Thursday, March 29, 2007

week of sugary goodness

Hi all! Apparently it's the week of sugary concoctions around here at the yarn bee. Not quite so much knitting is taking place due to several weeknight social events requiring some baking. Today's fun involved making these super chocolaty cupcakes with chocolicious frosting.

chocolate cupcakes.jpg

chocolate cupcake close-up

These are from a great recipe over at super eggplant. So easy to make, you're essentially enhancing a cake mix, so they taste somewhat reminiscent of childhood treats, but better. They are incredibly rich, I'm giving as many of these away as possible!

I also wanted to show off the little po's that I got in a barter with Tomoko. We traded for some of the paper I designed, and don't tell her but I think I got the better end of the deal!

new po's!

special po's hanging out

The green one on the left is actually a christmas gift from Tomoko, but I'm really glad that he now has some friends to hang out with. I love that she made little tiny super small versions of Syd the cockatiel that sit on top of their heads. But the one with the coffee, the doughnut and the night cap just kills me. Please go visit her etsy shop to see her endless variations on the po's.

And last but not least we've been enjoying our guest - ms. b the parakeet. She is a sweet and saucy little bird who is a lot of fun to have around. The other night we had an end of the season fire in the fireplace and she, who was quiet all day, squawked quite loudly to alert us of the danger! I bet she's never seen a fire before. It's good to have a watch bird looking over your shoulder.

ms. b on holiday

More baked goods and knitting to come... stay tuned

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

lemony treats

lemony cupcakes

We had friends over for supper last night and it was a nice excuse to make lemon cupcakes from my Nigella Lawson Forever Summer coookbook. I ended up making lime flavored royal frosting for them as I didn't have any lemon juice on hand. Tart, sugary and delicious!

Monday, March 26, 2007

sugar happy

creme eggs

Don't forget to gather those creme eggs while ye may. Somehow I can't resist these sugar overload treats, probably because I can't get them all year. Supply and demand - I'm such a sucker!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

finished object: february sweater

I know you've seen it practically finished, but I love that adding a few finishing touches, like blocking, buttons and a handmade label really make this sweater feel complete. Here are the final shots:

finished february sweater

button detail

label detail

Here are the specs:

pattern: February baby sweater in Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman

yarn: RYC Cashsoft Baby DK color 00901: Sugar

needles: addit naturals circular 5's

gauge: about 5 sts to 1 inch

extras: hand-embroidered label

started: February 26th 2007

finished: March 21th 2007 (knitting finished much earlier, but I slowed down on the finishing touches)

I really enjoyed using this yarn. It is so soft to the touch in a nice wool kind of way, not strange soft like some acrylics and seems perfect for tiny babies. It claims to be machine washable; if that's true it will be my number one baby yarn. This was my first top down sweater and there will certainly be more to follow. I'd recommend the Knitter's Almanac as a must read. I found it so amusing and just as fun and process oriented as reading any blog. I also used the "casting on cast off" on the sleeves and hem and I'm smitten! It's a great stretchy cast off that looks beautiful.

In the yarn department, I ran out of Louet Gem's for the petticoat socks... time to call the store

not enough yarn


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

third time's a charm, right?

Two years ago I designed my husband a fair isle stranded sweater for christmas. I had an optimistic feeling that this was a project I could tackle. So what if it was man-sized at many stitches per inch? I had time, right? I had math skills and knitting mojo on my side. I gave him the pattern drawing, a sketch of the finished sweater and a knitted swatch. And I waited and waited and knit other stuff, just to make sure he actually was interested and not just humoring his newly wed knitting wife. And then he expressed interest in when would this sweater be made. When could he wear it? Perfect, I thought now I knew he would wear it and wasn't just being nice.

I found yarn, I did swatches, I did math, it looked good, I remained optimistic. And then I cast on. The swatch lied!! Sadly my first attempt was 7 inches too big around. Many stitches were frogged - maybe 3" worth of too big. But I was still in the honeymoon phase and optimistic and I did new math for the new stitch count, rethought the hem design and cast on again. Knit. Knit. Knit. Measure, Still 3" too big! Again with the frogging. Now I am annoyed and also stubborn and a bit forlorned and resigned to my fate. I revised the math and cast on yet again - still knitting and not sure what the verdict is this time. Mind you this is just the hem of a 7-stitches-to-an-inch mansized fair isle sweater. I'd show you a photo, but it looks almost exactly the same as this one. The third cast on is the charmer - right? right!

weekend dye job on snow

Moving on people. Here is some more fun times with the cheap cotton yarn and the RIT dye. There is a fun freedom to experiment with the color action when the cotton yarn is $2 for 4 oz or some such enjoyable price. I was able to get satisfying bright cherry red. The lovely mustardy yellow was achieved with dying the yarn straight yellow and then adding a touch of purple to the dye pot. I also dyed some existing light blue in the yellow bath to get the sage green. Now to knit some mitered squares.

In other news where knitting looks exactly the same as what you already did, I'm well on my way for the second petticoat sock, but I'm pretty sure I won't make be able to finish it with the yarn I have left, so I'll have to get another skein from the store in St. Louis. Oh well, you can't win them all!

cena snoozing

In other cuteness, I caught Cena sleeping with her nose tucked under her paw. Usually she wakes up before I can get a photo of this cuteness.

Friday, March 16, 2007

back to winter

It's snowing like crazy out here, and it's hard to see across the street. It's also hard to believe that earlier this week I went running wearing shorts (or mainly that I went running at all, but that is a topic for another post) because it was almost 70 degrees.

Remember that baby sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Almanac? I was worried that I would run out of yarn but look how much I had left:


About 24 inches to spare!

february sweater - needs buttons

Here she is, just lacking the finishing touch of buttons. I've been playing with different options in my one-of-a-kind button collection (again a post for another time) and I really like the look of the plump pearly pink one shown on the sweater. I'm sort of going for the old fashiony vintage look with the soft pink and all. So now I just need to find a whole set, which shouldn't be too hard. This sweater is so soft to touch, I'm really happy with the way it came out. I'm tempted to try a variation with a different lace pattern - maybe a cable instead.

one down, one to go

I finished the first petticoat sock from Weekend Knitting, and quickly cast on for the second one before I lost my momentum. Can't figure out why I don't like making the second sock. I don't mind making the second mitten. Who knows? Now I'm hoping yet again that I have enough yarn. I got this yarn at Knitorious on my trip to St. Louis with this pattern in mind. Since the skein is 100 grams I figured it would be enough for a pair of socks. However when I got home and looked at the pattern in the book it calls for 3 skeins - which is clearly not right, since I just knit the first sock and I still have a bunch left over. I decided to knit the shorter size and see where I end up, which is the other motivation to knit the second sock right away. If I run out I can probably still get a skein of the same dye lot sent to me from St. Louis. Anyone out there knit these before? How much yarn did you use?

hojo mitered square and its neighbor

And last but not least, a howard johnson inspired mitered square and his neighbor. More knitting to come I'm sure especially if we get all of the snow predicted - 8 - 12 inches!
happy weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2007

weekend activities

I had fun puttering around the apartment this weekend, cleaning and organizing and such, when suddenly I got the urge to pull out my dye pot. The work on the mitered square blanket has stalled recently, mostly due to the fact that I need some new colors to add to the mix. But in my organizing I found a white skein of sugar and cream cotton, perfect for the blanket, so I wound it into two hanks and routed though my dyes. I generally like using fiber reactive dyes, but they won't work on cotton, so I pulled out my small stash of RIT dye. Using RIT dye is like shooting in the dark, as the color on the package never reflects the you might end up with. But sometimes you can get some fun results. Here's what I got, using a bit of fuchsia on one hank and a bit of mint green (or apparently turquoise!) on the other.

dyed yarn

What's that? A bit garish you say? Normally I would completely agree, but let's look at the yarn again in context of the existing squares.

dyed yarn with blanket pieces

Better, huh? Isn't it fun and strange how all colors change depending on what they are adjacent to? I spent a lot of time in color class in college to learn that handy trick!

But knitting, you ask, did you actually knit this weekend or just mess around with yarn? Don't you worry baby, there was knitting galore.

petticoat sock in progress

Here is the start of the petticoat sock from Weekend Knitting. A beautiful pattern, I must say, I love the way the top folded picot edge hem becomes wavy due to the striped lace pattern. I'm in the home stretch and hoping to keep the enthusiasm for sock no. 2.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

some of the kitschy signs of St. Louis

Now that I've finally figured out how to download photos off of the High-Tech-Sophisticated work camera I can post some of the kitschy goodness of St. Louis. I love these old school metal and neon signs, they just make me so happy. Maybe because they are so optimistic and just gosh darn cheerful. And excited. Anyway here we go:

fresh donuts drive in

crestwood bowl

federhofer's bakery

johnny's market

ted drewes frozen custard

Of course I stopped here for the frozen custard. Not only because it was close to the yarn store and I needed some fortification after all the yarn fondling, but because my friend Tomoko, who lived briefly in St. Louis, would have throttled me if I didn't. It was just as wonderful and delicious as she described. I was surprised at the number of people pulling in on such a cold day for some frozen custard. I thought only people in Boston were crazy enough to eat mass quantities of ice cream in the cold winter.

st. louis arch

arch detail

Of course I had to visit the Arch. I finally even got to go up to the top with my parents who came down to meet me in St. Louis. Here is an incredibly bad picture of them but it was too cold out for more posing.

parents at the Arch

Doesn't my dad look great in his new goatee?

More knitting soon - what are y'all knitting out there?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I'm back and ready to knit

february baby sweater

I'm back from my work trip to St. Louis. I was hoping to have some time to knit and to blog about knitting, but work expanded to fill most of the time I had in St. Louis. I did have some time to knit in the airport and on the plane there and back so that was exciting. Here is the progress I made on the February baby sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitters Almanac. I also have been enjoying reading through her process on her projects of the month and her very sassy comments. I can see why she has such a large fan club. Sign me up!

While I didn't get to knit much or at all, I did take some time to drive around take photos of kitschy 50's signage. Kitschy signs are high on my list of things I like to collect. When I get those photos off of the work camera, I'll post some and spread the love. I also went to visit Knitorious, a very lovely yarn store. The sales staff seemed to understand my need just to visit the yarn and to pet it. "Did I come home empty-handed?" you ask, mouth agape. Oh no, but my rule was only to get something that I couldn't get at my local yarn stores.

souvenir stash enhancement

I got some Louet Gem sock yarn to make a pair of socks in the Weekend Knitting book and some Cascade 220 superwash wool for a striped kid's sweater. They also had some beautful Lorna's Laces, but I tried to buy yarn for projects I already had in mind. Definitely a great store - go check them out. More photos to follow soon.
Tomoko - I had the Drewe's frozen custard - some for me and some for you - mmmmm!