Saturday, August 27, 2011

No Longer a Mystery Socks and SS11 Socks

Hot off the needles, here are my Mystery Socks designed by Jen at Knitting Like Crazy! If you look closely, you'll see that the freshly vacuumed floor was no match for Mingus and the billowy clouds of fur that he emits at a shocking rate.

It was satisfying to knit up a pair of socks with my newly acquired Sock Summit 2011 stash. Now, my hoarder brain is wishing I had bought more Socks that Rock, but I have one more skein in another red colorway to savor, as well as other skeins of sock yarn from my most excellent trip.

I never got around to sharing the socks I wore during Sock Summit: Cookie A's Twisted Flower. It was an exhausting pattern because there were no "rest rows" of just knitting - every row needed a chart. There was loads of tinking back, but I finished them in time for their debut.

Although I love these socks, they are more loosely knit than I prefer (I knit to gauge) and I worry about their durability. They're knit up using Malabrigo sock.

Already, the heels are pilled. Still, they were a (sometimes frustrating) challenge to knit, and I'm glad that they are done.

I'm daydreaming about knitting up more socks. I have some on the needles right now, but it's a traveling vine pattern done up in variegated yarn, so it's a bit too much effort for a pattern that doesn't show up well. Time to rip them out. If anyone has any sock pattern ideas for variegated yarns that are not Jaywalkers or Monkeys, please pass them on!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mystery Socks and Baby Cardi

 As you can tell by the uninspired title, I'm not feeling the creative juice today. But, since I'm hiding inside today after snorting gallons of pollen and spores while gardening, I thought I'd share some projects.

Warning: if you don't want to see any WIPs of the Mystery Sock, don't look!

My ghostly feet blend into the floor
Clue #3 is complete for both socks, and I'm pleased with the results! I also realized that I'm using 11" circular needles, not 9" ones. That's why I mistakenly thought using 9" circs were easier the 2nd time around! I found my 9" needles and knit a couple of inches, and my hands ended up cramping, so back to the 11". Only having one circular needle to deal with does speed up the knitting process, but I do wish the Hiyahiyas came with pointer tips (it's supposed to happen by the end of 2011).

Socks aren't the only things I've been knitting. There has been a plethora of baby cardigan activity due to fertile friends. Oy, 2 more friends even told me that they're "not not trying", which means this wave of baby activity won't see an end in 2012. My first baby cardigan is off the needles and in the recipients' hands.

The pattern is Hannah Fettig's Yoked Cardigan (Rav link to my project). I have two more pink cardigans almost complete, and a blue and pale green one that need to be started. Since I'll have loads of yarn leftover, I'm excited to make some stripey baby hats!

I don't have any pictures as evidence, but I've been making boatloads of cashew milk. My last batch had a few dates thrown in for sweetener, and my first batch had maple syrup (dangerously good). My morning coffee has been greatly enhanced with the addition of cashew milk and sucanat. I just have to be careful to not swig down gallons of the stuff since it would be easy to do - I'm not a calorie counter, but drinking 1/2 a gallon of cashew milk in one sitting doesn't sound prudent. Cashew milk ice cream with vanilla and maple syrup is a project in my queue, after I make hand pulled noodles.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sock Summit Fertility

Since I've returned from SS2011, I've been sleeping with my knitting needles. Although I do not recommend doing this for the obvious health hazards to you and anyone else unfortunate enough to share your sleeping space, it does wonders for your FOs. In addition to the two baby hats that Vespa and Mingus so graciously modeled, I've almost finished 3 baby cardigans, and I've joined the Mystery Sock KAL hosted by Jen at Knitting Like Crazy. The picture above is from Clue #1. Clue #2's results are below. Like what you see? It's not too late to join!

Isn't that just the prettiest heel flap? I'm loving my Socks that Rock in Brick - STR is so wonderfully twisty and springy! I've only had the privilege of knitting with it once, and I turned that skein into a scarf, so I'm excited to try some STR on my feet. I've also busted out my 9" circular Hiya Hiya needles, and I'm finding that they are a joy to work with now that I knit lever style. There's no fussing and dropping any of the 5 DPNs or two circular needles. It's just around and around I go, until the heel flap, of course.

World's Smallest Tomato Harvest
Cooking has been a priority again this week. Last week was a bust due to many social gatherings that involved restaurants, but I am now back on track. Since zucchini is dirt cheap and ground lamb was on sale, I made some Mediterranean zucchini boats. I seasoned the lamb with loads of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, dried apricots, fresh English peas (odd addition, but they needed to be used up), and preserved lemons.

Scooped, salted, and ready for filling
Overstuffed with the lamb mixture

Ready for my belly
This week's food experiment is hand-pulled noodles. My attempt last night morphed into homemade ramen noodles, which wasn't a bad thing, but not quite what I wanted to eat. I now have the correct types of wheat flour, so off I go to try it again. This is one time where my stand mixer is a must.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just Another Lazy Day

While others are sweltering in heat waves, the Bay Area still hasn't made up its mind yet about summer. When the days are sunny rather than overcast and foggy, I throw the windows open so everyone can get a sip of summer before it goes away.

Overcast weather puts me in the mood to cook and craft, so I'm not that put out by the lack of sunshine. Another batch of kimchi was made, this time with some chili powder that packed a punch. I tempered the heat by adding fat and carbs. Voila! Kimchi fried rice with bacon and eggs. Brown rice is the standard here, and I love how Japanese brown rice transforms into little bites of mochi when it's fried.

Inspired by my Portland food truck excursion, I've been experimenting with this Bosnian pita recipe (burek). This is my first excursion into laminated doughs, and I have a lot more learning to do. Lesson number 1 was to not be stingy with the fat. Since I didn't put enough olive oil onto my rolled out dough, my first try wasn't laminated. It was rock solid. Still, I ate it, because hot bread with a tasty beef filling can't go too wrong. Try number 2 was much better once I let the fat flow.

Someday, I will remember not to cut into my food before I take a blog picture.

I have some ground lamb earmarked for try number 3. I'm thinking of seasoning the lamb with preserved lemons, cumin, and dried apricots.

Cloudier days put me in a knitting and picture taking mood, so the dogs dutifully modeled some baby hats for me. Again, it's baby season. This season, I have a whopping 7 babies popping out in September. January was a busy month.

Here's a better picture of the hat. It's the Upside-Down Daisy hat (rav link). I'm not happy with the petal edges. I think I'll improvise and crochet the petals next time so they look more finished. Other daisy hats on Ravelry look just fine. What's the trick? Maybe I should have whip stitched around the edges of the petals instead of basting.

And here's a better picture of Mingus. This picture captures his goofiness much better, but his ginormous head is blocking the hat. He's still waiting for a thought. It helps to cross your eyes ever so slightly when waiting for a thought to land.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I survived Sock Summit 2011


Last April, Leann and I decided that we were headed to Sock Summit, a magical gathering of sock knitters that included an even more magical marketplace full of sock yarn. Our transportation of choice was the Coast Starlight, a train that a quick glance at the route map shows is only coastal before and after our time on it. But, taking the train to Portland seemed so old timey and stress-free, something we both longed to be, so we endured the 17.5 hour ride from the Bay Area to Portland. And we discovered that a Nalgene can fit a bottle of wine discreetly and that Dixie cups still exist. And we knit legwarmers!

Check out my legwarmers and my clashing Jaywalkers!

Upon pulling up into the Portland train station, we decided that a walk to our hotel was in order since sitting for 17.5 hours made us feel blobby.  After checking in, we chowed down on Thai food, then made our way via public transportation to the Awesome 80's Sock Hop!

Leann and I have been friends since our angsty high school years, and we wondered what our teenaged selves would have thought of our current selves looking so ridiculous that cars stopped and laughed at us. Leann still remembered how to do wings and poofy bangs! My bangs went flat as soon as I stepped out of the hotel room despite asphyxiating myself with hairspray.

Any awkwardness we felt upon arriving at the Sock Hop was dissolved by 1 Manhattan, 1 greyhound, and the Village People's "YMCA".  Now, how many of you can say that you danced the YMCA with the Yarn Harlot? She's in this shot, I swear! It felt too intrusive to kinnear her any closer. Paparazzi, I am not. The last song played was a practice run for the flash mob. So cool to see it all in person!

The next day, we hit the Sock Summit and shopped! I increased my sock yarn stash from 1 skein to 6 skeins, and I swear I'll post the sock yarn pr0n later. It's good stuff: Miss Babs, Sanguine Gryphon (best booth ever), and Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I also scored a set of Signature Needle Arts DPNs. Although 2 circular needles is my preferred sock knitting method, there are some patterns that are best knit with DPNs. Plus, I love knitting with my other pair of Signature straights, and I was dying for another pair. They do cell circular needles now, but not in the smaller sizes yet.

A highlight of these yarny gatherings is meeting other knit bloggers. I finally got to meet Michelle while she was working the Knitted Wit booth! She's just as lovely in person as she is online.

Portland is a good place for grub, both high end and cheap. On our last day, Leann and I heard about some food trucks that were near Powell's Books. These Bosnian pita's were delicious! I ordered a combo: 1/2 spinach pita, and 1/2 spicy beef. The spicy beef was by far my favorite one. Although they are called pitas, they reminded me more of Chinese scallion pancakes because they consisted of a filled, laminated dough that is then spiraled before being baked. I made my first attempt last night for dinner, but it was so-so. I need to find a better dough recipe (if anyone has made these, please do share a link to the recipe). Perhaps a yeasted dough would be better.
Above is a picture of the my new favorite schnitzel: duck.  These are from Gruner, a German restaurant with a twist. There are other foods and drinks we ate and loved, like the avocado daiquiri from Mint, and the vanilla latte and country bread from Ken's Artisan Bakery

Before we knew it, we were headed back on another 17.5 hour train ride. I started and finished the last 2 Hunger Game books, learned way too much about strangers (does that still make them strangers?), and knit on a sock. I think I am finally recovered.


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