April 30, 2008

Pretty Much Sums Up My Feelings About Facebook

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Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

The whole counterpane thing is all well and good. But designers might want to spend a little more time thinking about the placement of the panes.



Even so I'm sure the model was happy just to be done with this ensemble.



If you cross the whipped cream appearance of the second outfit with the poor placement of the first you end up with this.

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Soft Baby Cardigan




Pattern: Soft Baby Caridgan by Jennifer Hagan from The Knitter's Book of Yarn
Yarn: Henry's Attic Inca Cotton (impossible for me to photograph well)
Needles: US8 Addi Turbo
Notes: Another quick, simple knit. Check for errata.

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April 29, 2008

Short Rows Wavy Hat



Pattern: short-rows wavy hat by Leethal
Yarn: Handspun merino spun from samples for a color blending class then Navajo-plied
Needles: US10 Clover Circulars
Notes: Instant knitification. Cast on in some crazy yarn, knit while listening to a few podcasts and you're done! A very fun knit which I highly recommend.

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A Double Pleasure is Waiting for You



Erin and I made a podcast. We're still a little rough around the edges. Check us out.

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April 28, 2008

It's Madness But It's So Dang Cute



I saw this on Cute Overload. Oh. My. God. Insane. And hilarious.

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Knitter Gone Wild

After working so diligently recently on getting old projects off the needles I lost my mind this week. It started on Wednesday when Wes innocently asked, "Do you think you could make a baby gift for my friends by next weekend?" Uh, hell yeah. I ran home and grabbed up the leftover Inca Cotton from a baby blanket from last year. I hit up the Ravelry Experimental Pattern Search. Are you using it? It rocks. Like really hard. I plugged in my yarn weight and a range for yardage. I was guessing I had 200-300 yards. Check for baby items. Answer the Soft Baby Cardigan from The Knitter's Book of Yarn (check for errata).



I haven't had any socks on the needles for a few weeks. I was heading out with Wes and the boys and wanted a good take-along project. So I cast on for the Merino Lace Socks in Smooshy from an old IK. Two at a time on one circular because I was in a rush and I found my 40" size 1 needle first.



And then last night I saw this cool free pattern (Ravelry download) for a short row hat and thought, "That would look cool in that leftover handspun I have." So I cast on and am nearly halfway done.



Someone stop me!

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April 27, 2008

Digging Out

I've been dealing with a problem that has me so ashamed I didn't want to blog about it. I have moths. I would see one occasionally flutter by. I tried to ignore it. It was/is too overwhelming to think about rounding up all the wool/yarn/sweaters/hats, etc. in the house to wash and inspect them. I was working in batches and never finding any moth damage or evidence. Finally I found, way in the back of my sock drawer, a cocoon and a single sock with a hole in it. I cleaned it all out. But then, flutter, flutter again.

Since getting the puppy I have kept my office completely shut. I don't go in there. It is dark, warm and full of wool. I finally pulled everything out into my dining room.



I cleaned up a lot of junk, threw out a lot of stuff and found a lot of moth evidence. I found cocoons and evidence of moth munching in several places. Remarkably I haven't found any real yarn or fiber with any damage yet. The biggest areas of "activity" were in warm, dark corners of the office where a small--tiny!--bit of wool was hidden under something else. I think and hope that moths are generally lazy. Why try to get into a Rubbermaid bin full of yarn when there is a warm, undisturbed meal way behind the desk in a corner that no one has cleaned out in three years? I have started rearranging and putting things away. I am also still seeing moths flutter by at night. The next stop is my closet. Wes pulled on a sweater today (granted a really, really old sweater that probably already had holes in it) and it was riddled with moth holes. I'm sad and scared about what I'm going to find destroyed in my closet.

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April 25, 2008

Summer IK Preview

It's up. Discuss.

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Making Waves Stole




Pattern: Making Waves from Vogue Accessorize
Yarn: Mountain Colors 4/8s Wool. Moguls, Mountain Mohair and Merino Ribbon all in Crazy Woman
Needles: US 15 Denise Interchangeables
Notes: About six feet long. A very easy, but boring, knit. I started this project for the shop in October 2006! It has sat, largely ignored, for a very long time. I finally made the decision last week to finish it. I was happy to get this off the needles that I did a little Mary Tyler Moore twirl and toss.

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April 23, 2008

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

I was sent this little gem as a birthday gift from my friend Patricia in Austin. It kept me up last night trying to wrap my brain around it.



Yup, an intarsia goldfish toilet lid cozy. I have so many questions.

  1. Why do you need to knit a cozy for your toilet?
  2. Why isn't the toilet-contoured floormat also knit?
  3. Why is there a goldfish on it?
  4. Is it so you know where to put goldfish?

Then I went in for the closeup and found the most pressing question of all.



What alien planet if this fish from?

And so long as we're on the topic of Intarsia Gone Wild. A little something for your next trip to the dentist.



While I agree that flossing is important I imagine the two years it would take you to knit this sweater might be better spent.

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In Honor of Shakespeare's Birthday

April 22, 2008

Have You Ordered Your Shirt Yet?

Check it out. Thanks, Wes.

April 20, 2008

How to Have a Sleepover Party When You're 38

If you're me, you invite a bunch of friends over and tell them you're having a sleepover party for your birthday.

That was pretty much all I did.

At the last minute I remembered to buy some munchies and drinks and clean the place up a little. We sat around, talked, laughed, snacked, went out to dinner, sat around and talked and laughed some more (while knitting). Then some people went home and some people unfurled their sleeping bags and crashed out in my den. Then we went out for brunch this morning (Wes and the kids are away).

Memorable quotes:
"I keep petting my Vesper."
"What the hell happened to Serena Williams's butt?"
"There's a nipple and no breast."
"It's BYOB." (In this case B = bacon)
"Well, everyone's dating someone who looks like the Unabomber."
"When are we going to do light as a finger and stiff as a board?"

I took myself to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall this afternoon. I *heart* Jason Segel. I loved him in Freaks and Geeks. I love him on How I Met Your Mother. I love him in this. I love that he hopes to write a new Muppet movie. Love, love, love. The movie is very funny and also really raunchy and stupid. It's rated R with a fair amount of male nudity which made all the teenaged girls in the theater SCREAM. That was also very entertaining.

April 19, 2008

Pinky


Dear Jane block, reverse applique


One ply silk from Chasing Rainbows, one ply coopworth loosely spun

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OMFG!

I will join everyone else in Seattle in saying, "It's fucking snowing outside! What the hell is happening?"

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April 18, 2008

The DMV Effect*

Ah the wonders of the modern age. I'm sitting in my car in front of the kids' school stealing someone's wifi (sorry, you really should change your settings). Today was stressful. I had to renew my driver's license. Which means I had to go to the DMV. I checked online and the wait time listed for license renewal was an hour. I went with my laptop (tried to find a wireless connection but failed) and my knitting. I went prepared to wait. Apparently I was the only one who realized that going to the DMV involves sitting around waiting. Everyone else spent their hour tapping their feet, bitching loudly and in one instance, screaming, ranting, stomping around and threatening to write letters to the local papers. Yeah, lady, you have to wait when you go to the DMV. Big news story. So I left 90 minutes later with what is absolutely the worst driver's license picture ever. And I do not give a shit. I am just glad to have gotten the hell out of there.
I then went and met up with Erin. She and I are cooking up a little podcast. Hopefully in a few days after she has edited out all my rambling we will have something.
Tonight is lots of cleaning up at the house because I'm having a sleepover party. No, not the kids. Me. I'm having a birthday slumber party. I told my cashier at Trader Joe's this morning and he dubbed the idea "rad." So there you have it. I'm finally cool.
And I finished the back to Tailored Scallops.
Now I want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep but instead I need to clean the bathrooms 'cause ick.

* Usually the DMV effect refers to a situation where everyone from every strata of society get shoved together in one place. Today it just refers to the effect of going to the DMV

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April 17, 2008

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

We had so much fun last week with Moscow fashion week I thought we'd do it again. This time the theme is How to Dress Like a Tranny Hooker.









Say it with me. "She's a man, baby!"

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April 15, 2008

Nooooooooooo!!!!

I finally made it to the armhole decreases on my teeny weeny sleeve for the Auburn Camp Shirt which I started a week ago. I cast on the wrong number of stitches! ARgghghghhghghhh. I have to rip it out and start over. *sob* At least my gauge looks good.

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Jane So Far



I realized while creating this mosaic that I have accidentally repeated one block already. D'oh!

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Old Photos from My Camera

While knitting on the back of my Tailored Scallops last night at Purlygirls my Denise needle cord broke. Grrr. I was going to take a picture but my camera battery is dead. I think you all know what a broken needle looks like though. Fortunately my sock yarn blanket was in the car. Just a reminder that you should always have emergency knitting in the car. You never know when you'll need it.

Since I don't have any good knitting photos to show you I thought I'd share strange, random photos that I finally uploaded from my phone to my computer.



We walked by this very sad snowman in front of a Mexican grocery store. He has a pencil jabbed into his head for an eye. I love how the Virgin Mary appears to be praying for his recovery.



I call this one "Angry Butter."



I kinneared some woman in line in front of me at SBC in the mall one day. Surprisingly it was not Madonna from the Like a Virgin video which I think would be the only reasonable explanation for this outfit.



I love how this mannequin appears to be picking a wedgie.



This is the first knitting project by the youngest member of our school knitting club.

April 13, 2008

Thanks Honey

Me (looking in mirror): Man, I have so much gray hair.
Older son: You don't have gray hair. (long beat) You have a lot of silver though.

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April 12, 2008

How to Make a Great Birthday Cake

There's no point in being modest about this. I make great birthday cakes. I'm just finishing up my younger son's cake for his party tonight and thought I should take some pictures to share some of my tips and tricks so that you can also make great cakes.

The first step to a great cake is a great recipe. Rose Levy Berenbaum's Cake Bible is probably the only cake book you ever need to get. In the back there is a section where she breaks down her white, yellow and chocolate cake recipes so you can make any size cake you need. I usually make her yellow cake. It's just great, classic vanilla cake. Her instructions are impeccable. When she says mix, she tells you exactly how long. There is no vagueness to her recipes. They are scientific formulas.

The next step is good tools. I love cake strips. You soak them in cold water and wrap them around the pan. It helps the inside and outer edges of the cake to bake evenly and prevents the top of the cake from rising into a dome. They are not essential but that doming is a pain. You have to slice it off later and then you've got a big crumby mess and wasted cake*.

Another important tool is a rotating cake tray or a lazy Susan. I got this simple, cheap one at Michael's a long time ago.

An offset spatula makes creating smooth sides and tops much easier.

None of these tools are absolutely essential but they make decorating easier and give you better results.

Another important thing is cake flour. It is very different from regular, all-purpose flour. It makes a huge difference in your cakes.

Okay, so you've got your book and you bake your cake. Now it's time to frost. I almost always make Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It is light and delicate, sweet and delicious. It spreads and pipes easily. For this frosting you really need a stand mixer. It takes a long time to make but with a good KitchenAid mixer (and really, you should have one anyway) you just turn it on and walk away for twenty minutes. The frosting does take a long time to go from meringue to creamy wonderfulness. Don't despair if it looks lumpy or clotted. Just keep on mixing. Eventually it will coalesce and get very smooth.

The next step is the most important. It is the difference between professional looking results and the cake you made for your grandmother when you were seven. Crumb coating. Color your frosting. I really like using the paste colors. They are so much more intense and less expensive than food coloring. Plus it comes in great colors. Do not skip this step. Take a small amount of frosting and put it in a separate bowl. You don't want to mix crumbs into your big bowl of frosting. Frost the top of the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top of it. Then put a very thin coating on frosting on the entire cake. Don't worry about getting a lot of crumbs in it or having bald spots on the cake. This is like priming a wall for painting. It's your chance to fill in any dips on the surface of the cake. Hold your spatula vertically and turn the cake to create a nice straight side all around. Put the cake in the refrigerator and leave it alone for a while until the crumb coat sets.


It is very hard to photograph yourself frosting a cake.


Once the crumb coat is cool and all those pesky crumbs are stuck in place you can frost as you want. If you want to final surface of your cake to be very smooth stick the cake back in the fridge for a while. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer. The pan needs to be deep enough to fit the length of your offset spatula in. Once your cake is cool bring it out of the fridge. Place your offset spatula in the hot water. Dry it off. Then glide the hot blade across the surface of the icing. It will melt the very top layer and leave the frosting completely smooth and beautiful.



And voila! A delicious, beautiful cake. I know buying cake at the store is easier but I guarantee you that store-bought cake doesn't hold a candle to this. (No pun intended). It's like the difference between between handknit socks from handspun yarn and acrylic/cotton socks from Walmart.



*sure, you're going to eat those bits you cut off so it's not totally wasted.

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Maine Morning Mitts


Pattern: Maine Morning Mitts from Knitter's Book of Yarn (there is a free pdf of the pattern here)
Yarn: Rambouillet (possibly some mohair?) from Judith MacKenzie McCuin. She had tubes knit from the yarn at the mill then she hand-dyed the blanks. We were instructed to ravel them, skein the yarn, then wash and block it.
Needles: US7 Brittany dpns
Notes: This is a one-day project. I cast on for them last night as I headed out for dinner. I worked on them through the evening while watching some movies. I cast off before bed and wove in the ends this morning.
I knit as written except I made them slightly shorter for fear of running out of yarn. I ended up ripping back a few rows at the top of my first mitt to complete the second one. I ended up using every last bit of the yarn which always makes me extremely happy.

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April 11, 2008

Where's My Crafting At?

My knitting/crafting life has been very compartmentalized the past few weeks.

I started working on the Auburn Camp Shirt in Jaggerspun Zephyr (Ice Blue). I swatched on 2s but it was too loosey-goosey. I've switched to 1s. I've been working on a sleeve but only while sitting at the computer. Lace-weight yarn, size 1 needles and using the computer while knitting means I only have about an inch and a half of my sleeve done so far.



When I go out to knit I bring my Tailored Scallops. I have both sleeves and a good bit of the back done. It's a super fast knit but I don't seem to work on it while at home.



My evening sitting-front-of-the-tv project has been the ripple afghan. I don't have a photo but I've made some fair progress this week.

I've also been working on my Dear Jane blocks. These are all hand-pieced.


This one doesn't look so crooked in person. I also got gunk from my iron on the white part as I was pressing the final seam. Bah!

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April 10, 2008

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

What curious paths life takes us down. I set out trying to hunt down a larger version of this photo from Moscow fashion week.



Pretty crazy awesome, right? Or so I thought until I realized that investigating Moscow fashion week is truly a trip down the rabbit hole. It leads to this.



Then this.



And finally this.



Curiouser and curiouser.

I know there's no knitting here but I suspect you'll forgive me.

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April 9, 2008

Kids are Funny

I brought my spinning wheel to the boys' school today for the last day of the knitting club. The kids always get really excited about it. I was carrying my Lendrum, folded up, into the after-school childcare to pick up the boys. A little girl in kindergarten saw the wheel.

Girl: What's that?
Her Mom: It's a spinning wheel. You use it make yarn.
Girl: What about gold?
Her Mom: Good question.
Everyone chuckles as the girl leaves.
My older son (still laughing): You should put that on your blog.

He knows me so well.

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April 8, 2008

Not Hibernating

I have been on the run since I got back to Seattle. Yesterday was a full day of work and Purlygirls. Today was a short day of work (but I it started early) and now I'm off to a sewing machine class.

After completing my four March to the Finish projects I was left feeling a bit aimless. I really wanted to start something new but all those hibernating projects on Ravelry were making me feel guilty. I have started working again on my sock yarn blanket (I keep it in the car for when I need an easy knit), my Cormo handspun sweater and my ripple afghan. Yes, even a little crochet. It isn't very exciting or sexy to work on these projects but it feels good to get some of these older projects done. I also ripped out my argyle double-knit scarf I was working on for the shop. I knit about 5 inches in 8 months. It was not meant to be. Another project off the hibernating list.

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April 6, 2008

Meet My New Boyfriend

One of my spinning friends is fostering a guide dog puppy. Donner is cute as can be and likes to stay close to his handler.

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Kooky Puppy




Bella loves to lie on her back. She holds a toy above her face and dangles it down gracefully into her mouth.

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Whidbey Weaver's Guild Spin In '08

Another great spin in. I headed north very early on Saturday morning and got in a full day of spinning. I spun and plied 4 oz. of Shetland roving from Sporfarm (no website) that I bought at Black Sheep two years ago. This fiber comes from a sheep named Gizmo. I love that.



After a dinner of an outstanding bacon blue cheese burger (thanks, Linda K!) there was lots of chatting and laughing while knitting at the hotel.

On Sunday I spun and plied my other 4 oz. of Shetland.



I don't know the yardage. I didn't bring my own niddy-noddy. I borrowed two different ones and don't know the length for either.

I had this much left after plying. This is also something I love.



Judith MacKenzie McCuin was the instructor this year. She gave a talk on bison very similar to the one she gave at Madrona earlier this year and taught a workshop on three wild downs (a class I took with her at Madrona last year). But it's always wonderful to have time with Judith. Unfortunately with 200 spinners and only one Judith she barely had time to make it around the room to speak with us in small groups.



I didn't buy anything. I don't need anything and I see most of these vendors at several events each year.

I really need some sleep but am dying to keep on spinning.

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April 5, 2008

On The Road Again...

Heading to the Whidbey Weavers Guild Spin In. Be back tomorrow.

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April 4, 2008

Throw Another Block on the Pile



Dear Jane Block B-4 Chris's Soccer Field, foundation-pieced by hand on a lightweight non-fusible interfacing. I realized when I it was all done that the outermost sashing was supposed to be in the other fabric. I'm not changing it because I am thrilled with how well this block turned out.

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Dear Maytag Repair Guy

Thanks for wasting my whole fucking day and telling me I needed a new dishwasher when all I needed to do was jiggle the door some more.I really enjoyed spending $700 on a dishwasher I don't need.

Your truly,

Jessica

ETA: So angry I forgot how to spell.
For clarity: the repair guy said the machine was unfixable. We bought a new one. I waited all day for it to be delivered. The delivery guy looks at the old one and says, "Why are you replacing it?" I told him the door no longer closed and it couldn't be fixed. He jiggled it around for 10 seconds and voila! it closes. And it cleans dishes. So I sent the new one--that was already in my kitchen--back to Home Depot.

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What Qualifies as News in Seattle

Lost iPod returned to retired Oregon hairdresser.

I'm confused. It is newsworthy because she's retired or because she's from Oregon?

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Fun Friday

Things that made me laugh this week.

humorous pictures
i can has cheezburger

Flight of the Conchords



This one is Wes's favorite.

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April 3, 2008

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?



What is the editorial process that lead to this cover?

A. "Bright is in. Can it be brighter?"

B. "80s are in. Can it be more out of date?"

C. "We're going to drink this entire bottle of Cuervo and the last one standing gets to pick the photo."

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April 1, 2008

More on the Rick Roll

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This One Hurts

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Go With the Flow


Click for humungous.


Pattern: Go With the Flow Socks by Evelyn A. Clark, IK Summer '05 and Favorite Socks
Yarn: Socks That Rock (Lightweight) in Chapman Springs
Needle: US1 Addi Lace
Notes: I made the leg ever so slightly shorter than the pattern called for but otherwise knit exactly as written. This pattern just, well, flows off the needles. A very satisfying, quick pair of socks to knit.

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