Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Clue Complete

The last clue for Wendy D Jonshon's (WendyKnits) shawl KAL was released on July 17th.  I actually finished this shawl up last week, but put off blogging about it due to bad pictures.  My initial final photos had a "blueish" hue to them, which was no where near the actual color of this shawl.  I finally got out the other evening to retake the photos.  I'm fairly happy with my retakes, but this is still a hard color (grey) to capture accurately.  On to the details...
Pattern: Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl KAL 2012 by Wendy D. Johnson
Ravelry Project Page: Silver Fox
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light; colorway Silver Fox
Yarn used: 97 g (407 yds)
Needles: Size 5 40" circular needles
Finished (blocked) measurements: 25.5" along the top edge, 63" along the bottom edge & 12" down the center back (to the lace point)
Modifications/Notes: I knit the pattern exactly as written without any extra increases except in the last section/clue.  In Clue E (#5) I did all extra rows for length including repeating Rows 83 & 84 once more (twice total).  In retrospect I wish I had done all of the extra repeats in each clue for extra length.  The main reason I didn't do them all is because I was worried about running out of yarn and decided to play it safe.  Though in weighing my shawl & my left over yarn, it turns out my skein of yarn was actually around 119 grams, which would have given me enough to do all the extra length repeats.  


Normally I like small(er) shawls, but given the unique shape of this shawl I think it would have benefited from some additional length/depth. Overall I'm pretty happy with it and it was a great shawl to knit using just one skein of yarn.  Now I just need to get a shawl pin (I know, how can I not own a shawl pin already) so that I can wear it effectively.


Notes on yarn weight:

  • At the conclusion of Clue C (#3) I had 74 grams of yarn remaining.
  • At the conclusion of Clue D (#4), I had 50 grams of yarn remaining.  This clue used 24 grams of yarn.
  • Clue E (#5): After knitting Rows 55-62 once, I had 44 grams of yarn left; it was at this point that I decided to knit extra repeats in this clue.  At the completion of Row 84 (first time), I had 25 grams of yarn left; decided to knit Rows 83 & 84 once more to make it so that I completed each extra repeat twice (I know, I'm nerdy like that).


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ravellenics 2012

I wasn't planning on competing in the Ravellenics via Ravelry, but then it was like everything lined up and all my reasons for not competing just melted away.  One of my biggest reasons for not taking part in the Ravellenics is the anxiety of knitting something in just two weeks.  Now, can I knit items in two weeks or less? Absolutely.  I've knit many projects that quickly or quicker.  So that excuse is out.  Next up was the excuse that I already had too many projects on the needles, which until last week was true.  I did have a lot of projects on the needles: 2 lace weight shawls, a fingering weight shawl, a cowl and a pair of socks.  Well, I finished up all the shawls and it felt as if I had nothing on my needles.   

I suddenly found myself in a position where I was looking for something extra to cast on for on the week the Olympics were going to start.  Then I'm browsing in my local yarn store's Ravelry group (Park Avenue Yarns) and see a posting about joining a Ravellenic team: Team Clack.  I think you can guess what I did next: I joined! 

I've picked a pretty easy project, maybe too easy, but for my first Ravellenics I wanted to take it easy.  I'm knitting another Brushed Suri Loop Scarf (which is really a cowl).  I'm using stash yarn or more accurately put - yarn that my mom gave me from her stash when she realized she didn't want to knit two things out of Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri yarn.  
I originally intended to knit this project Continental, but I found it extremely difficult and slow to do it that way.  I think that I need more Continental knitting practice before attempting it on this type of yarn.  I'm a little disappointed it that I can't handle knitting this yarn Continental, but it was just too frustrating to knit that way.  I switched back to the English method and felt all my frustrations melting away.  

In addition to this cowl, I have a super secret project I'm may enter into the Ravellenics.  I just started designing a new shawl this week and while I had already cast on for it, it wasn't turning out as I hoped.  I ripped it out completely and after tweaking the math/design, I re-cast on for it last night.  This shawl should knit up pretty quickly and since I already planned to have it knit up in less than two weeks, it's perfect to enter in the Ravellenics.  Since I might be submitting this project somewhere, I'm not sure if I can post photos of it yet (need to check the submission rules).  If I can post photos, then I definitely will AND I'll be able to officially enter it into the Ravellenics.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Clue #4(D) complete!

Due to (again) conflicting feelings about whether I should add extra rows to increase the size of the shawl, I ended up letting this sit around.  Then instead of making a decision, I let this linger until Monday.  On Monday I realized that I needed to get my butt in gear and start knitting.  I decided not to add any extra rows, so I started knitting away.  I wound up finishing this clue at Tuesday (6/17) morning knitting at my local library.  The last clue has now been released and while I've look at it, I have yet to knit any of it.  I have a swatch I have to finishing knitting (for another project) first and then I'll start working on the last clue.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's all yellow

Yellow is probably my favorite color.  If you asked my sister, then she'd say that my favorite color is orange.  While I do love orange, I contest that my favorite color is in fact yellow.  I love yellow for how happy the color seems, so bright and cheery.  It's not my favorite color to wear - I don't own any yellow shirts or etc, but I think it's a good color for certain accessories.  This brings me to the lace weight En Fuego Shawl I recently finished knitting.  I can now officially say that I've knit this shawl A LOT.  A quick look at my Ravelry notebook revels that I've now this shawl 4 times: 2 fingering weight versions and 2 lace weight versions.  Craziness.  
The reason I knit this one is to participate in the Knitters Unlimited Guild KAL.  I was asked to talk about this shawl at our meeting as well as run a KAL for it.  The KAL started in April and is ending in August.  August 6th officially, since that is when the Guild next meets.  We had about 14 people who wanted to participate, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how all the shawls turned out.
I let this shawl linger...and linger....and linger....until I finally had enough and made a real effort to work on it and finish it.  I was also motivated by a recent lace class I taught as I could use the shawl to demonstrate different things:  inserting a lifeline and the look of the shawl pre-blocking, & post-blocking.  It didn't help that I was knitting another lace weight shawl at the same time, which got more of my attention.  Anyhow, I put in a real push to finish this up and got it done and cast-off on July 2nd. 
Project details:
Ravelry Project page:  Yellow En Fuego Shawl
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) 40" circular needle.  I actually used the Addi Natura's and loved it for this project.  I'm thinking that wood needles might be my favorite type of needles for lace weight shawls.
Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns Silky Alpaca Lace, colorway 2460, dye lot 4443.  The shawl used a total of 82 g of yarn which equals ~717 yards of yarn.
Finished dimensions: 61.5" wide and 29" long at spine
Time frame: Knit on and off from April to July.  A bulk of the knitting happened in April & June with a little happening in May.
Notes: It is really hard to photograph this color.  I took a lot of photos and while some show off the detail of the shawl well, they really make the color look duller than it is in real life.  The first photo I have in this post probably shows off the color(s) the best.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Starbucks Refreshers

In case it hasn't been clear in my posts or photos, I drink quite a bit of Starbucks coffee.   Most of the Starbucks coffee I drink is store bought and made at home either hot or cold.   Since it's summer, my favorite way to drink it is iced: see my iced coffee recipe.   Starbucks wasn't always my preference.  My previous favorite was Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  Then Starbucks came out with a new coffee blend they called Blonde.  Now, it pains me to say that I might prefer the Starbucks Blonde to the Dunkin' Donuts original blend.  Another thing that swayed me is the Starbucks rewards program.  I love any program where I can earn something for free and there are no limits on what you can get for the free one.  Love it.  

Starbucks has also been on this trend lately where from time to time they run a promotion where you can get a drink for free.  The latest promotion was their new Starbucks Refreshers.  Today from noon to 3 p.m. they were giving away a free Refresher drink of your choice.  Of course I had to hit up Starbucks and give these drinks a try.
Very Berry Hibiscus and Cool Lime Starbucks Refreshers
I got mine via the drive-thru and said that I didn't have a preference for which one.  When I got to the window they gave me the berry flavored one and then asked if I'd like the other one to try as well.  Of course I said I'd take the other one to try!   The flavor of the drinks is unique.  I'm not even sure how to describe it.  It almost reminds of chewing a piece of minty gum.  I know that sounds weird, but maybe once you try it you'll see what I mean.  I ended up liking the berry flavored one better, but the lime wasn't bad either.  Full disclosure though, I didn't finish the lime one and I doubt I'd ever order the lime one.  All in all, will this be something that will end up in my rotation of regular ordering?  It's 50/50 at this point.  I think I already have a couple of drinks that I really like to get there, so I'd say it's unlikely, but I don't want to rule it out altogether.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Clue #3(C) done!

As of Monday night I had finished all but Rows 29 & 30 of Clue #3(C), but waited until Tuesday morning because I wanted to see Clue #4(D).   The reason I wanted to see the next clue is because I was debating repeating Rows 23-28 once more to add more length, but after seeing Clue #4(D) I decided that I didn't want to add more on Clue #3.  So all that is to say that I finished Clue #3(C) on Tuesday morning.  I haven't worked on it since then, but I plan to get a couple of rows done on it today.
Clue #3(C) complete!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Amelie

It's official - I am not good at taking pictures of socks.  I keep trying and trying, but the pictures just don't seem to get any better.  Then I go and see other people's socks photos on Ravelry and for the most part the pictures look good.  As a result I've come to a couple of conclusions regarding sock photos:
  1. It takes practice to become good at photographing socks.
  2. These people are just inherently good at taking photos.
  3. They have someone other than themselves taking the photo of them wearing the socks.
I'm mostly leaning toward #3 as the real answer.   I just need to rope in Mr. SpiderKate to take photos of me wearing my hand knit socks.  Though it might be hard since I already rope him into taking pictures of me wearing shawls.  We'll see.

I recently finished up my first ever cuff down magic loop socks.  The pattern I did was Amelie by Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting.  I was drawn to this sock pattern mostly for its versatility in that it offers three different to ways to knit the socks: double pointed needles (DPNs), magic loop, and two circulars.  I had been meaning to try knitting socks via magic loop and I've been wanting to learn to knit socks with two circulars.  How could I resist this pattern?  Well, I couldn't 
I must say, I wasn't sure I was going to like knitting socks via magic loop, but I loved it!  The advantage of magic loop (as with all magic loop projects) is that you can easily try on the item as it is being knit.  Knitting a sock & being able to easily try it on was just amazing.  I am never able to try on socks until I finish the heel when knitting socks using DPNs.  I find this somewhat annoying because I often find myself wondering how the leg of the sock is going to fit.  With magic loop you don't have to wonder, you can just try it on!
Turning the heel
On to the pattern details:
Ravelry project link: Amelie
Needle: US 1 (2.25 mm)  32" circular needle (I used wooden needles by Knitter's Pride).
Yarn: Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sock in colorway Del Ray.
Amount of yarn used: 40 g per sock, so 80 g total = 284 yards. 
One of the best sock photos I took!
Notes/Modifications: I really enjoyed knitting this sock.  The pattern was well written and easy to follow.  The only criticism I have is related to knitting the foot.  As is typical with cuff down socks, you knit until you are 2" from the end of your foot.  This is somewhat dicey with this pattern because there is a chart consisting of 20 rows and the pattern instructs you to stop after row 10 or 20 when you are closest to the 2" from the end of foot.  I think it would have been nice to give an option to knit in the established ribbing pattern after row 10 or 20 until 2" less than desired length.  Of course you would only need to do that if knitting 10 extra rows would be too much.  I plan on knitting these again, but to try out the two circular needles method of sock knitting.
Apparently my pants are more flare wide looking than boot wide looking...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been awhile since I've posted something non-knitting related, so today I give you my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie recipe.  Okay, I have to confess - this isn't really my recipe per se, but a recipe I got from my good friend, Vanessa, who is an excellent baker and chef.  These cookies are the bomb!!  I've never modified this recipe because it's that good, there is no need to modify it.  However, today I had to modify it as I only had 1 extra large egg, instead of the 2 large eggs that the recipe calls for and since I was already changing it, I decided to throw in an extra half cup of oats.  The result was awesomeness.  Seriously.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies:

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (white sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups or more of oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon & salt.  Add oats to the flour mixture and mix well.  Beat butter & sugars together.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add flour/oat mixture to wet ingredients in two parts and mix well.  Once all combined, mix in chocolate chips by hand with a spatula/spoon.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes.  In my oven the perfect time is 11 minutes.
My modifications: As I said above, I used 1 extra large egg instead of 2 large eggs and used 3.5 cups of oats instead of 3 cups.  In addition, I used 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips.  As a result of these modifications, my dough was a little more "crumbly" than normal and I couldn't use my usually method of forming the cookies with spoons.  I ended up using my hands to make golf ball sized (perhaps a tad smaller) balls.  I'm pretty sure that the lack of an extra egg caused this difference, but after tasting the batter (I know, I'm bad), I knew that it wasn't going to affect the taste.
I was slightly nervous as to how they were going to bake up minus one egg, thinking that they might not hold together well, but they held together just fine.  I actually think I like them better this way.  They just have a different look to them and perhaps I'll be leaving out the extra egg in any future batches I make.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Clue #2 complete!

I've completed Clue #2 in the Summer Solstice Mystery KAL 2012.  Phew.  That's a mouth full to say or type.  You can really see how the stitch pattern is developing now that I am 18 rows into it.  If I haven't mentioned it before, then I must now -- The yarn is awesome to knit with and I would definitely recommend it.  It feels like butter and the stitch definition is to die for.  Really knits up beautifully.  Clue #3 will be released tomorrow and I'm looking forward to working on it.