Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Life as a Pioneer

I'm not usually one for pictures of mere yarn. But what arrived in the mail this week could hardly be described as mere yarn. At long last my kit from LaLana Wools arrived and, while prepared to be pleasantly pleased, I was absolutely thrilled instead. This yarn is drop dead gorgeous and so soft to the touch that I simply had to wear it, as is. Well, actually, Mr Puffy did.

One gets tired of the perfectly formed, uniformly wound, standardized colors of yarn available in every LYS. But it goes a little deeper than that. During my recent visit with my parents, I read a book I haven't read in close to 40 years. I read The Long Winter (6th book in a series of 8 by Laura Ingalls Wilder) ~ hoping to feel better about my long hot summer. What struck me was how my personality was influenced by this writer. It's actually a rather sad story, but is filled with references to things that I find myself doing, and enjoying, in a different century. For example, I bake bread with a sourdough starter, I love to bake pies, I bake whole wheat bread during the winter, I knit mittens, socks, and hats. I enjoy knitting lace, embroidery, drinking tea and sitting around a cozy fire. All of these things are mentioned in the book. Come to think of it, I would have made a marvelous pioneer. Although I'm not sure about using an outhouse.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Spiraling Away

Who's this? Why that's my Dad holding my August Sockamania KAL socks, still on the needles. He's looking very spiffy, if you ask me. Anyone recognize what blogger inspired this photo pose?

This month I finished my Sockamania KAL socks well before month end. The socks spiral in different directions and were a fun pattern to knit. I used Claudia's Hand Painted Yarns ~ Santa Fe colorway (no, I'm not that Claudia) ~ fingering weight ~ 100% merino wool ~ 180 yards ~ US1 Needles.

I have a smallish foot and typically wear a US 7 or 7 1/2 size shoe (which translates to 9 inches from heel to toe) so beware of yardage issues. In case you were wondering how much yarn I had left over, per pair. Check it out:
Despite the concerns over whether I had enough yarn to finish (not to be minimized) I really liked using this yarn. Notice *blink* *blink* how the blue and gold colors pool together - I particularly like that because I went to Notre Dame and blue and gold are Notre Dame's school colors. Speaking of which, college football season is almost here. A time of great optimism and excitement for me. Notre Dame plays their first game of the season on September 1st and I do look forward to their games. GO IRISH! I also keep my eye on the Washington State Cougars as that's my Dad's alma mater. This is a little problem for Mr. Puffy, who likes to root for the Washington Huskies, but we try and keep his enthusiasm to a minimum around my Dad.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Spring Fling

My love affair with Noro continues, but it never hurts to remember that it is tricky business working with colored yarns. For instance, I really thought when I purchased these skeins of yarn that they would make a perfect Spring shawl. All that pink and green - how could it not say Spring? However, early in the knitting stage, I began to consider that perhaps this would be the perfect shawl for the Fall! Just as well, really, because while I purchased this yarn in March I'm only now finishing it here late in August. Serendipity.

This is the Sursa shawl knit with Noro Silk Garden and Cash Iroha yarn. It's a fun and quick pattern and I particularly like the way the edging is attached (as you can see in the close up).

It's nice to have finished the shawl this weekend because I'm here in Santa Barbara with Mr. Puffy where I purchased the yarn. There's symmetry to that. We are here visiting Grandma and Grandpa which is always a welcome respite from our busy lives. Mr Puffy is particularly happy both because he loves to sit in my Mother's garden and because my Mother usually cooks a roast while we are visiting (as she did this weekend). Nothing puts a smile on Mr. Puffy's face quite like the prospect of roasted meat for dinner!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Is it time for Tea?

Have I mentioned that Steve spoils me? He is just the best! These are my favorite cupcakes from Jack & Jill's Bakery in Santa Monica. They are decadently moist and yummy. Quite often he comes home and surprises me with treats for my tea ~ and amazingly never eats any himself. Such self control is quite foreign to me and Mr Puffy.

This was actually a good day to provide me with tea treats as I have new neighbors and I just so happened to bake cookies ~ to give away. The cookies I baked aren't your typical English tea treat but rather are American cookies at their best which means they are chock full of delicious ingredients. I hope you (and they) enjoy them as much as I do!

Valley Farms' Very Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

11 Tablespoons unsalted (sweet) butter (softened)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. water
1 egg
1/2 Cup extra-fine baking sugar (white granular sugar)
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1 2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour (sifted)
1/2 Cup chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup flake coconut
8 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients except the AP (all purpose) Flour, Pecans, Coconut, and Chocolate Chips.
3. Add flour and mix until just combined with a spoon (not a mixer, or you will over mix).
4. Add Pecans, Coconut, and Chocolate Chips.
5. Bake until golden brown and transfer to cooling rack. Start checking at 12 minutes (but I unusually find it takes closer to 17 minutes).

This recipe makes approximately 1 1/2 dozen large cookies and is from a Bed & Breakfast recipe I found on line, to which I made just a slight modification or two, mainly to clarify the ingredients.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Oh, Just Bag It!

I say, just bag it and go to the beach! August is my favorite month at the beach in San Clemente because the water is really warm and therefore fun to play in. We have tried the boogie boards, body surfing, and inner tubes and I have to tell you that the inner tube is the only way to go. It is incredibly fun to get into the inner tube and ride the waves and bob up and down. It's something I used to do as a kid and I still find it fun as an adult. Give it a try!

I understand that not everyone enjoys going into the water. For example, Mr Puffy doesn't like to go into the ocean - he is more of a lounge chair kind of guy. He does enjoy walks on the beach, though, and he likes to sit on the deck and watch us in the water.

Why bag it? I began thinking about bags and felting this weekend because at the San Clemente Farmer's Market I saw some beautiful felted purses for sale. The seller was kind enough to tell me the yarn - and believe it or not - she uses Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (doubled) and US 13 needles. The purses were finished with beautiful agate stones as clasps and they had a small amount of novely yarn for some texture. The results were just stunning.

The bag above is knit with a kit from Dancing Leaf Farm and is primarily Peace Fleece with some proprietary yarns for the striping. If you are a newer knitter felting is a great first project as "felting" hides any uneven stitches and allows exploration with color and texture. I actually substituted a different pattern ~ the very cute Sophie Bag from Mag Knits which is a free online knitting magazine.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Mission Accomplished - Sort of.

My first KAL project is Finished (3 days late, but who's counting). These socks might just be the nicest ever. Even Steve, who is a little finicky about his feet, loves these and has pronounced them a perfect fit and "not-scratchy."

The pattern is an exclusive for the Sockamania KAL by Anni Design. I used more of my sock yarn from Sundara's Sock Club "The Petal Collection" ~ US 2 needles. It is the Lenten Rose colorway and you can see from the picture below that she was dead on accurate.

*Warning* If you live in a hot humid climate you may not want to read any further. This is a project I found in the Interweave Magazine's Spring 2007 issue and knew instantly that it would be perfect for my mom ~ who loves to read in bed. The yarn is divinely soft and "fluffy" and and would have been absolutely miserable to knit with if I wasn't living in a hot dry climinate with AC. It's actually a gift for her birthday, that isn't until the end of August, but I finished early as I want to get started on my Fall projects. I like to give gifts with a theme, so I shall try and find a nightgown that matches or something else that would be a good compliment. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

What's this? It's pink! It's my mom's Reading in Bed Shrug!

Pattern: IK Magainze, Reading in Bed Shrug.
Yarn: GGH Soft-Kid (1.5 skeins)
Needles: US 9.0
Modifications: I added an extra 5 pattern repeats as I wanted a more relaxed fit.
Upshot: A simple and fun pattern that makes a great gift as there is no sizing/fitting necessary.