Saturday, December 4, 2010

Treacle Tart Experiment

This is an interim blog post. I am knitting, but the pace is a bit slower. I've been working in fingering or sock yarn. Takes time to finish a project.

The dessert at left was made for Thanksgiving. Every holiday I like to try some new item, just for fun.

Treacle tart was mentioned as Harry Potter's favorite dessert. A few months ago, I bought a tin of Golden Syrup out of sheer curiosity. The taste is sort of buttery. Treacle tart was the most promising recipe I could find to use it. Note- Black Treacle is a syrup that is essentially molasses. The British tend to use the word "treacle" to denote sugar cane syrups in general. I had to discover this on my own. My Scottish in-laws have been utterly incapable of providing any meaningful conversation on the topic. My curiosity drives them nuts (in a long list of grievances).

Treacle tart consists of a short crust pastry, the top crust must be latticed or may be omitted and a sugary filling. The recipe that I used. called for Golden Syrup, fresh white breadcrumbs, ginger and lemon. The mixture is then baked. My kids really liked it.

There seems to be a lot of variation in the recipes for this dessert. There are lots of versions online. I am not posting the recipe that I used because my results were very different from the recipe description. The recipe stated that the tart would be "cookie-like". I mixed the ingredients, weighing them out according to the recipe. The mixture I got was very dry. It could not be poured into the crust. I ended up adding more syrup and also some evaporated milk to get a moister filling. I did this because some modern recipes call for cream and sometimes eggs. After I filled the crust, and assembled the lattice top, the tart still didn't look right. The filling still looked too much like a pile of crumbs. I cover the tart and left it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, I baked the tart, with good results. The breadcrumbs broke down overnight and I got a smoother, homogeneous filling. It was sweet and a little bland. The next time I try this, I will increase the amount of lemon and ginger. I would also prefer to get the "cookie-like" texture mentioned in the recipe. Possibly, leaving out the dairy would produce that. I will research more variations of this dessert before I try again. It's and interesting variation in the family of sigary pies such as Shoofly, Chess, and Pecan Pies.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

European Mandrake, knit

This was a LOT of fun. I started out to knit a mandrake root, as mentioned in Harry Potter (book 2). As I was looking up reference material, I learned to distinguish between the two varieties of plant commonly called mandrake. Mandrake is also fascinating as a medicinal plant on it's own. My project was knit to resemble a European Mandrake, which has purple flowers and an orange fruit. The North American variety, looks like an umbrella, with a white, waxy blossom.
The root/body was knit of a worsted taupe yarn from my stash. All knitting was done on size 6 DPN. I knit a5-inch long cylinder of 40 stitches around. I cast on with waste yarn so that I had live stitches at each end of the cylinder. For the legs, I divided the stitches evenly and knit two tapered tubes, ending with about three stitches. I purposely made the tubes different lengths. For the arms, I picked up stitches on either side of the body and knit irregular, tapered tubes. The arms and legs were threaded with pipe cleaners and stuffed with a bit of fiberfill if it fit. For the head, I decreased a few stitches to suggest a neck and shoulders, then knit straight up on about 30 stitches to form a head. The leaves were knit from groups of 3-5 stitches, all around the head. The flower and fruit were knit separately and sewn on. I added extra strands of yarn to suggest smaller roots on the ends of the appendages. There is at least on published pattern for a mandrake available on Ravelry. I developed my own so I could avoid sewing up. I also wanted to focus on botany rather than the cartoon aspects of the project. I specifically did not want to "anthropomorphise" the root by adding a face.

Brandywine Shawl

Brandywine Shawl is done. Finished about two weeks ago. I did not photograph it until a few days ago. This one needed some time to grow on me. It was knit in a double strand of alpaca laceweight yarn. I've decided that (for now) I don't like laceweight yarns. I put a lot of effort into this project and it came out the size of a kerchief. To be fair, perhaps I should knit this pattern in a sport yarn and see if I like it better. The color is nice and I've worn it once.
Since the weather has suddenly turned cold, neckwear has decided benefits. I have recently discovered that a wrap around the neck/shoulders can feel wonderful, particularly if one is prone to getting a stiff neck. I also happen to work in a drafty office. Finally, it gives me something to fidget with when needed. I'll be playing with shawls/stoles for a while longer. I'm excited about the work of Stephen West and will link to him in future posts.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Well, foo. I've been knitting, but grumpy. For weeks. Taken no photographs. Foo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pokeball Hat

I'm not exactly enamored of the picture, but sometimes it's good to model the knitting. If you have kids, you know what this is. It is a Pokeball Hat, named after the TV show/card and time suck known as Pokemon. I made this in a couple of days for a friend of my kids, now college age. He's actually wearing it with glee. He wore it around the backstage area of school. I've been asked to do a plain black beanie for the Tech. Director. I'm happy to oblige since this teacher has done a lot for my kids. Also, this was a nice diversion from the other projects that are preloading the guilt. I'm am back to diligently working on the Brandywine Shawl. When it is done, I will not be buying laceweight yarn for a long time, even on sale! Way too time consuming for my taste. I've got a lot of yarn that I'd rather be knitting, in prettier colors.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hillbilly Not Witch

This is not working out as I had envisioned. It has no style yet. No panache. Says "corncob pipe" rather than...magic. The hat is knit and felted. That part is OK. The spider is OK. The structure sux. I have tried fabric stiffener. No luck, but everything else around me is stiff, sticky and stained white. That product does WONDERS with cat hair.

I have also bought felt to make a supportive lining. What a pain. Felt, plus a stiff wire is almost enough for the brim. Felt alone works for the cone.

Third and final solution.....I got a cheap witches hat at a discount store. Put my hat over the cheap on. The brim is supported. I still need a felt lining in the cone. I will stretch the brim and overcast it to the wired rim of the inner hat. Not elegant, but I won't be wearing this all that much. Finally, I wore the hat inside when I bought it. Easiest way to carry the packages. My husband saw me entering the house in the witches hat and got vaguely disturbed. He said it looks too appropriate for his taste.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Madam Sprout with Spider

Well I'm plenty late with this. I am working on a black conical hat, to wear at work at the end of October. I've got black robes that I made seversl years ago, also for a work-related party. Anyway, once I started on the hat, it occured to me that THIS would be a fitting vehicle for a Barbara G. Walker spider. The photo at left shows the half-finished hat with half a spider. I am knitting pretty true to the pattern, which is unusual for me.

Update- The hat is finished the knitting stage and actually looks pretty good. I spent two sessions hand felting this in a bowl of hot water with detergent. It is DEFINITELY felted. Somehow, the hat did not stiffen up as expected. I have sewn a heavy-gauge wire into the rim- no use. I am experimenting with fabric no avail. Next trick is to make a black felt liner to support the knit. I'm not crazy about it, but if it works, it works. More photos to follow.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

R2D2 Beanie

This was fun and easy to knit. I'm pleased with the result and happy to send it to it's recipient. I am also happy to crop my face out of the photo. I am utterly grumbly and not likng the way I photograph. Foo. Besides, I look a lot like Yoda at the moment. Pbpptht.

Wonderful pattern from Carissa Knits.

Not Zoidberg

I had 3 skeins of scarlet cotton in stash. Also, husband has been viewing new episodes of Futurama continuously. I need a costume for a work party in October.

This ain't it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Brandywine Pattern for Haiti

That's half a shawl there. I'm making it in the pink that won't go away. For some odd reason, I keep ending up with that shade of pink/salmon/papaya. I have a sweater that I bought in that shade. I had a stash of it in my yarn suitcase that has follwed me through 3 different states! I knit up the entire supply and gave it as a gift. No sooner than I mail the package, than I buy laceweight yarn on sale and look what color I see when it arrives!!!! Totally unconscious on my part. Two skeins of laceweight- knitting purgatory for me. I have discovered that I do NOT ike knitting laceweight yarn at all. In order to preserve my sanity, I have doubled this stuff up and it is STILL laceweight. Even doubled, it is finer than fingering weight yarn. The actual project is the Brandywine Shawl by Romi. I chose it after a couple of weeks of dithering. Proceeds from the pattern ($5.00 of the $6.50 price) go to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres for Haiti Relief. Perfect choice. Amazingly, as of July 4, 2010, $13,000 has been sent from the sale of this pattern.

Braggart's Cap

At left is my most recent finished object. It was inspired by, and made for my friend Michael.
This particular project scared me no end. Note that the figure on the far left is a PEACE symbol. Knitting one of those was a real piece of work, at least in my imagination. To explain...Micheal, friend from high school, is a writer and has his own blog, Flaming Love Peace Blog. A project for him has been in my head for about a year. I found the Peace Sign Chart of Barbara G Walkers Book and knew that this was THE ONE. The cable next to it is also from the book. Michael chose the color, being partial to jewel tones. Of course, I was happy to have justification for a yarn order. Yarn used was worsted weight wool no more than 2 skeins at 110 yards each.
The fun part: Michael is a Morris Dancer. He is a member of the well known troupe, Ramsey's Braggarts. Miracle of miracles, the hat came out in one of Ramsey's colors.
More fun: Someone saw the hat and said it looked like Crop Circles. I've been wanting to knit a crop circle design for a long time and now I've got a method. to do so. My UFO list has REAL UFO's on it, now!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

For Pascal, meet Dusty

Just checking in on the blog "Art in the Wind" (see link at left). It looks like my cat has a blog! Well, a twin at least. Here's a photo of Dusty in her native habitat, our yard. Like Pascal, she has been known to mangle some wool when available.
On the knitting front- my current projects are in the slogging stage and I'm bored. Yesterday I started swatching Daleks and the TARDIS and other Doctor Who subjects. I want to do a stole/wrap project in laceweight yarn. That floral thing is not happening. Therefore- Daleks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More Moth

The current state of the moth shawl. I have started using the new red yarn. It's a pretty good fit considering that I bought the new red twenty years after the first. The moth body is in the old yarn. I'm stitching the wings in the new yarn so that I don't have an even more awkward change of colors. The new yarn is from Brown Sheep and is called "Red Wing". I like it so much I may buy enough for a sweater.

These process photos are really useful because I can gauge the "mothiness" from a distance. I may alter the white wings a bit...... I'm probably too lazy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Winging It

Progress on the Moth. The body is done. Filling in all that red bored me no end. I have also been flummoxed trying to figure out how to stitch in the wings with some kind of precision. Solution- tandem needles. I have loaded up TWO needles, one on either side of the shawl and stitch in the sections alternately. "Ten stitches on the right, then ten stitches on the left."
Once the outer wings are outlined, I'll figure out the position of the red, inner wings. The irregular shapes on the lower right part of the shawl were my first attempt to position the wing spots. They need to be moved. I'm glad the creative block is over.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Skein of Spite

The photo at left shows how I spent an entire weekend! I spent a three-day weekend winding yarn and ended up so sore that I took Aleve for a couple days after. I'm still not quite finished yet! But it is one pound of SILK.

Backstory: Years ago, I splurged and bought o pound of undyed, raw silk yarn, fingering weight. I think it is about 1600 yards. The yarn arrived, in one huge skein and two 6-8 inch "wheels". I have been totally intimidated by the fact that this yarn is SILK and have carried it around with me through three different states. Meanwhile, prices have gone up. This yarn is worth more than I can afford. After knitting a ton of small projects and knitting lots of stash for the past two years, (nevermind any spontaneous yarn purchases), I'm gong to knit myself a sweater. It's time. Originally, I only knit sweaters. This will be the first in years. I've spent months dithering over a pattern and design issues. (Translation, I've gained weight and my behind got fat).

I got the yarn together. This was no problem because I have been visiting it periodically over the years. I open up the big skein. It was huge. The skein did not fit on my niddy noddy- too large. The thickness was about 4 inches when laid on a table. All of it tangled. I spent all of my free time winding and untangling one skein. So far I have five balls wound, each the size of a baseball. I still have a portion of the skein left, perhaps one more ball. I've made a swatch and started to knit. Meanwhile, that remainder sits beside me looking like the cats had a festival. I feel guilty enough that I'll try to finish it up this weekend.

Weaponized Crochet

My kid gets credit for this idea. Periodically, I ask (beg) him for ideas to make. It is his duty to supply me with information on video games, manga and anime. I have an interest, but he is MUCH better at staying current. Anyway, he suggested this a while ago and I liked it. This is from a video game, Katamari Damacy. It's fun! This particular project is in crochet, which I use as needed. Some things are just not suited to knitting. Here is the pattern for a Magnetic Katamari.Andrew picked the colors from my stash. The details..... the sphere is crocheted in two halves, which are sewn together. the sphere is roughly the size of a soft ball. The original Katamari was stuffed with fiberfill. Mine also has a rigid inner foundation in the form of a plastic canvas ball frame. The red and white nubs are crocheted separately, filled with a pair of magnets then sewn onto the base. I made the project over one weekend. The major pitfall in this project is finding magnets strong enough to be effective through a layer of yarn. I bought two kinds of magnets at the local craft store. The base magnet is a cheap, 3/4 inch bulk magnet. It supports a pricier, stronger rare earth magnet that was only available in a small size. If I make another one of these, I will plan ahead and buy rare earth magnets online in the size I need. This is a good geek gift. It would also be good for someone to play with at their desk.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back to the Bug with Stocking

Here is the project with yarn supply on the right. The soon-to -be frogged stocking is shown at left. It doesn't bother me much. I've been thinking about doing some new stockings anyway, because the red/white looks odd in our living room. The living room is painted in light blue/aqua and beige. Normally, I wouldn't worry but this past year I kept wondering about coordinating stockings..........

Back to the Bug

At left is a realistic picture of my knitting in progress. Note the intruder hustling into the frame.

I've been dutifully working on this everyday this week and the progress is slow. This thing is BIG. It's a lot of territory to cover in duplicate stitch. I am worried that I will run out of red yarn.

About two years ago, I had a surplus of bright red yarn in stash- about 8 skeins over three or so types. I used up most of the wool making Christmas stockings. The leftover half skein is being used in this project. It seemed like a lot. Wrong. At the rate I'm using yarn, I could run out before the moth body and wings are complete. Here are the options.......

1. Modify the wing position to accommodate the available yarn. Very likely.

2. Cannibalize a stocking to get more yarn. Also likely. Luckily, of the four stockings I made, the one for myself is unadorned, made in this yarn, and can be unraveled. The other three stockings are for family members and can't be touched. They also have custom designs.

3. Get more yarn. I'm trying. The stash yarn I'm using was purchased years ago. Some of it was Nature Spun, but not necessarily this skein. I spent so time online searching for a close match and ordered two skeins of Nature Spun worsted weight in a color called "Red Wing". It has the same distinctive heathery look. I think it is the same yarn I bought way back when. If the yarn is clearly unsuitable for this project.....guess who's getting a new red accessory?

4. Undo and start stitching with new red yarn. NEVER happening. I am not undoing this.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bayou Old Shale Lace Shawl

Don.e. Cause I got sick of it. Small shawl, as in neck napkin, kerchief, fichu, in KnitPicks laceweight yarn, Shimmer, Bayou colorway. I did not bother to aggressively block it, but the shawl stretched out to about 36 inches when wet. It's a good size to wrap around the neck. I like it, but it's nothing to get excited about. There's no photo of me wearing it, but I tried. The problem is that when I hold the camera, I make faces. My arms are short, so it's hard to get a good shot. Besides that, I wasn't wearing makeup and my hair is a mess. Trust me, the plants look better. By the way, I tried this in a mirror and all that came to mind was the size of my backside......... Next project! I'm picking up the Virgin Tiger Moth Shawl for a bit.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Knitting By Weight

Yes, I am obsessed. Not about to change, either. Being new to laceweight yarns, I have no idea what kind of mileage I get from them and that drives me crazy. I'm knitting from and Evelyn Clark pattern, Old Shale Shawl. This yarn is so fine that the ball NEVER seems to get any smaller. I wound another skein of laceweight yarn for visual comparison, but that was not helpful in the early stages. I've taken to weighing the ball and knitting on a postal scale at work every few days. It's no big deal since I usually have my knitting bag with me. The starting weight of the skein was 1.7 oz (47 g). I started the lace edge at 263 stitches, 0.8 oz (23 g). It makes sense because the initial stages of the scarf are so small that very little yarn is used. The final rows are using a good deal more yarn, so I can see and measure my progress. This is near the halfway point, by weight.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lace Weight Control Freak

Working on the Evelyn Clark Old Shale Shawl. I’ve done samples of Old Shale before and it is easy, only 4 lines I think. It’s a good introduction or nearly automatic lace knit. Right now I am trying to figure out when to start the lace border. For this pattern it is difficult because the lace weight yarn goes so far. I’ve been knitting endlessly and the ball seems like it will last forever! I’ve now gotten crazy enough that I’m taking it to work with me and weighing it on the postal scale. So far here was no measurable change in weight over a 24 hour period. Eventually there will be a blog post about this once I get measurable progress. The project IS getting bigger, but the gauge is so fine, 8.3 stitches per inch that it is SLOW. I need to use a more sensitive balance. Actually, I have one that I could dig out. My scientific balance will weigh to hundredths of a gram. I just need to accept the fact that I am crazy enough to do that. I already estimated that the yarn run 8 yards to the gram. It could get much worse….as soon as I get the balance that has the proper sensitivity. I'll take a photo perhaps at work so you can see the scale in use. The photo at the upper left was taken about three days ago. The piece is now about double that size, but there is no measurable change in weight. I need a more sensitive balance. I don't want to start the lace edge until I have used up 60-70 % of the yarn.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fine Gauge

At left are the two current active projects. The legwarmer is shown next to its mate which is in the beginning stage on the right. Yes, those are knitting needles, not toothpicks. When the second legwarmer is complete, I will have a set that is suitable for either a girl or a boy baby, depending upon what Rachael has. I've already completed a white toddler sweater and a baby blanket project is in a bag inspiring guilt. I'm good for baby gifts.

The amorphous green bit is what I'm really working on now. It will be a triangular shawl/ette from a pattern written by Evelyn Clark. The Evelyn Clark stuff has been creeping up on me for a while, years apparently. Over the winter, I saw the pattern for Springtime Bandit and absolutely HAD to make it. I had a rather difficult time with that pattern because it was my first lace piece. The project was successful, but I did not understand what I was doing. That drives me bonkers. I started researching lace and lace shawls and found the work of Evelyn Clark. I got a copy of her book, Knitting Lace Triangles, on eBay, after a bidding war that lasted several days. I bought laceweight yarn at KnitPicks. I tried all sorts of needles from my collection....plastic, bamboo, metal, straight, DPN, circulars......and was utterly miserable with the whole mess. Laceweight yarn is....string! The stuff is so fine, I could barely (NOT) feel it passing through my fingers. Couldn't find the right needle. Tantrums, agita! In the meantime I picked up fingering weight and size 4 needles which suddenly felt just dandy. Anyway, not to be defeated, I found an online Evelyn Clark pattern called Old Shale Shawl. It was originally published in Piecework magazine and a variation is available for purchase online. I bought the pattern. I like the fact that this pattern is for a true BEGINNER lace triangle. The body of the shawl is done in garter stitch so I can concentrate on the shaping details. The shawl ends with a deep edging in the Old Shale pattern, which is an easy lace. Finally, Evelyn Clark specializes in patterns that can be adapted to a range of yarn weights. I'm doing this one in a 440 yard skein of laceweight yarn, on size 4 needles. The stitches are tiny. Even so, after blocking and massive stretching, I should have something I can wear around my neck. My gauge before blocking is around 7-10 stitches per inch. This project is going to take a long time...... I am getting to the point where I can control the tension and feel the yarn slipping through my fingers. Still, it's a very different experience. This yarn really feels like string. The finished project is going to feel and drape differently. The yarn is inelastic. I also am adjusting to metal needles which I avoid, but they are the primary (only) option in the smaller sizes. Hopefully I'll have enough completed soon to post a real picture. Currently, the project is the size of my palm, after 3 days of work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Really Fun Baby Legwarmers- Gift

My current project. The pattern is Eveie Peasy Baby Legwarmers. It's another really easy, fun, economical pattern. Basically, you knit two tubes about 11 inches in length. The pattern estimates that the circumference of the tube is 6 inches. I suspect it may be a bit larger. At any rate, my (small) hand fits inside quite nicely. The tube corresponds to a comfortable mitten. The pair shown at left is knit using a DK weight sock yarn, Moda Dea, Sassy Stripes. I've got some in both a pink and a blue version- perfect for baby gifts. One skein makes a pair of legwarmers. I plan on using the second skein (plus any remnants of the first) to make a matching shrug. If the shrug doesn't pan out, I can certainly make a hat. The notable feature of these legwarmers is that the ankle cuff is knit on size 2 needles. The body of the tube and the thigh cuff is knit on size 4 needles. For this yarn, each legwarmer used exactly two repeats of the color pattern. Lastly, it's a quick knit. I can knit a pair in a week for a fast gift. The person who developed the pattern stated that these were knit in the 3 months size but still fit her toddler because as the child grows, the legwarmers get moved down the leg. I agree with this since my hand fit inside easily. The pattern also gave instructions for larger sizes too.

Looking Glass

I am actually pretty happy with this project. It's knit from Springtime bandit and is my very first lace project. It was given as a gift, so I can post in now. I'm hoping I haven't already posted this..... I need to go back to check...... The color is Looking Glass. Yarn is KnitPicks Imagination. I can stop congratulating myself now.


I LOVE the way this turned out. It was knit in a fingering weight yarn. I am amazed at how much blocking lace benefits it. The scarf as knit was about 48 inches long. In other words, I knit until I was sick of it. The scarf was knit in two halves. Grafting the two portions in the center was difficult this time. I've done grafting before. This time, since the stitches were small (roughly size 3 needles), in dark yarn, and in garter stitch, it was a pain. I know I messed it up a few times. Anyway, after blocking...magic. The scarf grew from 48 to 70 inches. It got narrower. The pattern opened up. The grafting isn't noticeable to the casual observer. All I have to do is figure out if I want to give it away or keep it. The pattern is from the Rav Day Lace Workshop. The yarn is KnitPicks Palette in "Fairy Tale".

Baby Shrug

Completed, way too big baby shrug. This is one instance where Ravelry members were SO correct. Many people commented that this pattern ran big. I knit the pattern as written for the 3 months size. I used a size 6 circular needle and cotton yarn in a worsted weight. The garment measured about 23" for the chest, which is a toddler size. In this case, it doesn't matter because I am making unisex baby items. It would have been a disaster if I had a specific child and size in mind. Other than the size issue, I love the pattern. It does not take a lot of yarn, so it can be knit from stash (about 200 yards). The garment is knit in one piece. There is some sewing-up, but nothing too difficult. The shaping is easy. I am going to knit this pattern again, same 3 month size as written, using DK and/or sport yarn and smaller needles. I will also do some advance calculations to give me an idea of what dimensions I'll get knitting at my typical gauges. The pattern is from Debbie Bliss, Simply Baby, December 2006 and is free on the Internet.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Distributed Computing, Distributed Knitting

I am scatterbrained. These are the projects I am not working on and I feel guilty. I'll explain.

Distributed computing is the practice of using lots of computers to work on portions of a much larger project. I use my computer to do this for SETI and BOINC. The SETI project looks for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life. My computer works on data from the Arecibo Array. Mycomputer also does calculations to help map the Milky Way. All well and good. Now back to knitting.

The projects shown ae the beginnings of a baby blanket and hat. The baby is not due until next Autumn, so I'm slacking off. In addition, I'm not having the baby, so I really don't feel any urgency about this. The problem is that I do feel urgency about lace knitting. That's what I've been doing. Besides that, I've got too many ideas in my mental queue and in bags around the house. I am also sick, sick, sick of the yarn in my stash. I want new yarn, which is totally unjustified, to say nothing of the beautiful new colors on the KnitPicks website. Here is what I'm doing, as of yesterday. I am spending a regular amount of time doing about one stripe section of the baby blanket. After that, I'm free to work on the nearly done lace scarf. The lace is now 45 inches done out of about 60 inches total. Once the lace is done, I can start on smaller, easily completed baby stuff d work until I have the gift stash ready. I am happy that the last of my other gifts has been given. I gave my boss the beret and scarf that I made for her on Friday. (today is Sunday) Maybe the real problem is that knitting for other people makes me anxious. I worry about whether they will like it fit, color, etc. I'm just driving myself nuts. What was my point? I am scatterbrained.......

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day

Today is the day to commemorate women in science. The women I want to write about are not famous. Their names are Eleanor Brown and Rae Greenberg. I met them in my first job ever, at the United States Department of Agriculture, Eastern Regional Research Center (USDA, ERRC). They were biochemists in the Dairy Lab. I spent time working alongside them and admired their competent examples. Rae, in particular was working on the amino acid sequence of milk proteins. I worked along the same hallway, with Thomas Kumosinski. The Dairy Lab group worked together on a day to day basis for years. It was a good start for me, as a student. It's probably been one of the best places I've ever worked. Not everyone makes the big discoveries. I think there is a lot to be said for the people who do basic research. They lay the foundation for everyone else. A link to one of their papers is given below.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lace Lesson

That's 100 rows of garter stitch lace there. In fingering yarn, KnitPicks Palette, Fairy Tale color. I have to knit the OTHER point, then knit 5 feet of "middle lace". Finally I get to graft the two together. I'd better be massively serene by the time I finish this. The pattern came from Ravelry, Rav Day Lace Workshop Scarves. The color is best described as "beets". After 2 days of looking at this yarn I now have beets roasting in the oven and beet greens simmering on the stove. Making vinaigrette (balsamic) to go with that.
Back to knitting. Originally, I started this project (on St. Patrick's Day no less) in a beautiful green handpainted laceweight yarn. Fifty rows of that weren't looking right or doing right. I tried several sizes of needles, bamboo and aluminum and hated it. Frogged. Laceweight yarn is so fine that I need to have exactly the right needles to control it and I don't have them yet. I switched to the fingering yarn shown above and the difference is amazing. Fingering yarn now feels thick and squishy. Overall, I'm pleased. The lace is coming along nicely and the holes are placed correctly. After blocking, it should look nice.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bored and soforth

I'm am feeling distinctly uncreative at the moment. The Virgin Tiger Moth Shawl is sitting in a bag making me feel guilty. Finishing it will be akin to embroidering a football field. Of COURSE I'm not sure I have enough yarn. That just adds something. I am also working on some babies' things. Gender to be determined. My friend has blessedly told me that she is not due until next Autumn, so I have TIME. Learning to do lace, which is the current obsession. Finally, I have done gift items for something like 10 people since the school year began. It'll do. I'm just.....way outta whack.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cables & Seeds, 2 Hats, 2 Scarves, Too Much

Done. Originally I set out to make a triangular shawl...for myself. The yarn was so pretty that I decided to give it to my best friend as a birthday gift. (no photo because her birthday is in 2 weeks) My boss has a birthday shortly after that. I started the pink scarf for her. When the scarf was 2/3 done my boss mentioned that she lost her black beret and hadn't been able to replace it. I cast a black scarf onto the same needles and knit pink and black scarves concurrently. As the pink was finished, it was bound off and I got caught up with the black. I found a beret pattern that coordinates with the scarf pattern (original). Made that in black. As I finished the beret....I found a last bit of the pink yarn and eked out a matching cap. I knit until my hands were sore on these. The photo at left shows the finished "sets" and nicely illustrates why it is so much easier to knit texture patterns in light color yarn. Shadows and contrast are everything.

Monday, March 8, 2010


The photos above are a study in value/contrast, dark vs. light...chiarascuro. the two scarves are knit identically. Both are knit on the same needles, same pattern, same 100% wool worsted yarn. The on,y difference between them is color. This is a great illustration of the principle that patterns show to best advantage in light colored yarn. I did not set out to illustrate this. originally, I was furiously working on a gift for someone. I chose a color that I thought would look good on her and that she probably had in her wardrobe. The scarf was 2/3 complete when I heard her say that she had lost her black beret and really wanted to replace it. I immediately started on the black scarf and will make a black beret to match. I'm on a tight schedule with this. Lots of birthdays coming up. I've done gifts for EIGHT people lately.......I hope to do some work on the insect stuff soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cables & Seeds

Just started this yesterday. It will be a scarf of some sort, knit in alternating panels of cable and seed stitch. The yarn is a 100% wool, worsted weight. If it turns out well, It will be goven as a gift. I've got a tight schedule for this one as several people I know have birthday's coming up soon. I just finished another gift, which I'll post a bit later.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

FUGLY, We are not amused

I hate how those turned out. I've got a cold. There is snow outside up to my backside and i didn't even bother to crop the photo. There is nothing functionally wrong with those mitts but they are ugly and I don't like them. That is a perfect lesson in choosing the wrong yarn for a project. I used a worsted weight yarn in an K1P1 rib. The fabric is simply too coarse for my little paws. It knit up very quickly because of the thick yarn and large (size 8) needles. Next try will have to be in a finer yarn. A smoother stitch would look better, but I want the stretchiness of ribbing. Blech. Foo.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My Chicken Viking Hats

I took a quick break from other projects to make two Chicken Viking Hats for some friends. I've wanted to make this design for about a year. The hats are made in worsted weight yarn, wool or wool blend. I used one skein for each hat. I did not have quite enough yarn to make the earflaps that are shown on the original model. I knit the drumsticks separately and sewed them on because it allowed me to judiciously use the last of my yarn. I found two friends who could use them. Mark is someone I've known since college. Mark, his wife Wendy, and I were all on the same dorm floor freshman year of college. For him, this is a "spherical chicken". The other hat is for the character "Gailia Chive" who has been doing wonderful cooking-inspired skits in the Philadelphia area for years. I will also make at least one more a surprise gift.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Insect Update

I'm working on the Virgin Tiger Moth. I have completed the head capsule and outlined the dark pattern on the thorax and abdominal segments. The number of dark markings varies from photo to photo so I did worry about an exact number. The solid red area follows the lines of the thorax and abdomen which will blend into the wings. The blue(ish) guidelines roughly determine the lower set of wings, for now. I will outline the dark spots on the wings and fill the rest with red. It's a bulky, heavy project, so I will be alternating it with smaller, portable knitting.

Gailia Chive Chicken Viking

A longtime friend has a character called Gailia Chive who performs cooking skits. I am knitting up a couple Chicken Viking hats for her and another friend. I'm definitely making one in yellow and another in amber. It's a nice break to do a small, portable project.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Virgin Tiger Moth Shawl Update

Here are photos of the shawl so far. I just finished knitting the base shawl two days ago. It took seven skeinc of Patons Chunky Shetland Tweed in Charcoal Grey. I started with seven stitches and increased every other row until I had 228 stitches and ran out of yarn. The borders are in seed stitch. The photo on the left shows the shawl laid out with a temporary gridwork to help me place the graphic. The vertical lines are placed every 10 columns. I also have markers placed vertically every 25 rows. The phot0 on the left shows my "pixellated" photo of a Virgin Tiger Moth. The actual chart is about 220 stitches by 70 rows, which does not fit the shawl exactly. I have done a sketch, in pencil of a moth on a graph that is closer to the dimensions of the knit piece. Between the two diagrams, I am duplicate stitching the insect graphic. I have just started on the head and will next outline the abdomen. From there, I will work the wings on either side.

The triangular shape reminded be of Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewelry, which I just love. The only problem I have with this project is that I can't make it scientifically accurate. I've been wrestling with the charts the entire time I spent knitting the shawl and simply couldn't work that part out practically.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Integrated Circuit to be Knit

I've been playing with this idea for a long time. The photo shows a circuit board (prob. computer motherboard) and a "pixellation" of a small portion of a circuit board. When I originally started swatching this idea, I intended to knit a diagram for a functional circuit or PCB. The diagram for that got unwieldy- fast. Besides, that, my knowledge of electronics is long unused. Some of it is coming back. Still, I don't know enough to guarantee knitting a circuit board without major mistakes. Instead, I am knitting something that evokes a circuit board. It'll be fun. I can figure out what works in terms of knitting and my patience. Along the way, I have friends (EE's) who design and work with circuit boards. They will offer me major criticism and advice. Once the bugs are worked out, the next project might resemble a working circuit. A major problem is that of scale. Integrated circuits are SMALL. A lot fits into a small area. Knitting expands this like looking through a magnifier. So far, I have a number of graphs to work with after they have been cleaned up. From those first graphs, I hope to develop some kind of repeat pattern that could be extended over a large area of knitting. Integrated circuits don't work like that at all. They are much more specific. I'll deal with that later.......

Virgin Tiger Shawl

The shawl is in progress. It's a simple triangular shawl knit on a 40" circular needle, size 10. The yarn is Paton's Shetland Chunky Tweed is in Charcoal, otherwise known as "light black". I've got 6 or 7 skeins of the stuff and it's drafty in my living room. Shawls have been on my mind in the current cold snap. The shawl is approximately half done. At least I've used up about half the yarn. The current size is about 40+ inches wide at the top and 20 inches deep at the point. I saw a photo of a virgin tiger moth and decided to incorporate it into the shawl. I can't remember which came first. I bought the yarn months ago. The shape of the shawl said "Lepidopteran" (butterflies and moths). I started searching images and the Virgin Tiger Moth attracted me. The base color of the outer wings matches the yarn color. The abdomen and lower wings are a lovely red/orange color. All I have to do is figure out a layout. My original idea was to stitch in one large moth over the shawl body. Another possibility is to place several smaller moths over the shawl, perhaps in different positions. The final design will be determine by the final stitch and row count of the project, compared with my pixellated photos.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Virgin Tiger Moth

At left is a photo of two Virgin Tiger Moths. I think they are beautiful and hope to feature them on my current project. I'm knitting a triangular shawl in charcoal gray tweed yarn (Paton's Chunky Shetland Tweed), otherwise known as "light black". Whilst knitting, I searched out the moth photo and hope to stitch this critter onto the shawl. I have not yet figured out exactly how I will lay this out. I have graphs that will fit on the shawl. I have also figured out a great design that would work if I knit the shawl as a square. My needles are committed to a triangular shawl at this time. I am not frogging at this point. That could mean that I knit a second moth shawl.

Procrastination got me

I forgot to blog the last two things I knit. They are on the way to college to be stuffed into Andrew's closet...never to see the light of day.... At left is a photo of one project in progress. The other scarf was in mixed brown/gray shades knit lengthwise in linen stitch. I wanted to get photos on the recipient, but he was never awake during daylight/photo hours.