Thursday, January 18, 2007

Half of a pair of socks.

What can I say, opposites attract. Sure make a cute couple, though, don't they?
I love the way this toe shaping fits my foot. I love how the the checked pattern feels on the sole of my foot and makes it want to wiggle around. I love how I decided to graft the toe closed with only the black yarn, so the band of black continues all the way around the foot. I love how I have another stocking to knit, and I can make the second better than the first. I love how I have homework, and my homework is knitting.
A demure lady crosses her ankles, not her legs. And then takes a picture to post on the Internet and prove her virtue.
(Taking that last photo was extremely difficult)

Question: what am I supposed to do with the ends? I wove in the ones from the ribbing along the top, but once I'm into the stranded knitting it seems pretty difficult to get around all the floats. Any ideas? Do I just trim them short-ish and let them felt? Will that even work if half the wool is machine washable? Tie off the ends on a random float nearby?

Mathematical Knitting

Perhaps finishing the first stocking last night was overly ambitious. I've finished all the decreases until the toe so I'm hoping that the next bit goes faster. The sudden cold front has given me increased focus on cranking these out.
I forgot to mention that I'm taking a Mathematical Knitting course over J-term. sarah-marie belcastro is teaching the course, and a lot of the objects and specific patterns have never been knit by anyone besides her. Today we knit a mobius band, which is an object with only one side. You can make one out of a strip of paper: hold a strip of paper with one side facing you, twist one end so you see the back, and bring the two ends together as if you are making a circle. If you tape the ends together, you can trace one continuous line around the entire band, which demonstrates the one-sidedness of the object. During one of the classes we'll be knitting a torus, which is shaped like a donut. For homework I have to make a huge mobius band without binding off, so I think it may end up being transformed into some other strange mathematical object. Updates coming soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In which I become well acquainted with a seam ripper.

Apparently this is work-in-progress week. Here's a third project I'm working on: taking out this nearly invisible hand-sewn hem. Makes you want to cry, doesn't it?
Inspired by this gorgeous dress with a hand-sewn zipper at Pink Chalk Studio, I finally decided to finish this skirt, which I started almost exactly a year ago. I won't go into graphic detail about missteps along the way, but eventually I finished sewing in the lining and creating a hem along the top.

At this point I wasn't sure how to proceed, so I brought the skirt with me to Valley Fabrics. The owner was very helpful (she's just come out with a book about sewing skirts that seems less about strictly following a pattern than knowing what general shapes you should cut for different types of skirts) and made an offhand remark about how it would have made more sense to layer everything so that none of the edges would show from the inside. I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but now it will drive me crazy if I don't fix it.

In other news, it has finally snowed here (total accumulation: .0002 cm) and I have been feverishly working on the Norwegian Stockings. I'm hoping to finish the first and cast on for the second tonight. I had a moment of doubt in which I contemplated the relative merit of stockings vs. legwarmers (I'm not entirely sure that the finished stockings will fit in my only color-appropriate shoes) but I've decided to finish them following the pattern. I can keep them for inside wear if I have to, and now I will have plenty of red to use as an accent for a pair of legwarmers. I remember coming across a legwarmer KAL from a few years back, does anyone remember seeing this/know where to find it?

I've been on the cusp of making a case for my knitting needles, but I haven't been sure about how to deal with circulars. Lucky for me I found this tutorial about making a circulars case, which I am posting here both to share and make sure that I don't lose the link/forget about it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Working title: Taming of the Scarf

What fun! Mo and I are filming a movie. It involves repeatedly moving a herd of pins very slowly. We finished getting footage today (at least, I have my fingers crossed that we can use most of the shots) and sometime during the next week we'll be working on editing it into a movie. It's going to be shockingly short once everything is cut together. I'm guessing less than a full minute. Here's a sneak preview:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

First (and second) proper socks

My first properly sized sock has so far been incredibly frustrating. The knitting has been fine, but I originally cast on a size too large (I was hoping to gift them, but didn't have a foot to measure while I was on the train). I was trying to keep them a secret, so I was quite far along before I realized my mistake. My second attempt has been much better, but I'd like the socks to stay snug all the way down the ankle, which won't be possible without decreasing the number of stitches along the way. Since I'd rather just follow a pattern all the way through for my first pair without messing around with the number of stitches, I've decided to skip my first pair entirely and work on the second.Ahh, much better. Nice and snug. I'm using the machine washable Dale Falk wool-or at least, that was my intention. Somehow I ended up with the black and red in Falk and the white from another line of their yarn, Hauk, which must be washed by hand. I didn't notice until I'd already started knitting, and I've decided to just wing it and hope for the best.
Bad stash knitter. The green is Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo, which I'm planning to use for the Green Gables pattern from zephyr style.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Walking to Webs...

I got a little distracted on my way to Webs.
Wouldn't this make the most amazing skirt?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Vegan Vietnamese Spring Rolls

This summer Mo and I craved these spring rolls and walked for two hours to get the rice paper. Unlike Thai spring rolls, which are fried, these are light and refreshing. They can take a while to prepare, but if you can cook the tofu ahead of time it goes much quicker. The only specialty food involved is rice paper, which I've found at both international food shops and Whole Foods. Rice noodles also might be a bit tricky, but I haven't usually had a problem finding them. The rice paper I use comes in a package like this:
Tofu (extra firm)
Vegetable oil
Fresh mint
Fresh cilantro
Rice noodles
Rice paper

For dipping sauce:
Natural peanut butter
Hoisin sauce

1. Place the tofu between a few layers of paper or cloth kitchen towels, and put a heavy-ish weight on top to squeeze out water. Once the tofu is no longer soaking wet, lay it face-down on the counter and cut through the middle, as if you are cutting a thick slice of bread into two pieces to make a sandwich. Saute/fry these tofu slices in the vegetable oil, and then cut into strips:
2. Cook the rice noodles, following the directions on the package (this should be very quick, don't let them overcook). When the noodles are done, you can save the water for the rice paper by pouring it into a separate bowl.
3. Wash the cilantro and mint, pick the leaves off of the stems, and allow to dry (or blot, if you're impatient).
4. Now you have all of the ingredients ready, and you can begin to assemble the spring rolls. If the water from the rice noodles is too hot to touch, pour some of it off and add cold water. Take a piece of rice paper, and dip it into the water, getting the entire surface wet. It can still be a little stiff when you pull it out and put it onto the dish you will use for rolling.
5. Place a small amount of noodles, a piece of tofu,
some cilantro, and some mint near the edge closest to you.6. Fold the edge up and over the insides,fold in the two sides, and roll tightly forward.
7. One down, 19 to go! If the spring roll seems like it is bulging out, try using less of the rice noodles in each roll. 8. Once you have a platter of spring rolls, it's time to make the sauce. Spoon about a third of a cup of peanut butter into a pan, add about two tablespoons of water, and turn on a low flame. Stir in hoisin to taste.

Essentially you can put anything you want in these spring rolls. I've had a version with basil, lettuce, and carrot strips, and my dad is itching to try shrimp instead of tofu. If you have little kiddos in the kitchen they can get the mint and cilantro ready, which is a big help. I find making the rolls a lot of fun, especially when I sample the wares.

New Knitting Magazine

I just found out yesterday from reading Just call me Ruby that there is a brand spanking new knitting magazine online, Knit on the Net. If I had a baby to knit clothes for, this sweater would definitely be under consideration. With only one issue published so far, the magazine doesn't have an archive of patterns that can compete with Knitty or Magknits-yet-but they do have an incredibly cool gadget on their site. A while ago I mentioned finding free blank knitting charts online, but Knit on the net has gone one better: customized free blank knitting charts online. I'm looking forward to seeing how this magazine develops, and I'm already looking forward to the next batch of patterns (there's a sneak preview of one here).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The enthusiastic but bewildered response.

You know that weird situation that happens where you spend an inordinate amount of time making a gift and the person you give it to just doesn't get it? They just have no conception of how much care and effort went into what you've given them? There's a funny version of that, too. I gave my friends the linen facecloths, and they were touched, and appreciative, and clearly impressed, and we spent a great deal of time talking about them. We talked about how to take care of them, details about how they were made, which one was my favorite, &c. &c. Then as I was leaving I realized they hadn't a clue how they were meant to be used. Absolutely no idea. This is the second time this has happened to me recently, too, which means I should stop being lazy and start making up cards to give along with presents.

"Dear so-and-so," they will read, "I know how much you ______, I hope you enjoy this _____/nod and smile/thank me and hide it away in a cupboard."

Oh well. I guess I could have been clearer, or mentioned earlier on what their purpose was, but it just didn't seem like there were any doubts.
At least what I finished today shouldn't have that trouble. Mo has already seen this in progress, but it got hidden under my bed and forgotten, so it should at least be mildly surprising.
I think Mo found this at a thrift store, but it came with a giant moth hole. Fortunately for Mo it was in a good place for an embroidered patch. This is the first thing I've embroidered following my own design. I hadn't planned on changing the color of the grass, but I couldn't find the same colors of thread that I used before, and I think it makes sense to have a lighter putting green anyway. I'm modeling it here so you can see placement a little better.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Decisions, decisions

For some reason the purple fabric looks really bizarre in the smaller format of this photo, but if you click on the picture it's much more true to life.
I brought the paisley fat quarter with me to purl patchwork, and the original plan was to use the paisley, blue, and pink polka dot to make an embroidered knitting needle case similar to the make up case my mom and I collaborated on last week. I was simply drawn to the swirling purple, and I got a half yard so that I would be able to use it in a larger project. Now I'm not sure though; I really like the combination of the three right-most fabrics as well. Better to hold off on the purple or use it now and regret it later?This was a total impulse purchase, and I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I quite like the patchwork combination at shim + sons which uses the red version.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A housewarming gift

What a lovely bow! The back of the ribbon even feels like suede! What could be in the package? Why is this package next to a birch tree?Oh, a present! Linen facecloths! Not for me, though. Two of my friends have been dating for several years, and they have just gotten engaged and moved into a new apartment. My first plan was to give them a picture I took last summer, but at this point I think their need for functional things outweighs their need for art. Besides, there's still a wedding that will need a gift.
It's allegedly the middle of winter, so the first yarn store I went to didn't have any linen in stock. My mom and I had been planning a trip into New York, however, so we stopped by purl and purl patchwork. Such cute stores! The storefronts are adorable bursts of color on the street, and that's before you've even gone inside. It must be something about being accustomed to New York apartments; those stores make the best use of every square foot I have ever seen.It's amazing what a little natural light will do, I confess to taking most of my pictures at the end of the day. The gold colored one in the middle is my first attempt at anything like lace. Without following it in chart form I couldn't memorize the entire pattern in the time it took to finish the face cloth, but I understood how the increases and decreases were functioning, which was exciting. I love that point when the pattern stops being a puzzle and starts making sense.

All three of these came from the book Knitter's Stash, edited by Barbara Albright. After finishing the first two (oatmeal and dark gray) I felt confident enough to try making up my own plan for the third. I wanted to try a basket weave stitch I found in Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, but I chickened out after two full repeats when I couldn't see how the pattern was going to show up. I'd like to try it again, in wool, and see how it turns out.

One thing I love about coming home on breaks is that the main library branch here has a fairly large and well rounded selection of knitting books. I've been able to sample so many books that otherwise I wouldn't have been able to look through. I also have spent far too many hours looking for patterns sitting on the floor in the stacks.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Travel make-up case

My mom and I collaborated to make this make-up case following the pattern in Hip to Stitch. Instead of closing the case with tied ribbons we put in a snap, which will be much easier for the recipient to use. In general the embroidery instructions are easy to follow, but the instructions for finishing the rest of this project were quite confusing. I don't remember having trouble making the case for guitar picks, so I think part of the problem was that she included directions for two sizes (the larger size is for knitting needles). Both gifts were well received, so I'm glad to have made them. Although when I asked Dylan about taking a picture of the pick case I found out where he really keeps them...
Even though it isn't as secure I think it looks better without the top flap folded down and tucked in.And now the secret is out: I'm crushed! Just kidding. I know putting stuff away is hard. I just can't imagine this is good for the strings.