Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I'm Wearing It Today!

A few days ago, I finally finished my striped cardigan but it took forever to dry after blocking. But this morning it was ready to wear!

Finished Raglan

This lengthened a lot more than I thought it would after blocking, but I love how it smoothed out and now feels a little less bulky. I mean, it is bulky - my goal was a big cuddly cardigan I could wear over thicker long sleeve shirts and you don't get that with something sleek - but it's just the right type of bulky. Warm, comfy bulky.

I used a pattern generator to figure out how many stitches to cast on and as a guideline on the yoke increases, but other than that, this pattern was pretty much done on the fly. As in, I wrote it as I did it. There was a little trial and error with it, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

It's nice and warm, too, which is great because today is cold! Yes, for once I've finished a sweater at just the right time to actually wear it!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Did Things

Even with last week to work on my sweater, I didn't finish it. Mostly because I did not work on it. Instead, I made a housewarming present.

Housewarming Present

My parents have officially moved in to their new house. With all the homes they've lived in throughout the years, this is the only one they have actually built. That plus the fact that mom really appreciated the potholder I made her a while back, I decided I'd get some cotton yarn and make kitchen things for them.

Three hundred grams of cotton yarn goes a surprisingly long way.

Kitchen Goodies

In three days, I ended up making two potholders (the first time I've crocheted in ages!), two potholder mitts (horrible to make but seriously the most useful kitchen item ever), a scrubby and a dishrag.

All that working with cotton yarn at a tight gauge was not fun but I'm quite pleased with the end product(s). And they were very well received, so yay! Don't think I'll be doing much in cotton for the near future though. Not until the memory of this experience has dulled!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Socks!

I made more socks!

Rainbow Socks

This pair is by far my speediest pair of socks. (I'm not counting the worsted weight footies I did in two days because their entire goal in life was to be speedy. Even though I am wearing them now.)

I made these socks in four days. Four days! I didn't know I could actually make socks that fast. I knew it was theoretically possible - I could get half a sock done on a good knitting day - but I never managed to get four straight days of massive knitting time. But this time, I made it happen. I got it into my head that it was going to happen after day two and pretty much told Dan that days three and four would be devoted to knitting, not housework. Because this was important. Four days socks trump housework (at least this once).

Next up, finishing my sweater then a cuttlefish (no joke) and vanilla socks for Dan. Maybe a little boar or stork thrown in for fun.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's a Knitting Miracle!

I'm almost done with my striped cardigan, but I hit a point early last week where it was evident I would need more teal yarn to properly finish it. (I try to be so careful when it comes to figuring out how much yarn I'll need for a sweater, but it seems like almost every sweater I make, I end up needing more yarn. What's up with that?)

Now, I bought this teal yarn three years ago at a store in Fort Worth. I checked with the store on the off chance they still had some and no. So I knew I'd have to go elsewhere and end up getting yarn in a different dye lot. Which, okay, not ideal but I figured out I could rip back my sweater a tad to incorporate the new dye lot so the difference wouldn't be too jarring. It'd be extra work, but I could deal. So I ordered two new balls of teal from a place in Wyoming.

I got the yarn in on Friday evening and y'all. It's the same dye lot. Three years later and several states away and I managed to get perfectly matching yarn.

I'm still kinda amazed.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cidering, Part Four

Angry Orchard Crisp Apple

Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
3.5 out of 5

The smell is interesting - there's a little bit of something that's not quite funk but close. A mustiness that reminds me of cheese without the actual cheese. There's a grape note to it, too - muscadine, specifically. If you've ever had Muscat gummies from Japan, that's what this smells like.

Taste isn't overly sweet. Overall, it's nicely tart without being pucker inducing. There's a bit of cloying sweetness at the end that builds to be unpleasant after drinking the whole thing coupled with a tartness that also builds.

It's not bad, but I prefer their Apple Ginger one hordes better.

Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider

Strongbow Gold Apple
1 out of 5

Dan took this one for the team. I didn't realize until after I cracked open the can that it has glucose fructose syrup, which is usually another word for corn syrup. So none for corn-allergic me. His thoughts on this one follow.

It's really rather plain Jane. Tartness like a Granny Smith apple, a little sharp on the end. The tartness of the apple is good but there is a different layer of sweetness on the top that doesn't seem to jive as much with it as sweetness does in other ciders. Honestly, not bad but overly sweet on the end. Very smooth though, if cloying.


ACE Apple Hard Cider

ACE Apple Hard Cider
1 out of 5

This cider smell is weird: it's like crackers and feet. Or blue cheese. Just weird.

The taste is... not great. It's super tart with the taste of green apple skins and dirty socks. I'm okay with green apple skins but not the dirty socks. The aftertaste is sticky and unpleasant.

I didn't finish this one. I have another one of this brand left to try and I'm a bit scared.

Woodchuck Limited Edition Winter





Woodchuck Limited Edition Winter
3.5 out of 5

I had this one at my parents' house. The smell is mild: fruity, a bit wine-like.

The taste is mild and smooth with a bit of a wet white wine note. It's sweet but not overly so and has a hint dark spice - not quite cinnamon but similarly heavy and tingly. There's a little bit of gentle funk, too.

This one isn't quite as multi-faceted as some others, but it has a good, full flavor to it that is very enjoyable. (I drank two.) This one is very close to a 4 out of 5 for me.

Four more ciders down! This now catches me all up on the holiday cider revelry. (I told you, I had a good Christmas.) Hopefully as I start to feel better post-glutening, I will be able to sample a few more ciders. I need to make sure have some good options for pool-side drinking!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cidering, Part Three

More cidering has occurred! A whole lot actually, as I still have another post to get ready after this one. What can I say? I had a happy and celebratory Christmas.

Sidra Natural el Governador

Sidra Natural El Gobernador
2 out of 5

This one was recommended by the beer guy at the grocery store since I like a bit of yeasty funk in my ciders. And oh yeah, this one has some funk. The smell is sour, tart and there's something there that makes me think of nail polish.

Taste-wise, it's like drinking stinky cheese. With olives. And bandaids. I tasted no apples. At all. It's wet (not champagne-like dry) and not at smooth. And full of funk.

A bit too much funk for me, honestly, with the whole bandaid/lanolin aftertaste, but it sure is... uh, interesting.


Harpoon Pumpkin Cider

Harpoon Pumpkin Cider
4 out of 5

It smells of apples and pumpkin pie and pretty much matches my expecting of how a pumpkin cider should smell - nice with a warm spiciness.

The taste is much less in-your-face-apple than most ciders. Mild overall, but with a lot of flavors going on: a mild white grape taste on the front end, some plain pumpkin in the middle, and end notes that alternate between pumpkin pie spices and almost-graham-cracker. It's a touch drier than a lot of the sweater ciders but not to the point where it's actually dry.

This one is probably a bit busy for a daily drinker for me, but I really like it.

Crispin Artisanal Reserve The Saint

Crispin Artisanal Reserve The Saint
5 out of 5

The smell on this one is simply fabulous - full on yeast and fresh bread dough with hints of sweet apple. I was seriously almost afraid to taste this lest I be disappointed.

Fortunately, the taste is lovely. Lots of yeast throughout with apple that is sweet, mild and dark. The sweet sharpness (it's not candy sweet but just enough sweet to nicely balance the tart) of the apple gives a great balance to the heavy, funky yeast. Probably one of the all-around most wonderfully balanced ciders I've had.

This is stronger than most of the ciders I've tried and it comes in a big bottle. Whee! Winner all around!

Woodchuck Fall Harvest

Woodchuck Fall Harvest
3 out of 5

It smell is of stewed apples with lots of spices - specifically cinnamon, ginger and cardamom (Dan reads it as bubble gum which I can see, but I think cardamom).

The taste is very Jolly Rancher apple cinnamon. It's like Halloween in liquid form with a chaser of potpourri. It's crazy sweet and candied, which I can see some folks really getting behind.

For me, though, it's too sweet and spicy for me to get into it. I don't like Red Hots, either. This one isn't for me, but I think that someone with different cider desires could love it.


So this batch of ciders has probably my favorite so far, Crispin's The Saint. I really think it supplants my previous favorite of Woodchuck's Belgian White. However, the Belgian White comes in a normal sized bottle and The Saint comes in a big one. And is strong. Which means I don't think I'll be buying six-packs of The Saint any time soon. Singles though? Oh yeah.

Other ciders that remain front-runners in the "I'd buy it again" category are Crispin's Original, Angry Orchard's Apple Ginger, and Woodchuck's Farmhouse Original '91. Lots more still to try!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Wooden Feet!

It is very likely that no one will really care about this post, but this is just too cool to me, I can't not say something.

As is pretty obvious to anyone that ever reads this blog, peruses my Ravelry projects or, you know, talks to me, I like knitting socks. Probably one of the neatest sock-knitting-related things I've come across is the FLK heel. Specifically, the directions for making a personalized cardboard foot template. I can trace someone's foot, do a little math and then be able to make them custom-fitted hand knit socks. It's so awesome and why both my parents and my aunt received socks for their birthday last year.

The only negative of the cardboard template is... well, it's cardboard. I have made my templates with some sturdy cardboard, but then, I knit a lot of socks. Especially socks for myself and Dan. So our templates... they get a little rough. And that makes them harder to try the sock on to for measuring. Before, I've just made a new template to use until I bust up that one, too, but now... now I have something so much better.

Wooden foot templates.

Wooden Feet

They are from The Knitting Rose and made out of bubinga hardwood and utterly gorgeous. I'm so excited to get them. So now I have custom foot forms for both me and Dan that are made out of wood, not (ultimately) bendable cardboard.

A little interesting side note. These didn't come with the toe box, gusset and heel turn lines like mine have. I drew those on with a Sharpie. While I was drawing those lines on though, I accidentally got the heel turn line on my foot form a few centimeters off. Naturally, my (recovering-)perfectionist self freaked out at having messed up the lovely foot form with an improper mark. But thanks to the joy of the internet, I found out that you can actually remove permanent marker from wood by using a white eraser. Seriously. It actually worked. There's a faint bit of marker left from the wrong line from where the marker got into the grain a little and the eraser couldn't quite reach, but it is so faint that even my picky self isn't bothered. So now you know - marker on a wood table? Use an eraser!

And if you need a sturdier-than-cardboard foot form? Go to The Knitting Rose!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happenings Have Happened

I've been quite the past couple of weeks. Sorry for that. I had a gluten reaction to some chocolate about three weeks ago and have been riding that out, so I've been kind of grumpy. Since I try not to post just to whine, I haven't posted, cause yeah, I would have just whined.

The whole reaction thing was kind of interesting objectively - seeing exactly how I react to something cross-contaminated with gluten after having most of my celiac-related problems calm down. Of course, after going through the first week of flu-like symptoms and utter exhaustion, the second week full of pain and more exhaustion, and the third week of crazy digestion issues and being unable to eat without pain? Yeah, no longer so objectively interesting. More just really, really annoying. Stupid gluten. I'm not quite out of the reaction-woods yet but I hold out hope that it will be soon. I was able to eat a normal-sized dinner last night with only a little discomfort, so progress?

Anyway, there have been more positive happenings lately, but they've all been knitting related. I'm still working on my striped cardigan. I've currently got about 39-ish hours in it or so and the end is nigh. Kinda.

39 Hours

I have no idea how much more time this sweater needs before it is done, but I can't imagine more than 10. Which is a lot (and probably underestimated). Especially since I'm used to socks that take between 25 and 35 hours a pair, depending on complexity. Of course, a big chunk of that time has been weaving in all the ends. Almost every stripe gives me two ends of yarn to weave in and I've been doing it as I go. That takes so much time. Ugh.

I'm also pretty much thinking I'm going to need to get some more yarn to finish this off because I think I want a big shawl collar. Maybe. I'll see how it goes when I get there, but I have already stalked the place I got the yarn from originally and they have more. No idea if it is in the same dye lot but eh. It'll be for the button band/collar so a slight mismatch shouldn't be too horrific.

As happy as I am with how my future cuddly cardi is going, I will admit to getting a tiny bit bored. I suppose not having a finished project after 30 hours makes me antsy. So I spent some of my Christmas money and got a cute little pattern book from Amazon, Mini Knitted Woodland. It arrived yesterday afternoon, so last night I made this little guy.

Vulture

He's about two and a half inches tall and he's been dubbed Victor the Turkey Vulture. And as a project break, it worked perfectly. I spent the evening on him - the knitting took maybe an hour, the finishing another hour - and suddenly I was all enthused about picking up my sweater to knit more on the sleeves. Yay!

The book has a hippopotamus, which I think is next on my list, but I do have some yarn coming for a specific project, so if that comes in, Ms. Hippo might take a back seat to something (hopefully) even more awesome. Otherwise, I plan on continuing with my sweater and I will confess to having some yarn balled for my next pair of socks.

Other than that, not too much of note is going on here. We are still working on the guest bathroom. Demolition is done (though I need to get in there and clean up the remaining broken tiles, etc). Dan and I are planning on going bathtub and fixture shopping soon, then getting those things installed. (Pretty sure Dan's planning on getting someone to install the tub as we are leaning towards an enameled cast iron one and neither of us wants to have to try to lift it.) We've got the shower tile picked out but still have to pick a floor tile. And then, you know, put it all together. We need it all done before the end of May, but we are hoping to get it done before the end of March. No real rush, though. Plenty of time for more knitting!

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Down!

This weekend I finished up my first pair of socks for 2015. I've dubbed them my Cap'n Blueberry socks.

Cap'n Socks

One pair down, eleven more to go!

Of course, I am trying to expand my knitting horizons a tad (as fun as knitting just socks would be, I'm trying to keep some variety in my projects), so my current project is a striped cardigan.

A variety of criteria played into what colors I chose for this sweater, not all of them aesthetic. (One important factor was what would give me enough yardage to actually make a sweater.) This resulted in a color selection that was... a bit outside my norm.

8 Hours In

But I think the colors actually work well together even if they aren't the first color combination you think of when thinking of me. I think it will end up a funky but fun sweater.

Hopefully I'll see in a couple of more weeks!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Knitting

I've already jumped into 2015's knitting, but I did want to take a moment and recap. Last year, I knit over 8 miles of yarn, most of which ended up as socks (or slippers) as I knit 30 pair.

Currently, I have 45 miles of stash yarn (if you don't count leftovers less than half a skein).

Yes, I have enough yarn to (theoretically) knit for the next five plus years without buying more. Yikes. Maybe I can work on that for 2015. (Though really only so I can free up some cabinet room for MORE YARN!)

Off to a Good Start

Already 2015 is off to a good start knitting-wise! I've finished up my last little project from 2014 and he's definitely has kicked things off with a smile. Meet John C. Chameleon!*

Chameleon

Yes, I knit a chameleon. He's a tiny little guy - smaller than my hand. So ridiculous yet joyful. And ridiculous.

Something else joyful (but not really ridiculous at all) is my first sock project for the new year. I am participating in the 12 Socks group again this year and my first pair is one I'm doing as a knit-along with a Ravelry friend.

Captain's Steps Socks

I'm using a new-to-me yarn (Dream in Color's Smooshy) and it's so lovely to knit with. Soft as an Emmett and such lovely colors. I'm particularly liking how the colors are working up in the pattern. I really think I'm going to enjoy these.

So knitting 2015, off we go!


*John is named after WWE wrestler John Cena, whose catchphrase is "you can't see me". I find it hilarious. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Under Construction

I'm sort of in between knitting projects at the moment. I finished up my socks for the year and have my first pair of 2015 picked out, but I'm taking a little break from sock knitting for now (mostly because I don't want to mess up my nice round number of completed socks for the year). But I can't just not knit. So I've been doing some quick, random projects.

Yesterday was an uninspired kitty toy since I had previously promised Olive that I'd make her one. So far, Cocoa has been the only one to play with it, but she was enthusiastic in her biting and bunny-kicking, so I can't be upset about that.

I thought about making another kitty toy today but honestly, in the way of all cats, my cats are the type to prefer to sleep in the box instead of the expensive cat bed that came in it. So no kitty toy today. Well, except for the pattern I picked is supposed to be a kitty toy.

Construction Cone

This one is mine though! Or Dan's. His desk is pretty messy; it might need to marked as a construction zone.

Instead of stuffing this with fiberfil, as directed by the pattern, I used some plastic canvas sheets. After all, it isn't to be a kitty toy so it doesn't need to be soft. Naturally, this means the kitties will most likely try to destroy it. But until then, I have a construction cone that is reinforced and sturdy, ready to denote any area in which caution should be taken!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

More Winning

Guess what? I won more yarn!

Plymouth Sockotta

This one was another prize from my 12 Socks in 2014 Ravelry Group and I won one of the November drawings. That makes three drawings I've won in two months - and I've wound up with some pretty awesome yarn!

It's ironic that I've started to win yarn right about the time I banned myself from buying more. I don't plan for it to be a long ban, but getting the prize yarns has made it easier to stick to. That and the fact that I have a ton of awesome yarn and not too much room for more!

Must knit faster!

Mission Accomplished!

I have done 30 socks for the year!

Slipper Socks

This last pair was just a quick (two days!) pair of slipper socks. Worsted weight yarn, size US4 needles, 44 stitches around, and footies - all these things combined to allow me to squeak one more pair in to my 2014 count.

I did run out of yarn and have to finish the socks off with something else, which was a bit sad, but I think they turned out okay. Well, ugly but in a charming way maybe? The variegated yarn did end up pooling and it did it in a pretty cool way, I think.

Slipper Socks

I instinctively dislike pooling, but sometimes it does cool stuff that is repeated or mirrored on both socks and then it's pretty cool. This falls in the cool category for me. Always a nice surprise!

These puppies are superwash wool though, so I'm thinking I'll put some Plasti-Dip on the bottom to keep the holes away - and to make them not so slippery. Because they are crazy slick on our laminate floors. But they have to finish drying first and I have to figure out the best way to paint them. Maybe with a foot form in them? Something. I'll figure it out.

And then I can start on my 12 socks for 2015!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Number 29

After hitting a bit of a knitter's block for a couple of weeks, I've finally rediscovered my knitting mojo and have managed to finish another pair of socks!

Gentleman's Fancy Socks

This pair is for Dan and I think was bribery for doing something, but it's been almost six weeks now and I can't recall what I was trying to bribe him in to. Regardless, he gets socks!

Even if I hadn't run out of knitting steam just over half way through these, this pair would have taken a little bit longer than my norm because I had to reknit the toes. I'm still searching for the knitting merit badge that I believe this deserves.

Speaking of knitting accomplishments, I noticed that the repeating pattern would make it fairly easy for me to figure out how many stitches are in these socks. So I figured it out.

Each toe and heel had about 1,248 stitches and each block section was 720 stitches each... so short row toes (not including the first ones I had to frog), short row heels, plus 21 block sections... that's about 17,616 stitches per sock or 35,232 stitches total. Over 35,000 stitches. Okay, maybe I never need to calculate that again.

I have only a tiny amount of time before 2014 is over and honestly, I'd really like to make it to thirty pairs of socks. I see some worsted weight footies in my future.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I'm Sneaky

In my quest for 12 socks (and slippers) in 2014, I've shared that I was up to pair #22. Well, I might have fudged a little. I'm really up to pair #28.

Christmas Slippers

Yep, I made Christmas slippers. From left to right, they are for (top row) my dad, my father-in-law, Dan (though these were given prior to Christmas because he is impatient), (bottom row) my mom, my mother-in-law, and my aunt.

Of course, when gifting wool slippers to people, you do want to make sure you also haven't given them something that will make them slip and break their neck. (Newly made wool slippers are crazy slick - I've almost fallen more than once when my slippers were new or newly washed). So I put little non-stick bottoms on them!

With Sticky Bottoms!

The bottoms are out of a product called Plasti-Dip, which is a liquid plastic I picked up at Lowe's used to put plastic handles on pliers and such. Instead, I put it on the slippers with a little foam brush. Honestly, it's so awesome. I'm kind of tempted to take the leftover Plasti-Dip and put it on my slippers (but I like sliding sometimes so I just can't quite bring myself to, no matter how neat it is.) I have about half a container of the dip left and, assuming it stays good, I do have thoughts of making myself a big fuzzy pair of slipper socks and putting bottoms on them. It's just too neat not to use.

Anyway, I've been working on these puppies since June and I'm so glad I finally get to include them in my yearly sock/slipper total. (Also, this is the project that broke my washing machine. Yes, felting all these slippers killed my old top loader. So thank you Christmas slippers, for buying me a new washer dryer set!)

Yay for 28 pairs! I have one more pair that I'm almost done with (more socks for Dan) so I'm really hoping to get my total up to 29 before the year ends. Of course, if I could I'd love to get to 30, which is a nice round number, but I don't think I can knit a pair of socks that quickly... unless it is a big fuzzy pair?