Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FO: One year late hat

My friend Adam asked me to make him a hat for Christmas last year. Almost a year later, I decided to get one finished for his birthday present. This Friday, I will proudly present him with this gift:

Modeled (rather reluctantly) by Dean

Details:
Jacques Cousteau Hat, by Typy
Yarn: Knitpicks, Wool of the Andes, Forest Heather, 1.5 skeins
Needle: Size 7, Knitpicks circular
Time: 2 weeks
Thoughts: I felt like I knot on this forever, even though it went rather quickly. Ribbing is just repetitive, so that's probably where the feeling came from. I like the way it turned out, although if I make this again, I will cast on even less stitches with worsted weight yarn. As it is, I cast on 100, but next time, probably 80 stitches will do. I also am not a big fan of a fold-over brim, so I will probably reduce the overall height of the height next time as well.

I hope he likes it, and I'll find out soon enough!

An amazingly good blast from the past

I just got a random facebook message from an old friend; a friend from what feels like a different life. I haven't spoken with him in at least four years, and I always regretted the way things ended with him and his wife, both of whom I thoroughly respect and miss. I've thought often of them, and have wanted to make contact,but due to the circumstances, I thought it best to leave it alone. I was shocked to see his name today, and am so thrilled that I get another chance to be part of their lives, and vice versa.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Progress, and two sewing FOs!

I did quite a bit of crafting this weekend. I had no schedule obligations, and was able to work leisurely on whatever I wanted. I finished this zip-pouch, found in Bend-the Rules Sewing:

I used some fabric I bought at Joann's for this, and it was my first zipper project. I'm pretty proud of it, and it came together pretty quickly. I have fabric already cut and placed for a second pouch, and maybe I'll finish that up this week. I would like to make some of these for Christmas gifts, if time permits.

Here's my new pride and joy:

Also from Bend-the-Rules, my second tote bag. It's the same pattern as my first tote a few months ago. I made this one a bit larger, and I sewed it up a bit differently than the last. I'm so proud of how it turned out, and I'm actually using it today (to haul around my knitting). I used three different fabrics for this. The big flower print is a Come Quilt with Me fabric I purchased on etsy, and the turquoise trim piece is by Valori Wells, also an etsy purchase. Since I only had an FQ of the Come Quilt with Me print, I used this chunk to match the height of the other side, and I really like the accent. The inside and second strap are from a Joann's fabric. Each inside has a pocket, one in the Valori Wells print, and the other in a My Folklore scrap from my first tote bag:

I've also been knitting feverishly. I'm frogging the Picovoli top, as there were really more mistakes made than I could live with. I think this stems from the fact that the yarn is sort of slippery on metal needles, and it stretches, so when I remake this, I'm going to use smaller needles, and possibly, a smaller size. I started the Back-to-School vest, and am now finished with the ribbing. I'm loving it so far, and have lots of motivation to quickly finish it.

I also made some progress on my sock, which I'm now working on magic loop (much faster!).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Resolutions, revisited

Back in December of last year, I posted some knitting resolutions, and here's my progress as of this month.

1) knit a sweater for myself
I'm almost done with Something Red. I just have to undo the bind off and redo it more loosely. This has been on the back burner for way too long. I HAVE to finish soon.

2) take (at least) one knitting workshop/class
I haven't taken any knitting classes this year, but I did take a spinning class this summer, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I plan to take more classes soon, but I'm counting this as complete

3) learn how to knit socks
Although I haven't completed a full pair of adult socks, I did learn the construction of a sock, and complete a worsted baby sock

4) make baby/toddler gifts for the people who had kids last year (Tricia, Linsey)
Nope. Not a single baby present complete. By the time I get around to it, I will probably have to knit them toddler gifts instead!

5) allow enough time before Christmas so that I don't give up on knitted gifts
I wrote this list before making the decision to reduce my commitments for gifts, but I have already started on my Christmas knitting. I have one complete, and a second will be done shortly. There are a handful of others I have in mind, but since it's not yet October, I'm counting this as a success.

6) learn entrelac
There's still time in the year, and I think I can complete this one.

7) become better equipped to fix mistakes in my knitting, rather than "ribbiting" my way to insanityThis is an ongoing battle. I am definitely better than I used to be, and I've had success picking up missed stitches with a crochet hook, and I'm better at recognizing mistakes, but this still needs improvement.

I've been knitting for a year and a half, and I can definitely see a difference in my skills.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane and whatnot

This is my first hour of internet after Ike. Our power finally came on last night. I feel very fortunate right now. Virtually all of Houston is still without power, and thousands of people in Galveston and the surrounding area lost their homes.

Houston is really eerie right now. Gas is hard to come by, grocery stores that are open don't have much on the shelves. It's a madhouse.

My little townhome is not damaged, and the bright side of the storm is that I spent lots of time with my neighbors, whom I really enjoy. We grilled for the nights without power. Another bright side is the cool front we are experiencing-it's the only relief this city is getting right now. I took some pictures just before the storm hit, which I'll share soon.

I barely knit a stitch during the storm, even though I haven't been back to work since Thursday (no power there, either!). I just haven't been able to focus on knitting, but I'm sure I'll get back into it soon. I'm just trying to get back into my normal routine first.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frozen Lemonade Pie

Are you craving an end of summer dessert? Do you love anything with graham cracker crust? Do you have some fresh or frozen berries that need a purpose? Then take ten minutes out of your life, and make this easy recipe:

Covered in homemade whipped cream-we couldn't wait for it to get thick

Frozen Lemonade Pie
provided by my mom (I'm not sure where she got it)

Graham crackers (one package)
3 T butter
One can frozen lemonade
One quart frozen vanilla yogurt
Frozen or fresh fruit (optional)
9 X 13 dish

Process or crush graham crackers, and mix with melted butter to form crust, and stick it in the fridge to set.
Mix frozen yogurt, lemonade, and berries (you may want to process or puree the berries, so they don't clump together and freeze). Pour it on the crust. Freeze, covered, for at least 3-4 hours. Eat, and if preferred, top with whipped cream.

You could easily modify this recipe. I added blackberries. After I made it, I thought about using some lemon juice instead of lemonade to reduce the sugar. I thought about using a different kind of juice. I thought about using flavored frozen yogurt, like raspberry maybe? The possibilities are endless.

Make this. You won't regret it. It's delicious and easy.
Thanks to mom for the lovely dessert.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Swatching. No, really.

I'm not a good little knitter. I don't regularly swatch for new projects. I'll sometimes check gauge on a big project, a few rows into knitting to make sure I'm about where I need to be. I've also only made one full garment (if a shrug even counts), so I'm certainly not an expert by any means. Taking this information, and my sadness over a couple of recent projects (neither of which I've actually finish, for fear of failure), I decided to start a new and swatch like crazy for an upcoming project, Cherry. I picked out four yarns, based on a ravelry review of other people's finished objects, and what I had in my stash. I'm now making a swatch with each of the yarns to determine which I would like to use. I must admit, I was inspired to swatch by Stitchywitch. I read her blog regularly, and thoroughly enjoy it. She recently displayed some of her new swatches, and it really made me think abut the success I want to achieve with my knitting. I expect a project to just come off the needles like magic, but I don't do as much planning on the front-end as I should to get the results I'm expecting. Without further ado, here are the swatches and my thoughts:

Swatch #1: Berroco Touche

This was one of the first yarns I purchased. I originally bought a few skeins at Hill Country Weavers in Austin, and then purchased additional skeins in the same dyelot from Webs, after realizing I couldn't do much with the amount I had. I've used this once before, as the sleeves and neckline of my Two-Toned Shrug. It has excellent stitch definition, but my gauge is a bit off with the suggested needle size.

Swatch #2: Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy

I just acquired this yarn from Supercrafty, and hadn't decided on a pattern when I purchased it. I wouldn't have considered this pattern in hemp, but after seeing Blumunchie's FO, I decided it was a possibility. After starting a swatch (I didn't finish), I've ruled it out. In comparison to swatch #1, I just don't like Hempathy for this pattern. The stitch definition is not as nice as the other swatches. I'll use it for something on smaller needles.

Swatch #3: RYC Cashsoft DK

I happened to have a swatch of this (in plain stockinette) that I worked a few weeks ago for another project on the same size needles. The gauge is dead-on.

Swatch #4: Knit Picks Shine Sport

I like this one as well. The gauge is similar to the Touche.

I decided to go with the Cashsoft DK. The gauge doesn't need tweaking, which is nice, and I should just a little more yarn than I need, which is good for my yarn stash!
I'm glad I did this exercise. I learned a bit more about gauge, and I recorded my gauge for each yarn on Ravelry, so next time I'm swatching, I'll have a bit more information!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sparkly Picovoli

Since my CPH has had me stressed, I started a tank top, in a glittery yarn from Louisa Harding. I picked up the yarn from Yarntopia, intending to make a shell or tank, and now I'm actually doing that!It's an amazing concept-following through on a plan for purchased yarn.

I'm already into the second ball of yarn (out of 8), and I've just gotten past the armholes. It's nice to see some progress, especially considering I spent the majority of the weekend playing Super Monkey Ball on Wii (amazingly fun-especially Monkey Target).

I'm a little concerned the collar may be a little loose for my taste, but I've heard you can use elastic thread to help with that, so I may look into that when I'm finished.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lots of grilling

There's no expiration date for grilling. Houston weather may be gross and humid, but it does allow for essentially year-round grilled treats. For the last few weekends, Dean and I have been taking advantage of that fact.

A variety of fruits and veggies

It's hard to pick a favorite off the grill; everything tastes delicious.
Yesterday, we grilled four types of meats (burgers, sausage, chicken breasts, salmon), as well as tons of veggies.

How can you say no to that?

I've been bringing leftovers to work throughout the week as well, so the grilling love can continue. Mmmm. I can't wait for lunch today!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ripping and frogging

There has been a lot of starting, undoing and restarting going on here. I get very discouraged when I make a mistake, and rather than try to fix it, I just rip it. It makes me feel instantly better to be able to erase a mistake, but the downfall is that I hardly ever finish anything. I need to become better at knowing how to correct small errors, rather than frogging inches of completed rows.

First up for review is the February Baby Sweater.

I started this in some Cotton Patine yarn, and enjoyed the rows and rows of garter stitch. Unfortunately, I didn't read through the whole pattern before starting, and forgot to keep some garter for the edging upon starting the lace. I should have known better, especially considering this is an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern, whom I know to be a designer that provides recipes, not exact patterns.
I will finish this pattern someday. I liked it in the cotton, so I may even start again with the same yarn. For now, the yarn goes back in the pile.

Exhibit number two is the Anthropologie Shrug, which I started on my Corpus Christi trip last month.

I actually was knitting this correctly, and made no mistakes (the pattern is so easy to follow), but I decided that a shrug in this neutral color would not be something I would wear regularly. I am entirely too pale to wear beige. Who am I kidding? I frogged this, and have already determined a better use for the snickerdoodle yarn (that's the colorway-from Knit Picks); it will become a pillow-a much better use for the color. I haven't determined what yarn I will use to make the shrug, but believe me, I've got options.

My third frustration of late is my beloved CPH. I've already completed the back, which you see here:

and the left front. However, as I was knitting up the right front, I got interrupted a bit, and somehow kept knitting about five inches past the point where I should have begun binding off for the armhole. This is, I assume, an easy mistake to make, but now I have to rip back to the correct point and knit again. I know this isn't that big of a deal, but a setback like this makes me want to throw it away. I won't actually do that, by the way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What are the odds?

I haven't really mentioned the knitting group I've started meeting up with. I met a few cool gals at the WWKIP day here in H-town, and now I knit with them on a semi-regular weekly basis. Each Tuesday, we pick a local restaurant, knit, eat and hang out for a couple of hours. Last night, we chose The Hobbit. We were all set for our favorite eats, and after arriving, we learned it was closed for repairs this week.

We all hopped back in our cars, and headed to a nearby Cafe Express. The four of us ordered and paid, and the power went out. There was no rain, wind, or any other natural element that could have caused the power outage, by the way (there was construction on the street in front, though, so that could be the culprit). They gave us vouchers (not refunds, which sort of pissed me off), and we went to Whole Foods. They, too, had no power.

We picked a fourth place, Romano's Pizza, which finally worked. We got there and enjoyed the Mona Lisa Special, knit and then went home about 8. Hilarious turn of events, but we had fun in the process, and I guess that's what it's about.

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