Saturday, July 21, 2007


Please enjoy this slightly stiff photo of my foot inside what actually turned out to be a sock. Can we say, hellooo, awesome vertical stripes?!

Shocking, indeed. With a foot not in it it doesn't seem quite sock-shaped, but I'm sure a washing and a blocking will take care of that. I love my cheap ol' wire coat hanger sock blockers.

I need to get on the ball and make the second sock, but I've spent most of my knitting time today working on the button bands, collar, and sewing on the Grannie Smith cardigan. I've got one sleeve left to set in, the side seams to do, and the buttons to sew on, and then it will be ready for fall. Unfortunately doing the sewing on mohair requires serious natural light, or sitting under my hot hot halogen lamp, so it will have to wait for another day.

I've been killing time today while the other member of my household has savored the latest offering in the J.K. Rowling enterprise; it arrived around 2PM today in a cute little Harry-Potter themed box from Amazon. Wonder what it cost them to print up all of those boxes special, with warnings to muggles and cute little delivery owls. I still have to read the prior 3 books before I get to book 7, so I'm absorbing spoilers and figuring I'll forget them by the time I get to the last book.

Blogging has been stifled in the past week due to computer problems (said other member of household had to take the only computer with iPhoto to work to fill in for a very broken desktop). I didn't want to bore you with no photos whatsoever.

Still to come: Argosy! Cupcakes! Grannie Smith! All with lists and lists and lists of stuff to do, because I forever am trying to organize myself that way.

Monday, July 16, 2007


While I am probably unable to believe six impossible things before breakfast, I have been able to scare up some weird and wacky things to do.

Like this Sidewinder sock. I hope blocking makes these better, because a fix seems to require ripping out 100% of the sock.

Which I have finished knitting. And I ripped out the provisional cast-on, and have been avoiding trying to graft 125 stitches together all afternoon. I put it around my foot, and I think it will fit. I think. Kind of. It used surprisingly little yarn, which makes me even more suspicious. The thought of stripes running the wrong way for an ordinary sock sways me when I am discouraged....

But I love love love these colors and textures! Even garter stitch is pleasing on little bitty needles, and I really like the feel of it. Even if it is a weirdly shaped object that may or may not actually fit, depending partially on if I can summon up the guts to actually, you know, sew it together. Because if I didn't, that would be a big waste. Guess I need to get on that!

Who wants a mojito cupcake?

Looks yummy, huh?

All lined up and ready to go... sadly these were a disappointment, and for all their attractive qualities were actually rated a C- (!) for achieving mojito flavor. For all the rum and lime and mint I put in these, they turned out more like vaguely minty muffins with weird frosting. No good cakey texture, no hint of rum (except an overwhelming punch from the few that we literally injected rum into)... just a disappointment.

Okay, so they're better than no cupcakes at all. Once these are gone, even though I want to make some orange ones, I think we've had enough citrus (I made lemon bread, too). Mmm, devil's food? Chocolate and peanut butter? Chocolate and amaretto? Chocolate and coconut? The possibilities are endless... until I run out of those little paper wrappers.

Just trying to stay cool and collected in the face of heat, humidity, a never-ending mess in the kitchen, and continued unemployment. Forgive me if I get a little twitchy... but it's time to go knit.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Four Things for a Thursday

Lately I've been thinking about a blog overhaul. We've been considering buying new domain names, and I could actually have an independent blog, all of which sounds cool and scary. With all this time on my hands, I thought, I could surely think of a name that was something clever, easy to remember, and representative of me and my interests. Well, I thought wrong. I am completely free of clever, snappy ideas. It's almost blissful, until I remember that it's really irritating. It's as if I don't know myself well enough to put my essence into a word or two. Then again, maybe it's a good thing that I can't fit into a word or two. Let me know if you think you could do it.

Know what else is really irritating? A room that looks like this:

That's the second bedroom in the apartment, which I tried to tackle today. I got about halfway through and suddenly ran out of closet space. What used to go in a huge walk-in closet now has to fit in about 4 feet of hanging space. The remainder of the closet is full of boxes, and there's nothing I can do about it. Anybody have any good storage solutions?

My blissful state means I've been knitting like crazy.

I am still trying like crazy to get a color-accurate photo of the Pomatomus socks, but I am coming to the conclusion that it's simply impossible.

These have been the bane of my existence for way longer than they should have been. Pomotomus got its introductory post way back in last September. I knit the first cuff on #2s, decided it was too big. Ripped. Remade the entire sock on #1s, which, of course, was too small. Waited until I could swap for #1.5 dpns, which aren't made by too many manufacturers. Ripped out the entire first sock and started over. Then when I finished it it mostly fit but the toe was too pointy. At that point I decided to give in and make the second sock, which was finished in line waiting for the iPhone; I ripped out the first toe and re-did it then, too. Finally they are done!

Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoote, 2 skeins.
Needles: #1.5 bamboo dpns (2.5mm)
Time to complete: 9 MONTHS
Mods: Stubby toes for my wide feet
Comments: This yarn is wonderful; beautiful jewel-like colors, but it's overdyed. It crocked (transferred by rubbing) all over my bamboo needles, which are sort of bluish now. And when I washed and blocked the socks, the water ran a gorgeous, brilliant electric blue. This seems to be fairly common for Brown Sheep yarns, so I wasn't surprised. But if you see me wandering around with blue feet, maybe these are the reason why.

On the other end of things, breaking a land speed record for finishing was the Baby Surprise Jacket. I love love love innovative patterns, and this has been one of my favorites for fun construction techniques. I think everyone who tries it and is careful to follow the directions feels the same way. I stumped a friend last night with the unfolded sweater when I asked him to fold it into the proper shape... it's such a neat feeling to transform the non-flat surface into something wearable (that is, if you're small). And I was so excited about it coming together that I neglected to take a photo of it unfolded.

Yarn: Hobby Kids, just a little over 3 skeins
Needles: #7 nylon circs
Time to complete: 3 days
Comments: Ok, so I messed up the buttonholes. That's okay. And it still needs buttons. That's okay too.
This wasn't my first BSJ; you can see that one (which, I have to admit, I like a little better) here. And there is a great shot of BSJ topography here.

Continuing in the realm of strange and wonderful construction techniques (huh, guess I must be feeling adventurous lately) are these.

Just like the ruffly thing turned into a baby sweater, this somehow is going to turn into a sock. Fabulous. I'm enjoying the Lorna's Laces and I think the instructions for the Sidewinders are exhaustively well written. Not looking forward to two giant grafts, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!

Last but not least, there is Argosy. I need a new scarf or wrap for the fall, and while I wasn't initially that impressed with the photos on the knitty pattern, seeing Argosy up close and personal changed my opinion.

Noro Silk Garden Lite is yummy, especially when you get it on discount from the yarn store where you were once employed as a graduation/going away gift! Thank you, Linda and Sara! I joined the KAL so I guess I should go introduce myself over there.

The marbled cupcakes are all gone (there were only twelve!). Next in the cupcake lineup looks like mojito cupcakes. Sounds good for summer, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Marble Cupcakes

Even though it was almost 100 degrees and humid here yesterday, I ran the oven to bake cupcakes. Normally I'd balk at the energy use, especially with the air conditioning on (we really should get a toaster oven) but these were a special request from my overworked partner-in-moving. And since moving is a pain in the neck, he gets what he asks for.

Marbled cupcakes, from scratch. I used the old Betty Crocker Dinette Cake recipe (the original edition of this says something along the lines of " 'most cakes are too large for my small family!' Here's one you can actually finish before it goes stale!") so it wouldn't make so many, partially because I didn't want 2 dozen cupcakes hanging around, partially because I didn't have enough sugar, and partially because I only have two six-cup muffin tins. I had almost forgotten what real cake tastes like because I've made too many box mix cakes lately. The only drawback is that I don't have an electric mixer, and I actually gave myself a blister beating the batter by hand. How silly!

And if marbled cake wasn't enough, these ended up with marbled frosting, too. This was not as successful, but still fun.

I went to the grocery store this morning, and they had super-fancy decorated cupcakes, with flowers and fruit and even some with frosting octopi on them. But I bet none of them were marbled!

I don't think I'll be venturing out any more today. It's well on its way to breaking 95 again today and if I don't have to be out in it, I'm not going to.

I just joined the Argosy KAL, so I think I'll get started on the scarf... but I also want to swatch for Sidewinders and I wound the yarn last night. And I have to cook ravioli filling. But I think the very first thing I'll do is have another one of those cupcakes. Yum.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Home Sweet Home

...more or less. I moved this weekend and while nobody likes moving, I'm glad it's over and I had no major snags with packing, driving, unloading or returning the truck.

Most of the public space in the apartment was unpacked yesterday.

This, however, is what the spare room looks like:

Moving leftovers

Same boxes, different apartment. I have to find room for all of that somewhere (where, I don't know) and make that useable as a guest room again. Yikes.

But I have found free time to knit! Hooray! To celebrate being all in one place, I'm starting a whole bunch of projects.

Current projects

There is Noro Silk Garden Lite in a beautiful colorway (greys, pinks, purple, brown) for an Argosy scarf.
There is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Bittersweet for Sidewinder socks, which I have been dying to try since the pattern came out.
And there is about half of a Baby Surprise Jacket in Hobby Kids, which I started yesterday. No, there is no emergency knitting needed for imminent babies, but I like to have at least one baby sweater in reserve should the occasion arise. I'm so happy to just be able to sit down and see all my stash and knit whatever I like. Again, this is my poor sick mind in denial over the fact that I really do need a job and I can't stay home and knit and do laundry (and bake cupcakes!) all day. Even if it's going to be 99 out today.

I will miss my knitting friends from Delaware as I look for new people to hang out and knit with here in Alexandria!

Thursday, July 05, 2007


After weeks of pretending -- and believing -- I've moved to Virginia, I had to come back to Delaware and face reality. I might have been living in VA but all my stuff was in DE. It's amazing how long you can live out of a suitcase provided you have laundry facilities....

But this is my reality:

A living room full of boxes and tubs. For a (ex-)grad student, I don't have that many books, but for somebody who wants to move, I have way too many books. Funny that.

And gee, in this photo you can't hardly see the two giant tubs of yarn, or the two sewing machines, or the, um, other tub worth of yarn that hasn't been packed yet. Right. This is what a yarn diet gets me?

The kitchen and the closets haven't been touched. Those are next. Yuck....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sock time

The closets are full of leftover metal hangers from the dry-cleaners. Of course in my copious spare time I had to finally sit down and make a pair of sock blockers.

Sock blockers

Very easy! Can you imagine a closet full of these? All the socks hanging there, waiting? I'm almost tempted to do it, although I do have that nice box to keep socks in.

I've also been working on the Pomatomus socks.


It finally seems like I'm getting somewhere, especially after I ripped out the first one after finishing it, down to weaving in the ends and everything. But there are still problems.

Pomatomus toe

This is what the toe looks like if you follow the pattern. Not cool, especially for my wide feet. And to add insult to injury, it's too short. So I'll be ripping it out and re-doing it.

Now, do I bring these and finish them while I sit in line and wait for the iPhone tomorrow? Or should I just take a book instead? I'm afraid the Bayerische socks would be too involved, and I'm not sure I want to start an entirely new project at this point. It doesn't help that I have to be ready to run home and jump on a plane as soon as we (hopefully) are able to get one of the phones. (It's not for me, I'm sitting in line as a proxy for somebody who actually has a Real Job. Gosh, wish I had one of those....)

The kitchen is a huge mess... I'll show you why at a later time, but now I have to go fight the stacks of dirty stuff.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grannie Smith

Since graduating from grad school (haha), I've found myself with unprecedented amounts of free time (most of which are supposed to be dedicated to finding a job). However, as you can imagine, I've decided to use this time for my own purposes, namely knitting. This is what's been going on in the past month or so.


This is the majority of the Grannie Smith Cardigan, designed by Melissa Wehrle. I am in love with the idea of lacy cardigans (if sometimes not the outcome; my version of Serrano came out miles too small and had to be given away to my mom) and want to make several more. I love this pattern. It's well written and easy to follow, and obviously Melissa put a lot of time into the details. She's written several more patterns; some are free on Magknits and some are available for purchase on her website.

The only major changes I'm making are giving it 7 buttons instead of 5 (which required some re-doing of math and ripping of button bands) and subbing the yarn.


The pattern calls for Rowan Kid Silk Haze. As I wasn't sure I was going to love this, or love knitting with it, I subbed in Crystal Palace Kid Merino, which is 28% kid mohair, 28% merino, and 44% nylon. It's about the same, well, without the silk of the Rowan yarn, and only about half the cost, which is a bonus. I was afraid I would hate the yarn and that it would be a little itchy like other mohair stuff I've made, but this looks like it will be just fine. I ripped out a major mistake in one of the fronts with no trouble, but had a heck of a time undoing some badly-executed buttonholes. I hope to not be ripping any more of it out, but the button bands aren't going on nicely. All that's left is the collar and sewing the armhole, sleeve, and side seams! I'm excited: this will be a relatively fine-gauge sweater (on size 4s) in about a month. I'm inspired to do more. There will be another Serrano for me (this time in the correct size and gauge) and another lacy cardigan that I'm going to design myself, probably in a sport weight.

In other news, I'm starting to seriously send out job applications. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Learning Curve

Finally, I have knitting to show you! The last few months of grad school really kicked my butt and I didn't get much knitting done. Now that I have some free time I've been able to work on the backlog of yarn I have.


These photos don't show much except my learning to use the camera in my new cell phone. I'll figure it out soon, I promise.

These are just some generic toe-up socks in Koigu that I bought while I was in Santa Fe last summer; I don't remember the color number. But with two skeins of yarn I got two socks for my not-tiny feet which are almost too long. Hooray for not running out of yarn!


I'm still(!) working on the Pomatomus socks as well as Eunny's Bayerische socks, but I may start something up again that is just plain stockinette. I've been watching a lot of movies lately and intensive cabling plus movie doesn't sound like a good combo.

And how about that yarn diet? Well, if sock yarn "doesn't count" (I've bought yarn for 2 pair), then I've only spent $10 on yarn so far this year, and the year's half over and I'm certainly in no danger of running out any time soon.

I am in the process of moving further south, this time into Virginia. I wonder how many sweaters I can continue to find useful... I see lots of fine-gauge or lacy things in my future. Doesn't sound too bad, really. In fact, I've got most of one done already....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Paprika Macaroni and Cheese

Chez V there is a great enthusiasm for pasta, especially fresh pasta. Our household has recently acquired two dedicated pasta making machines: a Marcato Atlas Regina and a Marcato Multipast. The Regina came in the mail first, so we've had more time to play with it. It extrudes 5 different types of pasta: two different types of skinny macaroni, two different types of larger ziti and rigatoni, and finally fabulous curly rotini. The Multipast is more of what you'd probably think of with a hand-powered pasta machine; it makes flat sheets and has different cutters for different widths, as well as a very exciting looking automatic ravioli filling attachment.

My first attempt at using the machine was a failure; I'm accustomed to making pasta that I can roll out on the countertop. To make it easy to roll, I've reduced the flour in that recipe to make a ratio of about 2/3 C of flour to each egg. This is a sticky dough that is pretty easy to knead and roll if you keep everything well floured, but it won't hold its shape when it's extruded out of the machine. The recipe that came with the machine suggested a ratio closer to a full cup of flour per egg, which is almost impossible to knead, but produces much better pasta.

The first successful attempt, then, were these paprika-flavored macaroni intended for mac and cheese.

Here they are coming out of the machine. The machine is fairly simple, consisting of a die, a screw to feed dough to the die, and a hopper to put dough in. You clamp the machine to the countertop and crank a handle to turn the screw. This turned out to be more work than I was expecting, but I think the results are worth it.

Of course, now you can make noodles any length you want; they don't necessarily come out of the machine evenly, either.

This was the total output piled on the kitchen countertop. I think the paprika flavor was a little too strong, but they were still good, very fresh and delicious.

They even made pretty good mac and cheese, although I have to admit sometimes I like the powdered stuff that comes out of the box... don't shoot me!

Experiments are continuing with fewer eggs, more water, using real semolina, and flavored doughs.

What, think this is suddenly turning into a food blog? Well, there might be a lot more about pasta now that there are new machines to play with (I can't wait to make ravioli) but once I get my cameras and computers to agree on how to do things, I have some new knitting to show off, too.