Monday, February 27, 2012

Following Instructions

Jim was laughing the other evening at or with me, you decide. 
“ha ha ha hahahaha....You hadn’t made that recipe before so followed it exactly………only you made a little change….“
And then he laughed even more and I joined in and we both laughed uncontrollably for a few minutes.

It was true.  I had said that.  We were having a nice venison vegetable soup for dinner that Jim had been slow cooking all day. 

‘Wouldn’t some nice biscuits or scones taste good with that?’ I thought.

And I remembered how delicious the jack cheese scones are at Panera’s paired with their Sonoma Chicken Stew and wanted to make something like that for us.  A bag of unbleached organic pastry flour in the closet had a simple one on the back.  It was a dried fruit scone so I thought I could follow it and just change out the cranberries for some grated asiago cheese.  Num.  Love asiago cheese.  I could taste it before I even started.

Jim is the baker in the family so I really don’t get why one ingredient is added in one recipe and not in another.  This particular recipe also called for sugar so I used some low glycemic coconut palm sugar. It listed egg whites and I had that too.  It also wanted soy milk which I don’t love so substituted lactose free 2%.  The ingredients went together well. Rolled out on the counter nicely and baked beautifully as I remembered to reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes to account for the palm sugar.  Nice easy recipe.

When I ate one fresh from the oven they were OK but a little odd.  Not the taste I had imagined.
"Oh no, maybe this wasn't such a great recipe."  
Then paired with the soup they actually tasted funny.  Another kitchen disaster in the making I thought.  Another reason why I don't do much baking.  I was getting myself ready to feed them to Basel when Jim started laughing.

Once he stopped he explained that starting with a sweet scone recipe will end with one too unless the sugar is either way reduced or eliminated.  Sure enough I checked in James Beard and next time will leave the sugar out or just make a sweet scone. Sheesh!  They turned out to be very good though for dessert and with a little butter are quite tasty.  Saved!

Which brings me to the latest project I am working on.  My mother was so thrilled with my Heart to heart pattern in Knitter’s Magazine K105 that she carried it around in the bag on her walker.  She is at Tamarisk Assisted Living Center in Rhode Island;  fantastic place with amazing caring people.  I think she must have showed that magazine to everyone she encountered for several days.

A couple of weeks ago she asked me to make her a sweater from the magazine.  She likes Amber Waves on pages 64-67.  We discussed what she liked about the pattern and what she wanted.  She absolutely did not want long sleeves.  OK that makes it easier. Then I told her I would try to find that Malabrigo yarn as she wanted that color. 

“Oh no, I want you to dye the yarn.  I want your yarn.”

Flattering but mimicking a commercially dyed color is difficult.  I asked her if sunflower would be OK and she said yes as I couldn't see myself knitting this in orange.   So off to the dyepots I went.  The first pass through was too yellow, but after a dipping in some saffron we now have sunflower. 

Then I read the pattern carefully and made a swatch.  The swatch told me that I needed to use smaller needles to get gauge but also that my mother would not be happy with the way that sweater fit.  It is mostly twisted ribbing with some eyelet rick rack.  The 3-st eyelet is fun and lacy but the ribbing is what shapes the sweater and she will not wear a fitted sweater.  Hmmmmnnnnnn .  So I decided to substitute stockinette with some vertical twisted stitches for interest.  Alas after about 40 rows I realized my verticals were not lined up properly plus I had automatically treated the back seam edges as though they were front edges.  Sigh.

As I frogged I mentioned to Jim that I was enjoying this pattern as it was a nice break from designing to simply follow someone else’s instructions.  He burst out laughing reminding me about the scones and how I simply follow instructions.   

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Too Fun!

At guild on Saturday, Vickie showed her new hat, Anemone by Cat Bordhi.  Cat Bordhi's patterns are almost always fun as my collection of her books and finished objects indicates.  Her sense of adventure in designing knitwear has great appeal to me.
Looks more like dredlocks to me than anemone tendrils, but either way I love it.  

Vickie chose to use the mobius brim.  A lot of mobius baskets and other Cat Bordhi edgings have been done in my time but for this one I decided to do the plebian regular edging, Option 2.

Also it seemed that this pattern would be perfect for using up leftovers so went into my stash to pull out all the worsted weight yarns, and then the superwash ones.  Found some (well lots) of leftover primary colored worsted I purchased last summer in the Adirondacks for a baby blanket made to give to a shower for soldiers' pregnant spouses.  You can tell there is a lot of acrylic in this yarn, but it was the best fit I had on hand (and I have a lot of it left, sigh, as enough was bought so I couldn't run out here at home.)

Such a load of fun placing the tendrils just about anywhere, twisting them up to spring joyfully all over the hat.  A delightful interlude item between designs.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oh those buns

So where were we?   oh yes, doing intarsia instead of Fair Isle.  The second block I committed to was of the Humping Bunnies in Winterfair Gifts.
"Although Roic was fairly sure that the two realistically-detailed ice rabbits humping under a discreet bush were not part of the decorations m'lord had ordered...they did not pass unnoticed, as the first person to observe them immediately pointed them out to everyone within earshot. Ivan Vorpatril averted his gaze from the cheerfully obscene artwork - the rabbits were grinning - a look of innocence on his face.  The Count's menacing glower at him was alas undercut by an escaping snicker, which became a guffaw when the Countess whispered something in his ear."

I found some busy buns on a hat online but there were no charts to go with it so I made my own.  I worked it up in Knit Visualizer but those boxes are square and knitting is not. Knitting is usually about 4 by 5. The chart looked skinny so it was moved into Photoshop where the dimensions were made accurate. Such fun!

Next was to knit the design.  From the last one, see previous post, which is a bit under the needed 10 by 10 inches I decided to add 5 stitches in width and 8 in height.  Also this one has more bobbins to work with -
3 and the ball as compared to 2 and the ball on my first block.  Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone, so added some holographic thread to the white and grey bobbins to mimic icy sparkle.

It was a fast knit but definitely took most of my attention so no listening to a book on my ipod.

Here's the back.
Notice the fairly neat edges where the yarns change and the fair isle section in the middle where the grey bunny's front paw is overlapping the white buns' back.

Fun!  Just may need to do a whole project in this technique, minus the fussy glittery thread.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

From Fair Isle to Intarsia

There's a great science fiction series - the Miles Vorkosigan Saga that Jim got me hooked onto a few years ago.  Each planet has a different culture that started from different areas of Earth or different viewpoints on life.  The uniting factor is Miles, a forward thinking, very active brilliant character who likes strong women and men friends leading to some very fun and interesting stories.  The series begins with Cordelia's Honor.  Cordelia becomes Miles' mother.

If you have any idea of what Ravelry can encompass, and it is beyond extensive, then you will not be surprised that there is a forum called the Dendarii Free Knitters, after the Dendarii Free Mercenaries in the Miles series.  Knitters have many interests so it has been fun to 'talk' Miles with others from all over the place.  The author, Lois Bujold, who also writes Science Fantasy (that's for another day),  has a new book in the series coming out in the fall.  It will be about Mile's cousin Ivan. Ivan plays a role in several books but always second or third string.  This new book will be all about him.

We got so excited we decided to make Ms Bujold an afghan of blocks representing different aspects of the series.  Actually started discussing the possibilities last fall with the due date for the blocks being May, giving the finisher several months to put it all together.  One person will be designated to present the afghan to her at a signing.

After much discussion on color and availability we decided to use Cascade 220 Superwash in 
Silver #1946, Medium brown #862, Blue #813, Red #809, Dark Brown #819, Off-White #817
The possibilities for blocks are wide open.  So far we have my Dendarii Free Mercenaries Logo, Humping Bunnies (more about this one tomorrow) another Logo, Ekaterin's Garden, Imp Sec Horus Eyes, Auditor's Seal, DNA, Zap the cat, wormhole nexus and more to be decided later.  Such fun.
I couldn't get to my squares, even though I bought the yarn last December from Spun Right Round (oh and Webs is backordered so this LYS may be your solution), what with getting this and that finished for different deadlines until this month.  It was something to look forward to until I realized it is flat knitting and more than one color.  oy  big OY!  Doing the square in Fair Isle technique would look awful on the wrong side,  as Fair Isle has all the colors go all the way across stranding the unused yarn in back (wrong side) (or front as the case may be) along the way.  Since this is an afghan, there is no way to hide that.
So I put on my big girl pants and read up on Intarsia as compared to Fair Isle/stranded knitting.  I have done lots of Fair Isle, but always in the round as I avoid flat knitting whenever possible.
Intarsia uses more than one color but leaves yarn 'stranded' in the knitting and is done flat, often with bobbins of yarn to aid in not confusing all those balls.  On the wrong side or return, the yarn is picked up and purled where it is needed, then when the next color is needed it is wrapped with that color, dropped and one purls on with the new color.  This actually works on both sides in a similar manner except that the wraps are always on the Wrong Side.


Years ago, Anne F saw me struggling with wrapping yarn in Fair Isle and taught me to knit 2 handed, speeding up the process enormously.  I am told that it was probably easier for me as I knit English so learned a bit of Continental to strand the unused yarn with my left hand.  Normally I can't keep any kind of even gauge with Continental knitting so stick with English unless I am doing colorwork.

So there I was with 2 bobbins and one ball stranding just fine on the right side, but on the left I was doing that tedious wrapping when yarns had to be fair isled for a few stitches to get them to a second or third place.  "How difficult could it be to do 2 handed purling?", I said to myself.
Not as difficult as I thought, it turns out.
And now we have the Dendarii Free Mercenaries Logo Square ready to go.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


OMG.  It's on sale now!  
I couldn't be any happier with the placement, feature and treatment of my pattern.

Pages 56 - 59!!!!
Heart to heart beaded tie on kerchief.
Get yours online, at your local LYS, B&N or even Wegman's.