Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Fifteen Fruit and Spiced Tea

Twas a lovely and relaxing, if slightly bug chewed holiday weekend.

Before heading up to higher elevations, the weekend began by visiting with Amy. Small gifties were exchanged, followed by a tasty lunch from Wildflower Bread Company (mmmm...mmm! Forest mushroom soup in a bread boule!). After lunch, the real madness began with yarn winding and unraveling (Amy got to watch her yummy yarn go round and round on my swift and yarn winder while I rrrripped out more of the Sheepy Checkerboard Sweater).

Before I get too far, you're probably wondering what on earth my entry title has to do with anything...well, Quince happens to be Spanish for "fifteen" - but better yet, it is a also happens to be a yellow fruit that is shaped something between an apple and a pear...high in pectin, but quite sour to the taste - it also makes a lovely fruit butter. Mariko sent this amazingly tasty fruit butter from San Francisco by way of Amy. Thanks Mariko! I'm hooked! Once I run out, it's either hie myself to San Francisco, or order online. I have to say, this Quince & Rose Geranium Butter is a unique experience and I'm hard pressed to describe how it tastes - all I know is hand me a chunk of gorgeous artesian bread and give me my jar and I'll be one happy person...until it all runs out!

So that explains the Fifteen Fruit anyway...

...as for the tea, it's actually not tea at all :) (though there is nothing wrong with tea! I'm especially into cold teas right now...and have taken to brewing a blend of teas to keep in the fridge for my morning beverage.

In this case, spiced tea refers to Chai...an absolutely delicious handspun silk from Artfibers. The photo doesn't do it justice - the yarn has amazing sheen and gloss. Thank you Amy :) I love it.

Anywho, the remainder of the weekend was spent playing outside and relaxing in my hammock. The knitting came with, and I'm nearing completion of the the felt bag I've got as a test knit from SWTC. Stay tuned for a peek as it nears completion!

Friday, May 27, 2005

So Neglectful...and Such a Novice!

Cripes. Only 2 posts this week. How dreadful! I'll have to work on that!
The good news is finished objects have been flying off the needles...I'm down to three projects on needles now - one of which is a test knit and nearing completion. It's been fun and mindless to work on - tis a felt bag knit out of Karaoke - photos and comments will come as it gets closer to completion.

Regarding my being a novice - my thanks to Bethany for pointing me in the direction of a Niddy Noddy to wind up my reclaimed sweater! I just need to get myself to Home Depot sometime to get goin! Right now, I've been making do with magazines. The natural/checkerboard sweater has been dissected into its componant parts, and have confirmed that my cats happen to love it and it's sheepy smell - guess what's in store? A Kitty Pi Bed! Sadly, the unraveling isn't going so fast - I've discovered that the entire sweater was knit double stranded...and stupid me, I started separating the strands, and am determined to continue doing so....though I should probably just give up and skein it up double stranded since that's how I'm going to have to knit the Kitty Bed anyway.

In other Novice News, Anyone know how to block a sweater once it's been washed? I've got a silk sweater that I handwashed and draped to dry - and it's puny now...it needs a severe blocking - but I have no blocking board and all my other blocking has been done pre-assembly!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

How ya feelin'?!

Record heat here in the southwest, and I must be nuts, because I'm busy playing with Wool. :)

Who knew that a wool sweater could absorb so much water?! I attempted to handwash my two bulky sweaters in the bathroom sink - only to have to move them to the bathtub since each sweater was more than enough to fill the sink entirely on its own! I first noticed that both sweaters had excess dye in the yarns as the water quickly changed color to match. The second thing I noticed was just how heavy the sweaters became once fully wet! I couldn't believe it! Even with the arid heat of the desert, the sweaters have taken days to dry - and I haven't even unraveled them yet (and they will likely be subject to another dampening to get rid of the kinks in the yarn) I now feel for poor sheep stuck in the rain. Finally, I noticed that my bathroom smells an awful lot like a wet sheep.

I haven't quite figured out how to manage the yarn once I unravel it - does anyone have suggestions on how best to wind it into hanks? I'll probably try winding the yarn into a bunch of balls in series - each connected to the next, as I can't bear the thought of cutting the yarn just so I can wind it into a ball...Stay tuned, I'll be sure to post photos once my work is done!

Oh. And sorry bout that dark photo down there in the Bearly in Time entry - I probably should have used my ButterCream bear as a model instead of my Dark Chocolate one - since you can't really tell it's a bear my external monitor. *sigh* it looked fine when I edited the photo - monitor difference strikes again!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bearly In Time!

Just in time to send off as a baby gift, this lavender baby set flew off the needles.

As usual, more details can be found here.

I made some changes to my camera settings between photos which is why the colors don't match up. The true color of the yarn is probably somewhere in between the photo on the left and the photo on my finished objects blog.

I don't normally play dress-up with my stuffed animals, but I had to try the outfit on *someone* and I had no babies on hand...and I was pretty well convinced that neither of my cats would stand for it!

Now that the emergency gift knitting is done, I can return my attention to the other five projects I have on needles. The problem is I seem to always work the projects I know I can get done fast...so the ones that take a longer time wind up languishing. Like poor Cozy - stuck in UFO land since last fall. I'm thinking I might need to take up a knitting rotation - knitting on a different project each night to space out the progress...how's that for a plan?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sticky Fingers...

...are the worst when trying to knit!

No, I have more sense than to try to knit while eating - and much more respect for my knitting to subject it to gooey fingers...it's just the fact that with temperatures now exceeding 100 degrees down here in the desert, I can't help but have semi-moist hands. Even with the air conditioning going. And a fan. It's wreaking havoc with my tension as I like to keep the strand of yarn wound around my pinky for tension control...but with the semi-damp hands, the yarn is not feeding smoothly through my hands. Any suggestions?

I've taken to knitting continental for most of my knitting - mostly to get myself good and proficient at it. I can do most things with equal proficiency knitting continental or english style - with the exception of binding off and passing slipped stitches over. If anyone has any tips, they would be most appreciated :)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Yow, time flies!

Today marks Seven Years of wedded bliss :D
Incidentally, seven years happens to be the Wool anniversary - and guess what I got!

Yarn management tools! I now have a birch swift and a happy ball winder - hooray! And just in time too, now that I have those sweaters to recycle!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Back from Hiatus

And with loot! Lookie lookie! A handknit wool sweater - or a photo of a portion of it in any case...

The last week or two has been light on blog content as I've been off traveling for work. Last week brought me back to my home state of Minnesota and a brief visit with friends and family. I was amazed at how much was new, and how much still remained familiar back in the Twin Cities metro area. Time with friends and family was wonderfully cherished - it was very nice to catch up with everyone and see how much people have or have not changed as the case may be.

While I was at my parents house, I went hunting for old goodies from my childhood. Sadly, a goodly pile of things were not able to be located, but that is to be expected, especially since my childhood bedroom has changed owners several times since I moved away. One thing I was exceptionally excited to have found was that ball of wool to the left...it was perched precariously on top of a box of old clothes. I didn't dare hope to find the rest of the wool...which happened to have been handknit into a huge cabled sweater...but I did! The sweater was handknit for me by the abuela of my Uruguayan host family...that's right - I have a huge handknit sweater from manos yarn...the sweater is not my style and is hugely oversized (as that was the style of my clothes back then). I plan on handwashing gently and then reclaiming the yarn for another project yet to be determined. Any suggestions?

The checkerboard sweater is also from Uruguay, but is knit from a much more coarse wool - it has a distinctive sheepy smell about it, and will also be unraveled and remade into something new.

Other clothing finds include my frothy confection of a prom gown (not your normal prom gown - this one is more of a ballgown - complete with volumes of crinoline, inset and hand beaded lace panels and melon sleeves). Not sure what I'll do with it, but it will likely be put up for sale somewhere.

Other surprises of the weekend? My sis-in-law has taken up knitting...as has my brother! :) how cool is that?!

Monday, May 09, 2005

What an Angel!

Lookie what came in the mail last week from the amazing Maryellen! Twas an amazing box...stuffed to the brim!

Included in the box were the following fascinating items:

1 booklet: Learn to Knit Socks! (whoo hoo! I keep meaning to cast on for a pair of socks - and I have a pile of instructions off the internet printed and everything - but this booklet should prove to be most handy :D Love the purple ones with green toe and cuff with little dangly bits off it...and the Argyle ones are fabulous too!)

She also included a skein of Shanty Creek Blend handspun yarn from SOAR 2003 (Spin off Autumn Retreat) and a skein of Opal sock yarn to get me going.

In addition, there was: a small doll, primly dressed in a little blue gown and a festive hat and a pair of balls of Fun Fur in bright festive colors, for which to make a scarf or other fun fuzzy things out of :D

And last, but definitely not least, she included a cute card with a handsome cat licking his chops...a pair of fun books: the Thanksgiving Book and the Complete book of Traditional Aran Knitting...And finally several skeins of Kid Mohair...handspun! Pehaps handspun by Maryellen herself (she's a spinner, a quilter and an art doll maker...and she knits too! How talented!)

Of course, my husband thinks I'm nuts...not only could I not stop petting the mohair, I had to sniff it too. *sigh* I'm a yarn sniffer. Is this an odd affliction? I don't think so...I vaguely remember the Yarn Harlot mentioning something about sniffing yarn...or perhaps I'm attributing that to someone else...surely I'm not the only one!

In any case, that mohair, it's positively delightful...soft and fluffy, and still developing its halo. Can't wait to get it on needles...if I could just decide what to make of it...suggestions anyone?

Thank you so much, Maryellen, you've spoiled me!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Knit Intarsia like a Pro!

With KnitPro! (a cool tool and with a mission too! Down with sweatshops!)

No, I haven't cast on for an Intarsia project, but I'm closer now that I know I can convert custom images effortlessly into knitting charts...that and it seems I'm just about set to become a two-fisted knitter :D I've been working up a swatch in SWTC's Oasis yarn, and while I'm not super fast knitting continental, I can certainly knit at a respectable speed :) Oh yeah...what's the swatch for? I'm going to be a Bad A** knitter and be the boss of my knitting...I'm going to attempt to tweak the pattern for the Ribbon X-Back Tank and see how it goes...it is no small tweak and will require a fair amount of math...but I'm hoping to be successful. Wish me luck - I can use all the help I can get :D

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Strawberries are in Season!

I looove fresh strawberries! Plain, with balsamic vinegar, with creme fresche and brown sugar, with honey, pureed and on top of ice cream, mounded amongst whipped cream and cake pieces in a strawberry short cake...or sliced fresh and presented in a fruit tart atop a rich bed of pastry cream...See? I can do better than drop and bar cookies ;) Click here for the recipe.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Knit Quick, Lickety-split!

Amongst more mundane things, I spent the weekend touching up my continental knitting technique, and I think I've finally got it down...I would certainly hope so after knitting an 80+ inch scarf continental!

Do you recognize that yarn in the photo? Bigger photos are posted on my companion blog. In any case, it's the yet-to-be-released Karaoke yarn from Southwest Trading Company. It's lovely to knit with, and the felted sample I've seen is also stunning...we'll see how my own felting experiments go, now that I have the rest of the cone to play with. I see a Sophie or a Booga Bag coming out of it...tho I think I'm leaning towards Sophie at this point (I also doubt I have enough yarn to do a Booga Bag).

Monday, May 02, 2005

Happy May!

Happy May! The wet weather through the winter is continuing to manifest itself in the way of gorgeous blooms. While the wild flower season is winding to a close, the flower season does continue on into the cactus and other plants found in the desert.

The blooms on the hedgehog cactus and prickly pear are stunning this year, as are the blooms that appear all over the stalk of a mature narrow-leaf yucca! Isn't it gorgeous?!

And now for a question - I've noticed that my photos of late appear rather dark on my desktop computer, but look just fine on my laptop computers...and of course I've been doing the editing on my laptop and then re-tweaking on my desktop if it still looks too dark.

Anyone know why this is the case? And any tips or suggestions on how to handle it? For that matter, do any of you notice that my photos are "off" in the way of brightness - the flower washcloth is a great example - dark on my desktop (and not retweaked) but just fine on the laptop... Thanks in advance for any help and advice!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Flowery Goodness

Well then. Now that the secret pals are all revealed, I can update with a completed item from quite some time ago - I knit up a bunch of these as gifts - it's the flower washcloth from Weekend Knitting!

Hopefully those who have received them have enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed knitting them...the knitting goes very quickly, though I I'm mighty tempted to try to figure out a way to knit em from the inside out...to save myself from accidentally not connecting all the petals without a twist...though I don't think it would save me any trouble with regards to all the ends that need to be woven in...in case you're wondering it's 2 strands per petal plus the last bit at the center of the flower...eleven in all!!