Thursday, January 24, 2008

Knit Night

We had a new member at knit night tonight:

She did a pretty good job getting along with the knitters, but didn't get much knitting done. And she kept stealing Liz's sweet potato fries! The nerve...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More Tiny Sweaters!

After I posted the picture a few days ago of the short sleeve Blythe sweater that I made, several people contacted me saying how much they liked it! So, I am going to be starting to make sweaters to sell! I have whipped up a few more of the short sleeved ones, and will be starting up with long sleeved ones after I fill my first few orders. Here are a couple of shots of the short sleeved models:

Two of them are going to be winging their way to my first dolly sweater 'customer'. We're actually doing a swap, where I am going to be receiving some much coveted pom pom trim for my sewing escapades, and some little fabric scraps.

Now, off to knit! It's even more fun to knit these little sweaters because I'm using leftover sock yarn from projects of days gone by, and it makes me think of the other things that have been made from the very same yarn. Nice!

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Sweater!

No, Cece, I didn't finish the hoodie yet. ;-) A member on the Blythe forum (thisisblythe) mentioned that she had access to pom pom trim to make doll clothes with, and i have been totally unable to find any in the nearby stores. I suggested that if she wanted, we could do a swap, and she said she was interested in a short sleeve doll sweater.

After a few tries (too big, too lumpy, lame pattern, etc), I came up with a cute, one piece pattern that just slips right on. I'm thrilled!

I'm glad I had a reason to try this out. I will definitely make more short sleeved sweaters in the future!
Homemade Green Curry

Last night, I tried out another recipe from my new favorite cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Moskowitz. So no, I am not a vegan, but I am always looking for delicious recipes that feature vegetables... too often, a recipe with meat just doesn't have enough veggies in it!

This recipe took a bit longer than some of the other ones I've tried from the cookbook, because you make your own curry from scratch, rather than just opening up a can and spooning it out. I toasted cumin and coriander seeds, ground them with black peppercorns with my mortar and pestle, soaked 2 kinds of hot peppers in boiling water, press and fry the tofu, and so on. I altered the recipe a little bit because I have a great Cambodian grocery store nearby... well, actually, there are MANY Cambodian grocery stores nearby... and was able to get these veggies, all ready to eat:

I have no idea what many of them are, but the small green and white round things are a type of eggplant, as are the purple thingies. There are green beans, some sort of squash, and the rest... who knows? I DO know what the leaf below is.... delicious Thai basil:

Here's everything bubbling in the pot. The hot peppers were so spicy, my eyes were watering and I was coughing up a storm. I was VERY nervous that the whole thing would be too spicy to eat!

Ready to eat, served over short grained brown rice:

The flavor was very nice, and it was worth the extra work. It was NOT too spicy to eat, fortunately, and there are plenty of leftovers for a few lunches this week.

I highly recommend this cookbook. I have made several recipes so far, and they have all been delicious. Although some of htem are more labor intensive than others, but some of them are pretty quick. One of the slightly more labor intensive recipes was for seitan, which is a wheat gluten based meat substitute. I used it in an Ethiopian dish, which was also tasty!

Friday, January 18, 2008

*insert interesting post title here*

Note: no hyperlinks today. Sowwy.... too lazy!

Well, I jumped a little hurdle today in my quest to be more environmentally friendly – When I went to go buy a coffee today, I remembered to bring my travel mug. I never really see anyone doing this, so I asked the owner what the policy was about using travel mugs. “It’s a dollar”, she said. Now, ladies and gentlemen, when was the last time you paid a mere dollar for a coffee? This is wonderful! I’m saving money AND reducing the amount of stuff I throw out! Stupendous!

In knitting news, the Widdershins Noro socks I was working on are being put in the corner for misbehavior. I generously knit the foot to 7 inches before working the heel, and the heel was supposed to eat up another 3 inches… but…. It did not. And since the following statements are true: 1. my feet are not going to shrink 2. I have already frogged this yarn 3 times and can’t quite bear to rip back again quite yet…. These are going to be put on a time out for the moment.

Instead, I have cast on for the Central Park Hoodie, which everyone in the entire world is either currently knitting or is about to cast on (or has already finished, I suppose). Cece and I decided to do this sweater together. Those knitters on Ravelry who have already knit this pattern has beautiful results to share, and I’m looking forward to see how mine turns out! I bought a discontinued Classic Elite yarn at their factory store, called “Skye Tweed” in a sort of teddy bear brown tweed color. They had EXACTLY the number of balls left in the color that I wanted to use, which was rather convenient, don’t you think? Anyway, as of the first day of knitting this sweater, I am 1 14th finished, as I got to the end of the first ball of yarn.

Last night, I went to meet up with some other Lowell knitters, whom I met up with through Ravelry. We have met several times on Thursday nights at a local bar, to drink beer, eat chili, knit and chat. It’s been an enjoyable way to pass an evening, and it’s always fun to see what other people are working on. I wore my “Tweedy Aran Cardigan” by Norah Gaughan to the event, as I like to take the opportunity to ‘show off’ my knitting to people who would actually appreciate what I’ve made. The funny part about this is that when I got home, there was an email waiting for me from my mother, asking me to look up that VERY SAME PATTERN on Ravelry to see what people were saying about it! What are the odds? Because it is from the Winter 01/02 issue of Interweave Knits, only 17 people on Ravelry have documented knitting this sweater, but everyone’s looked very nice, so I gave my mom the thumbs up and urged her to join Ravelry, if only to surf for patterns.

We have a 3 day weekend coming up. I have lofty plans to do a bit of housework, perhaps a smidge of sewing, some knitting, and on Sunday, I’m meeting up with a couple of friends for lunch, which ought to be fun. Other than that, I will remain horizontal to keep nursing the ol’ tailybone. It is getting better bit by bit, but it is taking its sweet time in doing so!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Environmentally Friendly?

So, lately I have been thinking more about what I can do to conserve resources and be more ‘friendly’ to the environment. I already drive a fuel efficient car that is about the size of a toaster, my commute is very short, and I live in a small home that does not use up a lot of electricity or gas. However, there are a few things that I do every day that are NOT environmentally friendly: a few times a week, I go to the coffee shop and get my coffee in a throwaway mug. (the other days, I bring my own in a travel mug) I use paper napkins and paper towels. I use Ziploc bags to carry my sandwich and pretzels for lunch. I use Kleenexes very liberally.

I already have been pretty reliable about remembering to bring reusable shopping bags with me to the grocery store and to the mall and such… and these bags are easier to carry, too! I even reuse produce bags if they haven’t had a cucumber go mushy in them…

But can I do more? After reading a thread in the Etsy forums about what people do to reduce their plastic use, I was inspired… and the answer was an emphatic YES, I CAN do more, with only a little extra thought, and almost no extra effort. I can certainly continue to remember to bring my reusable shopping bags with me – I packed them in my purse today so I can go grocery shopping after work, as a matter of fact. What else?

  1. Use cloth napkins – I went out and bought some this week. They are laundered and ready to use.
  2. Talk to my local coffee shop about using my travel mug rather than using a new disposable cup on the occasion that I do go in and buy coffee. I can do this – the owner is VERY nice.
  3. Pack sandwiches and pretzels in Tupperware rather than plastic bags. No problemo, I have plenty of Tupperware.
  4. Wash out Ziploc bags and reuse them – they are definitely sturdy enough to withstand this treatment. I have washed one batch of Ziplocs already; I didn’t enjoy it. However, it might be worth it!
  5. Consider using handkerchiefs rather than Kleenexes, at least around the house. People in public might not want to look at my grody snotrag, but I don’t care in the privacy of my own home.
  6. Look into buying/ making reusable produce bags. They sell cotton/ linen blend ones online for a ridiculously high price, but I could easily sew some up for a few bucks in a matter of minutes. They certainly don’t need to be works of art!
  7. Recycle paper. There is NO RECYCLING for downtown residents where I live. However, it would NOT be that difficult for me to carry a bag of paper to work with me every week or so to recycle it here at work.
  8. Look into where I can recycle plastic and metal. If there is a reasonably convenient place I could swing by every couple of weeks to bring my plastic and metal containers, I could certainly do that!
  9. Reduce paper towel use. I have a TON of rags and old t-shirts lying around. How hard would it be to wipe up messes with rags or an old sponge, instead of using a paper towel? Not hard at all. I guess the trick would be… do I throw the dirty ones in with my regular laundry (ew), do a full load with rags, handkerchiefs and whatnot… wasting extra water and money…. Do I wash them by hand? Dunno. I need to think more about that one.
  10. Reduce waste in other ways. For instance, I have had the same vinyl shower liner for the entire 3 ½ years I’ve lived in my apartment. I have washed it once before, and it was getting all moldy and gross again. I pondered throwing it away, but instead, took FIVE WHOLE MINUTES out of my life and put it in a ‘bath’ of water and a little bleach. I swished it around, let it sit for a bit, scrubbed the stubborn spots (there weren’t many), rinsed, and boom. In WAY less time than it would have taken to drive to a store and get a new one, the shower liner looks much better. Perhaps it doesn’t look quite as sparkly as brand new, but it is certainly perfectly fine!

One thing I haven’t figured out: what the heck am I supposed to use as garbage bags? Plastic does not decompose in giant landfills; pretty much nothing does, because the piles are so huge that air cannot get to the center of the pile to help things rot. Paper? Cloth? (probably not) Do I use a box and dump my garbage right into the dumpster? This might not be TOO bad, because I compost and my garbage is mostly dry. Hmm. Let me know if you have any ideas on that one.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Most of the ideas will take pretty much no effort on my part whatsoever, other than learning a new habit, such as the ones that involve remembering reusable bags and using cloth/ reusable items instead of throwaway items. Some of them will take some effort, like finding a good place to recycle plastic and metal, and taking the time to wash Ziploc bags. But we’ll see what happens.

I’m curious: What do YOU do in your life to be more environmentally conscientious? Or, is it something you haven’t really thought about? That’s fine, too… I obviously hadn’t thought a whole lot about it until recently, obviously. There are so many more levels past what I am thinking about… trying to buy locally, trying not to buy things that have to be shipped from far away (and thus wasting fuel)… dunno if I’m able to go that far yet…

Monday, January 14, 2008

Yarn Source Find!

Okay, so I really didn't JUST find this online store, but have actually REdiscovered Carodan Farm recently, when I went online to find a good price on the new Noro Kureyon sock yarn. Carodan Farm had the best price I could find: $16.25. They are now sending me their newsletters, and they're having a five day sale just prior to doing their annual inventory... over 40 yarns are on sale, and you can also get 10% off all non-sale yarns by entering the code: JAN2008 when checking out. They have a ton of sock yarns. Loads of sock yarns. Some of which are tempting me with their socky sockiness.

I am particularly enthralled by the Crystal Palace Panda Cotton, which has bamboo, cotton, and stretchy nylon in it. The stretchiness might make it superior to the bamboo yarn I have tried in the past, which was saggy. soft, pretty, but saggy. No one likes a saggy sock! In the 80's, we liked SLOUCHY socks, but even then, saggy was a no-go.

Ooh, Noro Transitions is also on a very good sale there... $15 instead of the usual $25 per skein! What a deal! It's still a bit out of my price range for anything other than a hat, but still... it's lovely!

Hmm, they also have the Kaffe Fassett sock yarn... I love some of the colorways... and ... MMMMMM... Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn... sigh... so delicious!

And to further tantalize, they ship for free for orders over $75.

Now, wasn't that fun? We just went window shopping together!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Knitting - Widdershins

After trying several different patterns with this new Noro Kureyon sock yarn, I finally settled on Widdershins from Knitty.

Lately, I have been 'mixing it up' when it comes to knitting socks. I started knitting socks on two circular needles instead of using double points, and for this project, I decided to knit two socks at a time. This way, I would know well ahead of time how long I could make the socks, rather than being conservative when making one sock at a time, leaving too much for the second sock.

Point of information: this sock pattern is quite narrow. They fit my extra narrow feet like a snugly glove, so if you have regular or wide feet, you're going to have to fiddle with the pattern (or use thicker yarn) in order to make these socks fit.

Another point of information: if you are interested in getting some of the Noro yarn, you should visit Carodan Farm's website. They have the lowest price I have found on the web - an introductory price of $16.25, rather than $18.95, which is the regular price I've seen elsewhere. Plus, there's free shipping for orders over $75, if you are so inclined to spend that much.

The yarn feels not quite as rough as the regular Kureyon, but like regular Kureyon, I have heard that it 'blooms' nicely after washing. We'll see what happens. I just love Kureyon so much, I almost don't care if they're too itchy for me to wear! It's so pretty and Noro-y!

Monday, January 07, 2008

It's official.....

..... I broke my butt.

I dragged my ass (pun intended) to the doctor today, if only to document my injury and to figure out the healing timeline. I got some x-rays, and indeed, I broke my tailybone. Not a fracture, not just a terrible bruise, but an official bone break. Dang.

As others have told me, the doctor said I can expect to be uncomfortable for about six months. Oh, great.

I am just glad something even worse did not happen! No skin barrier was breached, my overall spine was not damaged... and it was only my hiney, not my brain or something...

Now, I have official bragging rights. People, I broke my BUTT! You fell or stubbed your toe? So what... I BROKE MY BUTT! You have to use crutches? So what... I CAN'T SIT DOWN!

I can get many sympathy points if I play my cards right...

And as a matter of fact, it helped me to score a free martini tonight from a neighbor. We saw each other while I was walking back from the parking garage after my doctor's appointment, and I told him of my woes, and he bought me a drink.

This broken butt thing just might be the answer to all of my problems... I wonder what else it might get me!

Huzzah for broken buttttts!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Stuff I've Made Lately

Okay, I decided that the last post was so boring, that I needed to make up for it by posting about some things I've made lately. As usual, I have some socks to show off. Both patterns are the most recent shipments from the Rockin' Sock Club.

First up is Lenore, which is made with Blue Moon Fiber Arts new Raven Clan yarn... all of the Raven yarns use black as the background, so they are moody and mysterious. ooohhhhhh......

Project Details:
Pattern: Lenore by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: STR Raven Clan in Lenore, lightweight
Needles: Size 0 circulars
Notes: I liked the pattern. There were several sizes to choose from, which is always nice. The socks are knit top down, with an interesting detail at the top of the leg. After that, you could pretty much go on autopilot for the rest of the sock, which was nice. They fit well, and I like them.

WARNING; My fingers were totally turning red while knitting these socks. I would strongly warn against tossing these babies into the wash before color setting them in some vinegar/ salt water and then hand washing a few times. No need to turn your wardrobe pink!

The next socks were the final project of the year from the Rockin' Sock Club. They were the Salish Sea Socks by Cat Bordhi. These socks were absolutely fascinating to knit! Here are some pics to start off:

Project Details:

Pattern: Salish Sea Socks by Cat Bordhi
Yarn: STR mediumweight in Bella Coola/ Nuxalk
Needles: Size 0 US circulars
Notes: These socks were fascinating to knit! Cat Bordhi has written a new book that describes a number of new architectures for 'building' socks, and this pattern is a loose cousin to one of those architectures. Basically, she figured out that the arch increases can really happen anywhere around the circumference of that section of the sock, so you can add the increases as part of a pattern, which happens in this sock pattern.
The pattern is toe up, with a round toe. There is a cool pattern along the instep, and another nice pattern around the leg. At the top of the leg was another fun pattern- I was interested and intrigued the whole time!

These two patterns were very different and were enjoyable for different reasons... the first one was a good 'cruise along' sock, where you didn't have to look at the pattern most of the time. The second one required more frequent visits to the pattern page. I liked both of them, and I'm sure I'll wear both a lot!

Now, last but not least, I have a sewing project that I made for my latest customized dolly. I used the 'granny dress' pattern by oriettacat, but added a collar and cuffs, as well as a petticoat underneath. I was going for a 'Wednesday Addams' goth look and I think it turned out fairly well! Unfortunately, I had to take the pic at night and you can't see the waist detail that well. Use your imagination and squint... that might help...

Anyway, that's some of the stuff I've been working on lately.
Belated Update

So, I have been pretty spotty on the blogging lately. This particular post might be a bit rambling, but perhaps I will get to shorter, more picture-heavy posts soon.

I am back at work after a very lovely 11 day break. I spent much of that time up at my parents’ house in NH, which was very relaxing and enjoyable. My sister had flown in from London, and my brother and his wife had flown in from Oregon. So, the family was all together, and the time passed quite pleasantly. We sat around and talked, joked, played cards, ate DELICIOUS meals, opened gifts, went snowshoeing, sledding, and so on.

Regarding the sledding: that did not end so well. My brother, always the enterpriser, cleared a path in the woods that led down to the pond, so that we could fly down the hill and across the ice. In theory, this was a great plan, and several good runs were enjoyed before… one of the best and worst runs of the day. Yeah, it was me. I was on a small luge-type sled, and was doing a pretty good job of steering and not running into things (we were in the woods and the ground was very uneven, causing difficulty in steering). I got to the bottom of the hilly part near the pond, when suddenly, I found myself off the front of the sled. My trip was stopped short when a small, viny stump made very abrupt contact with my tailbone and my general posterior region.

The pain was really quite something. At first, I couldn’t even scream or anything. It hurt too much to even roll off of the stump. Of course, everyone ran down the hill to see what had happened, and my brother said, “well, I can’t see what you hit. It must have been the sled.” Not so, my friend. When I finally stopped feeling like I was going to vomit and faint, I had two people help me up… which was when everyone could see the stump that I had been somewhat impaled on. (No, nothing…. Um…. Tore. There. I said it.)

Sitting is now an uncomfortable enterprise. Standing and lying down are both just fine. However, I’m back at work now, which is not so great… lots of sitting at work. Yes, I got one of those special cushions with the tailbone area cut out, but the general sitting position is not a great one for me right now! Surprisingly, sneezing hurts a lot… who knew you used muscles in that area when you sneezed? Certainly I did not!

I have nothing much more to report on the subject. My butt hurts. Loads. From what people tell me, it is going to hurt for a long time.

So, there you have it. I will try to veer future posts toward more cheerful topics.