Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Happy day

What's that? Why yes, I did cast on for my Cache Coeur last night. I didn't WANT to. The yarn made me.

Cache Couer Bergamo, 4/26/06

No, I'm not doing it in orange and purple stripes. The orange is my provisional cast-on. I've only done a provisional cast-on once before, on something that I frogged after about 8 rows. It's kind of fun. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to have a horribly clashing yarn attached to this for a little while. :)

Here's my sock, which I'm plugging away on:
Petticoat sock progress, 4/26/06
I started the lace section for the toe last night. Yay! THE TOE! That's close to the end, right?

And of course, my latest yarn purchases...

My new Silky Wool.
Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool

A skein of Blue Heron cotton woven ribbon.
Blue Heron cotton woven ribbon

In other news, I just got my lease renewal notice today. My apartment complex was just bought by a new management company about a month ago, and I had been DREADING the new rent rate. By state law, rental properties can't increase rent more than 10%, but I didn't know if that still applied because of the new management company. I've been vaguely expecting my rent to double (which would mean I'd be moving). So, I got my notice, and my rent is only going up by 3%. 3%? Woohoo!! I'm SO ridiculously happy about this. They didn't even go for the full 10%, which is awesome of them. I honestly wasn't expecting anything this low.

I will be celebrating this evening at DuClaw's Berserkr release party. This definitely calls for a celebratory pint.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Awesome bbq sauce recipe

I made Michael Chiarello's balsamic vinegar bbq sauce tonight, and this stuff is the closest I've ever come to recreating the Best BBQ Sauce I've Ever Had (for those who are curious, it's the California Grill's tamarind bbq sauce, at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World). It's part of a larger recipe from At Home With Michael Chiarello, involving crepes and apple slaw... I went the "less work" route and just made the sauce and chicken.

I used strong coffee instead of espresso, and the only thing I might do differently in the future would be to cut back on the amount of orange zest. It ends up with a lot of orange flavor; not an unpleasant amount of orange, but definitely very present and identifiable.

So, for anyone looking for a slightly different and ridiculously easy bbq sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic
3/4 cup ketchup
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons brewed espresso
Grated zest of one orange

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the garlic cool in the oil. Whisk in the ketchup, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, espresso, and orange zest, return to medium-low heat, and simmer gently for 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Makes about 1 2/3 cups.

There's also a slightly different version of the full recipe at FN's website. (The FN version uses a cooked rotisserie chicken, and the book version doesn't, and there are a couple of small measurement changes.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

From the "People are idiots" file

I just came across a list on Amazon entitled "So you like to watch Fantasia with the sound turned off". This person goes on to say that he or she really likes Fantasia, but feels that the music is boring and dreary and that the Philadelphia Orchestra is "mind-numbingly bad". Yes. The Philadelphia Orchestra under Stokowski, probably one of the greatest orchestras ever assembled, does not quite live up to the standards of someone who admits in a review that they bought a CD because the cover was pretty.

It would be nice if Amazon had some kind of "not an idiot" requirement for people who submit reviews and lists.

Sorry... I understand that classical music isn't for everyone, but when someone who has no appreciation for it starts giving asinine critiques (like, for example, calling the Philly Orchestra mind-numbingly bad), I get twitchy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Woolwinders RULES

On Wednesday afternoon, I got an e-mail from Woolwinders saying that they were having a sale Thursday-Sunday (minimum 15% off everything in the store). The sale happened to include 40% off all Elsebeth Lavold yarns, which is what made me decide that yes, I had to go. I went yesterday and had a grand time. I picked up some EL Cable Cotton, Silky Wool, a skein of Blue Heron cotton woven ribbon, and Elsebeth Lavold's "Viking Knits" pattern book, which is almost entirely gorgeous cabled sweaters done in Silky Wool. With yesterday's Silky Wool purchase, I have enough for two sweaters -- one in bright pink, and another in a combo of cream, light blue, and darker blue.

My sock is going well. I've turned the heel, picked up gusset stitches, and am on the foot section now. No new projects. I've joined the Mon Petit Chou knitalong, so I'm trying to keep my "other projects" list reasonable since I already know I'm starting something new in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, my purple Cotton Tape is taunting me from its bag, so I may have to start my Cache-Coeur Bergamo...

Does anyone else not like Entertainment Weekly's new layout? I've given it a few weeks, and it's not growing on me at all. There's a lot of white space on the pages now, and it feels like they've gotten rid of content in order to have things look more stylized. Bleh.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Orange you glad I didn't say "Banana"?

Here's my shrug:
Tammy Shrug

Orange enough for you?
Tammy Shrug, back view

Pattern: Tammy Shrug, posted on Craftster
Yarn: 3 balls of Rowan Cotton Tape, "Sunburst"
Needles: Size 10.5 (sleeves) and 11 (back)
Modifications: Added a single crochet border and an elastic thread around the opening.

The in-progress Petticoat Sock:
Petticoat Sock, 4/16/06
The stitch pattern is neat, but the striping on the yarn is obscuring it a bit. Once I'm done with both socks, I'll probably overdye them to see if I can tone down the blue.

While we're on the subject of dyed yarn:
Hand dyed yarn

That's my latest. Black Cherry Kool Aid in varying quantities. It's not entirely evident in the picture, but the skein starts out light pink and gradually darkens to reddish pink. I'll have to knit up a swatch to see how I like it.

I went grocery shopping today, and when I got home, I got out of the car and was greeted by a cat. A little white cat with gray splotches, who turned out to be the sweetest cat ever. It followed me back and forth while I unloaded my bags, meowing quite plaintively because I wasn't paying enough attention to it. It even let me scratch its head; none of our normal strays act like this. The other strays around here all run if you get within 20 feet of them, so I'm not sure yet whether this one really is a stray, or if it belongs to someone and has just managed to get outside. If I keep seeing it around (I can't believe I'm about to say this), I may consider letting it move in here. Another knitter with a cat... just what the world needs, eh. :)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

So productive

Nice thing about knitting a sock: HIGHLY portable. It went to work with me today, and I got a lace repeat done on my lunch break. One of my coworkers had never heard of someone knitting socks... luckily for her, a patron came up to checkout before I could launch into what probably would have been an uninteresting knitting lecture. I only say "uninteresting" because she's not a knitter and would have been bored by me talking at length about knitting.

I have the elastic in my shrug, and NOW I'm happy with it. And yes, I still owe pictures. It was cloudy this morning before I left for work, and by the time I got home, there wasn't enough light left to allow an outdoor picture without a flash. Argh. We'll see if we can't do something about that tomorrow, especially since my last few posts have been photo-free.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I'm knitting a sock. An actual sock.

Well, I finished my shrug*, and it's very cute and VERY orange. Of course, it's cotton, so it wants to stretch out of shape a bit. I added a single crochet border around the opening, but that doesn't seem to have done a whole lot to reduce the stretching. I think I'm going to try running some elastic around the opening. The fit isn't bad, but unfortunately I know EXACTLY how I want this thing to fit, so I've gone into perfectionist mode. I loved working with the Cotton Tape. I ordered more from Elann on Tuesday morning, and this morning, my mailman showed up with a wonderful Elann box full of purple Cotton Tape for me. From Washington (state) to Maryland in 3 days? Wow. I may take back some of the things I've said about the post office. The purple is going to be a Cache-Coeur Bergamo, which is a pattern I've wanted to make for over a year. The pattern calls for a hard-to-sub discontinued yarn, but the Cotton Tape should work nicely.

If you follow my projects list over in the sidebar, you may have noticed that the in-progress sock pattern has changed. I had been working on the Lolita legs stockings from Knitty, but I didn't like how they were coming out in the handdyed yarn, so I frogged. I had the yarn out anyway, so for fun, I cast on two nights ago for the Petticoat Socks from Weekend Knitting. My needles were way too big, so the sock was much too wide. I don't exactly need a wide sock. I loved the pattern though, so I frogged again, and bought properly sized sock needles yesterday. Teeny skinny #2 circulars. Cast on again last night, and now I'm through 6 repeats of the lace pattern on the leg (a little less than halfway through the leg). I'd have more done, but the cast-on and first few rounds take forever. You cast on over two circs, split the stitches, and then leave 2 circs in the cast-on stitches while working the top with two other circs. Yes, there are 4 circs in the sock at one time. It led to a lot of "Am I using the right needle?" Once you get 8 rounds done, you fold over the knitting and graft the cast-on edge together with the top stitches, creating a little tube around the top. I was going to do both socks at once, but after seeing what the cast-on entailed, I figured I'd try to not make this even MORE complicated. Sock knitting hasn't appealed to me at all before now, but I have to say, I'm enjoying this. I think the key to me making socks is that I need an interesting pattern. Lace! Lace is interesting!

I know, I owe pictures of my shrug, and probably one of the in-progress sock. They're coming. I just didn't feel like getting out my camera, and I should wait until I have natural light anyway. :)

From the "Awesome tales of the library" file. Someone came in today and had to pay a $4 fine. She brought it all in pennies... UNROLLED pennies. So, my coworker brings her some penny wrappers and tells her that the only way we'll accept payment in pennies is if they're wrapped. The girl, it turns out, doesn't know how to use a penny wrapper. She didn't realize that you have to COUNT how many pennies you put in a roll; you don't just fill it until it's full. My poor coworker sat there with this person for about 30 minutes, rolling pennies with her. Shockingly enough, she was really happy once 5:00 rolled around.

Lastly, I don't know what Lord of the Rings has to do with TBS's whole "very funny" programming motto, but the ads they've been running for FOTR and TTT for the last week are hilarious. "Frodo & Sam: Secret Lovers" is so wrong, but so right.

*Susan G: The shrug pattern is in the Craftster thread I linked to (post #6), and there are a number of pictures of people's finished shrugs in the thread as well.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Allez cuisine!

I decided to cook something elaborate for dinner tonight. This time of year means the return of pollen, which means that I start taking antihistamines more frequently until my system adjusts. Unfortunately, antihistamines tend to knock me out if I take more than one during a given day, so my sleep schedule has been kind of wonky for the past few days. This also means that I've been eating at odd times, and have been eating mostly pasta. And while I love pasta, I woke up this morning determined to cook something for dinner that would involve more than boiling some noodles.

So, after paging through one of my Best American Recipes cookbooks, I decided on an Ina Garten roasted chicken recipe and a Jacques Pepin potato recipe. Two French recipes. Where the heck is this coming from?

Anyway, because I love and trust Ina so much, I roasted my first whole chicken ever. (Not that this is a difficult thing to do, mind you. I've just never done it before.) And perhaps more importantly, I CARVED my first whole chicken, and did a pretty darn good job of it. I got a small bird, but even so, I have a big plate o' leftover chicken which I'm going to have some fun using up (I definitely see a chicken posole in my future). And this potato recipe may have replaced Michael Chiarello's Potatoes da Delfina as my favorite potato recipe ever -- excluding, of course, my mother's scalloped potatoes.

In knitting news, I am in LOVE with Rowan Cotton Tape. I have about 12" of shrug done, and this stuff knits up like a dream. It's lightweight, but it knits up quickly because it's bulky. The drop stitches are coming out really nicely. I may need more of this stuff in other colors. I'm wondering if it might make an acceptable sub for the Cache-Coeur Bergamo from Weekend Knitting...

(I'm so hoping I have my subject line spelled correctly. I took Spanish.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

100th post!

And in celebration of this, my 100th post, I've revamped my template again. The dark template was fine for winter, but I'm feeling spring-ish now, so I needed something lighter. As always, if anything's out of whack, drop me a comment and let me know.

I think I'm going to cast on this evening for a Tammy Shrug in the Rowan Cotton Tape I picked up at Woolwinders. Looks like it should be a quick project; when's the last time I used size 10.5 needles? I also cast on for a toe-up sock earlier this week. Does everyone have problems with their figure-8 cast-on being very loose or is it just me?

Anyway, I know I need to update my WIP list. I think my So-Called Scarf is headed for the frog pond. It's a great pattern, but I'm not sure I want to deal with the squeaky acrylic yarn for another 5' of scarf. My mitered square bag is stalled, but I WILL finish it. Eventually. Love the yarn, love the colors, and I think it'll look wonderful when it's finished and felted. I'm just having some motivation issues for the time being.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Some links I like

Not too much new on the knitting front. I met up with some of the Maryland Knittyboard ladies yesterday, which was a lot of fun (and thanks for the stitch markers, Roxy!).

I was going to go to Cloverhill today to see the Wool in the Woods trunk show, but then I sat down and thought about it. Usually, if I go into a LYS, I feel like I should buy something because I want to support the store. I have no qualms about increasing the stash size a bit, but I've already made two purchases of stash yarn this week and I didn't feel a need to go for three.

Anyway, in lieu of a real knitting update, here are a bunch of links that I've gotten some enjoyment out of:

I've made a huge mistake... 25 Best Arrested Development Moments.
This is a decent list that I mostly look at and say, "Right on." (I would have found a way to get "Spring Break! WHOO!" and GOB riding his Segway on the construction site in there.) However, they do have GOB's magic show and Tobias's Fire Sale audition listed, both of which are moments that send me into fits.

Pac-Man in crop circle form
I'd like to think that, if I owned some kind of a field, I'd do something awesome with it. Like put a big Pac-Man crop circle on it.

I so need a belt made from IDE cable.

The 3/29/06 total solar eclipse as seen from the International Space Station

Recipes I need to try:
Oreo Truffle Balls
Guinness and Onion Bread
All-Natural Thin Mints
Espresso Brownies
Cumin Sticks (I'm a sucker for homemade cracker recipes)
Bisquick Cookies (Sometimes, you just want a cookie made out of Bisquick and pudding mix)
Thousand Layer Lasagne

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More new yarn

I managed to keep away from the All About Yarn "Wool in the Woods" shelf, because there was a display of Elsebeth Lavold yarns that was the first thing I saw. If you poked through my stash flash, you know I'm fond of Elsebeth Lavold. I thought I wouldn't be getting any of it, but then I saw this stuff. It's NEW. Once I saw a NEW Elsebeth Lavold yarn... well, some of it had to come home with me.

It's very lightweight yarn, so I'm thinking "tank top". I'm ready for spring/summer knitting, especially after walking around Chevy Chase on Sunday. That was such a perfect spring day, and definitely put me in a warm weather mood. Of course, it's gotten cold again. Bleh.

Check it out -- Flickr's blogging tool works! If you're me, you're a geek who thinks this is really nifty.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cheater's lace stitch tutorial

I've taken some pictures of how to do the cheater's lace stitch. Hopefully, this will help anyone having difficulty. These are all linked to Flickr, if you want to see a slightly larger version of any of them. The pictures are in groups of two; the first picture shows where your right needle needs to go to work that step, and the second picture shows what it should look like once the step is completed.

You'll be working in groups of three stitches.

First, purl 3 stitches together, but don't slip the stitches off the left needle.
Cheater's lace tutorial, step 1 Cheater's lace tutorial, step 1 finished

Then, purl the first stitch on the left needle, still without slipping any of the stitches from the left needle
Cheater's lace tutorial, step 2 Cheater's lace tutorial, step 2 finished

Purl the first two stitches on the left needle together. You should have three stitches on the left needle, and three stitches on the right needle.
Cheater's lace tutorial, step 3 Cheater's lace tutorial, step 3 finished

Slip the group of three stitches off the left needle. The stitch is finished.
Cheater's lace tutorial, finished stitch

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cheater's lace scarf pattern

Cheater's Lace scarf

Why "cheater's" lace? Because to me, lace is supposed to have a complicated pattern of yarnovers and decreases. There's supposed to be a chart, and it should require immense concentration. This? Not so much. No yarnovers. No chart. The whole time I worked on this, I couldn't help feeling like I was cheating: getting a beautiful lacy effect without having to follow a pattern. You need to be able to remember two things: which side you're working, and the stitch pattern for one stitch.

Karabella Mirage is a relatively forgiving mohair blend, as it tinks pretty easily. I used color 50220 (or 220, depending on where you're looking), but it comes in more, um, subdued colors as well. This particular color made it easy to see which side I was working on, but for less bright shades, you may want to place a marker after the third stitch on the right side.

If you use another yarn, go up a couple of needle sizes from the sizes recommended for your yarn; for example, the Mirage that I used recommends using a size 7 needle, and I used a size 10. Play around and swatch; this is much more about the stitch pattern than anything else.

The stitch pattern is a bit confusing on the page. It should make sense if you have yarn and needles in front of you, but if it's not clicking for you, leave a comment and let me know.
**Added: a photo stitch tutorial is located here.**

For a printer-friendly version, click here.

Cheater's Lace scarf detail

1 ball Karabella Mirage (72% kid mohair/28% polyamide; 50 g/1.75 oz, 245 yd/225 m)
Size 10 needles (6.0 mm) or size needed to get gauge

Approx. 24 sts/14 rows in pattern stitch = 4"
(Gauge is NOT crucial to this pattern)

Finished dimensions
5" wide by 72" long

Cheater's lace stitch (mult. of 3 sts)
P3tog, leaving all 3 sts on left needle. Purl first st on left needle again (still leaving all sts on left needle). P first two sts on left needle together. Slip all 3 sts off left needle.

Pattern Instructions

Cast on 30 sts.

Row 1 and all RS rows: Work cheater's lace stitch across the row.
Row 2 and all WS rows: P all sts.

Work to desired length. BO all sts. Weave in ends and block if necessary.

Cheater's Lace scarf

Consider the following

1. Flash Your Stash has made me feel woefully inadequate in terms of stash acquisition.

2. Stitch DC has a brand new location in Chevy Chase. "Brand new" as in "just opened a couple of days ago".

3. Stitch DC had a 20% off sale from 12-2 today for Daylight Saving Time.

This is a confluence of circumstances that could ONLY result in me going yarn shopping today, right?

Didn't go nuts... Crazy shopping sprees aren't in my nature. Of course, this is why my stash is still small. On the way back home, I seriously considered going to Ikea to look at media storage so that my current DVD shelves could be repurposed for yarn storage. I ended up NOT doing this, but it'll happen soon.

Ok, Stitch DC. I drove there, and for future reference, there is a Safeway across the street with a parking lot; today was a gorgeous day, so I parked a little way back on Morrison and walked up to Connecticut.

The store is in the Chevy Chase Arcade, on the main floor. It's about the same size as the front room at the Capitol Hill store, maybe a little smaller. They have a good selection of yarn, even a couple of things I haven't seen at the Capitol Hill store (including some lines from Blue Heron, which I'm trying very hard not to become totally obsessed with). They still have a little ways to go before things are running totally smoothly; right now, they have no internet connection because of some issues with their internet provider (I believe the exact phrasing was "They played a really nasty trick on us.").

On to the important stuff. What has joined my stash?

2 balls of Cascade Fixation, "Blueberry"
This is going to be for the Mon Petit Chou pattern at Knitty. Don't ask WHY I want to make this, because I'm very very single and it's not like anyone's going to see me in it... but the pattern is so cute.

3 hanks of Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca and Silk, "Plum"
I just have to make sure I don't accidentally drool on this. It's absolutely gorgeous, and so soft.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Flash Your Stash!

(Clicking on pictures will open them in a new window)

I have a fairly small stash. Some people have a stash room; I have a stash corner:

Underneath the shopping bags (all of which are yarn), you can see a clear Rubbermaid underbed storage box. My stash used to fit in that thing. My ENTIRE stash. Not so much anymore.

As for what's in the bags and the box...

8 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in "Shocking Pink"
I can't get this color to photograph quite right. It looks more orange in the picture than it actually is (if you've ever seen the hot pink Silky Wool, that's what this is). I think this is going to become some kind of cardigan.

5 balls of Elsebeth Lavold Cotton Patine

6 balls of Elsebeth Lavold Cable Cotton

Blue Heron Yarns Petite Rayon Ric Rac, "Fall"
I have to find something awesome to do with this. The problem is that I'm not really a "shawls and wraps" person. I have a Clapotis that I love... and I've never worn it. So, any wrap that I make for myself is probably going to be a waste of yarn. Anyway, this yarn is gorgeous, so I have to find something to do with it that I'll actually wear.

4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere
I used some pink Cotton Cashmere for my mom's Branching Out, and really liked it. It was splitty, but it's cotton, so that's not odd. When I saw more of the Cotton Cashmere on sale at Stitch DC, I had to get it. And that orange there is NOTHING compared to this:

3 balls of Rowan Cotton Tape, "Sunburst"
I found a pattern online for a very cute dropstitch shrug that calls for 3 balls of Rowan Cotton Tape, so I actually know what I'm doing with this. I just need more tank tops that'll go with it, since not many colors work well with neon orange. :)

5 hanks of Crystal Palace Waikiki, "Tidepool"
Ah, THERE'S my normal color palette. Why do I keep buying bright orange yarn? Am I trying to make up for my subdued personality? Is there a secret wild woman in me that I don't know about yet? Or should I not be psychoanalyzing my yarn purchases?

My dyeing experiments
I had some fun here. Still trying to decide if this is all for me, or if some of it may get swapped or eBay-ed. I LOVE the way they turned out, so chances are good that they're staying with me.

3 hanks of Wool in the Woods Frizee
If you look at my banner and button, you'll notice that this stuff looks very familiar. This is one of the best smelling yarns I have. It smells like detergent, but in a good way.

3 hanks of Wool in the Woods Seeds 'n Such, "Bashful"
Seeds 'n Such is the yarn I used for my Clapotis. It's a thick/thin cotton thread wrapped with a slubby rayon thread, and is a bit of a pain to work with. However, it's gorgeous when knitted, so after completing my Clapotis, I bought more of the same yarn in a different colorway.

3 hanks Wool in the Woods Willow Hill
This is the yarn I got at the Annapolis knitting group last week. (Yes, I have a Wool in the Woods problem.) It's all dark, muted colors, and I can't wait to find something to do with it.

6 skeins Misti Alpaca Worsted
This is my latest acquisition. Since I haven't put any other pictures of it on the blog yet, here's a closeup that shows off the colors:

2 balls of Schoeller Stahl Portofino Souffle
I have fuzzy purple pants, why not fuzzy purple yarn?

4 skeins of Lion Brand Chenille
The thing about Lion Chenille that amuses me is that they say that it's not recommended for knitting. Crocheting is fine, but knitting... no. Maybe it worms a lot, who knows. I will probably be knitting with it (I can crochet, but I usually don't).

My box of leftovers
I have this picture up on Flickr with nifty mouseovers, if you're dying to know what everything in there is.

I also have all of these pictures set up as a Flickr FYS set.