Big Things Are Coming…

…and Gaye over on The Confessions of a Yarn HoΒ is to blame. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been viewing her beautiful WIPs and FOs and decided it was time to try something in a thicker yarn. Last time I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick was back in, oh… 2004 when I tried to knit the Sonnet sweater for myself. (I’m still gonna try it, just not with bulky yarn!). After a while things just got really heavy and I gave it up.

But now? NOW! I think I’m ready for Big Things. Quick cowls and hats are the order of the day, at least in this really cold, bitter Winter the Northeast is having right now. On the big needles:

2015-01-31_11-05-17

GAP-tastic Cowl, by Jen Geigley. (LB Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, in Cranberry). Β I’m knitting this on 13s. I bought 15s just in case the 13s didn’t work out, but since I’m changing things up and knitting sideways on way less stitches I’m thinking this will be fine. I can’t wait to finish it! Admittedly, this won’t be AS quick as a single-loop style cowl done in the round, but this will be so worth the wait.

I’ve taken a short break from the latest socks I’m working on for the 60-Minute Sockagram because I’d really like to have quiet time to sit and just knit, and with all the moving around and errands I have to deal with lately, there’s just not much of that. I’m on the heel flap of the first sock, and that type of thing deserves close observation and attention.

That’s pretty much it for now. Of course, there will be knitting on this cowl and scheming on what Big Thing to knit next. πŸ˜‰ You knew that, didn’t you?

TTFN!

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Happy New Year 2014!

So, I’ve been doing all manner of things since my last post. I recovered from the crazy of 5K land, though I’ll probably be trying that again soon, because, fitness! Then I got to donate to Children of Promise, this holiday season, and hung out with some beautiful, talented knitters all December long. 2014 got off to a raucous start, though.

It started with a nasty cold which brought me down to giving in to a visit to urgent care. Thank goodness for late Friday night hours, is all I can say. Oh, and 24hr pharmacies.. πŸ™‚

Then, while that was going on I was trying to knit and smoothie myself silly. I’ve joined the Simple Green Smoothies’ 30-day smoothie challenge and so far, so good. I’ve been documenting the experience (or, at least photographic evidence of it) over on Instagram if you’re so inclined.

Merry early Xmas to me and the family. I'd been talking about getting a juicer for quite some time.  Mom and I first juiced back in the 90s. I figured it was time to get back to it. #juicing #liquiddinner

Chunky Monkey Smoothie

I used to use a juicer way back in the late 80s, early 90s when my mom was still alive. We juiced every and anything.
Sometimes it was good, sometimes, not so much. But between the juice fasts I’ve been hearing about and the smoothie challenge I think I’m pretty well covered. It’s a hard road, but I’m still on it. Slow and steady wins the race, they say…

But knitting. I’ve been on a serious cowl kick as of late, completing 7 in about as many weeks. Highlights:
Untitled

Stockholm Scarf

Finito! Fear of Commitment cowl. This KP WotA is no joke! My neck will be warm!  #FO #knitting #knitfaster  #fiberary #fiberuary #cowl

Fear of Comittment
Untitled
Armonika

There was also the Luxe Cowl, as well asΒ the Who’s Cowl’d?‘s designed by Therese Ross-Carter. Therese makes awesome, easy-to-knit patterns that I love. Check out her Two Step, as well!

 

I just blocked a Two Step the other day and will seam that later on today. Then it’s photo time!

 

TTFN!

 

 

Overloaded (NaBloPoMo day 10)

Whoops. Missed day 9. Sorry about that. Let’s move on, shall we?

Overloaded. That’s basically where I am in terms of things I like to do. My interests include spinning, knitting/crochet, photography, trying my hand at bastardized versions of ethnic foods, photography, and reading. Not necessarily in that order, though some do take precedence over the others. I especially like to read about all those other hobbies, and have recently acquired a stack of books, some of which fall into those categories.

I recently receive not one, but two crochet stitch dictionaries, and they both have a few patterns to boot. I got the Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia, and Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet, and I can’t make up my mind which I want to use first. I’ve already browsed the beginning of the second book and it has a neat history or crochet, including photos of vintage crochet items and old hooks.

Then, last week I won the Lightroom 4 book from the Worldwide Photowalk contest.

But in the last few days, I’ve manage to gather more ebooks for my neat little Kindle:

Image

A couple of mystery and drama stories, two recipe books and even something for little Beanlet to read when we’re out and about and she gets bored. Which to start first? Decisions, decisions. So many hobbies, so little time.

TTFN!

Canned!

I promise I have not accumulated yet another hobby. Canning isn’t so much a hobby as it is a life skill. I’ve wanted to can for quite some time and after falling headlong into farmers’ markets(now that could become a hobby!), and seeing such great deals on fresh produce, I decided it was time to try my hand at it.

What started out as this(sans peppers, they are for something else):

Almost ready...

Is now this:

Tomato-Basil Sauce

And this:

Pickles!

Let’s talk about what I’ve learned, shall we?

I’ve learned that only certain produce can be canned in a waterbath, and since I’m a chicken I won’t be getting a pressure canner for a while, so that means I’m limited to things like tomatoes, pickles, and certain fruits. But that didn’t stop me from jumping in ‘half-hog’.

The tomato sauce is orange because I didn’t remove the skins before pureeing them. Oops. I actually had read about blanching them and placing them in ice water to get the skins to just slide right off but I wound up following a different recipe which called for straining after pureeing. Which of course didn’t work, so there are bits of skin in there. No biggie. I was also advised to just keep letting it boil down for it to turn red, but then I probably would have been left with a spoonful, since I only started with 9 tomatoes which resulted in just the two jars. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to tasting it, but based on the overall consistency I might be better off calling it a soup rather than a sauce. Oh well, live and learn.

Now on to the pickles. Who doesn’t love pickles!? Well, other than Mr. BeanKnit.. πŸ˜‰ But I adore them. Once I got into trolling browsing the various local farmers’ markets, I realized what great deals there are to be had and decided I could save money by canning my own pickles. For a little less than the price of a commercially made jar(at least where I live), I could get 4 times as much! So I picked up 6 lbs of kirby cucumbers and got started. It was much simpler than the tomato soup/sauce and I even had a few extra spears to make refrigerator pickles. I knew I should have gotten that 5th jar! πŸ˜‰ I have to wait a few weeks for the flavors to really kick in, and that’s going to be the hardest part, perhaps.

I also learned there is some truth to the old adage, “A watched pot never boils.”. This is especially true when prepping a 21-qt canning pot. Between traveling to the markets and the canning process itself, I was able to get in some knitting. I put some serious rows on the toe-up socks I’ve been working on, but I’m almost done, so look for an FO shot in the next post, as well as a finished Eileen back.

TTFN!

A day late and a bobbin short…

HelloYarn Merino wool for Tour de Fleece

Every year, there are special fiber-craft events going on. Lacevember(and NaNoWriMo, for everyone) in November, Socktober in October, various Mystery shawls, and Tour de Fleece which is held during the Tour de France cycling event.

This will be my first time participating in TdF. I don’t have any specific spinning goals; I’m simply using this to get back into spinning. I admit I did get in over my head trying to spin an adult sweater’s worth of yarn(2 years ago) and that frightened me a bit. But I’m back in the swing of things, so to speak.

TdF began yesterday July 2nd but I’m starting today. No goals, remember? πŸ˜‰

I’ll be spinning some lovely HelloYarn 100% Merino gifted to me by MUAKnits. YAY for crafting friends, huh? πŸ™‚ I love HelloYarn fibers, so she must have read my mind because it couldn’t have come at a better time. Alors!

Just Doing It.

That is kind of how I feel about my latest craft projects. Other than baking for special occasions I’ve been contemplating practicing my baking a little more. I’ve always farked up whole wheat bread. It was always hard, and flat. Nothing I tried worked. But recently I read something about “vital wheat gluten”, which is supposed to help wheat breads rise better. I’ve yet to actually try it but hopefully sometime this weekend I’ll get around to it.

I did manage to make some banana bread, though:
Banana Banana Bread

from this recipe.

I’m thinking I should have added that 4th banana in there. Some of the reviews do indicate that extra banana would improve the moisture but I didn’t listen. Or perhaps the addition of baking powder may have something to do with it. In previous incarnations, with a different recipe the bread was always kind of flat and that one didn’t call for baking powder either, so I figured that was the problem. This loaf is somewhat taller but not by much(I’m starting to think other people are using a smaller pan than my 9×5’er, which could mean nothing I do will yield a taller result). Oh well, it’s still very good, even if a little on the dry side. Nothing a hot cup of coffee or tea or a glass of cold milk won’t fix.

In knitting I’m also slowly starting up. Oh I’ve knit the occasional hat or mittens or some other whimsy but one of the things I’ve been wanting to knit more of is sweaters for ME. Sadly, though, I’ve been quite reluctant to do so because of the four disasters in my knitting past: namely, the felting of my Cheesylove pullover, the shrinking of my beloved Central Park Hoodie by my MIL, and the fact that I ran seriously short of yarn for the handspun Heather Hoodie. Not to mention, the failure of kiddo’s Basic Black.

Eileen back

Enter Eileen. I just decided to jump in and do it. Of course the decision was facilitated by a sale at Michaels. πŸ˜‰ I went with a bold color that I love and so far the knitting is going ok. I was a little uneasy with the shifting charts; if you look at the back photo you’ll notice there is a center panel and two side panels. The side panel chart only has 6 rows but the center one has 8. The first repeat of the two charts started out with the same rows, only to have me start the side panel chart AGAIN before finishing the first repeat of the center panel. And there I was thinking I’d print the charts on the same sheet of paper and use one long strip of highlighter tape to track the rows. Sigh. Oh well. I guess I could still print them together since they’re small. But it hasn’t been a major hassle yet.

Now, while I did enhance my stash for this project I have been working from stash I already had.

Crochet Box

I had 3 balls of Lamb’s Pride Bulky laying around, seemingly forever, and decided now was the time. The other day I just started crocheting these rectangles, not even knowing what I’d do with them. I just needed to be doing something with my hands. My son came in the room and asked if I was making a box. I looked at the panels and just decided, yeah, I’m gonna make a box. And I did!

I’ve read that crochet is harder to felt than knitting and I’m seeing this may very well be true. I would have thought with the yarn being a single ply that it would felt lovely but, the crochet won out. You can still see some of the stitch definition. Also the finished item isn’t as sturdy as knit felt would be. There’s no way that box would stand up to the spindles, but this is even floppier than normal; everything is actually sitting in a hard plastic bucket the kids got a few Halloween’s ago. Eh, it works, right?

I hear Eileen calling so I’d better go see what she wants.

TTFN!

Just Loving It

Pie!

Don’t you just love it when projects you work on seem to fall into place? Do you get scared, thinking the progress means you’ll just fark up along the way and your hard work will have been for nothing?Β  If you’re accustomed to things going wrong you tend to get nervous whenever you try something for fear of screwing it up.

That’s pretty much how I felt while preparing a pie crust last night. It’s been almost a year since the last time I tried to make a pie crust. Previously, as in years past, my attempts at crust-making resulted in broken bits of dough that I would have to mash together into the pie pan.Β  I could never seem to roll it out thin enough without it falling apart on me.

But last night, it worked out very well.

I got this crazy urge to make a sweet potato(yam?) pie and trolled my favorite recipe site(No, I DON’T have something so ‘traditional’ already committed to memory, why do you ask? I know WHAT to put in the pie, just never remember how much!), Allrecipes and gathered my ingredients to make the crust and filling.Β  After making some recipe adjustments for the crust(and it’s a good thing I did; too much shortening could be a disaster), I got started, thinking all the while, “This is gonna work, this is gonna work…”. I still had my doubts even as I took the still-rather-soft ball of dough out of the fridge after 30 min and popped it in the freezer an additional 10 min.

But once I rolled that sucker out and was able to get it off the table and into the pan in one piece,Β  it was glory all the way! Yay! My first pie crust that didn’t have to be ‘jury-rigged’ into the pan. Of course, the filling was another challenge, as previous gourd-based pies have been coming out rather runny. This one, too, came out a bit on the soft side. I prefer my pie cold so maybe chilling in the fridge overnight has helped that a bit. But! I know now, to add a little flour to the filling to thicken it a bit. (I’m also wondering if I SHOULD have used that 10″ pie pan instead of the 9″. I certainly had enough dough for a bigger pan, and the filling wouldn’t have been as deep, possibly resulting in a firmer set. Oh well. Live and Learn.)

I’ve also been loving the shawl I’m working on. Well, not just the shawl, as I’m sure it’s going to be really pretty when it’s done, but also the fact that I can ‘read’ my knitting. The pattern(so far) is simple enough to memorize the repeats at the beginning of each row, which helps me gain a rhythm. With that rhythm I can quickly tell when something’s out of whack. At one point, I’d finished a right-side row and proceeded to work the next (back-side) row when I hit a bump in the rhythm. Sure enough, just ‘reading’ back the previous row showed me where I messed up; a bit of ‘tinking’ and I was back in the game.Β  This isn’t to say I didn’t spend a minute or two cussing at it but it was an easy fix. πŸ˜€

Now I’m hoping I can parlay this ‘success’ into a baby quilt I need to get going. πŸ˜‰

TTFN