Saturday, September 27, 2008


I have ruined my leafy garland. My yarn addiction activated and I sneaked out for a yarn fix. I KNOW better than to choose varigated yarns, having produced memorable uglies before. Even so, four new skeins of varigated yarn in lovely autumnal tones reside in my backpack. I now have eleven individally pretty colors. I must find a way to work with them. The variegated stuff is intended to provide transitions between the solid colors. So far, the varigated yarns are producing blobs of color that look like kitty spew in garter stitch. I am too embarassed to post photos until I have an improved version to post also.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Swatching My Life Away

I'm not actually doing anything right now. I just started a new job and am freaked out about that. It is normal for me to be an overly anxious, constantly worried control freak. Really, this was described on my nursery school reports card when I was three years old. I can't get used to the fact that this job is going well. My last job had me working for someone far more controlling than I am. Normal feels strange to me.
In my knitting life, I've been doing a ton of swatches for:

1. leaf shapes for a possible Green Man.
2. a Binary scarf for a friend

The leaf knitting has been frustrating. I've used all sorts of patterns and discovered that the pretty pictures in books or on the Internet show leaves that are sewn down or viciously blocked. I want leaves that function as... freeform leaves. I'll have to come up with a compromise that takes into account the nature of knit fabric. I'm also limited by the yarn I'm willing to buy. Pure wool would be best, but I'm not spending a fortune on a palette of Autumn colors (not yet). I've already got a palette of seven worsted weight yarns and another set of pearl cotton yarns. I will probably end up getting some shaded yarns, but that feels like cheating. A basic leaf shape seems to work best, in garter stitch. There are plenty of leaves piling up outside and I feel the urge to knit my own indoor pile....

The Binary swatch shows the effect of different colors on the background fabric. Note the red that fades right into the background. It's not the original yarn. Anyway, I'm waiting for my friend to choose a color for the numbers.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Knit Okra

All things Southern and all things knit. The photo at left is knit OKRA. I went to a new supermarket recently, one that has a distinct regional character. This market has specialties such as proper biscuit flour, and frozen, breaded okra. As I was making a totally Southern Sunday dinner (chicken, pulled pork, greens, cornbread, fried okra) I realized that okra looks just like ribbing.

The picture shown was essentially a tube of 2 x 3 ribbing, decreased down to a point. I started with 15 stitches on double pointed needles. I did decreases every inch or so then cinched the ends. The cavity can be stuffed a little if needed for support. Total length about 3".

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Final Fantasy Cactaur & Black Mage Scarf

It's done. I think. this scarf was knit for one of my kids. It's his call as to when it's really done. The base scarf is knit on 30 stitches, in seed stitch (to lie flat). The Cactaur and Black Mage motifs were added at what seemed like a comfortable "height" in the scarf. The Cactaur was started after 18" were knit. The Black Mage was started at a length of 5' and the chart was knit upside down so that it would look correct when worn. The final length of the scarf is 6'6", which simply reflects that I knit 2 full skeins of yarn.

Here are the details.
Yarns: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Black, 2 skeins, small amounts of worsted weight yarn in sage green, yellow, and blue.

Needles: Size 8

The charted portions were knit in stockinette stitch. The "spines" for Cactaur's attack were simply lengths of yarn knotted through with a crochet hook and trimmed to an appropriate length. The spines may be changed to white, at kid's discretion. Finally, the cactus rib detail shown on the Cactaur chart is not in the final scarf. It was removed at kid's direction. The Mage needs an "attack" to add balance.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Flour vs. Fiber Doughnuts

I must get this right. I am obsessed with making fantastic doughnuts. This morning I made doughnuts using a "cake type" recipe from a usually reliable cookbook, The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, (approximate title). Better than the last time but not what I wanted. The first iteration of this recipe was made with self-rising flour, my frequent cheat. Awful! The flour was too soft (low protein content), so the doughnuts absorbed too much oil and were crumbly.

Today's version (second iteration) was made using an all-purpose flour. The original dough was too moist (like a paste) so I added flour to made a soft dough. I rolled and cut the doughnuts before chilling. The results were OK, but reinforced the fact that I prefer a yeast-raised doughnut.

It's important to note that professional bakers do NOT use all-purpose flour. The protein content of flour formulations makes a huge difference in the final product. I spent the rest of the morning skimming the food science literature and perusing the King Arthur Flour Website.

I could probably do better with a knit or crocheted doughnut. Healthier too.