Friday, August 28, 2009

Twisted Cherry

I finished Cherry Twist last month, and it's made an appearance at a few dinners, yet I failed to document this on the old blog until now. I'm really happy with how it turned out!

My only complaint about this pattern is the armhole finishing. Next time, I might do an i-cord trim to give a finished appearance.

Recognize the yarn? It's Sublime yarn over from the Anthropology Capelet.

The Dirty Details
Pattern: Cherry Twist by Jessica Felon Thomas
Yarn: 3 balls of Sublime Yarns Extra Fine Merino Wool DK, colorway Milk
Needles: Hiyahiya interchangeable circulars, US Size 7 (love, love, LOVE them!)

More dirty details on my Ravelery page.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Aly Oop!

Meet Aly and her tongue.

She's a silly boxer pup who lives with LeannIAm.

In her spare time, she cleans other dogs' mouths. Yes, she's a dog dentist of sorts.

Once again, Mingus was too much of an elitist to hang with the silly puppy. I wanted to get some pictures of them together, but Mingus refused to lower himself to play with Aly. What a snot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time for Breakfast

Inspired by this post, I decided to try my hand at baked eggs, or as the French call it, oeufs en cocotte. They've become a welcome addition to breakfast because they are really easy to put together, assuming that you have other ingredients on hand to jazz them up.

It's so easy that even me, a groggy, grouchy morning person (at best), can put it together with minimal fuss. Here's my lazy Sunday routine: roll out of bed due to a cranky cat who steps on my head because he must eat breakfast at 7 AM, get the coffee going, and turn on the oven to 350 °F. For the eggs pictured above, I cracked 2 eggs into an oven proof dish and added a splash of milk. Meanwhile, I cooked two pieces of bacon in my beloved cast iron skillet. Once the bacon is nice and crisp, I remove the pieces from the skillet and toss in some clean, dry spinach. I saute the spinach for a few minutes, and then turn the burner off.

To assemble the baked eggs, I crack two eggs into an oven proof dish and add a glug of milk, crumble a little bacon over the eggs, add a pile of wilted spinach, and add a dollop of tomato sauce (just some tomatoes I cooked and ran through the food mill the night before). I also sprinkle some fresh thyme and salt over the top, and add a few cranks of pepper. Now, put the assembled dish into the oven on a pan and let it bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks.

In past incarnations of oeufs en cocotte, I added mushrooms that I sauteed in butter and garlic and finished with some marsala, torn basil leaves, roasted squash... Basically whatever is in my refrigerator that morning is fair game to be cooked with eggs.

When I made the eggs pictured above I also served it with some sliced nectarines and a still cup of home roasted joe. (I love my knitted cable mug!)

Speaking of knitting, I have a huge backlog of finished projects to share. Soon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Sweater that was Knit in a Weekend

In 2 days, the boy knit his first sweater. This is terrific because now I am off the hook for knitting him one since he's been pestering me the last two years to make him a plain cotton sweater. Since knitting miles of stockinette stitches in either black or dirt-brown yarn is not compelling, I never promised him a sweater, but I did feel guilty whenever I saw my friends knitting complex items for their SOs. I assuaged my guilt by offering up small items like a hat and a pair of fingerless mitts, out of fancy pants yarn, nonetheless. Still, he kept on bugging me about that sweater.

And then, the solution fell into our lap. The knitting machine. While we were assembling it, he said, "Now, I can make myself a sweater" and I replied quickly, "Why, yes! Yes you can!"

Late afternoon on Saturday, while discussing yarn options, he grabbed a 1-lb cone of kitchen cotton from my stash and told me that he wanted his sweater made out of that yarn. I do not fancy myself a yarn snob, but this statement made me recoil. Then, I sat down to do the yarn calculations. Suddenly, spending $20 on yarn vs. $100+ didn't sound so bad. After all, it's his first sweater, right? We procured the right dirt-colored cotton yarn at JoAnn's. We bought 3-lbs of yarn, but it turns out that he only needed 2-lbs (around 1400 yards of worsted weight).

Using a diagram for The Manly Sweater in Stitch 'N Bitch, we set to work. The first thing the boy did was knit a gauge swatch. We both measured the stitches per inch horizontally and vertically, and compared our answers. Same same. Then, we recorded his chest size, arm length, shoulder width, and torso length. Armed with those measurements, I reached for my knitting notebook to do some more calculations, but he insisted on using his own boring graph paper project notebook.

A sweater knit in pieces is the perfect project for him since he already has experience sewing bike jerseys. This was both of our first set-in-sleeve sweater, but since I had knit some (OK, only 2) top down raglan pieces, I had a clue as to how to do this.

Armed with his swatch's stitches per inch, the boy did all the calculations for the sweater on his own. I was only consulted a few times to brainstorm about sleeve shaping and other such tricky bits. I didn't even knit a single row. He finished the last piece last night, after about 4 hours of machine knitting. He had the audacity to complain that it took too long, but when I told him it would probably take me a year to finish a sweater for him if I had to hand knit it in dirt-brown, kitchen cotton yarn (is my non-motivation showing?), he merely said that his next attempt will be much quicker. Show off.

Because I am a sucker, or perhaps because occasionally I can be nice, I am seaming the pieces together. My reasoning is that I got out of knitting him a sweater, plus I am in need of honing my seaming skills. Better to practice on his garment than mine! I am using the kitchener stitch for the shoulder seams (I told the boy to not bind off the shoulder stitches) and a "somewhat mattress" stitch for the sleeves and sweater sides. My deadline for this project is Thursday since the boy is out of town until then.

Additionally, I have to note that the yarn we used, Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Ultrasoft, makes pleasant fabric. I don't know about ultrasoft (I'll reserve that adjective for Blue Sky Alpaca's cotton yarn), but it is soft. In fact, it doesn't feel any less nice than the boy's JCrew cotton sweater.

So, the guy who doesn't know what a purl stitch is can knit a sweater in 4 hours using the machine. I think he should be in knitting machine commercials. The target audience? Women like me who are tired of their husbands* bugging them for a hand knit sweater. Does your husband bug you about knitting him a sweater? Tell him to do it himself!

*We all know about the boyfriend sweater curse, right?

Monday, August 10, 2009

New toy!

A knitting machine fell into my lap yesterday! My aunt's mother was an avid knitter and crocheter. How avid? Well, she crocheted and knit both of her daughters' wedding dresses. That's dedication! After years of hanging on to her mother's knitting supplies (and this is just a small fraction of it - my aunt originally filled up a 14-foot moving truck with yarn!), my aunt realized that she would never use any of it so she asked if the boy and I would be up for a new toy. Of course we would!

The boy is actually the one who is really digging the machine, since he talks to machines like a duck to water. Who knew that all I had to do to get him interested in knitting was to mechanize it?

Below is his first swatch. The machine that we have only does stockinette fabric. I'll have to do the ribbing by hand.

My aunt also passed on a Brother ribbing machine accessory, but it is not compatible with the White knitting machine. :/ I guess I'll hang onto this for a spell, though, since the Brother machines are built like tanks. If the boy decides that the current machine is too limiting, we can upgrade.

Not to be left out, Mingus also worked on a little craft project. Luckily, this seat was out of commission. Anyone want a malamute?

I have a ton of vintage yarn and needles that need a new home as well. Anyone who knows of any charities in the Berkeley area, or anyone interested in vintage yarn (surprisingly, a lot of it is wool, not acrylic), lemme know and I can get back to you with specifics.

Some of the yarn even has my aunt's mother's WIPs still attached. It was bittersweet for my aunt to give these away. I wish I knew how to finish them, but I am ignorant in the ways of crochet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Big Head, Little Head

It's a warm day (finally!), so the boys like to sit by the open screen door for some observing and napping. It always makes me chuckle when I see Mingus next to Greaseball, because they match in an odd way.

Mingus is such a ham. I can't say it enough. He sees a camera out, and then it's Zoolander time! I swear he sucks in his cheeks so he can appear more svelte.

This is my cue that the photoshoot is over. Subtle, that dog is not.

I think I need a remote control for my camera. I have a few knits that I need to wear and photograph for the old blog, but using the timer on my camera just doesn't get picky me the picture I want.

Yesterday, I did some celebratory yarn shopping. The occasion wasn't momentous - saving some time by fixing a typo on my car's title at AAA versus DMV - but any old reason to go yarn shopping is a good one, right? Sweaters are on my mind, and thoughts of the Backward Cabled Pullover (Rav link) are consuming me. I procured my yarn yesterday: 5 skeins of Classic Elite Yarns Fresco in Mallard Blue.

I got a super deal at one of my LYS, K2tog. Since there were only 5 skeins left, they were in the sale bin with a 15% discount - K2tog pulls yarn to the sale bin when there aren't enough skeins of the same color lot to make a sweater. I also had a coupon for an additional $5 off, so I could not pass up this deal. Fortunately (?), I'm really short, so if I make a short sleeved sweater, I calculated that 5 skeins should be about right. This super soft yarn is 60% wool, 30% baby alpaca, and 10% angora. Already, without even being wound into cakes, the yarn is pilling. :/ Hopefully, with a good shave or two, the pilling won't be so noticeable. After all, the ball band says that this yarn is good for showing off textured stitches. We'll see...


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