Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Yarn: Kilcarra Donegal Tweed
I've gone on and on about this yarn, so I think you must know by now how I feel about it!
Needles: Needlemaster Circulars size 5, 6 & 7
They work, mostly. Wish I had remember to go down to a 5 for the ribbing on the body of the sweater, had to be careful that it didn't grow with blocking.
Pattern: Central Park Hoodie
A fairly straight forward pattern. As a beginner I found it accessable.
Pattern Modifications & Knitting Adventures:
As many of you know, I went around and around with this yarn trying to get gauge because I was afraid to recalculate the numbers on my first sweater project. After coming to terms with the fact that I just could not get 4.25 st per inch, I thought that the math would work out to do the second from smallest size (this was hard to figure out as I was unsure how much to allow for seaming and the cables). In the end I went with my gut and knit the size 40 which with my gauge came out to 35.5 inches around. It turned out that 2.5 inches of ease was just right for a cozy sweater!
I didn't do any modifications to the sweater pattern except recalculate for my gauge and shorten the hood by 1.5 inches. It still is functional, just not as bulky.
Seaming is mostly intuitive, especially with cables involved. It also didn't hurt to decrease in the middle of the cable (k2tog) the row before binding off in an attempt to keep the edge from flaring when seamed.
Picking up stitches is mostly intuitive. After marking of two inch areas and deciding how many stitches to pick up in each, it is remarkable how much flexibility there was.
Blocking works wonders, but not miracles.
Think carefully about how things will look when planning cuffs on a sweater. Make sure the seam is hidden and the "right" side of the cast on will show.
Testing button holes in a swatch pays off. Your results may vary.
It is very, very difficult to pick the perfect buttons for one's dear, darling, brand-new sweater.
All in all, I am beside myself that there is a happy ending to my "first sweater" saga.
Monday, December 15, 2008
This picture taking with a timer thing was harder than I thought it would be. Is there some secret to all those self portraits I see on flickr? Any comments are welcome. For those who want to SEE the SWEATER, do not fear, better photos are coming soon with the FO post!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Buttons for the sweater of destiny. I highly recommend M&J Trimming for the makers of handknits who live in tiny towns and therefore must order the perfect buttons online.
A few knitting patterns of course - Liesel and Reversible Cable-Rib Shawl.
The Messiah - This makes the season come alive. Scripture to music. The amazon reviewers quibble about this version, but it makes me nostalgic.
The Snowman - I love the music, even more so because it makes me think of the animated film. So sweet.
Random House Book of Fairy Tales - This is the fairy tale book of my youth (I seem to be regressing here, yes?) and the artwork brings all my favorite stories to life. Strangely I have never seen a cover to this book that I like, but inside it is gorgeous.
Hamlet - as close to a definitive film version as we are going to get. Enough genius here to get me through four hours. See... now I've worked back up into my teens.
A triad of Amarna period explorations - Akhenaton: Egypt's False Prophet, The Search For Nefertiti, Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen. These three give a sweeping view of the many, many, many theories and the various evidence (and lack thereof). A great way to put the tidy history television specials in context.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
P.S. (About the sweater, I finished it but I'm waiting for the buttons... and a convenient opportunity for an outdoor photoshoot... in December... don't laugh!)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
There were a few moments a couple of mornings ago when the sun peeked into my window and I finally managed to capture the beauty of Kilcarra Donegal Tweed. Don't you love the rugged greenness? I, in fact, am so taken with this yarn that the thought of having no more to knit (since this project will have eaten almost all of my 1,660 yds) that another package of it is now wending its way from Ireland at this moment. Since great service and a great product deserve due credit, let me put in a plug here for the ebay seller Irish Yarns & Crafts. She buys this yarn coned from the Donegal mill and makes it available for a reasonable cost. There is even a sale going on right now, so it would be well worth checking out the link :)
Now as much as we would all like to pretend that our knitting looks like this all the time, it does not. No, it looks more like this...
A giant, poorly lit blob, entangled with various needles and threads hanging off in all directions. For those of you who are non-knitters (and have managed to last this long - bless you), I will interpret this picture. It is a sweater "in progress." The orange threads on either side of the sweater fronts mark off two inch lengths in order to help me pick up an equal number of stitches along the edge. The needles down the right side show where I have picked up stitches so that I can knit a button band. The sloppy mass at the top is a hood - the top not yet stitched together. And that little scrap of paper safety-pinned to the right side says "buttons." I am hardly one of those knitters who can remember more than one thing at a time.
Since this photo, I have actually knit and bound off the right band. It pulls in *just* a bit. (Please tell me this will block out perfectly). Now all I have to do is figure out what I want to do for buttons, pick up and knit the left side - including button holes, block the bands, seam the hood, weave in the rest of the ends, and try to steam the shoulder seams into submission. Hmm... now that I wrote all that out, it makes my by thanksgiving goal sound less than realistic.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The heap of wool on my couch is now starting to resemble a sweater. Sleeve one is seamed in and sleeve two is blocked, but still drying. I've picked up the stitches for the hood and made peace with the gaps between the neck stitches and back stitches by promising myself to go back and tidy those up during my final finishing of the sweater. Ever onward...
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I finally finished the last of my Romney yarn - the finest I've spun yet. Don't get too excited lace spinners... it's hardly even sport.
It did not come out quite as planned. I started with a little under 4 oz of Romney and wanted to spin it at a lace weight. I spun up two bobbins and plied them together. And when I say plied, I mean I REALLY added some twist. Even after the initial wash, whack, and dry the yarn had some kinks. Though they seem to have settled out now.
So all that resulted in the skein of yarn to the left. Which came out to 200 yards - exactly half of the yardage I needed for my shawl. All was not lost though. I had more fiber, sort of. You see when I fell in love with the fiber originally, I realized that I probably didn't have enough, and I requested more from the lovely local lady at the farmer's market. So theoretically my second batch probably even came from the same one sheep. However, there was a marked difference in the quality of the second batch. It was much rougher. So either it was from a different year, or the first 4oz bump I got had a proportionally greater selection of the soft areas of the fleece.
Hope springs eternal though, so off I went to spin some more. The second 4oz yielded 230 yards. Not surprisingly, over the months I slowly gave into the temptation to spin thinner even though I used my cue card fairly regularly. I'm also wondering if my failure to ply the second skein as severely could have resulted in more yardage. The more the yarn is twisting around itself, the thicker it gets. Anyway: skein one, positively plump. Skein two, relaxed.
Finally, the second skein is really *just* at touch lighter in color. Interesting that that wasn't apparent to the eye until the twist was added, but is is discernible now. Although the overall color itself is hard to pin down. The brownness/greyness of this fiber has a certain phantasmagorical property. The camera doesn't ever see quite what the eye sees...
So, once again, another project where half the fun has been learning from the unexpected. I'm thinking I might try the shawl anyway alternating between the two skeins for a more rustic feel, but right now I'm distracted by a project that has previously fallen under a blog jinx.
Do you think a photo was permissible, or are the sleeves now in big trouble?
Friday, October 10, 2008
I peeled my orange / That was so bright against / The gray of December / That, from some distance, / Someone might have thought / I was making fire in my hands. "Oranges" by Gary Soto
These were originally purchased for a photography experiment. I wanted to catch some of those vibrant autumnal colors that I so love - the deep purple of Italian prunes especially. Well, as you can guess (from the lack of plum photos), that my fruit photography has a ways to go. But these oranges were fated to be something special. I recently had the opportunity to borrow Apples for Jam from my local library, and in a fit of recipe testing (come on, admit it, you get carried away too sometimes don't you?) these were the only oranges I had on hand for orange glazed chicken. Ripe blood oranges have a surprisingly light and floral taste that mellows with cooking, but still adds an elusive sweetness to the final dish. These particular oranges were also highly pigmented and yielded a beautiful purple juice. So, with my plethora of alterations to the original recipe I give you...
Blood Orange Glazed Chicken
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (about 2 small oranges)
¾ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ Tablespoon soy sauce
1 ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons wildflower honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest of one small lemon
2 chicken breasts
Preheat the oven to 325. Put the sugar, orange juice, tomato sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water, honey and lemon juice in a pan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Put the chicken in a roasting pan and pour the sauce over. Bake for 1 hour, turning and basting. Near the end of the cooking time, turn the oven to broil to help reduce the sauce and glaze the chicken. Turn and baste frequently, being careful not to let your supper burn. Right before serving, grate lemon zest onto chicken.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
This first photo is a Gotland roving that I purchased from Crown Mountain Farms last year.
There isn't quite enough fiber for the project I am envisioning, so I've been looking for something just as special that would compliment it.
This year at OFFF there was a stall with some gorgeous raw Gotland fleeces for sale. Had I not been on a budget, I might have given in. As it is, I am sorry enough that I had ditched my camera by that point... those perfect ringlets of wool were lovely. However, I did manage to score some pin drafted Gotland fiber that has lots of lamb's fleece in it.
For comparison, here they are together. Quite a contrast in feel... the roving is dense, lustrous, and a bit more course... while the pin drafted fibers are soft, airy, and even show a bit of curl.
(Cotswold curls/Gotland roving)
Together with the Cotswold curls from the stash I think these would make a great hat. And if, for some reason, I should get bored, I have some alpaca to play with too...
Oh, dear... I do get stuck in color ruts...
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Well, the answer was... sort of. Knitting like mad during the 8 hour drive, I arrived at the point where I needed to decide what sort of edging I was going to put on the shawl. Not wanting to duplicate the Icarus I made for the birthday girl, I determined to knit the Icarus body until I figured out what I wanted to do for the edge. Long story short, I bound off and blocked it the night before the party, just as it was. It was *just* big enough to pin around my shoulders. Later I undid my bind-off and knit the edging. If I had been very clever, I could have slightly altered the body of Icarus so I could smoothly transition to the Shetland border. As it was I had to decrease two stitches within between every diagonal rib.
I figured that during blocking I could recover the triangle shape. While I was able to do so (with LOTS of stretching) the edge of the shawl tends to ripple and will not stay blocked into points. No great tragedy there, although if I ever make another, I'll make it easier on myself and set up better for the transition.
I'm glad I kept knitting, this size is much more my style.
One of my favorite thing about this shawl is how the sheen of the yarn and the pull of the pattern
produce this optical checkerboard. I'm hoping to get a lot of mileage out of this lovely wrap :)
(PS -For anyone yearning to see details about yarn or needle size please see my Ravelry project page.)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Remember pay it forward? My final project did get finished... and when I was mentioning to someone today how it seems to take forever for me to sew a bag with a lining, the herringbone bag (and its sad blog neglect) came to mind.
Last fall I found an enormous men's blazer at the thrift shop that had clearly seen better days... and yet the honest, woolly earthiness of the colors won me over. It had a brown with the deep reddish tint of good farmland soil and a nice solid grey. And really, what's not to like about herringbone? It took me ages to construct the bag because the deconstruction of the jacket provided oddly shaped pieces of fabric and I wanted something that reused some of the original details intact. Ultimately the plan for a fold-over flap was scrapped (too hard to line, and obscured the pockets) and a slim book bag was born.
My desire for a fusion of very modern lines and classic fabric was somewhat obscured by my amateur sewing skills. I was completely unable to to top stitch evenly around the top of the bag and handle (my usual trick) so some painful hours were spent hand stitching the lining and bag together. Oh, and there was interfacing and boning and a magnetic snap closure or two...
How people crank out heavy duty bags is a bit of a mystery to me.
When I was done I almost couldn't part with it...
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Parsley on potatoes. Chopped oregano on fettuccine alfredo. Chives and mint with Asian summer salad. Basil and tomatoes. I love it that summer dishes can be so flavorful and simple. If you have access to fresh herbs (farmers' market anyone?) may I recommend two of my new finds this summer: Chilled Golden Tomato Bisque and Summer Noodle Salad? In each of these the fresh herbs are the finishing touch that brings everything together.
Aside from the cooking, there has been much traveling and some preparation for a new job... so I'm sorry if it has been quiet around here. I'm planning on participating in the up coming Ravelymics, and I'm looking forward to getting back to my knitting.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Pattern: Icarus, minus one body repeat, following errata as marked on the designer's web site.
Yarn: Garnstudio Cotton Viscose, 7 skeins (840 yards)
The rows of yo's in the body didn't block out very open, probably because of the fiber choice, but the rest of the pattern is quite defined. And I could run fishing line down each line of yo's and reblock if I wanted (just don't think it's worth reblocking the beast). Overall I am very pleased with this yarn. It has a wonderful sheen and makes a fabric that is thick, slick, and slightly cool to the touch.
With a shawl though, it's not just how it feels, or how it looks hanging in a window...
it's how the pattern looks on the body too. Design elements can disappear or suddenly become eloquent when worn...
And this is where I fell in love with Icarus. Wearing it 3/4 wrap style.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Since we aren't moving this summer, I finally had the chance to start the herb garden of my dreams. Today I picked out some rosemary, lavender, oregano, basil, parsley, cilantro, sage, chives and mint. It is amazing how many varieties there are, and then there are many different colors and flavors of each kind. I passed on the pineapple mint for now, but couldn't resist the chocolate mint. Could you?
This the first time I've ever gardened and I'm so excited! I got all my little plants home and started potting them this evening. As I handled them I enjoyed their different fragrances. I am sure looking forward to fresh mint in my ice tea...
I am researching as I go, and I'm learning all sorts of things. I've already discovered that I may not get much out of the cilantro. It apparently has a very limited life, and it flowers as soon as its roots reach 75 F. However our weather has been holding mostly in the 60's, so maybe I can get it to grow enough to harvest some for salsa before it gives up.
Oh, and right now my camera is temporarily unavailable, so the photos above are the product of another round of flickr cruising. There are actually fewer herb pictures than I thought (considering the number of say, cupcake pictures), so once I do get the camera back I'll have to try for some cute herb garden shots. And with that cliff-hanging promise I will sign off...
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
1. Torino FC -Brugge 2-1 fallo su Rosina, 2. bread, 3. A corner...., 4. Damp II, 5. Deflating / Desinflando, 6. Fresca, 7. View from the Cashel, 8. black forest, 9. Homemaker House Wife Perfect little woman!, 10. Church Spire, 11. introvert, 12. mom and baby
Want to play too?
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush? (hint, my answer... "no one")
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
(A blurry Icarus... how 'bout some sunshine?)
I know the blog has been quiet lately, in part that is because the long term project knitting bug has bitten me, and I’m a s-l-o-w knitter. I have worked pretty steadily on my mom’s birthday shawl the past couple of months. I still need to finish it up, but I am now seriously considering what I want to knit myself to wear for her party. As I mentioned, I have a dress picked out and some matching yarn. I'm trying to figure out what sort of wrap/shrug/shawl looks best. Here’s a glimpse into my current
Swiss Cheese Scarf
Pros: The circle motif would be fun to carry from the dress into the wrap. I have plenty of yardage. Several people have knit this in a similar weight cotton and worked out some tips for tightening up the loose stitches (thank you Ravelry!).
Cons: I’m swatching right now and the constant casting on is making me crazy! Crazy! Cotton is difficult because it lacks the flexibility (and fuzziness) of wool that helps everything even up. A wrap this color and style will also be less likely to get used with anything but the dress.
Pros: Can be adjusted to get the right length for good torso coverage. Very cute pattern.
Cons: Will have to readjust for different gauge. Final product will only be worn with dress. No arm coverage (after the time in the desert you know I’ll have a funny looking tan). Prefer not to have any extra fabric under my arms.
Pros: Triangle wrap will have great coverage. I think the straight edge will compliment the style of the dress (as opposed to the points on the Shetland Triangle for instance). I wear triangle shawls fairly frequently.
Cons: I may want a pattern that is a little more open. The cotton yarn is actually pretty heavy and I don’t want to smother in the July heat.
So I think the Cloud Bolero is out of the running for now (though it is in my queue) and I probably want a fairly open triangular shawl pattern. Although my Swiss Cheese swatch may win me over if it blocks well. Any suggestions?
Friday, May 9, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Little handfuls of color have been emerging from my crock-pot recently. For most of the bundles I included some shaggy, coarse Scottish Blackface locks (fun in their own wild way) along with a bit of mohair roving and a handful of Corridale cross roving.
This fellow proved to be the most photogenic of the lot.
Now this all started because I had a project in mind, but I haven't managed to get even one of the colors I was aiming for. Back to square one... :)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Like any other knitter in the midst of a project, I've got the next project on my mind. Since I'm hoping to have my mom's shawl done for her birthday, I also have her birthday party on my mind. Last summer I got the cutest little dress when I was out shopping with her...
The handywoman's secret weapon: yarn.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I have some plans for these decor items that I am going to unveil later, so only one picture for today. If you haven't already, why not surf on over to Paula's blog. Recently she has been working on a set of beach inspired paintings which I find fresh and beautiful. Living here on a peninsula sticking out into the Pacific Ocean I see a lot of beachy kitsch, so I appreciate a thoughtful interpretation of the beauty of the shore...