Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More holiday knits

While I hadn't planned on any Christmas knitting I managed to tackle a few other small items this past month. Just some scrap sock yarn and a basic pattern I followed for the first and tried to remember for the other five. They were fun, and easy, and most importantly- quick!
First, two for Eleni's daycare teachers. Along with a gift card and some home made caramel popcorn these helped dress up the package a bit.
Little socks
And then I knit some for my family, my aunt, parents, and recently engaged cousin... oh and of course one for us as well!
Little socks
Go Steelers! Those little socks may have brought us some luck. They brought home a win on Sunday when I gifted them to my family. And that is a size 10 needle running though the loops just to give an indication of scale.

My fireside cardi is still in progress. I kicked some butt on the remaining sleeve one afternoon with friends. But it has not grown as quickly since that day. I guess it helps to take it from its bag.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Hello hello... long time and not much going on here. My Fireside Cardi has been trudging along and being the monogamist I am with regards to knitting there was little else to blog about. The cardi still is in need of a second sleeve, which has been started. And I even seamed some of it in my search for my knitting mojo which had been lost among the endless cables and miles of eco wool. So desperate times and all that call for desperate measures. With Christmas just around the corner I decided to ignore the 3 baby sweaters I should knit for a January 9th joint baby shower... and Christmas knit! Woo! Don't worry about the babies... they will get their sweaters, but I think they will have to be patient and wait until they are born.

This year for Christmas EJ will be receiving a kitchen set... and what budding foodie doesn't need hand knit fruit?!?! I have to say I had a lot of fun with the patterns along the way, and they were fast too!
Apple Pear
Banana citrus
All five were knit from odds and ends I had in my stash. Mostly worsted wools although the apple and banana are DK weight wool. The apple and pear were both knit in one evening. The banana took longer because that bad boy comes out if its peel. The lemon and lime were knit through another day. So basically all done over one weekend! I really hope EJ has fun with them, it has been hard for me to keep them a secret because we have been playing a lot of pretend games and having to get quite creative in our props.

Last night I knit more of that blasted sleeve too, so my mini-vacation from the Fireside seems to have worked. Maybe it will be done before winter is over. Did I mention I have 3 baby sweaters to knit?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Random Vacation summary

What a beautiful week to have spent home with my daughter. The weather is perfect for early November and we have done our best to take advantage of it while we had the chance. Not all of our activities were fun. A vet trip for Bella, nothing major... and grocery shopping were the low points. However the highlights dominated our week together.
Tuesday we decided to head to the nearest OldNavy to return a sweater I ordered and hated. EJ needed a white long sleeved shirt so we headed to the baby zone. $50 later we got home with some new clothes among them a three-pack of underwear. I figured we would need them soon enough. Little did I know the kid was more interested than I anticipated. Three days later, we are still accident prone but it is pretty exciting to see her learning and getting better. I wish I had started earlier in the week. I am still a bit nervous about returning to work on Monday.
Wednesday we had a playdate with our good friends. We have not played together since the Spring I believe. It had been entirely too long. Thursday went by rather quickly as my work BFF came over for some cooking fun. We made sauce and home made noodles. EJ helped-
Making pasta!
(yes... i know... great outfit right? no pants and rain boots. That's my girl.)She loved to turn the crank on the pasta machine, but had a tendency to turn it the wrong way, or reverse directions mid way through. I think she needs more practice.
Today, Friday, still has a lot of potential. But I should mention when running to get my oil changed and to Target EJ was accident free. I picked up more underwear too. Can't get by on 3 pairs for very long. Perhaps Elmo and Dora can help motivate my girl away from the last few accidents?
Oh.... and most importantly. I made some major progress on the cabled sweater that will never end. Ok, so that is a little dramatic. It will be finished. It is just slow going considering the gauge. All of the twists and cables are time consuming.
Fireside sweater in progress
I just need sleeves! You are looking at the two front pieces, and the back piece. I modified the back a bit for the size I was making but more details on that once it is finished!

Well, nap time is bound to be over soon. I have a little more me time left and should get my knit on. Hope you have been able to enjoy this beautiful day! Have a great weekend too!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mission acomplished

I did it. With your help, I overcame my case of the crazies and just sat down and started to knit. With a plan of course.
Eleni's hat
Thank goodness for colored pencils in my desk at work. They are great for creative bursts between tasks. After reviewing my e-mails, comments, and other suggestions I went to work. Measuring Eleni's head when she seemed distracted enough not to notice. Guessing what my gauge was based on other projects with the same yarn (for shame! I know... I was really risking a mishap without swatching). And then some simple math and I was on my way.
Brown hat
Eleni's hat
Red hem
Eleni's hat
Fancy stripe
Eleni's hat
Adorable model?
Eleni's hat

There isn't much negative ease in the hat. Maybe an inch max. I love how the red hem peeks out around her face a bit. I took notes while knitting, and plan on adding the pattern to my Ravelry downloads too. I just need to decided if I am going to try to write up a few different sizes before publishing. It also matches her coat so nicely. It was just too nice of a day to make her model that as well... another day perhaps!

Thanks for all of the support- I think it was key to such a successful project!!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Hello strangers. Has it been a month already? Gosh. I guess I have been keeping busy. So much to talk about, so little time. I have a few posts swimming through my brain right now but first, the most pressing topic. Toddler hats.

So does anyone else do this? Decide to make something knit for a loved one and then obsess over choosing a pattern. I have the yarn and color decisions worked out. But the shape is what is killing me. And it is just a hat! So I come to you, my trusted knitting ad visors for some input.

First, the decisions I managed to sorta make on my own. I bought a coat, Old Navy, and am quite pleased with it!

The yarn colors have been decided as well- dark chocolate brown and a red that matches the coat as an accent. Both are a worsted weight wool, in my stash (score) leftover from other projects. The red is superwash, so felting is out. Oh, and I decided with the dark brown I would like a feminine hat in order to help elevate the "your son is so cute" comments this winter.

Right now there are 5 patterns, or ideas floating around my head.
1. Better Bucket Hat with a red i-cord band and perhaps a bow?
2. standard hat, with a folded under hem (to keep ears warm) and add an i-cord band, bow to frill it up a bit
Sorta like this, minus the roll brim and well... better

3. The republic hat?

4. A beret? With a red band, brown top. Are they cute without girly curls flowing from the back? Because our hair situation is still on the sparse side.
5. Fair isle. Like this- only chocolate, cream, red and pink?

[Rav it]December stripes

Is she too old for a bonnet?

I told you I needed help. Someone talk me down. I am obsessing, and I really should just be knitting. please don't let the adorable little boy in the last picture sway your judgment either. :o)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vest, finished

Yea! Finished, blocked and modeled.
Vest, Finished
I wore it to work today and received a few complements.
Vest, Finished
I like to think I have that hot-nerdiness down to a science. HAHAHA!
Vest, Finished
Hooray for successful projects!

Thursday, September 10, 2009



Still some ends to weave in, and blocking to take care of but I have been focusing on my Go Steeler socks. They should be done by halftime! Go Steelers!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Growing up, but not out

Sometime last fall:
Sometime last week:
Feburary baby Sweater, year two
I am a very pleased mama to have her get some more wear out of that sweater. Makes me consider knitting for her again! hehehe. Also, do you notice what is in her hand in that second picture? anyone?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Learning Experience

Five row stripes. I liked how they looked. It was the right width for what I was looking for in my sweater, and I had carried up the yarn while I was knitting my vest (in the round). Well at some point it is necessary to split the sweater to the front and back and knit the pieces independently and flat (back and forth). I never thought my five row stripes would be an issue when I started. But for any of you knitters you may know that odd rows end with the yarn on the "wrong" side of the knitting. Which basically would make it necessary for me to cut my yarn after every stripe. I was NOT interested in weaving in all of the ends this would have created.

The fear of weaving in ends led me to a logical yet scary solution. Steeks. I have never knit with steeks before when following a pattern, let alone just invent my own steeks. But I read. I read blogs, and books, and other patterns. Then I just made a decision and kept on knitting.
Vest Steeks
This is the vest, with 3 steeks in place. One for each arm and the center one for the v-neck. I used five purl stitches to designate my steeking zone. And because the yarn was not knit at a very tight gauge nor was it fair isle I knew I would want to reinforce the steeks and decided to crochet. Since I could do that on the road.
Vest Steeks
That is my blurry crochet rows... the road was bumpy and proper photos were difficult. Especially with the husband mocking me from the drivers seat. Next came the scary part. Up until the next step I always had an escape plan- frogging. But unless I cut the steek I wouldn't have a vest I could wear. So I finished my coffee....
and got to cutting! EEEK! No scary scissor photos. I wasn't brave enough to stage one while in the car. But this was my end result. Vest Steeks

I had some trouble, the cast on edge and cast off edge wasn't as secure as I had wanted. Some knots were tied. I need to figure out what went wrong, but in the end I had a good steeking experience. It was pretty fun to be honest. My definition of fun is pretty lame though.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Color Experiment

I have been thinking of this color combination for a while now. Since before the February lady sweater mishap of 2008. The Cascade 220 I used which was a dark green heather had flecks of turquoise in it. And I had some limited stash of a lovely hand spun, hand dyed (with natural dyes) turquoise yarn. I wondered if the quite different yet similar colors would work together. I am much better at obvious matches and this one I wasn't sure about. So with fall around the corner I was inspired to swatch. Yes, actually excited about it.
Swatch or Blanket?
I think it works. And I am convinced I have enough to make a vest or perhaps even a short sleeve sweater if I stripe the yarn. One question remains. Turquoise with green stripes or green with turquoise stripes?
Better one?
Swatch or Blanket?
or two?
Swatch or Blanket?
I almost didn't get that last photo. Someone spotted me.
Swatch or Blanket?
and she is fast
Swatch or Blanket?
and it was naptime
Swatch or Blanket?
and the baby didn't have a blanket. She even took the swatch with her for her nap. I only wish I had measured my gauge before she stole it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The first of my tomatoes.
OMG, it was so yumm. I am sad that there are only 11 left on the plant and no flowers thanks to the deer. Hoping the Roma variety are just as tasty.


Photos at last! I finished knitting Buttercup two weeks ago, and I rank it very high on my happiness scale. I think I have worn it four times already. Go ahead, laugh. I just can't keep from wanting to show it off.
Buttercup Finished
There are a lot of talk about the neckline on this sweater on Ravelry being too wide. I knit option A with the origonal neckline. When picking up stitches around the collar I did 3 stitches for every 4 rows/stitches the entire way around which made it perfect for my taste. You can see the top of my bra through the eyelets, but I just wear a nude bra and it isn't obvious.
Buttercup Finished
I made one other mod, aside from my normal length modification, which was to make the bottom edge just a few rows of garter stitch. The pattern is written to use more fan and feather lace and I wasn't interested in the extra detail around my hips. Plus I managed to use only 6 of the 7 skeins of yarn by eliminating the extra rows.
Buttercup Finished
I think I am getting better at taking pictures of myself too. HA. s

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just like the real thing....

I was lucky enough to live a short drive from a ColdStone Creamery for a couple of years. I almost always bought Cake Batter ice cream with rainbow jimmies mixed in. Not especially exciting considering you are able to have three mix-ins without an extra charge. But I thought it was perfection. I even bought it by the half gallon to keep in the freezer. However, they didn't seem to have as many dedicated patrons as myself and the store didn't stay open.

Ever since that sad day when I drove past and noticed the for rent sign up in the window I have been on a mission to recreate my beloved Cake Batter ice cream. Other brands began to offer it in the store. Edy's had its American Idol themed "Take the Cake" and Ben and Jerry had a birthday cake flavor as well. But the blue frosting in Edy's turned me off and the B&J's had an over powering chocolate frosting. Sure they were good... but not great.

The next step in my process was making it at home. I had an ice cream churn that got little use, and after a batch of Alton Brown's banana ice cream I jumped into making cake batter. Some quick internet searching suggested all you had to do was add around a cup of cake mix to your vanilla ice cream base and freeze it. I learned the hard way they where wrong. The ice cream was dry and floury tasting. It didn't offer the flavor I wanted and the texture was just terrible. I was sad, and discouraged. The ice cream churn sat unused in the basement pantry.

Eventually I began to plot my next attempt. Talking it over with my friend at work, discussing the technical side of ice cream making and how to avoid my previous short comings. It wasn't until I was inspired to make some Blackberry ice cream and had a delicious outcome that I was motivated to put my plan into action.

So back to the internets I went, and I found myself this recipe. Lacking any reviews, I could have been scared off. However the recipe had all of the steps I was looking for. A custard based ice cream, were the cake mix was added at the start and pre-cooked to eliminate the flour taste as well as hydrate the flour. This is not low fat, or part of any balanced diet. But it is creamy and I think very close to ColdStone Creamery's version of Cake Batter Ice Cream. So dust off those ice cream churns and indulge!

The Recipe:

Cake Batter Ice Cream
makes 1 qt.

2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup cake mix
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yokes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Pour 1 cup whipping cream into a medium saucepan. Add 2/3 cup cake mix and whisk briskly over high heat until the well blended. Begin whisking again when bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Once the batter starts clumping together, immediately remove from heat and add the remaining 1 cup whipping cream. Whisk until it is smooth, and then pour into a 2 quart mixing bowl. (*I found there where some clumps at the bottom of my pan in the corners, but they mixed into the ice cream well)

2. Break and separate 5 large eggs, pouring the egg yolks into a clean small mixing bowl. Clean and dry the saucepan used to heat the cake mix and whipping cream.

3. Pour 1 cup of whole milk into the clean saucepan. Add 2/3 cup sugar and whisk until all of the sugar is dissolved. Warm over medium heat, until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.

4. Pour about 1 cup of the warm milk mixture slowly into the egg yokes while wisking, then pour back into the saucepan and continue heating over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the mixture thickens. (it should be able to coat the back of a spoon once think enough)

5. Pour the custard base through a mesh strainer into the mixing bowl (from step 1) and whisk to combine the custard base and cake batter. Add ½ tsp of high-quality vanilla then refrigerate. (this step is VERY important, patience matters!) After 5-12 hours of cooling, freeze according to the instructions that came with your ice cream maker.

The Result:

If my butt is bigger next time you see me, you will know why. Although I have been balancing out my ice cream consumption with egg white omelets. Might as well use them for something!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am knitting too, I swear!

I just scrolled through my past few posts... garden, garden, garden, garage door, breakfast cake. What kind of blog is this anyway? I am knitting. A lot actually. I guess I had just been content updating details in Ravelry and not going into any additional detail here. Buttercup is done. WOOO! I will photograph it soon, and get a finished sweater post up especially for it before too long. I am very happy with the outcome.
Ginormous blanket is on hold. Although it is almost chilly enough the past few nights to want to snuggle under it and knit double stranded wool into garter stitch. Also on the needles are in no particular order. Pittsburgh Socks: basic sock recipe, toe up with Lorna's Laces sock yarn in bee stripe.
Pittsburgh Sock
I think it is a few stitches too wide for my foot, so I am going to frog back before I get too far along so it fits me, and not K.
A second attempt is being made at knitting with lace weight yarn. My first attempt didn't get very far before I proclaimed I didn't like knitting with thread and I gifted the yarn to a friend who I believe gave it a happy life as some beautiful item no doubt. In any case. Lace, take two:
Fountain Pen shawl from IK Spring 2009. Yarn complements of Shelly, who also had a realization that she didn't like lace weight yarn.

More Gardening

Thrilling blog right? All I talk about anymore are plants and deer. Guess what.
Garden Month 3
I have peppers on most of the pepper plants. Aside from one which seems to be getting crushed by a roma tomato plant. This particular specimen has three peppers.
Garden Month 3
And speaking of those Roma tomatoes, well they seem to be producing a lot of fruit now too. Here is one especially large cluster tucked away towards the bottom of the plant. I think I counted 12 tomatoes just in this one bunch!
Garden Month 3
The early girl plant even has one tomato which is considering changing colors. It was the first tomato that the plant produced. So it is only natural it ripen first. (the photo is so blurry- sorry about that.)
Garden Month 3
And finally... this is the part where I talk about the deer.
Garden Month 3
And how much they munched off of my poor plants. This time was a lot more severe than the past snacks they indulged in. If you click the photo all the chewed stems are far more obvious, but basically the whole fenced in area had been about full of leafy full tomato stems. Thanks a lot deer. I thought we where friends. See if I throw any more over ripe apples your way again.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wildlife Warning

Apparently... the deer in my town are online. AND, they read my blog.
Nom nom nom

Thankfully it looks like only two plants where nibbled. And all of my tomatoes are in tact. Guess I could sprinkle some more of the repellent around the ground. They are being stealthy. I have not seen them in quite a while. But the evidence is clear. They are on to me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garden Watch, 2009

I would like to thank Mother Nature for all of the rain over the past month. Sure, I have had my moments of desperation begging for just a short burst of sunshine to brighten up the string of cloudy days, but it has really made my attempt at gardening easier.
Veggie Garden, One Month later
As you may notice I added a small fence, that barely stays up on its own. Next year I will do a better job of installing it. For now it does the job of keeping the pups and child out of my plants.

There have been a few other changes in the garden. The tomatoes are flowering like crazy. They have passed the second ring on the tomato cage and are stretching up towards the third ring.
Veggie Garden, One Month later
I was surprised to find there are a few small tomatoes. This one is from the "Early Girl" variety that I had planted
Veggie Garden, One Month later
and I hadn't realized it at first but it looks like I have a few Roma Tomatoes too!
Veggie Garden, One Month later

I have been adding fresh parsley, cilantro and basil to many of our meals in the past couple of weeks. The cilantro is about twice as tall as the parsley and my basil looks a little sad since a bug had munched on some of its leaves. Not worrying about it yet... but hopefully it rebounds soon. I have dreams of pesto and brushetta in my future.

Any one else having fun tending their gardens? What are you growing this year? I would like to do more next year, and I am already thinking ahead!