Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And now it's autumn!

Let the sweater panic begin! Will Hjalte be ready for cold weather? Will I fix my Simple Knitted Bodice in time? Do I have a prayer of casting on for Twist and Shout, much less finishing?

I *did* go shopping for layering shirts, and found a camisole to go under Simple Knitted Bodice and a couple of thin, long-sleeved t-shirts to go under short-sleeved things. Amy, I have to say, I am SO glad I'm not the only one who waits for the trends established by the fourteen-year-olds to be widespread before jumping on board. I'm going with grey underneath the Somewhat Cowl. And I really think the white tank is fine under Marie Louise. BUT. I did some blocking of sweaters, and I blocked the HELL out of Simple Knitted Bodice (I counted it as 20 minutes of cardio, seriously), but it is still too short and too snug across the bust. Here's what I'm thinking, though. Instead of ripping out and starting over (which I considered, actually), I'm thinking I could salvage the sleeves up to the armpits and put them on a holder AND maybe even save the below-the-bust part of the body. To make this wearable for me, I need more length below the waist detail AND more length above the waist detail. So I'm almost thinking I can remove the sleeves and set them aside, then rip out to just above the waist detail and set the bottom part aside. Then re-knit the top part and put the sleeves and body back on, rip out the very bottom edge and knit it longer. Does that sound insane? I really, really like this yarn and this sweater; otherwise, I would never consider re-knitting any part of it. It'd just go in the closet with the other sweaters I don't like. I'm not sure if it would be better to just start's not like it's a tough knit, and it went pretty quickly the first time. It's just that I have Hjalte and Twist and Shout and I'm not sure I want to add an entire sweater plus ripping-out time to the mix. If I do the rip-out-in-pieces strategy, I will do photodocumentation!

I keep going on the Malabrigo scarf, which I love. Perfect purse knitting. And Hjalte is ALMOST to the armholes. Did I say that last time? This sweater may be the death of me...

Reading; I have to stop re-reading HP and get to some other stuff. I have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for book club, two books coming out this winter to review, and a backlog of review copies. Plus the new 39 Clues and the latest Bobbie Faye :) I am on Book 4 right now, and every time I read it, I can tell more that Rowling was tired and on a tight deadline. The main plot twist drives me NUTS and it's so long and rambling and the subplots are out of control. It's still a Harry Potter book, so it's fun, but it's my least favorite of the series.

Writing: Not much at all, really. Matt was out of town, and being the only parent is tiring.

Cooking: Ah, Amy, Romesco Sauce! Yum. This is a Spanish sauce based on stale bread, almonds, and roasted red peppers traditionally served in the Catalonian region in the spring with charred baby leeks (yeah, I know weird stuff). It is delicious. I really ate some with a spoon one day. It was nice with polenta wedges. Camping food was pretty funny - most people think S'mores and hot dogs on sticks, but we're a gourmet book club, so even camping we had fancy stuff. The group in charge of making dinner made carrot soup (yummmmmm...) and to-order grilled cheese (choice of three breads; choice of three cheeses). My book club pretty much rocks.

Romesco Sauce (Allison's probably-not-traditional interpretation)

6 Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded*
4 red bell peppers, roasted**
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup blanched almonds
4 oz. white, French, or sourdough bread (I used my leftover sourdough), sliced and toasted
1/4 tsp smoked Paprika
1/8 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
2 TBL sherry vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil (or more)

Place garlic, almonds, and bread in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add peppers, tomatoes, and spices. With motor running, drizzle in oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings.

* To easily peel tomatoes, make an X at the bottom of each, then drop into boiling water for 30 seconds. Plunge into ice water. Skins will slip right off.

**You can do this under the broiler or over a grill or gas range. Place peppers under broiler or over flame until blackened, turn 1/4 turn and repeat until skin is completely charred. Let sit at least 15 minutes. Very, very carefully (pepper has steam inside), peel off skin and remove stem, seeds, and membranes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looking Back: Sweaters I Have Loved

I have a history of making really bad yarn choices. And bad pattern/body type compatibility choices. Often both on the same sweater. Knitting was my first craft; I never did sewing or anything that would give me a foundation in garment construction. Since I adore my Gathered Pullover, which is also the most recent sweater I've made myself, I'm hoping I've learned from my mistakes. But for that theory to work, one has to ignore my attempt to merge Tussie Mussie with Rowanspun 4-Ply and convince myself the gauge was okay and then and tweak the pattern to remove most of the interesting features. I'm okay with that, actually - I cast on before I was active on Ravelry, and now I check Ravelry for pattern/yarn compatibility AND modifications (the only reason I love Gathered Pullover, which I would have hated without the mods). And I'm definitely more of a process knitter, so it's not a great tragedy to me when I don't like the result. Whatever, I had fun knitting it. However...I've knit myself ELEVEN sweaters. And only one gets a lot of wear. This is on my mind, because in the fall, I start to take cold-weather clothes down from the closet, so I have a stack of sweaters I don't wear. Poor, sad, unloved sweaters. Instead of being hard on myself for making mistakes, I thought I'd go through my sweaters and think about the positives: what I liked about them and what I learned.

Pin-Up Queen: This is actually a pretty nice sweater. It's from the Stich 'N' Bitch pattern, but I modified the sleeves to be a long stockinette bell sleeve (which I quite like). I used Cascade 220, which is a nice strong yarn that still has softness. It's a blue-green color that I like a lot. It predates blogging, so I don't have a picture. I really need a camisole to go under it, though, so I don't wear it much. The layering thing is something I really haven't mastered. I'm sort of a one-shirt-at-a-time girl, but I'm trying to embrace the versatility of layering. Hey, maybe I should go shopping...

Belle Epoque: The yarn (RYC Lux) was nice to work with, and the pattern was interesting to knit. However, an empire waist is not the best look for me, and I didn't like the elastic band method of forming one anyway. So it's more or less a comfy sack-shaped garment. Again, not the best look for me. If a pattern shows up that would be perfect for the yarn, I will definitely frog it and turn it into something wearable.

Tubey: This was a process knit. Everyone on was all excited about the creative structure, and I was, too. And it was interesting to knit. But I should know better than to knit something tube-shaped (I am NOT tube-shaped) and the design means an uncomfortably high neckline in the back.

Tempting II: This one I'm blaming on design. Sure, it's quick and easy, but an off-the-shoulder sweater pretending it's not one by using a buckle at the neckline...meh. I also lengthened the cap sleeves a bit, and I don't like the look of the longer sleeves. I do wear it sometimes, because hey, it's Rowan Calmer, which is always nice. This is the knit that made me start scrutinizing patterns more, and not just assume designers are right all the time.

Picovoli: This was fun because of the picot edging. I also added short rows, which was a great experience. I will NEVER wear this tank top, though. I followed directions exactly, which makes for a too-short, too-high-necked tank with no give (I used Knitpicks Shine, which I won't use again for sweaters...nice yarn, no stretch).

Marie Louise's Lace Sweater: I love this sweater. I haven't actually worn it in public, though, because it's quite open and I hadn't found a tank to go under it. I have a white one I think works (see above re: layering issues), though, so when it's cooler, I think I will start wearing it.

Somewhat Cowl: I like this one. Good yarn, good pattern. I ended up with a bit of a ladder at the center, though. But I realized...I don't think I've done actual blocking on this sweater! So I'm doing that today. I'm also on the fence about the short sleeves. It makes it not that practical. People who know about layering stuff: can I wear a long sleeved t-shirt under this?

T-Twist: This one is SO not my fault. The design incorporates center decreases that make a poof that looks like a third breast. It WAS fun to knit, though. Frogged.

Hourglass: Despite its name, this one is pretty sack-shaped. It was a fun knit, though, and I learned to do a sewn-edge hem, which I love. I also learned that Jo Sharp is some scratchy wool.

Simple Knitted Bodice: This was really fun to knit. I love the shaping method. Next time, I'll pay attention to the cup size of the model before casting on, though. And remember that I have a long torso and should just automatically lengthen every pattern. Another sweater I haven't actually attempted to block, though, so I'm doing that today!

Gathered Pullover: And my favorite, the Gathered Pullover. Thanks to Ravelry, I thought through the pattern and modifications that would make it a sweater I want to wear.

Ha, Holly, the Twist and Shout model totally looks like a mannequin :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trying something new

So I was thinking that I miss blogging on a regular basis, but I also feel like I should only blog if I have something interesting to say. I don't know whether that's true or not today, but I'll give it a whirl.

One of our summer trips was to Wisconsin, where one of Matt's high school friends was getting married. This was a bit high school reunion-ish (in a good way) - we got to see friends we hadn't seen in ages, and their children. My friend/co-book-blogger Holly and I actually got to hang out in person for the first time in years. I notice that I avoid putting pictures of myself up here, so I'll suck it up and post this one:

Holly also happens to be an excellent photographer. She has a business, Lily Bella Photography. Since we haven't had Lilah's photos taken in a long time, and I have been in awe of Holly's pictures for quite some time now, we arranged for Holly to try to get some photos while our families met up at the zoo. Lilah was thoroughly uncooperative at first (she's shy for a bit around new people), but Holly managed to completely capture her personality.

Lilah twirls all the time. She often asks to wear a dress "so I can twirl!" I was tickled to have a great photo of her twirling.

And since I already put up one picture of myself, here is one Holly snapped of Lilah and me:

Knitting: I'm making slow progress on Hjalte. Very slow progress. I really like it, but yikes. As Buffy would say, it is a job of work. I enjoy cabling, though. It's really addictive. I'm really dying to start Twist and Shout. Incidentally, I am making it in a Forest Green Cascade 220. Any comment on that would be appreciated. I tend to make sweaters for myself that are disastrous. My Gathered Pullover is the most-worn sweater I've made for myself.

Reading: Yes, I'm still re-reading Harry Potter. I just can't help myself. My book club has had talk of a Harry Potter Addict Support Group offshoot, but I don't think any of us is that committed to kicking the habit...

Writing: Not much. I have childcare for Thursday, so I may try to make some headway on the murder mystery.

Cooking: Oh, I was assigned to appetizers for my book club camping trip, so I came up with polenta wedges with romesco sauce and hummus with fire-toasted pita. The romesco was really yummy, and I've had it leftover in pita with grilled zucchini...nice.

Will I blog tomorrow? Who knows. Lack of photography skill is part of my slow blogging since text-heavy posts are not usually that interesting. And I don't see that changing. Still, it's nice to not have to remember a month's worth of reading, writing, cooking, and knitting to cram in one post...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back from hiatus

I never intend to take a blog just happens. The summer was just not about knitting, and it's been very busy. Believe it or not, I started this post two weeks ago and still haven't finished it. So...what's going on around here?

There's some knitting:

That's the Love Bites Scarf, and it's a fun knit. The yarn is Malabrigo Sock (mmmmmmm...) in Archangel.

I've also been inching along on Hjalte, which I'd taken a break from during the summer. Nothing is less refreshing than knitting a wool/silk cabled sweater when it's 90 degrees and humid!

And the ill-fated Tussie Mussie...I'm half through the second sleeve, but motivation is quite low, as it's clearly too small for me and it's BORING. So I'm going to start my Twist and Shout instead, but maybe after the back of Hjalte is finished.

There's some reading, but I'll send you to On My Bookshelf for reviews. This is actually a pretty good time to visit the book blog. It's Book Blogger Appreciation Week, so we have giveaways and fun stuff all week. I'm rereading Harry Potter right now, but I read a couple of excellent literary novels, A Year of Cats and Dogs by Margaret Hawkins and Seducing the Spirits by Louise Young. I talked my book club into reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for our October meeting, so I'm waiting for that to arrive.

There's...not much writing. Noodling around with poetry. And this fragment of something popped into my head and cracked me up. I always refer to Autumn (the season) as "she" and someone was utterly perplexed by that. This is my response: "Well, of course Autumn is a woman. All that aging gracefully, exchanging the frivolous colors of summer for more muted tones, sweeping in with a soft rustle of falling leaves. If Autumn were a man, he’d come screaming up in a bright yellow convertible wearing a hairpiece and a twenty-two-year-old bimbo."

There's been so much cooking, I don't know where to start. I have a cache of over 100 jars of jams and sauces as my stock for our Lakefest celebration the first weekend in October, so I hope I can sell much of that. I have a website, Lilah Bug Bakes that will soon be updated with current stock supplies. I have a number of recipes I should post, assuming I can remember how I made things... I have to do another test of Kahlua Brownie Cheesecake, which was quite a hit, but needs some adjustment. I also need to figure out in tablespoons how much Kahlua is in three glugs :) Maybe I'll post more than once every couple of months so I can get recipes up here...