Friday, December 30, 2005

A couple of quick pictures

Here we go. Pictures of the beginnings of the So-Called Scarf from the last post.

And now I'm going to go sit in my bathtub until I'm pruny, and then go get a growler of my very favorite beer (here's hoping they aren't out of it yet).

A stash usage breakthrough!

If you're a knitter and you have a variegated yarn that you're having trouble finding a pattern for, I highly recommend trying My So-Called Scarf. I have this Caron Simply Soft (Country Blue ombre... white, light blue, navy blue) that I bought without really thinking, so it's been in my stash for months. I've tried to start a couple of different projects with it, and I've ended up frogging them before too long because I didn't like the way the yarn was knitting up. I like pooling, but the color distribution in this stuff just drove me nuts.

Last night I started playing around with the Simply Soft again, and got out the pattern for My So-Called Scarf on a whim. And what do you know, it totally works with this yarn. There's also the added bonus of a stitch pattern that takes no effort to remember. Anyway, variegated yarn that you love in a ball/hank/skein, but aren't in love with when it's knitted? Try this pattern. It works with any even number of stitches (also quite nice), so if one has a thinner yarn than Manos wool, one can just cast on a few extra stitches to make sure the scarf will be wide enough. I may try to grab an in-progress picture tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2005

It's not Christmas until Chase loses a hand

Oh, A&E... showing a traditional 24 marathon... I guess 24 can never have a Christmas episode, because then the whole season would have to be Christmas. I'm quite sick of seeing ads for Rollergirls, though. What an irritating-looking show.

So, Christmas. I got my brother a pair of elaborate noise-blocking headphones for when he's listening to music on the subway (off-topic, he apparently walked to work one day last week during the transit strike... 130 blocks or so). I got seasons 5 and 6 of Seinfeld for my dad (and I think season 4 will be his birthday present, so he'll be all caught up). My mom got the knitted presents (Branching Out and a matching hat), along with a magnetic notepad and a package of fizzy bath things. Let's see... she didn't realize that the knitted things were handknit until I pointed out that I had included washing instructions. I'm pretty sure she loved them--she asked me after dinner if I had ever considered selling any of my finished items, so she thinks they're nice enough that people would want to pay money for them. :)

What did I get? My brother gave me American Gods and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman... I told him a while ago that I had liked Good Omens, so I don't know if he remembered that, or if this was a lucky guess... regardless, good call; they were both on my ever-growing list of things to read.

From my parents (and yes, I'm aware of how obnoxious this list is):
  • A couple of shirts/sweaters
  • A wool/angora cardigan (I've been wearing it pretty much since I opened it, even though it's causing me some minor itchiness... and how much of a knitting geek am I: first, I admired the general pattern, and then I checked the fiber content)
  • A bottle of champagne and a wine-carrying bag.
  • A 6-pack of these ridiculously adorable Snapple lip balms... they're shaped like little Snapple bottles.
  • Bath stuff from Jaqua... Pumpkin Papaya Puree enzyme face mask, Buttercream Frosting body butter, and Orange Vanilla scrub. The stuff smells fantastic.
  • A big red faux leather bag that I feel has "knitting bag" written all over it. Seriously, it's huge. And has lots of pockets. And it's bright red.
  • An iPod nano! It's so TINY and absolutely adorable. I have to start working out now, so I can be one of those people who listen to their iPods while they work out. I'll have to take some quality time and load music on to it tomorrow... I'm so prepared to love this thing.
Anyway, Friday night, my parents and I watched The Day After Tomorrow. Kind of silly, and fairly implausible... but if you're a knitter, it's worth it for the sweater porn. EVERYBODY in this movie wears big knitted sweaters and scarves and hats. I love stupid disaster movies anyway, regardless of the presence or absence of knitted garments.

On Christmas Eve, we watched the beginning of the Christmas Story marathon on TBS, and then we watched Bad Santa, which my parents discovered last year on their flight back from London. This is why the Brits rule; there's no way in heck they'd show that on a US airline, but Virgin Atlantic had it available and basically said, "You might not want to let your kids watch it."

Christmas, aside from the giftage... Dinner was very good (and my mom was fairly unstressed about the cooking this year). After dinner, my dad and I took my grandmother back to her place, which included our annual trip past the big Christmas tree at the Commerce Bank office on Route 70. It's at least 50 feet tall, and is pretty darn impressive. Dad and I got back, and we all watched a couple of Seinfeld episodes, and then I introduced my parents to Office Space. They laughed through the entire thing.

Drove back today... hit a little traffic on the Del Mem, but that's normal for a big travel day (and I've seen it much worse than today). And I saw a pretty ugly accident in Cecil County... it seemed to be mostly police and fire vehicles, and not so much ambulances, so hopefully everyone was ok.

Here's wishing everyone peace, love, and happiness.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Alumni magazine

No, I haven't touched any knitting since I finished the Branching Out. Maybe I'll work on something over the weekend. It's weird; actually finishing something made me LESS inspired to work on my unfinished stuff, when you'd think it would have been the opposite.

I got my alumni magazine today. From what I've seen all alumni magazines are exactly the same: a handful of propaganda articles to remind you how fabulous the school is (the better to solicit alumni donations with), and the section with actual updates about the alumni.

I found out that one of the guys I was in orchestra with was killed earlier this year in a plane crash. The fairly small group of us in orchestra who were music students (as opposed to non-music students who happened to play an instrument, or the community folks) suffered through countless rehearsals where we'd all want to tear our hair out afterwards. That group of us would sit there putting our instruments away, giving each other *the look*. It basically said, "We just wasted another 2.5 hours, and once again, nothing is any better. We should mutiny." It was a nice camaraderie, built on mutual frustration and disgruntlement. Obviously I wasn't especially close friends with John, or I wouldn't have just found out about his death via the alumni magazine. Regardless, he was a great guy, and he'll be missed.

And I just saw that John Spencer has died. I don't think I've ever NOT loved him in something.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tonight's baking experiment: the Prosciutto Ring from The Bread Bible (but made with bacon instead of prosciutto). It's a bread ring with little pieces of prosciutto in it -- yum. I felt like I needed something fatty and quite bad for me to counteract my recent weight loss. I was 90 pounds to begin with; I don't need any more of it to disappear, but I haven't had much of an appetite lately. That by itself wasn't problematic for a while, but now I'm losing weight, and that's not good.

Anyway, Bacon Ring. Definitely something I'll need to try again. First, I like my bacon crispy to the point of almost being burned. In the bread, the bacon has no way to get crispy, so next time I'll cook the bacon ahead of time. The other irritating thing is that it stuck to the baking sheet, despite an awful lot of bacon fat that should have kept it from sticking. Couldn't use parchment because the oven temp was too high, and I don't have a silpat. And because of the fact that it stuck like crazy, it ended up not being at all photogenic. Thus, no picture. It was pretty... until I forceably wrestled it off the baking sheet.

Other than that... it's bread with bacon in it: two of my great food loves in one wonderful recipe. Next time, I might also add some cheese to complete the trifecta. With crispy bacon and minimal/no sticking, it'll be a winner. I have to say, my apartment smells kind of awesome right now: bacon and fresh-baked bread at the same time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


No, this isn't about knitting. This is about baking. They're both domestic activities, right?

One of my favorite websites is 101 Cookbooks. She tends toward vegetarian and organic foods, which normally isn't something that would grab me, but her photography is absolutely gorgeous. Anyway, I love that site, and it's inspired me to try to detail some of my baking experiments here... on my knitting blog. Sorry.

Mediterranean Matzoh
Rose Levy Beranbaum
The Bread Bible, page 228

I've made this recipe once before, and was very pleased with how it came out. Last night, around 8 pm, I was feeling atypically munchy. This matzo recipe takes less than an hour from start to finish, so I decided to make up a half-batch for myself.

Even though my family is comprised of non-practicing Catholics, we always had an affinity for Manischewitz Passover matzo. I loved that stuff. I never put anything on it, because the cardboard-like quality of the flavor is endearing to me. We got the unsalted variety for a reason. I don't want to mess with that. Now they have garlic matzo, and apple cinnamon matzo... somehow, that just feels wrong.

Your typical store-bought matzo has an ingredient list that looks like the following: Flour, water, (maybe salt and some preservatives). The Bread Bible recipe has both AP flour and whole wheat flour, salt, water, olive oil, and rosemary. Actually, I should clarify that. Rosemary is in the ingredient list, but the recipe doesn't ever say to add it. Does it go in the dough? Do you just sprinkle it on top before baking? It's a mystery. And it's a mystery that i probably won't ever deal with, because I almost never have rosemary on hand. Leaving it out entirely seems to work well.

Anyway, a few minutes of mixing and kneading, 30 minutes of dough resting, followed by rolling out and baking gave me this stack o' matzo:

It takes 6 minutes to bake them, and with a couple of baking sheets going at once, that time goes very quickly. They're very freeform, and definitely not "traditional"... you can definitely taste the olive oil in the finished product, and there's very little resemblance to the cardboard-y matzo that I was used to. I can see this turning into something that I make on a weekly basis... easy to make, tasty, and keeps nicely for a few days (not that it stays around all that long).

Let's all take a moment and cross our fingers for my sourdough starter, which I might be testing out soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Look, I finished something

So, here I am, awake at 3 AM yet again, and I figured that perhaps I'd work with my insomnia and post something. I actually have a couple of completed knitted things that are done.

First, I finished my Branching Out last night:

And then, as I was sitting there last night looking at the scarf, I started to wonder how hard it would be to make a matching hat.

I'll get the pattern written down at some point so I can post it here... it took me no time to finish (I cast on last night around 1:30 AM, and finished it tonight around 11), and I'm far from the world's fastest knitter.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dance your cares away...

I'm a Scorpio. I like to think that I'm pretty laid-back for a Scorpio, but one trait that I definitely have is stubbornness. Back in high school, I pretty much refused to accept that it was cold out until October, so I'd wear shorts to school when it was 55 degrees out, just as long as it was still September.

This compulsion has changed a bit over the years. I actually wear pants during the summer now... however, nowadays I won't turn on the heat for the season until I've reached a point where I'm sitting here shivering. This means lots of hot chocolate (just awful, I know), and a tendency to wear hats like the following:

That fabulous creation was intended to be part of my Red Fraggle costume for Halloween this year. The pattern can be found here; the brim and pigtails are a strand of red and orange Fun Fur held together, and the body of the hat is TLC Cotton-Ease.

The Red Fraggle costume idea has fallen by the wayside in favor of River from Serenity/Firefly, but the hat still needed to be seen.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Neat bug pictures

Check out what I found on my balcony this morning:

I don't know what it is--probably just a grasshopper--but it's cool. And it's still out there, lounging on my fine Ikea outdoor table. The table's green, so maybe he feels camouflaged.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Yarn!

Here are this weekend's Stitch DC purchases:

That's the start of a Branching Out scarf in the Cotton Cashmere. And no, the Silky Wool isn't anywhere near as orange as it looks, but de-oranging the picture makes the other stuff look way too blue. It's much more of a standard hot pink, and will probably become a lightweight sweater for me.

I'm still a little bit boggled at all of the pink stuff, as pink is usually the one of the LAST colors I'm drawn to. And yes, the Branching Out is a gift, and I knew that when I was buying the yarn, but still... am I becoming girly? Horrors.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I don't know what to do with myself

I have no WIPs right now. None. ZERO. I frogged a couple of things over the weekend, and finished the 2 WIPs that I still had going.

What did I finish?

My Clapotis!
3 skeins of Wool in the Woods Seed-n-Such, "Oslo" colorway.

Here's my couch modeling it:

A slightly closer view:

And an extreme close-up:

I love the yarn. The colors are every bit as obnoxious in person as they look on screen, and the texture is really neat. It wasn't the easiest yarn to work with, because the slubs tended to make one stitch look like two stitches. Once I got used to that, it wasn't a problem.

Finished project #2 is something I've come to call the Bag of Fate. When I was in junior high and high school, I was obsessed with Mystery Science Theater 3000. One of the "experiments", as they called the movies that they would snark on, was Manos: The Hands of Fate, a truly horrible movie about a family that finds a temple to "Manos" run by the Master and Torgo. There might also be an entrance to hell, but it's not all that clear. It's ranked #1 on the IMDB "Bottom 100", and no movie could be more deserving.

Anyway, the fact that there's a yarn line from "Manos del Uruguay" has amused the heck out of me for a few months now. It spawned the Bag of Fate, based on the hand design on the Master's robe. It's my first design, my first intarsia, and my first foray into felting. I just hope the Master likes it, because I wouldn't want to end up like Torgo.


Close-up of the hands:
It took 2 skeins of Black, 1 skein of Cherry Red (color 48). I officially love this yarn. It comes out with a cool bumpy texture when felted.

Yarn porn!

This is the package of more Manos (this, at least, was on sale) that I ordered from Flying Fingers.

Yes, that's a postcard in back, with a nice handwritten note from one of the owners. Fast shipping, REASONABLY PRICED shipping, and nice touches like pretty tissue paper and a note during what I'd imagine was a crazy sale for them... I'd order from them again without any hesitation.

Here's the yarn out of the box.

And this is some more Wool in the Woods yarn that I got at All About Yarn during our unofficial Knittyboard gathering there last weekend. This is "Frizee", and I have no idea what the colorway is, because the labels don't say.

I just have to find something other than a Clapotis to make with it... I need some time away from Clapotises.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Can't put this off any longer

Ok, I figured it was about time to post a silly picture of me with my Jayne hat. The orange and red (the earflaps are red, honest) are Elsebeth Lavold Angora, and the yellow is Jaeger Baby Merino DK... so it's a ridiculously soft, yet kinda silly, hat.

I used about 3 different needle sizes on it (yes, on purpose).

This evening, I taught myself how to do intarsia for a bag I'm working on. Too much fun! The only colorwork I've done up to now has been stripes, and suddenly I can do stuff OTHER than stripes... the mind, she boggles. And all the little yarn bobbins are kind of fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Lookee what I got...

New yarn! Went to All About Yarn in Columbia today, where I picked up some red Manos del Uruguay and this very pretty yarn (Crystal Palace Waikiki).

No idea what it's going to be yet, but it was too pretty to just leave there.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

First post! Some FOs...

This is me in my 'Fiery Bolero' from IK Summer 2005. It's in TLC Cara Mia, Winter White, which I got on sale (woohoo!). The bulk of this was done while I was lying around with an ugly cold, watching my 24 DVDs. Good times.

Back view

Here's a closeup of the ribbing around the collar (because even though it only took a couple of days, the ribbing was the part that drove me most crazy... pick up 200+ stitches...)

This is my Mitered Square Rug, done in various colors of TLC Cotton Plus.

And here's a closeup of a couple of the squares.

Here's my 'Stepping Out Coat' from Hip to Knit. Good ol' Homespun, with Trendsetters Aura Antique on the edging.

And my Vegan Fox from Knitty. He's too fun.