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


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!