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Feb. 11th, 2010

knitting grrl

more pics

Okay, so after I took a photo of my aran sweater, I realized it was a really lousy picture. So I set up my manikin and a backdrop sheet and went wild. Okay, semi wild. Anyway, here are some better pictures. Enjoy!



                                                                         



                                                           

Feb. 10th, 2010

dark haired girly

sighh....

...I finished...



It was many hours spent over the long snowy weekend, but it was worth it. Admittedly it turned out a little more square than I'd thought it would be-but I think it's cute. Plus, it's my favorite color (besides green) and it is very warm-which is definitely appreciated in this kind of weather.

So, reflecting back on the experience, I learned a few things. I think this calls for a list, don't you?

(1) I learned not to panic. If something doesn't look right, pause and read the instructions. No, read them again. And again. If it's a real pattern (and trust me, most of them work) then read the instructions again and again (it took me up to six times or more for a couple of the steps) until you figure it out. You will.

(2) This kind of goes against the first rule, but not really-and that is: be cautious. There's nothing worse then feeling all chipper and cheery that you got another four inches done if you look back only to find that you did them all wrong. Check your work often, taking a second to look at it and make sure it looks ok-but with the same token, don't look so much or for so long that you're looking more than you're knitting!

(3) Rip it. Rip it good. Don't be afraid to rip. Do it methodically, slowly, calmly, calculatingly. Make a mental note of what row you were about to do and count backwards one row at a time as you rip back until the error is gone. Slowly and gingerly put your stitches back on. Continue your pattern.

(4) Take a break. No, really, I mean it. If you find that you're ripping an area several times, especially when everything else had/has been going fine, it probably means your eyes are beginning to cross and it's time for a tea break. Or if it's late in the evening, to call it a night. My worst knitting mistakes have always come from knitting late at night and not stopping.

(5) I learned to reliably cable. It's not a big deal once you've made the umpteenth cable. It becomes ordinary.

(6) Tbl. Look scary? It's not, really. This stitch was used for the ribbing on my sweater, and it helps the ribbing to be more elastic. Tbl is an abbreviation for (well, actually I don't know what it stands for) but what it means is. Well.

Let's pretend you're knitting a row, right? You're knitting along, and the pattern tells you to Tbl. Instead of putting the tip of your right needle into the back of the stitch like you normally would, you make the same action but do it to the front part of the stitch. In otherwords, you make a knit stitch but put the tip of the needle into the front part of the stitch on the left needle. Then you wind the yarn around the needle as you would for an ordinary knit stitch and treat it just like a normal knitted stitch.

What this stitch does is twist a normal knitting stitch.

So what do you do on a purl or wrong side row, you ask? You're purling along, la de la de da, and the pattern says Tbl. You purl like you would EXCEPT you purl into the back part of the stitch. Wind yarn for a purl stitch as normal and treat the stitch as normal.

Okay, and this may sound totally strange and backwards to you, but I can't keep Tbl in my mind as a normal easy to remember term. So what I do, as in for the sequence for my knitting, is think mentally, Knit, Knit-Funny, Purl, Knit, Knit-Funny, Purl. Or for the wrong side, Knit, Purl-Funny, Purl, Knit, Purl-Funny, Purl. You get the idea. Maybe? I guess it's just one of those things.

Aside from that, my dad broke the tendon on his finger during an icy incident, and so now he has to wear a cast, for, like, forever. The downside to this (amongst many other things) is that now he has a fat cast around the finger, and can't wear his normal gloves. So-starting yesterday, I knitted up a quick large pair of black mittens for him to wear. The pattern came from lionbrand.com-and they're called 2 needle Mall of America mittens. Don't ask me what makes them Mall of America mittens. I truly haven't the foggiest.

Anyway, so here they are. You can definitely tell they're for a guy, can't you? I think they should have called the large size, MAMMOTH.

 

So anyway, that's a wrap. I hoped that helped you guys out (or at least entertained you). Stay warm.

Feb. 7th, 2010

purple aran sweater

sleeve 1 finished...1 to go!

I'm coming down the homestretch when it comes to the purple Aran crewneck I'm knitting-the pattern is from Madeline Weston's book, Country Weekend Knits. It's my first cabled sweater, too, and I'm thrilled at the way it's turning out.

Also, the fact that I now have checked off on the parts list: front panel, back panel, and sleeve no. 1, makes it as if new knitting vigor has been breathed into me. I am now working faster than ever before! *grin*

I finished sleeve no. 1 yesterday afternoon while the great blizzard was raging on. I started the second sleeve last night, and got a fair bit done. I knew it was time to stop for the night though when I was beginning to mix the rows up, and I was ripping back the same section again and again.

Anyway, here are the progress pictures leading up to a picture of the finished sleeve.







This is where the pattern instructed the knitter to decrease on both sides. This is because it would make the top of the shoulder more fitted-thus, not your gramma's sweater. :D



And the final product! 1 sleeve!



So aside from that, I've been trying to keep the little birdies outside from starving, and admiring my avocado plant's leaves.













That's it for now. Check back for updates on my sweater and the other crazy whirrings of my brain. Stay warm, folks.


Feb. 1st, 2010

dark haired girly

snow snow and more snow...

..and the front panel of my sweater finished. I spent a looong Sunday completing it-and it did take all day. Funny how with knitting you think you're close to the end only to find you're really a couple more hours more away from that.

Ah well, the fact is we got a skimpy 12 inches of snow (sarcastic eye roll) and I got the front panel finished. Oh, and Lucy liked the snow.



    

Also, my zinnias and asters are really coming up, and my vinca and penstemmon are coming up.

...and that's a wrap. Enjoy the snow!


Jan. 27th, 2010

dark haired girly

just in case...

I know that some nit picky cooks (like myself) won't try a recipe unless it has a picture along with it, and a good one at that.

Well, here's the photo loot from the cinnamon pinwheel bread I made yesterday. I can assure you it tastes as good as it looks!


           
                                                                        



                                                                                                               



Um yeah, that really is the only reason I made this post. To make you try this recipe. Note: the pizza stone does make it work out really well.

Jan. 26th, 2010

baking grrl

some pictures for you

So finally, a picture of the work I've done on the front panel of my purple crewneck sweater.



Here are some shots of my germinated aster and zinnias. I apologize for the crummy photos-they're a little blanched.



...and the zinnias...

                                                                                                                

My avocado plant's leaves are getting bigger and bigger! The one is easily the size of my pointer finger now.

     

My other strange one-uhhhghhrmmm.....I just can't bring myself to throw it away. It's grown on me. I'll see what happens to it-I think it has gotten a little healthier looking.



So that's it for now. I'm making cinnamon pinwheel bread at the moment. I'll let you know how it turns out. Here's the recipe-looks good so far (it's baking) : www.cookingbread.com/classes/class_oatmeal_raisin_bread.html

Anyway, have a good day folks!



Jan. 25th, 2010

golden nasturtiums

more trays

So good news! My aster is sprouting already, and quite proficiently. My zinnias have miraculously begun to come up, too, despite how little time it's been since they were planted.

Today I planted a peat tray each of chives and celery (crosses fingers). Celery is so hard to grow. It does that infamous thing that we gardeners call "damping off". Which means, in simplified terms, rot. Again, I hope the peat pots will help wick away the extra moisture to keep that from happening.

I also planted all my pepper seeds in black, plastic long trays today. I plan to have thirty two plants in each tray (what can I say, our family goes through a lot of peppers...someone's getting enough vitamin C, *grin*). So I planted two trays of bell peppers, the big dipper hybrid variety; sweet banana peppers; jalepenos; and cayenne peppers. I really want to experiment with making my own hot sauce for wings this year. The stuff in the bottle is good-but it ain't cheap! Okay okay, plus it would be really cool to say that you grew your own hot sauce.

Mmmm, wings. I love wings. Sorry wing haters (if there are any!!) out there.

Anyway, gotta go. I'm trying this new recipe for chicken and dumplings and I need to go stir it.  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Slow-Cooker-Chicken-and-Dumplings/Detail.aspx

I don't like using canned cream soup (call me crazy but don't call me late for dinner) so I make the 'cream' part of the soup by following this recipe:

1. Melt a stick of butter in a large pot until all melted (medium high).

2.Dump 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour into it, combine thoroughly and quickly with a whisk.

3. Without letting the whisk stop moving (okay, just for a second!!) add milk. You will eventually add four cups of milk to this butter/ flour mixture.

4. You do this about a half cup at a time until it's all incorporated. Turn heat down to just above medium.

5. After stirring (you can calm down your whisking a bit, but don't leave the stove!) a while (about five to ten minutes), it will get a nice creamy (cream of soup!) consistency. You're done!

Note: This cream base is nice for whatever cream soup you plan to make, and it's what I use for the chicken and dumplings recipe instead of the store bought canned soup. Keep in mind that if it's cream of chicken soup you're replacing, that you'll have to add a little salt, thyme, sage, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper. I added a little paprika for some kick.

Oh. I really need to go. Next post should include a progress pic of my purple crewneck sweater.

Jan. 22nd, 2010

giant blue pansy

more trays

So now I've planted a little peat pot set of each: vinca, penstemon, violas, and zinnias. Yesterday I picked up seeds for, sugar snap peas, red cabbage, celery, black beauty eggplant, spreading pink petunias (for my hanging basket), yellow onions, common chives, cilantro, broccoli and cauliflower.



I also got more of those jiffy peat trays-they seem like a good idea when you're growing things as fastidious as celery or broccoli. You don't have to take each plant out of it's biodegradable compartment-just snip that particular section out and plant it. We'll see if it works as well as it sounds.



I also picked up an electronic PH and N-P-K tester. I have a feeling I will have better gardening sucess this year if I know what I'm up against-and if I add some major improvements to my dirt. If my hunches are correct-it needs everything.



...and that's it for now. I've started knitting the front panel of my purple crewneck sweater-but haven't taken any progress pictures yet. I will soon. Have a good day (as cold and rainy as it is).



Jan. 19th, 2010

giant blue pansy

lots of seeds

Just a helpful reminder, guys-if you plan on starting things like Vinca (impatiens), chives, pansies, violets, zinnias, penstemmon, alliums, asters, daisies, hollyhocks, or verbena...or any other kind of flower that takes a long time (do check!!) in trays, now is definitely the time to start them.

I still have to get chive seeds-they apparently take a very long time to mature. But I have started a tray of aster, and a tray of verbena. I also took four more avocado pits and planted them directly into the dirt, watering them profusely. For any of you who haven't seen the post or need to regard how I sprout/grow avocado pits, check my back post here.

Anyway, so yeah, that is my gardening report thus far. Within the month I'll also have to start pepper and tomato trays (which sounds harmless in of itself, until you realize that I normally grow at least five trays of each) some cilantro, some other herbs, a few other flowers.

My house is going to be so full. :p

Jan. 15th, 2010

purple aran sweater

I made it! I made it!


I finished the back panel today. I still can't believe I actually did it. Maybe I need more caffeine. Or to pinch myself. Not working.

It's like following a recipe. I feel like I truly didn't do anything. lol.



Anyway, that's it. What do you mean you're not excited!!!!! All right, all right, I forgive you. Just this once.

Jan. 14th, 2010

knitting grrl

update: yay for armpits

Yup, I really said 'yay for armpits'. Because, while it's been fun, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get there. Well. I did. :) I have armpit indentations now. I'm getting dangerously close to finishing the back panel. The excitement is killing me!!



..also, my avocado plant-the healthy one-is really spreading his little leaves fast. I'm beginning to think I should name him.



Anyway, that's it for now. Life stops for no one.

Jan. 12th, 2010

Head Desk

Ugh!


Okay, so two things.

One (1) Today. Sucks. First my sister's cat dies.

Two (2) Today. Sucks. Again. I wanted my bread that I was making to be moist. I made the mistake of putting a casserole dish (when I should have used a cast iron skilet like they said! ) in a hot oven, and then poured hot water onto the still cold dish or vice versa. Yeah um, I'm pretty much lucky I didn't need to go to the hospital for pieces of glass lodged in me. Miraculously nobody was hurt. I did spend an hour picking up the half inch diameter remains of my glass 8 by 10 casserole dish.

Did I mention that my sister's awesome cat died?

Sigh.

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giant blue pansy

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