Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sock Yarn, in Review

Many people spend New Years' Eve reflecting on the years' accomplishments or prepping for a big party. This seems natural, as we're ending one year and starting a new one.

So how do I do it? Weighing squares for my sock yarn blankie. I started in March, using only washable, fingering weight yarn that was leftover from previous projects. They don't have to be socks, because I use that weight yarn for lots of things, but they definitely have to be leftovers.

I'm including the yardage in my 2009 12 mile quest instead of saving them for whenever the blanket is finished because it would totally skew that year. In other words;
1173 yds

Knit Picks Essential: 619 yds
Knit Picks Imagination: 70 yds
Knit Picks Gloss: 70 yds
Mountain Colors Bearfoot: 154 yds
Koigu KPPPM: 202 yds
Plymouth Happy Feet: 58 yds

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stashbusting Purple Stripes


IMG_4969
Originally uploaded by thebookstoregirl

This is the stashbusting sweater that wouldn't die. It's partner sweater, for the Little Dude, was done in three days. This one was not significantly different in construction, yet took something like 8 months. I just wasn't feeling it. And, now, it's actually a bit too big. Sweet Pea likes wearing it, so that's something.

There are 5 different yarns and I could figure out the exact yardage, but I'm just going to use the put up from the Cashmerino Aran, which makes up the most of it. That's 522 yds, and pretty soon we'll be taking stock of total yardage this year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Greyhawk Sweater pics


IMG_4857
Originally uploaded by thebookstoregirl

Finals are done, grades are submitted, and I'm finally getting around to posting some FO pics! This is my NaKniSweMo project, cast off on the final day of November. The blocking was more of a felting process, so it may be destined to be a cardigan. We shall see. As it is, I haven't worn it very much. But, I've moved on to bigger things...

Well, smaller, but stranded and just wait until you see!

Details on this sweater? 922 yards of merino style. The rest is here.

P.S. I'm still trying to figure out how to post pictures from my flickr account. I seem to only get one picture per blog entry. Weird.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Greyhawk Sweater est finit



I have to admit that I have been shamelessly ignoring my NaKniSweMo commitment in favor of adorable polar bears. I mean, really. Look at them. Would you want to knit a 2x2 ribbed cuff if you had those adorable marching polar bears on the needles?

But, December is closing fast. I finished the last 10 rows of the sweater on the way home from Target in the car last night. (It was dark and I couldn't read the chart for the 2nd row of snowflakes on the chart). I used the Vogue Knitting sewn bind off for 2x2 rib today while Will painted the garage door and the kids painted on their easel. The sweater is now blocking by the dryer and I can return to my polar bears with a clear conscience!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Confession and... a change?

If you know me, you're probably not surprised to hear me admit that I'm a perfectionist. Maybe the admission part is a surprise, but not the perfectionist bit.

A corollary of this is that I don't announce my goals very often. I have lots of FO posts, but I'm always shy about goals. What if I fall short? You know, not be perfect?

I'm going to put it out there, this time. I'm trying NaKniSweMo. Yesterday, a box came in the mail with Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits and 9 skeins of gray Merino Style. I grabbed my size 5 needles and cast on Pink. But in gray. The color is actually called Hawk, but it's grey, so I can't help but call this sweater... The Gygax Sweater. Thought I was more of a Forgotten Realms fan, myself.

And if you get the reference, come roll some dice with us. We just picked up the 4th edition books and I'm slowly learning the system.


I'm going to try to finish this month, but without going nuts. It's a goal, and I'm putting out there. And, you know what? If I don't make, there are no consequences. It's okay.

Right?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

One piece Gusseted Fingerless Mitts

I've knit two sets of simple fingerless mitts in the past week. The kids seem to like them because they can still play and draw in the car without taking off (and losing) their gloves.

A while ago, I knit these. They were a huge hit. Then the little dude wanted fingerless mitts like his sister. In a vain attempt to use up the green and yellow yarns from his hat and sweater striped mitts ensued, but there’s still a bunch of yarn. (48 yards)



IMG_4531
Originally uploaded by thebookstoregirl




Then Sweet Pea left her favorite fingerless mitts at pre-school. They closed to school for a week due to the flu, so I let her pick out yarn for a back-up pair. The yarn looks red in some lights, fuschia in others. (66 yds). They're baby cashmerino on size 3 needles for a tight, warm fabric.




IMG_4576
Originally uploaded by thebookstoregirl

I improvised both sets on 2 circular needles. They're gusseted, but instead of putting the thumb stitches on a holder before going on, I simply bound them off. Too easy for words. I think it would be too short on an adult mitt, but it works just fine the the kids'.

I'm not usually a joiner but, next up? NaKneSweMo.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tweed is the new black


IMG_4509
Originally uploaded by thebookstoregirl

My last post found me making excuses for starting another knitting project. I had a table full of WIPs, but I cast on some sleeves anyway. The excuses were worth it.

In about two weeks, I had a cardigan. Not just any cardigan, but exactly the cardigan that I wanted. I used Ann Budd's indispensible book, choosing the raglan V-neck cardi option. I knit the sleeves first to check my gauge, then went with 36" size at 6 sts/inch. I started the V at about an inch before the pattern, but adjusted the neck shaping to accommodate (switched to every 4th row sooner than the pattern called for). The neck shaping met the raglan shaping perfectly. I was going to add a ribbed edge with button holes, but thought the slipped stitch edge looked pretty tidy. So, I broke out the crochet hook, made a button loop and sewed on a single button.

The yarn is City Tweed in Plum Wine. You may remember city tweed from here, or here. I loved it so much that I immediately ordered another sweater's worth but it's taken this long for me to decide what to do with it.

The sweater weighs in at 382g, which is 940 yds. Finally getting somewhere in the yardage thing.


P.S. I'm testing a new Flickr blogging tool, to try to minimize all the photo size errors I get through Blogger. Please bear with any technical difficulties.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Counting my WIPs before they hatch




Life has been nuts. I will spare you all the details, but here's my favorite picture from the past few weeks. It's me and the Little Dude gathering nuts in our backyard. These nuts drop out of trees, onto our roof at all hours and it's a little like trying to sleep through the Blitz. Aside from that, it's my favorite picture because I'm on the phone with Will, letting him know that my biopsy was negative and I do not, in fact, have melanoma. And this is just one of the things that's been going on!

As you might imagine, all of the knitting has been stockinette and soothing, a support role and coping mechanism.

What's this picture? The UFOs that have been piling up. Two of them require more yarn, one requires more time for reading lace charts, the other two require more enthusiasm. So, despite an entire table full of UFOs...

I cast on a new sweater. Those are the sleeves, two at a time, so I don't have to worry about matching increases on the 2nd one. The sweater is the raglan from Ann Budd's wonderful Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater patterns. The yarn is City Tweed from knit picks in Plum Wine. I ordered a sweater's worth a few months ago, within hours of finishing this. Now that the weather has cooled, I've been wearing the grey one nearly every day. So, it's time for a back up.

I still haven't decided on cardi or pullover. A pullover might be more wearable at work, but a cardi more versatile. Thus, I started the sleeves first.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Benched

My knitting mojo has been benched. Why?

1. It's in the 90s (degrees Fahrenheit) here.
2. I am in the 100s (also degrees Fahrenheit). I have strep throat, which is losing the antibiotics battle, but I still feel cruddy.
3. T -2 weeks to new job.
4. Every time I work on the Blueberries cardigan, the yarn or the needles aggravate the skin on my hand. I'm hoping this is the weather and not a developing wool allergy. Cause... dude.
5. My bust size has changed drastically... yet again. I'll avoid TMI, but the fallout is that the Blueberries cardigan may be too big.
6. And really... knitting a sweater that fits is hard enough with a static target size. A moving target is just... disheartening.

I've also given up on getting a spinning wheel. Too much other stuff is going on, now that they're back in stock. And, if my knitting mojo is this low, I don't want to invest a wheel's worth into it. I'm thinking about getting a smaller spindle, though. Maybe an Ashford? I have a huge Schact that's uncomfortable. And maybe some pretty fiber...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trains and Unicorns

My knitting mojo seems to have left me. I've got some projects on the needles, but nothing thrilling and... that's fine. I'm starting a new job in a couple of weeks and it will take most of my 'brain time'. I got a new book on canning (and some other accoutrements) to try out later this week.

But... my kids wanted bathrobes. And I couldn't find any that I liked. And I have a sewing machine. Yesterday was a field trip to the fabric store and today...



Simplicity pattern 2826, with a few mods. Mods are dangerous because I really know very little about sewing. I went for a top stitching to hold the facing down, rather than understitching and the iron (I think those terms are right, but maybe not). They're both a size 4, and it's a bit big on the Little Dude. But they're a huge hit. And my sewing machine and I are becoming closer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Whole Wheat Tortillas, Redux



We've been making our own tortillas for several months now, and I don't think I'll ever go back. I first posted about them here, and have been making them at least once a week ever since. They're fast, easy and made out of things that I keep on hand. Sweet Pea is getting really good at rolling them out, and Little Dude has even tried a few. A few friends have asked for the recipe, so I thought I'd post it here.

I got the original recipe here, but have tweaked it slightly for taste and texture (my recipe follows at the end). I substituted milk for the original water and the addition of more protein seems to make the entire thing stretch and hold its shape better. I also use vegetable oil for taste, but olive oil for frying.
  • 2 c White whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur's White Whole Wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup room temperature milk
Combine flour, Baking powder and salt. Add olive oil and stir until well combined. Put in milk 1 T at a time until dough can be gathered into a ball. Add more milk if needed 1 T at a time until all of the dry ingredients have been worked in.

Knead on floured surface 15-20 times. I do this in the bowl used for mixing, and this decreases the mess. Let dough rest for 15 minutes, or as long as it takes to get the fillings together. I've even let it rest up to an hour while I cooked and shredded green chili chicken.

Divide dough into 10-12 equal portions and shape into balls. On floured surface, roll out ball from center into a circle.

Cook in olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat on each side about 30 seconds or until puffy. Once bubbles start to form, it's time to flip. I used a wide, non stick spatula to turn them, because they're very soft.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Scarf Found!



I did it! It matches this hat, and is 359 yards of Alpaca Treasure. Plain 2x2 rib with a slipped stitch edge but, to be honest, that's about as complicated as I can get these days.



Speaking of... Another set of ribbed scarf and Turn a Square hat. This used up 172 yds of Swish DK from stash (leftover from this), and a tiny bit (12 yds) of Heirloom Easy Care 8 ply for a grand total of 184 yds.

What's up with all the sets and plain patterns? Knitting is taking a back seat to life. Or, rather, I'm relying on it for the soothing combination of 1) being something totally within my control and 2) a process that creates something snuggly, useful and matching.

ETA: Yeah, I know the picture on the top is crooked. Blogger hates me and it's 1 am. It's scarf. You can take my word on it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Little Girls and Rainbows

When I was 7, I got my very own cat. Every one else in the family had 'their' cat and the cat across the street had kittens and I'm sure I was very convincing in a 7-year old fashion. I played with her for a few hours, trying to decide on the perfect name, when I announced to my mom that the word that absolutely described her perfect kitten-ness was... Rainbow.

My daughter, too, loves rainbows. When she asked for a rainbow hat and 'gloves like mommy's where her fingers wiggle out' I knew I had to accede.

The yarn is mostly Palette, though the purple is gloss. All of it is stash, the brighter colors left over from my Jayne hats. They were semolina, sweet potato and pimento. Not colors I usually stash.
There are still leftovers and a sweater, as well as matching doll clothes, have been requested.

ETA: Patterns are all my own, mostly done on the fly. The hat is top down, the gloves gusseted and top up. All were done held doubled on size 5s, which gave a pretty dense fabric. I might do a sweater on 6s, if I do more.

Yardage is 312+128+256= 696 yds

P.S. I was talked into 'Rosie' as a name for my cat and she lived many long, cranky years with us, bless her.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Magic of Math

I have always liked math. No, no, don't stop reading now! I'm just a nerd that way. Middle school was really the height of it. I took extra math classes. I did math at lunch. I was on a competitive math team. I ran around thinking 'this could be mathier.'

Today I won't torture you with cotangents or imaginary numbers. Today, all I'll show you is knitting math - which is warm, woolly and chest circumference-y.

Last week I found myself blithely coloworking along, picking out colors like they were candy and adding them to the yoke of the sweater. I was vaguely every other row, or sometimes two times every three rows (I like armholes that are a little more snug) and having a grand old time seeing how the colors fell together. Things were starting to get a little scrunched up on my 24" circular needle and I realized that, unless I wanted a very fancy poncho, I was going to have to start thinking about armholes.

And I don't wear ponchos. Really.

I remeasured my gauge from the several inches of yoke that I had knit. 9 sts/", which was the same as the gauge I got on my last project with this yarn and this size needles (but haven't blogged yet. Bad blogger!). Then I measured my chest, added an inch of ease to avoid button popping and came up with 36". (Psst. Here comes the math.)

36" x (9 stitches/") = 324 stitches

See? Not so bad. I need 324 stitches to make 36 inches. But what I really needed to know was how many stitches I needed in the front and the back, so I could know when to stop knitting. So I measured under my arms. Two inches for the underarm.

2" x (9 stitches/") = 18 stitches per underarm.

Great! Now, 324 stitches - (2 x 18 stitches) = 288 stitches. I started getting a little suspicious here, and divided that number in half to get the number of stitches that I would need for the front (and back).

144. 12^2. Exactly the same number that I cast on for the neck.

Neat? Or creepy? You be the judge. Personally, I think I'll be wearing this sweater til Underverse come. (If you don't get the reference, that's fine. You probably watch much higher class movies that I do :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Fork in the Path

Today the Blueberry Cardigan and I made a choice. I would either add 'steeks' to its design feature or totally chicken out and change it's name from Blueberry Cardigan to Blueberry Abbreviated Henley. After about 2 inches of colorwork I have gotten quite tired of 1) having the color that I want be on the wrong side of the work when I start a new row and 2) color work on the wrong side. I knit in 2 colors by doing one in my usual 'English thrower' style and the contrasting color in continental style. This goes quite quickly, but I can only knit in continental, not purl. This made the wrong side color work slow, unwieldy and, most importantly, Not Fun.

Solution? I cast on 7 sts, barricaded with stitch markers, to close the gap. When all the knitting is done, I can either be brave and cut the middle stitch to make this a cardigan, or just pick up these edging stitches and make a henley. Right now, I'm planning on brave.

Unrelated (or at least only Vaguely Related):
We didn't read Blueberries for Sal last night, but did enjoy a rousing reading of Jamberry. While the story is not as intricate, there's more rhyming and the kiddos love it.

Summer seems to have arrived here and, despite my best efforts, I don't think I have enough shorts. I am beginning to panic that low rise is going out of style and I will be forced to wear 80s inspired shorts that come up to just under my bustline, making me look even shorter and shorter waisted than I actually am.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Birthday and A Hat


The Little Dude turned 2 last week. My knitted contribution was this hat. It's another, loosely based on Jared Flood's Turn A Square pattern, which I adore. I say loosely, because I'm not exactly sure where that pattern is anymore, so it's based on what I remembered from knitting 5 or 6 of these last year. The ribbing does continue all the way up, which actually turned out to be pretty cute. It's 92 yards of Andean Treasure in both Moss and Embers Heather, and yet another stash buster.

This hat has a matching scarf, which I actually knit first. But... the scarf is already missing. I'm hoping that it turns up before the cold does. I've given it several months to show its face.

There were plenty of non-knitting contributions to the birthday as well. The entire morning was spent baking. We made homemade carrot cake and a homemade flourless chocolate torte. Both were tasty, but the carrot cake shredded as I tried to get it out of the pan. It was a good breakfast, though! Next year - spring form pan.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Free Form Blueberry Cardigan

Blueberries for Sal has become a regular in our nightly story rotation, and I love it. It reminds me of the fields of blueberries across the street from and in the back yard of the house where I grew up. The mother in the book wears a simple, very 50s plain cardigan. It's light weight, with rubbed cuffs, waist and collar. Every time I see it, I want the cardigan (and the fields of blueberries, but those take longer to grow).

The kids miraculously fell asleep on time last night and we watched a movie with both swearing and violence in it. I wanted to start something new and I pulled out my box of Palette and a size 2 needle. We'll be calling it the Blueberry Cardigan, because it's a little more evocative than the 'Chronicles of Riddick' Cardi.

A bit about the yarn... At some point last summer I decided I wanted to try Palette for a mitts project. I ordered some. Then I ordered a little bit more, when it came back in stock. Then the Sipalu bag kits went on clearance. I don't usually go in for kits, but I really, really wanted that pattern. So... now I have a box of Palette without enough in one color for a solid sweater. There are, however, lots of colors reminescent of Juneau's blueberry fields - green, blues, browns and greys. I'm throwing these together with some raglan shaping and see what comes out the other end!

I skipped the swatch and cast on 144, mainly because that's 12*12 and I'm a math nerd. Here's what I had this afternoon:


I frogged back to the ribbing because I decided against the garter stitch button band that I had started. So now we've got some lovely green (I believe it's technically Edamame) ribbing and I am about to recreate some free form colorwork.

Normally I wouldn't mention anything until I had finished, but I thought I'd start blogging a bit more WIPs.

Unrelated: I finally succeeded in making hot wings and blue cheese dip. In addition to olive oil mayo and low fat cream cheese, it had sauteed onion, Worstershire sauce and garlic salt. Dinner was fantastic.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Distractions

After a day of general malaise induced by spinning-frustration, I dove into a variety of distractions. The sewing machine came back up from the basement. Sewing books went back on hold at the library. I found out what a felled seam was, and didn't even know I needed to know.

See that? It's a buttonhole. Buttonholes are, apparently, quite hard to photograph but ridiculously easy to sew on my machine (A Huskystar C10). At least, once you find the manual. Now I want to put buttonholes in everything. I've put them in all my project bags, so I can run a ribbon through them for closure. Next up? Grommets. Once I find my grommet-pusher-thingie.

I also rearranged the living room furniture and scrubbed out the utterly disgusting fireplace. It had a ridiculous amount of soot in it for not having been used for years before we moved in. I spent much of yesterday engrossed in HGTV activities.

But you know what? I still don't have a wheel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Curveball

I don't play baseball, but I am given to understand that curve balls are hard to manage. To me, however, it's a somewhat overused metaphor for generic life challenges. I'd try to think of another, more interesting metaphor for you, dear reader, but frankly I'm a bit too pissy about the current curveball (and the excessive number of commas in that sentence. And the fact that I added some parentheses. But I digress).

The issue? Louet Julias are backordered. Really. I read the email about 5 times. I thought maybe the fact that I had not yet had coffee may have effected my brain. But, no. They're backordered until right before the school year and, not coincidentally, my new job begin. Fah. Of course, I still haven't had coffee, so maybe I'll try it again after the coffee maker earns his keep.

I am a planner. I have been planning on having a spinning wheel sometime in the next week. I have been planning July as a spinning month since about February. I have stashbusted. I have finished big projects (here, here and here). I have cleared out some serious psychic crafting space. I have put off starting new projects or getting very excited about anything. Yesterday I was trying to find something to knit in the car on the way to Little Dude's birthday dinner and very nearly came up short.

I suppose I just need something more interesting to knit. From stash, if I decide I want to keep my order in to get one of this round of wheel. My sadly depleted stash. Maybe another Brigid? Maybe this? Maybe I'll get all my sewing back out...

P.S. Little dude turned 2. There was much cake, silliness and fire truck themed toys. I'll post a picture or two if you're interested. He did not get a spinning wheel.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rain, rain

The rain continues apace. I am beginning to feel like I'm back in Juneau, only without the mountains, beaches or extended summer hours. I enjoy the cool weather, but it still feels slightly weird to be wearing long pants, despite being nearly July. I really am used to Down South weather!

Little Dude's moods have also been experiencing some bad weather. Or, rather, he seems to already be 2 in spirit despite his birthday not being until Monday. Two in a pushing the limits, testing the rules but separation anxiety kind of way.

I also finished some socks. These are from my Faux Flap pattern, no design other than a ribbed cuff. These are the second pair that I've knit from the 4 sock blanks that Sweet Pea and I dyed a year ago. They started out as a neon orange and green Kool Aid mess, then were over dyed with yellow, then forest green. I like the resulting color, but it sort of overrode the sock blank effect.

ETA: These were 254 yards. This leaves me plenty for my sock yarn blankie!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Picture Free Randomness

After knitting my Forestry, very little seems exciting on the knitting front. I am knitting, and I'm knitting some pretty darn nice things, but... nothing quite like that. Nothing worth an entire blog post. The cure? A random list! Whee! (C'mon, get excited, now).

1. I finished some socks. I'll take pictures and figure yardage later, but for now I mostly resent how long this one pair took. 2 months. I'm thinking of changing their name from 'Lime Rescue" to 'Slow Ass Boring Socks', but just doesn't flow the same.

2. I worry that normal people don't name their socks.

3. I worry that I'm turning into a neat freak. Our new, over the shower head organizer pleases me waaay more than I think it 'should'. And my current favorite Berenstain Bears book is the Messy Room.

4. I worry that I worry too much.

5. I am ordering a wheel this week, worry be damned!

6. I am thinking of turning into a part time food blogger. In one day, you get a much higher rate of cooking FOs than knitting FOs. And I really, really like making our own stuff. We now make all our breads, buns, pizza dough, etc and I'm thinking about branching out into the realm of ice cream. I just need to start taking pictures before everyone wolfs it down.

7. The lace stole and I have a rocky relationship. We are at the top of our sine wave and I think I'll go try to get a few rows in before the crazies need me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Seamless Tahitian Forests

I have a new sweater. I lurve it. I lurve the fit, the yarn, everything.

The pattern is Forestry, from Vogue. Vogue is not my style, and I have never knit anything from them before. In fact, I had seen this sweater in the magazine and passed right over it. Then, I saw several on ravelry (lilalu's, okayknit's and jettshin's), and it had to be mine. I debated about the yarn for awhile, then received a Mother's Day gift card for knit picks only a week or so after City Tweed was released. I very nearly got the Desert Sage, but needed a sweater that wasn't green. Instead, 12 balls of Tahitian Pearl (yes, the same color as Jared Flood's fabulous baby blanket). This sweater came in at 1116 yds, so have plenty left for a feather and fan scarf.

This project consumed all of my knitting time. I knit almost nothing else in the 2 weeks it took me to finish. Totally worth it. It's the most wearable sweater that I have knit, to date. I made several modifications, which are detailed below. The most obvious are:
1. Knit sleeves in the round, body in one piece and joined for seamless raglan shaping. Totally worth it.
2. DK weight instead of Worsted (knit the small size numbers to get an extra small size)
3. Enormified the collar by several inches

A quick note about this yarn. I love it. I will totally be ordering more. Maybe even some of the desert sage...


Modifications:

Omitted the set up row (which was wrong). Instead, I did a modified coin cable on the first go around. When it says to hold 4 to the front (Or back), then knit 1, I k2tog. Then I proceeded with the rest of the cable. This decreased from 6 sts to 5 and kept the cable lined up above the bottom ribbing.

Did not use and smaller needles, because I really don’t like ribbing to pull in at the edges.

Sleeves:
Knit in the round, omitting the stitches that would have been the selvedge stitches.

Body:
Knit as one piece. Following the Small size, but omitting what would have been the selvedge stitches. Thus, I cast on (left front + back + right front)-4 = 190 sts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Challah challah challah


I have embraced my absolute lack of Jewish ancestry by making challah. This hasn't stopped me from making Italian, French or Thai food. In fact, were heredity predictive of culinary tastes, we'd likely be eating haggis, braunschweiger and Jello salad. And we don't.

Any way, this bread is totally tasty and makes good sandwiches. It's the recipe out of this book, substituting my favorite flour (white whole wheat) and adding a heaping tablespoon of wheat gluten from Bob's Red Mill. I've still got a bunch of the dough left in the fridge and plan on doing something a little less traditional with it. Stay tuned.

In other news, I have totally finished the best sweater in the world. Details to follow, once we have a fabulous photo session here at Chez Book.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Quantum of Tweed

Or, rather, twelve quanta of tweed arrived yesterday.

Thanks largely to the kids sleeping on time and my husband bringing home Quantum of Solace, they have already become this gauge sleeve.

I really enjoyed Quantum of Solace, and I don't think it's just because we don't get much chance to watch grown up movies any more. I'll post more details on the yarn and the sweater, but for now... I've got to get back to it. It's addictive.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Whole Grain Naan

I am an avid reader of labels on packaged foods. In various times of my life I have avoided various things; in high school I was a vegetarian, when Sweet Pea was a baby I avoided all dairy for nearly a year. These days I avoid processed grains, added sugars, partially hydrogenated oils and whatever else strikes my fancy. Part of it is health concerns, but mostly it's just chemical curiosity.

Bread and baked goods have turned up as the biggest violators of whatever I'm trying to avoid (well, except for the meat in high school). I eat less grain products than I used to, but am not willing to give them up entirely. And my kids love bread, crackers, tortillas and I've been looking for a way to get them healthier stuff without spending a fortune at the grocery and going back every day, because the healthy stuff costs more and goes bad faster.

I've experimented with making my own bread, but had very little success (despite a fancy breadmaker). Then I found a great no knead bread idea and, after several searches through the internet and my local library, found this book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day. I have made my first batch of dough from this book, and simply love it. The idea book is modular, so you can keep one type of dough on hand and make whatever you need for that day - bread, hamburger buns, bagels or, in this case, Naan!

The Naan has been the fastest, because it doesn't require resting, and it turned out fabulous. I used the King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour that I discovered through Kalyn's Kitchen, and added some Irish Style oats, to make it more whole grain and South Beach Diet friendly.

The book is well written, with fun little stories, but what appeals to me most are the recipes. I've only tried one dough so far, but several of the baking techniques and am in love with it. They're coming out with a second book in the fall, focusing on whole grains, and I'm really looking forward to that. You can also see their blog here.

If you're at all interested in baking, you should totally check out the book. Or keep reading this blog, because I plan on making lots more of it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bright Side of Life


I started today's post, and nothing came out but negatives. I try to subvert that aspect of my personality, as it generally leads to a charming, dark spiral of angst that's unattractive enough on teenagers and I simply don't have time to indulge in myself. Rather than quash it down, I like to follow the advice of those Monty Python boys. Here are a list of things to cheer me up.

1. My graduation sweater is finished. While it is too big and perhaps the most unflattering sweater that I have ever knit, it has given me this fabulous picture. This totally showcases the best part of this sweater, which is where the cable I designed turns a corner at the shoulder to travel across the back. This was accomplished with the help of Elsebeth Lavold's straightforward directions in Viking Patterns for Knitting.
(Details: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, 1004 yards, Original Pattern which I would never inflict on another human being).

2. My kids waking up 2 hours before they usually do meant that I didn't miss the sound of the morning rain on the roof.

3. Any frustrations I have with the kids' resulting crankiness do not have to endure until bedtime, because it is Knit Night and I have a wonderful husband who will take the helm at that point.

4. I really like coffee. I get to drink more today than usual.

5. My kids are still young enough that getting out their favorite toys (Legos and cars) distracts them from how tired and cranky they are.

6. I am still young enough that getting out my favorite toys (knitting and coffee) distracts me from how tired and cranky I am.

7. Curry does not upset my stomach, so I get to have great leftovers for lunch.

8. The fact that I have gained 3 pounds this week means that I am 3 pounds heavier than the weekend, but more than 40 pounds lighter than a year ago at this time.

9. The fact that I can't find the pattern for my Scarf #21 means I'm mentally free to start another lace project.

10. I have an idea for how to use my qiviut in a project that I might actually wear, though I am scared of wearing things that cost over a certain dollar amount.

11. I have yarn for another sweater coming. I am stalking it, via its tracking number, and Ohio is not that far away.

12. Thanks to ravelry and all it's wonderful users, I am fully aware that there are errors in the pattern, that I should alter the pattern to knit in the round and that the resulting sweater is totally worth all the trouble.

13. My local librarians are both nice and smart. They figured out that it was me who returned my own cookbook with a stack of their cookbooks, and called me to tell me. And they didn't even call me dumb for doing it.

See? I'm all cheered up. Cheered up enough to show you the full picture of the sweater. It's not a bad picture, it's a bad sweater.

I may post more details on the sweater tomorrow, but now I'm off to make more coffee and play Legos.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Big Fat Crush(es)


Right now I've got two. The first is the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. I finished book 2 last night and have book three standing by for nap time. This series has me staying up late and even (gasp) setting aside my knitting for hours, reminiscent of my favorite reading obsessions prior to having kids. If you like fantasy, especially character driven epics or those with a Roman flavor, pick these up and set aside a few days.

The second is this sweater. I finished it on Mother's day and wear it at any excuse, despite the warming spring weather. I'll hold off raving about the yarn (Telemark), since I've done that enough already. Well, except to say that the heathered brown is a fabulously beautiful, rich color that remind me of chocolate.

The basic pattern is EZ's Seamless Set-In sleeves from Knitting Workshop. I once again tried p2tog decreases for the sleeve line and love how it turned out. It makes the seam much less visible, which is handy with the colorwork. I added some purl twist edging on the cuffs, but that texture pulled in too much for the waist. Instead, I used moss stitch, which doesn't pull in as much. I also threw in some waist shaping. As usual, I knitted the sleeves first to get gauge, then the body. The first time I knitted the body, it was way too large, but I put it in the naughty basket for a month or so while I worked on other things. Once I frogged it and restarted, it was a really quick knit.

The colorwork design is my own. It's actually the same design that I put in a kids sweater, but done in different colors. I'm planning on making one more, so we can be the dorky family with matching sweaters. I think the different colors make it a little less obvious, but the kids seem to like it. If anyone shows any interest, I might be able to get the whole pattern put together. I like the Seamless Set In sleeves, and really don't think they get enough attention. They're not significantly harder than the raglan shaping and give a nice, fitted look.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beach Footlets


I began these socks in the car ride to the beach, knitted them at every spare opportunity that weekend, and came home with the 2nd sock very nearly done.

The pattern is Padded Footlets, from Favorite Socks, but I left out the padding and the lace pattern is reversed because I superimposed the chart on my own, toe up sock pattern. The yarn is Risata, in grass and the stripes are done in the Dakota colorway of Felici. This means that each little stripe is a different color, and I really like the effect. The first turned out a little CSU, since the stripe was yellow, but the purple and brown evened it out. They weighed in at exactly 50g, making them 196 yards of the 12 mile quest!

I seem to be on a real sock kick lately. I've ordered 2 more size 2 circs so that I can have one more project going at a time. I think I may order more Risata as well. It's super comfy and cushiony and washes up like none of my other yarns (no pilling, tightening, picking up more cat hair than the broom). The colors are also deeper than the pictures really show.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moms




It's been a long and busy day here at Chez Book, and it's passed bedtime and the kids are still running around without pajamas, but I just wanted to say a couple words. Or rather, show a couple pictures (mostly knitting free).

My mom just visited us from out of town, and we had a great visit and took tons of pictures. In looking through them tonight, not a single one on anyone's camera has a picture of the two of us. So, instead, I give you a couple pictures of the amazing woman who raised me with the two crazies that I am attempting to raise. She loved the pictures in the last blog of her new socks, but I love these.

ETA: Due to mom-type responsibilities of my own, this post was not published until 8 hours post-Mother's day. I take comfort in the fact that, due to the time change, it's only 4 hours late on Alaska time.


I was taken by a photograph of you
There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more
But they didn't show your spirit quite as true
-Jackson Browne

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Recent FOs


Things I have completed/achieved since my last post:

1. A garden bed containing two Moondance rose bushes and 4 tomatoes rather than 3 landscape bags full of ivy.
2. My first ever size 6 jeans (bought, not home made, But, dudes, size 6!)
3. A fabulous 4 year old birthday party, during which no one cried, but many ate tasty Costco carrot cake.
4. A wonderful, week+ visit with my mom.
5. A mini-vacation to the beach, in which a delightful time was had by all. Pictures already posted on Facebook.
6. A perfect for me, part time teaching job.
7. Some socks! Imagination, colorway: Frog Prince, size 3 needles, my usual sock pattern, 254 yards used. They're modeled here by my mom, who took them back to Alaska with her, due to their toasty alpaca content.
8. An entire set of world event achievements in WoW (Noblegarden, if you're curious) to get my first WoW title.
9. Several loaves of whole wheat and oats no knead bread, which is totally tasty, totally South Beach diet friendly and waaaay better than any of the tasteless bricks I've managed to make in my bread machine.
10. My toe up, faux heel flap sock pattern edited, converted to a pdf and available for free download on ravelry!

I expected there to be more knitting in this post, as my needles have been flying, but there just isn't! I have several projects near completion, but very little actually finished. I also blame my recently started sock blanket. And a frogged sweater. So, expect more knitting content in the future!

Friday, April 3, 2009

One Dresser to Rule Them All

See those completely closed drawers? See the utter lack of baskets stacked on the dresser, spilling yarn from their sides? No boxes stacked in front with knitting needles poking out of the top?

The yarn organization, she is done. The stashbusting is nearly done. One box of WIPs remains and once that is done, the yarn stashbusting will nearly be done. We are on target for a mother's day spinning wheel order! I'm so freaking excited.

I'm also pretty excited about my new knitting organization. I can find everything I want without digging and making a huge mess. The yarns are organized by weight, with laceweight in the top all the way down to the heaviest in the bottom. The blue tin holds miscellany; knitting needles and cords that don't fit in my Knit Picks binder, random stitch markers, etc. The brown tin holds my tools and supplies for making stitch markers. The three silver tins along the back are for 1) buttons, 2) swatches and scraps and 3) crochet hooks and dpns. I'm still looking for the perfect picture for the frame but, for now, grey will do.

Next post will hopefully bring more FOs and, maybe, a new banner for the top of the blog!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Springy Socks

Spring cleaning has struck hard. I've got a house full of relatives scheduled for next month, and I'm determined to have a garden this year. Between those two events (and of course, my two underage assistants), not much else is getting done. We spent much of yesterday at the hardware and garden store, then at home putting our purchases to immediate use. In honor of all this spring work, I've got socks in blues and greens! The patterns are all variations of my own (still not updated, but on its way).1. House socks for Will. They were deemed to have too many colors to wear out of the house, but I loved the colors. I previously blogged them, but finished them on Friday. 235 yds of essential, no longer bare.

2. Scattered Showers sock blank socks. I realize that the entire point of the blanks is to have symmetrical socks, but I would the skeins in opposite directions. I still like the effect. The thing that I didn't account for was the color variation. Due to an utter lack of patience while Sweet Pea and I were dyeing these, I didn't presoak them. Thus, the dye didn't penetrate totally, and made a lovely, almost heathered effect. I adore them. I finished them Sunday night and wore them immediately (hence the low light photos)! 281 yds.
3. Sarge Socks. These are also essential, but not hand dyed and the color deemed boring enough to wear outside the house. These are officially Will's first hand knit socks, but I hadn't gotten around to blogging them yet.

This brings the total to 3498 yds knit this year! I cast on two new projects, but am not sure how much knitting time all this cleaning and gardening will allow!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Pictorial Clarification

I knit a lot. I knit while playing with my kids, while reading, while we drive to errands at night, playing WoW, while on the phone, while waiting in line (children permitting), while the rest of the family is finishing their dinners. I also knit during the rare quiet nap time, or in the morning with my coffee, or at night while I listen to my husband play guitar.

Because the first set of circumstances occurs much more frequently than the second, I try to always have something mindless on the needles. Prior to the 'spring forward' time changed bemoaned by so many, most of the driving knitting occurred in the dark and necessitated stockinette or plain ribbing. But, I'm not sure that my last post accurately I stressed the stockinette situation. We have...

2nd sock of the House Socks. This is hand dyed knit picks bare, hand dyed. This will be my husband's 2nd pair of hand knit socks, and I love the colors so it's vaguely interesting to knit. The pattern is my own, done from the toe-up, with a gusseted heels that looks a helluva lot like a traditional toe-down sock when you're done. In looking up the link, I can see that I need to update the pattern some. I've knit a half dozen pairs since then and have fine tuned it a bit. The heel is turned in the second sock and now it's just round and round and round until the cuff is done.



2nd sock of the Scattered Showers Sock blank. I usually knit socks on size 3 needles, as I like a looser, less hot fabric. This was my first experiment on smaller needles, and went straight into hibernation after the 1st sock was finished. This is also my own pattern, also dyed by us. The toe is done and it's round and round and round until the heel.


Next up is a sweater that I'm designing. I was considering submitting it somewhere for publication, but I think it's not really original enough. So, I'll publish it here, if there's enough interest. The sleeves are done and we're on to the body. And it's round and round and round (with slight shaping) until the sleeves are attached.

A solution to round and round and round? Cables. Back and forth. I have some more mods stewing around in my brain, and will post them if they work out.


Monday, March 16, 2009

WIP it Good

As I cast about for something to blog, I realized that this weekend was terribly short on FOs. After slaying the Cashmere Beast last week, I have had very few interesting things going on with my needles. In fact, after the kids went to sleep on Friday I looked around and realized that I had nothing I wanted to knit.

Well, nothing that was already going. So, I quietly crept back into my room (where Little Dude had finally fallen asleep) and grabbed the yarn and needles for the Pfeiffer Falls Hooded Scarf. The pattern didn't grab me at first, but the more I've thought about it, the more I've been dying to have this particular... accessory. When I was in elementary school, my best friends mom had a hooded scarf like that one, and it seemed genius to me. Just genius. I was 6, but I was dying for one. So, I cast on yet another project.

This post is light on pictures because the computer that I usually use to archive my pictures currently sounds more like a Cessna than a Sony. It's having a well needed rest. Don't worry, the pictures are all backed up elsewhere, but I hope to bring you more interesting fare soon.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Weighing In


I got one. A scale. Not only do I have it, but it now has batteries, a lovely balsa wood box and it's own dedicated notebook and pen for record keeping. It is a wonderful, fabulous way to quantify how much yarn I actually use. A great way to keep track of how much stash I am actually busting. And I love it.

Now that I have a way to keep track of it, I'm going to set a goal. 12 miles knitted (or spun, if I do get a wheel) this year. That's 21120 yards.

I am co-opting this idea from my fabulous friend Tika, an am also setting a goal of 12 miles. I have no idea how realistic this is, but I'm getting more comfortable setting goals without being 99% sure I can achieve them. I mean, failure is okay sometimes, right? (Hold on, my eye is twitching so hard that I can hardly see).

I've been keeping track of all FOs since 1 jan, 2009 and here are the standings:

I-Cord, No Sew Knucks: 84 yds
Telemark Kids' Mittens: 49 yds
Selbu Cuffed Mitts: 100 yds
Citrus Vines: 431 yds
Telemark Stars Hat, Brown and Blue: 109 yds
Telemark Stars Hat, Purple and Gold: 115 yds
Set In Stars: 475 yds
Manly Silver Scarf: 257 yds
Cashermino Hat, Purple: 84 yds
Sarge Socks: 106 yds
Cashmerino Stashbusting Sweater, Green: 438 yds
Cashmerino Stashbusting Hat, Green: 86 yds
Cashmere Beast: 648 yds

That's 2982 yds. 14% of the way there.


And, in my search for a tracker to put along the side, I decided that this blog needs a major overhaul. More on that to come!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cashmere Beast, Slain


I started a second post about the evils of this sweater, but it was getting long and whinier than a roomful of tired preschoolers. So... I'll sum up!

Ways in which this sweater tried to steal my knitting mojo
1. The body of the sweater was difficult to rip out and constantly catching itself in knots.
2. The yoke, while too big, was beautiful and emotionally difficult to rip out.
3. The sleeves, which were salvaged from the original sweater, no longer fit, and also had to be ripped.
4. There was not actually room to finish the colorwork before starting the neck.
5. After the first time I joined the newly knit sleeves to the body, the body was too short and I had to rip back the yoke again.
6. I started the raglan decreases too soon and had to rip back the yoke. Again.

The last time I joined, I tried this thing on every other row, to make sure it was fitting. I got to the neck, tried it on and loved it. Then I bound off...
7. Too tightly. It didn't fit over my head. I pulled out the bind off, and did the EZ sewn bind off (amidst much swearing).

And the kicker? It fits. Like a dream. And I absolutely luuuurve it.

Specifications:
Size 10 needles
Original Pattern - Raglan type, seamless, no picked up stitches. Laziest pattern evah!
Panache yarn by knit picks (now discontinued, but I have way more left than I expected)