Tuesday, July 15, 2014

letter to my blog

Dear poor neglected blog,
I have missed you so very much this past month. But you know how summer is around here. Kids are home all day demanding things like lunch and snacks. Unless they aren't and we are running all over town. But let me see if I can try to catch you up.

We went on vacation and very nearly missed strawberry season. I did manage to make a batch of strawberry lemonade concentrate and two of jam before we left. Then I made three batches when we got home. (so 5 total) We never got to make the strawberry marshmallows or strawberry ice cream. And we never did get to eat enough that kids declared they were "kinda glad the season is over." Next year.

Cherries have started to come in, but not the sours yet. I still have a ton of sour cherries frozen from last year and so tried to make a cherry limeade concentrate thing like the strawberry. It was successful, in that it was good. It was not, in that when I plugged my recipe into a recipe calculator it turned out to be 410 calories a serving. I'm going to try it with less sugar next time, but here is what I did:
2/3 cup lime juice (I squeezed many limes)
1 cup frozen sour pitted cherries
2 cups sugar
Place everything in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved and then bring to a slow boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until cherries are all broken up. Remove from heat, and blend with a stick blender. Strain and cool mixture in the fridge.
This made a pint of syrup. To serve, I used about 1/4 of the pint, and filled the rest of the glass with club soda. It was super sweet, so next time, I want to cut the sugar in half maybe.

Oh I know blog, you want to know if I did any knitting this month! Well of course. We went on vacation, and I was almost done with some socks before we left, so I started a new project for the trip. I started another hoodie from the top down this one in the same yarn as my green one--but in white. Here is me int he green, in case you don't remember
green hoodie

I did finish the socks when we got home. Oh how I love this yarn.
DSCN3393

The pattern is a toe up pattern from Ann Budd, with a heel I had to improvise from Socks from the Toe Up. The yarn is Mode Knit in Sherlock's kitchen. It is a tonal green, but every once in a while there was a tiny speck of red. It may have been an error in dyeing, but I kept feeling like it was a mysterious blood spot clue in the kitchen. It was a dream to work with and I loved every minute of it. I knit these on my size 1 DPNs. I can't wait to knit the other skein I bought. Although this yarn begs for cables, so I'll have to wait and find a good pattern.

So, blog you can see that it has been busy, and I haven't even mentioned all the fresh vegetables that require endless seeming hours to prepare (seriously, it takes me 20 minutes to get green beans ready--as opposed to 3 minutes tops from the canned variety). I have been knitting, nearly every day at least after the children go to bed. I took the sweater to the park evem on Saturday as we went to a picnic to honor the lives of our former neighbors (deceased going on three years now) and had a small child run up to me and we had the following conversation:
Little kid: Is that knitting you are doing?
me: yes.
Little kid: cool! My grammy does that. She made me a whole dress, it went from here to here! it is pretty.
me: I bet it is, you are lucky to have a grandma that knits for you
Little kid: I am!
And so there you have it blog, I'm either a hipster or a granny whose loved ones wish desperately I'd knit for them. Next time, I may even tell you about all the yarn I bought on vacation. So stay tuned.

Love, me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

strawberries!

I am having a super emotional day for some reason that might have a little to do with my babies finishing elementary school tomorrow. What better way to get past it than with a little craftiness. Or food.

Strawberries first appeared at the farmers market today! I am hoping to make at least 3 batches of jam this year and 6 pints of strawberry lemonade concentrate. Other plans include strawberry ice cream and strawberry marshmallows. So you can imagine that I'm hoping for an extended season. The berries I bought today though will just be eaten. Well ok, I'm going to try a puff pastry napoleon, but I'm guessing we'll probably demolish the two quarts in a blink. But I am hoping for a batch of jam next week.

I got all my sweaters washed for the summer before June 1, and it made me realize that what I really need is a white sweater. Maybe something a bit lacy so I can wear it in the spring. So far, all I've done to fix that deficit is to say--hmmm I have no white yarn. I can't decide the best plan: buy yarn and then look for a pattern, look for a pattern and THEN buy yarn, or buy yarn and use one of Ann Budd's books to create something. I can see pros and cons to all three approaches.

In the meantime, i am still plugging away on my green socks. I am finding that I will knit forever on the plain rounds, and knit just a few rows when I have something like the heel that I have to think about. So I'm stalled in the heel for the second sock.

Usually I use the short row heel described in Ann Budd's article "Working Socks From the Toe Up" Interweave Knits Spring 2007. However, sometimes my Mary Janes rub funny on the back of my heel. In order to make the socks last longer (maybe) I decided to try a different heel. I've used it before in these socks, although for whatever reason I didn't say what heel I used. It is from Socks from the Toe Upby Wendy Johnson. Just one of her "generic" heels. But the problem I have is either my gauge or my shoe/foot size means that I can't make socks with 64 stitches, they come out HUGE. I use 52 usually, although that's what I like about toe up socks, just keep increasing until it fits!, So I have to fiddle with the numbers, whereas Ann's pattern is really simple to do over any number of stitches (and I was so used to it, that at one point I could do it in my head). Anyway, I am nearing the homestretch of the second heel, so I should be zipping along really soon on those.

I am too lazy to take a picture of those socks, so I'll leave you with some old socks. I was getting blood drawn in May when a lady told me she LOVED my socks. I was so tickled, I had to share it on facebook, so I took this picture.

socks

Thursday, May 01, 2014

brilliant ideas

So, I got this brilliant idea.

You can pause now and laugh if you want.

I started a toe up basic sock from Modesock and then saw neldoreth and could not decide if I should rip that sock out and start over using that pattern (since it is a top down instead of toe up pattern). And then I thought--why can't I just work this pattern from the toe up. I figured the order of the chart and started in. And...

photo 1-3

It just didn't look right. And then I turned it inside out and there was the pattern--sort of: photo 2-1

Sorry for the bad pictures, I took them on the ipad before I ripped them out and just started a plain toe up sock.

DSCN2714

It looks so pretty, but so plain. Sigh. Anyway, I'd be father along, but here is where I admit a failing. I want to do a specific heel that is in Socks from the Toe up and it includes wrap and turns. I never mastered the wrap and turn. In fact, the last socks I did with this heel, I had to look up how to do wrap and turn, and I suspect I did it wrong. And now, I have to look it up again. I will though. It is just that my knitting time is also my relaxing time and this isn't meshing. Perhaps some night when the children silently drift off to sleep.

In the mean time, I also finished a sewing project.

All because I started a de-cluttering project where I get rid of (at least) two things every day. I have been working on my sewing room and as I have been going along, putting things away, getting rid of things to make room etc, I kept tripping over this more than half completed project, and the other day I decided that if I finished it, I could put the pattern away in the newly cleared out pattern drawer. And I could throw away the scraps. and so, I finished my Ipad carry case.

DSCN2706 Details, can be found in this entry. I had to re-do the flap, and found it easier to sew the button on before I had the whole thing together. I think if I make one for a gift, I may use a different type of closure, as I am not a fan of velcro.

DSCN2705

I love it and so now am thinking about carrying my ipad everywhere.

Friday, April 18, 2014

sock dilemma

I didn't realize it had been nearly a month since I updated. I spent a lot of theta time dithering about what to knit next. (And I made some mango jam, for my future self)

I decided fairly early on that I wanted to make some sort of sock, that had been sitting in my queue for a while. So, I pulled out my book with the waving lace socks, and some brand new Modesock yarn in one of the 221b colors that I think has been discontinued and started swatching.

Oh my is that pretty yarn. And I got a good fabric, but I wasn't quite reaching gauge for the project. Then I realized the finished size for those socks in a good inch smaller than what I usually aim for (2 inches smaller than my foot). It was starting to feel like an Algebra problem. And I wondered if I would have to publicly apologize to my freshman algebra teacher for dissing her notion that we "use Algebra every day".
As a side note, I liked math very much. I was very good at math. I hated word problems, until I got the hang of them (although why anyone would shove 50 watermelons in their car to travel 50km an hour east is beyond me), but I still enjoy math. However, I do not enjoy this kind of math. I just want to have someone say to me, yes, you are supposed to get 9 stitches to the inch, but you are getting 8.5, but you need the sock to be an inch bigger (I don't know--do I need this bigger with my 9 inch round foot?) so go for it.

In the end, I thought I'd try a different yarn. And I did and I think I am closer to gauge, but I still am worried about the sizing issue. Cue pretty yarn picture:

swatches

swatches

I know the swatches aren't big enough, but hey I swatched!

In the end, I decided to make a plain sock with the Modesock yarn because I love love love it. But I kept feeling like it was needing a little something. A cable maybe, but just something little. I started my toe up and had about 3 inches knit when the knitty surprises came out. I think I am in love with neldoreth. In fact, I think it will be perfect for this yarn. I am having trouble making the commitment and ripping. I am too lazy to try to figure out how to convert that pattern to a toe up. In essence, I am stuck. I should get over it, remind myself that my 3 inch sock is a true gauge swatch and even though it isn't washed (that swatch above is) I can probably still derive useful information out of my work.

What would you do? Would you rip the sock? Would you put the sock on a holder and start on the other end, to see if you liked the knitty pattern? Would you continue making a beautiful but plain sock? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

knitting funk

I have officially finished the dahlia cardigan and I even wore it. I think it is going to be a great spring and fall sweater (maybe even for cool summer evenings). And now I'm, well, stuck.

I don't have any thing in the works. I don't have any ideas. I don't have anything just begging to get made.

I have yarn! I mean I got some great sock yarn both for my birthday and for Christmas (quince and Co and Modeknits yarn). I have a gift card to my local LYS that I got for Christmas. But I am feeling a little burned out on socks. Perhaps it is because I have 2 weeks worth of socks already. I just finished a sweater, and so despite having three ideas for sweaters, I'm feeling a little sweatered out. I especially don't feel like taking on the cardigan that would make another great light sweater--the dollar and half cardigan. I'm hoping that my need for a hat or a scarf, or mittens is nearly over.

I asked my daughters if they wanted anything and of course they have a list. Yes, they'd love socks! They both also expressed a desire for a beret (one pink, one purple) and when I asked if they would wear a beret, One daughter replied--"Not to school! It would be my weekend beret!" The same daughter wanted a sweater, but not any old keep me warm sweater--no she wants a pretty sweater, like the one I just made for me. So, now I realize that love for ones children does not extend to picking up and knitting a second dahlia cardigan.

Socks though are a very real possibility. They are still growing enough that they have outgrown the last pair I made them. I worry a little that I'll get socks done just in time for summer and then they will outgrow those before fall. And of course, I'm not in a hurry to use up my fun sock yarn on still-growing feet. So I asked what colors, thinking I'd buy some more inexpensive sock yarn, and got one that wants lacy socks in a greenish yellow. The other wants purple. I think though, I’ll wait until summer for the socks--maybe aim for the first day of school or something—so they fit throughout the winter. I know if I start now, we’ll hit barefoot time within a month of completion.

No, really the only thing that is in any way striking my fancy is something felted. I don’t know exactly what though. A bag maybe? I have two small felted bags and that seems like plenty. I have felted slippers that I rarely wear, preferring my hard soled slippers. I keep thinking messenger bag. Maybe I’ll go with that.

As you can see, I am really really torn about what will be next on the needles. Maybe I need to knit some baby hats while inspiration strikes? Or penguin sweaters?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

dahlia picture post

Cue fanfare trumpets

Cue drumroll

The dahlia cardigan is DONE.

Well unless by done you mean ends weaved in and blocked. Because I totally still need to finish that. Still, I think it was a good plan to add more onto the sides. Now I'll block it and decide if I am satisfied with the sleeves, which feel a bit short to me. But I leave you with pictures. Please notice that I have totally morphed into someone cool and hip.

backdahliadahliabackdahlia

I started this back in June, and took some massive breaks from it. US size 5 needles, Pattern is here. I used Sirdar Country style DK. I lost count of skeins. I still have most of one left. I may do more pictures after I block it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Just a quick update

I picked up the Dahlia cardigan again. I ripped back the ribbing on the sides, and am knitting out 4 more inches or so. I'm hoping between that, blocking, and spring weather (promised to me by a wooly bear caterpillar --little lying bugs who also said this was going to be an easy winter) I'll have a nice sweater for those cool summer nights.

Recently, we had a special election to renew school funding and I signed up to be a poll watcher. What this meant was that I sat in my polling place for a few hours, checking to see if a group of people who committed to voting in favor, actually voted. It was promised to be dull work, and I was told to bring a book or something. I was also told, I couldn't talk with voters, especially before they voted, as my job was not to campaign. I brought my cardigan and sat in a corner. I swear at least 5 voters came up to me and wanted to know what I was working on and basically talk knitting. It was weird, how I suddenly went from being quiet and stay out of the way, into a distraction for one woman in particular who zeroed in on me BEFORE she voted. (Most people voted and then talked to me) It must have been ok though because I wasn't asked to leave and they kept letting me see the names.

Lesson learned: you want to start a revolution, bring your knitting. DSCN2396