Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lace Collar Pullover - Finished

Finally finished this pullover.  I've only had it in the "works in progress" list for 4 months.  I knit this same pullover almost exactly a a year ago in Raspberry and at the time I thought how elegant it would look in onyx.  And I was right, it's very Audrey Hepburn (my ideal when it comes to elegance and beauty).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Maybe next time I should try Betty Crocker...

Lately I've been trying to expand our culinary experience at home.  Every one gets into ruts, and it's easy to just cook the same repertoire of dishes over and over again, but after a while that just gets boring, and the taste buds need a change.  Now, I'm not a bad cook, there are just a lot of other things that I would rather be doing than cooking (usually something to do with fiber or beads) and unless you have a really well-stocked larder you need to think ahead about what you're going to cook, and I just haven't gotten into that habit (but I'm trying - on both counts).  So last week I decided to try something new.

We had a package of boneless pork tenderloins in the freezer that needed cooking so (thinking ahead) I pulled them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw.  On Wednesday I decided that I would cook them, but of course I didn't figure out what the night before (not thinking ahead).  On Wednesday I did a quick internet search on one of the many recipe sites and found a recipe that looked pretty easy, and we had all the ingredients (there weren't that many) so we wouldn't have to stop at the store.

Dinner time rolled around and Bruce and I started the prep.  The recipe called for potatoes, an onion and a can of tomato soup.  It was supposed to be cooked in a casserole dish in the oven.  Unfortunately, I don't have a casserole dish (yet, now on the list) so I used a Dutch Oven.  The tenderloins (or chops, or chicken breasts) were to be placed in the casserole dish, with the potatoes cut into quarters and placed around them and a slice of onion and some tomato soup (condensed) on each one.  Yeah, well, that didn't really happen, and things probably would have turned out better if it had gone as the recipe called for.  Instead, everything just went into the Dutch Oven somewhat haphazardly, and the whole thing (covered) went into the oven.  Needless to say things didn't really work out quite right.

It took a lot longer for the pork to cook than we thought, and it ended up a bit dry (despite the fact that I used 2 cans of tomato soup - one just didn't seem enough), and the potatoes weren't even close to done.  We did eat that night, but we had to nuke some potatoes to make them edible.  Not a roaring success.  And now I was confronted with the problem of what to do with the leftovers, and there were a lot of leftovers.  I put the whole mess, still in the Dutch Oven, in the fridge while I pondered how to salvage the situation.

Last night I tackled the job.  First I pulled all of the potatoes out of the pot and put them in a colander and washed the tomato and onion off them, then I did the same thing with the tenderloins and got rid of all the offensive matter in a sealed up plastic bag.  The potatoes I put into another plastic bag along with some olive oil and some Italian Dressing.  I mixed them up, poured them out into a pan, poured some more olive oil in for good measure and put them in the oven to cook.  The pork presented a slightly harder problem  - how to reheat it and make it moister.  I ended up lining a small cookie sheet with tinfoil, then put the pork and a generous helping of white wine in and folded the tinfoil over the top to seal it all up.  The pork went in after the potatoes had been cooking for about 20 minutes, and then 20 minutes after that everything was ready.  And everything was quite tasty.

We still have leftovers, but at least they are yummy, and I have salvaged my cooking self-esteem by salvaging the food.  I have reasonably good instincts, and I like the idea of becoming a really good cook but there are just so many other things I would rather be doing.  But I'm trying (sort of a New Year's Resolution), because I do like to eat good food.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mystery Shawl 16 Knit Along

Another lace project?  What am I thinking?  And a mystery shawl knit along.  I've never done a mystery shawl, or a knit along, but this one is done by Goddess Knits and I am just head over heels about her lace shawls (although the pictures on Ravelry are generally better than the ones on her web site).  What is a mystery shawl knit along?  Well, you join up by buying the "pattern" and in Goddess Knits case, joining the yahoo group.  Then you buy the yarn.  I bought the suggested yarn, trusting in the designer to pick something appropriate, plus it is a great way to try new things.  Then you wait.  The clues (in the form of lace charts with some directions) come out once a week, and at the end of it all you have a shawl, and you get the complete pattern.  The yarn is Winter Mountain Fibers Fingering, 100% wool.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Belle Nuit - Started Chart B

I've finished one repeat of Chart B.  I re-charted both Chart A and Chart B, mirroring the side pattern to make the shawl symmetric and getting rid of the purl stitches.  They really weren't doing anything for me from a design aspect, plus they were interrupting the flow of the knitting, so I decided to get rid of them.

I've been using a new piece of software for charting, Knit Visualizer.  I discovered it via ravelry.  It really made the charting easy, especially mirroring the side pattern.  I just copied the section and then mirrored it after pasting it.  I was able to print all three pieces of Chart A on a single sheet, but for Chart B I had to resort to three sheets, which provided a bit of a challenge when it came to actually knitting.  I use a magnetic board with magnet strips to keep my place in the pattern, but I needed 3 surfaces and only had two magnetic boards.  I solved the problem by putting the two side charts on opposite sides of one board.  I also put the charts plus boards into page protectors.  It has been working quite well. 

I'm using a needle to put the beads on the knitting rather than a crochet hook.  This is another technique that I picked up on ravelry.  It is really easy.  You just thread some beads on a needle and thread with a bead stopper (the spring in the picture) on the end.  When you need to add a bead, you just poke the needle through the loop of the stitch, pull it off the needle, slide the bead into place, replace the stitch and pull out the needle and there you are, easy as pie.  I was using a tiny crochet hook, but sometimes I split my yarn, and it was a bit fiddly.  This method is very reliable, and your beads stay safely corralled on your thread - no getting away and rolling onto the floor or into the cushions of the couch.  Just keep it away from curious kitties.

Here is a view of the back side of my setup for the center Chart B so you can see the magnetic board and one of the magnet strips.  I didn't think it would be cool to post pictures with the charts showing because you could get the pattern that way without paying the designer.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Silly Bead Crochet Bracelet

So, after I crocheted about seven inches (half of the planned necklace) I decided that the Larry Scott bead needed something more than this.  Basically, the colors were too close to the colors of the Larry Scott bead and it just wasn't standing out the way I thought it should.  But I had to do something with this after spending the time making it, so I looked through my bead stash and came up with this.  The center bead is a "mood bead." I got mine from Tika Imports at the Bead & Button show last year, it changes color when you wear it (body heat activated).  The two green beads are lampwork beads that I made in a class that I took a few years ago.  It is a silly little thing, but happy and smile-producing, and we need that on a cold and rainy night like tonight.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Silver and Teal

The picture really doesn't do it justice.  I'm running a strand of Soft-flex through the rope to make it easier to turn it into a necklace.  It does make the crochet a tad more difficult, but I hope that the end result will be worth the effort.

Belle Nuit - Finished Chart A

I finished Chart A of the shawl.  I actually started it over again.  It had a simple cable stitch bordering each section and I just couldn't stand the interruption in the flow of the knitting, and cabling with lace weight is just too fiddly, so I substituted two fake cable stitches - a right twist and left twist.  It made things go much quicker and gives a similar appearance as the original cable.  Before I can do much more, however, I need to get a smaller crochet hook.  I have a 1 mm, and I can get it through some of the beads, but a smaller one would make things much easier.  The pattern calls for a 0.6 mm one.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beads, beads, beads

I've been buying a lot of beads this past month.  I ordered some for bead knitting, and some for my Larry Scott Byzantine beads.  Last year at Bead & Button I bought a lot of Larry Scott beads in some really great colors.  Larry has been bugging me to do something with his beads that involved seed beads rather than stringing them with semi-precious stones.  I started a bead crochet rope for one of his beads over Christmas and actually finished seven inches of it, but decided that it just wasn't going to work, so this past week I sat down with my Larry Scott beads and my bead cards and picked out a bunch of colors.  One of the sets that I picked out is for this lovely teal bead.  The plan is to do another spiral bead crochet rope, like the Dragon Scale.

Lace Collar Pullover

I finally finished (mostly) the body for this pullover.  The pattern is from the Holiday 2007 Knit Simple Magazine, and the designer is Liz Nields.  The yarn is Knit One Crochet Too Merino Gold.  I knit this pullover in Raspberry two years ago (almost exactly) and after I was done I thought how elegant it would look in onyx,  so I bought the yarn and stashed it.  Now I just have to knit the sleeves, unfortunately I only have one pair of size 6 circular needles in the 12" length and they are otherwise occupied in a pretty yellow cabled sleeve.

Belle Nuit - Year of Lace 2009 #4

 The fourth kit in the 2009 Year of Lace arrived this past Wednesday.  The yarn is Curious Creek Fiber Meru, a lovely 50% Tussah Silk, 50% Merino in my favorite color.  The designer is Sivia Harding.  The kit comes with blue color lined beads, but I think that I'm going to use the lavender instead.

A New Project Bag

This beautiful small project bag arrived in the mail this past Thursday along with my latest order of beads from Beadcats.  Carol Perrenoud, one half of the Beadcats, started making them after working at the big sock gathering on the West Coast.  She made this one especially for me.  It may actually inspire me to start knitting socks with all of that beautiful sock yarn that I have been stashing.  It has already proven useful, however.

I was winding 1100 yards of fingering weight  wool for a Mystery Shawl Knit A-Long when I ran out of room on my ball winder.  I didn't want to cut the yarn so I put the ball into the bag, hung the bag in the center of the swift, flipped the skein around so that the outside was now the inside, and started winding another ball from the other end.

It worked out quite well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fiber Lust

I am in serious fiber lust.  I started a simple project to keep in my Namaste bag today.  The pattern, called Pullover with Overlap Sleeves, is by Vadis Designs and it uses Tilli Thomas Plie and Beaded Plie.  These yarns are 100% plied silk in matching colorways.  For this project I am using Jade, although all the colors are so gorgeous it was hard to choose.  The yarn is an absolute dream to knit with, seldom have I felt a fiber so wonderful.  The color is slightly variegated, which I think is going to look just beautiful in this simple pullover.  The only drawback so far (besides the price) is the fact that the color seems to bleed slightly on to my hands while I am knitting, and I don't have especially damp hands.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tools of the Trade - L.L. Bean Custom Totes

One thing that you have to understand about me is that I always have more than one knitting project going at a time. I always like to have a simple project that I can do while reading or watching TV and that one generally lives in my Namaste bag and goes to work with me. Knitting helps me concentrate when reading long documents and it also helps me think when I have to write documents. At home I usually have several projects of varying complexity. For my home projects I like to use the L.L. Bean Custom totes as project bags. I get them in small, with the long handles and the pocket. They are roomy enough for a project and instructions, and the pocket holds knitting needles. They come in a wonderful variety of colors and I love the fact that you get to design your own color combinations. I have 4 of these wonderful bags in the house. I also have one in the medium size that is convenient for projects that are basically done, but awaiting finishing work.

This particular bag is holding yarn for a sweater that is on deck - it has not been started yet, but is on the short list. Did I mention that you can get the bags in purple?

My only association with L.L. Bean is as a satisfied customer.

Tools of the Trade - Namaste Hermosa Knitting Bag

I have been searching for a bag to haul all of my stuff for quite a while now. I wanted a bag that could hold everything that I routinely like to carry: a knitting project, my wallet, my iPod Touch, cell phone, Dell mini, Kindle, a water bottle, plus your typical accessories of life. In my search for the perfect bag I have accumulated a bit of a collection, but when I saw the Namaste Hermosa knitting bag I thought that I had found the perfect bag for me. First of all, it comes in purple. My favorite color. Purple makes anything better. Want to get me to knit a pattern? Make the model in purple. Anyway, back to the bag. On one side it has this cool two pocket pouch thing. I keep my pens and chewing gum in the larger pouch, and my Leatherman Tool (it has scissors) in the other.

On the other side there is a large pocket, presumably for your pattern, but I slip my Kindle in it instead. I don't like leaving home without knitting and my Kindle, that way I always have something to do. There are also pockets on the ends. On one end is a pocket with a locking flap that I stashed a pencil holder in, but I rarely access it. On the other end is a pocket for a water bottle - an absolute requirement for me.

The inside is mostly just one large open space, but it does have some small pockets on the sides. On the side opposite the Kindle is a largish pocket that I keep a set of crochet hooks (for picking up dropped stitches or fixing mistakes) and my business cards in. On the other side are two pockets that hold my cell phone and iPod Touch. My wallet stands on its end on one side, and a little leather bag that I keep a few incidentals (drugs, Carmex, band-aids) in on the other. A knitting project in a separate bag (often I use large zip locks, in this case the yarn came in a large plastic bag) occupies the bulk of the interior. I tuck my Dell mini and my knitting pattern in on the Kindle side of the bag.

The bag is made out of some kind of fake leather that feels better than the real thing and seems to hold up to wear very well. The straps are long enough to put over my shoulder, but not so long that I can't just carry it in my hand.

My only association with Namaste is as a satisfied customer.

Campanula - Finished

According to my projects page on Ravelry, I started this back in April of 2009. It took me three tries to get the body right. The first time I had somehow failed to cast on enough stitches, the second time I had failed to notice the different lace patterns for the two front sides. When I finally got it right I was distracted by Year of Lace. I finally got back to this project last month. Having completed two lace shawls in the meantime I was much better at lace when I picked this back up, and it was a pretty easy knit. It fits perfectly. Now I'm just trying to decide if I want to line the body with some silk so I don't have to wear anything under it.