Friday, March 30, 2007

Fiber Friday - And Socks to Match

I wasn't really exaggerating last week, I've become a Fleece Artist/Hand Maiden ho. I really like everything about the Clapotis I knit out of Hand Maiden Lady Godiva in Paris. I liked the color so much that I wanted to knit something else in the same color. I decided to settle on socks.

This is Fleece Artist Merino Sock in Paris. The yarn is 100% washable merino wool. Each four ounce hank has about 370 yards and should make one pair of adult socks. This skein is much more saturated with color than the skeins I had of Lady Godiva in the same color. I guess I won't end up with socks that match my Clapotis. Although I think that is probably for the best. I guess I don't need to be walking around in that get-up.

This yarn actually comes with a sock pattern on the label. It is just a basic top down sock pattern that I really don't anticipate using. But I do think it is cool that a pattern came with the yarn. For some reason, I like the idea that it came with a pattern. I won't use it and it didn't effect my decision to buy the yarn though.

I don't think that I've ever really knit many patterns from ball bands. Although when I do buy skeins of yarn that have a pattern on the band, I do look at the patterns and try to see if I can get different patterns on each of the skeins I buy. I guess that could be added to the list of weird things about me.

I do need to pick a pattern for this yarn. I am going to use it for socks. I'm thinking maybe I will knit Cookie's Monkey socks from the winter 2006 Knitty. But I'm open to ideas; leave me a suggestion if you have one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Put Two Together and What Do You Get?

Well if you put together Socks That Rock Watermelon Tourmaline and Farmhouse you can get a pretty good looking chevron scarf.

I have had these two hanks of yarn sitting next to my knitting chair since I took pictures of it for Fiber Friday a couple weeks ago.

Last weekend I decided to take a break for the man socks and start the chevron scarf. So I picked up the two hanks and wound them up into two pretty yarn cakes. I was too anxious to see how the colors were going to pool together to wait any more.

I started the scarf using the Watermelon color and knit several repeats. Something seemed a little off so I frogged it and started with the Farmhouse. I'm not sure any more if there was a big difference, but I am happy with the way the scarf is coming together. I really like the way the two colorways are working together.

When I see the two colors separately, I'm still not sure that I would think about combining the two together in one project. I think it's the peach color in the Watermelon Tourmaline that throws me off.

The color combination was originally created by Blue Moon Fiber arts in a fair isle sock kit. A knitter saw the combination in a display and decided to use it for the Chevron Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and a craze was born. Check out the Chevron Scarf Flickr Group to see all the great color combinations that others are coming up with for the scarf.

This scarf is going to take longer than I originally anticipated, but that seems to be the theme for all my knitting projects lately. I am really looking forward to the finished scarf and anticipate knitting at least one more. I would definitely try it in two colors of Koigu KPPPM that was originally called for in the pattern. I also have a lot of Socks That Rock lightweight stashed away to look through for another good combination.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Strawberry Sandwich Cakes

These little cakes aren't homemade but came straight from a box mix with very little alteration. Once the batter was mixed according to the package directions and ready to go , I did take a little bit and add some chocolate syrup. I spooned just a little bit of the chocolate batter into the center of the flower pans to make the centers on the cakes. then I topped that with the reserved strawberry batter.

The cake mix made more than enough to fill up the six little flowers that this pan makes so there are a few cupcakes too. The cakes popped right out of the pan adter about 10-15 minutes of cooling. Next I had to decide on whether or not to top them with anything. I had about decided to leave them plain and then up came my husband to ask what kind of icing I was going to use.

I like the flower detail that the pan creates and didn't want to lose that by icing the top. I know it would be possible to ice them and retain all that pretty flower detail. But that would require a lot of work and getting out all my cake decorating tools. I really wanted to save that project for another time.

So I took a look in the pantry and found a can of cream cheese icing. I decided to cut the cooled cakes in half and spread the bottome layer with the premade icing. Then I put the top back on to make the sandwich. Still a nice pretty flower but with a rich creamy filling. Yum!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Slowly But Surely

Well I've gotten a little further on knitting the man his socks. The sad part is once they are finished I'll have to wait until fall or winter to see if he really likes wearing them.

I decided on the waffle rib stitch from Sensational Knitted Socks. It is basically a 2x2 rib and on every fourth row you purl across all the stitches. I like how the pattern is working out and I really do like working with the Lorna's Laces.

It is nice to be working these toe up. I can have him try them on as I go. Which is nice since I haven't made him socks before and I want to make sure they fit well. I think I'm going to try a short row heel as practice. The socks I'm going for next will be for me and the pattern calls for a short row toe and heel.

Knitting the two socks at a time was a good move too. Although it does seem to make the whole process seem slower. Every time I work on these it seems like I should be making more progress. I have to keep reminding myself that I am working on two socks and that they will both be finished at the same time.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fiber Friday - Sea Silk

This lovely hank is Hand Maiden Sea Silk in the Lily Pond color. I have two hanks stashed away. Each hank is 100 grams and approximately 400 meters. The yarn is 70% silk and 30% Seacell.

Seacell is a fiber made from cellulose and seaweed. According to the Hand Maiden/Fleece Artist web site Seacell is breathable and very soft. I can attest that this yarn is very soft.

They go on to say that when worn your skin's natural moisture will release magnesium, calcium and vitamin E contained within the seaweed and that it has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to protect the skin.

Now I knew yarn could be good for my psyche, but I had no idea that there were actual health benefits. Maybe I can turn this purchase into my insurance company for reimbursement. Do you think that my medical FSA would balk if I turned in receipts for yarn?

I plan to knit the Storm Water Shawl pattern that I received when I ordered these two skeins. I like the Clapotis I knit with Lady Godiva so much that I thought I ought to try a different Hand Maiden yarn this time.

Come to think of it, I've bought and/or used a lot of Fleece Artist/Hand Maiden yarn this year. It has become my yarn indulgence of choice. I wonder what I would have to do to get Fleece Artist to sponsor my blog. I wouldn't object to doing a little product placement in exchange for yarn.

Of course I can continue to dream and fantasize about being able to stay home and knit and blog all day without having to go to cubicle world each morning. But until that miracle happens or I win the lottery, I'll continue to feed my own habit.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quick Little Knit

I was able to knit this little item on the sly while I was supposed to be knitting my husbands socks this weekend. He was to involved in the basketball games to really notice progress (or lack there of) on his socks.

This is the Bainbridge Scarf from Pepperknit. Minty has posted the pattern and made it available on her blog. It is really quick to knit and it is also a great way to use up some left over yarn. It took just a little bit over one skein of yarn.

I think it will be nice to wear with my dressy winter coat. I'll be able to tuck the whole scarf into the collar of the coat. I would definitely make this again but I probably wouldn't use the alpaca again though. I find it a little itchy while trying to get a picture. Also the scarf seems a little stretchy and I'm not really sure how well it will hold it's shape. It would also be fun to try some different stitch patterns for the main tube that goes around the neck.

I tried to get Sherman to model this for me. He actually seemed willing to try it out. Unfortunately his neck was too large to show it off properly. It did fit over his head and around his neck but it just wouldn't tie nicely. His neck actually measures about 23-24 inches around. He was much more willing to let me put the scarf around his neck than the tape measure.

Project Info
Bainbridge Scarf by Mintyfresh
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk dk; color-26011; 105m/50gm
just over one skein; finished project weighs 54 grams
Needles: addi TURBO -US# 5 (3.75mm)
Gauge: 6 stitches per inch
Dimensions: 26 inches around / 4 inches wide
Pattern Modifications: none
Time to Knit: approximately 4 hours

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Two at a Time

I've started a pair of socks for my husband. I've kind of been putting off starting these for awhile. I can't decide if it is because they are larger than the normal socks I knit or the fact that I'm not going to get to wear them. It seems a little selfish, but the truth is probably somewhere in between.

I decide to knit both socks at once. I had a sinking suspicion that I would develop second sock syndrome after the first one if I tried to knit them one at a time. I'm using some Lorna's Laces in Pioneer that was in my stash. I did buy the yarn with socks for him in mind. It is the first time I've actually used any of the Lorna's I've bought. I really like how it is knitting up. The fabric is firm but soft.

I'm also using US #0 needles for the first time too. I bought the needles specifically for these socks. I was kind of hesitant to try them, but I'm glad I got them. I'm getting about 10.5 stitches per inch. So hopefully the fabric will be a little more resilient for the tough and rough man feet that the socks are going to cover.

I think the points on these addi Turbo #0 needles are a lot different form the points on all my other addis. They are a lot sharper. I didn't noticed until I started knitting. I push the needles with my finger tip sometimes while knitting and noticed the difference with the first push. I like the sharper tip though. It is making me look forward to trying the addi Lace needles I just bought.

Each sock is 96 stitches around and all I've got completed so far is the toes. I'm ready to start the stitch pattern up the foot. I'm going with a simple ribbed pattern, maybe a waffle rib. I have a feeling that these are going to come along slowly.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fiber Friday - Thrum Kit

This lovely hank of fibers is a kit is for thrum mittens by Fleece Artist. The hank includes 125 grams of Blue Face Leicester Aran weight yarn to knit the mittens and 60 grams of roving for the thrums. This color combination is called Late Winter Early Spring.

Until recently I wasn't really familiar with thrumming and what it is all about. But I saw an excellent tutorial of the process at Hello Yarn entitled "How I Thrum". There is a clear explanation with pictures on how to create the thrums from the roving and how to knit them into the mitten.

After reading the tutorial, I really though it would be fun to try, but I wasn't sure that I really needed thrum mittens in North Carolina. Then I saw the color combinations in this hank and I immediately decided that thrum mittens would be a great idea. And I have no idea how I've lived without them all my life.

I figure I can wear them walking the dog in the winter months. My hands are always cold when we are out for the last or first walk of the day in winter. I have to hold the leash and can't really have both of my hands tucked into pockets. We also visit family in the Midwest during the winter holidays on occasion.

Well you can see the result of my logic - I bought the kit. And besides, I already had the recommended needles (3.5 mm / US 4). I can talk myself into almost anything. If you ever need help justifying a knitting purchase - call me. I can always come up with something.

In other knitting news, I have started my husband's man socks. I'm doing them toe up so I can have him try the socks on as I knit. I'm still working on the toes - so I haven't decided on a stitch pattern yet - but I'm getting to that point.

Hopefully I'll have something worthy of a photo sometime over the weekend. We are big college basketball fans so almost all weekend will be spent in front of the television for the NCAA tournament. I'm looking forward to the knitting time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

If I knew you were coming...

I'd have baked a cake. I actually did bake these six mini cakes this weekend. I love cooking and baking. Especially baking - who doesn't like warm sweet treats fresh out of the oven. I also love the smell that fills the kitchen when something good is baking in the oven.

The problem for me with baked good is, well besides all the fat and sugar, in a two person house a batch or cookies or a whole cake almost never get eaten before it needs to be tossed out.

So I've been working on ways to get more fresh homemade baked good into our lives. I've been experimenting with freezing half batches of cookies dough. This lets me bake small amounts that can be consumed as made. Also, I've purchased some of these fun cake pans that are divide into small individual sized cakes. I can freeze individual small cakes and take out just enough to eat in one sitting. I did this with some mini pumpkin streusel cakes over the holidays and it turned out really well.

So, I've been looking for other tasty cake recipes to try. These little cakes were made with dried cherries. For some reason I've been eating dried cherries lately like crazy lately. The cakes were good, but I don't think I'd make them again in these little flower pans. The batter is much too airy and full of holes to retain the detail of the flower design. The husband didn't like the chocolate chips on top either. So back to the drawing board. Anyone have a good cake recipe to share?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Clapotis - The Final Installment

Well it is finally finished. I actually finished on Thursday night. I wore it to work on Friday and four different ladies were wearing colors that really went well with it. A couple offered to take it off my hands. One lady asked if I knit it over night - don't I wish I was that fast.

After wearing it, I decided not to block it. I like the wavy texture the dropped stitches create and I don't want that to go away. Although no blocking made it a pain to take measurements and pictures. I didn't really get a nice picture of it all stretched out in it's full length glory.

I did like working with the Lady Godiva. It was very soft and silky on my hands. I hope to get some more Hand Maiden yarns to try. I haven't seen any at the local shops so I ordered these skeins online - site unseen. I do admit that I do that with quite a bit though. The dropped stitches did have to be coaxed into release all the way down. I saved dropping all the stitches to the end and it ended up taking up most of my normal evening knitting time. I had been kind envisioning the stitches magically dropping all on their own but the yarn was a little grabby for that.

I've also decided that I am a slow knitter and I'll just have to account for that when doing projects. I originally thought that this would be much faster to knit. The straight section repeats took me about an hour each. The increase and decrease sections just seemed to fly right by though.

I knit straight from each of the skeins and did not alternate. There is a slight color difference in each of the three sections. But I think that is because each skein had a slightly different percentage of each color. All the colors appear to be from the same dye batch though. Each end of the Clapotis does have some pooling, but not much. I like the pooling because it shows the hand dyed yarn off to me. I like seeing the little patches of color.

Project Info
Pattern: Clapotis by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Hand Maiden Lady Godiva; color - paris
3 skeins (4 grams leftover)
Needles: addi TURBO -US# 7 (4.5mm)
Gauge: 5 stitches/7 rows per inch
Pattern Modifications:
Added one repeat to Section 2 (increase rows)
Added four repeats to Section 3 (straight rows)
Added one repeat to Section 4 (decrease rows)
Date Started: February 14, 2007
Date Finished: March 8, 2007

All measurements provided here are approximate and non binding. Numbers are presented in good faith and I did make a good attempt at pinning the Clapotis flat to get the correct numbers.

I almost didn't knit this. I'm not sure why; maybe because I hadn't yet found the right yarn. But I'm really glad I did. I'm pleased with the yarn in both color and feel. I also think it is something I will actually use. It's kind of funny, but I'm always still a little surprised when I finish a project and I'm satisfied with the results. As a little reward I placed an order for a set of the new addi lace needles. Was that wrong? I haven't done any lace knitting yet. I got them in US size 1 with sock knitting in mind. There have been several times I wished for sharper points when knitting socks. I'm looking forward to trying them.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Fiber Friday - Chevron Scarf

I've wanted to knit the Chevron Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts from the time I originally bought the book. The pattern calls for a total of four skeins of Koigu in two different colors. I've never found the right combination, but it is one of those projects I kept in the back of my mind when out yarn shopping. I just knew that one time i would find the perfect yarn.

Well, I found a great combination back in January while reading blogs. Apparently I wasn't the only one either. There is now a Chevron Scarf Flikr Group for everyone knitting this scarf. The first picture in the group shows a close-up of the scarf that I originally saw and decided to copy. Everyone is coming up with some great color combinations, so it would be really hard to choose if I hadn't already bought these two colors.

The colors that will become my Chevron scarf are Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock (STR) in Farmhouse and Watermelon Tourmaline. These skein are medium weight and each one is approximately 380 yards / 5.5 oz. This picture is the Watermelon Tourmaline. Farmhouse is the color in the top photo.

I'm planning a trip to see my mom in April and I think this will make a nice compact project for traveling. I had actually planned to look for some yarn for this scarf on that trip. She lives in Indianapolis and there is a really great store there that I visited last visit. There is also a new store I haven't been to yet. Now I'll just have to look for something else.

If you want to knit the same thing out of medium weight STR, you'll have to wait until the first week of April to get the yarn. Blue Moon is completely sold out of all medium weight until then. I'm glad I called and ordered this when I first saw the picture.

This last picture is the Farmhouse color again. I played around with the positioning of the skein. It was hanging off a white box against my white background. With a little photo editing, I was able to make the background completely disappear.

Last week Lazuli asked how I avoid shadows in the yarn photos. I always try to "light" the picture with a lot of extra lights. I try to not depend on the light of the flash for much at all. I use overhead lights and any nearby lamps or even one of my husband's work lights from the garage. You do have to be careful of placement of the lights to avoid shadows. For me it is really just a lot of trial and error until it looks right. And I take lots of pictures; I end up deleting a lot of bad pictures for every good one.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Photo Fun!

I've really enjoyed the camera that my husband gave me for Christmas. It has inspired me to take more photos of family and improve the photos I use on my blog. The really cool thing is that it also can be a toy! My husband and I have come up with a few things that we think would be fun to try and to capture in a photo.

The idea behind this experiment was to fill a balloon with water and snap a picture at the exact moment the balloon is popped. If everything goes right, you will end up with a picture of only the water in the shape of balloon. To pop the balloon we used a normal straight pin. The balloons were out of a cheap package from the dollar store. It is amazing all the useful stuff you can find in a dollar store.

These photos are a couple of the of the better pictures we got this first go around. they are not exactly what we were going for, but I think we are on the right track. We are going to try this again, but we are waiting for a nice warm sunny Saturday that isn't too windy. I'll post more photos if we are able to get something a little closer to the goal. We have some other ideas up our sleeves too - but they require more set up.

Knitting Update: The clapotis is off the needles. It is almost finished. I just have to weave in some ends and drop all those ladder stitches. I'm really surprised how long dropping all those stitches take. I'll get the photos taken this weekend and posted soon.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

An Afternoon Walk in the Woods

Well it wasn't a day at the beach, but sometime nothing can beat a great day spent at home. Saturday was a great breath of spring air around here. The weather was warm and the sun was shining bright. We spent the day with Sherman in the woods around our house. I took the camera along like always. I was also able to find something blue, white, and grey in the spirit of Project Spectrum.

The bit of blue above is actually right outside the front door. It is the bottom of a piece of spinning yard art we bought at a local art fair. It is one of those spinning things that hangs on the porch.

These white flowers are a sure sign that spring is here and warm weather is just around the corner. It is so nice to be able to spend a little time out in fresh spring air. The yellow daffodils are blooming too. The dogwood trees should be next.

I found some grey fungus growing on some trees. I'll have to work at getting some better shots of this - but Sherman was tired of waiting on me to take pictures. He was ready for the creek.

There is a creek that winds its way around the woods at our house and Sherman loves wading out in the water chasing sticks. The creek is not really deep or wide, but there are a couple of places that come to Sherman's shoulders. We've only found one place that goes over his head after a good rain. He found it by jumping in one day. After that jump, he will only wade into the water, but it is still one of his favorite things to do.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Fiber Friday - Man Yarn

I love the colors of in these skeins. It is Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock in the Pioneer color. Each skein is 215 yards and 80% superwash wool and 20% nylon. These skeins will be come a pair of socks for my husband.

I bought this yarn a while ago on a trip to Portland. I actually did buy it with socks for him in mind. I showed it to him when I came home and he didn't seem to interested in socks so I stuck it in a plastic bin and there it sat.

A few weeks ago, while I was finishing my last pair of socks, he asked me to knit him a pair. I pulled out a sampling of sock yarn from my stash to let him choose the yarn. This is what he picked.

I love the colors. The nice deep blue is his favorite color. It goes perfectly with the rich chocolate brown and grey flannel colors. I think I will stick to a simple ribbed stitch pattern. I'll probably pick a simple one from the Sensational Knitted Socks book.

This will be my first time trying out Lorna's Laces yarn. I usually knit using two circular addi Turbos #1's. I'm going to swatch this yarn on a pair of size 0 addis this time. I's afraid the 0's will be really small to knit with, but we'll see how it goes. I guess I could always go back to the 1's. I want to make sure I get a nice tight fabric. I hope to make the socks last awhile.

I was actually hoping to have these socsk started by now, but I'm still not done with the clapotis yet. I've decided to try project monogamy and only work on one thing at a time. I think it's a good idea in theory, but I won't bet that it will last.
The clapotis is almost done. Hopefully I'll have it ready to show sometime next week. Then I can get these socks started.