Tuesday, November 1, 2011
It's the time of year when time seems to race by me. I know, I know; the way I post in this blog you are probably shaking your head at the lack of discernible difference. Time tends to elude me in general, but there is something about the corridor between Halloween and New Year's that makes me (and many others, I suspect) feel like I'm constantly in the middle of some important project. Luckily, the panicky feeling this used to ignite in me subsided after I graduated from college.
November is easily the busiest month in my year--between Christmas gifts that need to be finished and Nanowrimo, there is always something waiting for my attention. Now, though, I get to revel in the joy of pursuing things I want to do without the stress of knowing that I'm procrastinating when it comes to the things I have to do.
I'm not sure what effect November will have on this blog. Like Charlie Brown, I pretend that I work best under pressure, so there's a chance that having so much on the go will increase my productivity. There's also a chance that my lingering proclivity towards procrastination will result in a flurry of posts. Then again, by week three of Nano, when the pace starts causing me to huddle in the corner and mumble about plot holes, I may end up abandoning the blog at least until December, when (of course) I will bring you the news of my triumph. (Please color the tone of that sentence with maximum skepticism.)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I’m terribly excited (and nervous) to be posting my first pattern online. It’s such an easy, intuitive pattern that I’m really hesitant to even label it as “mine”—but for the sake of brevity, I won’t post my full inner monologue concerning the subject. Just know that if, after viewing said pattern, you should feel that I’m utterly ridiculous for even committing it to the page…well…I can understand. That said, I ultimately decided to share the pattern because I had a blast making it.
It all started with two skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Arco Iris that I bought on a whim. I needed the perfect pattern for them—something that would show of their beautiful variegation while also allowing me to keep the snuggly yarn as close to my skin as possible. Though letting them remain on my desk as mascots/pets/the most deliciously soft, yet ineffective paper weights you could imagine was tempting, I finally decided that the yarn was meant to be a scarf. However, I couldn’t find anyone pattern that suited my needs, so I decided to make my own. (I highly recommend checking out some of the patterns that helped inspire me, though—they are gorgeous. I originally looked for chevron patterns, but wavy turns up some fantastic options, too!)
I wanted a long scarf that wasn’t too wide, with gently textured waves that would play up the beautiful colors in the yarn. I used needles a few sizes above the recommended gauge to produce a fabric with extra drape. (I used size 10 needles; however, because this is a scarf, go with whatever gauge makes you happy!)
This is a fantastic project for someone who wants to practice increases and decreases.
Rainbow Road Scarf
There may or may not be a lot of Mario Kart played in this house.
Cast on 36
Knit first 4 rows
Row 1: (k2tog) 3 times, (kf+b) 6 times, (k2tog) 6 times, (kf+b) 6 times, (k2tog) 3 times.
Row 2: knit
Row 3: knit
Row 4: knit
Repeat these four rows until scarf is desired length, bind off loosely.
Just in case you don’t already know:
K2tog: refers to a decrease in which you knit two stitches together
Kf+b: refers to an increase in which you knit into the front and back of a single stitch
You can substitute alternate increases to produce different effects—for example, working a yarn over instead of the kf+b will create holes within the fabric, giving it a lacy effect.
You can purchase Malabrigo Silky Merino from a variety of stores--but I recommend using Eat.Sleep.Knit. (Follow the link on the top of my sidebar for a paradise of yarny goodness.)
Friday, October 21, 2011
It is not every man who would gladly put up with a knitter.
Who would joke about stealing my yarn stash while patiently enduring hours at the yarn store while I fondle every skein. (And who would only tease me a little about using the word fondle. It's funny, I understand.)
Who would wear the silly hat I made him for our first Christmas together (don't worry, those pictures are stowed safely where no one can see them).
Who would not only graciously accept that first, horribly wonky sweater I made him, but also keep it hanging in his closet.
Who would wear the second sweater I made him even though it was itchy.
Who would encourage me to pursue my wild dream of becoming a professional knitter, knitwear designer, writer, and editor.
Who wouldn't bat an eyelash at the fact that this means most of my days are spent at home surrounded by yarn. Or the fact that I have so far made a grand total of $20 dollars.
Who would be patient, kind, and caring as I struggled to find myself.
Who would start randomly dancing, singing, or tickling me when he knows that I'm sad and I need a reason to smile.
Who would tell me I'm beautiful despite the fact that I've worn the same dress three days in a row and my hair hasn't seen a hairbrush in...well...too long.
Who loves me not just in spite of my flaws, but because of a fair few of them.
Before I met you, I was sure that I would never want to get married; now I can't wait to be your wife.
I love you so much, Happy Five Years.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I love Fall--the decorations that start to go up (be they Halloween or inappropriately early Christmas decorations), the spirit of anticipation, and the way that I get a chill just listening to the wind gusting outside. (That might also be the air conditioner.)
One of my favorite things about fall, though, is the fact that come September, you can find pumpkin flavored stuff Everywhere. I'm wild for pumpkin--real or fake, salty or savory, on its own or mixed in with oodles of other yummy things.
Most people anticipate a struggle with their weight during the holidays because of Turkey feasts and rampant baking. For me, it is all about the pumpkin.
Fact: I have had at least six pumpkin lattes since I spotted the telltale sign go up late August. I don't think I have six lattes in the rest of the year--let alone that many in a little over a month.
Sometime in the last two or so years, someone high up--or actually, many someones high up--noticed that I'm not the only one who suddenly becomes a latte junky the second they roll out the pumpkin syrup. This year, there are more pumpkin products on shelves and menus than ever, and I am reveling in it.
Because I am positively preoccupied with pumpkin (yeah, that made me gag a little bit, too), here is a list of my top 10 favorite pumpkin products. You will notice that I do not mention homemade pumpkin pie on the list. Please trust that this isn't because I am not completely gaga over it--it is by far my favorite of all pumpkin foods--I just wanted to focus on commercial items.
10. Mellowcream Pumpkins-- Yes, I know that these are not actually a pumpkin food--they are candy corn's hyper delicious cousin. In a world of miniature snickers, tiny bags of skittles, and teensy rolls of life savers, these pumpkins are the candy par excellence. Your mileage may vary.
9. Pumpkin Delights-- Like mellowcream pumpkins, these snacks contain very little actual pumpkin. However, they are still scrumptious enough to serve at your next fall themed fete. I may or not refer to these as Pumpkin Pasties around my house...
8. Store bought pumpkin pie--(See what I did there) Though not anywhere near as flavorful and satisfying as my Mom's homemade pie, store bought pumpkin pie is still a delicious alternative to being pumpkin pie free. After years of testing, I've found that Fresh Market's pie is the best of the grocery store alternatives--although both Publix and Whole Foods do pretty well.
7. Pumpkin Bread-- Again, this is best homemade, but the store variety is still yummy. I'm putting pumpkin muffins in this category, as they don't differ much in terms of flavor.
6. Pumpkin Ice cream --I would place this higher on the list, but unfortunately not all pumpkin ice creams are alike. My favorite version ever came from a small mom and pop shop out in California that made homemade pumpkin ice-cream. Unfortunately most of the big brands only sell pumpkin pie ice-cream or, worse, pumpkin cheesecake. While these are both pretty tasty, these varieties get weighed down by chunks of crust mixed into the batter, and overwhelming non-pumpkin flavors like vanilla or cream cheese.
5. Pumpkin whoopie pies-- I get mine from Fresh Market, and they pretty much taste like a dream. A cake cookie made of pumpkin with a layer of frosting in the middle--what isn't to love? I haven't been able to yet, but I'm dying to try these.
4. Pumpkin Spice Soy Milk-- Like my fiance, you may be loathe to try this stuff. However, there is a reason that it is one of the few products with so little actual pumpkin content to make it this far down the list. It is crazy delicious--smooth and not too cloying, with a very nice pumpkin-y flavor and a good blend of spices. I also highly recommend Silk's soy Egg Nog--it isn't as heavy as regular Egg Nog, but it's just as delicious.
3. Pumpkin Cheesecake--I've linked to Olive Garden's pumpkin cheesecake rather than any other brands for three reasons: the ginger cookie crumbles provide a nice contrast, they drizzle it with caramel sauce (my favorite companion for pumpkin pie), and my first piece this year contained large spots of pure, un-cheesecake-adulterated pumpkin pie flavored goodness.
2. Pumpkin Latte-- I'm not going to link this one because there are so many to choose from. Starbucks may have marketed the first big name one, but these puppies are popping up in just about every coffee shop you can find. I will, however, link to this search page of homemade latte recipes. I haven't tried any of them yet, but they look delicious.
1. Pumpkin Bagels--Einstein Bros. gets the link because that is where I tried my first pumpkin bagel. They have two varieties right now: an ultimate pumpkin bagel that skews sweet, and a plain pumpkin bagel. I tried the plain pumpkin with my requisite garlic and herb low fat cream cheese--it was a pumpkin experience unlike any other. I paired with a pumpkin spice latte (there's are my favorite, officially) for the ultimate pumpkin breakfast. I've been bugging Daniel to go again for a whole week.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
There are tons of biases that inhibit people from understanding the love, effort, and (not to put too fine a point on it) sometimes massive amounts of cash that are invested in a hand good. A lot of these biases stem from the knitting stereotypes that are perpetuated in the media: doddering old lady who create itchy, ill fitting sweaters in garish colors. Even worse, in my opinion, are the people who decide that those who give craft work out as gifts do so because some how it's cheap. (Yup, that $60 of yarn was totally easier for me to find in my budget than a $20 gift card--and that's not even factoring in what my work would have cost.)
Now don't get me wrong--I know some of my early projects weren't exactly the stuff of dreams. I've made my fair share of wonky scarves and lopsided sweaters. They were all made out of love, though--and there were certainly a few people who recognized that. (That these people overlap with the group of people who now receive my more refined products is not a coincidence.)
Every time I give someone a hand knit, though, I still get a little nervous. I think it's natural--each scarf, hat, or blanket represents not only a lot of my hard work, but my good will. It's scary to think that might be rejected. I find giving knits to children especially daunting since they are both capricious in their tastes and vocal about what they don't like.
So, it was with no undue trepidation that I presented my fiance's niece, Emma Claire, with the blanket I had made her for her Baptism.
I held the blanket out for her to touch and she immediately grabbed it in a vice grip and brought it to her mouth to taste. After processing this initial data, she removed the blanket from her mouth just long enough to give me a big grin. I think that sounds like resounding baby approval.
Her mother helped me snap a picture later in the day--though her smile is an "isn't Mommy silly?" smile, not a "man this blanket makes for good gumming, Aunt Alex!" smile. Isn't she gorgeous?
The blanket is a Bookman Blanket, using Comfy Sport in Peony.
Friday, September 30, 2011
I had agreed to a yarn diet a few weeks ago with the idea that I would save up for ESK's annual Black Friday sale (an unrivaled event of yarny madness).
Of course that resolve crumbled like a box of graham crackers being stocked by a lazy, accident-prone teenager. I was honest about this, though, and despite being tempted to hide my indiscretion I texted Daniel to get clearance for breaking the rules.
He wrote back saying that I could get enough yarn for one project--a decent opening offer, however when I countered with a request for four skeins he failed to rise to the bargaining challenge and told me to only buy what I could afford. I imagine he heaved a beleaguered sigh at this point, but I can't be sure.
I set about choosing my yarn with care, focusing on procuring only those skeins which I had been coveting for some time. I scored a couple of skeins of some sock yarn I'd been eying for a few years and a new worsted that I have been wanting to try.
And then....well....I had an accident.
A skein of the squooshiest, most scrumptious, most lustrous yarn in a shade of blue that I frequently dream about fell in my basket.
Despite my efforts to remove it, it just kept hopping back in--so finally, I accepted that this yarn was simply destined to come stay with me and I placed the order. It should be hear early next week--I'll try to take pictures, though I might end up hiding the special skein, lest anyone recognize it and figure out just how much money I dropped on an impulse skein of yarn...