Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP at last : Wedding Shawl

So, after my angsty post of a few weeks ago, I took your comments in stride and finally settled on a pattern for my wedding shawl. In retrospect, it was obvious. I'd admired Kieran Foley's High Seas stole since I knew it existed - so why not knit it now? I still have some reservations about the colour, since I love how this pattern looks knitted up in blues... but the white versions on ravelry look nice as well, and I can always overdye this after the wedding if I want.

Photobucket
Lumpy lace

The pattern is very well-written, and includes some other variations on the original stole, but I'm doing the original this time around. It's challenging, but for lace worked on both sides, it's not so bad - the wrong-side rows are still mostly purled, even though they have a few YO and p2togtbls. I'm partway through the second pattern repeat, and enjoying it so far! Because a 40-row pattern repeat seems to be asking for trouble, I'm putting in lifelines every 20 rows, but haven't had to use them yet. Fingers crossed...

Photobucket
Slightly stretched

Check out more WIPs on Tami's Blog!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

most photogenic cookie?

The other day I made Orange Gingersnaps. After finding this recipe on Pinterest ages ago, I'm glad I finally tried it. I shoved nearly 2/3 of the batch in the freezer afterwards so I could make them last longer. Mmmm. I love the way orange and ginger combine.

Generally, I fall back on blobby oatmeal raisin cookies when I want to bake. They are delicious also. But these... these are even pretty, if I do say so myself! (And if I can make these look pretty, so can anyone.)

Photobucket

I mostly followed the recipe (shocking), but predictably made some changes. Instead of using shortening I used half butter, half vegetable oil. I didn't use as much molasses, since I've found that treacle available in the UK is much stronger than the molasses I always used in North America. I learned this the hard way making gingerbread one year - the stuff turned out black. I only used about a tablespoon this time, which was plenty.

Photobucket

Technically, I shouldn't call these gingerSNAPS since most of them don't really snap. Other than the last baking sheet full which I cooked a little longer, they ended up quite chewy. I did this on purpose, and I'm glad it worked, since chewy ginger cookies are awesome. They work well as crunchy cookies, though, if that's your thing.

Next time I make them, I'll use less sugar and maybe less butter in the oil-to-butter ratio, although I suspect that will make them tend towards crunchy rather than chewy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winnings

I'm excited to show you my new stash of mini-skeins, courtesy of Natalie/Pinkundine at Misadventures in Craft. Recently, she had a giveaway to celebrate a year of knitting, and I was lucky enough to win one of the prizes.

Photobucket

Here they are in their Proto-hexipuff stage of existence. Soon they will undergo a metamorphosis.

Photobucket

There's some Regia, Zauberball, Mini Mochi and others in there. I think they will make some pretty awesome hexipuffs. Thanks, Natalie!

Photobucket

Monday, November 21, 2011

White Balance for the Win

I've always had trouble photographing greens with my camera. You may remember my frustration with everything green looking teal on my screen (not that I don't love teal, when the knitted project is ACTUALLY teal...) At some point I learned that setting white balance might help with this. I didn't know how to do that with my camera and then forgot to figure it out.

Until a few days ago, when I was messing around and stumbled upon it completely by accident.

Photobucket

Here is the first of my lumpy, unblocked Devon socks, by Cookie A, looking kind of colour accurate. At least, they look accurate on my monitor. Your mileage may vary. How is it different from before? I think it looks a lot less blue than my original picture of the yarn, even with all the attempted colour correction in photoshop:

Photobucket
The yarn, with no white balance adjustment: most of the yellower greens don't show up. Also the light is shining on the yarn in an annoying way, but never mind.

Photobucket

Anyway, this is pretty exciting. It may not solve all my colour problems, but I'm glad I figured it out, and I feel a little dumb for not knowing about this feature on my camera, even though I've had it for a few years. I have a Canon Powershot A590IS - if you do too, like me have lost the instruction manual, and are looking for the white balance, it's available when you set the camera to manual (M on the wheel at the top). The second icon down the lefthand side of the display, underneath ISO, gives you various options including "custom," which lets you set the white balance. Hurray!

The first sock went pretty quickly, and I made sure to cast-on for the second straight away to impede second-sock-syndrom. Better (blocked/modeled) photos to follow when I get this one done!

Photobucket

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shawl Angst

A while back I was pretty excited about starting my wedding shawl. When I got engaged I thought I'd use this opportunity to knit something kind of epic that I'd never think of wearing for some other occasion. This is my perfect chance to dive into some ridiculously complicated lace, I thought - I can do it! I have the time, and the skills or at least the cocky stupidity! I have a whole queue of gorgeous lace shawls to choose from, and a skein of exciting yarn to knit with. I'd narrowed it down to rectangular stoles or semi-circular shawls.

Let me confess that I haven't yet started my shawl. I haven't even chosen a pattern. While I've managed to be fairly low key about most of the wedding planning so far, bride madness has struck on the subject of my wedding shawl. I find myself scrolling through all the beautiful patterns on ravelry thinking, "ooh I like this... but is it special enough to be my wedding shawl?" This has got to stop. Who knows, it might be warm enough on the day that I won't even want to wear it - though this seems extremely unlikely for an outdoor ceremony in April in Scotland.

Photobucket
Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, with my pearls (please excuse re-used photo)

I know it's not worth my stressing about it. I want to make a beautiful object, and I will... but I seem to be waiting to have a "shawl moment" - you know how some brides try on a dress and have some kind of spiritual experience and just know that is THE DRESS? Well, I didn't have one of those moments for my dress, and never expected to. And yet, I appear to be waiting for such a moment while scrolling through shawl patterns.

Talking with a knitter friend about my madness recently, she asked me what I want to get out of this shawl business. Obviously I'm building it up a bit too much. I thought about it and concluded that I want my shawl to be impressive. Impressive to me. I want to be impressed with myself for knitting this object, although I know that non-knitters won't truly understand the effort/time/skill/madness that has gone into it. Many of the shawl patterns in my queue fit this criteria for me, so it shouldn't be a problem. And yet I'm still indecisive.

Here are the other criteria:
-Lace-weight or easily subbed for lace-weight yarn
-Will use up to one skein of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace (1000 m)
-Rectangular or semi-circular
-Lots of open lace, preferably with more than one lace pattern involved

(Though you'll note that some of the patterns I love in my "maybe wedding" queue don't follow those criteria at aaaaalll.)

What think you, knitters? Can you talk me down from my madness and convince me to just get on with it? Do you have a pattern recommendation?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Full days

Hello blogosphere! Working part-time is kicking my butt. I thought I was more resilient, but after working only 20 hours this week, I'm down with an annoying noisy cold. Lame! Who knew that suddenly breaking out of hermitude would expose me to lots of other people's germs. Ah well, I'm glad to have the job for now, and it's been going pretty well for the week I've been working. The people are friendly and helpful, the work is varied, the staff discount is pretty good...

The Man put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable week when I received a thinly veiled threat from the manager yesterday that I won't last long if I don't sell more credit cards to old ladies. Nice. Did I mention I've only been there a week? And I spent my entire last shift banished from the shop floor in a stock room unpacking boxes? (i.e. not interacting with any customers, so not selling any credit cards). I suspect the manager gave this vague warning to all the new temps, since I don't think I'm the only one in this situation. Still. Intimidation tactics don't really motivate me, as much as I'm desperate for the paycheck - I just feel slightly annoyed at the management / the entire capitalist system, really. I'm often annoyed at the system, so that's nothing new. (Perhaps retail is the wrong industry for me. Ya think? :P). Meh. Here's hoping they keep me on until my contract ends in January, so I can have a few pennies in my pocket until then.

Friday, November 04, 2011

WIP: more socks

I got the Sock Innovation book by Cookie A as a gift last Christmas, and thought it would be good to actually start on a project from it before this year's gift-giving festivals. Here's my Devon sock so far.

Photobucket

For this one I've broken out the dpns and gone for one at a time. I'd forgotten how quickly a single sock can knit up this way! Haha. It's a pretty fun pattern so far, and surprisingly intuitive. The pattern doesn't lend itself to Two-At-A-Time knitting, since it involves poaching some stitches from previous rounds, etc - plus I think I'd get pretty confused, but we'll see how I feel when it comes to starting sock #2.

I have to respectfully disagree with the book that this sock pattern is great for variegated yarns, though. This yarn was supposed to be semi-solid when I dyed it, but turned out more variegated, and now I fear it's a little too busy. I can't quite make up my mind about it, though, so I keep knitting... It probably doesn't help that pre-blocked lace looks pretty terrible most of the time.

ETA: these are socks for me, not presents with a looming deadline - sorry if that was unclear! I just wanted to use my Christmas present at least once before Christmas rolls around again :)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tis the season for orange food

Halloween kind of passed me by this year. Last year I went to see people being reckless with fire on the Royal Mile, but this year I sat at home and did nothing much. I didn't even buy any discounted candy afterwards. Kind of sad, since I used to love Halloween. I did, however, make some delightful orange-coloured soup yesterday, and ate the leftovers for lunch today. Although there was no squash or pumpkin involved in this soup, the orangeness of it was very seasonal, I thought.

Photobucket
Carrot and Lentil Soup

Don't let the lumpy blobs put you off - it was delicious, really!

I vaguely followed the recipe for Lusciously Lemony Lentil Soup on Mommie Cooks, which I've used before to similarly delicious results. Main changes to the recipe were leaving out the tomato paste, leaving out the lemon, using red lentils, and using vegetable stock instead of chicken. Oh, and adding a handful of chickpeas I had leftover from something else. Also completely disregarding any proportions of carrot to lentil. Perhaps I can't really claim I followed the recipe at all. Haha. I topped it off with a blob of plain yogurt for contrast, but if I hadn't done that it would have been vegan. I went through a phase of making lots of lentil soup last winter, but I never bothered whizzing it with a hand blender, since I didn't have one yet. (And I like chunky, textured soups). My dude prefers smooth soups, so we have been making those a bit more often since getting the hand blender, and I'll admit I do like how the red lentils and carrots combine to make a creamy texture. The chickpeas help, too.