone from California, my front lawn has been invaded by malicious alien life-forms.

Bamboo shoots, to be precise.

Aside from the fact that you can almost watch them grow - which, admittedly, is pretty cool - these things are terrifying. The biggest ones are nearly a foot tall, bigger around than my wrist, and pointy. It's like the bottom of a tiger pit out there.