Sunday, August 02, 2009

Warning.... Actual Knitting Content Ahead

I have two whole finished objects to report! And not dinky little hats or something, but two whole sweaters! And, there's new hair too!!!

First up is my Garter Yoke, which has been done for ages, but I finally found a time when: (1)it was cool enough to not risk heat stroke by wearing on an alpaca and wool sweater; (2) not raining; (3)there was a willing photographer around; and(4) my landlady wasn't home so we could have free reign of the property.

Pattern: Garter Yoke Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre (Knit.1, Fall/Winter 2008/ Vogue Website)
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Lana D'Oro, Color 206. I used exactly 9 skeins.
Needles: Size 6 Clover Bamboo
Start/End Dates: January 21 2009 to April 2009

Garter Yoke Cardigan

Over all, I'm pretty happy with this (which I guess is my first finished sweater). I like the pattern, but there'd be a few changes if I made it again: (1) I'd cast on fewer stitches at the start to make the neck not as wide (the pattern is a bit strange in that all sizes call for casting on the same amount of stitches); (2) short rows for bust shaping; (3) I modified it to have sleeve shaping, which was a good idea, but I think I made them a bit too small (well, other than the neck, pretty much the whole sweater is a bit too small).

Garter Yoke Cardigan

But, overall, it is a great pattern, and it could be a very fast knit (I purl slow, so that went a little slow). Highly recommended!!!

Next up is my Liesl, the eleven day sweater (which I could have finished in a week if I'd tried and hadn't taken a few days off in the middle).


Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Araucania Nature Cotton, colorway 11. I used all of the 4 skeins I had.
Needles: Size 10.5 Denise (using magic loop for the sleeves).
Start/End Dates: July 19-30, 2009


I made the high neck version, and ended up not putting in any button holes, and I’m happy to just wear it as an open sweater (if I wanted it closed I think I’d go up a size). I know some people have had problems with the sleeves, so I was really careful to think about which direction to go as I picked up the underarm stitches and proceed carefully; I had no issues with that.


However, as you can see, it is a bit short. I'm hoping it will stretch out a bit, as cotton has the tendency to do. But I'm afraid it maybe the Murphy's Law of yarn behavior, that the one time you want cotton to stretch, it won't. I really liked working with the yarn, but it does shed a lot. When I started this project I’d already tried to use the yarn for two failed Ballet T Shirts, so it had been frogged twice already, it seems to have held up pretty well, but I’m going to reserve final judgment until it has been washed/worn a few times to see if there are piling issues.

Overall, I love this pattern, and I'm pretty sure I'll be making a few more. The pattern is well written and easy to memorize and fast. But best of all, it's great for Hawaii's climate, and a great stash buster.

I'm trying to resist the urge to cast on for something new, and trying to finish up the Lotus Blossom Tank, and maybe even the Biker Jacket (it is so close), before I start anything new. But this is a happy post, talking about the rarely seen actual finished object, so I'm not going to get into that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Magazine Previews

I have no new finished objects to actually show off (there are a few, but no pictures), and the list of WIP keeps growing, but I thought I'd pop in to mention the new previews that are up for Interweave Knits Fall 2009 and Knitscene Fall 2009.

There are a few promising looking patterns, but my favorite is the Farmer’s Market Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio. It is a wonderful balance of basic, but not boring and comfortable looking with out being frumpy. The only other one that really stands out as something I'm interested in (though that always changes) is Rosamund’s Cardigan by Andrea Pomerantz, though I think I'd go for a less fuzzy yarn and maybe longer sleeves. A few of my other favorites, though probably not things I'd knit (for a variety of reasons) are: Barcelona Jacket, French Braid Pullover, Trellis and Vine Pullover.

Knitscene isn't looking quite as promising, and a lot of the patterns look really unflattering on the models. There's nothing I'll be rushing to cast on for, but a few of my faves are: Carnaby Street Pullover by Melissa Wehrle (cute, but might not be the most flattering on me probably not appropriate for the climate here; Hollywood Herringbone Pullover by Kate Gagnon (I've been waiting for this pattern to be published, but not really sure why as I doubt I'll ever knit it, but I really like it); New Motorbike Jacket by Rebecca Daniels (mostly because I'm a sucker for asymetrical openings, see Carnaby Street Pullover and Rosamund’s Cardigan above, and I guess the Hollywood Herringbone counts too... wow, I'm predictable).

Mostly, the Fall issues make me a bit jealous of people who live in climates where wool sweaters are more useful. But I really shouldn't complain, and I have to remember the places here that go crazy with the AC, and that I might find some use for these. Right now Farmer's Market is looking the most promising, but we'll see how that goes, one of the wonderful things about Ravelry is the easy ability to see how others have reinterpreted patterns to make them better or more appropriate for my body/life (case in point, finding out that the Lotus Blossom Tank actually looks great when it fits the wearer).

And, for a totally non-knitting aspect, here's a preview of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, coming March of 2010.

Even though I'm having some issues with the vision (like how old Alice looks), I'm super excited. (And if that video gets taken down, try here.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How I've been spending my time

In case you haven't figured out from the last few posts, I've been kinda focused more on sewing and food lately. Still knitting, but I'm enjoying the libraries selection of food and sewing books. Here's my current stack, which is a great indicator of how I've been spending my time:

Library Books- Or how I've been spending my time

And, here are pictures of yesterday's bread. It was pretty good, but I still really want to work on getting the open, loose crumb (like this). I think the bread may have been a bit over-proofed (which also may have contributed to the lack of oven spring), and maybe not wet enough. The recipe is the San Fransisco Sourdough from Crust & Crumb (though I halved it).

Here is a picture just out of the oven, and you can seen the lack of oven spring as the slashes barely spread during baking.

And here is the crumb (second day). Nice and even, and the loaf was yummy, but I'm still trying to achieve the elusive open crumb.
Inside - still lacking open crumb

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A few of the Critters of Nu'uanu

The TV is currently broken, which one would think might increase productivity, but when it comes to knitting, the productivity has actually gone down as most of my knitting was done while watching TV. Currently I can still watch TV on my old 13 inch laptop, or netflix instant on the new 15.5 inch widescreen, but neither are as conducive to knitting as the real TV. I'm still making progress on the WIPs (and one new project which just needs to be felted), but nothing major to report yet. Actually, the Garter Yoke is done, and has even made an appearance at Aloha Knitters, but it has just been too hot to put on an alpaca and wool sweater for pictures.

Instead I've been working more on other projects, including some sewing and more baking and reading. In fact I'm currently waiting for the most recent loaf of sourdough to cool enough to slice.* So, while I wait I thought I'd share some recent pictures of the interesting and/or cute creatures I've been encountering here (and I'll leave out the not so fun encounters I've had). Sorry that some of the pictures aren't great, some were taking quickly and with the only available camera, my phone.

First up are the pair (or sometimes trio) of ducks that seem to have taken up residence in the neighborhood. Upon research I'm pretty sure they are a hybrid of the Hawaiian Duck (koloa maoli) and Mallards. Unfortunately, the Mallards are an invasive species which has interbred with the native duck to the point where there are almost no ducks left that aren't hybrids (except on Kaua'i). And, what is even sadder is that it seems the hybrids are less adapted to the local ecosystem (so much for hybrid vigor).


One of the most vibrant animals we see are these Gold Dust Day Geckos, just like the Geico gecko. Another invasive species, and they appear to be rather localized as friends who live less than 1/2 mile down the valley don't have them.
Here is one hiding in the light outside our front door.

And this guy was being very cute, poking his head up from between the boards.
Gold Dust Day Gecko

Not so vibrant, but these walking sticks are just such interesting creatures. While they move slow, which allowed me to get a better camera, I had a hard time photographing it to show the size and also the features.
Walking Stick
Walking Stick

Last, but not least is the one animal no one thinks we have here: the blind snake. Yep, Hawaii has snakes, but they are tiny and blind. This one was dead (or doing a really good job of playing possum), and pretty big.
Blind Snake

And, since we are talking about animals, I thought I'd share this great flickr group I just found: the Ask a Bishop Museum Scientist. You can upload photos and a Bishop Museum scientist will try to identify the plant or animal (unfortunately, due to funding cuts, it seems they are limited in how much they can do).

Oh, and in actual knitting related blogging.... new knitty!! I haven't had time to puruse fully, but looks promising. I'm particularly intrigued by Tridactyl and the crab is adorable.

*Okay, I'm not really still waiting now. But I was when I wrote this and then I had a lot of trouble getting the last photo off my phone, so it took a while to finish this. And, to report: the bread was pretty much a success, yummy, but I didn't get enough oven spring and am still having trouble achieving the open crumb I want.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Adventures in Baking: Sourdough Buns & No-Knead Bread

I have to wonder at what point one's partner becomes concerned that a new interest may have gone too far. I'm not sure exactly where that line is in knitting, or on which side of it I sit (though my husband may have something to say about that). However, I think I came close to that line on Monday with regards to the renewed sourdough baking interest.

So far I've been focused on bread, with brief forays into pizza dough to use up the discarded starter. But Monday I decided to try making hamburger buns. To the non-baker I'm sure this sounds similar to how the idea of making socks sounds to a non-knitter ("You know, you can buy a pack of those at WalMart for a few bucks?"). But, just like socks, the handmade ones are worth the effort (and the effort was a lot less than socks. And, unlike socks, these were very close to the same price as the ones you'd get at the store, but much better.

I used this recipe with a few slight modifications: I used whole wheat flour for about 1 cup, I used 1 cup starter and 1 cup discarded starter (because I didn't have enough fresh starter) and I used vegetable oil instead of butter (because it was there, but the butter probably would have given better flavor). I also brushed them with an egg wash and sprinkled sesame seeds on most of them before baking. Here are a few photos of the process:

Ready to Bake
I used a small springform pan to cut out the rings, this is just after I cut them, but before they rose. I thought I got pictures after the rise but before the oven, but I guess not.

Fresh from the Oven
I probably crowded this pan a bit (this is not the one above), and then as they rose they smooshed together a bit as they rose, but still good.

The final product, Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki (with the Greek salad hiding in the back)

Lamb Burger with Tzatziki

Lamb Burger with Tzatziki

I also made a loaf of no-knead sourdough bread that day and it wasn't a total success. I followed a recipe that had me do the last rise in the dutch oven, and it spread out a lot so I ended up with a flat disk of bread instead of a beautiful boule.

No Knead Sourdough

No Knead Sourdough

No Knead Sourdough
I also burnt it a bit around the edges (I think the oven was too hot). Both of these things made it very hard to get out, luckily I'd put parchment of the bottom, but the sides were stuck very well and I didn't want to scrape the pot so i had to use a plastic bowl scraper. But the flavor was good (very sour) and the crumb was good, just need to revise the prooving/shaping methods.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Still Tinkering

I've been trying to make to columns here wider (which one would think blogger would make easy). Luckily I've managed to find good instructions here, but it will take a while to work out the kinks so bear with me as things may be a little messy for a bit.

Cupcakes for the Grown-up Set

My blogging MO seems to be a spurt of posts and then silence. Really I have no excuses other than laziness. And I've even had a decent amount to blog about in terms of both knitting and cooking.

On the cooking front the big one is that I'm getting back into more baking including recently sourdough bread (which will hopefully get its own post). The first up was an attempt to use a ton of limes I had (from a semi-failed attempt to make Cochinita Pibil, which I'll blog about if I ever make a version that is worth writing home about). I had the limes, and felt like baking something sweet, so my mind drifted to the good things I'd heard about the Margarita Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Now, I'm not vegan, and I'm not even a huge fan of tequila, but the idea of vegan margarita cupcakes just warms my heart. So, after a quick google search I found the recipe here.

I ended up making a double recipe, because there were supposed to be 11 people at the dinner and 12 cupcakes for 11 people just seemed wrong. I thought about making 1 1/2 of the recipe (and because there were no eggs, it would have been really easy to do so), but figured that more cupcakes was better than more math. I'm very happy with the decision to double the recipe.

The cupcakes were a big success, the perfect grown-up cupcake. The flavor of the lime and tequila came through so well, but it wasn't overpowering at all. While the cupcakes were a little dense, it was more that they were just very moist (which is a good thing in my book), not dense in a bad way.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the greatest pictures, but here are a few. I tried to do the rimming with green sugar, but it was really messy. I think it would be better with a coarser sugar instead of the sprinkles I had.

Margarita Cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes

I wanted to find little lime candies, but wasn't able to find them last minute (and on Easter Sunday), so I decided to candy some limes for a little extra decoration. They didn't turn out as pretty (or tasty) as I hoped, but they were a cute addition.

Candied Limes

I followed the recipe, but used butter for the frosting. I'm not sure if it was because of that, or something else, but the frosting was not as thick as I would have liked, even after adding more sugar than called for (and it was getting rather sweet). Next time (and there will be a next time, these were so good) I'll try to do something to make the frosting a bit thicker.

Really, all I have to say about these is yum. They were just so good. But, if you are looking for other excuses to bake with booze, I also recommend this recipe for Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake which I made last year into a pirate cake pan for my FIL's 60th birthday. The picture is not the greatest, I forgot my camera and and to rely on others.

pirate cake