Friday, May 30, 2008


Duncan continues to have good taste in yarn. As I was working on my own crochet blanket, the little one decided that the cute basket I was holding all the yarn in looked very comfortable.

It's all very silly.

Which of course, suggested the lollified version of it:
funny pictures

You can see the little one on icanhascheezburger.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Family Tradition

My family is strange, for many reasons, but one of our strangest habits is that we like to take pictures of ourselves by holding the camera out at arm's length. Yes, we are aware that self-timers exist, but that's just no fun at all. At my cousin's wedding, they put a single-use camera at every table. They should have known better. My mom and uncle went around and took pictures of themselves at all 50 or so tables. My cousin's dad complained about how much money he had spent just on developing pictures of "their ugly faces."

We have moved on to yet another generation of silliness. Apparently my cousin, who is about 10 years older than me, has just sent around pictures of his young son in this manner. So my mom, not be outdone, wants similar photos of me and her grandcats.

Worfy was not thrilled with the idea.

So I think this about as close as we're going to get.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back to Black

As Lorna's precocious little child asked while I was knitting these, "No offense, but why black?"
Well, with as many fun and crazy sock yarns as there are, and as many that live on my shelf, sometimes, you just need plain black.
I noticed this when I was wearing my awesome little power suit (as seen in the DC trip). I have one pair of fairly somber socks, in tones of grey, that go okay with the grey suit. However, I really wanted a pair of nice, grown-up black dress socks.

And these are about as basic as you can get. I wanted the use the yarn efficiently, so I decided to do them toe-up. I'm glad I did, because while I got very high socks that won't show my ankle if the pant leg rides up a bit, I didn't quite get knee socks either.

I started with the rectangle toe, which is pretty much the only way I care to do a toe-up toe at this point. I have done the Turkish/figure 8 cast on, I understand the principle. It's just entirely too fiddly. Instead, you knit a little rectangle and pick up all around. You then increase at each side just where you would decrease in a normal toe. Worfy is not terribly impressed, however.

The heel is a nice, no wrap sort of heel that feels like a larger version of the way you turn a heel with a cuff-down toe flap sock. It's basically the Fleegle heel, though I deviate from her pattern elsewhere. It also has the advantage that it's easily memorized, a problem I was having with toe up socks in general. You see, I like socks to by my basic, hanging around in my purse project, that I can knit in the dark. I have the cuff-down, heel-flap version memorized, and even the afterthought, but I had nothing for toe up. Add in the part where almost every other short-row heel (which most toe up patterns seem to use) has given me wide gaps, and I have a winner.

When I got to the top, I started doing something that looked a little silly. I wound the yarn in the opposite direction, and worked on the second sock right away, up to and a little beyond the same point. I kept going back and forth like this until I had used up most of the yarn and they were even. Yes, I could have wound the yarn into two equal skeins before I started, but that would require forethought. It's a really great idea to do, though, because you wind up with two socks done at about the same time, eliminating the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. While the more efficient method would also have involved two sets of needles, a piece of scrap yarn works just as well while you transfer the ones you're using to the other sock.
The cuff is plain in stockinette up until about the normal sock length (the height of my hand, bottom of palm to tip of middle finger), and then switches into 2x2 ribbing. The reason I changed there is because that's where socks start to require some calf shaping. Now, I could have kept track of how many rows I had done in stockinette, or I could have read my increases, but both of those would have required effort. So I switched to ribbing, increasing while I did so, and let the ribbing accomodate more of the stretch as well. The big bonus about increasing while switching from stockinette to ribbing, aside from being easy to tell where you began, is that it's fairly easy to hide the increases. When you knit into the front and back of the same stitch, the first stitch looks like a regular knit and the second stitch leaves a little bar that is almost indistinguishable from a regular purl bump. You can see where I'm going here. So to increase nicely into 2x2 ribbing, do (K1, K f/b, P1), wherever you need to. I'd show you here, but the fabric is black, and you'd all think I was doing that to hide my mistakes. I promise, I'll show you on some bright fabric sometime.
The cuff continues in 2x2 rib until I was pretty much out of yarn. I finished with Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off, which is extremely stretchy. Stretchy is crucial if you ever want to get the sock over your calf. I can show you that sometime too, if you like.

So anyway, basic socks, but the construction was pretty fun. And it's black, so if I knit in the movie theater, it doesn't matter, because I can't see the fabric anyway.

In Summary:

Pattern: See above
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock (100% superwash wool), black, 1 skein
Needles: Size US 1 (2.25 mm) dpn (set of 5)
Time: About two weeks, I think
Cost: Around $20

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Questionable Stew

So, I actually cooked tonight. It's terrible that I've been reduced to this, because it means I haven't been to the grocery store in forever, and when I do go, it's going to be a perilous expedition. But tonight, tonight I made an ill-advised stew that actually came out okay. Would you like the recipe?

1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup with Roasted Garlic
1 can of water to mix soup (or milk, if you have been shopping recently)
2 packages Veggie crumbles
2 single serve packages of frozen microwave peas, thawed in microwave
2 single serve packages of frozen broccoli and carrots in Italian seasoning, thawed in microwave
1 can of garbonzo beans, not drained, especially if stew looks thick and you've added too much salt
salt, paprika, and assorted Italian seasonings to taste

Mix in large soup pan and heat until edible.

Makes a large vat that you can eat for several days, further delaying grocery trip.

Surprisingly, my kitchen adventures actually turned out pretty well. This is the sort of hearty stew that needs some nice thick bread and a beer with it. But let's face it, if I had beer and bread, I wouldn't need to cook.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Stealth Crochet

Part of what hasn't been appearing on this blog was my mom's Mother's Day gift, a crochet cotton bedspread for summer. I wrapped it all up in a cute wicker basket. Everyone go, "awwww" with me now.

Several forces conspired to get me to start this blanket. First, Lorna started doing a knitted log cabin blanket at the shop. Then Susan (blogless) from the Monday night group started crocheting something very similar. I thought it would be a great way to use up some scraps I had, and started doing a random version for myself. As I was working on it, I realized that my mom would like it a lot, except that my version had way too much green for her. So I took a little trip to the store and picked up some wonderful cheap cotton yarn in her colors.

It's not exactly a log cabin style blanket, because I think the log cabin style is less symmetric than this. I have a thing about symmetry. I also apparently have a thing about math, because this subconsciously worked out to be a golden rectangle. That was not the original plan, but I'm going to go with it.

However, since I am not very smart when it comes to planning, there was a bit of a frenzy on this one. My mom is going to be in Florida on actual Mother's Day. So instead of buying myself a few extra days to work on the blanket, I actually planned to give it to her nearly a week before. But I finished, she likes it, and Fred approves.

It's very important that Fred approves.

A note on the yarn - this is my favorite craft store yarn. Yes, you can get it for about $3.99 at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, even Walmart. It's still 100% cotton, incredibly soft, and machine washable. Bernat Cottontots all the way.

A note on the pattern - the stitch is a half - double crochet throughout. I made a center square, then added a row on top and bottom, then on either side. The colors alternate so that white and blue are always in the same round, and yellow and multi are in the same round. I had to be sure blue was on the outside, since that is my mom's favorite color. I'm also in love with crochet's ability to hide the ends as you go. Even with all those color changes, I only had two ends to weave in when I was done.

In summary:
Yarn: Bernat Cottontots (100% cotton), about 5 skeins each of blue, white, yellow, and multi
Pattern: Log cabin-esque crochet with half-double stitch, see above
Needles: Size I (5.5 mm) hook
Time: A few weeks of frenzied crocheting