Thursday, December 28, 2006

The seduction of big needles

Well, I've finished the baby blanket:

(Here's the back)

This has to be something of a record for me: start to finish in one week. Granted, I have been home with nothing but knitting, sleeping off a cold, and laundry to do for the last several days, but on the other hand, there were Christmas Eve and Christmas in there, when no knitting got done. You saw my last post--I had all of six, maybe eight inches done. Now here I am, two days later, with a full 29" of baby blanket to show.

How can this be, you ask?

Well. It's the size 17 needles, of course. Blue Sky Organic Cotton is worsted weight, normally knit on size 9s or so. But the herringbone stitch requires a bigger-than-usual needle, and thus I am done in a flash.

I like the Blue Sky Organic Cotton a lot, but I am somewhat concerned that, nice though it looks, this may not have been the right stitch for it--it seems to be pilling a bit already. Being unmercerized and loosely spun, I guess it is more prone to pilling, and I should therefore probably have knit it much tighter. We shall see how it looks after I run it through the wash (yes, the wash: it's a baby blanket, and what's a baby blanket that is not washable? Worse than useless, I say). I might get lucky--the pilling is manifesting as a slight fuzz that might end up being more charming than ratty, and the blanket should shrink some in the wash, and tighten up. We can only hope. And it is wonderfully soft, perfect for a baby.

I guess, since the baby's not due for over a month, I have time to knit something else :-).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

After Christmas pictures

As promised, some pictures. On some blogs you will see boring pictures of smiling kids in front of Christmas trees. Here, you get knitting:

Dad's socks, on my feet (note how the toes turn up because they're too big for me :-).

My dad loves them. As it happens, he had been looking for some warm socks, and had been unable to find any. Their house can get quite cold, and he had been searching high and low for wool socks, with no success. So, these cashmere beauties were very timely. He was so excited I think I may have to knit him another pair--if he wears these every day, I suspect they will not last long!

Here is the baby dress, knit out of Knitpicks Shine Worsted. I adapted a Debbie Bliss pattern, changing the yarn weight from fingering to worsted, and adding the stripes, because I didn't have enough yarn in either color to make it solid (yes, this was a true stash buster!). I think it turned out very fine. The adorable baby was born on Thursday, December 21, a day or two after I finished the dress.

And, here are the beginnings of the baby blanket for the baby due in February:

A closeup of the herringbone texture:

I am knitting this out of Blue Sky Organic Cotton (another true stash buster); the colors are naturally grown in the cotton; no dyes used. It's wonderfully soft and has a lovely sheen. I am using a stitch pattern I took from a poncho pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts; you will never convince me that ponchos are a good thing, but the stitch pattern is lovely.

I hope you had a great Christmas! Mine was really wonderful, despite a nasty cold, and my very sweet boyfriend gave me a copy of Socks, Sock, Socks (despite feeling a bit embarrassed standing in the Knitting/Crocheting section of the Barnes & Noble, he persevered until he found it), so I have many new plans for the new year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A recipe

I have finished dad's socks; they have been shipped off (with mom's socks) to the parents, and will arrive in time for Christmas. Whee!

Baby dress is also done, for the baby who was due on Saturday but has not yet arrived. Her mother is going to the hospital today to give her a little "inducement".

Pics to come shortly. Though, happily, dad's second sock looks much like the first, so you could just imagine the last picture doubled.

As a result of the FO frenzy, last night I found myself with no knitting demanding attention (what's that you say? I can't hear you. Did you say something about a "Kool-Aid lace sweater"? Did you say "Somewhat Cowl sweater"? I do not understand you; you'll have to speak up). I've brought out the yarn for the baby blanket I plan for the February baby, but in my swatching I have discovered I need a bigger needle, and I cannot borrow such needle from a friend until tomorrow.

So, I stopped in a farmer's market on the way home and picked up some collard greens and onions, and made a very fine soup, if I do say so myself.

And so, in my first official Departure from Knitting Entries, a recipe of sorts:

Collard Green Soup
Serves 2, with leftovers

Remove the tough ribs from a bunch of collards and tear the leaves into eatable pieces. Wash them.

Chop two small onions and smash several (about five or six) cloves of garlic. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a largish pot over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic. When the onion is soft, splash in some soy sauce.

(I added the soy sauce because I lacked bacon or ham or some other smoky, salty thing, the usual accompaniment to collards. I probably put in a couple tabelspoons, enough to give some flavor but not enough to taste of soy sauce.)

Add about 1/3-1/2 cup of white wine, and boil for a few seconds to cook off the alcohol. Pour in two cans of less-sodium fat free chicken broth (see how healthy this is?). Bring to a boil, then stir in the collards. Cover and simmer for 1/2 an hour.

Drain and rinse a can of white beans and add them. Simmer another fifteen minutes, or until beans are soft. Then season to taste with cumin (for more smoky flavor), salt, pepper, and cayenne. I made mine spicy with plenty of pepper and cayenne. Simmer another five minutes or so.

This was really delicious, and scary healthy. Low fat, high fiber, vitamin rich, and perfect for my sweetie, who has a bad cold. Sheesh.

In other news: Kimono Angora is on sale at WEBS. What's that you say? I already have 11.5 skeins of Kimono Angora burning a hole in my yarn stash? You'll have to speak up--I can't hear you over my drooling....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holiday madness

I've been slow to update the blog because holiday madness has taken over, and I have not done much knitting. This is starting to make me very nervous, as I still have one sock for dad to finish before Christmas!

Alas, because I am basically making up the sock (combining a couple different patterns and making up the heel flap based on the one [one!] I've done before--this caused by my failure to bring the right items on the plane with me), I made an error in second sock. OK, two errors: 1) I made the ribbbing one row too long. 2) I flipped the stitch pattern around to make symmetrical socks, without realizing that this meant I had to change the ribbing from k1, p1 to p1, k1.

Now, I caught error 1 fairly early, but I thought it wouldn't bother me. I told myself that my dad would never notice one extra row of ribbing and I don't have a lot of time; I should just keep going. Naturally, after another inch of knitting I concluded I Just Couldn't Bear It. So, I tried to fix the problem by dropping stitches and hooking them back up, only to discover error 2. Error 2 was noticeably ugly. I think even someone not anal about knitting would notice it.

Now, I know knitting is a forgiving craft. I know I could have fudged something. But I think fudging would have taken just as long as what I did: I frogged the whole thing and started over. >sigh< It took me only about three hours to get back to where I was, so perhaps in the grand scheme of things I have not lost a great deal of time. But: I have to ship the presents in time for Christmas, which means, by my reckoning, I have until Tuesday to finish the socks.

Guess what I will be doing this weekend? Baby dress (for a baby due any minute) has been put aside for the sock. All other projects are on hold. I am not even to think about/swatch for/fondle the yarn of a baby blanket I plan to make for a February baby. And I certainly am not to start fantasizing about this:

What, you might ask, is this? This is ten skeins of Kimono Angora. Ten skeins, won on eBay for very respectable amount. Ten skeins in the same colorway (though not the same dyelot) as the leftovers I have from my mom's socks. Which means I really have 11, maybe 11.5 skeins. I am drooling over the sweater I am giong to make with this!

January, will you never come??

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hawaii is not for knitters

So, I haven't been knitting much (I know!), because I have been on vacation in Hawaii (the Big Island). I have to admit: hiking, kayaking and snorkeling, not to mention volcanoes, mountains and beaches, don't leave a lot of room (or energy) for knitting.

Nevertheless, it does take thirteen hours to get to Hawaii, including the layover in LA--that's as long as it takes to get to Japan. (Actually, now that I think about it, the plane tickets to Japan in March were cheaper than to Hawaii in November. Hmm.) So, some knitting did get done, to wit:

One sock for dad, knit out of 100% cashmere from Smiley's.

I've also made progress on my Kool-Aid project:

This is the beginnings of the sleeve of the Vogue lace sweater. It's hard to really see the pattern, since lace benefits hugely from blocking, but I'm quite happy with it so far. As you can see, the variegations in the colors are making some nice subtle stripes, which I am liking quite a bit. I hope different balls don't lead to different patterning (always a danger with handpainted variegated yarn). But so far, I'm pleased.