Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Stitch Markers

I was seduced by an advert on Ravelry on stitch markers so I had to click and buy a set.

The stitch markers are colored with beads and should not snag.  I really like small stitch markers so I'm sure I will really like these.  These are designated as tiny and fit US 4s and smaller.
I got them from Lizard Toes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I recently came upon a book at the library by Rebecca Skloot titled "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" that seemed to be a fascinating read.

I checked the book out and I found the story - nonfiction to be amazing.  If you are a science/medicine person, you will probably recognize the HeLa cell line, but if you are a novice, the story covers the life of a black woman named Henrietta Lacks who died of cervical cancer in the 1950s at Johns Hopkins.

It seems that Lacks' cancer cells which were taken without her permission have been used to advance medicine in miraculous ways but her family were never consulted nor reimbursed for all the profits that HeLa cells amassed.

If you have an interest in the human interest story about this amazing woman's cells and how she single handedly advance the science of medicine - I highly recommend this read.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Short Rows Tutorial

I would admit that I'm an intermediate knitter but have never really used short rows for shaping.  Since my shape is pretty much up and down without curves, I never really had to worry too much about adapting patterns for fit.

The only place where the term "short rows" rung a bell was with sock heel shaping.  This is where you wrap and turn and then pick up the wraps to come with a cup shape for your heel.

I started working on my Mithril Vest and in the middle of the pattern, short rows came up and I could not wrap my head around the instructions on how this was suppose to work.

Off I went to knit group and I picked the brains of some of the more experienced knitters to help decipher the code.  After walking through a few rows, the light bulb finally went off and I "got" it.

I prepared a video on doing the short rows for the vest.  The technique is very handy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weaving More Towels

After cleaning out my craft room, I was able to pull out my Ashford table loom again and start weaving my pinwheel towel project.

It has been so long since I warped the loom and wound up a bunch of bobbins.  I got everything set up and found the one page schematic that I made but I can't seem to put my hands on the pattern book.

Here is the start of the weaving - I'm thinking it might go pretty well in my kitchen.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mithril Vest

I had purchased the Lord of the Rings trilogy patterns from Susan Pandorf and one of the patterns included in the collection was for the Mithril Vest.

I purchased some alpaca yarn in Colorado for this vest and Susan helpfully decided to have a knit-a-long to help work through the pattern.

I had a few time outs since the pattern is complex and some of the techniques are new.  Nancy from my knit group was able to walk me through some of the short row instructions.

I'm very happy with this knit and I can't wait until it is done.  Here is my progress so far.  This is the front.
And here is the back.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hawaiian Food

I bought a Groupon for lunch plates at a local Hawaiian food place in the neighborhood.  I really love the food in Hawaii and I had great hopes to try a place that was close to home.

The deal at Homestyle Hawaiian was for two lunch plates plus drinks at half off so I went off and ordered - 

Teriyaki Chicken
Lava Chicken
The Groupon allowed for $2 toward soda, but I decided to try the fresh lemonade with mango.  The total cost was $4.08 with the $2 applied toward the lemonade and another $1.75 for tax not included in the Groupon.  The lemonade is delicious and I definitely will be back for that.

The food was pretty good.  I could have used a bit more lava sauce.  It was more sweet than spice but very tasty.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wavelength Sock Heel Turns

 I have been diligently working on my socks for sock class.  As I posted here, I had a epic fail and a restart.  I'm happy to say that I have completed the heel on one of the socks and am in the process of turning the heel on the second one.

Here is the first heel turn and a photo of the sock so far.
Marie recommended the padded heel and it seems to be working pretty well.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mr. Darcy - What a Life

You may remember from a previous post of my friend's cats - Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy.

Jude just sent me a photo of Darcy and the photo speaks to our universal wish of being able to be pampered and living the life of leisure.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March Supper Club

Supper club this month was hosted by Amy and she prepared a short rib main dish with a savory sauce with onions and carrots.
The rest of the dinner included:

Cilantro-free salsa with white beans and avocados served with chips.  Kim gave up the appetizer to Debbie so she would not be overwhelmed.  She made to versions - one with garlic and the other following the recipe.
Cook's Illustrated buttermilk mashed potatoes (published 11.2005).  Janet forgot the date so Kim and I had to shop for mashed potatoes to go with dinner so we bought two bags of these.
The frozen potatoes were pretty tasty.
Pierre Franey's marinated green beans.
Cook's Illustrated classic lemon tart (published 1.2000) with their sweet tart pastry (published 1.2000).
Amy invited her friend Debbie who may become a new supper club member.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fondle This! August Kit

Back in 2010, I joined a spin/knit club called Fondle This! where I received a monthly offering for 10 months of the year with fiber and instructions on spinning to specification and a knitting pattern for the resulting yarn.

I sort of fell off the wagon after a few of the months and when I recently went through my closet, I found one of the packages so I decided to work on the kit.

The kit included 1 ounce of Fuzzarelly Batt (blend of angora and merino that may include fiber from alpaca, llama, angora goats, silk works and different sheep) in a pink/coral color and 1 ounce of merino top in a red color.  Each fiber is to be spun and plied together before knitting the Jelly Beans Mitts.  Another pattern was included for Felted Mittens, but I'm not so interested in felting.

Here are the singles that I spun on my Sidekick.
I think the size is about correct and I'm happy to report that I'm getting pretty good and spinning to specification.

I'll report again when the singles are plied and the yarn washed.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Green

Spent St. Patrick's day (a cold rainy day) at spin group with my favorite color green.  The assignment was to work on something green and bring some green food.

I worked on my Romney dyed in an electric green color from Black Sheep Gathering.  I learned how to properly use my combs and it was very lovely fiber.
I brought guacamole and chips.  We had spinach soufflé, green pasta, vegetables and green dip, green beans, and a green salad.
And for dessert, oatmeal cookies with mint chocolate ice cream filling.
It was all delicious and a great day to spend indoors with friends and fiber.

Friday, March 16, 2012

No More New $1 Coins

A friend of mine in Chicago just sent me this notice:

U.S. stops minting unloved $1 coins

Monday, December 19, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

There's a lot to like about $1 coins. They are more durable than paper money, and they're easier and cheaper to handle. The only problem is, Americans hate using them.

Because of that, the Federal Reserve has literally entire warehouses full of unused $1 coins returned to them by banks because people don't want them. From Robert Benincasa and David Kestenbaum at NPR's Planet Money.  The federal government will stop minting unwanted $1 coins, the White House said Tuesday. The move will save an estimated $50 million a year.

I had previous discussed these coins and my order from the U.S. Mint of Lincoln dollars that I have been using everywhere I go.  In fact, I have given these coins out as good luck pieces and my Chicago friend just landed a new job after a year of unemployment so I think the luck is working.

So no more new presidential coins to be had.  I may need to place another order for more Lincoln coins soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Slow Foods - Local Habit Dinner

I belong to the local Slow Foods group which advocates eating local and organic.  Periodically, they host special dinners and the gals and I decided to to to the Local Habit dinner.

Although each dish was paired with a local beer, I had to pass on that and just have water.  The menu was delicious.

Fried avocado with Springhill Cheese Fondue and Pt. Loma Farms arugula.
Sonrise Ranch oso bucco with roasted Proios potatoes and Suzies carrots.
Carbonated Stehly strawberries with Pt. Reyes bleu cheese and Smit Farms walnuts.
The dinner was at Local Habit in Hillcrest.
After dinner, we hit Chocolat for some additional dessert.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweet Tomato Heel

I have been making some progress on my first pair of socks that I started a while back.  After ripping it back a few times, I finally settled on a star toe and the self-patterning yarn is coming out very cool.  The yarn is from On Line and is their supersocke 100 in the Indian color way.
I decided to try Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato Heel from her new book (I took a class from her when she visited San Diego, but I learned another heel instead).

The Sweet Tomato Heel uses three wedges - a really ingenious design.

Here is my sock so far with the three wedges completed and I'm now ready to knit the leg of each sock and finish up with a stretchy cuff.
It was a little fiddly knitting two socks at the same time magic loop on one long cable, but once I rearranged the stitches into the thirds following the instructions, it was pretty easy to keep knitting.
This might be the first pair of socks knit this year and the first pair that will actually fit me.

Monday, March 12, 2012


On my way home from spin group in Encinitas with my friend Nancy, we spotted some yarn bombing.
Yarn bombing is when a stealth knitter knits something that is attached to items in the wild.  I have never seen it in person and I'm not sure how long it will last.  There was even a code for it which you can scan with your smart phone of which I don't have one.

It is located on the corner of Auburndale and Petit.

Ingenious with the leaves.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Goodbye Flowers

The second plant is no more.  It lasted a week longer than the first one.  Here is the progression.
A few days after planting, buds are starting to bloom.
A week later, buds have blooms and a hole has appeared.
Close up of hole.
Different location of hole and some of the plant is missing.
Leftover of plant after three days.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Who Knew the Secret?

I have been making progress on my wavelength socks and at the last class, it was explained to me when to start increasing for the heel gusset.

The big secret is to measure with your hand - no complicated formulas, no trying on the socks as you knit them - it totally blew my mind.

The way to measure is to put the toe of the sock at the bend in your wrist as you lay your hand face down on the sock.  When the length meets the end of your pinky, you are ready to start the heel gusset.

How come I never knew this secret?  Thanks to Marie at The Needlecraft Cottage!

Here you can see my sock so far.
Here is my hand on the sock to where my pinky is (even though my pinky is shorter than most other hands I have seen - I got this from my mom), Marie stated that it makes no difference as it is my hand and my foot.
Increase - here I come.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gophers Strike Again

Well the dratted gopher strikes again and this time hardly left any evidence behind.
That loose discolored dirt hides the hole and there is only one stem and leaf left over.  I now have to pay attention to see if he strikes again with the other plant.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Tree is Removed

So I wrote here about my big tree falling over in the back canyon.

I got a few quotes on removal costs and went with the lowest bidder.  I actually think I got quite a bargain.

It was quite a job and a family operation.  It was especially arduous climbing up and down that canyon.
It took all day but the canyon is now clear.
I was amazed that they were able to fit the majority of the tree onto their truck but there was some leftovers in my trash can.
In the meantime, the pups went next door for a spa day and to be out from underfoot.

Pepper took full advantage of the beautiful day and lounged next to the pool.  What a life!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dang Gophers

I am having a gopher problem on my property.  I have been seeing the dirt disturbed around the flower beds and there are humps underneath my fake grass.

The worst was confirmed when I had the big tree removed in the canyon.  The guys stated that there were so many holes that it was no wonder that the tree fell down.

When my parents were visiting, we planted a couple of flowers in the front bed and they started blooming.
When I turned around, one of the plants had a big hole next to it and the plant looks eaten.
On the bright side, my orchids are blooming.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sock Fail and Restart

I posted about taking a sock class here and the sock to be knit was the Ballet.  Well I came home and started knitting in earnest and found that the yarn was a too lightly plied and picking up stitches for the cables was an exercise in frustration.

I finally figured out that this yarn and pattern pairing was not going to work out for me.  I went back to the Ravelry thread where the sock class was discussed and decided to tackle a previously knit sock pattern instead.

It is the Wavelength pattern with a simpler pattern of yarn overs, knit 2 togethers, and slip, slip, knits.

So I restarted the socks and am liking them better.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Handspun Yarn for the Featherweight Cardigan

A while back, I started to knit the Featherweight Cardigan with some variegated pink and white lace weight yarn I bought in Alaska.  I got almost through the body of the cardigan and found that I really didn't like the material being knitted as it was very loose and holey.  Also, the color pooling looked strange.

The unfinished sweater sat around for months and months and I never got the desire to finish it.
I ended up frogging the unfinished sweater and re-skeined the yarn.  Plus I put it through a wash cycle and the pinks really bled out.  I had this problem before with the company's yarn so I will need to reset the dye on all these skeins before knitting with them again.

When I was clearing away some clutter, I found 12 ounces of BFL fiber from a destash I got from Miss Babs.  The colors included greens and purples and were prepared in three large batts.

I started spinning these batts when I bought my Matchless spinning wheel a number of years ago and never finished spinning the last batt.

I finally finished spinning the fiber and plied three strands together and got a nice heavy fingering weight yarn for about 864 yards.
I started to knit the featherweight cardigan again with this hand spun yarn and liked the fabric much better and the colors are muted enough and the fiber is very soft.
I hope I have enough to get through at least the body and some of the sleeves.  The gals from my spin group recommended that I could use a contrasting color for the button band and the cuffs.  I do have quite a bit of BFL in my closet ready to dye if needed.