Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Stash Hat two

Have you ever had this happen to you? You hear a word that you don't know the meaning of and you look it up, all the while thinking that the word is so archaic or obscure that you will never encounter it again. But you look it up anyways. Then the next day you read it in a news article. Then someone on tv uses it. Next it appears in a novel you are reading. Suddenly this obscure word is everywhere! making you think that it isn't actually as obscure as you thought it was. 
That's happened to me tons of times! (maybe I just have a bad vocabulary?)

Anyways, it's happened again, but this time with knitting. 

For a while I've been trying to put a serious dent in my stash by doing smaller projects to finish up orphan skeins or yarn I bought with no real purpose in mind. So I've been looking at lots of hat (toque, beanie, beret, whatever you want to call them) patterns. I've been trying to find different styles so that maybe next year by Christmas I will have amassed enough to give one to everyone in my family. 
One of the patterns that caught my eye was a simple hat with a snowflake pattern on it. Okay. It's not like I've never seen a snowflake pattern before, or even never seen this snowflake pattern, but I hadn't seen it recently. It was a nice simple pattern, so that's what I decided to take with me on the latest trip that I took. And suddenly I'm seeing the pattern everywhere. First on the comforter that was on my bed at my parents. Then my bestest friend left her mittens lying around and I noticed that they too had a very similar pattern to the one I was doing:

Would you look at that? 3 totally different items? Same snowflake pattern! 
The hat is supposed to have the snowflakes all in one colour with one MC on the bottom and a different one on the top. I was going to do an all grey hat, but then half way through I realized that I might not have enough grey for that. Since I was on a plane and didn't have a third colour I decided to just swap the colours for the top.
I think this was a bad decision. 1) I ran out of white. I have more white here, but it meant I had to stop working on it on the flight. 2) You lose some of the detailing in the middle when you make this change. There is one unique row where the mirroring happens that you lose if the snowflake isn't one colour the whole way.
On the bright side, it did use up all of the left over grey yarn from the shrug. 

Monday, 23 March 2009

Stash Hat

I sort of made a deal with myself back before I went to Stitches West. The deal was that I could buy new yarn if and only if I tried really hard to get rid of the yarn I had in my stash. Bit by bit I've been chipping away at my skeins I have left over from past projects, and the shanks that I bought with no real project in mind. These projects tend to be small because they use yarn I have on hand. 
Here's another one. A Meret, or Mystery Beret.

I made it out of the leftover yarn from my February Lady sweater. I had about a half ball left and it was a good use of it I think. The pattern is easy to follow. I made a medium with one inch of st st and then an inch of ribbing for the bottom cuff and I like that style. But definitely, definitely if you make this pattern add the extra repeat of the pattern to make it slouchy. This hat is tight, and looks a little funny without the added slouch. 

If I had enough yarn, I'd for sure go back and add in the extra rows. 

And in case you were wondering about those socks I mentioned I was planning on making... Well, I'm here to tell you, FEAR NOT. I am working on them, and hopefully one of my next two posts will sock-astic. I made the first one without a hitch, but I sort of lost steam and that's where some of these mini projects come in. But I'm back at them, and they will hopefully be done soon! 

Friday, 20 March 2009

Baking Interlude: Easy as Pie

In 2002, my bestest friend and I went to Ireland for 2 weeks. One night as we were resting in the hostel after a day of bus travel and sightseeing, we heard the following conversation between two other travelers in next room between a Polish and an Italian guy:

Person 1 – See, this is how you enter the code on the keypad to get into the room. It's as easy as pie!
Person 2 – Easy as pie? What does this mean? Easy. As. Pie. 
Person 1 – I don’t know. It just is. It's easy as pie.
Person 2 – What's pie?
Person 1 – You know. Pie. Pie! Like, kidney and steak pie….

My bestest friend and I nearly burst a gut laughing. (We were a little sleep deprived at the time… Almost everything was hilarious.) It is ridiculous to have two non-native English speakers discuss an English saying. And more importantly if you asked me to name a type of pie, the first one I'd think of would not be kidney and steak pie!
After that event things on the trip were always “easy as pie!”

Which begs the question, why do we say that pie is easy? Cause let me tell you, pie is not exactly easy. (Not that it is super complicated either.) The crust can be kind of tricky, and depending on what filling you do, there can be a lot, a lot of steps!
So while you can’t count on pie to be easy, you can count on it to be good. And is it ever good!

Pi day this year has sort of been a pie week for me. I made three pies this week!
On pi day I made an apple/raisin/cranberry crumble top pie. It was fabulous if I do say so myself. And I do! It was so good that it was gone before I could take a picture, which is unfortunate because it was pretty on top of being tasty! I should have taken a picture while it was cooling, but I planned on taking a picture so you could see the inside of the pie. Um… it was gone with dinner. Oops?

But here are pictures of pies that I made for my work’s Pie Contest. Each year we have a pi day pie contest. (This year we had to have it a week after pi day because too many people were going to be gone on the day itself, but working at a geeky engineering firm we had to celebrate pi day!)

Rhubarb with Lemon-Yogurt Mousse:My recipe was actually a little different than the one I found but only because I didn't have enough Rhubarb. I thought I had a TON in the freezer. Turns out, I didn't. My roommate reminded me after I took everything out of the freezer trying to find said rhubarb that I'd used it in a crisp a few months ago. Silly me.
So I added some strawberries to get to the right amount instead. Still fabulous.

Apple Blackberry Pie:
I made it with honeycomb top, since I thought the circle cut outs made it more pi like.
For this pie I just sort of made the recipe up as I went along. The crust (an all butter crust) came from what I call the Pie Bible, but for the filling I just cut up a bunch of apples, mixed it with sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc and then added in some blueberries. I thought it was fabulous.

Yet, sadly, I did not win. And there were some amazing William Sonoma pie plates as prizes this year!! I wanted one!
But to be fair, the pies that won were really good. Okay. I admit it. They were better than mine. Drat!
Interestingly though, I think that the pie that I won with last year wasn't nearly as good as either of the pies that I entered this year. Isn't that always the way? My crusts were definitely better this year. But no need to worry. Now I have something to aim for next year! It gives me a great excuse to practice.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Pics to tie you over

It's been a while, but I've been busy! Busy as a bee or an ant. And a lot more busy than a jelly!Really? What do jellies do other than float around? Sure, they are super pretty, but they aren't very industrious. And they are only pretty when you have a glass wall between yourself and them, rather than encountering them in the ocean or on the beach!
What does busy have to do with jellyfish? you might ask.
Busy is what happens when work suddenly explodes at you two days before a visitor arrives. So I spent two long days at work and then I've been off the last few showing my sister around the Bay Area! Fun!

Although, unfortunately this is what happened when we went to the Golden Gate bridge:
But if that isn't San Francisco weather, I don't know what is! It was a gorgeous day everywhere else in the city, but as soon as you got close to the bay: BAM! Fog. Typical. You couldn't even see it from where we parked. It was in a cloud. And even when we were right at the uprights, you couldn't see the top.
But we didn't let that get us down. From Fisherman's wharf we did get a good view of Alcatraz. And we walked the gorgeous streets. And we had an amazing view for something else in the city:

We saw Wicked on St. Patrick's day! It was sort of fitting - a show about a green girl. I loved it! We had really good seats and the whole thing was fabulous. awesome. super. spiffy. Dare I say... wicked!? The acting was great. I loved the story. And the music. And the costumes were ridiculously gorgeous. I liked it so much, I'd go again!

Then yesterday we went to Monterey and Big Sur. It was my about fifth time at the Monterey Bay aquarium, and it never gets old. I love it so much. The fish. The jellies. The otters. The penguins. All favourites!
So, there are some non-crafting pictures to tie you over... But expect other crafty type things soon...

Friday, 6 March 2009

Have you heard? Grey: it’s the new Black.

I was noticing the other day how my wardrobe is suddenly very grey. Not as in gloomy and sad. I just suddenly have a lot of items of clothing that are grey. My clothes used to be predominately blue and brown, but there has been a huge influx of grey recently. Of the four new sweaters I got at Christmas three are grey. (One is half grey/half white.) I didn’t have a single grey sweater before that!

My knitting is no different. It started with my Bella Mittens. Then the hat. And I made a cal(not for me). And I found an old scarf which I started to wear again (It was my first ever crochet project and is totally a weird length/width, but for some reason I love it). And then most recently a shrug.

This shrug was made with stash yarn as I waited for the knitting show and my attempt at socks. I bought the yarn to make more mittens and then never did. But I’m glad I had the yarn because it is perfect for it.

I wore the shrug to work earlier this week, and I’ve decided I like it. I don’t love it, but I like it a lot. (I think part of the reason I didn’t love it was the office was freezing and I really should have been wearing a sweater. I will probably love it come spring/summer.) Based on the pattern, I’m actually not done, but I’m don’t know if I want to add the detailing. The pattern says to pick up the stitches along the edge and knit a picot trim. That’s what it’s called in the pattern. I would have never known to call it that. It’s like an embossed edge. So instead of it being straight it has little bobbles along the neck and back. Thoughts?

If I were to do this pattern again, there are a few things I'd do differently.

1) I would use the 2nd lace option. Or an entirely different one with a x4 or x8 repeatable pattern. I tried Lace option #1 this time because it was listed as the author’s favourite, and while it gives off a nice effect I found it difficult to get right. You’d think that since it was the exact same row, only offset by one it would be easy, but I really found it hard. I had to frog rows numerous times because I’d get to the end of a row and have the wrong number of stitches having somewhere forgot to yo. I blame it on the fact that unlike with other patterns, I couldn’t see this one. I didn’t have an intuitive feel for it. With February Lady it was obvious what came next to make the gull lace. For this one, I always had to count it out. k, yo, k, k, ssk,… etc, etc. It was a little frustrating, but in the end, it worked out okay.

2) If I did it again I'd do the 1x1 ribbing with an even smaller needle. The pattern tells you to go down by one needle size, but I think that you'd get a much nicer ribbing effect with smaller needles still. 

3) I'd use a different cast on entirely. The cuffs are too tight and curl a little. A looser cast on would probably help with that.

My next project? Those socks! Not grey. … Or black.
I’m so excited to try my first sock pattern ever. I think I have to email my university dorm roommate who made me a pair of socks one year for Christmas to tell her. And thank her since I still love the ones she made me. I really am excited! I’ve done my swatch and it’s crazy how small the stitches are compared to what I’ve been knitting recently. Between size 2 needles and size 9 there really is a difference. I think the socks will go slowly… but hey. At least I have the
prettiest ball of yarn in the world to work with.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Staying Cozy...

Imagine a cold, blustery day. Brrr. You are shivering. What is better than being cozy? Curling up in warm comfy pants and a sweatshirt, fuzzy socks and a cup of tea. Not much says I! 

And if you need to be cozy, then so does your tea! (Okay, so by the picture and the greenery outside you might not believe me when I say it was a rainy weekend here, but it was. I promise. Well... Sunday was. And definitely a good day for tea.)

One of my pet peeves? When I don't finish a cup of tea before it goes cold. Cold tea is not cool. I actually generally pre-warm my mug with hot water before pouring tea, so that the tea doesn't lose heat in warming the cup. So when I saw this pattern, I thought: 'Perfect!!' and it is.
It was a quick knit that I did over a few lunch breaks and then brought home to add on the button. And it was great because it used up all of the leftover yarn from my latest baby afghan and the button from a sweater I bought. (You know how they give you an extra button in case one on the sweater/pants comes off. I used that!) So it was cheap to make! Perfect for me. (I'm very cheap...)

And after one day of use, I am happy to report that I'm pretty sure that it really does keep my teacup warmer for longer! It's great. The engineer in me wants to set up a test with a thermometer of some kind and measure temperature gradient of the cup with and without the cozy and compare them. Wait! I could use my candy thermometer! Why didn't I think of it until right now? I will! And I'll let you know how it goes. 

About the pattern: Easy! I had a counting problem, but I think that had something to do with the fact that I hand copied the pattern since it was so short. Also differing from the pattern, I made it for a big cup and had to repeat it 4 times, rather than the three that is proscribed by the pattern. Then again, I didn't check my gauge so maybe with different yarn/needles it would have worked out differently. 

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Stitches West II

Is this not the prettiest ball of yarn you ever did see?
(And I sneakingly convinced my roommate to wind it for me. I really need one of those machines that does it! Didn't he do a fab job?) 

I got it at Stitches West. Yay knitting conference! (I'm a horrible blogger. I realized I'd left my camera at home as I was parking. I'd meant to take of some of the booths.) It was so much fun. And it was soooo overwhelming. I have seriously never seen so much yarn in my life!! Except for maybe last year.
Actually, I'm pretty sure it was bigger this year. In fact, one of the things that surprised me the most about SW this year is how crowded it was. I couldn't even get into some booths it was so crowded! And I had to push my way through some of the aisles! You'd think that in these hard economic times, there would be less money to put into something like knitting, but from the looks of it, crafting is one industry that is still going strong. 

One thing that was the same about this year and last year? I left with a headache. One thing that was different? This time I bought yarn. In fact, I bought $130 worth of yarn, which in the grand scheme of things isn't that much, but it is still a lot. 
I felt a little left out again this year since I was in 100% store bought clothes. I debated wearing my February Lady Sweater, but in the end I'm glad I didn't. There were TONS at the conference, and most were nicer than mine. And who wants to be wearing the same thing as everyone else? Almost everyone was wearing something handknit. I saw some amazing scarves, cardigans, vests and shawls. But I also saw some lack luster knits, and I worry that in contrast to some of the amazing knits out there, mine would also look amateur. Perhaps by next year I will have a rocking craft I can show off too. 

Maybe I will have made it with something I bought!
From Left to Right:
The grey is (hopefully) for a sweater. I'm not 100% sure about the gauge, so if it doesn't work out for the sweater I'm thinking of, I'm sure I can find another one.
The green and pink are both fingering weight, and if I can successfully knit socks, that's what those will be for. 
The next green will be for a scarf I've had my eye on. 
And the last blue, the one I will be using first, is more sock yarn. 

Wish me luck! I might just need it.