Wednesday, June 25, 2008

goodness, of the yarn and food varieties

Finishing my camisole on Sunday relieved some of the pressure I was feeling when looking at the WIP pile. (Why do I let knitting get stressful? That's so silly.) But, it also gave me some kind of strange cami fever, and I've been hunting out new patterns. I have two balls of SWTC Bamboo that want to be something other than the Lotus Camisole I bought them for a couple of years ago. The pattern I most want to make right now, though, needs about 100 yards more than I have. Always a knitting dilemma of some kind.

I have worked on each of the remaining WIPs, but I'm feeling the lure of new projects, too. This, especially, is calling my name.


A single skein of lovely handspun BFL from Spincycle Yarns, fresh from my local farmer's market. I could only buy one skein, and it's so lovely and soft I'm thinking it needs to be a cowl or neckwarmer of some kind. It's worsted weight, 120 yards, and I sort of want a button and maybe a little ruffle. Ideas?

The other green stuff in the photo is a bunch of garlic scapes. I only learned about scapes recently, and when I spotted them at the market on Saturday I grabbed one of the few available bunches. I knew there was a recipe in my favorite cookbook, I just couldn't remember what it was. Turns out it was Garlic Scape Soup, and it was delicious. It's basically vichyssoise, but with scapes and spinach rather than leeks. Garlic scapes have a definite garlic aroma and flavor, but in a green way, if that makes sense. If there are more at the market this week, I'm going to try the pesto in the blog I linked above.

I also made these chocolate-chocolate chip banana muffins on Saturday - so good! (Although my family is obviously crazy and won't eat them.) The only changes I made were to use whole wheat pastry flour instead of refined white flour, and egg replacer because I was out of eggs. I also had to add a tablespoon or two of milk to get it all to mix - I guess my bananas were on the small side. These came out moist and so chocolatey, but sank rather dramatically in the centers.

Then on Sunday, Mina and I made pancakes, of course. Have I mentioned the pancake obsession? Mina loves them. Really, really loves them. Rather than making the same boring pancakes over and over, or refusing to make them at all, I've taken it as a challenge and opportunity to make the most interesting and nutritious pancakes possible. Mina is happy that she gets pancakes, and I'm happy knowing that I'm filling her up with a variety of whole grains, fruits, and even vegetables. I think up new recipes all the time. This one turned out so good, I'll share. It's not quite as nutrition-packed as some, but it makes a big batch of fluffy, delicious pancakes.

Cinnamon Graham Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup graham flour (or coarsely ground whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste
1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp melted butter
3 eggs, or equivalent egg replacer
2 cups dairy or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients until well mixed. (Mina usually does this part!) Make sure the brown sugar gets broken up well. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs or replacer until foamy. I used egg replacer, and these pancakes came out lighter and fluffier than I typically get when I use real eggs. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the eggs and whisk until just blended - don't let all the little bubbles pop! Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined. Not too much. Cook over medium heat on a non-stick griddle, or by your usual pancake cooking method. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

summer hopeful

Another solstice, and another season begins. Although it still doesn't feel like summer here, I'm holding out hope that the weather will change soon (and refusing to look at the depressing forecasts). Yesterday it was warm, oppressively cloudy and humid. Today was the opposite - bright, clear, cool and windy. I've only lately come to realize how much the weather affects my energy and mood. As the day grew darker yesterday and the air felt heavier, I developed a migraine. Oh well. It didn't ruin the weekend. Not by far. A trip to the farmer's market for fresh veggies and fresh yarn, finishing a project, lots of cooking and baking, an afternoon at the park at low tide, and a quiet evening with the tired-out kiddo already asleep on the couch next to me - it's been good.

Yes, I did finish a project! My lace camisole is off the needles and on me. As soon as the ends were woven in I tried it on, and I haven't taken it off yet. It needs blocking, but I don't care. I like it.


This is the Lace Nightie by Carrie Bostick Hoge from last spring's Interweave Knits (Ravelry link or pattern PDF). I used about 3.5 balls of Paton's Grace in taupe on size 2.5 needles (yes, I knit loosely!). I made the smallest size and added a couple of inches in length so it would reach to the low hip. The pattern only gives three size options - 29, 37, and 45 inches. Although it says this is the bust measurement, because the cami has a very low back this corresponds more closely to the underbust measurement. I didn't realize this when I began, or I probably would have done something to size it down slightly. You need a bit of negative ease to keep the back from sagging down, and the smallest size gives me one inch of positive ease at the underbust. You can see how the back rolls down in the photo.


I had adjusted it just prior to having the photos taken, so it's not too bad here, but you can still see a bit of sag. You can also see most of the 62 inches of i-cord that make up the straps - the front straps are 11 inches and the back ones are 20. I-cord drives me crazy, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I'm pleased with how it turned out, even with the gaping at the back, and I know I'll actually wear this. This is the first garment I've made in a color (or, well, non-color) I really wear.


Jamie took these photos for me today at a park about a mile from our house. I never check the tide table before we go, so today we were surprised with a much lower than usual low tide. Where I am standing in these pictures is usually several feet under water, even when the tide is out. It was weird to be able to stand under the boardwalk, and Jamie got some good shots of the barnacle covered pilings (I'll link that as soon as he gets it on Flickr) here. It was also very windy, even for here, and the park was full of kite fliers.


These were just a few of them. Mina looks like she's not having a very good time in this picture. I think it was just because of the bright sun. She was a little timid about standing on this rock (about two feet off the ground, with a perfectly flat top) but she got over it. The funny skirt she's wearing is one that I made recently from a bit of cotton gauze left from Jamie's Captain Jack Sparrow costume from Halloween 2002 (I think it was the headscarf, or what was left after we made the headscarf). Just two seams, a hem, and an elastic waist - nothing to it. It's nice and twirly for dancing, though.

Tomorrow or sometime this week I'll show you my new yummy yarn and share my weekend cooking - it was a particularly good weekend for that, I guess. I'm feeling sleepy and maybe slightly sunburned, and this post is long enough. Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

choices

At least I can never, ever say that I am bored.



Apparently my inspiration basket did its job. Two more projects somehow added themselves to my current interest pile, bringing that total up to five. Maybe I can blame the cold weather we still have. Thigh high, bulky alpaca legwarmers and opera length lace gloves both seemed like really good ideas last week when I started them. Now I'm having trouble choosing what to work on. In addition to those projects, that is also Snow White's first sleeve and the cotton lace cami in the photo there. My lace ribbon scarf was hiding in my bag and didn't make it to the photo shoot. It would have fit in with the pale palette well, though.

I've been fitting in bits of knitting here and there between everything else going on lately. The weekend spent in Seattle for my sister's graduation, the summer phase of my job, shake ups at my husband's place of employment, house guests, allergies, and the usual business of life. I've been tired and evidently a bit out of it. It took me until noon today before I realized that while I had managed to leave the house with a ring on each of the usual fingers, neither of them were my wedding ring. Little things like that keep happening. Hopefully I can keep some kind of focus long enough to actually finish some projects before starting any more new ones.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

yellow


For the last two phases of Project Spectrum 3, I've gone through my art supplies and pulled out everything that fell within the color triad. I keep the supplies in jars and bowls at my artmaking end of the kitchen counter, just sitting there for inspiration. I didn't do that with air. I knew there wouldn't be much to gather besides white paper and gray graphite pencils. The only yellows I have came in sets, like the watercolors above. I started doodling with the waterbrush a couple of nights ago, just to see what it was like to purposely choose to use yellow.

Yellow has always been my least favorite color. Or maybe orange is. I'm not sure. While the warmth of yellow (amber) and orange (citrus) scents are among my favorites, I'd rather not look at the colors too much. The house we are living in now has some yellow and orange walls, carefully planned and painted by the owner, who lived here before she rented it to us. Still in love with her first house, she asked us not to repaint for the first year. I learned to live with the colors, and in the winter to kind of like them. Going into our third year here and given the go-ahead to repaint if we wish, I'm having trouble choosing new colors.

Two knitting patterns I have been looking at recently were knit in earthy yellow ochre colors by the designers, and I'm having trouble choosing alternative colors for myself. They both seem perfect as they are!


On the left is Hew, by Canary Sanctuary, and on the right is Chrysalis, by Melinda Hunt for Sanguine Gryphon. Two more projects to contemplate and add to my long queue! I never thought I'd actually want to buy yellow yarn, but these make me want to.

I'm still working on Snow White and the lace camisole, slowly but surely. I have an event I'd like the cami finished for, so I do have a self-imposed deadline. We'll see - if you've read here much you probably realize that I'm not very good at focusing on one thing for long. There are just SO MANY things I want to do!

Monday, June 09, 2008

airing

The other day I wrote how I wasn't ready to move on to the Air phase of Project Spectrum 3. Yesterday, though, I was suddenly compelled to completely clean and rearrange the living room. At our house, the living room is really for living - we have a very small space, and out of necessity do everything in that room. Books, laptops, stash, movies, toys - it's all in one small space. It's much nicer now, airier, I guess, and more useful. This project took me most of the day, and in the process I decided to "air out" and reorganize the stash, including switching the yarn in the inspiration basket from earth to air.



I have a lot of possibilities here, and this doesn't even include the various smoky gray/purple yarn or the Snow White sweater and Lace Ribbon scarf already in progress. My knitting baskets and tools moved to a different corner of the room, and their new arrangement makes them seem almost decorative.

Inspired by all gray and white (and with sore hands from knitting with cotton) I did some work on Snow White last night. I had finished the main body knitting when I set it aside, so last night I worked on the first sleeve while watching Frida. It's still so cold here that if I finished it within the next week or so I'd probably still be able to wear it. I know me and sleeves though (we aren't friends), so I'm not counting on it. But, I'll have a lovely new sweater ready for fall.

I also finished my cowl, but there are a couple of issues. One, it's a bit bigger than I wanted, and two, I can't photograph it clearly to save my life.



Here it is laid out flat. The color is not accurate. This is Colinette Jitterbug in Castagna, which is a gorgeous, rich mix of chestnut, plum, olive, ivory, and smoky pale mauve. (At least my skein is. They vary). You can sort of see the pattern in this, but overall I think the colorway has too much going on for the lace. It is better in person though.



Here it is on me, hanging down more in the front than I wanted, even after careful arrangement in back. It's still wearable though, and I did wear it around on Saturday. I found a way to fold it over in the front that brings it up around my neck the way I wanted. The color is a little closer in this one, but dark. I might try blocking it more severely. I gave it the very lightest of steam blocks, because this lace is very stretchy and I could tell a hard block would make it grow a lot. But, I'm wondering now if a good blocking would stretch it enough that I could twist it double and wear it closer to my neck. I haven't decided yet. I may also knit it again in a tweed - I've got a lone ball of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in that basket of yarn you see above, and I also have a failed neckwarmer in Rowan Felted Tweed that needs to be frogged and repurposed. We'll see.

I have more house organizing/airing planned for the week, more knitting on my in-progress sweaters, and who knows what else. I'm sort of a go with the flow kind of girl.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

meme

Sam of Knit Quest tagged me, so here we go!

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
Living in Lower Queen Anne in Seattle, about to graduate from Western Washington University (not in Seattle), being happy that I wouldn't have to commute anymore and that I would now have time to read whatever I wanted. Also going out to McMenamin's too much.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
Other than my job, probably cooking dinner, finishing that cowl, doing some maintenance on the blog, reading to Mina, and maybe folding laundry.

3. Snacks I enjoy.
Chips and salsa, cookies, dark chocolate, cheese...

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire.
Pay off all my debts and those of my family, buy a modest house in Seattle and hire someone to help keep it clean so that I could spend my time doing other things, finally travel, and donate.

5. Places I have lived.
Bellingham WA, Seattle WA, Coos Bay OR, Moscow ID, Lewiston ID, Boise ID

6. Jobs I've had.
financial aid administrator, records technician, cashier/salesperson, plant waterer, school planner spiral coil putter-inner (seriously), numerous iterations of office assistant type work, switchboard operator, front desk person at a nail factory, college bookstore assistant, and girl friday.

7. Peeps I want to know more about:

Mary-Catharine of Warmth in the North
Ansley of PinkPorcupineKnits
Jessica of Knitting a Dissertation
LizKnits of DoesLizKnit
Emily of Family Trunk Project

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

in progress

It looks like I am in a long term "in progress" phase, with a lot of projects going on but not much being completed. Project Spectrum moved into the third phase over the weekend, the element Air and the colors white, gray, and yellow. I'm still firmly rooted in Earth, however, with several projects still on the needles and a design idea that won't leave me alone.



I'm almost finished with a cowl, which I will share once blocking is completed and I can write up a quick pattern. It's a very simple lace pattern that I have used before, but it's hard to see in this photo. I'm using a skein of Colinette Jitterbug held doubled, and the resulting fabric is super squishy and textural. I think it will be lovely to wear, and I'll likely have the opportunity to use it still this spring. Our weather has been rainy and about 50F (10C I believe), and the forecast shows no variance for the next 10 days. We had 36 straight hours of full on rain yesterday and today. Talk about blah.

The other thing you see in the photo above is what I think of as my "working journal," opened to a sketched diagram for a cable and lace scarf. I think it is a scarf anyway. It might be a stole. This idea won't leave me alone, so I guess that means I need to see it through. I sketched this out in the car on the way to Seattle last weekend, after thinking about it for a few days but before I had chosen any stitch patterns. It will end up looking a bit different. I now have several lace patterns and the perfect cable chosen, so I just need to start swatching and see how they all fit together. It will be called A Forest to go with the song, one of my favorites, which makes me think that maybe a lot of other songs want to become designs, too.

I've also been reading a lot lately, and evidently buying too many books, based on the size of the piles when I stacked them up for a picture.



These are the recent additions. Fortunately for my budget, most of them came from the used bookstore in perfect, like-new condition but significantly cheaper. Mina and I have been reading The Creative Family together - she loves the photos and asks to see her favorites (candles and water) over and over, in between sniffs of its new book smell. (I smell books too. I think it's in our DNA.) The bottom four books were in my amazon wish list forever, and finding them in new condition for half price? Yeah, I snapped them up. Not all at once. This stack represents three different days. There is another stack.



These are somewhat older acquisitions, but are all the ones that I consider "in progress" right now, along with the top two from the previous photo. So that's nine books that I am currently reading. This is why, when my brother-in-law asked me what I was reading, my answer was something like "well, um...let's see. I just finished Stardust, and...." Oh no. I just realized I forgot to add a book to the pile. I'm reading Middlemarch, too. You see, my reading habits and knitting habits have a bit in common. A little of this, a little of that. I think I'll read/knit this today, and something else tomorrow. That's why it takes so long to finish anything.

Another little tidbit and then I need to get the cat to quit hissing at that raccoon through the front door. I realized today that it was my Raviversary!



You'll probably have to click through to Flickr and look at that in a larger size if you want to actually read it, but anyway. I excitedly got on Ravelry one year ago today! I can't believe it's been that long, but I can't imagine life without it now, either.

Speaking of web apps - I am looking for a way to add a Currently Reading widget to my sidebar. Blogger doesn't have that kind of thing, unfortunately. So far the best thing I've found is to use Goodreads, since LibraryThing, which I am already on, doesn't have this function. Does anyone use Goodreads or have other recommendations? I'd like opinions.