Tuesday, May 29, 2012

button button who has the button

On Saturday, I hauled both girls off to Joann Fabrics because our local store was having a Memorial Day sale and buttons were 50% off. I love it when sales correspond with my needs and I get a good bargain.

We ended up spending $11 and getting buttons for the purple sweater, the grey sweater AND my poor black calorimetry. So yep, three projects and the buttons would have been $22. Now everyone knows why I was so excited by this sale.

What does $11 (or $22) buy you?

These are for the purple sweater. I'm going to have to do some swatching to be sure I get the buttonholes right--since we have two different sizes. I kind of wish she'd have picked just one kind.
purple sweater buttons
She's my panda queen so this was not unexpected.

The grey sweater is getting these
grey sweater buttons
Which I was surprised at, but they look nice with the grey. with the sleeve

And my poor neglected Calorimetry gets a sparkly button, that hated the camera.
closeup button

Now I guess I don't have any excuses for not finishing and better get knitting. (and sewing).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweater update

As we head into summer (last weekend marked Canada's unofficial start to summer, and Monday marks the US start to summer), I head into the final stretches of sweater construction.

I picked up my daughter's sweater again, after a nice weekend where there was actually no mouthing off about anything. I adjusted the sleeves and picked up all the stitches for the button bands and decided on which buttonhole stitch I was going to use. I marked where I wanted them and knit up to the row where I would need to put in buttonholes and then realized that whoa, I need to know what buttons we're using.

And coincidently Joann Fabrics has buttons 1/2 price starting Friday.

So, I picked back up on the gray Central park hoodie and am almost to the armhole shaping.

I feel like I'll finally have both sweaters done, and then no one will want to wear them until September. I know it isn't true though--I use a lot of cardigans in the summer. In fact, in the summer, you can usually find the following in my trunk: 2 camp chairs, 2 pool noodles, 3 sweaters. I find that this is all you need to be prepared in the summer. And I can't tell you how many times, I've ended up fishing out those sweaters for cold stores/restaurants/movie theaters. (My husband is never cold, which is why there aren't 4 BTW) So while these sweaters probably won't be shoved in the trunk, they'll be what gets grabbed when we KNOW we're headed someplace cold. Or when nights turn chilly. Plus, they'll still fit in September.

I have resisted the lure of the felted project but I swear I feel the pull of the wool that the local fabric store carries (they carry about 4 or 5 lines of yarn, not a HUGE selection, but some basics). Plus I know there would be great fabric to line it with. But I am strong! Not strong enough that I can go through patterns for ideas though.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I am not sure why, but it seems that I am always making sweaters in May. Or finishing sweaters in May.  At any rate, I know I always think about making sweaters in fall and winter, but it seems that by the time the temperatures start rising, I'm sitting there dreaming of how people in this house will look in their new sweaters.

Last May I finished my all wool Central park hoodie in time to wear it maybe twice before putting it away for the fall.  And this year I'm on track to finish two sweaters in time for memorial day!

I am feeling better about the purple sweater.  We've had a good weekend with little eyerolling and huffing and sighing, so perhaps we've turned a corner.  In the mean time I started in on a sweater for her sister.  She requested "something with twists like this" while pointing to my blue central park hoodie.  I looked around to see if anyone had done any smaller measurements to that pattern, and on ravelry, most of the kid sized sweaters had the helpful information of "I just scaled it down." Gee thanks.

I measured the girl in question and realized she's only a few inches away from the smallest size in the pattern.  I also know from the two I knit that it runs a bit small.  So I decided that I'd make her the smallest size and my "scaling" down would mean that I'd make 3 instead of 4 inches of ribbing, and I'd watch to make sure the length was appropriate.  I may have to shorten the sleeves a bit too.  

I have the back done, and about 3/4 of the left front, so it is zipping along pretty fast.  After I finish the left front, I'm going to finish up the purple sweater sleeves and then I'll need to find a day or two when I can sit and think WHILE I knit and figure out the button band*. 

*I want to do all the edging in seed stitch as one long piece (pick up 2 gazillion stitches) and put in the button holes as I go, so I need to a) decide which side to put the button holes, b) figure out which method to use, and c) mark where the button holes should go.  Given that most of my knitting is done after a full day of stuff, this gets to be a bit much to ask of my regular knitting time. 

I'm having a bad case of starter-itis though that I am having to fight. It seems that all I really want to do is knit something I can felt.  The sweaters are winning based solely on not having enough feltable yarn to make anything.  So I've been promising myself that after the sweaters are done, I'll be making a felted bag (maybe) that is lined (maybe) in some funky fabric.

Friday, May 04, 2012

project on hold

I'm nearly done with the first of the kid sweaters. I had an entire skein of yarn left and so offered to add a hood. The hood offer was accepted, and so I started knitting a hood.

Yesterday, I was knitting what I felt must be about the last few rows on the hood and then tried the sweater on my daughter. She complained that the sleeves were too short (which means they actually came to the perfect sleeve length--a first for me!), us agreeing that perhaps an additional 1.5 inches couldn't hurt, and then I put the hood on her.

"Almost there!" I chirped.
"not if you expect me to *wear* it" she snarls back.

Oh my.

We've dealt with increasing sassiness, increasing rudeness before, but never have I been so shocked and quite frankly devastated. How long have I been planning this sweater, so everything is just right? Months. I've been actually knitting less than a month, but I agonized over style and swatches and patterns before I started actually knitting. What came next was me slipping it from her shoulders and as calmly as I could saying, "I don't really feel like knitting more on this tonight. I think I'm done working on this for now."
Of course there was more, she's had this attitude for a while and this wasn't the first incidence of her rudeness even last evening. But man that hurt.

So here's what is left to do: lengthen the sleeves, finish the hood, add the button bands/edging. However, I think I'll be setting this aside for a while and maybe working on her sister's sweater. I don't like knitting something when I feel angry or resentful. Plus, even though she apologized (and honestly not the snooty one that came when I called her on this), I think I still need some time.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

mango jam

I think over the years I have made so many batches of freezer jam that I could probably do it in my sleep.  But yesterday was a first for me.  You see every batch of freezer jam I have ever made has been with fruit grown locally. Well sort of locally.  Strawberries and blueberries both within 10 miles of my house and peaches and cherries purchased at farmers market from a farm that is a few hours away. 

 Yesterday though, I decided to make mango jam. Mangos are not local to Michigan.  But I love mangos, particularly Ataulfo mangos (and actually didn't realize that all winter I've been looking for the champagne mangos I had last year and had been seeing them all along under a different name!).  They are for me, easier to tell when ripe, easier to peel, and easier to cut.

I've been buying them every time I go to the store, usually to use in lassis. Although at times they've been getting too ripe too fast and then I've been freezing them.  (cut and peeled) And they've been getting cheaper as the season wears on.  They are delicious in smoothies and lassis. 

If you've been reading a while, you know that I love Certo brand Pectin. And I happened to have some leftover from last fall's peach jam fest. The certo recipe book says mango jam should take 4 medium mangos, 6 cups sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and two pouches of certo.  So when I saw mangos at the store on sale for 2 for $1, I bought 6, hoping that would be enough and knowing if it was too much I could freeze the leftovers.  Well, Ataulfo mangos are smaller than the "normal" (Tommy adkins?) mangos and so, this jam really needed eight to get to the 3 cups mashed. Thankfully, I had enough in my freezer stash.

Mangos on the counter all lined up ready to be peeled and chopped.

I did one cup fully blended, as I do sometimes with peach and strawberry.  I like my jam chunky but blending 1/3 of it makes mashing manageable. (you could blend the whole thing, but then your jam won't be chunky)
Mashed up mangos

Six cups of sugar later...
Sugar added

Ok a note on sugar here.  I have friends who have literally gasped out loud and looked like they were going to fall over at the amount of sugar required.  I don't worry about the sugar because first it is jam and the definition of jam is sugar preserved in fruit and second I don't eat huge globs of it raw, I mean what do you put on a PBJ a tablespoon?  two maybe.  Ok, I do love me a huge glob of jam on greek yogurt but even then I think I max out at two tablespoons.  If the sugar thing bothers you, you can buy a different brand of pectin that calls for less sugar.  I know they are out there and a facebook friend posted a recipe that used some insanely tiny amount of sugar.  So go for it!  Personally I like the sugar, but if I ever started eating jam straight out of the container, I'd probably switch too.

I didn't photograph the pectin step, because I was getting my kids ready for bed and got distracted, but I added it and dealt with many many complaints about teeth having already been brushed as I was ladling jam into containers (mango jam and toothpaste not really being compatible tastes) preventing kid tasting.  


We had mango jam for breakfast this morning and the verdict is mixed, but basically everyone who likes mangos to eat plain liked the jam. And I thought it was especially tasty on my strawberries and greek yogurt.