Where’s my Wednesday at?

Smitten Kitchen cookbook plus scarf

Hello fellow Yarn Along-ers! Yes, I’m still around, and yes, it is high time for another Yarn Along post. Especially since I have a new wip to share with you. I managed to finish my Paraphenalia socks – yay! – and decided to cast on for something new instead of finishing up one of my old wips.

But first things first. Were you able to figure out what I’m reading? Yes? Or are you distracted by the image of the luscious lemon square? I can tell you that I have a serious hankering to bake some right now. I may just head out to the store later to buy some lemons… I guess that’s the mark of a good cookbook, that it serves to inspire you.

So – in case you didn’t guess, this is the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I’d actually planned to attend one of the book signings, but life interfered. In the end, I guess I was better off not going, given how overcrowded and incredibly long the book signing was. And so I ended up borrowing the book from the library… I have to say, I do enjoy it, but it after all they hype, it wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread. A good cookbook but not the best one ever. It didn’t knock me off my socks. I know, heresy. Especially by me, an avowed Smitten Kitchen lover.  I do like it, but I think I’ll be just fine with the website. Unless of course someone wants to gift me with a copy of the book – I won’t say no (hint hint, family).

I guess that’s the problem with hype – it raises your expectations to a level that will almost always cause a let-down when you encounter the real thing. I’ve felt the same way about Argo or Forrest Gump. Really good movies, but the hype was just way too crazy. I was kind of disappointed after watching them – although I actually enjoyed Forrest Gump more the second time around. I’m guessing that’ll be the same case with Argo.

yellow and grey yarn

Back to the knitting. I’ve been on a yellow kick lately – the color just makes me happy. Plus it’s perfect to put you in a spring kind of mood. And even though the original prototype of the pattern sports a shawl knit in red and grey – MadTosh tart! – I decided on yellow. A mellow yellow, matched with a mellow grey so the scarf would be easy to combine with all kinds of clothing. I’m really happy with the final color selection. The yarn is MadelineTosh fingering merino light, in the colorways Whiskers and Winter Wheat. Pretty!

The pattern is Elinya – it’s a scarf/narrow shawl with  alternating stripes, knit in garter stitch. This is definitely a good design for beginners. As to me, I’m already bored out of my mind, and I’m only 30 stripes in. Oy. And this brings me to another point. This is a pattern you have to pay for. $4. I thought there’d be some short rows or some kind of shaping, something worth paying that much for. And yet all it consists of are garter stitch stripes, with increases at the beginning and end of each row. That’s it. I feel ripped off. I could have come up with that on my own, thank you very much. Sigh. But more on the topic of patterns, and pattern pricing another day.

And now for the blog hop part: I’m linking up with this week’s Yarn Along, this week’s Tami’s Amis WIP Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) blog-a-long. Check out some of the other awesome wip posts.

Yarn Along

 

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Peppermint Princess

Glaubst du an den lieben Gott oder an Guevara
ich glaube an die Deutsche Bank denn die zahlt aus in bar au
Liebling lass uns tanzen hast du noch ‘nen Pfefferminz ‘nen Pfefferminz
so und nun gib mir ‘nen Kuss mit Pfefferminz bin ich dein Prinz

– “Mit Pfefferminz bin ich dein Prinz” by Marius Müller-Westernhagen

Clapotis in Wollmeise

You know how you sometimes just fall in love with a skein of yarn due to its name? Yes? No? Well, that was the case with me. When I’d just discovered Wollmeise yarn, I was looking at colors on the Wollmeise website, trying to figure out what colors I’d like. That was before I discovered how challenging it is to order Wollmeise yarn, and that you won’t easily find the color you like in stock. No, you just have to hope that the color you want will be available at that update, and you’ll have to hope no one snaps it up before you can checkout with it.

Wollmeise in blue-green

Pfefferminz Prinz above, Tiefer See below

Well, I was looking at the blue-green color family, and I immediately fell in love with two colors: “Tiefer See” which is the blue-green as ‘the blue and green of a deep mountain lake,’ and “Pfefferminz Prinz,” which must be inspired by the song above that is titled “With peppermint I’m your prince.” Well, I like that song, so I just had to like the color. The skein is lighter than the Tiefer See colorway – a very pretty turquoise and light green.

Thankfully I managed to score a skein of Pfefferminz Prinz thanks to a fellow Raveler. And when you finally get ahold of a yarn color that you’ve been hoping for, oh, forever, you of course have to find a project that will show off the colors.

One of the most frequently knit patterns using Wollmeise is the ubiquitous Clapotis scarf/shawl, second only behind the Hitchhiker pattern. I wanted more of a skinny scarf that would be light enough to wear during the summer, so I modified the pattern into a narrow scarf. It’s super easy to modify the pattern to the desired width and length. So many Ravelers have already done that, there are many many helpful project notes out there. In fact, there is an entire group dedicated to knitting your own Clapotis.

The best suggestion is to weight your yarn skein(s) before casting on, to then weight it again after the increase section, before knitting the straight part. Then you know how much yarn you can use for the straight section, and not run out of yarn. The scarf itself is knit on a bias, and stitches are dropped at regular intervals to created the lacy effects. You have to get used to dropping the stitches – normally I’m so super careful not to drop any. It’s a really fun scarf, and I understand why many people knit multiple Clapotis scarves – but that endless straight section is somewhat mindless. I’m not a huge fan of projects that are endless. I’ll be knitting a bunch of other scarves, but I can see myself knitting another Clapotis again sometime in the future.

Clapotis knit in Pfefferminz Prinz

Rumpelstiltskin

Heute back ich, morgen brau ich,
Übermorgen hol ich mir der Königin ihr Kind;
Ach, wie gut, dass niemand weiß,
dass ich Rumpelstilzchen heiß

Today I brew, tomorrow I bake;
And then the Prince child I will take;
For no one knows my little game
That Rumpelstiltskin is my name!
(English version)

Spinning straw into gold – now wouldn’t that be something? That’s like the philosopher’s stone where you turn lead into gold. But let’s take a closer look at the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale: Why did the girl – future queen – have to say that she could spin gold? She just got herself into trouble all on her own. And I never got why she’d only have to spin gold for three days. Why wouldn’t you have her spin gold every day? And why did the Rumpelstiltskin want the baby as payment – was he going to turn the baby into another imp?

Sometimes you come across a yarn that just fascinates you. I was looking at the shelves of a new-to-me yarn store when I came across this little pile of Handmaiden Seasilk. The yarn had a lovely sheen and was so soft. I was curious about the base, and was told that it was a combination of silk and seacell. The seacell is made from seaweed and is apparently also used to treat burn victims, and it’s good against skin problems like eczema. The skein I homed in on was in the colorway Straw and it looked just like gold. Spun gold. I’m sure Rumpelstiltskin would have approved.

I had already admired a project on Ravelry that used the same base in Amethyst that ended up in a gorgeous purple summer scarf. Since I really liked how that pattern showed off the yarn, I decided to make my own golden version. The pattern I used is the Montego Bay scarf pattern. It’s a lacy pattern, knit on a bias – an easy, knit-on-the-run pattern. I used metal needles, but I’d recommend wooden needles for this pattern since the yarn is quite slippery. Oh, and I’d also measure the amount of yarn you want to use for the fringe ahead of time, that way you can use up every last bit of yarn. And the best part is that you don’t have to weave in any of your yarn tails, since they’ll just be part of the fringe. The finished scarf feels great against your skin.

Doesn’t it look like spun gold?

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?

Day 4: April 26, 2012. A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?
As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

I’m glad I’m living in an area where you have actual seasons – winter is cold, summer is warm, spring and fall fit in somewhere inbetween. Ok, that’s simplifying things – we might not get snow in winter at all, or we might get a snowpocalypse, spring and fall sometimes are very cold, totally rained out, or unseasonably warm, and summer can be anything from pleasant to stiflingly humid. But still, we have seasons. I can’t quite imagine not living in a place with seasons. Actually, that’s not true. I spent half a year in Tanzania, which has its own weather rhythms. The weather was everything between pleasantly warm to increadibly hot, rainy season with monsoon like rains or short showers, and sometimes the evenings and nights were pretty darn cold. We camped at the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater once and boy, we were wearing plenty layers in our sleeping bags and we were still cold. But the sunrise totally made up for it.

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All of these seasons make it possible to knit up all kinds of projects in various yarn weights. I’ll get good use out of blankets as well as lacy shawls. I love my Girasole blanket which I knit out of 1500+ yards of worsted weight. And despite its laciness it’s very warm and cuddly – I originally thought that it wouldn’t be that warm due to the lace pattern but I was totally wrong. Normally I like to knit those kinds of projects when it’s colder outside so I don’t have a huge pile of worsted weight yarn on my lap while the weather is in the 90s Fahrenheit (above 30 Celsius). But this was a KAL project so I knit this in July – but thankfully I had airconditioning or this would not have been pleasant.

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But really, I choose my projects depending on who needs what and when – especially when it comes to Christmas gifts! I always have a few projects that I try to knit up last minute, and sometimes I succeed, and sometimes not. Oh, and I’ve learned the hard way that handknit gifts should only go to people who will really appreciate them. Otherwise I feel like an idiot when I put so much hard work into something that they really don’t care for. People who craft themselves seem to be the people who appreciate handmade things most – they really know how much work goes into making something yourself.

I don't think this Ishbel ever made it out of the closet... And I even used Wollmeise for it!

So, my crafting seems to be more of a reflection of my knitting skills rather than seasonal changes. I’ve enjoyed knitting most of my projects – there are a few that I just couldn’t wait to finish them, but mostly, I’ve enjoyed creating them.  I’ve knit a bunch of shawls, scarves and cowls, and bunch of baby items – both toys and garments. I’m pretty new to knitting garments – I’ve knit a sweater and two cardigans, and there are a bunch more in my queue. But I’ll talk about my knitting skills on Saturday, in the “Improving Your Skillset” post. Until then I’ll leave you with (another) collage of seasonal knitting projects. The seasons are (per row): winter, spring, summer, fall. Then you’ll have more unsual ‘seasons’ – the individual pictures are: monsoon season, anytime season, rainy season, Easter, soccer season, and Christmas.

The projects are:

That’s it from my end for today. Check out some of the other awesome posts on today’s topic by googling for today’s code, 3KCBWDAY4. Or even better, join in! It really is a lot of fun. I’ll see you tomorrow – I’m still figuring out what my creative post will be, but I’ll do my very best. Til then!

My knitting or crochet hero

Day 3: April 25, 2012. Your Knitting Or Crochet Hero
Blog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you. There are not too many guidelines for this, it’s really about introducing your readers to someone who they might not know who is an inspiration to you. It might be a family member or friend, a specific designer or writer, indie dyer or another blogger. If you are writing about a knitting designer and you have knitted some of their designs, don’t forget to show them off. Remember to get permission from the owner if you wish to use another person’s pictures.

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This is Mami. Mami is my great-aunt and totally rocks. She’s 85 years old and still fit as a fiddle – she obviously suffers from of the pains and aches that you get as you get older, but mentally she’s really fit. She putters around on her computer and has figured out how to Skype on her own and regularly calls us, sends us emails and so on. She’s full of stories which she tells with that humor that’s so much a part of her personality. She loves all of us so much and gets worried any time she hears that we’re not well. And how can you not love someone who still makes you Mickey Mouse or bunny pancakes (with a fluffy little bunny tail!) pancakes even though you’re an adult. Ok, they look more like mutated bunny pancakes, but still! Mami is just full of awesome. I think she just signed up for Ravelry, so I look forward to see her on there two.

Mami telling us puppet stories that she used to tell us when we were kiddos

Mami learned how to knit in India – South India – which I always thought was strange since I think it’s pretty much too warm to knit lovely wool items. But apparently many in that generation learned how to knit, and I’ve seen plenty of babies there packed up in layers of wool, despite the weather. Anyway, Mami can really craft. She taught me how to embroider when I was younger. I have a few pillow cases and table cloths that I’ve made, and a few that are still waiting to be finished. I’m the one who really enjoyed it – the rest of the family wasn’t so thrilled. When I started to knit, my family’s response was “Finally, something more useful than embroidery!” So when I originally decided to learn how to knit in order to knit the Shaun the Sheep mobile for nephew #1, I was so glad I could ask Mami for advice. She has been knitting and crocheting since she was a little girl, and has created many many lovely projects, including beautiful blankets for the family.

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Mami taught me some of the techniques that she’d been taught, passing on her knowledge. For example, after casting on – she prefers the knitted cast on – she then knits the stitches through the back loop on the following row. She says it creates a neater look. I haven’t used the technique much though – I usually use the long-tail cast on. But still, as I was getting started on my first knitted project, a scarf with a bunch of different stitch patterns, I could ask her all kinds of questions, about the tensioning of my yarn, how to keep the stitches even, whether I was knitting and purling properly, and so on. They’re all those questions that you have as a newbie, where it’s so good to have someone to help you out in person. Online videos only get you so far when you’re starting with a new craft. And Mami mostly knits without a pattern, basing her projects on the recipient’s measures and desired design. That takes some serious skill in my opinion.

Mami meditates every day, and goes for regular walk - she really keeps herself fit, even at her age

Mami however would probably be shocked by my yarn snobbishness. She probably would be horrified by the thought of paying upwards of $20 for a skein of yarn. She’s always used what’s at hand, and her yarn stores were Michaels, Hobby Lobby etc – not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just don’t think she’s ever been in a local yarn store or has knit with indie dyer yarn. She’d probably be amazed by all the types of yarn, and the different fiber combinations that are out there. In fact, I know she’d be interested in the yarn that I’m using for my current wip.

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The yarn is Habu, which is known for its unusual yarn bases. The two yarns are Habu superfine merino, and Habu silk stainless steel, and the pattern is the ubiquitous Kusha Kusha scarf (you can buy this as a kit and they can also do custom color combinations for you, or you buy the yarns individually). This is my new endless project – plain stockingette, with a few interesting elements here and there. It is a bit harder to knit than my provence shawl since the yarn is so much finer and you need to make sure to catch both strands. Then again, the project is pretty forgiving of any errors since I’ll be felting the part with both strands of yarn. The texture will be quite interesting and it’s already quite scrunchable, as you can see, due to the steel in it.

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The book btw is a German book, ‘Jim Knopf und Lukas the Lokomotivfuehrer‘ (Jim Knopf and Lukas the train conductor). The author is Michael Ende, the author of the ‘Neverending Story’ – but this book is waaaay better. It’s a childhood favorite – I have fond memories of the story being read to us, in bits and pieces as a bedtime story. There’s also an excellent puppet theater version of the book, a toddler version with short stories based on the book, and the audiobook version is really good, too. And the best part is that there’s a second story, too, ‘Jim Knopf und die Wilde 13’ (Jim Knopf and the wild 13), where the 13 are pirates. Unfortunately I haven’t found an English translation of the books which is really quite a pity.

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So, that’s it for today’s blog post. If you’re interested in more of my knitting shenanigans, you can find me on Ravelry, username anji. And if you’re interested in seeing other posts on the topic ‘My Knitting or Crochet Hero from other bloggers who’ll be blogging today on this topic, just search on Google (or another search engine) for the tag 3KCBWDAY3 or Twitter for hashtag #3KCBW. And for all of you Yarn Alongers, I’m still participating in this week’s Yarn Along. If you’re interested, check it out – there are links to other great Yarn Along posts there, with information on how to participate yourself. You can also find a link to this post through Tami’s Amis,through Ambassador Crochet’s Wip Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) series. Happy crafting!

It’s Wednesday

so that means it’s time for another Yarn Along post! I’m once again participating in this week’s Yarn Along – there are links to other great Yarn Along posts there, with information on how to participate yourself. You can also find a link to this post through Tami’s Amis, and through Ambassador Crochet’s Wip Wednesday. Oh, and then there’s Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) series too.

This week I’m working on my new WIPs, since some of my old WIPs are knit up. Yeah! The two wips that I have going are the same as last week: my Melody shawl wip, and my orange Fernfrost scarf. Both are really making progress. The Melody shawl travels in my bag whenever I’m out and about and likely to have  something around 10 quiet minutes where I can knit – at the doctor’s office, on the tram, on the Metro, in the car… I didn’t think I’d see this much progress by now. I thought that this would turn into one of these endless projects that linger for months, and only rarely makes progress. But I think this one will be finished up this month. Which is pretty good for me, given that I have a bunch of other things going on right now. Sorry, not the best picture – the lovely purple looks rather muddied.

I do have new pictures of the orange scarf. I was steam blocking my mystery KAL shawl (Yes, it’s finished!) and I decided to steam block part of the scarf to see how the lace pattern will look in the end, and I’m really happy with the project so far. The lace opens beautifully, and I can see that this will be a lovely long scarf. Personally, I like broader shawlish scarfs and I worked hard to convince my Mom otherwise, but Mom wanted the skinny one, like her Haruha scarf. Sigh.

Oh, and as to the reading material – it never hurts to take another look at all the camera functions. As you can see, my SLR is a Canon EOS 20D. Not the newest camera out there, but I’m pretty happy with it. The one major thing that I don’t like is that it requires CompactFlash cards. Grrr. I can’t just pop mine in the card reading slit in my camera. I usually end up taking a bunch of pictures and then I hook up an external card reader to upload the pictures. Which means that I’m usually behind with posting pictures. I then have to get my act together and organize my pictures after the fact – and that’s why there haven’t been any food pictures lately, even though I’ve been cooking quite a bit.

Btw, as to the mystery KAL – it’s finished! It didn’t have any lace components, so it was super easy to steam block it – no pinning and so on. Just easy peasy steam blocking. I only had to make sure that I didn’t stretch the edges too much and avoid uneven length/width sides. Tuesday’s post shows a bit of the finished object. Once I’ve figured out how the buttons work – i.e. what the different wear options are – I’ll do a mini photo shoot and will put up better pictures. Until then, here’s another picture of the finished project (too much sunshine, so the colors don’t look as saturated as they are):

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A Wednesday wip

A wip* a day, keeps the doctor away. No?

I’ve tried to keep to avoid alliteration blog posts, like Wednesday wips etc. Not that I don’t like them – a lot of my favorite blogs use these kinds of posts. It’s just that I would fail – badly – at putting up certain types of posts on certain days. I tend to blog whenever I think I have something interesting to say (I hope!), and I’d unfailingly forget to up a post on topic, and then I’d start running behind and so on and on. (Even though it would give me some blogging discipline).

Of course I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself doing exactly that down the road…

/rambling

Anyway, Ginny from Small Things runs a Yarn Along on Wednesdays, where you reflect on your current knitting and/or reading. So, this is a good opportunity to take a look as to what I’m currently working on. Especially since I’m trying to reduce my number of wips.

First wip is this one:

“Pleated” is a lovely squishy scarf knitting in Madeline Tosh Pashmina. This merino-cashmere-silk blend is so soft and gorgeous. The pattern is Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s Issey scarf, a pattern that’s inspired by Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please collection. And the scarf really is pleated – you can stretch it out and becomes quite a bit wider, but when released, it bounces back into the pleats shape. It really and truly is gorgeous, and my Dad will love it. Although he’ll probably only wear it come fall – it’s just too warm now. Oops. (More information on the project page, and in the blog post about the finished project).

And then there’s this wip:

This one is a mystery KAL, so no pattern page or project link for now. This is a gorgeous project. I can’t wait to see what the finished project will look like. The bottom edge has the same tortoise-shellish pattern as the top edge – the garter stitch makes the edge roll up, but I promise you it’s still there. I’ve finished clue#3, and clue#4 just arrived, and I think there are a total of 5 clues, so I’m nearing the end. The mystery KAL really is a lot of fun – I forgot how much fun it can be. My last mystery KAL attempt was the Westknits Earth & Sky KAL. That one was a fail for me – I never even managed to cast on for that one (yup, I STILL haven’t cast on).

I’m hoping to finish up clue #4 by tomorrow, and then I’ll finish the pleated scarf – only 3 more inches plus tip are left, and then I can try and work on projects. I’ll probably start to cast on for a Wollmeise project to fulfill my 12 Wollmeise in 2012 goal, and then I’ll turn my attention to another wip – my “Better than pea soupwedding blanket project. That one will take up quite some time…

So, that’s it for me. Are you interested in participating in the Yarn Along? Here‘s more info on the Yarn Along, and here you can see Ginny’s past Yarn Along posts. And here’s a link to Ginny’s current Yarn Along post.

Have fun looking at all those knitting and reading posts, and I’ll be back soon, probably with a post on food. I made these amazing cookies that really deserve a post of their own.

*For you non-knitters, a wip is a work-in-progress