Tuesday, April 29, 2008

bowl-ed over

bowls


I couldn't resist these little bowls that were by the checkout at the grocery store. They're so cute, bright and only $2.50 for the set of four. Then I couldn't resist my favorite candy bar (Violet Crumble) at the drugstore. Seems like color is my impulse buying trigger right now.

The toy food pattern I've been working on will be posted this weekend. Most of my free time has been devoted to working on it the past couple of weeks and it's left my brain a bit fried. The design process took on a life of its own and has grown into multiple patterns. I think I'll write up a head-clearing blog entry after the pattern is posted.

I'm going to need to take a knitting break (except for olives) once the pattern is posted. I want a bit of a recharge before I try to tackle the Lelah Top and before I get back on track with knitting more mini Kitschmas Trees. Recipe posts will fill in for knitting posts.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

check? check! scarf pattern

checked scarves


Does the world need another basketweave scarf? Probably not, but every year I knit at least one more. And let's call these "checks". "Checks" sounds so much cooler, right?

The grey scarf in the above picture is the first item I ever knit that I didn't frog. It's the first thing I knit where I figured the pattern out for myself. This is a good unisex scarf and a good choice for charity knitting. I've been participating in the Red Scarf Project for three years now, and knit at least one of these scarves for them each year.

There must be a ton of patterns for basketweave scarves out there, but here's my basic pattern. I've kept it on a scrap of paper for almost six years. Time to commit it to pixels.

Check? Check! Scarf

Do not reproduce this pattern elsewhere. This pattern is for personal use only. In other words, don't try to make money off of it.

Materials
Your choice of size US 7-10.5 straight needles
Your choice of worsted weight yarn (~325 yds, for a 65-inch long scarf)
Yarn needle, for weaving in ends

Pattern
Cast on 32 stitches. Knit one row.

Row 1: k2; *k4, p4; repeat from * to last six sts; k6
Row 2: k2; *p4, k4; repeat from * to last six sts; p4, k2
Row 3: repeat row 1
Row 4: repeat row 2
Row 5: repeat row 1

Repeat rows 1 through 5 until scarf is desired length. Cast off knitwise, weave in ends, and you're done!

*****


You can adjust the width of the scarf with needle size. For example, using the above directions, US 10.5 needles gave me a ~7-inch wide scarf and with US 7s I got about a 5-inch wide scarf.

Width can also be adjusted by casting on any number of stitches that is a multiple of 4 and is divisible by an even number.

If you intend to fringe the scarf, I would recommend knitting two rows after casting on and knitting one row before casting off.

The two knit stitches at the beginning and end of each row creates a garter stitch border. If you prefer, you can eliminate these stitches to create a slightly curled/wavy edge.

A good first scarf for beginners. It looks a bit more polished than plain garter, while allowing the practice of knit and purl basics.

Pattern available for download as a pdf file.

the olive plan 2008 - week 17

the olive plan 2008 - week 17


Number of olives knit this week: 3 (2 green, 1 black)
Total for the year to date: 55

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

arches & columns lace scarf

arches & columns lace scarf


After a three year break, I gave Arches & Columns another try, and this time... success! I'm not sure why, but this time around things seemed to go a little quicker. Perception? Determination? Who knows, but it took me about ten days of unrushed knitting to complete (and that includes some time off to knit the Felicity hat).

I followed the recommendation to use US sz 7 needles. The pattern says to use two balls (ball = 25g/240yds) of the Crystal Palace Kid Merino held together (which I did) and that it will take 3/4 of each ball to to get a 55-inch long scarf. A full two balls gave me 45 inches. I used about half of two more balls to get to my desired length of 60 inches. The width of the scarf was 8 inches. All these measurements were taken pre-blocking. After a light blocking, I did get an additional 10 inches of length, but hardly any more width.

The pattern itself is quite easy. Just four rows, with two of those rows being straight purls. The right-side, knit rows are easy to memorize. I did make a few mistakes (additional yo or not doing a psso) that I didn't bother to go back and correct, but the pattern is quite forgiving and it's difficult to see the mistakes unless you are really scrutinizing the scarf.

The overall look of the scarf is refined, but not too girly. The lace pattern would look really lovely if it was made into a wrap. The scarf will look good with a professional skirt and sweater, but also will "chic" up a pair of jeans and t-shirt. The drape of this scarf is really wonderful. The Kid Merino is soft, light and not itchy. Perfect for the in-between seasons.

arches & columns lace scarf


More pictures at Flickr

Saturday, April 19, 2008

felicity hat

felicity hat


Wanett Clyde's Felicity Hat (pdf link) is a little bit hipster and a lot of casual.

This is a quick knit and just what I needed as a break from working on the lacy Arches & Columns scarf. I cast on in the evening, got through half the hat in a few hours before bed and finished the next evening. I'm guessing I used about 180 - 190 yards of worsted weight yarn. Out of all the slouchy hats I've knit so far, this one is my favorite. It's also the simplest.

Now, I know I tend to knit tight. *I* don't think I knit particularly tight, but gauge swatches say otherwise. The pattern calls for using US sz 5s and 7s and to cast on 70 sts. Knowing my tight gauge and my preference for looser-fitting hats, I decided to use sz 7s and 10s, and cast on 80 sts. Added an extra 4 rounds to the recommended 6 that go between the increase and decrease sections, for lots of slouch. And finally, I did another set of k2tog/knit rounds at the end.

The adjustments turned out to be good choices. The hat is comfortably loose and sufficiently slouchy. I think if I had used the recommended needle sizes, with my tight gauge, I would have fainted from lack of circulation if I was able to get the hat on my head at all.

Felicity is so comfy, cute and casually hip. Just right for cool spring days and foggy summer nights. I want to make one in a light grey. And maybe another in a color-blocked scheme. And maybe another in .... You get the idea. I'm definitely going to knit this one again.

More pictures at Flickr

the olive plan 2008 - week 16

the olive plan 2008 - week 16


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (green)
Total for the year to date: 52

You may have noticed that one of the olives is sitting outside it's jar, wearing a red bow. That one had a little outing in my purse this past week as a, hopefully, lucky olive. If it does turn out to be lucky, it will get to keep its bow. If not, I am going to revoke its bow-wearing privileges.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

apricots are teases and so are peaches

apricot shortbread


Just an "omgsogood" tip. Make your favorite shortbread recipe, adding a couple pinches of cinnamon to the dough. Ten minutes before the shortbread is finished baking, spread on some apricot jam and continue baking. Cut into wedges while still warm. Really wonderful with a cup of tea.

Could it be?! Will I actually knit my first non-accessory, wearable item this year? I added the Lelah Top (website seems to be down - try the Wayback Machine) to my Ravelry queue. I've been looking through the projects and reading the notes of what modifications people have made. I intend to give the pattern a try using some Caron Simply Soft before I decide to throw down some $$$ for cotton yarn. I'm a little concerned about the lace pattern. I don't like it when you can see skin and then jeans/skirt/pants through eyelets or sheer tops. I'm going to be trying to get away with using the 29-inch circulars (10.5s and 7s) I bought 5 years ago and haven't yet used. Hopefully the 7s will create a denser fabric, to avoid "show through" in the chest area (go double thick for the bust?). Maybe just line the whole thing.

New toy pattern coming within the next month or so. The concept is pretty well set and I've written the first draft of the pattern, so I should be able to test knit this weekend. I'm keeping what it is under wraps for now, but I will say that it's food related and it will, as usual, be a free pattern.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

trinity stitch beret

trinity stitch beret


The first thing I thought when I saw pictures of the Trinity Stitch Beret was "Ooooh, that's lovely!" My second thought was "That's going to be difficult to knit." I'm happy to say I was wrong on the second thought.

The beret uses (surprise!) the trinity stitch - also sometimes called blackberry or popcorn stitch - to create the bobbles all over its surface. If you can do a kfb and a p2tog, it isn't that much more difficult to do the trinity stitch. You'll be doing a k1, p1, k1 into the same stitch and then p3tog. Do a little swatch on dpns if you're unsure. Don't be surprised that the pattern is on the "wrong" side, that's the way it's suppose to be.

I didn't do many modifications. I did use US sz 10s for the ribbing instead of 9s, knit for 6 inches before starting the decrease rounds, and I was only doing two rounds between decreases when I got towards the end. I probably should have followed the pattern exactly for more slouch and a less pointy decrease. Also, I used two strands of worsted weight yarn held together since I didn't have any chunky yarn. The hat does use a lot of yarn. If you decide to use two strands of worsted, I'd recommend having around 400 yds to be safe.

The beret took me a while to complete, about 8 days, working on it a couple hours a day. The p3togs hurt my fingers a bit. The hat is very thick/heavy, a little too heavy for spring in California. I'm not too happy with the way it turned out, but I'd be willing to give it another try.

trinity stitch

Saturday, April 12, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 15

the olive plan 2008 - week 15


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (green)
Total for the year to date: 50

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

i like my arches gothic and my columns doric

arches & columns wip


I started my Arches & Columns Scarf over the weekend and it's coming along ok. Very hard to photograph and get the pattern to show up. I did make a mistake a few rows in but I didn't bother frogging and starting over. Just think of the mistake as adding "character" to the overall piece.

The scrap of paper that I have my basic basketweave/check scarf pattern written on is getting kind of ratty. I need to type it up and post it so that I can ditch the paper. I knit it at least once a year so I want to keep it handy. I'm hoping writing this here will force me to actually type it up, instead of going another year with that piece of paper.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

honey yogurt bread

honey yogurt bread


As much as I like to cook and bake, I must confess that I tend to keep an ill-stocked refrigerator and pantry. I do, however, always seem to have yogurt in the fridge and I keep flour and a couple packages of yeast in the pantry. Salt is a staple for me, as is honey. With those ingredients, I have what I need to make Honey Yogurt Bread.

I came up with this recipe when I was craving a soft-crusted bread to eat with some butter and jam, and didn't have any milk or eggs to make brioche. It isn't as buttery and light as brioche, but it does have some richness to it because of the yogurt. It also has a sweetness from the honey, but the tang from the yogurt keeps it from being overpowering. The texture of the crust and interior is soft, with a bit of "chew", but it is not cottony like some store-bought sandwich breads tend to be. Great for sandwiches, french toast or just buttered, and enjoyed with some fruit preserves.

Honey Yogurt Bread

3 tablespoons honey
1 cup warm water (110F)
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon kosher salt
~6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
vegetable oil

In a large glass bowl, combine warm water and 1 tablespoon of honey. Sprinkle yeast over the honey water and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until yeast is foamy. With a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour and mix very well. Allow to sit for 5 minutes so that the flour can absorb the liquid. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons honey, yogurt, salt and another 2 cups of flour and beat the dough with the spoon for a couple of minutes. Add another 1 1/2 cups of flour. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour only if dough is too sticky.

Lightly grease a clean bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat surface with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, around 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Turn risen dough out onto floured surface and knead for about a minute to remove air bubbles. Form dough into a ball and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Grease two 9"x5" loaf pans (or four mini 6"x3" pans).

Divide dough in half (quarters for mini loaves) and roll or pat each piece into about a 12"x10" rectangle (9"x7" for mini loaves). Starting at the shorter edge, tightly roll dough up, jelly roll style, pressing the seam and the ends well to seal. Place loaves seam side down in the prepared pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Place oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400F. Slash the top of each loaf lengthwise. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes (depends on size of loaves), until loaves are golden brown. Remove from pans and allow to cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 regular loaves or 4 mini loaves.

*****


You can freeze the baked loaves. Wrap cooled loaves tightly in plastic wrap, and then in aluminum foil before placing in freezer. Thaw loaves in refrigerator.

I like to eat this bread with "Trader Joe's Cherry Preserves made with Fresh Cherries" (the apricot version is quite good too). Also, the bread makes really good curried chicken salad sandwiches.

Oh! I don't usually eat my bread with *that* much butter on it. For photographical purposes only!

honey yogurt bread


More pictures at Flickr

the olive plan 2008 - week 14

the olive plan 2008 - week 14


Number of olives knit this week: 3 (green)
Total for the year to date: 48