Saturday, June 30, 2007

FO, fresh produce, chair-stealing cats...

Several items today to report on today:

1. Mittnz #4 complete! I used Regia 6 Crazy Colors and Elizabeth's pattern (the larger size). Since this is a sport-weight yarn, the gauge is a little tighter than the 5 stitches/inch called for, so the mittens fall somewhere between the two sizes. For the next pair, I'll use up some of the tapestry wool I was gifted. I plan to use it doubled, so the mittnz will be thick-n-warm.

2. Today I harvested the first tomato from my garden:

It was very tasty. I'm pleased to report the tomato plants that were munched on by deer have pretty much recovered. Now I have to worry about birds pecking the tomatoes; last year, the birds ate more tomatoes than I did!

3. My sample order arrived from Knit Picks this week; I spent some time petting the soft wool, then put each skein next to several items in my wardrobe, deciding which I'll get the most chance to wear. And the winner is....Charcoal Heather! (That's the one on the right.) I placed the order today. I'm really looking forward to using this yarn; it somehow feels both soft and crisp in the skein. Does that make sense?

Before I could place the order, tho', I had convince someone to vacate my desk chair:

Hilfy sez, "Whaddaya mean, your chair?"

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I love bread

I freely admit, I'm a carb junkie. I could give up meat with hardly a pang; but bread--never! And fresh, homemade bread--well, nothing beats it in my book. About 8 or 9 years ago, the b/f & I bought a bread machine, and we haven't purchased a loaf of bread since. Our trusty Toastmaster has served us well, but, sadly, all good things must come to an end. The gears in the pan were slipping, and a replacement pan would be difficult (at best) to come by. Sayonara Toastmaster. Fortunately, on Monday, it was Hello, Breadman! After much research, I ordered the Breadman Corner Bakery from Amazon. When it arrived, I tore open the box and started measuring ingredients for my first loaf of bread.

The bread shown here is actually my second loaf; the first loaf is gone already. Needless to say, it turned out well. The first loaf was my tried-n-true recipe I have memorized from repeated baking. This loaf is potato bread, from the book included with the machine. It rose so high, the dough was pressed against the glass viewing window on top of the machine. That's why there's a light spot on top of the bread; it doesn't brown well when it's shoved up against the top of the machine.

I'm waiting with worm on tongue (ba[i]ted breath) for this loaf to cool enough to eat. In the meantime, I thought I'd share my tried-n-true recipe, should anyone care to try it.

B/F's Favorite White Bread
(makes a 1 1/2 pound loaf)

9 oz (1 cup + 2 T) sour milk or buttermilk, warmed (I microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave for 25 seconds more)
1/2 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil (you can substitute other types of oil; I just like olive oil)
1 T honey (you can use the same amount of sugar instead, but I find the bread rises just a little higher with honey)
3 c King Arthur bread flour (other brands of bread flour are OK, but King Arthur results in a little taller loaf)
1 t salt
2 t yeast

Place ingredients in pan in order listed. Bake on normal/standard/default setting. As with any bread recipe, check consistency of dough to see if you need to add flour or liquid to make it "just right".

Enjoy--I'm off to see if my bread is cool enough to slice yet.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hanging In There

I've ordered two skeins of Knit Picks' Telemark: Charcoal Heather and Mineral Heather. I'm one step closer to having the yarn for my sweater; assuming, that is, that one of the colors matches up with the sweater in my mind's eye. If not...that just doesn't bear thinking of; must keep a positive attitude!

In the meantime, I've decided to go with the Girl's Best Friend socks for the Bluebell Panda Wool; still working out the pattern for the Aquamarine. Plus, I remembered that the b/f asked for another knitted washcloth. Must respond promptly to such requests; the b/f doesn't generally see much use for my knitting! (He's a pretty nice guy in other respects, tho'; don't judge him too harshly.) And, of course, I have mittnz to knit. These should be enough to keep my sanity reasonably intact until I actually have yarn in hand for my sweater. I'll just keep reminding myself to take deep breaths, one day at a time, etc.

That's right, Daisy; we can relax now. Crisis averted.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


In the IT world, when a manufacturer starts talking about software that doesn't exist yet, it's referred to as vaporware. I'm beginning to feel like KnitPicks' CotLin yarn is vaporyarn; they've pushed back the availability date again. I'm dying to get my hands on some; first they said it would be available the end of May. Then mid-June. Then June 25. Now, they say July 11. *sigh* It wouldn't be so bad, but I was planning to order 1 ball each of the Telemark colors I am considering for my sweater, since the new heathers aren't on the color card I ordered last month. I figured I'd wait for the CotLin to be available, then order a couple of balls of that and a couple of balls of the Telemark, decide what color to order for my sweater, then knit up some CotLin washcloths while I waited for the yarn to begin my sweater. Arrrrgggghhhhh. And I really need to get the yarn for my sweater, because I finished two more projects:

My Work Socks are finally done! I finished them up last Saturday (at work, appropriately), and finally got around to giving them a bath last night. They are all dried and ready for me to sport them at work. I'm sure I'll be pulling my pants legs up all day to show them off. Trekking XXL, color #92. I was aiming for 30 stitches to 4", so I cast on 56 stitches, then increased to 60 after the cuff. I actually got 32 stitches/4", so if I were to do it again, I'd go with 64 stitches from the get-go.

Mittnz #3 - hand-dyed Lopi-Lite, Elizabeth Durand's excellent pattern (the small size). They weigh in at 34g, so that should be about 70-75 yards. I have some of this yarn left, and some from my Lopi vest; I'll have to see if I have enough for another pair. I do like using Lopi; easy to knit with, very warm, and it blooms nicely when washed.

While it's all very nice to be able to report some more FO's, I'm feeling a little panicky that I have so little on the needles right now. I mean, what if I run out of things to knit? I'm working on my Crazy Colors Mittnz #4:

But they go so fast that I obviously can't count on them for long. I've been swatching Panda Wool for my next pair of socks,

and I'm loving the yarn--so smooth and silky! But I'm having a little trouble deciding whether to go plain or fancy. I'm toying with the idea of making another pair of Girl's Best Friend socks; or maybe a totally different lace pattern. Much perusing of stitch pattern books and knitting magazines and knitting sites ensues. Then I start thinking about the advantages of good ol' plain socks. You know how it goes.

So you see, I really, really need to get my sweater yarn ordered, so I have the comfort of knowing the sweater is there to keep me entertained while I ponder lace patterns for socks, and to wait patiently while I whip out another pair of mittnz. I crave the security of a long-term project, as well as the thrill of knitting quickies.

I've talked myself into it. I can't wait for the CotLin any more; I'm going to order up a couple of skeins of Telemark so I can make a decision and get started on my sweater. My peace of mind is worth the extra shipping costs.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

When all else fails

A few days ago, I had a hankerin' to knit another BSJ. I swiped some of this yarn from my eBay store, sure it would knit up into a wonderful BSJ--bright colors, washable wool, what could be better? After a couple of inches, I had to admit I didn't like it:

See how, on the right side of the pic it looks nice, but it gradually morphs into a bunch of purl bumps that look like the BSJ is wrong-side out? Of course, the reverse looks the same way. I guess the yarn just doesn't have long enough repeats for something this size. *sigh* So, off to the frog pond it went.

And I cast on Mittnz #4. Ahhhh, much better. I just had to find the right project.


Friday, June 15, 2007

From li'l sprouts, mighty cornstalks grow

Yesterday I planted 22 corn sprouts; can you see 'em? They're hard to make out in that expanse of dirt. But if you look close, you should see a little blade of green in the middle of each of those depressions. Since I grow corn in small, closely planted blocks, I sprout the seeds first, then plant them in the garden. That way, I don't have any gaps where a seed failed to germinate. I also plant the sprouts a little deeper than I would seeds; this gets me corn stalks with deeper roots that better withstand the inevitable soaking rain followed by high winds we will get sometime during the summer. It's no fun trying to prop up full-grown corn stalks in a garden bed that is pure mud.

Today, of course, it's my turn to twiddle my thumbs at work. I've started the toe on Work Sock #2; I'm so excited! Unless something comes up and I have to do some actual work, I'll have a new pair of socks today! Woohoo! I also brought along Mittnz #3, so maybe I'll get to finish that today as well.

Hilfy was crying at the door this morning, and I thought maybe she wanted to repeat her bold excursion to "outside". This is as far as she got.

Apparently, just looking at "outside" is excitement enough for her today.

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Mittenz 1 & 2 Complete!

I've completed my first two pairs of mittenz for Ann's mittenz challenge. Both are made with tapestry wool generously donated by another knitter. Pair #1 (left) is based on a pattern from Lopi Book #25. Pair #2 is from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. And I'm well on my way with Mittenz 3:
I'm using that skein of hand-dyed Lite-Lopi that hid from me for so long, and Elizabeth Durand's free mitten pattern. Early results predict this pattern will be a winner! I really-really-really like her little trick for preventing those little holes by the thumbs. I'm flying though it pretty fast on #6 needles; may even finish up tonight. For now, tho', the garden is calling; time to plant some corn.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not 1...not 2...

But no less than three FOs to show off! First and foremost:

My Lopi vest has all its ribbings complete and ends woven. Then it had a nice bath and a bit of a rest. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out; fits nice, and the color is beautiful. Pics just don't do it justice. While I expect to use Lopi yarn again, I don't see myself choosing a Lopi pattern. They use charts that are rather difficult to read (some nice dark lines every 10 rows or so would make things a heckuva lot easier). I'm not entirely sure I did everything right, but fortunately knitting is rather forgiving.

My other two FOs are a couple of hats that have been hanging around for a while. On the left is a baby hat made with some Lamb's Pride worsted that another knitter gave me. The color is steel blue, not black or grey, which is how it looks on my monitor. No real pattern, just cast on a bunch of stitches (around 70, I think), and knit around until you have a hat. I've been doing a few rounds here and there when I needed some mindless knitting and other projects were at a "pay attention" stage. It will be going to the Cheyenne River Foundation.

The other hat has been sitting around for months and months, waiting for the last two inches of seam to be finished. It's this pattern (which I highly recommend); I used some hand-dyed Lite-Lopi (takes color beautifully), and bound off after 6 sections since I was almost out of yarn. I had enough yarn to do all but the last two inches of the seam, so I started looking for the other skein just like it. Of course, it wasn't where it should be. I can't tell you how many times I searched for that skein over the last few months. Then I would think about finding some other yarn to finish up the seam with, but gosh-darn-it, I knew I had more of the exact same yarn! I just couldn't bring myself to settle for "pretty close". Anyway, I found it over the weekend, hiding out in a box that I didn't even realize contained yarn (oops! gotta label better). So now it's finally done, and will make its way to Cheyenne River also.

Next up, gotta finish some mittens!

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me Part II

I finally spent the rest of my birthday money (thanks again, Mom & Dad!). I've been wanting to try some bamboo-blend sock yarn, and the Panda Wool at Little Knits looked sooo yummy. Two skeins would just finish up my b-day money; perfect! Only thing is, they have a $25 minimum order, so I just had to buy two more skeins. Such a burden.

I'm really looking forward to trying this yarn; it feels so silky, and the colors are just lovely. That's Aquamarine on the left, and Bluebell on the right. I'm itching to cast on right away, but at the same time, I want to finish my Work Socks. I've finished the gusset on Sock #2, so I'm on the home stretch. I'm planning on working on them tonight, but I might take a little time out to swatch. Swatching isn't the same as actually starting a new pair. It's really quite different, in fact. I'm sure you agree.

I finally finished the Lopi vest this morning; the last stitch has been waiting to be cast off for a couple of days. I took care of that one stitch, wove in the final end, and gave it a nice bath. It is now drying in the spare bedroom; I should be able to show it off in a day or two. I think it's a good thing that I'm planning to do a seamless sweater next; getting around to doing seams and all those last little fiddly bits doubled the amount of time it took me to make this vest!

This morning, I'm told, all three cats ventured outside while I was still asleep. Hard to believe that even one of our scaredy-cats went outside, but the b/f was still cleaning up muddy paw prints when I got up, so I guess it's true. I don't know what got into them, unless it was the fact that the weather was absolutely beautiful this a.m.; sunny, cool breeze, not a cloud in the sky. Beautiful enough to conquer the gravest of feline fears.

One of the intrepid explorers

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Another quiet day

Another quiet Sunday at work. I finally got around to grafting the toe of my Work Sock, and I've started on it's mate. I'm dividing my time between knitting, surfing, and reading, with the occasional check that no one has called in with any problems. We've been doing this for, what? Two months now? Three? No one's called yet.

Last night I tried the stretchy bind-off on one of the armholes of the Lopi Vest. Didn't like it; I suppose it might work well for socks, where the cuff is going to stay stretched when worn, but it doesn't spring back when relaxed. Not so good for a vest. Tonight I'll tink it and do the same tried-and-true bind-off I used on the neck. Soon, soon, I should have an FO to report!

When I get home, I seriously need to do some laundry. I am currently wearing navy socks with black jeans (eek). No black socks left in the sock drawer. I don't think I have any clean shirts to wear tomorrow, either; at least, no shirts I like.

Hilfy sez: Have you cleaned this lint screen lately?

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