Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hibernating mittens

The mitten is in hibernation. I finished the top and thought I was done with the body but all of a sudden sts started coming undone. I have to unpick the top and get all the sts on to needles and redo the top. Since I was frustrated and annoyed, I decided to put it away and work on other things.

Terry, the mitten is part Jamieson and Smith jumperweight (the blue) and part Harrisville Tweed Shetland which was on Elann a number of years ago. I think they were closing out that line. All the other colors are the Harrisville. It is also a true Shetland jumperweight.

I swatched the new body of the Lorna's Laces sweater. I used the pattern from the Coin lace scarf that was on Elann (the right hand side of the swatch) and a simple cable (the left hand side) along with dropped sts a la Clapotis. For some reason, the scarf pattern had extra twisted sts on either side of the coin lace pattern and I found that they masked the pattern. So I reswatched without them and this is the result. I really like it. I am debating whether to alternate the cable and the coin lace pattern or just do the coin lace pattern.

My daughter wanted a headband for running and I found a ball of this lovely alpaca. It is a beautiful heathered purple. I had some purple/green/blue aurora-borealis shiny beads (like the colors of a peacock) so I did a pattern with them. A fun, quick knit that should be done in another day. I just have the underside left to do and then I'm going to graft the beginning to the end for a seamless double thickness headband.
That is all for now! Maybe next week will see the return of the mitten.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mitten Knittin'

I am making slow but steady progress on the mittens. It is slow because the gauge is fine and I find it hard to knit for a long time. Steady because it is finally getting interesting and I want to knit bits of it. I am very happy with how they are turning out. I am just beginning the increases at the top.
I had to hold the fringe down to take this picture because it is curling up. I hope blocking will cure that. This is the back of the right hand mitten.

This is the palm of the right hand mitten. I did not use the traditional thumb hole method. The traditional method is to put the sts on a string and then cast on the equivalent number. The reason for this is to be able to try on the mitten as you knit. I thought that was an excellent idea but I didn't want to cast on. So I knit across the thumb sts using scrap yarn to create the opening, knit a few rnds, and then I threaded the sts onto another piece of scrap yarn and removed the scrap yarn sts themselves. This creates the opening without casting on. I should be done with this mitten soon and then I have one more to do. They are warm and snug.

I made ths cuff a bit longer so it will keep my wrists warm.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bumps in the design road

First, as promised, here is a photo of the completed Clapotis. I decided not to block it as I wanted it to curl and be cuddly around my neck. It is very warm and I'm enjoying it. Mother Nature has been making it attractive by bringing in cold weather in time. The two yarns combined quite well to create a cohesive pattern. It doesn't really look like stripes from afar.

After a week of fidgeting around because I hadn't started the Latvian mittens when I was fresh in the morning, I decided to start them on Friday evening. I'm not sure that was a great decision. I had to rip and re-do the braid and the fringe 3 times because of silly mistakes. Then I realized I had too many sts on the needles. I modified designs from a site with lots of Latvian mitten charts. The chart I started with had 80 sts and that seemed like a good number so I created a chart with 80 sts. But the two edges of my chart didn't match up! I had the wrong number of sts for a complete set of repeats which is key to circular knitting.

Since I was not going to rip and re-do the fringe and the braid, I decided to re-work the chart to fit the 80 sts. I picked different motifs, modified them to fit and created a new chart. Since then I've made some slow progress. I have made so many mistakes and had to tink back that it is slow going. But I am at the end of the cuff now. I have a couple of rnds more for the cuff and then I have to determine where to put the thumb opening and start on the body of the mitten.
These are going to be bullet proof and warm. I am knitting them on 2 mm needles so they fit. I should have started with 64 or 68 sts, not 80. Then I could have used 2.25 mm needles and the stranding would have been easier. Oh well. Warm, wind-proof mittens are not the worst thing I could have created.

The moral of the story is that it does require concentration and a clear mind to design. Trying to do it when one is tired and brain-dead is not productive.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Delinquent yet again

I'm late with this again. I had good intentions. I wanted to take a photo of my finished Clapotis in daylight and add it to this post but that hasn't happened. I don't know where the weekend went and it is difficult to find time to photograph in daylight during the week. I leave in a hurry in the morning and it is dark by the time I get home at night.

The good news is that it is finished and just in time for the cold weather that descended upon us on Friday. The bad news is that my winter jacket is busted. The zipper is not functional. It opens up. At one point in my life, I would have undertaken replacing the zipper. Not any more. I will look for a new jacket soon.

I have been charting my Latvian mitten pattern and planning out the color placement. Originally I was going to use 3 colors and selected a pattern that was executed in three colors. But after a few days of pondering the colors and where each one goes, I decided to add a fourth today. In artificial light, they look good together. I have them in my bedroom to inspect in daylight in the morning. If all goes well, I will cast on tomorrow.

I will post with photos this weekend.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Change of direction

Sometimes things don't quite work out as planned. I blocked the sweater to the desired measurements. I put the sts on two sets of cables from a Knitpicks interchangeable set and washed and blocked the body of the sweater. You can see it being blocked below. Interim blocking is a great way to verify that blocking will result in the desired effect/size. You can put the sts on a piece of scrap yarn also. I use this to see if puckering will vanish, if lace needs bigger or smaller needles, etc.
Here is a close-up of the body sts. So far so good. I really like the way this is looking.
This is the yoke in close-up. Doesn't that look amazing? I am very pleased.
After blocking, I finished it and tried it on. At that point, the entire plan went down the drain. Yes, it fits. Yes, the lace looks amazing. However, it is very form-fitting and that is not me. I don't like form fitting sweaters. So I am going to rip out the body and do a different lace pattern on smaller needles. A pattern that won't pull in like this one. More on that later. I will also be able to use up the last skein of yarn this way. I hate having a whole skein left over.

In the meantime, I started a Clapotis with two cashmere based sock yarns that my friend Bettina sent me. I was going to make socks but I realized that socks are not a good use of cashmere yarn. The two handpainted yarns looked as if they'd work together so I decided to make a scarf by alternating them in 2 row stripes. I am very pleased with the result. I was able to make good progress on this because I was in the car a lot over the holidays and this is great travel knitting. I am more than half done as you can see below.

I call this my Neapolitan scarf because it looks just like Neapolitan icecream!
Thank you for the lovely compliments on my long overdue FO.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Overachieving and buttons

I set out to use all 6 skeins of the Lorna's Laces yarn I won and no more. Well, I think I overachieved. I may finish the sweater with most of 1 skein left over. Darn! I have made excellent progress on the body as it is an easily memorized pattern and I'm using larger needles. Of course, blocking will make the body wider and shorter so I need a lot more length but I'm still on the 5th skein. I will do an interim block when I'm done with this skein and see how much more I need to knit. It is very difficult to gauge that with the bottom bunched up on the needle. It is looking good though. The pooling is cool, the top looks woven and the lace body will be very fluid and have lots of drape. I received the buttons from Sheila Ernst last week. Oh my! They look fabulous on the sweater.
From a distance, they don't stand out quite that much but...I am going to make a twisted cord with tassels from the body yarn and loop it around the buttons to hold the fronts together. I did a mock-up here but the single strand of yarn doesn't provide the contrast that 4 strands twisted together will. That will make the buttons stand out.
Updated to add:
I couldn't wait! I made the cord and sewed on the buttons and voila!I am excited as I haven't worn this sweater in about 6-7 years due to this problem. Finally!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A couple of weeks of silence

I have been silent for a variety of reasons but mainly because I didn't have time to take photos in daylight. The weekend before last I was teaching and last weekend I made a last-minute trip to visit family so wasn't home. Anyway, to compensate, I have a lot of things to share.
This is an order from Jannette's Rare Yarns. The yellow is an unreleased color of Rowan Kid Silk Haze and the rest is Rowan Felted Tweed. I bought a grab-bag of oddballs to go with a bag of blue that I bought a few years ago. Jannette has great prices on Rowan and other yarns and her service is very good.

And now on to the Rhinebeck purchases. Yes, I know it has been a while since Rhinebeck but maybe this will help us re-live it.
First, a sampler of the soaps and salves I mentioned. I've represented all the companies but not all the products I bought. The salves (both of them) are wonderful. The soaps are currently mixed in with my sweaters.
I have been looking for buttons for this sweater for a while. I wanted to wear it without buttons but the front ends curl in or out and it doesn't look nice. While I was at Camp, I saw that Joyce Williams had put two buttons with a bow to hold them together on one of her sweaters. I decided to do that but have struggled to find the right buttons. I found these at Moving Mud but Sheila Ernst is also sending me a couple she made for me. I'll have to see which ones look right and maybe I'll figure out how to switch them around as needed.
Here's a closeup of the buttons. They have a gold glaze around the black center.

Lastly, I've made a lot of progress on the hand-to-hand sweater. I'm done with the sleeves and the yoke. Now I have to pick up and finish the neck before I pick up around the armholes and knit the body downwards. I am going to use a lace pattern called Fan Shell from one of the Walker treasuries. This is the center. You can see the hand-painting is creating a sort of argyle look. One of the advantages of knitting this way is that the width doesn't change very much in the yoke so the color effects tend to continue. Additionally, the reverse stockinette makes the colors blend together in a more attractive way than stockinette does.One sleeve. I have to bind off but otherwise it is done.
The other sleeve. The yarn marker shows where I started to knit straight so I could match the other sleeve to this one.

I hope this makes up for the long silence!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A most boring week

Knitting-wise, of course.

I was traveling and worked on my Lorna's Laces pullover. I am almost done with the first sleeve but I'm going to have to rip back a couple of inches. I have 122 sts when I should have 114 for the top of the sleeve. I was winging the increases because I forgot to take pins with me and I must have counted wrong. Oh well. On the other hand, I may have enough yarn. I used up 1 skein at the top of the sleeve and this is the skein from which I swatched. So it is a little short. No photos as it looks almost exactly as it did before, just longer. I post pics when there is something more interesting to show.

Thank you for all your comments on the Wild Apple. It is a gorgeous design and the colors work so amazingly together. You wouldn't think so, just looking at the yarns but they blend so superbly together. I think Kerstin Olsson is a genius with color. Almost all the sweaters that I covet are her designs. Someone asked what my next Bohus will be. I am currently leaning towards a light colored one - the Rose Lace Collar or the Swan. The other two kits I have are dark - the Gray Mist and the Forest Darkness with the green background. But it won't be for a while. Maybe in the winter. I seem to start my Bohus sweaters in Jan or Feb and finish them in the summer which is a bit stupid. The yoke is relatively light and the final parts of the sweater make it heavy as I knit it all in one piece. I should start them in the summer and finish in the winter when the sweater in my lap will save me in heating bills.

Diane asked if I had made any other changes to the Sideways Cardigan besides adding a repeat to lengthen it. I just added one repeat of the lace panel and the wave pattern on the body. I didn't do the neck finishing called for in the pattern. I substituted a round of single crochet that I worked all the way around the cardigan. I didn't like the difference between the cast-on and bind-off edges on the sleeves contrasted with the side edges where one picks up for the yoke and knits up. So I decided to make it more even by doing the crochet. Another change to think about is to add a button band. There is a button-hole band but the buttons are sewn on to the front itself. If I had to re-do it, I'd add a button band.

I know I also owe you photos of my Rhinebeck acquisitions. Maybe I'll save that for next week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall means Rhinebeck

I spent a couple of hours at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival today. Usually I spend a whole day there but I have a lot of things to do and I couldn't afford the time. I have been going to the Sheep and Wool Festival, which is held in Rhinebeck NY, for at least a decade now. I don't go every year, but I go as often as I can. Some things about the festival have changed, and some are still the same.

Usually I get there early so I park close to the gate and I have rarely run into traffic on the way. Today I got there only around 11:30 after my morning activities were completed. I crawled all the way through the village of Rhinebeck due to the traffic. I am pretty sure I parked about a mile away from the gate.

Over the years, the festival has become more and more popular and the crowds have increased. In some of the barns, it was hard to even move. I had a list of vendors I wanted to visit and it was sorted in order of the buildings where their booths were. So I was making a beeline from one vendor to the other, and not browsing. That was the opposite of everyone else there was doing, and sometimes it was tough to make progress through the barn. But I got what I wanted and made it ahead of my self-imposed schedule.

The festival organizers have made Saturday a family day so there are lots of activities and demonstrations. This increases the crowd on Saturday. I remember the days when it was just animals, yarn and fleeces.

One thing that hasn't changed is the color of the leaves as I drive up north. It is always a joy to drive through the bright colors and enjoy the crisp snap of leaves as we walk through the fairgrounds.

I was looking for buttons so I visited Sheila Ernst, Moving Mud, as well as a number of soap makers as I was looking for salves and soaps for dry skin. I got salves from Black Berry Hill, and Heal My Hands. Clove Valley Soapworks and Merriweather 's are two local soap makers that I discovered. All in all a fun day.

I almost always run into people I know at the festival, and today was no exception. It was a nice surprise to run into Steph though. A number of my out-of-town friends come in for the festival and we usually have a meet-up. But I didn't have time to hang around for it and I assumed I wouldn't see any of them in the crowd. I ran into Steph, however, and was able admire her scarf and lovely coat in person. Another surprise was Jennie the Potter, who I met at Knitting Camp.

I wore my Wild Apple and a few people recognized it and commented on it. One woman even took my photograph. It was a breezy, cool day and everyone around me was wearing a coat or a heavy sweater. I had my Earth Stripe Wrap with me but I was nice and toasty in the Wild Apple.

And, for your pleasure, here it is. All blocked and nice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sewing up day

This post is late because I wanted to show you the first FO as part of the post. Thank you for all the compliments on the Wild Apple.

I spent all day sewing and I have two FOs to show for it. One I had already announced, but it wasn't really complete as I had buttons to sew on.

Anyway, the big news is that the Wild Apple is done. It took all day to finish the various hems since I was doing it in between other tasks. Therefore, the picture is not very good, as it was taken in the dark without a flash. The flash pictures were overexposed so I prefer this. I need to block it and I will take better photos then. It is completed just in time for Rhinebeck next weekend! As you can see, it needs blocking. There are gathers around the yoke that will disappear when the stranded colorwork is blocked. Also, it has been dragged all over the country - in my computer backpack as well as in various other bags, and I'm sure it is very dirty.
This is a photo of the faced side seam slits. If you ever hear me planning to mattress stitch fuzzy dark yarn at 9 spi, call in the white coats immediately. I had to pull out the magnifier and the daylight lamp (in the daytime) to see well enough to finish these slits. In contrast, the hemming was a breeze.

I don't like hems and I don't think I'm going to do hems again. Also, I am going up a needle size for my next Bohus. I have about 25% of the last skein left. My previous Bohus sweaters have had a whole skein left over. I lengthened the sleeves a bit because the others always make me feel as if the sleeves are too short, even though they hang just right. They ride up so I added some length to try and prevent this.

Here is the other FO. It is the Sideways cardigan from the Spring/Summer 2008 Vogue Knitting. The one on the cover. I think the buttons are perfect. I had a very tough time finding buttons with a blue undertone to match the yarn. Most pinks and reds have a yellow undertone. These are a lovely burgundy with a wood grain like finish. They look casual but add a punch.

I have to get back to thinking about the Lorna's Laces sweater now that the Wild Apple is done. I work on one project at a time because I can't deal with trying to recreate my mind-set for each project. I tend to think about a project a lot as I knit it, planning what I'm going to do and analyzing what is going on. If I break that train of thought, it takes a while to get back into it.

But for now, I'm going to relish the feeling of accomplishment for at least a day or two.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The end is in sight!

I just finished the colorwork on one sleeve and I had to take pictures to show off. I chose the last round of apples from the yoke and made the main color the background for the last round instead of the new background color that is introduced in the yoke. I'm pretty pleased with the result. I did one more round of main color and then a turning round for the hem so the colorwork will be right at the cuff. Now I have about 11 rounds of hem to do before that sleeve is done. One more cuff to go and then it is all sewing up.
I thought I would also leave you with a tip on how I count and manage increases/decreases. I think I got this from one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's books but I don't remember. I count off as many coil-less pins as I need for the shaping. In the case of this sweater that was 45 for the sleeves. I pin them all in a big clump to the knitting. As I do each increase/decrease, I move one pin from the clump to that st. I pin right into the st that is the decrease or the increase.

Then all I have to do is count up from the last pin for the number of rows/rounds between each shaping action. In this case it was every 4 rounds. So all I had to do was count off 3 rounds. In this fuzzy, fine yarn it was hard to see sts so I counted the holes in the middle of each st. When all the pins are gone from the clump, the shaping is over.

If there are variations in the number of rounds between the shaping, it is easy to see the difference in spacing between the pins.

I hope next week's post will feature a completed sweater.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

News flash!

The sleeve shaping is done for the second sleeve!

I just have to do the 11 rows of colorwork and then a turning row and the hem on both sleeves. About 25 rows on each sleeve. Yay!

Yet another busy weekend

It is an understatement to say that I'm exhausted. I think I could sleep for a month.

I spent the week driving an hour each way as I was the organizer of a conference. The days were long and made longer by the commute. I also took the opportunity to have dinner with some out of town friends, which made that day even longer.

Therefore, there was not much knitting going on. In fact, there was zip, zero, zilch.

I also spent the weekend teaching. So there was a bunch of knitting and I have made some progress on the Wild Apple. I hope to really finish one sleeve this week! I know I've made this promise before but this time I'm really hoping.

Today I am using the remainder of the focaccia dough from last weekend to make rolls. I am making veggie burgers Indian style for dinner. Here is one recipe to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. I am making my own recipe with vegetables from my CSA farm. I thought it would be even better with freshly baked rolls. I was going to make a calzone with the potato vegetable filling instead of the traditional kind but I thought that if I made patties, I could have it another night during the week. I may need to bake the rolls the evening before as I don't think I will have time to bake and then eat for dinner.

Cross your fingers and wish me luck in finishing that sleeve this week!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A busy weekend

I have no photos to post so this is going to be quick. My camera is traveling and I don't have a replacement.

I thought I would have finished one sleeve of the Wild Apple by now but I haven't. I had a busy week with very little knitting time and so am making slow progress. I am about half way down the second sleeve. Nothing exciting to share visually yet.

I have been busy this weekend with lots of non-knitting stuff. I am cooking and baking and if I get some time, need to freeze some hot peppers. My plants produced a lot and I need to do something with it. Ditto with the basil. Let's see if I get anything done. I got a lot of CSA produce so I am focused on cooking and preserving that.

I made a focaccia with cherry, currant and pear heirloom tomatoes, rosemary and basil. It was visually and tastefully appealing. I used the crust recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 mins a day, which worked really well. It is the Olive Oil Dough. I have enough for a couple more in the refrigerator which I can use over the next two weeks.

I am also oven-drying the remainder of the little tomatoes for future use. They look like little jewels - purple, orange, yellow and red. I ate my fill in salads and as snacks. If we get some more, I will take a photo and post.

I also did a lot of data entry, adding all my recent acquisitions (some from Camp) to my databases of yarn, books and magazines. Now all that is put away, instead of littering the floor of my bedroom. Neatly littering, but littering none-the-less.

More next week

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And we are back... our regular knitting content.

First a bit of blatant self-promotion. Interweave's Color Style should be coming out soon and I noticed that they have my mitts on a sidebar in the preview. Therefore I can now show you one of my FOs from last year. I will tantalize you with close-ups so you can see the finished object in the official pictures.
The mitts are made with 4 colorways of hand-painted yarn (3 multis and a solid) and the effect is that of color that is splashed on. They blend quite seamlessly and you can't see where one colorway begins and another one ends. They are knitted in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn.This is a photo of the top of the mittens and shows the pattern a bit more clearly. That is the end of the self-promotion.

My daughter just returned from a winter in Argentina. She brought back some lovely alpaca knits (sweaters and chullos) for others but I got natural alpaca yarn. She even had it wound for me. The colors are all natural shades of the alpaca. I think this will become a nice warm shawl to remember her winter visit there. The yarn is very lustrous and soft, which I think is a characteristic of the undyed alpaca. I noticed that with the black alpaca yarn I used to make the shawl/wrap for my SIL. It feels very different from the dyed alpaca I have used.
I have been knitting, and knitting, and knitting away on my Wild Apple. One sleeve is almost done. I am at the cuff. I need to do the little colorwork I am adding to the cuff and then the hem. I took the colored yarn with me on a trip last week but I forgot the chart. So I broke off the yarn, put the sts on a small circ and started the other sleeve. I'll finish the second sleeve and then do the colorwork on the first cuff. I can see the end now though it may take a couple of weeks. The pictures don't look any different so I'm not posting them.

Instead, I am going to talk about thoughts going through my head regardin another design. As you remember, I won yarn at Camp this year. I want to make an Elizabeth Zimmerman design to honor the fact that I won the yarn at Camp. The Hand-to-Hand Aran came to mind as knitting a hand-painted multi sideways makes vertical stripes. I was also inspired by one of the coats in the Japanese book that I talked about a few months ago. That coat is done in a variegated yarn with tiny cables that disappear into the fabric but affect the colors in a subtle way and add a hint of texture.
Of course, I am not doing an Aran. I don't have enough yarn and the patterning would be lost in a multi-colored yarn like this. I am just using the concept and the construction to create my own version. The yoke will be textured and the body in lace, which will enable me to eke out the yarn a bit more. Also, that way I can go up a needle size or two in the lace and make it flowing and drapey without compromising the structure of the sweater. The weight of a sweater hangs from the shoulders so making the shoulder area too loose causes the sweater to droop.
I swatched and came up with a combination of cables and background that I liked. Here's the swatch.
When I was on one of my trips this summer, I had some problem with the Wild Apple and couldn't continue. So I started on this as a stopgap. Since the Hand-to-Hand begins with a sleeve, I started a sleeve in the pattern above. But after knitting for a few inches above the ribbing, I realized that I really liked the plain purled fabric between the cables. Since I only have 1000 yds, I decided to eliminate the cables. I re-started the sleeve.
This makes a nice fabric. I like the way the colors play on the surface. However, I am getting 6.8 sts to the inch and I'm wondering what would happen if I went up a needle size and got closer to 6 spi, which is what the ball band recommends.

I am really in two minds about this. A tighter gauge, like the one I have above, will keep the sweater from stretching too much. I tend to prefer the tighter, denser gauge for wearability, especially in sweaters. But I've been told that my gauges are bullet-proof and maybe I should loosen up a bit. Maybe I'll start another sleeve in the new gauge and compare the two and then frog the one I don't like. Decisions, decisions...

For now, this is on hold. I'm working on the Wild Apple till it is done and then I'll start on this again. I love the colors in this yarn and I can't wait to work with it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Vegetarian Hundred

I am going off on a fun tangent this week.

One of my favorite blogs is Tigers and Strawberries, which I found when I was looking for recipes for my CSA produce. Barbara, the author of the blog, did a post on the Omnivore's Hundred from Very Good Taste, a UK blog. Then she created a Vegetarian Hundred which is more interesting for me.

Therefore, I present my responses to the her Vegetarian Hundred.

Here are her instructions followed by my annotated list.

"If you want to play along, here’s how you do it: copy the list, including my instructions, and bold any items you have eaten and strike out any you would never eat, and then post it to your blog. If you want, you can leave a comment here, linking to your results, or you can link back to this post so I can try and keep tabs on what folks have eaten and not eaten. Finally, if you think something else should be on the list–feel free to add that to your post, and add any comments you like to your own posting of the list. I am just as curious to see what people have to say about food as whether or not they have eaten them."

The Vegetarian Hundred

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked
2. Tabouleh
3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam) - I've eaten the two separately but not together.
4. Fresh figs
5. Fresh pomegranate
6. Indian dal of any sort
7. Imam bayildi
8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu
9. Freshly made hummus
10. Tahini
11. Kimchi
12. Miso
13. Falafel
14. Potato and pea filled samosas
15. Homemade yogurt
16. Muhammara
17. Brie en croute
18. Spanikopita
19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
20. Insalata caprese
21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards)
22. Freshly made salsa
23. Freshly made guacamole
24. Creme brulee
25. Fava beans
26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles
27. Fattoush
28. New potatoes
29. Coleslaw
30. Ratatouille
31. Baba ganoush
32. Winter squash
33. Roasted beets
34. Baked sweet potatoes
35. Plantains
36. Chocolate truffles
37. Garlic mashed potatoes
38. Fresh water chestnuts
39. Steel cut oats
40. Quinoa
41. Grilled portabello mushrooms
42. Chipotle en adobo
43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas
45. Frittata
46. Basil pesto
47. Roasted garlic
48. Raita of any type
49. Mango lassi
50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)
51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry
52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie
53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette
54. Quince in any form
55. Escarole, endive or arugula
56. Sprouts other than mung bean
57. Naturally brewed soy sauce
58. Dried shiitake mushrooms
59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…)
60. Fresh peach ice cream
61. Chevre
62. Medjool dates
63. Kheer
64. Flourless chocolate cake
65. Grilled corn on the cob
66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili
67. Tempeh
68. Seitan or wheat gluten
69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese
70. Sweet potato fries
71. Homemade au gratin potatoes
72. Cream of asparagus soup
73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip
74. Mushroom risotto
75. Fermented black beans
76. Garlic scapes
77. Fresh new baby peas
78. Kalamata olives
79. Preserved lemons
80. Fried green tomatoes
81. Chinese scallion pancakes
82. Cheese souffle
83. Fried apples
84. Homemade frijoles refritos
85. Pasta fagiole
86. Macadamia nuts in any form
87. Paw paw in any form
88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind
89. Paneer cheese
90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!)
91. Fresh pasta in any form
92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps
93. Green papaya salad
94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes
95. Pickled ginger
96. Methi greens
97. Aloo paratha
98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish) - I've eaten khichdi, but I'm not sure that is the same thing.
99. Okra
100. Roasted brussels sprouts

That is pretty good, I think.

There are some things I would add to the list:
  1. Rasam or sambhar vadai: vadas or vadais are lentil fritters which are soaked in a South Indian curry, either rasam or sambhar
  2. Freshly made idlis: light as a cloud
  3. Freshly made phulkas: Phulkas are a kind of chapati, made without any oil, and puffed up before being put onto your plate
  4. Sugarcane juice: In India, the cane is crushed with a half a lime and served up straight or over ice. It is very dangerous to drink it as it is not cooked and can be contaminated but there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day.
  5. Alfonso mangoes
  6. Chikoos
I'd love to hear your thoughts on both the Omnivore's Hundred and the Vegetarian Hundred.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Knitting Progress Report

Thank you for putting my acquisitions into perspective! There is also a good reason why MaggieB's purchases were similar to mine and Maggie knows why. She and I travel to Camp together and sit next to each other (or close enough) that we can be enabled by each other's decisions. We definitely brain-wash each other with our purchases. Or maybe it is a keeping up with the Joneses sort of thing.

In the interest of knitting up all this lovely stuff, I present to you today my progress on the Wild Apple. These photos were shot early in the am using a flash, rather in daylight without the flash so the colors are bit off. But you can see what I need you to see.
I am about half-way down the first sleeve. I consider it halfway as the lower part of the sleeve is smaller than the upper. Instead of a ribbed cuff, I am going to do a set of the apples in colorwork on the cuff and then do a turned hem.I did a turned hem on the bottom of the body. I split the front and back at the side seam and knitted little facings. I spent a lot of time imagi-knitting this section and debating exactly what I was going to do. My concerns had to do with ensuring the edges didn't curl and reinforcing the split point which is typically just a running thread between two stitches. I remembered that Beth Brown Reinsel had suggested adding an extra st to the front and knitting it together with the first st of the back in Knitting Ganseys. She also had the front slightly wider than the back so the slit wasn't exactly at the side seam. The idea here is that you don't get that flare where the split is right at your hips on the side. It moves slightly to the back, not visibly so, but enough that the gap isn't exactly at the side. I used both of these techniques quite successfully in a gansey I knit a couple of years ago.

I moved the split 3-4 sts towards the back. That is about a half inch at my gauge (9 spi). I didn't have extra sts to knit together as I was knitting downward. So I just did a twist at the split, crossing the front st over the back. But as I knit the split sections, I noticd that the split was pulling apart. More thinking and imagi-knitting.

I was also concerned about the side edges of the split rolling. So I knew I had to do a hem there also. My first thought was to knit the hem the full depth of the split so I could sew the sides also. But I wanted a fairly deep split of 2.5" vs the 1" I had originally thought I was going to do. I also didn't really like knitting the split sections. I had 2 balls of yarn and was knitting them both together as I didn't want to have to count rows/rnds and make them match. I also don't mind purling but this wasn't just purling. I had to turn the sweater in opposite directions to avoid twisting the two yarns and to avoid having to lift and turn the sweater after each row. I also had to end in the middle of the front or back as it is difficult to tell where to start if you end at the side seam. For some reason, I don't like that. I like to stop knitting a row, as opposed to a round, at the end. I don't care where I pause on a round, for some reason. Weird, isn't it?

Anyway, I quickly realized that I didn't want to knit 2.5 more inches for the hem. So I came up with the idea of just knitting little side hems. In the process, I realized that I could also reinforce the split at the same time. Those tails are a bit longer than the 2.5" of the split. So after I sew up the sides of the split, I will sew the ends of the tails together above the split and hem it to the body at the side seam. That should provide enough reinforcement for those delicate threads at the split point. Stay tuned to hear if it all works out.

How did I have so much opportunity to imagi-knit? Think about all those rounds and rows of stockinette I was doing at 11 rows per inch. Plenty of time to try out all sorts of ideas and reject them. Also, you heard about imagi-knitting here first. I got the idea and the term from Kurt Fowler, a regular on the Sweater Wizard discussion group. I am a big-time imagi-knitter. I visualize what I'm going to do and how it might work out or not in my head. This allows me to anticipate and prevent major problems while also allowing me to decide between various solutions/options without wasting time knitting them up. It doesn't help with problems that were caused by inattention, stupidity or mis-calculation, but it helps me see when a technique might be a problem or not the correct solution.
Here's a shot of the waist shaping. It isn't entirely accurate because the armhole and hip width are the same. It looks as if the hip is wider in this shot. I must not have pulled out the armhole and positioned it correctly.

The sleeve is going along swimmingly. I did a provisional CO a la Barbara Walker aka the eensy-weensy spider CO and then used the same cotton thread to hold the sts for the sleeve. This kept the gapping at the armhole to a minimum and I only had to pick up a st or two to prevent a gap between the underarm sts and the sleeve sts. Remember my gauge. A st is nothing.

I am also using safety pins to count the decreases (as I did for the raglan increases and the waist shaping. This means I only have to count 4 rows at a time by holding the sweater up to the light and counting 3 holes above the pin before I need to make another decrease. Counting rows is difficult in this yarn, gauge and color. The yarn is fuzzy, the sts are tiny and the color doesn't reflect enough light. I put a pin on every decrease st.

I think I have made most of the decisions needed for this sweater. So my mind is moving on to the next one. I will have more on that next week but I thought I'd share some other thoughts related to last week's post.
This is the mitten from the Latvian Mittens book that I want to knit. It has 3 colors - a black background, a blue main design color and a purple complementary design color. A few weeks ago, I told you I was playing around with the yarn I bought at Camp for a chu'llo and a pair of mittens. This is what I came up with for the mittens and after a few weeks, I still like it. I have to see how it knits up. of course.
The main color is at the bottom. It is a heathery mid-brown from Harrisville Shetland that I bought from Elann. That will replace the black in the mitten. The light blue will be the main design color and the magenta on the right will replace the purple. The effect will be a bit different as the contrast and main design colors are similar in the original color scheme with the background being darker in value. Here the contrast design and the background are similar in value (though widely different in hue) and the main design color is much lighter. We'll have to see how that plays out in the actual knitting.

Next week I hope to show you some of my experiments with designing a sweater with the Lorna's Laces yarn I won at Camp.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pretty acquisitions

First of all, let me welcome Terry to the readership circle. She is somewhere on a boat on the Pacific coast of Mexico. I've sat next to her at Camp for 2 years and missed her this year.

As promised, this is all eye candy. First, the yarn I won and am currently knitting. I don't normally knit yarn as soon as it is acquired. But I brought this along as a backup to the Wild Apple and I've had to put that aside for now due to some recalculation of numbers that is needed. I've started the sweater I have planned with this yarn twice and am thinking of re-starting it again. I have 1200 yds and I want to see if I can make the sweater I want in this yardage. It is a challenge. The yarn is mill-ends of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Motherlode. Secondly, Cheryl Oberle's hand-painted lace weight alpaca. It looks as luscious as it feels. The hand-painting/dyeing has caused some of the dye to split so there are shades of purple (for example) although the overall effect is that of the chartreuse that is the main color.
I also bought a random selection of brights in Jamieson and Smith jumperweight Shetland. This, combined with some Harrisville Shetland I got from Elann a while ago, is for my chu'llos and Latvian mittens.
I blame Colleen for this next lovely. She had one the last day of Camp and I fell in love. I paid for it and asked Michelle to pick one out and send it to me. Isn't it gorgeous? It is a nostepinne...
and it is a knitting stick. You can insert a needle into this hole and tuck the stick into your belt for fast and furious knitting. However, I don't have the long double points needed to use it. But I can use it as a nostepinne.
I went to Camp with the intention of buying the Knitting Workshop DVD. I did. But I also bought the new reprint of Mary Wright's guernsey book...
and the Faroese colorwork book...
(a peek at the contents)
and a lovely book in Latvian...
Don't ask me what it is all about but it is filled with fabulous photos of sweaters like this.
And last but not least, Liz Upitis's Latvian Mittens book. This is the mitten I am going to make first.
Whew! Isn't that quite a haul? Why do I succumb when I have way too much yarn, a great knitting library and everything else I need to knit?