Sunday, November 29, 2009

Endless Edging

I am trying to see how best to photograph bread. This is in natural light by the window. Still not great. A chocolate espresso bread that is perfect for breakfast: chocolate and caffeine and not sweet at all. I made part of it into cupcakes to take to work. It will be a perfect morsel when I need a pick-me-up.
The 48 repeats of edging are coming along. I took it to a dinner last Sat and no one could figure out what I was knitting! I had to promise to come back and show it to them after it was finished. Now, if the dinner had been last night they would have understood. Here's a photo of the current state of the shawl. The neck is a bit small due to the length of the cable but otherwise it is pretty accurate as to what it is going to look like. I am pleased with it but the edging is endless. sigh

I have two tips for knitting on edging today:
  1. If you find you are off by a shawl st or so in attaching the edging and you haven't accidentally forgotten to knit a st onto the edging, you can skip attaching on one row or attach two sts at once to make it come out even. It won't be noticeable.
  2. Count, count, count: if you find you are a st short, you can make a st in the appropriate spot as long as you do it quickly. Either pick up a running thread to make a yarnover after the fact if you are missing one or just make a st, if you decreased one too many. The trick is to do it in the correct spot in the repeat. The sooner you do it after the mistake, the less likely it is to be noticeable and you could escape having to rip even a row or two.
Fudging is your friend.
I got a surprise in the mail the other day! My exercise buddy sent me a gift. 2 skeins of pretty sock yarn, some h ighlighter tape in my favorite purple and a sachet of Eucalan. lsn't the sock yarn lovely?

I met a German 20-something yesterday and learned that her grandmother sends her hand-knit socks. I showed off my Regia socks and she said she had the same yarn made into socks. How neat is that? One can never have too much sock yarn or too many hand-knit socks.

I also swatched for the Faroese shawl that I'll be working on soon. This is the pattern I am going to do - not garter st but just a purl row thrown in every 3 knit rows. The Mini Mochi is soft but splitty. I think it is going to be a cuddly shawl.
Back to edging...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bread, yarn and lace

First the lace: I am really happy with the way the lace edging is turning out on the shawl. It is hard to see how nice it is in the unblocked stage so I hope you get an idea of it.

I chose to leave it as it turned out. The second row of the pattern is on the right side. I also didn't do a chain st as I joined. I did a k2tog on the wrong side, turned, and then slipped the st with the yarn in the back. This creates an edge that looks about the same on both sides.

Thank you for the encouragement and the condolences on the long binding off/edging process and the help in deciding which side to make the right side.
Here is a close-up of the lace border. See how nicely it echoes the triangles in the edge of the shawl?
This view is from a little further out. I am a little less than a quarter of the way done. There will be 48 repeats of the edging in total and I have completed 10. They go pretty fast but I get tired of doing it so I don't do more than 2-3 at a time. There is no rush. It will get done.

Now the bread part. I baked a loaf from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. I tested recipes for this book and this is the basic recipe for lean french bread. Except that during the testing, I discovered I could add sourdough starter to it and also mix up the flours. So this is mostly whole wheat flour with a bit of rye and a little less than 1/3 bread flour. I added a cup of mixed dried berries/cherries - mostly cranberries but I used up some dried blueberries and tart cherries - and a cup of walnuts to the dough. It makes a pretty loaf when cut.
My loaf shaping skills are getting better but they aren't great yet. This is acceptable, not ugly but not beautiful. You can see the loaf got a lot of spring in the oven - those cuts were closed when I put it in.
I am preparing to knit my first bottom up Faroese shawl. This is the lot of yarn that I put together for it. I am going to start with a provisional CO at the bottom, knit up with the blue Mini Mochi yarn (the balls) first, then the green and finally the Socks that Rock (the skein) if I need it. The rest of the Socks That Rock will go into a lace edging at the bottom that I'll add on later. Isn't it amazing how well these go together given I bought the Mini Mochi yarns at one time and the Socks That Rock at another?

Yes, I plan ahead but that is the way I am. I plan out projects in my head (imagi-knitting) long before I actually start to knit them. I usually only knit one project at a time and I guess this is how I get variety in my knitting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

768 sts - oh my!

What do 768 sts look like? A big mess, that is what. Here they are. All 129 rounds of Stor Rund Dug. The sts are crowded on the needle and I can't spread them out enough to show you what it looks like.

But the real question today is whether there is a right or a wrong side to this garter st based edging. I have done half a repeat so far. Here's one side...Here's the other with a bit of the shawl pattern showing...I can't distinguish any real differences between them. I think I'll stick to the way it is coming out for now, but I'd love to hear if you can see a difference or have a preference.

Here is the chart I created for the edging. It is an old classic called Cockleshell. I wanted something that echoed the triangle shapes in the shawl. You can see them right above the edging. It also had to be a multiple of 8 so the triangles would fit exactly into the shapes in the edging.

And a photo of it in the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker. It is the lower one.

This is the edging I am going to do at the neckline. Remember, this is a donut shaped circular shawl with a hole in the middle for my neck. So this edging, from Knitting Lace by Barbara Abbey, is going at the neckline. It is much narrower but has some similar elements to the one on the bottom.
That is what it looks like in the book.
Sorry for the really bad photos. It got dark so I had to use the flash. In some cases, that washed out the photo so I went back to no-flash.

I hope there will be better pictures next week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two weeks

I am sorry I didn't post last week. I was away and had the most amazing Sunday. More on that later. I am going to try and give you two weeks worth of reading though!

I felt confident enough to truly experiment on a bread recipe the week before last. Until now, I have been experimenting with adding different flours or ingredients but not really trying to make up my own recipe. But I was desperate. I had sourdough starter to feed and that means that I had to find something to do with the excess starter. I decided to combine it with the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipe to see if I could come up with a sourdough version of the wet-dough method. They have one on their blog so I used that as a base but didn't add any commercial yeast because I had a lot of starter. The recipe in the book doesn't have any weights, just volume measures and the recipe on the blog starts with some old dough based on their recipe, not real sourdough starter. So I improvised.

The dough was very wet when I took it out in 24 hours to bake. So wet that I couldn't do anything with it. I should have used Jim Lahey's 'bake in a pot' method. But I baked it on a stone free form like a ciabatta and that is exactly how it turned out. The only problem is that there isn't enough salt so the bread tastes flat. It is also a little wet on the inside because the crust turned almost black before the inside cooked fully. I think I should have used a lower oven temperature. Next time...
I love the large irregular holes. I am going to toast it today and put a garlic parmesan spread on it to eat with ravioli for dinner.

While I was away, my pre-ordered bread books arrived. I had also bought one a few weeks ago so I have lots to play with. Clockwise from the top: Peter Reinhart's new Artisan Breads Every Day, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François's new Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Jim Lahey's new My Bread. I tested recipes for Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread Every Day so I can recommend the book without looking at it. My name is listed in the long list of testers in the back. The others need some reading and baking before I can review them.
Now, on to my Sunday last week. I went to Berkeley to visit friends, taking a day off from a long and tiring business trip. I was in downtown San Francisco without a car, so I took the BART for the first time. We spent the day knitting and spinning and eating with a short trip to the Edible Schoolyard. The garden made me nostalgic for next year's CSA season. Food included a lovely crustless quiche, a fruit compote with home-grown fruit, home-made scones with home-made fig jam and a lovely buckle from Sweet Adeline's. Unfortunately, the day ended all too soon.

My friend Therese gave me this gorgeous green roving to play with on my wheel.
During the rest of the week, I walked a lot on the Embarcadero and ate at Greens restaurant, visited the Ferry Building and made a quick dinner trip to Chinatown's R&G Lounge. Other that that, it was all work, work, work.

I got back last night. As always, I overestimated how much knitting I could get done on a trip and took along a new project when I didn't even get to finish the Stor Rund Dug shawl. However, my friends helped me pick out a different edging that I'm more comfortable with. More on that later.

Today, I took a tip from Janine, and made a ditty bag for my spinning oil. I took the foot of a sock where the heel had worn out. I had already used the leg for another project. I finished off the cut edge with a rolled stockinette edging and added a cord and a cord stop. Voila! a spinning oil bag to hang on my wheel.
So that is a a non-knitting report on 2 weeks. I have made some progress on the shawl and I hope to be done with the body soon. It is fun knitting but when each round has 48 repeats, it takes a while to get through each one. Another 10 or 15 rounds are left.