Tuesday, June 03, 2014

School's Out for Summer!

Oh, hello! School has actually been out for over a week for the students. Teachers had to go back for a couple of days after Memorial Day. This was my 7th year of teaching. Whew. Time flies ...

The kid who was a high school sophomore my first year of teaching graduated from college last month, and commissioned in the USArmy as a 2LT. He's home for a few weeks before he has to report for his Basic Officer Leadership Course.

His sister completed her master's degree in Urban Planning 2 years ago and is working for a city where she gets to practice her Southern mannerisms.  We are about to be a completely empty nest here.

Camp Loopy: I wasn't going to play this year, to the point that I didn't order yarn during the Camp Loopy Store Week, when I could have gotten a 20% discount. But as soon as school was out and things slowed down, there I was ordering yarn for a project.

My project is Romi Hill's Zephyr Cove.

I haven't done this in so long, I don't even have much to offer in terms of pictures. So many picture-taking devices, I don't even know where the pictures I want are. I have been knitting during my long absence from the blog, and using Ravelry to keep track of my projects. My Ravelry projects page is here.

Gratuitous cat picture:

Saturday, August 04, 2012

A little detour into ice cream making

Shortly after Sheri wrote about her ice cream machine and the recipe book she purchased with it, I decided to follow suit and get both for myself. The first ice cream I made was a recipe from the book that came with the machine. More cream than milk, about a 2:1 ratio. I didn't really like the taste, or more accurately, the feel of it. Hard to explain.  So I turned to Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, which I had already perused and decided that the recipes looked like too much work. I started in the current season, which was Autumn. First recipe: The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream In the World. Results: delicious! Used 2 bowls, a 4-qt pan, a whisk, a heatproof spatula. Lots of dirty dishes (and no dishwasher). But absolutely worthwhile. Jeni's recipes use approximately a 1:2 ratio of cream to milk. They also include a little bit of cream cheese and corn syrup, corn starch, and no eggs. I don't use her quick-chill method after cooking the ice cream base; instead I pour it into a container & chill in the fridge overnight.
Next up: Salty Caramel Ice Cream. Verdict: Loved it!
Then: The Buckeye State Ice Cream [Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles] Yum!
Skipped the Star Anise Ice Cream. I needed 1/2 cup of candied fennel seeds. Jeni provides sources for ingredients in the back of the book, but I just wasn't sure about this.
Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream. Well, my parents liked it a lot. I'm not the world's biggest fan of pumpkin pie, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Then... I skipped the whole winter section. I didn't make ice cream again until late spring. The Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream was wonderful. So was Savannah Buttermint Ice Cream, though the white chocolate flecks might have been a bit of overkill.

All of a sudden, it was summer. The first recipe in the summer section is Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Ice Cream. Yes, corn. It gets cooked in with the milk, cream & sugar, then strained so there aren't any pieces of corn in the ice cream (ew!). Couldn't find black raspberries, or even blackberries, so I made the sauce with raspberries. Tastes great, anyway. The ice cream does have a sweet corn flavor, but it's really good, not weird.
Next week: Kona Stout Ice Cream. Coffee & beer -- I'll let you know how it goes.

What I really appreciate about these recipes is that she spells out all of the prep steps so you're not trying to combine corn starch & milk or cream cheese and salt while stirring the milk, cream & sugar and hoping it doesn't boil over. Very well thought out and written.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Que sera, sera

Another new project: the Que Sera cardigan from Knitty. Knitting ADD, much?  Sheri from The Loopy Ewe presented her 2nd quarter challenge, which is to knit adult socks, a sweater or a vest with a yarn that has cotton in it. There was about a week at the end of March where you could get 20% off the yarn you were going to use for the challenge. So I'm making a very girly pink lacy cardigan.  I was going to try to add some waist shaping, similar to the way it's done in the February Fitted Pullover, but I decided I'm not that ambitious. I am rather short in the torso area, so I am making the length of the sizes xs & small, but the circumference of the size large. This is the easiest way to adjust the buttonhole placement, as the front bands are knitted at the same time as the body of the sweater.

Start of Que Sera

One lace repeat

The Perfect Raglan is nearly finished. I am working on the buttonhole bands, but since I do not have buttons, I am more or less stuck until I find some. The buttonholes need to be created to fit the buttons. This will be on hold until I am able to shop for buttons. (One disadvantage to rural living -- shopping options are a bit limited.)

Apparently I haven't taken a picture since the sleeves were finished.

Perfect fit raglan

Lace edging

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Take Two

I restarted my Perfect Raglan cardigan today, for several reasons:
1. I forgot to subtract 2 stitches from the back neck cast-on to compensate for the raglan eyelets.
2. My crochet cast-on seemed way too loose. This cardigan will get a button band, but I don't think the back neck would ever lay quite right. So I switched to long-tail cast-on.
3. I decided to do the v-neck increases as specified in the lessons, rather than doing them my way. I think they have the same name, but I was doing M1R and M1L by lifting the side of the next/previous stitch, instead of lifting the bar between the stitches and twisting it right or left. Looking at both versions, I'm not sure it makes much difference.

How am I able to look at both of them? I didn't rip out version one yet.  I just found another set of size 6 needle tips and a cable, and started a whole new sweater with a new ball of yarn. It made me feel better -- if the new cast-on hadn't made a difference, then I would have only a little bit of time invested & could have picked up where I left off on the first version. As it is, I think version two is the one I will use, and version one can be ripped out now.

And the ADD continues. I found another Craftsy course, Rigid Heddle Weaving, and signed up for half-price. I do not own a rigid heddle loom, but I am thinking about getting one. My husband walked by while I was watching one of the video lessons and asked, "Why are you learning about that?" Uh, because ... (that always used to get me in trouble with my parents; it's still not a good answer).

And I have just discovered Fleegle's blog, thanks to Wendy. Catching up with older posts, I was reminded about The Queen Susan Shawl, which is a really amazing collaborative effort, and a free pattern. Now I'm thinking about getting yarn for that. Fleegle happens to have just the thing in her Etsy shop.  Hmmm...

(Somebody stop me! Maybe I'm just delirious from Daylight Savings Time induced sleep deprivation. Yeah, that's it.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Knitting ADD

I did finish the Sock Hop socks, about 2 weeks after that last post. The short-row toes were a bit wonky, so I ripped them out & reknit.
wonky short-row toes
I think I have mentioned that the yarn color is called Free Bird.  Really, it makes me think of The Official Preppy Handbook. I believe I have a copy of that book in a box around here somewhere. 

And I started the Wayward Socks from Cookie A's sock club. Forty-four rounds into the leg of the first sock, I realized I should have made the larger size. So I have ripped those out and restarted.
a bit too narrow, I believe
Then a few days later, I got an email with a link to a Craftsy course on knitting "The Perfect Fit Crazy Lace Cardigan". It was half price, and who doesn't like perfect fit?  So I signed up and watched the first 4 lessons. Then I hunted through my stash for appropriate yarn and found nothing inspiring. (Ouch.)  I went shopping and found some bargain-priced Louisa Harding Jasmine at WEBS.  It arrived on Thursday and I cast on.  I am now 4" into the sweater, and nearly finished with the 1st of 7 skeins of the yarn.

Meanwhile, the new Knitty is up, and as I was browsing the new patterns, I clicked on a link to an excerpt from Clara Parkes' book, The Knitter's Book of Socks. I checked the price at Amazon, and then I clicked on the iBookstore link, and looked at a sample of the book on my ipad. It was in color, where it would have been black & white on my Kindle, and the price was the same for both electronic versions of the book. I bought the iTunes version, and actually read all of it, up to the section where the patterns start.  The first sock (Stepping Stones) is done in worsted weight yarn, and this inspired another shopping expedition (online) -- this time to Eat.Sleep.Knit, where I found a couple of skeins of Malabrigo Rios that looked good. The best part was when I logged into my account, I had a $50 credit from one of their scratch-off cards from a previous order.

And the blanket from back in January? It is waiting (patiently, I hope) for me to get back to it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Socks and such

Early this month, I got a shipping notice from Cookie A -- the first 2012 sock club shipment would be arriving soon. I decided that I should try to finish a pair of socks before the yarn came & I would want to start the new socks. So I rummaged around and found these:
Sock Hop Free Bird
The first sock was finished, and the second sock was about an inch long. The safety pins along the foot of the first sock are placed every 10th round, to make counting easier.  I'm finding some satisfying symmetry in knitting the same number of rounds for the leg and foot as I have stitches on the needles. In other words, a 64-stitch sock gets a leg that is 64 rounds long, and a foot that is 64 rounds from the end of heel shaping to the start of toe shaping. Oddly, it seems to work out that the foot is just the right length for me. These are just a generic sock, k2p2 rib on the legs, a short-row heel (my favorite is from the Queen Kahuna Crazy Toes & Heels book), and a stockinette foot.

The yarn is Sock Hop, from Crown Mountain Farms, colorway is Free Bird. It was a sock club selection, and I really wasn't too sure I liked it when it arrived. In fact, when I started these socks, I planned to give them as a gift. Then the magic happened, and I love the way the striping looks, and the sock is so cushy and soft. So I'll keep them for myself.

Valentine's Day was a snow day, so no school (2nd snow day we've had this winter -- the first was the day before).  My husband went to get the mail and told me when he got home that I hadn't been knitting fast enough. Sure enough, the yarn from the Cookie A sock club had arrived.  It is a gorgeous, soft Merino/Cashmere/Silk blend, from Alisha Goes Around, a yarn company with which I am completely unfamiliar.  The patterns arrived in my Ravelry library -- 2 sock patterns and 2 cookie recipes!  I have decided which of the sock patterns to make, but I do need to finish this Sock Hop sock. I want the needles out of this project to use in the new sock. They're Kollage square dpns, purchased at the Loopy Ewe a couple of years ago.
Richness (of Martens) Fingering in

This is a long weekend, so maybe I'll get one pair of socks finished and the other started. This will be the first time I can remember not having to use Presidents' Day as a make-up day for snow days. Yes, we do have days to make up, but since they happened just last week, we were surveyed for our opinion on whether to use Monday as a make-up day or not, and the overwhelming majority voted not!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Two steps forward, one step back

I finished the first L-shaped section of my garter stitch blanket, and weighed it to get an idea of how much yarn I had used. It weighs 15.9 oz., according to my handy digital kitchen scale. Just a smidge under a pound. And this piece represents about 1/8 of the blanket. This is going to be an 8-pound blanket!

I was scanning the pattern to put it on my ipad (a new trick I learned this past week -- knitting patterns on my ipad do not get crinkled or lost like paper patterns do!) and my eyes caught a note at the bottom of the page. This pattern was originally written in 1962 (older than me!), and the note at the bottom of the page (in The Opinionated Knitter, where the pattern is reprinted in its original form) says that the yarn used in the pattern used to have 30 more yards per 4 oz skein than it does now. It currently has 85 yards per skein, so as used in the original pattern, it would have been 115 yards, which means the Sheepsdown is actually very close in size to the Brunswick Aspen that I am using, that there isn't enough of to make the blanket with the yarn doubled.  I found a size 15 circular needle and cast on 24 stitches to see what gauge I would get. It wasn't quite 2 stitches per inch, so I started calculating how many stitches I would need to cast on to get a 12" wide strip. Then I measured the bed, to see how big a blanket I would need to cover the mattress. I cast on 32 stitches, which would make about a 15" wide strip, but would have made a 5' x 7.5' blanket. Too long. My husband says, "well, you need enough to tuck under the mattress." No, we are not tucking a hand-knit blanket under the mattress.

The proportions of this blanket do not match any mattress, so I decided just to go back to the original 24 stitch cast-on and follow the pattern. If I want the blanket to be wider (more square), I can add a strip along one or both of the long edges. By this time, after much knitting and ripping, reading, calculating, and dithering, I realized that the gauge I'm getting with this yarn on size 15 needles is probably very close to the original pattern's gauge, based on the width of the piece so far, and the dimensions of the finished blanket in the pattern. So I'll have enough yarn to make the blanket, maybe even 2 of them! That is, if I can find the other 11 skeins. I looked yesterday, and I have 13 of what I'm fairly certain was 24 skeins.  But I still like the two-tone idea. So ... we'll see.

Here's the new start, using a single strand of the yarn on size 15 needles, laid on top of the piece knit with doubled yarn on size 17 needles. Not much narrower, but it is not as thick. Still, I think it will make a nice, warm blanket.