Weekending with Yarn

A few months into 2013 and I realized that one of my goals is to take more classes, jump on more opportunities (like visiting every shop on the Rose City Yarn Crawl even if I do it solo). So when I learned that Sock Summit was no more  (so so so glad I managed to experience the first Sock Summit) I stopped waffling about the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival and jumped on the class I had been eyeing.

We started the Saturday off our usual way, muffins, tea and ‘tubing (as we have call browsing online). Those muffins, btw, were delicious – I have a standard muffin recipe that I have memorized, but I tried a new recipe that involved folding about 2/3 cup of jam into the batter and baking at a lower temperature for a longer time. They turned out delicious if a bit sticky, with pockets of jam getting all caramelized near the edges.

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I drove to Hood River on Saturday to take Carson Demer’s Ergonomics for Knitters class and experience a little bit of the CGFF. Because I was running a bit later than I wanted (muffins, internet…) I didn’t really have time to stop anywhere on the way there, I arrived about 25 minutes before my class which was just enough time to check-in, find the classroom and find a spot to eat my lunch. Then class, our classroom had a view of the Columbia River. Finally after class I went to the marketplace. Now, the CGFF has a lot of classes geared towards spinners and so the marketplace also is geared towards spinners. But there was also a good amount of handspun and/or hand-dyed yarn to purchase. The second booth I walked to I spotted what I wanted, but I was good and waited until I went around the entire marketplace. Then I was back in Lavender Sheep’s booth evaluating every fingering weight skein of the Mountain Sunset color that I could find. I settled on her Superwash Merino Wool sock yarn but was mighty tempted by a couple lace weights – I’m just not ready to go back to laceweight yet. And I totally forgot to go back to the BarMaids booth for a new travel size lo lo bar, luckily several shops in town carry that (but the booth at events always has the best scent selection). I don’t think I’ve managed to capture the color of this yarn in the dozen or so photos I snapped, so this will have to do.

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And I headed home. I wish I had been a passenger so I could snap some photos of the drive, because it is such a pretty drive even when you stick to the interstate. But I did make a 2 minute stop on the way home at Multnomah Falls, because how could I not? I snapped this (things I take photos of too often: my dog, moss on trees and waterfalls).

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April 26, 2013. Tags: . Knitting, Life. Leave a comment.

WIPW: sewing this and that

On my cutting table: a stack of fabrics waiting to be turned into a quilt-back, a yellow skirt waiting to be hemmed and a grey skirt waiting to be put back together. Both skirts hit my crafty to-do list back in January, but with Me-Made-May 2013 just around the corner (which I haven’t actually signed up for yet) I’m feeling a crunch.

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April 24, 2013. Tags: , . Sewing. 2 comments.

Rose City Yarn Crawl late recap

I wavered on whether or not I should do the yarn crawl. I spent most of last year on a yarn “diet”, trying to not buy yarn; but truthfully I still haven’t knit-down my stash to my satisfaction (frogging projects doesn’t help matters). But then that Thursday afternoon I thought, “I have the time now, so why not?”. I went and took some money out of the ATM with a goal of only spending that cash. I had a few things in mind that I was looking for (a few patterns I’ve been eyeing, a very specific skein of yarn). Due to my last minute decision this was a solo project.  Being solo was one of the reasons I was hesitant, 18 yarn shops, a few on the perimeters of the metro area (in my eye anyway), it felt a little bit wasteful. Also, the first year I just went to a couple shops, and while I am decidedly an introvert, I still find it hard to do solo events when I am surrounded by groups of buddies. But I rallied my spirits, swallowed my pride and did it by myself.

I’m so glad I did. I visited shops that I wouldn’t have (even though sometimes I do go on epic yarn-hunts in the city searching for that perfect yarn for a project). And having some gorgeous nearly 60 degree and sunny weather didn’t hurt either. I visited all 18 shops, spread out over all four days (I also managed to go to PMQG’s all-day sew on Saturday too). And I splurged a little bit, but really I didn’t go very far over my initial budget. I got things I had been looking for (sock yarn, shawl pin) and things I had not (yarn, and my  perennial weakness, buttons). I made mental notes of many yarns that I want to try…eventually. I feel like I have better sense of different shops strengths & weaknesses. I got to hold a two-week old lamb!

I am sad to say, however I didn’t get any good shots of places/things that aren’t yarn-related (like the very cool leaning abandoned house in the country, darn you rain + truck following me or the bridge in Oregon City). The haul:

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Impulse yarn: Malabrigo Rastita in Indiecita. Planned yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock in White. Nifty notions from Hiya Hiya: pretty colored tapestry needles with bent tips (my fav tip) and interesting bulb shaped safety pins. A Shawl Pin. Vintage buttons. A fat quarter (I wonder how many yarn crawlers bought fabric). Patterns (it turns out I just got the patterns that were designed specifically for the crawl).

One of the things that attracted me to this particularly skein of Indiecita was the blends of blues and aquas. I knew from a past purchase of that colorway that it could vary quite a bit, and I wasn’t sure I’d find that combination again (or when). I never thought I’d fall for such a variegated yarn. Take a look (the shawl is knit out of malabrigo sock, but still):

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March 25, 2013. Tags: , , . Knitting, Life. 5 comments.

Finished it Friday

My late Madrona Road challenge. No chance of prizes for me, oh well, I’m glad it isn’t a UFO.

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See the earlier WIP here. I tried to make the puddles work, and to incorporate a little bit of selvedge from the fabric line, but it just wasn’t. So I simplified and finished it. I bought more grey fabric (Northcott though I don’t recall the exact color at the moment) just in case, but in the end I just barely eeked out the binding (2″ strip leftover) from my first yard. I trimmed it to be around 27″ x 29″ and now I need to decided where to hang it in the house. I should probably title it PNW Spring, though I called it Raindrops at show n tell last night.

March 22, 2013. Tags: , , . quilting. 3 comments.

Project stall

I thought Rosie the bear was going to be a quick knit. By yardage it is, but I’ve stumbled and stalled a few times on this project. Missing my deadline didn’t help (though if my SIL doesn’t say anything I doubt my niece will notice I got her first birthday present to her rather late).

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I ended up ripping out half the head and reknitting it. I stopped to experiment with different increase and decrease methods, because for some reason I couldn’t keep them straight in my head and couldn’t bring myself to trust my trusted reference sources. My bear head is so much the better for my patience regarding this shaping.

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And now I’m over the hump, both arms are done, Rosie just needs some end weaving, stuffing and eyes/nose/mouth embroidery. Hopefully I didn’t jinx myself with the word just.

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March 19, 2013. Tags: . Knitting. Leave a comment.

One Pan Blondies (and yarn)

A couple weeks ago I had a hankering for some blondies. I have a few different recipes (Vanilla Garlic, Smitten Kitchen that I go to regularly, well as regularly as I make blondies) but I had also bookmarked this recipe, and that day it caught my eye because you only need one pan. A 10″ cast iron skillet (how awesome are 10″ cast iron skillets?). I did end up using a second pan to toast my pecans, but if I had decided on nuts ahead of time I could have done that before I melted the butter.  Oh, and the other joy of blondies, it is a cookie you can make from frozen butter (I generally have a couple pounds of butter in the freezer) and it is so very adaptable to mix-ins. Since I didn’t quite follow theKitchn recipe I’m going to write out my version.

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Blondies riffed from theKitchn Skillet Blondies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted, lightly chopped pecans (or your favorite nut)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup candied* or crystallized ginger, chopped (aim for chocolate chip size)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Toast your nuts in the cast iron skillet in the oven. This takes around 5 minutes depending on the nut, shake a few times, sniff often. Remove the nuts from the pan and set the pan on the stove-top. Add your stick of butter and let it melt. Once it is melted add the brown sugar and stir (until dissolved says the recipe, mine never dissolved so I just made sure it was well mixed). While that happens grab everything else and chop or measure as needed. Pour and scrap the butter-sugar mixture into a bowl, let it cool a little bit before add the egg and vanilla extract. Add your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, espresso powder) and stir together. Mix in your mix-ins. The chocolate chips will probably melt a little bit. Pour back into the cast iron skillet, you will probably need to press it down a little bit to make sure the batter is an even thickness. Bake around 20-25 minutes. Let it cool before slicing.

* I’m partial to a Trader Joe’s product called “Uncrystallized Candied Ginger” and it’s generally sold along side their dried fruits (when they stock it at all, which sadly they don’t).

I already have plans for tweaking the next batch, but one thing that is definitely staying is the candied ginger, every bite I got with a bit of ginger was so awesome (admittedly, I am a ginger-aholic – but it didn’t scream ginger to me, just a nice warmth and zing) I sliced it into 12 or 16 wedges and only had a few leftover (the picture above is the morning after baking).

What about that yarn? Well I brought these to what is normally my knit night, though that evening my LYS was hosting a yarn tasting of Shibui yarn. We got to check out sample garments and play with mini skeins of 7 different Shibui yarns. One of the sweaters caused me to exclaim, “I want to swim in a bathtub full of this!” it was so luscious and soft and drapey. I didn’t get very far on my own swatches and so I’m still quite a bit undecided about exactly what combination I want to work with the most (or what project) but I think that Silk Cloud will probably be in that mix.

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This photo below gives a slightly better representation of the three mixes I swatched so far.

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I started with Staccato, then Staccato + Silk Cloud and then Silk Cloud + Cima.

March 19, 2013. Tags: , . baking, Knitting. 2 comments.

Last Weekend

Last Friday it was sunny and 60 degrees, so I made an afternoon of it and treated myself to a couple of my favorite things in the city: Cool Cottons for fabric shopping and Cool Moon for ice cream.
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Fabric for an impulsive new project, one stash-enhancement piece, an impulsive fabric piece, more grey to complete a project, and another owl print for my eventual owl quilt.

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Strawberry Sorbet and Butter Almond Brickle. Not a particularly winning combo, but sometimes I pick two micro-scoops simply so I can indulge in two flavors.

On Saturday we lingered too long in the morning, and the weather turned from dry to wet on our walk to get waffles. Instead of turning back for home we carried on anyway. For the first time I noticed the yard with the huge garden had bee hives.

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After eating our waffles, it was still raining, so we opted to head home instead of continuing to explore on foot as originally planned. The sky was misleading but pretty.

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Directly above us it was raining and grey (the dark upper left corner is my hand trying to block drops from hitting the lens).

Of course we had forgotten our raincoats, so we got rather wet on our walk, my glasses looked like this.

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This is the one thing I hate about wearing glasses.

I ran errands. And then I finally got to make a treat I’ve been dreaming of for a while, a savory small bite. I’m not sure when I bookmarked the recipe, and I was in such a hurry when they finished I never snapped a photo (also it was dark). Blue cheese savouries with rosemary-rhubarb jam (homemade last summer, I’m sure any jam that pairs well with blue cheese would work). The recipe has you roll them out into tiny round crackers, but I formed mine like thumbprint cookies and piped jam into the center. Due to the size my yield changed (IIRC I got about 60 “cookies” from a double batch) and the bake time was closer to 15-18 minutes instead of 10 (also they tasted better slightly over-baked than under-baked). They were delicious and received with rave reviews.

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Blue Cheese Savouries ready for the oven.

And then our Sunday morning looked like this (it often does, really the only variation is what type of tea you will find in our mugs, that morning it was Mt Hood Vanilla black tea with a splash of milk).
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February 22, 2013. Tags: . Life. 3 comments.

WIP Wednesday: Rosie

I’m making my niece a stuffed bear. This pattern has been on my list for a while, originally I was going to use some stash yarn, but I worried about gauge and the yarn is very pale, not good for a bear that will hopefully be loved a lot.

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I snapped this photo last weekend, now I’m onto the bear’s head. I’ve stumbled a few times, questioning the way the pattern is written (which is fine, I just wanted to do things a little differently, and due to the magic of Ravelry I was able to confirm with the pattern designer that I wouldn’t screw it up making those changes). I wish I had done a provisional cast-on, but I hadn’t. However in stockinette you can un-work the cast-on (or snip a stitch and un-work a row), then put the newly liberated live stitches on your needles and proceed. I’ve heard that un-working the cast-on can be horribly tedious, so I tested it out. Not easy, but not too bad over the course of a couple easy to follow tv shows. I did a test run before diving in on my work, because while you can always frog and re-knit I’m on a timeline.

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Testing with a 20 stitch tube instead of something 3 times that. If you look closely you might notice that the live stitches are not quite lined up – what constitutes a column of knit stitches changes depending on which edge you look at – that is ok for stockinette.

February 20, 2013. Tags: , . Knitting. Leave a comment.

Imperfect

Perfect is the enemy of done. Done is better than perfect. Except most of the time when I try to remind myself of this fact, I transpose the two words and say to myself, “perfect is better than done.” Seriously, nine times out of ten. I try to think of this often as I set about quilting (maybe an odd choice, since sometimes quilting seems so focused on perfect 1/4″ seams and perfect points and corners) so when I was reading over the PMQG Madrona Road challenge, incorporate a word into your quilt, this idea of imperfection came to me. I don’t play with letters much in quilting; but I settled on imperfect for my word. I sketched a few things out (all too literal) but then got the itch to make Tula Pink’s raindrop quilt from her new book, Quilts from the House of Tula Pink.

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Well, except for the fact that I had 7 fat eights, so clearly I wasn’t getting a whole quilt. And then there was the tricky matter of bad formatting in the e-book that I had borrowed from the library, the list of fabric amounts and fabric cuts had some sort of bug, causing the numbers with fractions to be smushed together. I could have converted from the given metric measurements but I had another idea. Imperfect. Following the basic construction I decided that I would work on being imperfect in my quilting. Not quite improv, but close.

And so I started cutting rectangles. I wasn’t ready to abandon my rotary cutter and ruler, but I did not measure, simply used the guides to keep things square (baby steps). I placed those rectangles on my small design wall.

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And then I realized that I only had 1 yard of grey for my background – so I had to think smaller. I settled on one raindrop out of each fabric.

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There was a moment of crazy, when I thought 1″ squares were a good idea (I sewed two and then realized my error, so those tiny grey bits have gone to the scrap bin – ignore the crazy of keeping 1″ squares of fabric).

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And eventually I got stuck. The puddles (not part of the original inspiration piece but I had these thin strips of fabric and puddles seemed appropriate) were proving a little troublesome.  I’ve messed with them a little more since this photo, but nothing has struck me as right.

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And so it sits – for the past week. Which wouldn’t be too bad, but I feel like I can’t work on other projects until I get this top done. Oh, and there is that little thing called a deadline if I want to enter it in the larger Modern Quilt Guild’s Madrona Road challenge. I need to refocus on my word, imperfect, and get a move on it.

January 29, 2013. Tags: , , . quilting. 2 comments.

Weekending

A blog I read, Becoming Gezellig, has a recurring theme post she calls weekending – I enjoy these short glimpses into her life. And sometimes I just want to document random bits of these I see, a place for my too numerous photos of clouds, moss and such. And so, I am copying her on occasion, if a bit late this week for documenting this past weekend.

On Saturday it was very cold but sunny, and we’ve been trying to incorporate more long walks, taking advantage of the sunshine and dry weather (I also had this idea to go check out some bridge construction). We bundled up and set off shortly after noon.

Frost (semi-rare here) had only melted where the sun hit.
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Some of the older neighborhoods have rings embedded in the sidewalks (horse hitches?), a few also have children’s plastic figurines hooked to these rings. These figurines always make me smile.
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We also have sidewalk stairs around town (and a book devoted to them, The Portland Stairs Book). It often feels like you are walking in someone’s yard when you take these stairs, hopefully I won’t make that gaffe on a walk. Portions of the stairs were in the shade, but luckily they were still dry, or our walk would have been much longer, zig-zagging down the hill along the roads.
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Moss photo #12,345 or something like that, this one of the boring concrete barrier that blocks the road from the path narrow path below and alongside it.
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I liked the contrast of the yellow hook against the blue sky.
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The destination of our walk, watching the Sellwood Bridge move (we actually did get to see an inch or so move, but just seeing the bridge detached was wild, I can’t imagine how freaky it was to being on it during the process, a process that took something like 15 hours). Crowds had collected on both sides of the bridge.
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Huge tree trunk (yet another one of my goofy picture themes, tree photo here but you get less sense of the scale).
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And it was good mountain viewing day (not always the case on sunny days, sometimes we have sun but still too much cloud cover to see the mountains). On Sunday Mt. Hood was even prettier glistening in the sun, but I didn’t have my camera on me when I noticed it.
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We finished off an excellent Saturday with a trip to Powell’s and dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

January 24, 2013. Tags: . Life. 2 comments.

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