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.