Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell, 2009!

As the year draws to a close, I find myself first wondering where the time has gone so quickly, followed quickly by positive hopes for 2010.

As December winds its way out, I'm enjoying some quiet time spent with my family, away from the craziness that is work and real life all combined. The crazy in the air seems to have (hopefully) worn itself out, and I find myself looking at a lot of things wrapping themselves up nicely.

The last year has been rewarding and challenging in different ways than years past - this year, I focused much more on my engineering career, rather than on dyework. I took on a new role, and it's proven to be challenging and rewarding, though it leaves me with much less energy to do production runs of dyeing.

It appears that while I have been knitting, I was nowhere near as prolific as years past...though I have to say, I think I churned off some pretty good projects, including an array of spectacular socks, a variety of sweaters and cardigans, and some stunning lace, if I do say so myself ;) Not to mention a wee bit of whimsy thrown in at the last minute :)

I attempted the 365 project, but sputtered out somewhere between 100 and 200....I definitely think those that complete the project are fantastically dedicated :) I also tried hooping - and while I've gotten much more proficient at keeping the hoop up, I'm no good at tricks...and I've discovered it takes a surprising amount of space to actually hoop and attempt tricks (I also discovered that my house apparently does not have such a space, and my cats do not enjoy my attempts at learning hoop tricks). Now that I've reached my mid-30s I figure I can throw caution to the wind, chop off my hair, and sample extensions of various hues - I'm ending the year with burgundy highlights :)

I'm looking forward to the "fresh beginning" that is associated with a new year - I hope to get back outdoors, renew my love of dyeing, learn new knitting tricks, and not go too insane with what I see coming down the pipe at work :D

Best wishes to all of you, for a most excellent 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I can't resist...

a wee woodland creature, immortalized on a mitten. I cast on for these shortly before Christmas, managing only a cuff before getting sidetracked. Now that I have some time away, I am endeavouring to knit away and make solid progress before the new year. You know. Because a girl who lives in a low desert valley apparently needs Squirrel Mittens.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Last Minute Visit

...from the elves.

I think they left their shoes behind.

For those that celebrate, I hope your elves were kind to you this year!

Monday, December 28, 2009


...and squooshy! Behold what became of the handspun yarn cakes - details here!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wishing... a warm and wonderful day with your family. We're celebrating with naps :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Best wishes to all of you this holiday season. May you all be healthy, well fed, in good spirits and humor. Thank you for visiting my wee space on the internet - I appreciate each and every one of you! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Knitting....

After having spun up those two yarns recently, I had to wind em up into yarncakes...1) so I could see how they looked in cake form and 2) so that I could start knitting with them immediately! Yes, they've been transformed...but I can't say anything more until after the holidays ;)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Play dough!

I've been trying for a very very long time to figure out how to turn out a good loaf with varying results. I think I've finally stumbled upon one that will become my go-to recipe...want to see how things turn out once they are baked? Look over here!

Friday, December 18, 2009


After I finished up with Audrey, I jumped in with a quick knitting sock project - these fairly flew off the needles - I think they took 2 weeks total, with knitting only on evenings and weekends. Not bad for a pair of socks destined for my husband's feet! More details? Of course! Have a look over here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's that time of year again...

When the cats are extra affectionate and enjoy the knitwear as much as I do ;)

Hope you all are staying warm! I'm taking advantage of the cool weather to revel in my handknits! And by revel, I mean piling on the handknit socks, fingerless mitts, sweaters, cardigans and the occasional hat...all while still indoors. (I'm being stubborn and haven't turned on the heat yet).

Friday, December 11, 2009


or verbena. or hydrangea....

This is a wheel blended navajo plied yarn - just over 8 ounces :) It's a blend of BFL and superwash merino that I had sitting around in the stash - there was no reasoning for the blending that way other than the colors were similar enough to allow for nice coloring, and something that I could add to the other navjao plied yarn to get enough yardage for a semi-secret project.

This time round, I made a conscious effort to put enough twist into the singles to prevent breaking on plying, and it seems to have gone much better. I'm loving the bounce and squoosh factor of the navajo plied yarn....tho I need to start churning off finer singles if I want the finished yarn to be less chunky!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

And once again....

I pushed the yarn usage to its limits :) that would be less than one meter of yarn left over from knitting my latest sweater. She's been done since November 14th, but I've been sorely neglecting my blog...anyone else wondering where all the spare time is going? If you know, please tell me. I need some.

Full details and lots more photos can be found here, on the finished objects blog. The yarn was purchased years ago, well before I was a spinner - at a farmers market in Oregon. I remember asking the sellers with some level of urgency if it was enough for a sweater, and sure enough, it was :) It's been moldering around in my stash waiting for the perfect inspiration to declare what it wanted to be, and took its own sweet time doing so, but I couldn't be happier with the result!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Behind the Wheel again...

After spending a bunch of time knitting, I find myself somewhat between projects - oh, I'm still knitting, but I'm not as obsessive about the projects currently on the needles. Instead, because a good friend has been spinning up a storm of late, I decided I'd haul out the wheel and give things a go...

Behold! My first ever navajo plied yarn! Lots of squoosh - that would be a bulky weight, lofty 3-ply. I suffered a few breaks during the plying due to low twist in my singles - but otherwise, the yarn turned out quite nicely. I can't say I'm smooth at navajo plying - every time I picked up a loop I had to stop the wheel, and there was plenty of cursing when the yarn broke during plying - but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I'm now spinning up another pair of bobbins, and hope to cast on for a lace shawlette when I'm done with the spinning.

Speaking of yarn with lots of squoosh,say hello to Malabrigo Twist - a new 8-ply baby merino yarn that I've got in the shop in six gorgeous semi-solid colors. I have to admit to being awfully tempted to abscond with the whole lot of it and cast on for a slew of sweaters.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Knits for Him

With all the sweaters coming off my needles, I think my dear husband might be wondering if I might turn my attention to knitting another one for him sometime soon.

It was rather fortuitous that I received a copy of Erika Knight's new book: Men's Knits not too long ago. The book features 20 patterns - including 16 sweaters/cardigans/vests, 2 hats, and 2 scarves. As expected, each garment is photographed beautifully - I especially like how the models in the book seem to be span a wide range in age and body shape. The patterns themselves are classic in style, and should appeal to the male who desires simple-looking, non-fussy knitwear. Unlike many womens' styles, the sweaters in this book are designed with plenty of ease to accomodate layering. The xxl size is designed to fit a chest measurement of 44 inches or so, but the actual garment size is usually in the realm of 46-50+ inches for the chest measurement. I'll be handing this book over to my husband so he can pick something out...though for the sake of my sanity (sleeve island on his last sweater lasted forever), I'm hoping he picks something knit out of bulky yarn!

Friday, November 20, 2009

mmm Cake.

After suffering a week long craving for Tres Leches cake and not having any luck finding any single serving pieces anywhere locally (I admit to not calling mexican restaurants and asking after carryout), I finally gave up and just baked one myself.

After referencing various online recipes, I wound up going with the recipe from the Pioneer Woman. The only difference is that I didn't bother to transfer the cake to a platter before dousing it with the milky mixture....and I reserved the excess milky goodness 1) to use in my coffee and 2) to re-moisten the cake if there were any drier bits found during the course of eating.

It was delicious. The only bits to stay focused on are: 1) don't over-whip your egg whites 2) don't overbake your cake and 3) make sure to be liberal with the stabbing of the cake - it helps the sweet milky mix find its way inside :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A fan on a mission

This past summer, I added Ree Drummond's blog to my google reader list. I think I stumbled into her blog when someone pointed me at a recipe - then I got hooked on her writing - the little glimpses into her life, her photography, and even the peeks into homeschooling. I was pretty darned excited to find out that she's gone and released a cookbook!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks is a lot like Ree's blog - beautiful to look at and a pleasure to read. While it is chock full of recipes (many also on her website), it's also chock full of photographs - of her family, of the ranch and ranch life, and of course, of the food. I'm really enjoying pouring over this book. Of course, when I found out that Ree would be at a local bookstore for a signing, I had to go.

The event itself was a little crazy, and was totally overrun - I went prepared with my knitting (and was caught in the act in one of the captures on PW's blog.) I hear Ree was busy signing into the wee hours - making sure that every copy was signed before she left. It was a pleasure to meet her and personally thank her for such a great read, hopefully she doesn' t think I'm a total nut for having her hold my socks in my photo with her. She was far too gracious to let on if she did think I was crazy. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

More sweaters...

In most places in the country it's autumn...and has been for a while. In hopes of enticing Autumn back down here properly, I'm casting on for another sweater.

Hello, Audrey, from the fall 2009 Twist Collective. The pattern was recommended by Illanna while I was busy pondering just what to do with some yarn that's been in my stash for's a handspun yarn from Su-dan farm in Oregon - purchased, if I'm remembering right, on a visit up to the Pacific Northwest for work when I managed to squeeze in a trip to a local farmer's market. This was before I learned how to spin, so it's been sitting in my stash trying to decide what it wants to be for a while.

Pattern in hand, I wound all my skeins into one gigantic cake, and swatched away. The sweater will definitely look more rustic than the one in the pattern photo thanks to the handspun nature of the yarn - but i think it's going to turn out wonderfully :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

the Spice of Life

Salt. I don't know about you, but I find the varieties of salt intriguing. I also find its history to be rather interesting too. If you're interested in learning more about how salt has shaped the world, I recommend reading Salt: A World History.

I'm one lucky girl, because a good friend of mine correctly figured that I'd find this small collection of finishing salts fascinating. A couple of them are more common or standard - including:
Fleur de sel de guerande - a fine sea salt that hails from the south of France
Sel Gris de l'ile de noirmoutier - a coarse sea salt, also from France - the color comes from the grey clay saltpan that the seawater evaporates in for harvest.
Maldon - white sea salt with large thin crystalline flakes - this salt is evaporated in England's Blackwater estuary in stainless steel saltpans that are mounted over an intricate set of brickwork that is used to control the evaporation rate, encouraging the formation of the large flaky crystals.

More exotic are the following beauties:

Alaea Volcanic - this coarse salt gets its beautiful color from the red hawaiian clay that is introduced during the harvesting of this seasalt.

Turkish Black pyramid - this salt is combined with activated charcoal to obtain its color - this salt is incredibly crunchy - and I can't get over the wonderful crystal structure that it displays.

Kauai Guava Smoked - this hawaiian salt is hand harvested on molokai and kauai. After evaporation by sun and wind, the salt is ground and hand smoked using wild guava wood. The smokiness in this salt is simply incredible.

If you'd like to try some finishing salts, this set came from the Meadow in Portland - they also have chocolate...and wine...and flowers. The next time I'm up in that area of the country, I'm definitely going to have to check it out in person.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Speaking of Wool...

I'm loving my new addition to my knitting/spinning library: The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes. I definitely have a preference for natural fibers when I knit - and while I am partial to Merino, there are lots of other fiber sheep breeds out there. This fantastic book demystifies all things wooly - well, maybe not all, but it goes a long way into explaining the different things that make the various varieties of wool unique unto themselves.

If you're not a spinner, or are still learning, the book provides a brief look into how wool fresh off a sheep becomes yarn. My favorite chapter is the one about the various sheep breeds. Clara discusses the properties of 37 different breeds of sheep, providing information about fineness, staple length, crimp, luster and what uses the wool is good for. Each brief writeup is accompanied by an illustration of the sheep in question.

After the sheep discussion, Clara goes into another facet of yarn making: fiber blending - where she explains the benefits of blending wool with other fibers - and what this blending might contribute to your final project.

After you're well armed with all this newly acquired information, you can tackle the projects in the book - of which there are plenty (19) - there are hats (2), mitts (2), socks (3), sweaters (5), shawls and scarves (5), a bag (1) and a pillow (1). The patterns appear well written, and are accompanied by a large clear photo of the finished product (and often times smaller detail images as well). Where appropriate, there are charts and schematics. Skill level required range from beginner to experienced. The sweater patterns include patterns for children, men and women - with a wide range in size. (Largest chest size for men is 56" and for women, the largest bust size is 52")

If you're looking to learn more about wool, I highly recommend this book - I'm personally planning on working my way though the various wool varieties by way of spinning and knitting :)

Monday, November 09, 2009

My kind...

...of pink and green. I had a fantastic mail day a while back - this was in one of the packages waiting for me when i got home that evening. It's finn wool - a type that I've never spun with (though I fully admit that my wool repertoire is rather limited). After poking around some (I love google), I've discovered that finn is a medium wool (meaning medium by micron count) - though it lands on the fine side of medium. It also has a longer staple length than I'm accustomed to, ranging from 3 to 6 inches. In addition to having a soft hand, finn wool also has a lovely luster to it. Regardless, I'm rather adoring this small bag of roving - and pondering what project to spin it up for...I probably better get a move on, especially since I renewed my subscription.

How could I resist when Adrian puts up such an enticing photo?

Thursday, November 05, 2009


mmm. Glorious reds and orange. I don't know what it is with that color family, but it has me seriously entranced right now.

In addition to wandering the town, having adventures by subway, watching musicals and baseball games, I had to get in my fix for the farmers market. In all fairness, there are markets where I live, they just aren't anywhere near as sizeable as those in other areas of the country. The Union Square Market apparently runs Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It's a mix of food, flora and crafts - I, of course, focused on the food. All the stuff I had the fortune to try was delicious.

But not only were they good for eating, they were wonderful on the eye also :) Since we're moving on towards the winter, the root vegetables were out in force. I can tell you the various fingerling potato varieties were delicious (but they don't seem to photograph real well).

In addition to your regular standard-issue orange carrot, there were these beautiful yellow and red/purple varieties. I was tempted to bring some home on the plane, but my luggage was already quite full...and I wasn't sure how I'd be received trying to clear security with a couple bunches of carrots as my "personal item".

They also had these gorgeous cauliflowers though why the purples wound up so much more monstrous in size than the orange, I'm not so sure. There were also some white cauliflower, of course.

And finally, some more fall blooms. It sure was nice to visit the City!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

cutting it usual

It seems several of my projects of late have been of the last minute variety - sadly, I didn't manage to finish a single pair of socks during Socktober...mostly because I was distracted knitting something else. The above curl of yarn is all that was left after I bound off. The project in question was finished and blocked the night before I packed it up and took it to a fantastic wedding...this seems to be developing into a theme...Have a look here to see how the frantic knitting turned out :)

Oh and yes, those would be a string of bacon and egg lights - they are in my BIL's kitchen, and I have no idea where he got them, but I really like em a lot :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

The City that Never Sleeps

Yikes! After about a month of nonstop craziness at work and a whirlwind trip to the City that Never Sleeps, I find I'm crazy exhausted and apparently have managed to neglect my blog for an entire month. Not that I didn't have things queued, because I did...I just never managed to get to adding the text to the photos!

Ah well - any idea where I disappeared off to? I did lots and lots of walking and wandered by the above building - it's probably hard to figure out what it is since it's not one of the more recognizable perspectives - most people take their photo from much further away - or from a higher angle, so as to get its distinctive roofline. It's the Chrysler Building :) I had a chance to visit with some relatives and meet up with some friends for a huge celebration over the weekend.

In addition to visiting and merry making, I wandered around town, ogled the buildings (some of the buildings in NYC are wonderfully ornate), freaked myself out by wandering through the crowds in Times Square, caught a musical off Broadway, and (old news) watched the Yankees qualify for the World Series. My BIL & SIL treated me to a game - they are season ticket holders - while I'm not one for baseball, there is something to be said about watching a game *in person* surrounded by crazy fans.

...all that and I even braved the subway, with no issues...until the last day on my way back to the airport! Folks were kind enough to confirm my revised travel plans once I figured out that things were going awry and I made it to JFK with enough time to clear security and get a coffee before reporting to my gate for boarding. *whew*!

Friday, October 09, 2009

I need to stop

with the casting on of projects with lots of stitches on small sized needles...Or rather I need to stop doing so when I have a deadline in mind that is less than a month away.

I've recently cast on for the Featherweight Cardigan from Knitbot (Hannah Fettig) - she's the same designer that came up with the Whisper Cardigan, which wears more like a long bodied shrug - the yarn I've selected for the featherweight cardi is finer than that called for in the pattern, and as a result, I've found myself knitting on US3s. Somehow I don't think this was such a good idea...but i have three weeks to try to get it done! Of course, I'm still pondering pattern modification - I'm thinking of adding cable detailing to the ribbing and the front/collar section. We'll see how that goes - of course, I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

She doesn't just knit...

...she also sews!

We're talking about Wenlan Chia - this should come as no surprise to those of you who are more on top of such things - Wenlan's Twinkle line has been in existance since 2000, and includes yarn & knitting designs, home furnishings, jewelery and a ready-to-wear collection.

This new Twinkle book, Twinkle Sews, includes 25 patterns for you to bring some of Wenlan's whimsical style into your own wardrobe. Sizing ranges from 0 to 16, with the patterns being provided by way of a CD. They print out on regular-sized letter paper, with instructions on how to assemble them to get you going on your way.

Since everyone's sizing is a little different, sizes start with 32" bust, 26" waist and 35" hip (size 0) and go up to 40" bust, 34" waist and 43" hip (size 16). If you know about pattern construction and apparel, you may be able to easily adjust the patterns accordingly to best fit your body.

Before I get too far, I should say that I haven't sewn a piece of clothing for myself in ages - mended, yes. Altered, yes, but usually by hand - sewn from a pattern to fit my body? Definitely ages ago...and with the assistance of my mother.

After a brief introduction, the book opens with a basic techniques section. This includes information on how to use the patterns (including the legend for notations on the patterns), sizing, seaming and stitching, shaping, linings, closures (zippers and buttons), finishing (bias tape, hems), and a host of other things. If you are completely new to sewing, I would recommend an introductory sewing class or book before plunging into the projects in this book.

After the Techniques section, the projects begin with a chapter on skirts. The patterns include A-lined, gored and straight skirts - with the simplest pattern at the beginning, moving to more complicated patterns as you progress through the chapter. Photos of each pattern are featured in the beginning of each chapter, along with the project description, a tip and note pointing you to the page on which the instructions for the project begin. After the photos, and just before the project instructions begin, are a few technical notes to help guide you on your way to success. Each of the project instructions inclue a skill level rating, a materials list, a note to the page that the large photos are on in addition to smaller front and back shots of the finished item. Also included are small schematics of the pattern, and step-by-step instructions for assembly and project completion.

Each subsequent chapter follows the same format as the first. The 2nd chapter focuses on raglan sleeve construction (tops, and tunics), the 3rd chapter focuses on drop-shoulder construction (more tops, tunics and dresses, including the one on the cover), the 4th and final chapter focuses on spaghetti straps (summery cami's and dresses).

Overall, I think this book is put together quite nicely, and the patterns should work for various body types and ages - it's just not a book for a beginner is all :)

Monday, October 05, 2009

and now...

...something wee.

Knitting for babies is great for instant gratification :) especially if you go and use big-ish yarn :) have a look at what recently came off the needles in a bout of stealth gift knitting!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival!

Tonight is the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival - the moon should be nearing it's fullest and roundest shape - I've packed up my mooncakes, and it'll be a great evening for a night-hike!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Seasonal change

Happy Belated Atumnal Equinox! I guess time flies when I'm running around like a crazed woman ;) I guess I had a break long enough to go for a color change - this time, I've gone with Red (I was going to go with Red and Orange, but they didn't have any orange on hand) - something bold and much more obvious for the Autumn. I love the bright hue, but am not convinced I'll continue to keep it up after this round. Maintenance is easy enough, and I did get a full three months out of the blue and purple...I guess we'll see in another three months :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beauty and Greatness

and they belong to all of us.

If you haven't caught the show, there is a 6-part miniseries shot by Ken Burns on PBS showing this week - check your local listings OR view them online through October 9th.

The United States currently has 391 National Parks/Monuments/National Recreation areas. I've been to 33 that I can recall, I have lots of great memories from my various visits. How many have you been to, and do you have a favorite?

Monday, September 28, 2009


So, all that crazed knitting was done in preparation for my attendance at a grand event: the Marriage of one of my cousins. We practically grew up in the same household - so he's like a brother in many ways. You can have a look at the finished shawl over here.

Speaking of brothers, *sniff* they're all grown up. Look at them all, in suits and ties no less! I had to go through a crazy number of photos to pull this one (they were all being goofy in the other photos) I guess somethings never change ;)

The ceremony was outdoors, at the Nixon Presidential Library - out in the rose garden. The setting was stunning, the flowers (arrangements, and otherwise) were also beautiful. There were rose petals in abundance.

The bride and groom - aren't they lovely? I saw their photographer sneaking round to the other side - but we figured we shouldn't go sneaking around during the ceremony in an attempt at photographs.

The little ones in the wedding party were especially adorable - I don't have photos of the little man who did a recitation of Mr. Roger's "It's you I like" - very well done and way too cute!

The reception was indoors - and the food was prepared by an ex-presidential chef (and it was very tasty too). Behold, the cake:

Simple and elegant, white and dark chocolate with raspberries...and pastry cream.

Congratulations, Julian and Christina! We wish you happiness, good fortune and health!