Tuesday, December 25, 2007

tidings of comfort and joy

best wishes to you all. may you have a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Monday, December 24, 2007

just a little steam

when i was pregnant with my sweet friend, my cute husband invited some brits over for christmas supper. they were working on a special project at his company and staying in a hotel with no where special to go on christmas day. to make them feel even more at home, the ch decided to get a traditional "pudding" recipe for christmas desert. so he contacted a friend in australia who faxed over a copy of a steamed pudding recipe she used. having never made a steamed pudding, i was a bit anxious. this first one was steamed in a bundt pan with a tin foil cover. but everyone loved and raved about it and i have been making christmas pudding every year since. so when zorra sent out an invite for sugar high friday to post about pudding, i was in!

since the posting deadline was christmas eve i needed to find an occasion to make one before christmas. i took a chance on the staff holiday potluck. which turned out to be the perfect occasion. i knew the pudding was a success when folks took slices home with them.

this is a dried fruit pudding. the recipe calls for 1 cup of dates; 1 cup of raisins and 4 cups of mixed dried fruit. for the first few years i experimented with various dried fruits but have settled on a cup each of golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots and dried pineapple. mixed with butter, sugar, eggs, and self rising and regular flour. steam for about 4-4.5 hours. because of time, for the potluck i steamed the pudding for about 3 hours the night before, then steamed it for another 1-1.5 hours the day of the potluck. it turned out so well, i thought i would do it for our christmas day pudding. hopefully it will turn out just as nice.

so here is my pudding. the first picture is fresh out of the pudding mold before the staff potluck; the second is after the staff potluck. it is always fun to make pudding and i welcomed the chance. thanks, zorra. once again, this was real fun.

Monday, December 10, 2007

monday randomness

first off, a picture of a package i received from purl(dot)com. i don't know why this wrapping tickled me so, but i thought it the sweetest way to send a package of yarn. and why buy yarn from across country you may wonder. the yarn was for my sweet friend's ruffled scarf and cute husband's socks. i had purchased yarn for these projects at purl soho during the nyc spring excursion trip. but i had a brain burp when buying the pink yarn so was short a hank, and felt i needed one more hank of sock yarn for my cute husband's socks. so i decided to continue the theme of the yarn coming from purl soho. plus i could shop online at midnight. what more could you ask?

the second is the challah i made for hanukkah presents for some work mates. i was thumbing through baking with julia for bread baking day #4 recipes and came across the challah recipe. since braided breads are a favorite of mine, i couldn't pass up the opportunity to bake braided bread and give gifts at the same time. so here they are, fresh out of the oven. the egg glaze baked brown right away so i had to cover the loaves with tinfoil for the last half of baking time. i also used black sesame seeds since i could not find where the regular golden ones had been creatively stored by the kitchen helpers. so though the sesame seeds may look like they were burnt, they weren't. and regardless of any of the above, the breads were much liked and enjoyed. my office mate served hers the next night at hanukkah supper when her grown daughters and their significant others flew into town for hanukkah. she was barely able to save me a slice so i could taste it because it was eaten all up. and that is what gift baking is all about!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

all the time

though my latest blogs have been filled with baking, i am knitting. i mean, christmas is coming up, of course i am knitting! though i tried to start early on all projects, and i have even completed some of i still feel waaaaay behind the eight ball.

with that being said, here is what i am working on...

two ruffled scarves out of ry cashsoft in the donkey and foxglove colorway. it is a pattern that i am sort of adapting to what i would like it to be, long with ruffles. i also chose to just knit simple garter stitch for the scarf, but with a much larger needle than called for. which makes the ruffle and scarf drape well. so far so good. having it be simple garter stitch makes it very simple, quick and mindless for me.

misti alpaca ruffle scarf in the ember melange colorway. technically i have not started on this yet but it is such a simple scarf if i just devote a couple of days to it, it will be done.

non-stop knitting of nubbins for ta-ta's dishcloths by vyvan neel at knitting in a happy camper. i am making these out of every sugar 'n cream colorway i have. they are quick, cute, quirky and fun.

mac and me's shorty ruffle scarf. i got the pattern and yarn for both my sweet friend and myself from purl soho in nyc last spring. another garter stitch quick knit with picked up stitches to knit a lacy ruffle along the four edges with a different colorway. i am trying to finish my sweet friends for christmas. mine i will do after the holiday knitting.

blossom shawl from mag knits for mom out of elsebeth lavolds silky wool in claret. can't wait to start this, the yarn is really yummy!

and as soon as i can get WIP's and camera in one place at the same time, there will be pictures! until then, take a look at tudora on knitty.com designed by fellow blogger cheryl. it is really quite beautiful. congrats cheryl.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

it's to cold to rise

in honor of bread baking day #4, i offer this post.

bread baking day #4 was hosted by baking history. many thanks, this was real fun. the assignment was to bake a bread with spice and post about it by 1 dec.

since it is baking in december and the beginning of various holiday celebrations, my first thought was to bake gingerbread. the silver palate cookbook has my favorite gingerbread recipe. very quick, simple and wonderfully good. i bake this for my sweet friend and i quite a bit during the holidays. since i am always striving to trim the fat, i used cholesterol free liquid eggs and substituted half of the oil with applesauce. and since i do have an incurable sweet tooth, i used all of the lemon glaze recipe for pouring over the hot gingerbread! i am not sure if it was the lack of fat or that it was freezing cold in our house or that i poured the complete amount of glaze that made it harden instead of soaking into the bread. it is probably a mixture of all of those things, though it did not affect our enjoyment of it. there is barely enough of the loaf left for tomorrows breakfast tea!

and since gingerbread is a quick bread instead of a yeast bread, i also chose to bake swedish cardamom braid from bernard clayton's new complete book of breads, the revised and expanded version. this is a very rich bread with both butter and eggs. again, i used the liquid eggs and put in 1/2 cup of flax seed meal for a bit of the butter. i also substituted currents for raisins. and since our house is drafty and cold, this dough had a bit of uneven rising. once i turned on the oven and let it rise on the open oven door, it did much better. i brushed the braid with an egg white glaze before baking and baked it on a stoneware cookie sheet which browned the outside of it nicely. while slicing i was a bit worried when the crust seemed a bit hard. once past the crust, the bread inside is so crumbly the browned crust kept the bread from falling apart. the bread is a little rich for me, though the cardamom offsets the butter well. but i love braiding bread and the look of braided loaves, so it was nice to do that again.

but i love baking bread and it is always great to see what others bake, so thanks for hosting bread baking day #4, baking history. it was great to be a part of it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

thank you all

we were supposed to go to some dear friends house for thanksgiving supper with 40+ of their closest friends and a tour of their vineyard. but last night i discovered nothing i ate stayed with me and i couldn't seem to get warm. and though this morning i was up and ready to go, i really didn't feel much better, so my sweet friend and i slept the afternoon away.

coming from a family of non-meat eaters, we had pasta with homemade marinara sauce and steamed cauliflower for supper along with peppermint ice cream and low fat pumpkin custard for desert. my cute husband and i then watched casino royale, with the guitar strumming son and room cleaning daughter wandering in and out.

it was a wonderful day. though the boys were a bit bored, we all cracked jokes, watched tv, took care of each other, ribbed and teased each other and generally had fun.

it is a lot to be thankful for and i am very grateful. so thank you for stopping by to visit. may you be well.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

so close

i have been working on the flying v scarf out of exquisite little knits since last christmas season. it was a last minute knit for the department christmas gathering. and i have to admit, for the most part it has been at the bottom of the knitting pile. but i recently dug it out and have been taking it with me everywhere so i could knit it whenever i got the chance with the hope of finishing it before this christmas season.

i was so close to finishing it that i started to get worried. worried? yes, because the more i knit, the wider the scarf got. i thought my tension had changed; i thought i had loosened it dramatically. until i had the thought of counting my stitches. the last 15 rows of the scarf pattern depend on having a certain number of stitches. so i counted the stitches. and found instead of the 32 stitches i was supposed to have i had 46 stitches. this is why the scarf was wider. my tension was fine.

so i frogged...and frogged...and frogged until i reached the needed 32 stitches which resulted in the scarf looking like this:

it seems i forgot to do the middle SKP stitch on a regular basis. which meant i had an extra stitch on a regular basis. which, in turn made the scarf wider on a regular basis.
so i will start from here and knit it all again, in hopes that i can finish it sometime soon and be comforted by the fact that at least there will be fewer stitches to knit!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

a nearly perfect weekend

so i have been alone this weekend. the big guy is at school and my cute husband and sweet friend are at a ymca conference for three days. i had the whole weekend to myself.

and i nearly did all the things i wanted to. i got some material to make more knitting project bags; i picked out new lip colors; i bought a waffle iron; i stopped by the LYS for the first time in weeks; i made myself turkey meatloaf; i knitted; i slept in; i made buckwheat waffles; i cleaned the house a bit and did a bit of laundry; i took a long walk; took pictures of my stash for ravelry and baked bread. and believe it or not, the list of things i did not get to is longer than those i did. but that's ok. i did whatever i wanted to and did not feel pressure to do more.

and i got to bake one of my favorite breads, pioneer bread. it was a baking staple when i was single. the recipe calls for cornmeal but i would substitute millet. since there wasn't millet flour, i would buy millet in bulk and grind it up in a spare coffee grinder in order to bake with it. maybe it was the name, maybe it was the fact i had to grind up the millet to make the flour, but the bread always reminded me of something ma ingalls would do. so i always appreciated baking day.

but this time i got to use the new bread pan. which is cool, but may be to small! who knew my bread loaves were hefty size?! so the bottom of the loaf did not brown like the rest of the bread(s). the recipe also has eggs in it which makes the bread very soft. the first few slices were quite wiggly. it may have been because it was hot out of the oven! but it is very good. and it made a mean turkey meatloaf sandwich!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

i had to do it...

my first knitting book was cheryl oberle's, folk shawls. this book offered 25 shawl patterns gathered from around the world. shawls being of various difficulty knit from an array of yarns. the one that caught my eye for a first knitting project was the garter stitch prairie shawl. it was simple, something i would use and ma ingalls would think it practical. the pattern was as the name implies, garter stitch with a yarn over border. at the time, the most challenging stitch for me was the KFB.

but it was the book and the project that started me knitting. i would look through all the beautiful shawls, struggling with deciphering the various stitch patterns, keeping a list of which shawls to knit some day. though i still want to knit half of the book, my ideal was the bird’s nest shawl from the himalayas. this is a 80”x20” shawl with a relatively (now) easy lace pattern. the pattern calls for the shawl to be knit out of pure cashmere…yarn held double while knitted. lust as i may, buying 2,267 yards of pure cashmere is not in my budget.

a few weeks ago i received an email from knit picks announcing a yarn sale. and though i had secretly vowed not to buy any more yarn until the beginning of the year, i thought i would just look. but there it was...as i was perusing the alpaca cloud, one of the suggested patterns for this yarn was the bird's nest shawl. i audibly gasped. for a fraction of the price, yarn for a bird's nest shawl could be mine. and, because of the secret vow, i thought about it for a couple of days before actually purchasing it.

the yarn came a couple of days ago. i chose the moss heather color. and it is really lovely. both my cute husband and sweet friend said, oh, yarn came for you today...as if you need more. but i don't care what they think. i can knit a bird's nest shawl.

Friday, November 02, 2007

the holes change shapes

today is dia de los muertos, or day of the dead. 14 years ago, while vacationing with my sister, my cute husband called to tell us our father had died. the bottom fell out. pop and my sister were very close so for her not to be with him when he died was awful for her. but we got through it. my boss back then, who had lost quite a few family members in a short period of time, told me that sometimes the black holes would be very small and i could maneuver around them and sometimes the black holes would swallow me up. and i feel that way to this day.

and so on this dia de los muertos, i light a candle for my pop in hope that he sees its light and knows that i miss him.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

yay! another one!

i have been concentrating on knitting the pashmina cowl from last minute knitted gifts for the last few weeks. it is a rather simple knit, garter stitch in the round for 12.5 inches. it has been traveling with me everywhere i go in a little pouch so i can knit a few rows whenever i get the chance.

i kept thinking i had a way to go but, while at work the other day, i pulled it out to do a quick ruler measure just to see how long it was. lo and behold it measured 12+ inches. when at home that night i remeasured it. it was 13 inches long, a half inch longer than it was supposed to be, which was fine by me since i had no plans to unknit it. so i finished it up and voila! ce fini!

of course, i did not make it out of pashmina, i used ry cashsoft dk in the donkey colorway, #517, and it is really soft. this yarn is 10% cashmere along with merino wool and some microfibre. i started it on the plane to nyc in april and it is so soft it melted into a tangled mess in it's pouch. i spent close to a half hour trying to untangle it. our hotel room looked like a spider web gone awry. i ended up having to cut the yarn and roll it into smaller balls. i think it took about a ball and a half to make the cowl.

but it is finished just in time. the mornings are getting cooler and i love having something warm around my neck. the cowl can be worn at its full 12.5 length or folded in half. though i like to wear it unfolded, i discovered it folds into odd shapes when worn like that. if i fold it in half, it holds its shape better. probably because the yarn is so soft it needs some heft. and did i tell you it is warm, soft and snuggly?

if i were to make this again, i would make it about an inch shorter than it calls for. and though i would like it to be smidge tighter around the neck, if it were, it would not fit over the head. but i like it. and so does my neck.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

it was a dark and spooky night...

and it is. the wind is blowing; the fog is creeping in; there is a hint of mist in the air; but it is not stopping anyone from getting dressed in their current fantasy and walking the streets! it is always fun to see. my sweet friend was delighted she was able to wear a pink tu-tu and angel wings to school today. and that's what it is all about!

hope you are having fun! happy halloween.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

when birnam wood comes to dunsinane

my sweet friend has been performing in her high school musical the past two weekends. they are performing into the woods, a wonderful but very subtle and smart musical. as refreshment co-chair and makeup help, i have also been to all of the performances as well as the dress rehearsals and there are still things about the play that surprise me. that sondheim is layered!

but i digress. as refreshment co-chair, my main concern is, "are there enough treats to sell?" to that end, i knew we were a little light on treats tonight so offered these: the cupcake version of into the woods. though the design made perfect sense to me, i found myself explaining the squiggly line was the outline of a tree with green sprinkles for the leaves and multi-colored flakes for the trunk. sigh. though the cupcakes may not have been understood, at least they sold out!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

in honor of orange

finally some FO's. i was beginning to think i was in a circle of hell where there was only endless knitting, no finished projects.

the dish cloth is in honor of halloween. out of sugar 'n cream orange on size 7 crystal palace needles. there is a jack o' lantern image that is difficult to see in this picture. coupled with the fact that it is not as cute as i expected. but it will still be a fine dish cloth.

the scarf is a christmas present for a friend who loves orange. this is the misti alpaca chunky, ribs and ruffles scarf in the copper melange colorway. the pattern is free on their site and is a one hank project. i used size 15 needles instead of the 17 called for. the pattern seemed more defined with the 15's. and can i tell you how much i love this yarn. it is so soft and cuddly. delightful to work with. though it may not show, the colorway is a bit heathered so there are various tones to it. and, if one were to devote some serious knitting time, this scarf could be made over a weekend, if not a day. my original thought was to make this up for a couple of friends as christmas presents. then i thought i should really knit from my stash; but now that the scarf is done, i am once again drawn towards using this yarn. time will tell.

on the bread baking front, last sunday's bread was once again courtesy of the tassajara bread book, but i added one of my favorite flours, buckwheat. only a cup of it and the white whole wheat, for fear my sweet friend wouldn't eat it (and she won't) but i love it. didn't have poppy seeds for the top (thought i did), maybe next time.

plus i just received the new bread pan and package of yeast i ordered from king arthur flour. the pan is chicago metallic and supposed to be professional weight like real bakers use. so i will see how it does this sunday and keep you posted.

Monday, October 22, 2007

trick or treat

both the big guy and my sweet friend were/are involved in their high school music program. the big guy was friends/acquaintances with most of these folks for five or six years, some all of his school life; they went to australia, new orleans and new york together as well as rehearsing for seven musicals together (the big guy opted out of the eighth). the kids all know one another, the parents all know one another and the kids and parents all know one anther's kids and parents.

so this evening, one of the moms had us over to make halloween treat boxes to send to our college kids. there were about 18 moms representing 25+ former music kids now in college. each mom was to bring enough of something to put in each kids box, along with a card for their college kid that everyone would sign. i knew it was going to be fun, because this group is fun, but i didn't realize how sweet it would be.

the dining room table was overflowing with treats to stuff into boxes while the living room coffee and end tables were full of card signing mom's. everyone made sure they signed all the cards, even the really former students we may not have known. everyone made sure they caught up with one another and shared stories of how our kids were doing their first few months of college. everyone made sure we checked in with each other to see how we were doing without our kid! it was a truly delightful evening.

i have always believed it takes a village to raise a child, and i am so very grateful for this one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

i got it today!

i would like to take a walk and i have to make three more headdresses for the spirits in my sweet friends musical that opens this weekend, but i just got my invite to ravelry and i am having such a hard time staying away! i need some tea!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

i need another bread pan...

little did i know that tuesday was world bread day. the sole pupose being to bake some bread. so i offer my simple little post:
World Bread Day '07
sunday bread came from one of my all time favorite bread books, the tassajara bread book. though these loaves were courtesy of the revised and updated version, the original tassajara bread book introduced me to the vast world of bread baking beyond betty crocker. it introduced me to my first sponge and sourdough; it helped me continue my experimentation with various grain(s); and it taught me how to braid six strands of bread dough. i am forever grateful to this simple bread book.

and my sweet friend is grateful i am making white bread. though the majority of the bread is white flour, i have always put a couple of cups of king arthur's white whole wheat into my bread, just to give it a bit of heft and to make myself feel the kids were getting a bit of whole wheat without all the "but i hate whole wheat bread" discussions. i do risk a "MOM!" by putting sesame seeds on top though.

and lest you think this is turning into a food blog, i have been knitting. but i seem to have so many WIP's nothing is getting finished. coupled with the fact that since doing the vvs swap, the number of blogs i read has expanded! i spent this afternoon doing a bit of reading until i came across the breast cancer awareness month dishcloth pattern by vyvyan from knitting in a happy camper. it made me run to my sugar 'n cream stash to make sure i had enough yarn to knit this "reminder" for as many of my women friends as i could. it is a bit quirky and i truly don't mean to offend, but click on over to see if you would like to "remind" someone you know to stay healthy. take care.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

pure simplicity...

many, many years ago, when i still lived with my parents, i baked...a lot. every sunday i would bake a pie. the house favorite was lemon meringue since my father and uncle henry, who lived next door, loved lemon meringue pie.

i also baked bread. which was difficult since this was the era when baking bread was considered buying those pre-packaged bread loaves in the freezer section and the only cookbooks available were those all encompassing cookbooks like settlement or better homes and gardens, etc. until, one christmas, a dear friend gave this book to me. it changed my life. there were actual bread recipes in it, multi grained ones! i was very thankful and excited.

though i was into rye and pumpernickel and oats, the fam could only tolerate white or whole wheat. so, as you can see, the honey whole wheat bread got made A LOT. it was simple, it was good and it made two loaves at a time.

i took the book to college with me and proceeded to make weekly bread for my various roommates. it survived my introduction to the tassajara bread book (first edition, where all the recipes made four loaves of bread at a time; way to much to eat in a week). but it had a difficult time surviving my seduction by sourdough, biga or sponge based breads. and when the kids came along, the big guy was only willing to eat sourdough type breads, so that is what i baked.

but today, while wandering thorough the local hardware store, i came across these.

which reminded me of how a friend of mine used something similar to sprinkle flour onto her work surface while making pizza dough, which got me thinking about making bread; which got me thinking about how i couldn't make bread because i would only get half way through a sourdough, biga or sponge recipe today.

until i remembered the honey whole wheat recipe. my sweet friend eats whole wheat bread with her turkey sandwiches (though she wasn't fond of the sesame seeds). my cute husband will eat any home made bread, and i need something for lunch. plus i got to use the new "salt" shaker that is filled with flour to sprinkle my work surface with. quite the lovely evening.

Friday, October 05, 2007

recognizing right from wrong

i have been knitting the leg of my cute husband's sock for quite some time now. so i was pretty excited when i took the measurement that told me it was time for the heel turn.

off i knit, feeling comfortable with the measurement and having no problems with the pattern, when, eleven rows into it, i realized, the purl side of the heel turn was on the knit side of the sock! and vice versa. isn't it supposed to be knit side of the heel turn on knit side of the sock...and vice versa? yes, i believe so. so what the heck happened? am i sure about this? let me look at this again. check it again!

and so i did. and i was pretty sure my assumption was correct, but not exactly sure where i went wrong.

so i started to unknit. and unknit. and unknit. i won't even discuss the transition on my cp circular needles and how i am feeling about them right now. let's suffice it to say these may be the only socks these needles will ever knit!

after much yarn tussling, i got back to where the heel turn started and read the instructions again...co 88 stitches - ok; work in k2p2 rib - did that; knit leg to length desired - did that; starting with ws row, TURN work before first row - did that...didn't i? i mean, i uhhh, used a different needle. but...let's re look at the... ummmm, ..... OH! that's what the directions meant! no! no, in fact i didn't, i didn't turn the work. oh nuts! ok, so let me turn the work and give it another try.

and off i knit, take two. and this time it all works. the knit side of the heel turn is on the knit side of the sock...and vice versa. and it looks soooo much nicer. and my camera isn't embarrassed to take the picture. and i am thankful i caught this mistake on row 11 and not row 44!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

by the skin of my chinny chin chin

so the good ladies over at the bag lady and the pro are having a dishcloth contest. being a recently converted dishcloth knitter i thought i would give it a whirl so here goes...

1. the dishcloth:
2. i used bryspun straight needles, size 8, knitting english style.

6. though it was hard for me to see the pattern with the colorway i chose, and it did not seem to match the cloth posted, when finished it was fine. and not only did i like it but my sweet friend thought it was really nice too.

it reminds me of stacked blocks that mirror each other so my naming suggestion is the mirrored blocks cloth.

thanks, ladies. this was fun!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

yes, it is geeky

so we took big guy to college today. some dear friends lent us their humongous suv which fit all of his belongings being taken plus the family of four. though i am not an suv lover, i appreciated being able to fit everything into their one car instead of us having to drive our two cars.

the big guy's room isn't bad. and his roommate seems like a really nice guy. the boys were able to configure all of their room furniture and their belongings into an acceptable to them floor plan. the roommate brought a refrigerator and the big guy brought a rice cooker and gobs of rice, each being excited about what the other brought. plus they like the same bands and music. so hopefully it will all work. i mean, how can you miss when school is nestled on the side of a mountain among redwoods trees, yet overlooks the ocean? not a bad setting. and things seem off to a positive start.

but it is already quieter around the house. i don't think it will really sink in until mid-week when i realize we are not being two ships passing in the night, but he truly doesn't live here anymore. it's a challenge to let go. but a joy to see him take wing. all a mother can do is offer some pac man cloths. and i am such a geek, they are in the school colors.

Monday, September 17, 2007

it's been a bit

if someone had told me 24 years ago that i would be married to a wonderful man, have two amazing children, two cars, a mortgage and a big, smelly dog i would have laughed, gob smacked by the thought of being in such a relationship.

but here i sit, a lot older, wiser and thicker around the middle, but amazed at the adventure the last 24 years have given me.

and though it caught me by surprise, i wouldn't trade any of it for the world!

Friday, September 14, 2007

so i went a bit overboard

this is what i have collected since the beginning of the month.

both joann's fabrics and michael's crafts had sales on sugar and cream and i just couldn't help myself. some of these were $1 a ball. how could i pass that up?! the "twist" pattern balls are for christmas gifts. i am trying to arc a connection between a washcloth/bath basket and a 1 skein chunky misti alpaca scarf. but haven't quite gotten them connected yet.

the darker solids were for a christmas gift for the big guy. about a year ago knitty.com had this great set of back to school washcloths that had 6 cloths/days of study and 1 cloth/day of party. i thought this would be a great thing for the big guy since he is off to college in 8 days (yes, part of me is in denial and part of me is sobbing). but that was before tea and cakes posted the pac man washcloth. how cool is that?! so i have some decisions to make. but by the size of this loot, i could make them all...for everybody!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

i just got back!

from toronto! boy was it nice!

came home friday evening to find i had received my vvs package from secret swap buddy, andrea! what a treat. the first thing i spied was the box of maple leaf maple sugar candies which are my absolute favorite. and which i can only find during the holidays! then there is the sweet little canadian moose and toronto postcards. and then two absolutely beautiful hanks of canadian yarn!

one is a hank of fleece artist, basic merino sock yarn in this beautiful bluepurplebrown and everything in between colorway; really nice. this is the first sock yarn for me and i am very excited. plus it came from nova scotia!

the second is a lace weight, hand dyed hank of hand maiden sea silk yarn. this is a 70% silk and 30% seacell which is from sea weed (my sweet friend refused to touch it after that; lucky for me!). and it is this amazing colorway! i can't wait to use it! i am already hunting for shawl, shawlette patterns.

the pictures really don't do these two beautiful hanks of yarn justice.

thanks for a great trip to toronto, andrea! hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

i bit...

i am #30,332 with 18,844 ahead of me. i guess time will tell.

Monday, September 03, 2007

some quick pics

my cute husband was unable to get some pics of the sorcerer's stone cloth, though rumor has it our monk friend really liked it.

but the computer is cooperating enough for some pictures of oceane. i wore it to last night's gathering and discovered it to be very long. and not as wide as i had hoped. but since it is long, i can wrap it around creatively which sort of takes care of both of the above mentioned challenges. and it got ooohed and ahhhed over by female and male alike! what more could a knitter ask for!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

whoosh...and it's the weekend

it has been quite the heat wave in the bay area this past week. i am not fond of the heat. i get sort of cranky. this heat wave has sort of worn out it's welcome. i am thinking of lighting some candles and having fog calling ceremonies on the back patio.

but it is good for sitting by the fan or going to the air conditioned LYS to knit.

so after finishing the sari ribbon scarf, i started knitting my first dish cloth. i knitted insanknitty's sorcerer's stone cloth for my monk friend who is quite the harry potter aficionado. i knit it out of some solid blue sugar and cream i had in the stash box. unfortunately i did not take a picture of it before it needed to be delivered, but it came out pretty well. if my cute husband remembers to take pictures and if our continually crashing computer cooperates, i will post a pic.

but i now understand the fascination with knitting dish cloths, they are instant gratification. they are like the breath mints of knitting. need a fresher perspective on your WIP's? knit a dish cloth! they are so quick, it is almost like they are not taking time from the WIP's that are clamoring to be completed. the sister's over at the bag lady and the pro are having a dish cloth contest (scroll down) which i am willing to cast on for. plus joann's fabrics is having a sale on sugar and cream this weekend which gives ample opportunity for re-stashing!

the big reason i am willing to start a new dishcloth is because oceane is finished! wahoo! a sunday supper invite gave me the impetus to finish it since between the invite and the heat wave an evening gathering would be the perfect occasion to wear it.

i used rowan's linen print which the pattern called for, but i used size 17's needles instead of the 19's the pattern recommended. i also used 7 balls of linen print instead of the 5 the pattern specified. it wasn't quite long enough at 5 balls but would have been if i were also using it as a head and hip wrap like the pattern suggests. but since i will only be using it as a shoulder wrap, i added some length. the size 17's made it a little less "airy" which i wanted but also proved to be helpful since the last 16 rows of the pattern proved elusive to me and were unknit as much as they were knit. on the whole, the pattern is easy, fast and fun. and it looks great when it is done. i just got stuck on the last 16 rows!

and, i sent out my vvs package! i am real excited. it will get there a couple of days late; tying up the loose ends took more time than i anticipated, but hopefully my recipient will like it.

so it has been a busy week as well as being hot. hope it is cool where you are!
(since our computer is being challenged, there are no pics. will post some soonest.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


over the summer i have been reading a variety of blogs and i just have one question....

why ravelry?

open for comments. thanks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

it was just an afternoon

i squeaked into the LYS yesterday afternoon with hopes of sitting and knitting. a handful of the usuals were there, so after a quick turn around the store to make sure i wasn't missing any thing new, i settled in to knit. and knit i did. i had taken my sari ribbon scarf with hopes of getting closer to the finish. after staying late with socializing, i knew i was close to finishing but still had a way to go.

i finished my errands to the market and trader joe's; landed at home for making supper, coordinating teenage activities and make peach preserves. in that order. now i haven't made preserves in quite a while. i just happened to come across two bags of close to overripe peaches that someone didn't know what to do with and all i could think of was preserves.

in the hierarchy of preserves, peach is up there because they need to be blanched for their skins to peel off with minimal loss of fruit. so there i was up to my ankles in boiling pots and peach juice. after a few hours of chopping, stirring and steaming, these were produced...

...and they taste great. there is nothing like fresh, warm preserves on toast. my cute husband immediately got a spoon and started to eat the bit that could not fill a jar (there is a sentimental story about that which i won't bore you with now).

after cleaning the sticky utensils, pots and counters, i felt like sitting and knitting. so i picked up the sari scarf just to see how far i would get. and lo and behold, this happened...

i really like it. the ribbon needs to relax, so before going to bed i hung it over a hanger just to let it drape.

one of the challenges of working with ribbon yarn is that it twists and turns on itself so rarely lays flat. this was difficult for me with this yarn because the sparkles would get lost and it just looked better if knitted with the ribbon as flat as possible. another challenge was weaving in the ends because the tapestry needle kept poking through the ribbon. i had to make sure the needle followed the stitch not poke through the ribbon itself.

but i love the yarn. if i were to use it again, i think i would make an oversize kerchief type wrap. i think it may get more use. but that is a future project.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

one would assume there would be movement...

...but no, not really.

i am still in the slumps with the knitting. i picked up a few unfinished projects over the last few days and have ended up frogging what i knitted. never a good sign. i did manage to knit a few rows on the sari ribbon scarf but not quite enough to finish it. sigh.

i have been sewing up more project bags though; gifts for friends.

so hopefully i will have pictures of FO's soon. but in the meantime, breakfast and tea may help.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

salved by the chocolate

my sweet friend came home from so cal today. since it was on the way, decided to take a tour of the scharffen berger chocolate factory in berkeley, something i have been meaning to do for awhile.

the factory itself is rather small and would be easily missed when driving down the street. but their chocolate is very big. their dark chocolate is very dark. even their milk chocolate is ok, though i find it pales in comparison to the dark chocolate, excuse the pun.

i took the 11:30 tour which means i had time for a good breakfast. a wise thing considering once the tour starts, chocolate tasting abounds. and once the tour was through i stopped by their cafe for a bowl of hot cocoa and, just for the heck of it, a chocolate scone. it made the knitting so much easier!

Friday, August 10, 2007

it must be mid summer

so i am in the midst of a knitting slump.

my sweet friend and i went away for an extended weekend last weekend and i haven't got my rhythm back yet. it did not help that work was absolutely slammed from the moment i walked in monday morning to the moment i left friday night.

also my sweet friend isn't home. she is visiting auntie pam down in so cal. and going to the beach every day. ahhhhh, to be a teenager on southern california beaches. that is the life. but i've been there and done that; wouldn't want to go back, but wouldn't say no to a beach house either. can you imagine, knitting on the porch of an ocean view beach house with morning coffee? i can smell the sea. or maybe it's the dog. oh well.

i am still in the midst of reading gobs of vvs blogs. you knitters out there are amazing! i am feeling like slow poke knitter! coupled with the fact that i have picked up my knitting once this week. oceane is so close to being done i can feel the bind off, as is the sari ribbon scarf. but do i dedicate time to finish them up. no. yesh. oh well. someday soon.

in the meantime head over to cass's shut up i'm counting blog. she is celebrating her 222 post by giving US presents! amazing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

sunday musings

so here are the books i have gathered over the last week or so. with only one of them read cover to cover!

i am spending way to much time reading various v v s blogs and not knitting. i have therefore missed my personal deadlines for finishing the drop knit scarf and oceane. we are going away for a few days and i wanted them both done by then. since they aren't, decided i may as well pack them because, heaven knows, there is so much to knit and so little time.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

ok, ok, ok

so, i reassessed the small blue bag last seen on my sweet friend's head.

i modified the corded closing so there are pull cords from either side of the bag, which makes opening and closing of the bag a bit easier. modifications were done in time for a ferry trip to the city for a meeting; i decided to do a test run with it. i filled the bag with my cute husband's socks, which are being knit on two circulars, a small pair of scissors along with some stitch markers. not only did it all fit, but the bag worked out really well!

the only thing was the bag got lost in my big tote. so i decided it needed a snap tab that would connect it to the tote handle. that way i could snap the tab around the handle of the my tote bag and always have my knitting available and easy to get to. which prompted me to put snap tabs on all of the bags i had made, so now they look like this:

as you can see, there is a big blue bag that matches my small blue bag. i found i had inadvertently cut out more material than i needed for the small blue bag. not wanting it to go to waste, i made a dark pink bag, only bigger and with cording modifications. instead of running the cord from the inside, i put contrast casing on the outside and thread the cord through it. the big blue bag is the perfect size to carry long single point needles without them peeking out the top, which is what i was wanting.

but the most exciting project made this week was these:
needle cases. the straight point case is just that. it was supposed to have two pockets on the inside, one on the bottom for knitting needles and one on the top for crochet hooks. it also was to have fusible batting. i left off both the fusible batting and the top pocket. if i make this again, i would shorten it by about 1.5-2inches.

the case i truly love is the circular needle case. it holds my circulars snugly, including my new size 7 natura's, and though i had a difficult time envisioning the way it was put together, it was rather easy to make. the material selection for the pattern was a little odd. it calls for 2 contrasting colors and a remnant. the remnant is for the front and back (dark blue); contrasting colors are for the inside. i found what i really needed was 3 contrasting colors. 1 for the outside, 1 for the inside and 1 for the pockets. luckily i sort of figured it out, but didn't really think through the pockets so had to use some muslin i had lying around. if i were to make the case again, i would choose material and colors differently. cases and bags are a butterick. if you would like the pattern numbers, let me know.

in knitting news, i once again goofed up the eggplant stole. i spent a couple of sessions trying to get it back into knitting shape instead of unknitting it. and i think i may be there. wish me luck!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

ahhh, a sale

when i arrived at the yarn sale, not only had i missed meeting davimack, but it looked like a cyclone of knitters had whooshed through, looking through every box, bag and ball for something they may have the slightest interest in and once satisfied that all possibilities were explored, whooshed out again. needless to say, the staff was a bit worn out.

the up side being, i had the place, and staff, to myself. so i walked a few rounds, finding various this's and that's, stashing them in a bag to be decided upon later. the initial round was mandalay raw silk in a cafe au lait color that gave way to a cream color to make a shell; louisa harding kashmir dk in a pastel blue; stone blue debbie bliss cotton cashmere for a top of some sort with musings of what to do with gobs of bright magenta or bright blue bamboo because the bright yellow bamboo was not a color option but knitting with bamboo was an enticing thought.

the second round found some jo sharp aran cotton in a blue similar to the db. not enough of this to do anything substantial with so found some in white with thoughts of making something striped. started to seriously consider if i would make anything to wear out of the lk pastel blue kashmir dk; considered making a baby blanket out of it along with the pink and yellow pastels that were available. quickly followed by the thought of why would i knit anything cashmere for baby spit up? noticed the boxes of pick up sticks felted flower brooch kits.

on the third round, considered a bag of ggh cotton ribbon for a shawl; found louisa harding sari ribbon in the gorgeous orange colorway; gave up the jo sharp because i am not really a stripe gal; said goodbye to the lh kashmir dk; ruled out the bamboo and found a bag of muench sir galli yarm, 100% silk in a brown white tweed and dark cream color. solicited the opinion of the 2 staff and 2 buyers about which color would be best for me; got 2 set of answers so walked another round.

by the end of this round i was done. decided no on the lh sari ribbon; looked longingly at the jo sharp aran cotton one last time; and decided the dark cream color raw silk was totally boring on my skin so went for the brown and white tweed; still had the db cotton cashmere, grabbed a box of pick up sticks flower brooch kits (whose packaging tickled the fancy of my sweet friend).

as i was waiting to check out i overheard staff talk about how much knitters had spent on yarn. i had a slight twinge of missed knitting opportunities. but i am pretty content with my choices. i got some lovely yarns. hopefully there will be another yarn sale before davimack leaves the country.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

two hits and a miss

sorry, couldn't resist. the allstar baseball game was played in san francisco last night and the whole city seems to be gripped by the frenzy of it all.

but it is true. two out of three project bags turned out well. the third one just fizzled.

the two that worked out are just square lined bags; the light pink bag has 12, count them, 12 buttonholes that gather the bag in an interesting way. the darker pink bag was supposed to be all frilly and beaded. i chose to leave the frills and beads off. which threw the casing off because one of the frills was supposed to be along the top of the bag, which helped create the casing. since there was no frills, i had to do something different with the casing. but it all worked itself out and i like both bags. next time i will try making the dark pink one a little taller so straight needles will fit without poking out the top.

the miss was the circle bag. it also had extra curricular frills etc. which i left off. which then prompted some modifications which didn't work out. so i thought i would modify the modifications just to discover the bag wasn't big enough to hold a knitting project. which ended my interest in the bag. my sweet friend modeled it as a hat with no better success.

sew until next time.