Saturday, October 30, 2010

What Goes in the Bag, Stays in the Bag

Something had to be done.  The right knitting tool never seemed to be at hand:  the tape measure was in another room; the tapestry needle was lost in another project bag; the scissors were where they were supposed to be in their proper pouch, in the basket next to my chair.  But I was not in my chair, I was off at knit night.  After a bit of looking, I found the perfect solution -- Tom Bihn's Pencil Case.  It's big enough to hold all of the essentials, and small enough to fit in a sock-sized project bag.  I picked up a couple, so that I could put one in each active project bag (why yes, I do in fact have more than a couple of active projects going at a time, and so no, two pencil cases are really not sufficient).  Anyhoo, here are the cases in action, demonstrating just how much you can fit in the little things.

In each of my cases, I have:  tape measure, scissors, ruler and/or needle gauge, tapestry needle, mini notebook (mine are from Moleskine, and are wonderful), crystal nail file, extra DPN if I'm working on socks or mitts, mechanical pencil, a Wanda or two, perhaps a cable needle, and lots of stitch markers (there's never a shortage of markers here at Chez Markers a Lot).

They work perfectly.  But only WHEN I REMEMBER TO PUT THEM IN THE PROJECT BAG. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

First Foray

The two-color stranded knitting bug finally hit.  It's been lurking on the list for a while, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.  After a class with Janel Laidman at Sock Camp this past spring, and then finding a great starter project, my immune system succumbed.

Yarn:  Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb sport weight, in Grey Heather and Onyx.
Pattern:  Cat Mittens by Jorid Linvik.

I made a bit of a tangled mess at the beginning until I got the hang of handling one strand of yarn in each hand.  Since I don't tension the yarn in the typical way -- well, actually, since I don't tension the yarn at all, this took a bit of getting used to.  I can't say that I'm ready for 3-color stranding yet (heaven help me with 4 or 5 colors), but every row gets easier.  Luckily each row is only 60 stitches. 

I'm not convinced I made a wise choice with the yarn selection.  That the yarn is a singles isn't turning out to be much of an issue, but the weight -- let's just say that these mitts would more suited to the Arctic Circle than to my temperate clime.  But they're lovely and fun, and I'm sure we'll get a deep freeze one of these years when they'll come in quite handy.

First mitten's almost done.  The second should be a snap.  The process is delightful, so maybe I am ready for 3+ colors.  Bohus sweater, you're in my future.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sometimes Making Do Doesn't Do

I found an intriguing chickpea flatbread recipe that I've been itching to try for months now.  I'd been waiting for a cool, preferably rainy, day to try it out -- you know, bread-baking weather.  Since we're into yet another heat wave and it hit 99 degrees yesterday, I decided that bread-baking weather was not gonna happen any time soon, so I just went on with it.

The recipe called for a 12-inch pizza pan, which I did not have and did not want to invest in for an uncertain recipe, so I improvised and used a couple of sheets of aluminum foil, molded into a round and placed on a pizza baking stone.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Well.  Besides the fact that the dough (actually a batter) was really, um, liquid, I think the dough needed the heat conduction of a heavy pan.  Plus, I eye-balled the diameter measurement and believe I might have been a bit on the generous side.  Thus my flatbread came out really -- flat

Next time I'll use a proper pan.  There will be a next time, but this recipe needs a bit of tweaking first, I think.  It was good, but there was something just not right about it.  Not that I've ever had chickpea flatbread before to judge by, but the taste and texture was just not, well, right.  Texture a bit on the spongy side (I don't much care for spongy), taste very definitely chickpea (maybe too much so), it was less like bread and more like -- ???  Definitely some tweaking to do.  Perhaps a bit of white flour in exchange for the chickpea flour?  A bit more time in the oven?  Some rosemary, I think.  And for sure, some bread-baking weather. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Little Falling Down at the Fair

I participated in our guild's annual Sheep to Shawl exhibition at the county fair a bit ago.  It's always a great day (my job this year was to card batts for the spinners), and I love visiting the livestock areas, especially of course the sheep and goats.  These little visits often result in a fleece coming home with me at the end of the day, but this year -- let's just say that I was a bit overenthusiastic. 

The two gorgeous moorit Merino fleeces and a lovely Romney that I had recently purchased from the wonderful Mendenhall Wood Ranch were plenty to keep me busy for a while.  And oh yes, I have in mind an idea for a luscious blend (in fact, I'm thinking of naming it "Luscious") for that pretty little Cormo fleece I had just acquired.  So really, I was pretty well set in the fleece department, but you know, if something at the fair caught my eye, what's one more?  Right?

Well, a delightful little pale tan Romney caught my eye.  Then I just couldn't pass up another Romney -- such a beautiful shade of gray.  I managed to convince my friend Susie to split the almost-seven-pounds of it with me.  And then there was that little Shetland lamb fleece that was only .8 lbs, so what's the harm in that?  Lastly there's the Oxford that my friend Susie bought and somehow managed to convince me that I needed half of. 

Now I'm really good for fleece for a while.  Except for that colored mohair fleece I just found online.  I mean, I need it to blend with the Romney, right?  Right?