Monday, February 28, 2011

I make bread

I've been experimenting with bread making over the last year or so.  I started with making the dough in the bread machine and shaping and baking in the oven. Then my bread machine went kaput.

I thought they looked good and I know they tasted fine! Then I went on to making dough for pizza too.

Turns out my favorite toppings are chicken, onions, and green peppers. Can you tell I lean more to the Chicago style rather than the thin NY style pizza.

I discovered cheese as a bread topper. Man do I love cheese on almost everything.

More recently I've been experimenting with a different style of bread. Instead of mixing everything and letting it rise a couple of times, you mix the liquids and part of the flour and yeast, cover it with the rest of the flour and yeast mixed and let it develop for a few hours. The liquid portion bubbles up through the flour layer. It feels a bit like chemistry class, although I don't remember baking bread in chem. lab.

The theory behind this method is that the flavor develops more. Now the first time I made this type of bread it took all day! Now it is not like I was in the kitchen working all day, but I did not feel like I could make other plans while making this. Every few hours it wants your attention.

As you noticed there are no photos of the bread. Hmm I wonder why?

I'm looking forward to making more. And we discovered last night my bread makes excellent garlic toast too. I wonder if I can make good French toast too?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Knitting for warmer tea

Awhile back I knit a cup cozy for when we went camping. I first admired the pattern in Interweave Knits Holiday edition a few years ago. It worked as well as a cup open in the outdoor cold can work. 

Since D rejected the gold colored yarn on his sweater and I was looking for a quick easy project, I remembered the cozy.

Yeah I like this one too. It is so nice to start and finish a project in the same day. Feels like I really got something done with my day. I especially like to make a cup of tea and cozy it while knitting. It really helps keep the heat inside the house.

Some people like to knit hats as a quick project I like to make reverse hats for my cups. Does that make me weird or just a tea lover?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lessons learned in sweater class

So I had my first CPH class (Central Park Hoodie, a sweater) and wow am I in for a learning experience! Since I think of myself as a sock knitter that knits a few other items I will be getting my money's worth out of this class.

First lesson, and I did it right, was knit a swatch, a good sized swatch. As I am a very tight knitter, although not quite as tight as when I first started, I went up a needle size above the size recommended in the pattern. I did a couple of rows in garter stitch so my knitting would not curl on itself as much. I did about 5 inches widthwise and 4 inches height wise. Then I switched to the recommended needle size and knit a bit, and without thinking I bond off without knitting matching garter. At least I could tell where I started and where I ended. As a weierdo 'sockie' I instantly preferred the tighter knitting that was not gauge. Hey, what can I say tight to me means my socks will last longer, too bad it does not mean the same in sweaters. In sweaters it means something like wool body armor. Which is something I am not opposed to, but it may not be fashionable.

For the record my friend Kisknit made perfect swatches. So perfect they were held up as examples in class. I would hate her more if I did not know how much she stressed over getting the swatches just right. Perfection takes practice, and she did.

Second lesson, those diagram thingies at the end of some patterns are quite useful. I did not know that you could knit different size sleeves (to fit your arms) than the size sweater you're planning to knit. I thought if you made size X sweater the sleeves had to be size X too. Nope, it turns out if you have size X body and Size Z arms you can make your sweater the same way. Who knew? I am feeling a bit like this could be a weird FrankenSweater, with all mismatched parts.

Third lesson, I have no flippin' clue how to knit a sweater other than a top down raglan. Since I am the only one in the class not to have made a sweater that must be seamed up, I am feeling way out of my comfort zone. I am worried that I am going to spend a lot of time and money and not have a wearable item. I know I will not let this happen but I worry about it nonetheless.

Fourth lesson, I still have a lot to learn and I have 3 weeks till our next meeting and a sleeve and half of a back to complete in that time. Do you think avoidance therapy will help. I don't think knitting on other items will get me a sleeve and half back. Dang if only it could.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Working on it

Recently I finished some plain socks, one set for me and one set for D. I have been eying my sock yarn pile lately with much anticipation. I want to knit it all right now. But when I finish things I hit the pile hard and finishing 2 pairs within a couple of days compounds the cast on urge.

I bought Socks that Rock in 'Spy say Guacamolay', last summer at Twisted in Portland OR. D saw these the other night and asked what the colorway name is. He did not believe me when I told him. Our conclusion is that you must get bored naming colorways and you start to throw out random ones. 

While I love the way this yarn wears I am not the biggest fan of how the colors can pool together. It seems to me that the colors are meant to be knit in plain stockinette. So I calculated my gauge and cast on for a plain sock. Then I remembered a sock from Knitter's Book of Wool that I had been meaning to try out. Wavy socks.

The problem was I had started the cuff for a gauge of 7 stitches/inch, or in my case 64 stitches around. The pattern called for 72 stitches. I finished my ribbing and made 8 stitches. Volia, exactly what Cookie A told me not to do for the German Stocking. Well my friends this is not the German Stocking and I am cruising right along.

I know cables pull in and are less stretchy than stockinette. Now I feel like I should really try them on before I get too much farther. Does anyone else have a sense of foreboding now? It certainly makes for a pretty sock.

Once I finished D's socks and I changed the Guac sock to a patterned sock I cast on the above crazy yarn colors. Now this one will definitely be a plain sock. I think there are 4 or 5 colors partying in that yarn. I like working plain socks with interesting colors. We shall see how wacky they will turn out.

I am still ignoring the Rhombus socks for some unknown reason. I do know that eventually I will be consumed with knitting these up if my future holds up to what I have done in my past.

Oh and my Central Park Hoodie class starts tonight. So you will see my progress on that soon. I need to get my knitting bag in order before I go to class and make sure that I have all that I need.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gratuitous sock pictures

My knitting love weekend continued with a Cookie A class, Traveling Stitches. Hmm Yarn Voyage and Traveling Stitches, I think my knitting may have a theme. 

Cookie started off explaining that traveling stitches are stitches that move across your knitting, side to side, rather than stacked vertical knitting. To highlight what she was describing she passed around her socks. She started off with my first love German Stocking. I was a bad student because I interrupted class to ask for a picture. 

Hey I could not resist a picture of my favorite sock with its designer. I wanted to cast on for these when I found out she was coming, what can I say I am a suck up. However my lack of appropriate yarn held me back. I buy yarn for color and a multicolored yarn would not be good for these socks. I am thinking of making them in a plain undyed yarn. Now I just need to buy more yarn. You see my hold up right? Maybe I need to knit down the stash first.

I did get a picture of some of the socks being passed around the class. I did do a mad search of my house prior to leaving for class as I could not find my Monkey socks to wear. Luckily they were on the drying rack so they came to class with me.

Another gratuitous sock picture
 And like any good suck up I asked for a picture with Cookie. Hey my sweater compliments her hair. OK not quite right but still OK. All in all it was a great day and something I promised myself when I found Cookie's socks. "I will take a class from her if she comes anywhere near me."

Anyone else have the urge to cast on some socks now? Happy Knitting

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jungle Gym

Jack got a new house this weekend, well not really I think he got it a couple of months ago, but mom did not put it together for him. Bad Mommy!

I think he can dig it. I walked by while he was investigating and before I could get back with the camera he had hopped up and moved in.

Hey Mom the ball rattles!

D said it sounded like kitty pinball all day. 

Happy knitting or kitty pinball whichever you choose to do today.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Angora and the Goats

OK just so you all know, while I was in awe of Cookie A, but I was not rendered mute by starstrikes. I was able to get my name out and I even told her my favorite sock of hers. It is the German Stocking, but I have not knit it yet. I will pass on to you the advice I received from Cookie, don't fudge the stitch count and think that it will work. You know how sometimes when you have an extra stitch and you do not know were it came from? Well, apparently on this sock you can not K2tog (knit 2 together) and knit merrily along like it never happened. Bad things will happen (wonky sock), bad things (swearing knitter), just don't do it go back and fix it.

And on another note, I had my first knitting workshop with a famous knitter on Saturday. Kisknit and I took a 'Yarn Voyage' with Anne Hanson. We learned how to make wise choices when substituting yarn with a pattern. We are both excited to apply what we have learned. Now I am rethinking projects to see if my yarn characteristics are matched with what the project needs them to do.

She even made swatching sound awesome. She showed off her swatches and how changes, even subtle ones can make or break a project. We saw many gorgeous swatches and I did not think to pull out my camera at all. I admit that I am not anti-swatch but I do need to give the process a bit more attention and respect.

We were  classifying types of fiber, their properties and where they come from. One of the categories was Angora and the Goats, now I want to start a band and name it Angora and the Goats. Of course if naming tradition holds up, (Hootie and the Blowfish) that would make me Angora. I don't really feel like an Angora, I think of myself as more of a Cormo. Yeah I have no idea what that means either.

We had a lovely time and it really brought some things into focus for me. I had already learned a bit from  Knitters Book of Wool/Yarn but it was nice to be able to hear someone explain the things that I may have missed or not really understood. I feared that our class was a bit sedate but I felt like had more know-how and inspiration after the class.

Friday, February 11, 2011


D asks me this morning if I am going to need my Mom this evening. I give him my standard what-the-heck-are-you-talking-about look, since my Mom is in SD and it is not like I am having an emotional crisis, or anyone's birthday. Why would I need Mom tonight more than any other night?

You may want to get a cup of tea because I am taking the long way around. When I was growing up we did not take vacations because it is too difficult when you have a farm to take time off. In the summer Dad was always out in the fields and the animals always need to be fed. Neighbors can help out but they have their own work to do, so taking a week off is not something you really do when you have a small farm.

Once we moved off the farm money was very tight. I can remember my Mom having three jobs at the same time. So we obviously did not vacation then either.

Later in High School it was just down to Mom, Dad and me at home. They decided that we should see Nashville, Memphis and Branson MO. So into the car we went. I did not know why we were going to Branson till we got there. Turns out it is the 'Las Vegas' of country music, without the gambling. Each performer had their own theater. We chose to go to Charley Pride's new theater to see him perform. And since it was new he would be giving autographs after the show. We bought his biography and stood in line. When it was our turn we walked up and I walked up to the most intense eyes I have ever seen. I'm sorry but Paul Newman had nothing on Charley's eyes! He asked me what my name was so he could sign the book to me. Nothing, I could say and do nothing but look helplessly at my Mom. She told him my name and how to spell it. I do think that I managed to get out thank you but I am not sure. I have never been so star struck in all my life. Of course that could be because he is the only star I'm ever close to. But seriously his eyes were intense.

Tonight I am going to have my Knit, Sock, Love book signed by Cookie A and D was a bit afraid I will freeze up again in my second brush with stardom. Well Mom you have been warned if you get a strange call from me tonight just say my name clearly and spell it for Cookie, OK? Oh and I love you too.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Where is the end?

I finished out another book on CD in my car this week. I was listening to The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. I can honestly say I thought about giving up a couple of times but you know me, I hung in there till the bitter end. Turns out the end was not as bitter as the middle, the never ending middle. I had a hard time listening to the many descriptions of the knot of desire in Elizabeth's stomach. I do believe I uttered 'Oh Come On!' a few times.

I think it was trying too hard to be a romance novel without the romance novel writing skill. Because romance novel writing is a skill in my opinion, much like comedy is a skill. When done correctly and well it looks effortless. But when performed incorrectly it just comes off as haphazard, pathetic and stupid.

The author's note at the end helped me somewhat, but ultimately not enough. I understand why she felt free  to explore the what ifs, what if Elizabeth had an affair with Seymour, what if she got pregnant by him? But for me I found it unbelievable and unnecessary. Quite honestly I was thrilled when Seymour was sent to the tower so the the story could progress without him tormenting Elizabeth (or me.)

I just found it hard for a great historical writer to stray so far from her genre yet stay so close to the subject. I've read her historical books and really enjoyed them but I seriously doubt I will be checking out any other historical fiction by this author, sadly. I will continue to read her historical books as I believe they are the best. She is able to make British history come alive for me. I can even usually keep my good Dukes and bad Dukes (Not Dukes of Hazard) separate and identified.

All in all it was not awful but it could have been so much better. That reminds me I did not finish The Wars of the Roses maybe I will go dig that book out and fall in love with Ms Weir again.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow day

So I think winter finally got me. 

Work let us off early on Tuesday to avoid traffic troubles, hopefully. I made a quick trip to the grocery store since it is only a block away from my house. I wanted to get some things so I could cook on my snow day, Wednesday.

So I pull up facing my driveway with food in the trunk and I see way too much snow plowed in the end of the driveway and proceeded to have a conversation with myself. "I can make it to the garage, No I will get stuck, I can make it" then my car screamed at me Nooooooooo, I will get stuck and it will take way longer to dig me out! Remember the food in the trunk. 

I trudged my way to the garage on foot and fired up the snow thrower. No matter what way I turned the chute, snow flew at me. It took me a bit to realize it was forming a snow helmet. Man, snow helmets are cold!

This is what I am referring to as the never ending sweater, with Gus giving his opinion. Turns out he did not like it just about the same amount as his Daddy. 

D did not like the gold stripes so I am re knitting again. I will be so happy when I finish this sweater! No really, words can not describe how much I want it done! Why do you mock me?

This is what bread looks like when you make it the long way. It did taste good. One loaf went to work with me and was consumed there and the other was consumed at home with chicken spaghetti. Took 9 hours from start to pulling it out of the oven. Most of the time was waiting for the bread to do its thing but still that is what I call slow bread, or in this case snow day bread.

Oh and my first Central Park Hoodie class was canceled due to road conditions. I would like to start on something else now. Maybe I should just go work on one of my four in progress socks instead. I need to finish something soon!