Sunday, February 26, 2012

Therapeutic Crafting

I think it goes without saying that I've been quite down lately. I've still got Dan's gloves to finish (just the fingers left, though) but I've felt like that project requires a bit too much thought for me to deal with at the moment. So instead, I've fulfilled my need for distracting crafting by doing something simple: magic potholders.

I've done two other magic potholders and they were quite easy but really nifty and delightfully functional. My mom mentioned when she saw mine that she'd like one, so I figured that this need for simple and distracting crafting would be a good opportunity to fulfill that request.

This is the first crochet project I've done since I taught myself to knit. It was kind of strange... the process felt a bit clunkier and not near as smooth as knitting. It was really weird and a bit unsettling. After all, I've crocheted for years (and years). It shouldn't be supplanted in my craft-love by the newcomer of knitting. And yet...

Due to a variety of factors (the need for more mindlessness, a decent stash of cotton yarn, the urge to go back to the smoothness of knitting), I made a second potholder but this time, I knitted it. I didn't have a knit pattern for the magic potholder, but I figured it wouldn't be too hard to make something up as long as I could get the cast on right. I found a cast on for making socks toe-up, did a couple of kfb increases at each end, knit around and around (and around,) then grafted the open end closed.

The yellow with cream stripe is crocheted, the red/beige/cream one is knit

I think next time I will cast on more stitches (maybe 90 instead of 80) to make the potholder closer to 9" at the corners (it's currently 8"), but I really like the results of the knit version. The material is still nice and thick but it's a bit more flexible and supple than the fabric created with crochet. I think that's just the joy of knitted fabric since the hook/needles were the same size and the yarn is the same size and material. Which makes me think that knitting kind of wins all the way around.

I'm not saying that I'm going to eschew crochet. I actually have plans/hopes to use some of the lovely thread I have to make a doily or two and, while there are some nice knitted lace doilies, I haven't really found ones that speak to me as much as some of the available crochet ones out there. But I am kind of thinking that knitting might be on the way to officially becoming my favorite craft style. I just have to get over the feeling that I'm treating crochet like a red-headed step-child.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Want a Refund

Noro is a fun brand of yarn. It's what I used to make my hat, scarf and mitten set and my colorful wrap. I also have a couple of skeins of it hiding in my yarn cabinet earmarked for socks and slippers.

The norovirus has nothing to do with fun yarn. Or yarn of any type.

I feel cheated....

Yes, I am sick. Which is actually better because what I was before was almost dead. So sick is an improvement. Dan and I went to St. Louis to visit his family and managed to participate in passing around the stomach flu, aka norovirus, which again, has nothing to do with yarn. Instead, it is a big ball of vomiting and stomach cramps and misery.

Other than the sharing of icky germs, it was a good trip. Saw lots of folks, cuddled with some kitties, saw some serious snow and got some super fun yarns (which I might end up flooding my Flickr account with so I can add them to my Ravelry stash once I feel more up to it). Also got the chance to give MIL her (slightly early) birthday hat. I totally forgot to get a picture of her in it so this will have to do:

Claudia's Hat

It's super-cute, even if I do say so myself. A slouchy cabled hat that was fun to make and I got to learn a new cast on. Add on to that, MIL seemed to really like it so win all around!

Well, except for the norovirus. No win there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Random Statistics (Sorta)

Currently, I'm working on "real book" number two for my year of 24 "real books" (yes, I'm behind already) and I ran across something interesting. Or at least, I find it interesting.

The book is Race for the Exits: The Unraveling of Japan's System of Social Protection. It talks about the issues Japan's having with its social policy by focusing on two main topics: the change in Japanese large businesses (decline in lifetime employment, capital leaving, etc) and the change in the young women of Japan (choosing career over family, etc). Right now I'm reading a section that discusses the changes in this current generation of women vs. their mothers - more go to four-year universities, fewer want to be housewives and stay-at-home moms, etc, etc, and it mentions a survey that specifically asked about views towards childrearing.
While 72 percent of U.S. mothers and 54 percent of Koreans said they found child rearing to be a "pleasure," just 23 percent of Japanese mothers said so.
Okay, I know the book focuses on Japan and that 23% number is shockingly low. But check out the U.S. percent. 72%. That means that 28% find child rearing not "a pleasure." Which means one in four people you know that have kids? Apparently don't enjoy the experience. One in four!

And people wonder why I have cats.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I finally finished my seemingly-cursed-from-the-start colorwork fingerless gloves!

Completed Colorwork Gloves
Colorwork Gloves

I think they turned out pretty nice!

I did finally have to give up on attempting to do the colorwork two-handed. Holding both yarns in my right hand was much happier. MUCH. Because of the issues I had with them (not just tension issues, I had major issues casting on for two at once knitting and I also ended up breaking a pair of needles on this project and the first replacement arrived in the mail broken, too), I wasn't really feeling the love before I blocked them. The stitches were uneven, they were kind of stiff and felt restrictive. But blocking them helped a bit with the uneven stitches and turned the yarn soft and supple so they are tons more comfy.

I'm still not one hundred percent thrilled with the yarn - the colorful yarn is super fuzzy so it looks like the dye bled a little (though it didn't because that look goes away if I brush the fuzz around) and the quality of the knitting could be better but hey, it was a learning project so I'm not too upset with it. But at least after doing this I feel confident enough that I can successfully knit a colorwork hat that I want to make. It has llamas on it!

(If you want to read way too much information on the issues I had with these gloves, check out the notes on my Ravelry project. Oh the drama!)

Next up: gloves for Dan! (They are his birthday present. Which kinda sucks for him cause today is his birthday and I'm hoping to cast on for them tonight... though it might be tomorrow.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sweet & Sour of Awesomeness

I've been in a condiment mood lately. This past week, I've made corn- and gluten-free versions of recipes for yellow mustard and ketchup. Both of these turned out pretty fantastically. So I thought I'd try my hand at something more challenging.

Dan and I had a ton and a half of trouble finding a me-safe sweet and sour sauce. The one we found was pretty freaking awesome. But recently, the grocery store stopped carrying it. And even more recently, we ran out of the last bit of our jar of it. But the jar did have an ingredient list on it, which wasn't that long, so I thought maybe I could use that as a jumping off point to try and figure out how to make a version of it.

That's what I did tonight.

Sweet & Sour Pineapple Pork

I made sweet and sour pineapple pork and it was wonderful. And the sauce is what really made it. I know this was just my first shot at replicating the sauce, but it was so fantastic. So I thought I'd share.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

- ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- a dash of cayenne
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (approx.)

1. Combine ingredients in sauce pan and bring to a boil
2. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.
3. Add arrowroot powder to thicken (try dissolving the arrowroot in a small amount of water before adding to the hot sauce). Stir in powder then remove from heat.

(The original ingredient list included serrano pepper (instead of cayenne) and bell peppers (which I hate and thus will never buy from the store, much less cook with).)
See? So simple! So I stir-fried up some onions, pork cubes and pineapple then, when it was all cooked, I dumped in the entire sauce recipe. It was perfect!

Now I want to make more of it to bottle and stick in the fridge because it's really good on veggie patties, too. (According to Dan, it's also good on a spoon.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Season Is It?

I just had to turn on the air conditioning in the house. It's 80° in here. Yes, 80°.

What month is this? Because I'm feeling a little confused.