Archive for February, 2009

WIPs 02/25/09

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

When I started doing Work In Progress Wednesday’s it didn’t occur to me that I may be tracking quilting projects too. Now that I have a quilting project in the works, it only makes sense that it goes on this list.

1. Woodland Shawl – soaking. I’m going to block it and then decide whether to overdye or not. Goal: pin it out and decide whether to call it done or whether to overdye it.

Woodland Shawl

2. Hedera – new this week. This is my small needle project. Yarn is Opal UniSolid. I was a bit concerned about knitting these with only 60 stitches around, but everything has turned out fine. Normally on a 2.5 mm needle I’d knit 68-72 stitches around for a woman’s 9ish foot. Goal: nothing in particular.

Hedera

Hedera

3. Rusty Reds Table Runner and Coasters – quilting projects need a name, right? The coasters are half done as seen below. I’m doing 8 total (err….yeah, I guess that was obvious). The others need binding still. The runner is sandwiched with it’s batting and backing, just waiting for me to top stitch it. Goal: finish it all by next Wednesday.

Rusty Reds

I’m not getting as much knitting done, but I am really enjoying the variety of projects.

Go Cougs Socks

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Worsted weight socks are so quick to knit. Being worsted weight they’re not the best for fitting in shoes, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ll wear these around the house or in my boots.

Go Cougs Socks

Go Cougs Socks

Pattern: Thuja by Bobby Ziegler, available from Knitty
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish in Coast Grey and Bordeaux
Needle: US 6 Addi Turbo Circular
Mods: None really, only the color change for heels and toes. I could probably go down to 40 stitches on this size needle for a slightly tighter fit, although I should probably wash/wear these prior to making any final decision for future pairs.

Easing Back Into Quilting

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

With the impetus of my bonus day off, I felt I had the time and energy to dust off my sewing machine and start a quilting project. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a couple of months so it felt good to DO it.

This is what I have to work with, my stash of quilting fabrics:

Fabric Stash

(There’s more fabric crammed into these two bins than there appears. They’re quite heavy.)

The constraints I had in mind were to use fabric I had for an easy project like placemats or a table runner. Something I could start and finish in a reasonable amount of time using only my Viking sewing machine. Believe me, the last thing I need is another unfinished quilting project weighing on my mind.

Inspired by the colors of the house we’re in, our furnishings, and the fabric design I went with these fabrics and ultimately decided to make a table runner.

Fabric Stash

Runner

I have the top done and sandwiched with batting and backing. Then I chickened out on top stitching it together so I decided to make some coordinating coasters to practice on first. It’s been a long time since I top stitched something!

Coasters in progress:

Coasters

Hopefully I’ll have some finished photos to show you within the next week or so. 🙂

What I Did With My Extra Day Off

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Last Friday and Saturday I ended up working a bunch of extra hours. That resulted in today as an unexpected and much appreciated day off when I would normally be working. It’s amazing what one can do with an extra day…

Shopping

– I got the oil changed in the car.

– I went shopping. I have been putting this off for months. My only pair of everyday shoes is really worn out and is going to give out permanently any day. I’m not exaggerating – the elastic strap that connects the buckle to the shoe already broke once. I spread the love between the 2 high end shoe stores at the mall with a purchase of 30% off Dansko’s at the first and Keen’s at the second. Dansko’s are a tried and true favorite; Keen’s are new to me. I’ve drooled over SmartWool socks before, but seeing as how I’m a knitter and they cost like $17 I’ve resisted. This pair was 50% off.

– I bought a birthday gift for Ty.

– I gave in on my boycott of Joann’s and bought buttons for Wisp. The checkout line was only 3 people deep with 2 checkers.

– I stumbled across Napa which was good because I still needed a new air filter for the car. Oil change place was out of stock. The first Napa didn’t have one either, but the other location did and happened to be near where I was going next. By the way, if I had purchased the air filter at the oil change place the cost was $22. My cost at Napa was $20. Next time I won’t bother picking it up myself.

– I went to the post office to pick up my mail and ship a package.

– Finally, I splurged on lunch. Raw fish. Yum.

Sushi

All in all, I’d call it a very successful use of half my day off. Now I think I’ll sew buttons on Wisp and finish up the Go Cougs socks.

WIPs 02/18/09

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

After finishing GYC I’ve been giving myself a little bit of a break before starting the next big project which is slated to be the Central Park Hoodie (CPH). CPH will be knit out of the same yarn as GYC, but in a different color. That was another reason I wanted a change before starting it.

Last week I started and finished a pair of handwarmers that never made it on the WIP list:

Handwarmers

1. Wisp – I didn’t make it out to get buttons.

2. Woodland Shawl – the knitting is done. I’m debating whether to block it or whether to overdye it to blur the lines between the colors. My sense is that if I overdye it with brown it will be less stripey and the leaf pattern will be more visible. In it’s unblocked state the leaf pattern is impossible to see in the photo, sorry about that.

Handwarmers

3. Go Cougs Socks – I’m using the Thuja pattern with two colors of Knit Picks Swish which happen to be the colors of the Washington State University cougars. This seemed like a fun way to use up a few skeins of Swish from my stash.

Go Cougs Socks

I’m also likely to cast on for another pair of socks today. That will give me the variety of a tiny needle since everything else I’m knitting is on what I would consider a medium size needle.

Random: Thai Soup

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Tom Kha Gai is my favorite soup of all time. Why am I bringing this up in a random post? Oh just because Sunset magazine recently published a recipe for it and it turns out the recipe is both delicious and easy. 🙂 The first time I made it, it came out darn close to how it tastes from my favorite Thai restaurant.

You do need a few specialty and a few fresh ingredients. If you cook Thai food you probably have everything you need already.

Tom Kha Gai

Note: don’t substitute light coconut milk. If you want it to turn out restaurant style you need the full fat version.

Tom Kha Gai

And did you see where I said it was easy? Super easy even for a slow, inefficient cook like me. So easy I can make a quick batch at lunch if I want. Sunset’s recipes are available online; get the recipe for Tom Kha Gai here.

I know this is my second “random” post about food, but I really intend for my random posts to be just that! That said, over the weekend I made Parmesan Risotto for the first time using a Sunset recipe. I was very happy with how it turned out.

Garter Yoke Cardie

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

All finished! It’s very wearable and will likely become a wardrobe staple. The color is highly inaccurate in this photo, but at least you can see the cardigan well. I knit the 40″ cardigan because my gauge was a tiny bit too tight. It seems to have worked out well because it fits with pretty close to zero ease.

Garter Yoke Cardie

Pattern: Garter Yoke Cardigan from Knit.1 Mag Fall/Winter 2008 by Melissa LaBarre
Yarn: Valley Yarns Williamstown in color 10 from WEBS
Needle: US 7 Addi Turbo Circular
Buttons: Wooden Treasures on Etsy
Modifications: I made a handful of minor modifications. I knit a bit longer before decreases, at the waist, and after increasing because I’m tall. I tapered the sleeves by decreasing one stitch every 6 rounds beginning at the elbow. I decreased until I had 58 sts which is still plenty. For my garter stitch hems I did one extra repeat. Finally, I did a crochet chain around the neck to prevent it from stretching out in the future.

When unbuttoned it tends to hang open at the bottom with extra fabric gapping at the back. For that reason I like it better at least partially buttoned. I like this enough I’d be inclined to knit it again if it weren’t for all the other patterns calling my name. There is one thing I would change if I knit it again – I’d place the waist shaping decreases/increases further apart. When looking at my silhouette it’s very obvious to me where they are. I suspect this will not be so apparent as I wear it, as the creases from blocking loosen up and I don’t generally go around with my arms in the air.

Buttonless WIPs

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

I’m starting to sound like a broken record with the button issue. Sorry about that.

1. Wisp – no buttons yet.

2. Garter Stitch Yoke Cardigan (GYC) – just need to sew on the buttons. Since we’re on the topic, these are from Wooden Treasures on etsy.com. Here’s a better photo of them. I received great service from Jay and the buttons are really lovely.

GYC

GYC

3. Woodland Shawl – I have been thinking about my upcoming Shakespeare in Lace shipment and that got me fixated on lace. The only actual lace weight I had in stash was this skein of Knit Picks Gossamer that I received in trade, hence the casting on in Fall colors when I’m wishing for Spring.

Woodland Shawl

Swatch Results

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Over the weekend I swatched 6 yarns. The first 4 swatches I really enjoyed; by the last two I was getting tired of swatching. If you recall, I did not choose these yarns to compare to each other, but rather to get familiar with them because they are in my stash or to find some DK weight yarns I like due to all the new patterns in DK. To that end, these are just my impressions – not really a review as I don’t feel I’ve knit with enough comparable yarns give an official review.

As it turned out, it was a nice sample of yarn weight and compositions. I wish I had done a sampling like this sooner.

Purple Swatches

Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool: 45% wool, 35% silk 20% nylon; DK weight

My first thought was “I don’t know if I could knit a whole sweater at this gauge.” LOL. The yarn is dry, crispy, and has no noticeable give. I had felt a swatch at the yarn store so I knew there would be a dramatic difference after washing and there was. The washed swatch is much softer and has good drape. Despite my hesitance to tackle a whole sweater in DK weight, I would definitely use this yarn for a Summer weight garment.

Rowan Felted Tweed: 50% merino wool, 25% alpaca, 25% viscose; sport weight

While knitting the yarn felt sticky and itchy. The sticky makes sense as I’ve seen this used for colorwork, but I can’t fathom the itchy since the composition is Merino, Alpaca, and Rayon. Maybe it’s just the halo that gives the sensation of itch? After washing it’s softness factor is much improved and I look forward to using it in larger quantity (it feels soft in the ball too so I don’t know why it felt itchy while I was knitting). I love the Fyne Vest pattern from Rowan.

Misti Alpaca Worsted: 100% alpaca; says worsted weight, but seems DK

My first attempt at using this yarn was very frustrating. I was knitting it too tightly and it has no give so it was difficult to move the stitches along the needle. That project was frogged a few rows in. Then I made the Fishbone Lace Cowl which was successful, but I had never really swatched this yarn. In the swatch I really liked it! It’s so soft and, even in this dark color, it has a nice sheen.

Greenish Swatches

Rowan Wool Cotton: 50% merino wool, 50% cotton; DK weight

I like how this feels as I knit. It seems like it would be nice for a summery top since it’s only 50% wool. When I first started on the 3.75 mm needle it felt too small for the yarn, but after a few rows it felt fine. I could see this being appropriate for a Summer vest.

Rowan All Seasons Cotton: 60% cotton, 40% acrylic; aran weight

I had trouble tensioning this yarn. It wants to knit too tight which makes the next row tight. Then I even out again and it feels okay to knit. Tried to swatch on 4.5 mm, bagged that as it just felt too tight. I think I would become accustomed to this yarn as I knit it, but I didn’t find it that pleasant to swatch.

I washed my swatch by hand, did not let it soak, and then dried it on the heater vent. It looked the same as before washing. I have 20 skeins of this yarn in my stash so I will be knitting *something* more in it, but I still don’t know how I feel about it.

Plymouth Tweed: 100% wool; worsted weight

This feels nice and sticky after I finished knitting with Rowan ASC. This is definitely wool – sticky, stretchy. Visually it does not appear to have a thick/thin quality, but when knitting you feel it. I did have a bit of trouble splitting the two main plies of yarn as I knit, but I think this would lessen as I found my rhythm with the yarn.

I LOVE the colors of the flecks paired with the main color. To get even stitches, I think I’d have to knit this on the larger needle that I swatched in (5.5 mm) so I could pull a bit more. This would be very suited to a warm, rustic Winter garment.

Overall, I’m very glad I did this. I feel that I have a lot of experience with a small subset of yarns and it was time to broaden my range. Plus it sure makes sense to try a skein or two before buying a sweaters worth of any yarn.

If you’re wondering what I’m going to knit with the yarns now that I know how they swatch, I have to say I haven’t figured it out yet.

Random Monday

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Best beverage on a cold Winter evening: Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter.

Hot Buttered Rum

You could say I’m biased because the product comes from very near my hometown, but I tried that other product – the one that’s not refrigerated – and it was disgusting. It looked and tasted like what you would expect from an unrefrigerated batter.

Yes, I will have knitting to show this week! I’m having a button dilemma for GYC which is blocked and dry, and then I knit a bunch of swatches over the weekend that are drying as we speak.