This is a video to make you mad, as if you weren't already, about the money we're spending in Iraq. It takes one minute and 46 seconds to watch. Thank you.
Last week, The Boy turned 6. It was the best day of his life, until Saturday.
Just an old fashioned party. One kid for every year old. Have them over, feed them pizza and cake,
let them run around the house and rifle through the legos. Play a game or two, turn up the music if all else fails. Give them a balloon and some dinosaur cookies to go home with.
Eat remaining cake until you can't stand the sight of it anymore. Hope the left-over balloons will keep The Boy occupied for awhile,
So you can get back to seaming Arwen.
I've noticed this week that some knitters are setting themselves deadlines to finish things. I think this is an idea worth borrowing. I want to have things finished; to look ahead, estimate the (here's the key) realistic amount of time it will take to close the gap between where I am now and last end woven in, and then go for it. I might actually accomplish something.
I work well with deadlines. Assuming I take them seriously.
I think having PS 136 done for Rhinebeck may not have been a deadline that I understood as, uh, serious. Especially since I didn't even go to Rhinebeck. Must change that this year, husband be damned.
But to consider this Mission Possible pledge as 12 things already on the needles to be finished in 12 months, I should probably get one of those done as February looms. How about, oh, Arwen?
So I washed up more of the yarn, and set to the hood. Knitting knitting knitting.
13 inches of hood, the pattern says?
Knitting knitting knitting.
This is taking forever.
Knitting knitting knitting
A race with the Red Queen, anyone?
Knitting knitting knitting.
Days go by. The moon wanes and waxes.
Knitting knitting knitting.
Finally, halfway through the month I get around to this. I'm not very good at keeping resolutions, but I do value the annual ritual of checking in with the self.
Self, I say. How we doing?
We're good. Self says. Could still do with a little less sugar. It makes us look puffy.
And how much knitting did we get done last year?
Oh, lots. Lots and lots. But can I point out something? There's not much that we finished. A couple of sweaters at the beginning of the year, one that finally limped over the finish line in September, but mostly, we started things and then started others. And there's that Poetry in Stitches sweater that has been loitering around for, how long now? ::game show music while I go check:: Two years. First blog post: January 27th, 2005. Hard to believe. Two years for one sweater?
Jen of JenLa and BavgirlClaudia have something going, you may have heard by now. The Mission Possible challenge is to take 12 knitting things over the next 12 months, and finish them. It can be yarn, ufos, untried skills, whatever. To each their own, but it's the list that is the point. So here's my personal Mission Possible pledge. 12 UFO's by the end of the year. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Arrrgyles (yes, I am the only person who started them who hasn't finished them yet. And they're my pattern)
2. PS136 (two years in and only six inches to go)
3. Stupid Hat (you'll know it when you see it)
4. Ancient Teddy Bear (the baby I started this for is now in kindergarten)
5. Stained Glass Bag (lining and handles. that's all! and yet, that's enormous!)
6. Marina Piccolas
7. Tree Jacket (momentum on this one. I have momentum)
8. Arwen (six inches to go)
9. Mystery Stole 3 ( as written. Two clues left. See a pattern here? I love that so close and yet so far moment)
10. Morning Glory Stole. (I'm way intimidated by this one)
11. Bird in Hand Mittens (must. cast on. second. one . . . )
12. That thing I'm knitting out of the pink egg yarn. I'll tell you what it is if it turns out that like it, but the thing may be a bit of a foolish thing. What was I thinking? But then again, it might be fine. But then again, it might be like a moose in a miniskirt. I might frog it and return the untouched yarn, or I might, well, we'll see.
I'll post the list in the sidebar when I am more organized about this and keep track over the year. 2008: the year of the
UFO. Here I go.
Hey Gang! I won Kay and Ann's most awesome recipe box contest for best recipe! ("most awesome" refers both to the recipe boxes and to the contest. Get it?) It was the originality factor I think that did it, but wait until Kay actually makes the salad dressing. She's going to flip! Someone hide the straws.
I was in the middle of a Saturday morning's baking when I learned of my good fortune.
"10 to make, 20 to bake", as my Mister likes to say. He also says "It's a poor muffin that needs a greased pan." I think that's from his maternal auntie. They are a German bunch, so baking wisdom is their legacy, and the family Christmas cookies are extra yummy. This recipe? Hardly an heirloom, but still good. It's the one on the Quaker Yellow Corn Meal box, but I substitute vanilla yogurt for half of the milk for a tender crumb.
I've been knitting on the Tree Jacket. I knit extra length because when I try it on, it likes to ride up a little. The big shift in fabric texture from the garter stitch yoke to the lace paneled torso does that. I really like the slight diagonal of the lace, even though a number of other knitters have engineered against it. It turns out that the slant is very flattering. Who knew? I had to fiddle with the lower edge to keep it from rolling and I ended up adding three extra rows of the ribbing, and knit two needle sizes down. That did the trick.
Actually, what I've really been doing is watching Project Runway Canada on YouTube, and knitting. I missed Tim and Heidi at first, but Iman really grew on me, and now I think Heidi's an anime screech owl compared to Iman's womanly Somali cool. And Brian Bailey as the mentor is just so damn smart. I really loved the show, and I'm all hollow inside now that it's over for me. Now back to Tim and Heidi and the under-skilled American designers. I think that any one of those first 13 Canadian designers thrown into the pool with the American version would taken the prize. Man, why can't we get someone like Biddell or MG down here to make me some clothes? Runway fans skeptical? Here's the first part of the first episode. Tell me I'm wrong when you're finished.
Partly work and partly play
You must on St. Distaff's Day:
From the plow soon free your team;
Then cane home and fother them:
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give St. Distaff' all the right:
Then bid Christmas sport good night,
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.
Pictures from top to bottom all taken at the Westford Museum's Annual St. Distaff's Day event.
1. Diane and friend, and Judy (plying) with their wheels.
2. Kelly and Barbara discussing the Gearhardt Sock Machine. Barbara, for those of you who care about such thing, was knitting socks that weren't black!
3. Penny (our hostess) spinning a wool/silk top on the Great Wheel.
4. Fiberfish Cece and the fabulous Briar Rose Icarus.
5. Kelly's clear Chucks: great for obvious reasons.
For years, I have stuffed recipes clipped and begged and stolen into a small accordian file. In there I have The Mister's magic rolls (his family recipe), my favorite salad dressing (begged from a restaurant deep in the mountains of Vermont), and the fudge recipe (you know, the one from inside the label of the condensed milk can?). They are on index cards, or faded and creased bits of newspaper, or the backs of envelopes. Someday, I will organize them, but I know them by their form. I fear that I may not recognize the sundried tomato chicken with dijon, cream, and tarragon if it were neatly lettered onto a page somewhere. It is only familiar and therefore locatable in the jumble printed as is on the plastic bag the sundried tomatoes originally came in. What a crazy quilt of repertoire this is.
This Christmas, I hit the motherlode -- literally. My mom sent me a binder of her favorite recipes as my present, complete with some reminiscences about each one, her own improvements added for good measure, and she even included some things that I had brought to her (like the salad dressing). On New Year's Eve, I was excited to break into it for her Cheese pastries, and I had a charming time on the phone with her as she coached me once more through the proper ministration of the dough through the Food Processor. It is a generous thing that she has done, wrestling her own hodge podge treasury into legibility for me and my sister, passing a kind of legacy on to us, so that we too can make them for our friends and family as a gesture of our own connection, the way she did for us. And in the back, there are pages left blank for our own additions. I will put the Mister's roll recipe there, because they are a little ritual in this household like many of these recipes were little rituals in my mother's house, and such things belong together.
Here's the salad dressing recipe. You can halve the whole thing, because it does make rather a lot. I store it in an empty milk jug, and keep the spice mix in the cupboard between batches. I call it the Tofu Cumin Dressing, but my mother just calls it "mine" because I think the tofu scares her a little.
1.5 cups peanut oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup tamari soy
3 Tablespoons spice mix
6 cloves garlic
1 package soft tofu (silken is especially good but not necessary)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2/3 cup water
In a blender or food processor, blend first the garlic with the tamari, then add remaining ingredients until creamy.
4T ground cumin
1 1/2T oregano
6T chili powder
ground pepper to taste
I noticed a number of people wringing their hands on the Ravelry Arwen KAL about getting gauge with the yarn they wanted to make the sweater out of, and I thought I would share with any of them who might stumble through here how I came to Arwen, having decided to use a yarn that does not work up to the prescribed gauge. This might also prove useful to anyone wanting to use a yarn of unorthodox for a project.
Picture first, to get it out of the way for the skimmers.
Looks a bit like a cartoon cat fight, don't it? That's the hood taking shape there, knit as one piece. Why? Three less seams. Now for the wordy part. Those of you just looking can be excused.
First, a note about yarn and pattern. If you haven't yet read Clara Parkes' book about how yarn and pattern work together to make a pleasing garment, you need to. In fact, you just need to buy the book outright because not only is it a great collection of patterns by designers you love or should love (exhibit A: Adrian's Norwegian snail mittens), it is an indispensable lesson in the proper application of yarn to project.
Ideally, a published design will include the reasoning behind the yarn choice, be it colour range available in that yarn, texture or stitch definition, the drape or body in the desired fabic, and/or so on. When I go to a yarn store with a strong desire for a project and can't find the yarn it was originally knit with (ever happen to you? Yeah, it's pretty much a knitting universal) I usually start with a yarn that matches the gauge of the pattern exactly. A typical yarn store has limited options for such matters. A worsted is a worsted is a worsted. Many shops stock only one kind of each size of yarn, thinking of, say, Cascade 220 as a workhorse worsted; why would you need anything else in that gauge? Note about overhead and the cost of inventory can be inserted here. I am sympathetic. But these days, there's a lot more going on with the yarns available, and such a simple substitution as one gauge for another can lead to disasterous garments. Exhibit B: My version of Annie Modesitt's Ballet Cardigan. Looks good, but (alarms should be ringing) I'm not wearing it in my photograph, am I? That's because the thing, worked to perfect gauge, is as stiff as if it were made of cardboard. It doesn't drape. Key to that pattern? Drape. I missed that as a pattern priority in the substitution of Desert Garden Aran for Willow. And so I have a lovely sweater, fab colour, technically masterful with the extended grafted lace panels, but one that I can never wear because it squeaks when I bend my arms.
With Arwen, there were two priorities behind the design as far as I was concerned: drape and stitch definition. The designer, Kate Gilbert, used Cashmerino, which has both in spades, but I already had in the stash a lot of cheap yarn that I also felt fit the bill, in a colour I really wanted Arwen in to boot. Knit One Crochet Two Angora Soft in black, bought at Webs last summer. I have a lot of it because it was frantically priced and Kelly happened to have in her purse a cable-y swatch that was dreamy in its softness and stitch deff. Sold.
The yarn didn't work up to the same gauge as Cashmerino. It was slightly smaller. So I swatched the yarn to a fabric I liked, coming out at 5 stitches to the inch. Because the yarn was smaller than Cashmerino's gauge of 4.5 stitches to the inch, I knew I would need to knit a larger size. To clarify: smaller stitches means more of them to cover the same distance. Sounds obvious to you maybe, but it took me, a math dork, years of knitting to grasp than concept. So I looked at the stitch count for the larger sizes and did some calculations. I wanted a sweater that would end up with a final chest measurement of 43", trying to honour Kate's recommendation that it fit with a little extra ease since it is a throw on kind of thing. I multiplied the number of stitches I got per inch by the desired finished measurement (5 x 43) and got 215, which landed me in the vicinity of the second largest size. I have been following the directions for that one, and getting the measurements I want. This works well for squarish sweaters like Arwen, so I have nothing but confidence that all will be well.
Disclaimer: I wouldn't recommend straying too far afield of the recommended gauge, like say, a sport weight instead of a worsted, or even a DK for a worsted. But you can use a heavy DK for a light worsted, and so on. Just a little math gives you much more flexibility when choosing your yarn. It pains me to see knitters wrestle a yarn into a gauge it isn't meant for and wind up with sweaters they can't use when they could have taken that same beloved yarn, worked it in a gauge appropriate for that yarn, and did the math to find which "size" directions would give them the final measurements they wanted. Still reading? Here's a little reward for you for sticking it out today, a rare picture of The Mister in his natural habitat wearing one of our ill-fitting house sweaters during our cold snap last winter. You don't see that everyday here on Moth Heaven, do ya? Ensuing blather to hide the treat from the marauding skimmers, and so forth. Are they gone yet? cool.