Friday, September 29, 2006

Cloud Knitting

I've started knitting the Drops 88-13 pullover I've been wanting to make. I decided to use Douceur et Soie instead of the Vivaldi specified in the pattern. It's a much lighter yarn (about half the weight), but I think it will be okay. At Tuesday's SnB, Eileen said that it looked like a cloud. It's really true. The knitted fabric is so light and ethereal that I can hardly feel it on the needles. It really is like knitting a cloud. When I was knitting on it the other day, the sunlight was coming through the window and the yarn practically glowed where the light hit it - it was truly a thing of beauty. Hopefully I'll like it as much when it's finished as I do on the needles.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fully Vested

It's done! I finished the vest requested by DH, and he's very pleased. This was the first time he'd ever asked me to knit anything for him. He even helped design it - he was very specific about wanting a very heavy wool vest, and choose garter stitch as the pattern (so it would be very thick and dense). He also helped pick out the yarn. For the most part, it was a quick knit, but picking up all of the stitches for the ribbing along the front and collar nearly did me in. I had to re-do it several times before I got the right count. He wanted to wear it to work yesterday because he has lunch on Thursdays with friends and wanted to show it to them (one of them has a wife who knits), but I just couldn't quite get it finished in time, so he'll have to wait until next week to show it to them. But he wore it all last night and wore it to work today. He emailed me to tell me he'd gotten several compliments on it. Now let's hope the knitting curse doesn't catch up with me.

Yarn: 2 skeins Wool Pak Yarns in "Goldstone" (used about 1-3/4 skeins), plus Patons Classic Wool in "Deep Olive" (I used about 3 1/2 skeins). The body was done with one strand of each yarn, and the ribbing was done with 2 strands of the Patons, both on US10 needles. Design was my own.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sock Virgin No More

Yes, it's true, I finally lost my virginity! It was a bit painful, but worth it.

I'm pleased to introduce "Mocha Parfait", my first-ever socks. I used one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, in color #305 (Safari). Because I only had one skein of yarn, and wasn't sure how far that would go, I used Wendy's Generic Toe-Up sock pattern, so that I could just make the cuff as long as possible with the yarn I had. This was not only my first experience knitting socks, but also my first use of short rows and a provisional cast-on. My first toe was appalling - I had huge holes along the short row wraps, because I just couldn't figure out how to knit them. Then I found a website that suggested slipping the wrapped stitch over to the right needle first, then picking up the wraps separately with the left needle, and then finally knitting them all together. That was much less frustrating than trying to just knit them all together in place, and made the result much neater in appearance. After that, I really didn't have any problems with the toes, but the heels were another story. First I did 'something' wrong, and one side was really holey. So I frogged that. Then on the next try, I got interrupted while trying to knit one of the final wraps (and it was looking beautiful, by the way), and had to set the knitting down. Unfortunately, I apparently dropped one of the wrapped stitches and couldn't figure out how to fix it, so I had to frog that one, too. I finally got a good heel, but then decided that the foot of the sock was too short (even though I thought I'd measured carefully). It fit, but the sock was pretty stretched from toe to heel. So, once again, I had to frog it back to before the heel and add a few more rows. I had also decided that it wasn't really quite big enough in circumference, either, so I frogged it back almost to the toe and increased 4 stitches. Well, this time, the sock ended up being a little too long! (Gee, I didn't add that many rows!) But by now I was really tired of frogging, so I decided to call it good. I knitted it up to the ankle and then set it aside, while starting the second sock from the other end of the yarn. Again, trouble with the heel... somehow I got off-center, and when I was just finishing the heel, I noticed that I had 0 stitches on one side, and 2 stitches on the other. Grrrrrr... More frogging. But finally, I had two socks knitted to the ankle. I then divided up the remaining yarn, and knitted the cuffs as long as I could (about 2"), and bound off. I tried a stretchy lace bind-off first, but really didn't like the looks of it, so I just went up from size 2 to size 5 needles for the cast-off, which worked out fine). I ended up with between 5 and 6 yards of yarn left over. And finally... there they were... my first socks! I do have some gaps where I joined the heel to the instep, even though I picked up an extra stitch between. I guess I should have picked up two. But I can live with that. I am a virgin no more.

Things I learned:
  • Provisional Cast-On
  • Toe-up sock construction
  • Short-rows (heels and toes, plus picking up wrapped stitches)
  • Picking up stitches from an entire prior row so that I could rip away rows of knitting down to the needles without fear (just frustration).
  • Stretchy lace bind-off (which I didn't end up using)

What I liked:
  • Learning new techniques

What I didn't like:
  • All of that boring stockinette for the foot of the sock on DPNs. I'd rather do some kind of pattern.
  • Frogging over and over - I must have frogged at least two whole socks worth of knitting.
  • I also felt that the instep was too long on the top of the foot, relative to the heel. The sock bunches up a bit on the top of the foot where it meets the leg. I don't know if that's due to the toe-up construction in general, or just this particular pattern.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Seams Seem Good

Last night I was working on the vest for my husband, and finished the main part. He was very excited about it. I had to look up how to graft the shoulder seams since I was knitting in garter stitch. I found instructions on how to Kitchener garter stitch, and grafted away. It looked messy while I was doing it, but turned out beautifully! Even I couldn't tell where the graft was. I was totally thrilled... until I held up the vest and realized I had grafted both front pieces to each other. CRAP! Reminds me of when I was in Home Ec in high school and somebody sewed their sleeve into the neck of the garment. Grrrrrr. So, I unpicked my beautiful grafting job and did the shoulders the way they should be. And yes, they turned out fine - see photo! DH tried on the vest and was very happy. He can't wait for me to finish it.

So this morning I got dressed and put on one of my favorite sweaters (not one I made). I ate breakfast (DH made eggs for me), and then went into the bathroom to dry my hair. I was wondering why my sweater felt a little funny. Then I looked in the mirror, and wondered why the sweater looked a little funny, too. Then I realized that the crocheted yoke on the front was "missing". Wait - there it is, hiding on the back of the sweater... Arrggghh. Well, at least that was easier to fix than my grafting. But I hope it's not a trend...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Sorry, this post has nothing to do with knitting today. A few days ago, I read Margene's blog entry about how she'd read on Deb's blog that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a complete sentence. I had to tell my husband (who's a technical writer) about it, and who then had to tell one of his co-workers, who loves this sort of thing. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

Somehow, the whole "Buffalo buffalo" thing made me think of "Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich", from "Being John Malkovich", and I couldn't get it out of my head. I remember when we first saw that movie in the theater. We loved it, but came out of the movie absolutely convinced that whoever wrote it had to be on drugs. And not just any drugs, but psychedelic, hallucinogenic drugs. Like LSD or magic mushrooms. Who else could ever come up with this stuff? My favorite part was John Malkovich going through his own portal into himself, and what he sees. My husband though the funniest thing was that you would come out of John Malkovich and be spit out into a ditch by the New Jersey turnpike. That still cracks him up. (But then, he lived in New York and New Jersey for years). That was our first introduction to the mind of Charlie Kaufman. Who, by the way, says he's always sober when he writes. OK, so maybe he's not on drugs. I'll take his word for it.

Then, what should happen to be delivered to my house via Netflix, but "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Another Charlie Kaufman story. If that man isn't on drugs, maybe he should be. Or we should be, because we like it. But the timing was very funny. I usually don't have any idea what my next movie from Netflix will be -- I have a huge list that I just add to when I find something I want to watch, and someday they show up.

Even more amusing was that just a couple of weeks ago, we watched "Adaptation". Yes, Charlie Kaufman again. Kaufman, Kaufman, Kaufman. We thought one of the funniest things in the movie was when Nicholas Cage (playing Charlie Kaufman) says "I just wrote myself into my own screenplay". It was funny enough just in the context of the movie plot, wherein Charlie Kaufman (the character) writes himself into the screenplay of "The Orchid Thief", but even funnier that Charlie Kaufman (the writer) wrote himself into the movie as a character who writes himself into a movie. Totally recursive.

Buffalo buffalo buffalo, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich, Kaufman Kaufman Kaufman....

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fetching

No, I'm not trying to teach my cat to fetch. That would be like, well, like herding cats. This is another of my convalescence projects. I decided to make the "Fetching" fingerless gloves by Cheryl Niamath, from the pattern on Knitty. I was a bit concerned that I'd run out of yarn, because I'm a loose knitter (no comments necessary). But I had some additional Cashmerino in my stash that I could use as a contrasting yarn if necessary, so I thought I'd try it anyway. I did my swatch with the recommended US6 needles, and decided that I should probably go down a needle size. But, I guess I was still feeling the effects from my pain killers (that's my story and I'm sticking to it, even if it was just ibuprofen), and instead of using US5, I used US7. Duh. So, of course, I did run out of yarn. But since I had a contingency plan, I did the last row and cast-off with the contrasting yarn, and also used it for the thumb gusset. I don't think they look as nice as they would with all one yarn, but I wasn't about to redo them. And they fit okay, they're just a little looser than I would normally make them. I think if I'd made them on the US5's, as planned, they would still have fit, and I would have had enough yarn.

They're very cozy and soft. Just right for a cool, rainy day like today. This was also an oatmeal day. Yes, I love oatmeal. None of that instant stuff, either. Nice old-fashioned, long-cooking, thick, chewy oats. I normally prefer steel-cut oats ("Irish oats") rather than rolled oats, but last year my sister was raving about the "Silver Palate Thick & Rough" oatmeal she'd had at a friend's house. I looked but didn't find it at my usual stores - but then a few months ago, there it was in all its glory at Big Lots! I bought a box, tried it, and went back the next day to buy all the rest of the boxes on the shelf. Best rolled oats I've ever had. They're thick-cut so they're nice and chewy, but that's not what makes it so good. According to the box, it has a "Richer, darker, fuller flavor... makes other oatmeals pale by comparison". And so it does. Old-fashioned oatmeal. Brown sugar. Cream. Ahhhhh....

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reuben and Vest

By the way, have you seen the movie Rubin & Ed? Crispin Glover never fails to crack me up. Especially when he's marching around his apartment with a squeaky-mouse, wearing those wild striped pants and platform shoes. But I digress.

I really have been doing a bit of knitting - this is a vest that I'm making for my husband according to his request. He wanted a very heavy wool vest, in a weight similar to a sweater he bought in Mexico many years ago (which is a really nice sweater, but it but weighs an absolute ton!) Nonetheless, that's what he wanted, so that's what I'm doing. Pattern is my own design, and I haven't made a vest before, so who knows how it will turn out.

Meanwhile, may I present my lunch, the Veggie Reuben (concept stolen from inspired by Wild Oats when the old SLC store on 200 South had their own menu items). Take your favorite rye bread (mine is Volker's Jewish Rye), spread with mustard (yes, I said mustard, not Thousand Island or Russian dressing), and layer it with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, sliced tomato, sliced green pepper, sliced mushrooms, and sliced red onion. Grill it as you like, but this is how I do it: Spread each of two slices of bread with butter on one side and mustard on the other. I made mine with Pommery Mustard, (my favorite, but not available anywhere in Salt Lake City as far as I know. My current crock came from Dean & Deluca in Napa Valley). Toss the bread butter-side-down on a heated skillet and top each piece with some swiss cheese. Fry them until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is melted. Meanwhile, take some very well-drained (squeezed) sauerkraut (I like Claussen's) and heat it a bit. When the bread is done, assemble the sandwich by placing the warmed sauerkraut on one slice of the bread, top it with the sliced veggies, then the other slice of bread. You can, of course, modify the veggies to suit your taste, but this is what they used at Wild Oats. I find it's really the tomato and green pepper with the kraut that make the sandwich "work", so sometimes that's all I use. But if I've got the mushrooms and/or onion, I'll use them. Add a nice Claussen Kosher Dill on the side, and voila, lunch is served!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Marks and Markers

Brrr... Winter has reared its ugly head here in Salt Lake City and given us a sneak peek of things to come, and it's not a pretty sight. Last night I brought in my lemon and orange trees for the winter. Walking past them this morning, I noticed a new visitor in the house - a large praying mantis walking along the window sill. (Should have taken a picture!) I felt awful putting him outside in the cold today, especially since it will probably dip into the 30's tonight. But c'est la vie. I put him on one of my tomato plants. If he's smart enough to stay there, he might make it another night since I'll be covering them tonight for warmth.

I haven't been getting much knitting done lately since I've been recovering from having my "plumbing" rearranged, so to speak, so instead I'll show you my new (old) toy. I had some personalized clothing labels made by Charm Woven. The labels are very nice and are quite reasonably priced. (You can see one peeking out from under the corner of the box.) But they come in one long strip that you have to cut apart. Having never owned a pair of pinking shears (I always used my mother's when I was sewing), I took the labels over to my mother's house to use hers to cut them apart. Since she has two nice pair, she let me "pre-inherit" one of them, so I now have my very own vintage set of Marks Pinking Shears, still in their original box. It's a real pleasure to use a pair of quality scissors, instead of the kind I usually end up with. (Well, except for my good sewing scissors, which I keep hidden away so they're never used on paper.)

I'm recovering well, and able to sit up without much discomfort now, so I'm anxious to get to some knitting projects this week.

Oh, wait... I did make some stitch markers, thanks to Eileen having found a site with some great instructions. Well, I must admit that DH helped a bit and did most of the wire bending, but I did do some myself. OK, let me go drag my camera out again. I made a few sets, here's one of them:

I made this set "small", but I did make some larger ones too.

Hmmm... Marks and Markers... I was wondering what title to use for this posting. I didn't even plan that. Really.

Monday, September 04, 2006

What I did on my Summer Vacation

I'm back from my trip to Georgia. Nice trip, but I'm glad to be home! (Well, except for the fact that our air conditioner compresser died and won't be replaced until Wednesday.) I was able to pretty much finish my Rib and Cable top on the trip. I just had the neckband and finishing to do, which I took care of yesterday. "Brown Betty" is modeling the top for me, whilst steadfastly guarding the liquor cabinet she sits upon. The top is a bit shorter than I usually like, but it's okay and I didn't want to have to buy another skein of yarn. As it was, I was panicking that I wouldn't have enough - but I just squeaked by. Whew! The yarn I had left over would have been enough for probably no more than 3 or 4 more rows, so I guess I can't complain.

As for Georgia, it was hot and humid (no surprise there!). Not really the best time to visit, but my DH had a BMW Motorcycle rally to go to at Chateau Elan (winery and resort), which is only about 40 minutes away from my Dad's house in Athens. So I was able to work in a visit with my Dad, as well as attending the "Curve Cowboy Reunion". (Legend has it that some motorist called the original group of bikers "curve cowboys", hence the name.) While there, I went to see the new Aquarium in Atlanta - very nice! It was great to see the Beluga Whales and the Whale Sharks. The BMW group really puts on a great event. Chateau Elan was a wonderful place to stay (the group had rented out the whole hotel), and everyone was really friendly. We're looking forward to next year's event in Missouri.