Saturday, May 28, 2011


This is the evening I have planned:


The food is homemade crockpot stew and a glass of a yummy Moscato (I like girly wine, I know, not as classy as a Pino Grigio but sweet and yummy and mellow.) 


My recipe for crockpot stew:

  • potatoes--as many as looks good, I usually get about 4 big ones 
  • celery--one bunch
  • carrots--I buy a bag of baby carrots then add until it looks right and save the rest to munch on
  • pre-chopped stew meat--about a pound.  (I stock the grocery store for it to go on sale then freeze it so I can use it as I like.)
  • flour--about two handfuls 
  • broth--48 oz (I use broth for all the liquid, if you're worried about sodium you can do half broth, half water) chicken or beef, whatever is on sale
  • chop potatoes, throw them in crockpot
  • sprinkle handful of flour over potatoes
  • toss stew meat in
  • sprinkle with handful of flour
  • chop carrots and celery, throw them in the crock pot
  • add broth
  • set crockpot to low and leave it alone for a day (I usually do overnight to the next day's dinner time)
  • eat stew
  • hide leftover stew from 6'10" brother who loves stew and will eat it all if given half a chance
It's actually even better if you have the patience to take the stew out of the crockpot and throw it in the fridge for another overnight so it can thicken and the flavors can get all combined.  I can never wait.

As for the knitting, its a plain 64-stitch sock from the top down with a heel flap.  This is my favorite method of making socks.  I know all the benefits of toe-up socks and the short-row heel, but top-down are so darned charming.  I love everything about them.  I don't much like ribbing, so it's good to get it out of the way when the project is fresh.  I have enough stamina to make the leg as long as I want it.  With toe-up socks, I find I make shorter legs because I want the project to be over (and I skimp on the ribbing.)  Heel flaps are fun.  You get to go back and forth for a while rather than round and round.  Plus, if you do a slip stitch heel it's more durable than the short-row heel because it's double thick.  Heel flaps fit high arches better than short-row heels.  I have high arches.  Kitchner really isn't that bad.  There, I said it.


The yarn is Boylston, one of the Yarnia house blends I picked up when I was working there.  It's 50% Bamboo, 27% Merino, 23% Alpaca.  It's comprised of one strand navy bamboo, one strand navy merino, one strand bright blue merino, and one strand gray heathered alpaca.  It's definitely on the thick side for a fingering weight, my socks will be very thick--good for hiking or as "outside" socks to go over smaller socks in the winter.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Last September at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival I picked up this lovely roving for $10.


There is just a little hang tag which is hand written and says "color: sea mist, 70% merino, 30% Tussah silk" so I can't tell you who the vendor was.  Probably best for my wallet that I can't remember.  The colors are carded together so beautifully and subtly.  I immediately got the yarn onto the spinning wheel.


I spun up one whole bobbin, then it sat... (totally unlike me to leave a project mid way through huh?  I'm never like that, I totally always stick with things to the end... cough... on an unrelated note, Ryan may have called me a "sock slut" yesterday... I think the exact comment was "you're totally not a real slut, but you are a sock slut" in that same voice you use with the know-it-all who is standing before you swearing up and down that they are most certainly not a know-it-all in any way, shape, or form, they just test well, and memorize easily, and you know, learn things fast.)

I blame school for this particular abandonment.  Since I'm still new at spinning it takes me quite a while to acclimate to the wheel find the right treadling speed, the right way to hold my hands to make drafting easier, etc. so if I'm going to spin I like to have a big chunk of time to work at it.  Big chunks of time aren't easy to come by with a law school schedule, hence the not so much spinning.  If you are thinking to yourself: "If you just took those small amounts of time to practice you would get better and learn to be productive in those smaller time allotments," you can hush.

Once school ended I got back on the wheel and quickly filled the second bobbin.  Here are the singles.


I divided the 4oz of roving before I started into two 2oz pieces thinking this would give me a chance at getting roughly the same amount of yarn on each bobbin.  Here is the finished yarn.


The puny little skein is the amount that was left on one bobbin when the other was used up.  I wound it into a ball on my ball winder then plied it against itself pulling from the center and outside of the ball.  Plied it's about 32 yards which means that I had 64 yards more on one bobbin than the other.  They say (whoever "they" are) that beginning spinners tend to start by spinning bulkier yarns and as they settle into the rhythm begin to spin finer and finer.  This seems to have been the case here.


I love the color, "Sea Mist" is the perfect name for the colorway.  I also love the shininess from the silk.  It does make it hard to get an accurate picture though.  It's more muted than it shows here, some of that shine is just the camera.

Isn't my WPI tool cute?

This yarn is pretty consistent (especially for only being my second adventure in wheel-spinning) most of it is about 17 wraps per inch.  The internet is telling me that this is even finer than a standard fingering weight, but it looks like to me more like a heavy fingering to a sport weight.  Do you find the WIP guide to be an accurate comparison to machine made yarn sizes? Maybe I "squished" my yarn together a bit when measuring.  Anyone know what tension the wraps are supposed to be done at?

In the end I ended up with about 326 yards of 2-ply in the fingering-sport range.  There are a few places (not too many) where the singles got over energized and corkscrewed and there are a few places that were under-plied but overall I'm really happy with how this turned out.

Now comes the peril of trying to find the perfect pattern for it.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I went camping with Ryan down in Southern Oregon in between Grants Pass (where I grew up) and Medford (where most of my dad's family is).  It was so nice to escape the miserable Portland weather!  It's been hovering in the high 50s here with rain almost every day.  Down south it was mid 70s and clear blue skies every day.


This is me looking to see if the rustling noises in the grass is a snake... I hate snakes...  We did all the fun camping things like campfire with marshmallows, cooking on a little propane grill, sleep in a tent, etc.  We also drove into Ashland, Oregon to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to see Measure for Measure.  Last year I begged and begged Ryan to go with me because they were doing Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Henry V.  Sadly, we couldn't get our schedules to line up since I was working weekends and we didn't make it down.  This year, with two free weeks before starting our summer jobs we managed to make it work.  Of course, after the stellar list of plays last year, this year was more of a "B" year--Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, Henry IV Part II, and Loves Labor Lost.  This is likely why we were able to get cheap tickets just one week before the show.  Last year the cheap tickets were selling out almost a month in advance.  Even though it's not one of Shakespeare's best, Measure for Measure was very fun to see and the theater did some interesting things with the show setting it in an inner-city Latino slum. 

When I got back from camping I finished up a hat for my brother.


Why is it PINK?  Adam is a very manly man, he would never wear a pink hat, not even if his life depended on it!  That is of course... Unless it was a Zoidberg Hat.

For those of you Futurama fans screaming at your computer "You idiot!  You did it wrong! Zoidberg has FOUR mouth tentacles, not THREE!!!!"  Rest assured, there are 4 there, Adam just has his head turned weird and it's hiding.  You try telling a 21-year-old man he needs to pose for accurate knitting pictures...

The pattern I based this on is the Jackyll & Hide pattern from the Fall 2007 Knitty.  I knit the pattern as written to the crown.  Then, instead of adding the skeleton mouth, I picked up 48 stitches (24 on top, 24 on bottom) and knit in the round for about an inch.  Then I took six stitches of the top needle and six stitches of the bottom needle and knit 15 rounds followed by two rounds of K2tog then fastened off.  I repeated this 3 more times.  Wove in the ends and voila a Zoidberg hat. 

Adam has been asking me for this hat for a long time, so when I called to tell him it was finished he was understandably excited.  I told him that I accepted gratitude in the form of Chocolate.  He brought me Coco Puffs, Coco Pebbles, Chocolate granola bars, Chocolate graham cracker Goldfish, and...


I think he liked the hat...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Worth the wait

The last FO that resulted from my stress-filled finals studying are these beautiful socks.


These socks are made from the amazingly simple Air Raid pattern by Emily B. Miller.  It's a free download on ravelry.  The pattern is well written and easy to follow.  It's got a chart and written instructions for the lace so you can work from whichever you're more comfortable with.  I found that after the first half of the first repeat I had the pattern memorized and didn't need to look at the chart any more.


As you can see these are definitely "fraternal" socks.  I thought I had the colors lined up (the pattern is worked from the top down) but I clearly did not.  The yarn comes in 50g balls so I used two.  I knit both from the outside of the ball, so it looks to me like at the mill one ball got wound with the colors going one direction, and the other the opposite direction.

The yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi in the creatively named colorway 101.  The colors really are as vibrant as they look in those photos.  I got the yarn an a 9" Addi Turbo for Christmas/my birthday 2009 and cast on immediately.  Yes, that means these socks were on the needles for just under a year and a half.  I don't know what it is that keeps me from finishing projects.  I just get distracted by the next new thing, then get distracted from that by the next new thing until finally I look on ravelry and realize "holy crap, these socks have been on the needles for more than a year" and I suck it up and finish them.

I love knitting socks on the 9" circs.  I have small hands, so the the short needle tip doesn't bother me and I find that I can go round and round and round without thinking or stopping to move stitches or pick up a different needle.

This is the best I could come up with when Ryan said "pose like a model"...  A life of glamor I do not have.

Over all I'm completely in love with these socks.  The yarn is single ply so I'm a bit worried about how it will hold up over the long term, but it has a healthy nylon content so I'm hopeful.  The yarn was a bit think-n-thin as most single plys are, but nothing too terrible.  The colors are gorgeous and they are super soft.  Also, Portland is still mostly below 70 degrees so wearing them is still an option.  Wool socks after it hits 70 degrees loose much of their appeal, but below 70, bring on the wooly goodness.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Does this mean it's Spring?

Several weeks ago, yarndude posted that he had finished a pair of mittens and that the finishing seemed to bring spring to Pennsylvania.  This makes sense since by the time you actually finish knitting something, it's no longer the season you need it in.  There's no combating this unless you want to do your summer knitting in the winter and be working with wool in the summer.  Since it seemed to work for him, I decided it would be worth a try.


These are the NHM #14 mittens from the book Selbuvotter by Terri Shea.  I started these about a year ago then lost steam.  Recently I dug them out again to start taking to the knit chat at my LYS.  After 10 months of not working on them, it only took about 5 knit chats to finish the first and knit the second.


My gauge was a bit looser on the second one.  I think I relaxed a bit as I got used to holding one color in each hand.  This made one mitten about 1/4 inch longer than the other, but it doesn't show when they're worn.

The yarn is the wonderfully rustic Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift.  It's woolen spun which makes it lofty, gives it a nubbly texture, makes it a little thick-n-thin, and makes it wonderfully warm.  The colors are yellow ochre and grouse.  I love these colors together so much.  They scream fall to me.  This is good because fall is the perfect season for fingering weight mittens.

These run quite small.  I have small hands and usually have to buy gloves made for kids and these fit me pretty well.  If you were thinking of making these and you have larger hands, I would seriously consider using sport or dk weight yarn and bigger needles.

On a side note, the semester is over!!!!  Now I have two glorious weeks to do whatever I want (you know like laundry, clean my apartment, take the cats to the vet, get my eyes checked...things there was no time to do during the semester.)  Ryan and I are going camping on Thursday and to a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Then it's to work for the rest of the summer.

Friday, May 6, 2011


How fitting that I should finish a pattern called Brainwash while in the heat of finals.  Law school finals are absolute hell and anyone who tells you otherwise has either never taken one or is flat out lying to you... probably because they're trying to recruit you to go to law school.  It's a common phenomena among law students to reach a point during finals where you've crammed so much information about the law into your head that you can recite verbatim sections of the united states code, but can no longer perform simple daily tasks or remember things like "bra goes on under the shirt." 

In a hopeless attempt to stay sane, I do a lot of knitting during finals.  I showed you the front panel of this bag a while ago.  Here it is completely knit and assembled pre-felting.


It's pictured next to my criminal law notebook for scale--both are huge.  The picture doesn't really covey just how floppy and unstructured the unfelted bag is.  I put a book in it and it stretched from hanging at my hip to hitting the floor.  After 3 trips through the washing machine (apartment only has front-loaders) and some spot felting by hand to even it out, it looks like this.


It's quite a bit smaller now and much firmer.  It can actually have things in it without stretching and becoming completely useless.  I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted held double because it's cheap... why would you ever felt expensive yarn?  The dark green is Forest Heather and the light green is Pampas Heather.  Both colors are gorgeous with tons of depth from the heathering (sometimes Knit Picks heathers look pretty solid) and the depth remained even after felting. 

This project wasn't that fun to make (maybe that's finals talking) because I found working the intarsia with all the bobbins and dangling ends a pain.  Also, since you're knitting on huge needles to help the felting, the project looks like a big holey ugly mess as you're knitting it.  I think I would like felting more if I had access to a top loading washing machine (and if I didn't have to pay $1.25 for each wash load.)  After the 3rd time through it was mostly felted.  I filled up my sink with really hot soapy water on one side and really cold clear water on the other.  I used a carpet scrub-brush in the hot soapy water to agitate the spots that hadn't quite felted enough, then dunked the thing in the cold side to "shock" the fibers and help them contract faster.  There's no stitch definition left on the bag at all.  I love it.