Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer happenings

Summer just started in SF. July and August had been unusually foggy and chilly, so I ended up spending more time indoors working on projects. Sorting through my fabric storage I came across a few yards of Kona cotton in bright greens and blues, destined for a quilt I was no longer interested in making. But the longer I looked at it I realized that one of my best friends, who also happens to be my cousin thrice removed, loves these colors. Though we live thousands of miles apart we are very close and I decided to make a quilt for her, big enough to cuddle under on the sofa, or take outside for a picnic. Using five colors total, I paired each dark or cobalt blue triangle with a green, jade, or light blue one and put them together randomly. Unfortunately I discovered the awesome half-square-triangle (or hst in quilter's lingo) technique after I was done cutting my squares into triangles. I read somewhere that triangles aren't maybe the best project for a novice quilter because the bias edges can stretch, and yes, my resulting squares don't all line up perfectly. But she won't care, and I, despite my perfectionist tendencies, don't really either, and love how the quilt turned out, crooked squares and all. For the back I used what was left of the green and jade Kona cotton, divided by a band of blue. I machine-quilted it with turquoise cotton thread and diagonal lines, and applied the binding using this awesome technique by turning*turning. VoilĂ !
Triangle Quilt front
Triangle Quilt back
It felt good to use supplies I already had that were perfect. I started the quilt in July and completed it just last week.
Back in July I also won this beautiful owl softie in a give-away hosted by Emma, creator of the wonderful blog the marion house book.
iBeastyou owl
I recently cleared out a lot of style blogs from my reader, because I got tired of looking just at stuff. The marion house book though has a wonderful mix of interior design (love the hello! neighbor house tours), recipes, art, and diy projects, and every post is inspiring. The beautiful owl is one of a kind made by artist Becky Lane, you can see and read more about her work at i beast you.

Gina asked after my last post what ever happened to the Aaren dress I was knitting last year. Hmm. So this is what happened: I knit both the front and back up to where I needed to decide on the neckline (didn't feel like the crew neck, didn't want a turtle neck either) and then totally lost steam. I know it wouldn't take that long to finish it, but at this point I'm not even sure if I still want to make and wear a knit dress, even though the pattern is so pretty. So I plan to wait until it gets cold again to get in the mood for cozy knits and revisit the dress. Finish or frog, that'll be the question.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Catching up and starting again

Well, hello, I missed this spot! It's summer, and though I'm not taking classes two very awesome internships are keeping me busy. One more semester to go and I'll have my degree. Unbelievable. I've been able to make time for crafting though, now I just need to get the blog going again. If you're a flickr contact you've probably seen some of the things I've made since I last posted.

First, a pair of Bella's mittens. Practical me didn't quite understand why I needed woolly mittens in a mediterranean climate. But I loved how cozy and comfy they looked, and they knit up very quickly. Perfect for winter beach walks. I used less than two skeins of Plymouth Yarn Galway Worsted, held double, and US 8's.

A new favorite, the Cousteau hat, knit with two skeins of Louisa Harding's Kashmir Baby in a rich dark navy. It's super soft and not itchy at all on my wool sensitive head.

I made a necklace with Thai silver beads I've had for ages and dark gray embroidery floss, which I crocheted with a tiny hook.

And a small bag, perfect for carrying essentials when going out for breakfast Sunday mornings. I pieced this together from leftover fabric used for my messenger bag, but used the reverse side, which has more texture.
Breakfast bag 1

I also made a shirt with all the trimmings (cuffs, collar, button band, still need pictures) and joined a quilting bee with some very talented ladies. A quilt for a dear friend is currently in the works. More to come soon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

And I think it's gonna be a long long time...

until I'll be able to wear this, at the snail's pace I'm knitting. But I'm just happy to knit, for ten minutes here and there. Can't wait for winter break!


The yarn I'm using is Valley Yarns Northampton. It's very similar to Cascade 220, but I think it's softer and cheaper. It's a bit fuzzy and the cables don't pop so much, which I was convinced I didn't want anyway (the photo makes it look more contrasty than it really is). I wanted them to be more subtle. But I keep thinking about it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Squeezing in a few projects

I miss coming here, but school is keeping me busy and I was silly enough to enroll for summer as well, so there has been little time to craft. But I'm not quite ready to give up the blog, so it'll probably straggle along until I graduate. I managed to squeeze in some knitting a few months ago. There have been many lovely textured shawls on ravelry and the gorgeous skein of Malabrigo sock yarn I got for my birthday didn't want to be socks. It's more of a kerchief than a shawl, but that works; it's lightweight and soft and great for when it's just a bit chilly.


Pattern: textured shawl recipe by orlane, available here
Yarn: 1 skein of Malabrigo sock yarn in eggplant
Needles: US 5
Mods: The number of rows had to be adjusted due to the smaller gauge: I knit 4x 26 rows alternating stockinette and textured pattern, 22 rows of stockinette, 6 rows of textured, ending with 19 rows of garter st.

Right now I'm working on a sewn bag, all that's left is the zipper and the lining.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I should be cataloging

But I'd rather be blogging. So this will be just a quick post, and then it's back to homework.
What do you do with knits you don't have much use for? I admit to being rather reckless when it comes to things that have outlived their purpose or aren't quite right. They're either frogged, given to someone who will love them more than I do, or passed on to Goodwill. That is how this blanket came to be:
Garter Stitch Blanket 1
It once was this:
Was that a gasp I heard?
My Flicca was lovely, but except for the photoshoot and one other time I never wore it. It was just a bit too heavy and cumbersome and sat neatly folded in my sweater drawer for a good year or so. Between two humans and a cat, we had only one wool blanket in the house (so you can guess who got to use that blanket) and another was desperately needed. Frogging went rather quickly without any pangs of regret, and in about a month I had a big almost 6'x5' garter stitch blanket with a scalloped crochet border. I've used it a lot and feel so happy every time I do.
Lesson learned: People use yarn with acrylic for a reason: it's lighter than 100% wool. I'll remember that next time I feel like knitting a coat again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sanity Beret

I was afraid blogger wouldn't let me log in after not having posted for so long but it still works, yay! Where have I been? Alive and kicking but really busy. I started grad school last fall and took a full course load on top of working 40 hours a week. There was no time for anything not school related, no knitting, no blogging, no watching movies, no socializing. I got home from work and hit the books. I woke up on the weekends and started to study right after breakfast. It was hard but it was also fun and I kept surprising myself by pushing the boundaries of what I thought I can do further and further. There was however one point right after midterms where I needed to knit something so my mind could relax a little and my senses enjoy something other than a plastic keyboard. It needed to be quick and useful so I picked the cabled beret from Debbie Bliss new magazine and soft non-itchy wool. It took me just a day to finish it and it is perfect. I've been wearing it a lot since then, but during our annual Bodega Bay outing last weekend it was actually too hot (we've had crazy warm temps in California the last week) to wear.
It was a lovely day, not a cloud in the sky. The seals were having fun bodysurfing the waves, it was amazing to watch. I could stare at the waves rolling in all day long.
Pattern: Cabled Beret from Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine Fall/Winter 2008
Yarn: 2.5 skeins Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran, color 13
Needles: US 5 / 3.75 mm and US 8 / 5.0 mm
Mods: I knit this in the round instead of flat to avoid seaming (to keep the pattern correct I cast on two sts less).
I'm not sure I would use the yarn for a sweater (it was difficult to get the sts even though it may have been me), but it feels very soft without being itchy on my head. After wearing it now for a few months I think it was a great choice for the beret.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More citrus dreaming

As I've mentioned before, I love citrus, especially in the summer time, when my sweet tooth craves something that's also tart and refreshing. I've been favoring cookies over cake/pie lately, so I dug through my recipes binder and found three Martha Stewart Living recipes I've been meaning to try.
First the Lime flowers, which I turned into rounds for lack of a flower cookie cutter.


lime flowers (app 2 dozen)
1. Sift together 2 c all-purpose flour, 1/2 ts baking powder, and 1/4 ts salt in a large bowl, set aside.
2. Put 1 c granulated sugar and 2 TS lime zest in a mixing bowl, mix on medium speed about 1 min. Add 1.5 sticks unsalted softened butter; mix until fluffy, about 2 mins. Mix in 1 ts vanilla extract and 1/4 c fresh lime juice. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, halve the dough. Flatten each half into a 10" disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough in freezer 30 mins.
4. Preheat oven to 325 dF. Roll out disk on parchment paper to 1/8" thick. Using a 3" cookie cutter, cut shapes from dough. Space on baking sheets 1" apart. Repeat with other disk.
5. Bake until set, about 16 mins. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. Before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over cookies.

Omitted: I didn't sift confectioners' sugar over the finished cookies. I like sweets, but I don't like them too sweet.

Next time: I loved these cookies, however, sometimes I could taste the vanilla extract and it just didn't seem to go. I'll omit the vanilla extract when I make these again.

Next up, Lemon Poppyseed cookies. I omitted the last step of adding more poppyseeds on top. Like the lime flowers, they are buttery and have the perfect texture just between soft and crunchy.


lemon poppy-seed cookies (app.30)
1. Preheat oven to 375 dF. Bring 1/4 c fresh lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced by half. Add 1 stick butter, stir until melted.
2. Whisk together 2 c all-purpose flour, 1 ts baking powder and 1/2 ts salt. Cream 1 stick butter and 1c sugar on medium speed. Mix in 1 large egg and lemon butter, mix until pale, about 3 min. Mix in 2 ts pure vanilla extract and 2 TS freshly grated lemon zest. Mix in flour mixture and 1 TS poppy seeds.
3. Stir together 1/2 c sugar and 1.5 ts lemon zest. Roll spoonfuls of dough into 1.25" balls; roll them in sugar mixture. Place 2" apart on baking sheets. Press each with the flat end of a glass dipped in sugar mixture until 1.25" thick. Sprinkle with poppyseeds.
4. Bake until just browned around bottom edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.

Omitted: Rolling the dough balls in the sugar mixture. I thought there was already so much sugar in these cookies, more would have been overkill.

Next time: BF thought they were perfect, I found them a tad too sweet. Compared to the other two recipes, there is an extra half cup of sugar in these cookies. I'll use one cup of sugar when I make these again.

Last, and definitely my favorite, are the Lime Cornmeal Glazed cookies. I was very curious about using cornmeal in cookies, I haven't really tasted it in anything else besides cornbread. The cookies are a bit fragile (they crumble easily) but they taste amazing and are well worth the work. I often forgo glazes (too sugary), but this glaze (with bits of lime and orange rind) is so good, I even ate the leftover glaze by the spoonful.

get the recipe here: Lime Cornmeal Glazed Cookies

Omitted/Substituted: I used whole wheat flour instead of regular. It was a great choice and went incredibly well with the lime. Sometimes Martha's recipes use too much zest for my taste, here I used 2 ts of zest instead of the 4 ts suggested.

Next time: I'll omit the almond extract. Like the vanilla extract in the lime flowers, it adds an somewhat odd aftertaste I can make out now and then. I think these fab cookies will be better without.

Last thoughts: Yummy cookies, all of them. They had in common an incredibly sticky dough, but rolling it out between two sheets of plastic wrap made handling it much easier.

c = cup
ts = teaspoon
TS = tablespoon
dF = degree Fahrenheit