Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Getaway

Egads. 1 week+ since posting. Things have been a little busy round here - and look like they might be staying that way for just a little longer. Fear not, a long awaited shop update will be in the works soon (I finally took the photos of the "new" bits that are due to go up) - and TNNA is just around the corner. If you've any particular requests, let me know, and I'll keep my eyes open :)

This weekend was spent doing very little in the way of work - I actually had a chance to get out and explore! While the northern and higher elevations of Arizona actually received snow (!), we got some much needed rain in the lower elevations. After the front cleared out, with backpacks packed, we headed out for an exploration of the Blue River in the eastern edges of the state.

Saw some evidence of really cool wildlife (that would be a 5-6" diameter paw print - relatively fresh, seeing as it didn't appear to have rain speckles on itand the sand was still damp from the prior rains...yes, I do think it's a bear print). The season seemed to be still too early (or perhaps a smidge cool) for snakes - and surprisingly, the few lizards I saw were fairly large. The Blue River area also happens to be the location of Mexican Wolf reintroduction (didn't see any, I'm afraid). The area, like many riparian regions, has lots and lots of birds of all sorts of varieties - unfortunately for me, I don't know my birds anywhere near as well as my plants - and I also don't carry a telephoto lens, so getting photos to aid me in my learning quest can be quite the trick! While out hiking, we also saw plenty of bunnies, hares, a couple squirrels, and some deer in addition to the already mentioned lizards. The most amazing animal we saw on the trip was seen from our car - a mature mountain lion. It was calmly walking down the road, looking for dinner (rabbits or perhaps deer) no doubt. I've lived and hiked in the area for about 11 years now, and this was the first time I've ever seen one of these elusive big cats - it was magnificent.

After finishing with the backpacking trip, we checked out a small canyon on our way home - the slot was a pleasant surprise, especially as it carved from conglomerate rock.

On the way home, I managed to finish off the first of my balls of Koigu on my saddle shoulder sweater...luckily I had brought a spare skein to carry on :) Stay tuned, perhaps we'll have a Sweater In Progress photo soon!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Size Matters!

Look at the difference in the way the yarn behaves with 2 different needle sizes! I think it's pretty neat myself - and it's a great illustration that you can indeed "control" or manipulate a yarn if you are afraid of pooling or flashing.

That there is a swatch for a Seamless Saddle Shoulder Sweater (I'm way behind - rumor has it that Erika "won" the KAL and finished her sweater this weekend - Illanna was not far behind with only the underarms to sew up as of yesterday...and Kiki has recently frogged the yoke of her sweater to redo it due to an excess of fabric at the underarms. Rumor is the best version of the "pattern" to follow is out of Elizabeth Zimmermann's The Opinionated Knitter (and not Knitting Workshop - which is what I am currently knitting out of....). Ah well, I've got miles of knitting to go before I get there - and tempted as I am to just knit one ball of koigu after the next, I will be juggling and mixing the balls of yarn, just in case the colors don't quite match.

By the way, I opted to go with US2s if you were wondering. But only because the math was easier ;)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Aluminum & Tin...

are the traditional gifts of a ten year anniversary!

Look what I got! This is the first All-Clad cookware I've ever owned (or used!)...yes, I know, All-Clad is stainless steel, not aluminum - but these happen to be aluminum all on the outside, lined with stainless - makes em lighter than the classic stainless line, I think. Anyhow, most of the pots and pans in the kitchen were either inherited or were picked up way back when I was still in school. I think a lot of it is Revereware, and Scanpan with a couple of Le Creuset pieces and of course a regular old Lodge cast iron pan thrown in. I'm looking for cooking with these in the years to come :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I always love a good cookie - sometimes I prefer fancier cookies, sometimes I just want the quick convenience of a drop cookie - especially if I can make up a whole batch, portion out the dough and freeze them for fresh baking at a later date :) I always appreciate a cookie fresh from the oven, chased down with a nice cup of coffee or a cold cup of milk. Yum.

Of course, with my fixation on cookbooks, it is fair to admit that I have a whole shelf dedicated to cookbooks that focus primarily on desserts - cookies, pastries, cakes and ice cream - if its for dessert, its probably safe to say I can likely find a recipe for it in my cookbook collection - if not for the exact item, probably for something that can be adapted to suit.

Not long ago, I received a review copy of Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share - now, I have to admit that I don't subscribe to any of the myriad of Martha's publications, nor do I frequent the Martha Stewart website (I seem to prefer Food Network, Cooking Light or America's Test Kitchen) - with that said, several other individuals have pointed out that if you are a big fan of Martha's, this book may not have a whole lot of new recipes to offer you.

For me, the book was a pleasure to look at - 175 recipes, broken down by texture. The table of contents was unique in that it shows a small full color image of the finished cookie to aid the browsing :) Each recipe also includes a large beautifully photographed image of the finished cookie, so you know what you're aiming for when you start. While several of the recipes appear to be old favorites (meringues, snickerdoodles, macaroons, cocoa crackles, chocolate chip, classic shortbread, thumbprints, rugelach, and peanut butter, to name a few) there are still plenty to investigate and bake. My sister-in-law actually baked me up a bunch of the Lime Meltaways for Christmas last year - and I have to admit they disappeared quickly!

In addition to the wonderful recipes and photographs, the book also has a small section at the end that focuses on tools and techniques - providing tips on making, portioning, shaping and decorating the cookies...and finally, there is a great section on packaging your freshly baked treats for gifting. Once the weather cools down again, I'll hopefully start baking again :) (with temps starting to head into the upper 90s and with the 100+ temps to come, I can't bear thinking about turning on the oven!) Maybe I need to learn more about solar baking ;)

Anyhow, if you're looking for a good, well rounded cookie book, this one looks to be a good fit!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A visit up the Hill

While folks out east were enjoying Maryland Sheep and Wool, I was getting a fiber fix of my own - Up at Knit 1 Bead 2 in Jerome, Arizona!

The store is arranged differently than many other knitting stores I've been to - it's actually arranged by hue - and is quite the sight to behold! Erica, the owner of the shop, is very friendly and helpful. Jerome is a lovely town to visit - best to go early to get parking - you can grab breakfast at one of several little cafes - we opted for the Red Rooster. I had a fantastic time wandering town and looking in the various galleries...

...and of course I did a wee bit of stash enhancement while I was at it. This is my first self-purchased Koigu. Erika (blogless, I'm afraid - the same one who I dyed that iceland inspired yarn for) had gifted me with some Koigu for my last birthday. This Koigu is destined for a saddle shouldered (or perhaps hybrid) sweater...it's kind of a knit along (though I am woefully behind as I have yet to ball and swatch any of it yet!) with Kiki, Erika and Illanna. Perhaps they will knit another while I get started on my first! So, what do you think, US3s or US4s? I must be crazy. Fine gauge wool sweater knitting. And not just one, but two (don't forget, I have venezia on the needles!)

Friday, May 09, 2008


I've been a mite distracted, though have been making slow, steady process on Venezia - and she is looking lovely! It seems I am going to have to either learn how to machine reinforce my steeks or opt for hand stitching them...neither option is particularly appealing, but I figure I should be able to figure it out - how hard could it possibly be? ;) Unfortunately, even though I have been knitting for 4 years or more, I haven't a single "old swatch" laying around anywhere to test feed to yon monster the lovely sewing machine - looks like I might be spending some idle time with some scrap yarn to make swatches to see if the machine likes to eat handknits. Some kind folk on the Stranded board at Ravelry have suggested using tear away stabilizer to protect the knitted fabric from undue tasting on behalf of the machine - we'll see how it does with the appetizers sample swatches. Worst case, I resort to hand stitching the reinforcements - it can't be that bad - tedious, yes, but doable - after all, I never thought I'd handstitch in a zipper into a sweater, and yet I did that just this past winter!

In other mad adventures, it seems I've decided I like knitting fine gauge sweaters - I'm planning on joining some knitting friends on a Elizabeth Zimmermann Saddle Shoulder sweater knit along. I'll show you the yarn soon - I really need to swatch - the others are way way way ahead of me (as in approximately 1/2 sweaters worth of knitting done already!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Precious and Purple

Not from Maryland or from the trip to Jerome this weekend (yes, I did add to my stash), this lovely skein is from Cayli. It's handdyed (by Cayli) zephyr - mmmm wool and silk. Laceweight. Enough for a gorgeous shawl. I won it in her drawing by being a donor to her breast cancer 3-day fund. While her drawing is done, she still needs to raise just a bit more to reach her goal (just click the link in her sidebar).

Friday, May 02, 2008


This is the weekend of Maryland Sheep and Wool. I really wish I was there - instead, I feel a little stranded ;) tho I will be having a little yarn fun myself this weekend - the plan is to have a little field trip up to Jerome to visit Knit1 Bead 2 and then spend the rest of the weekend up to my elbows in yarn... Those of you going, please don't forget to stop by the Cloverhill Yarn booth and pat my yarn!

In the meantime, it looks like I will finally get some steek action going at some point in the not too distant future!

I've cast on for Venezia - a fine gauge fair isle sweater. I plan on knitting it with the 3/4 length sleeves plus a v-neck modification. Of course, I didn't select the best yarn to steek with - I'm knitting this sweater from my very own Spritely Goods Fey - since the yarn itself has subtle variegations, I've decided to go with a simple bi-color version.

Since the yarn is indeed superwash, I will be using reinforced steeks. Be sure to wish me luck when the time comes ;)

I'm loving the colorwork - though I was not so happy trying to get gauge - turns out I'm a loose knitter when knitting single stranded with this yarn, so the solid portion is on US0s...and I'm a tight knitter when it comes to colorwork - so the fair isle is being knit on US4s! Once I got gauge*, things were progressing smoothly - see?

In case you are wondering how I opted to do my gauge swatch, I actually cast on for a pair of sleeves - I quickly discovered my loose knitting on the hems, but it took several changes of needles and a 2 frogging sessions to eventually get it right completely. While I would have preferred to have cast on for the body, allowing myself a bit more latitude with figuring out how much yarn I had available for the sleeves, I am knitting the sleeves first because I actually used them for my gauge swatches. Because the swatch had to be knit in the round and I didn't want to waste the limited yarn that I have for this project (8 oz / ~980 yards each color), I cast on for the sleeves to save myself some ripping. As for why I'm knitting both sleeves at the same time, it's an attempt to keep the gauge as even as possible on both sleeves - that way I don't wind up with one somehow longer than the other...it also prevents me from having second sleeve syndrome :)