Thursday, October 30, 2008


When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping.
Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.
-Elayne Boosler

Knitting for men is hard!

I'm having a bit of a dilemma. I believe I mentioned that my second anniversary is exactly 250 days away. And we all know that the second anniversary is one of the knitter's anniversaries - cotton. (This is not a secret, if you're worried that the sandstorms have calmed down and my husband's internet might actually be working, by the way.) Well, I've been trying to prepare. And this is the scene:Pure chaos. I had ordered the yarn for the Tree Bark Pullover, which no one seems to have ever made. I've loved this sweater ever since the magazine came in 2002. But we (the husband-recipient and I) thought maybe some nice neutrals.See the problem? That brownish musk color is a non-starter, so just look at the other two. Apparently color cards from 2001 aren't entirely accurate since my color #104 looks exactly like the color #103 on the card - the strange green-ish undertone to the khaki. Ugh. Not a good color. Time to explore Ram Wools' return policy . . . Although the ivory and musk were from Webs and I think will be repurposed as baby yarns.

So now I'm left reconsidering everything about this project. The pattern. Definitely the yarn. OK, let's think. Yup, you too.

What do we need? A sweater. In cotton (the 2nd anniversary thing, plus he might actually get to wear it while we're still living in San Diego).

What else? Well, he does seem to have somewhat more adventurous (but still classic) taste in clothing than the husbands of my knitting group friends. Note - he bought no fewer than FIVE Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii. And he really likes heavily patterned designs. I tried to talk him into a Cobblestone once, but he thought that was too boring. "What was the point of knitting it if you could buy something like it?" He even bought a traditional Aran sweater in the British Isles, way before meeting me.

Option 1: Stick with the husband-approved Tree Bark sweater, but in the original colors as pictured in the link above.
Pro: Who needs neutrals when it looks so nice in blue and green?
Con: The last sweater I made him was green.

Option 2: Go with second-choice Anniversary Sweater from Knitty, in a yarn to be determined. Rowan All-Seasons Cotton perhaps.
Pro: Easy pattern to memorize, even if it is a lot of cables.
Con: What yarn? And no one on Ravelry seems very happy with their finished project - a big red flag.

Option 3: Perhaps the most daunting option - a cabled Aran. When asked to point out patterns he liked, the sweater-loving husband loved Kristin Nicholas (good taste, right?) and her book Knitting the New Classics. While "new" is a misnomer, most of the (cable) patterns transcend the early nineties.
Some contenders (Rav links): Banjo Pullover (I have a Jo Sharp DK cotton in a bright Navy that would work), Evergreen Aran, Aran Family Cardigan (and there's a matching women's cardigan!)
Yarn Matches: most of these are made in a cotton-wool blend, so Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, or Rowan Wool Cotton or All-Seasons Cotton, perhaps
Pros: lots of lovely cables
Cons: lots of lovely cables

Wow - long post. Please give me any input on this most difficult of decisions. In the meantime, start getting excited. Tomorrow is my last CCU call of the month AND I'm doing NaBloPoMo again. Welcome to November!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Say It Isn't So!

Many things - such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly -
are done worst when we try hardest to do them.
-C.S. Lewis

I'm tired. Too tired even to knit. I know, crazy, right? A month of call every third night is finally catching up with me. But I do have a teaser of good things to come . . . And now, back to my previously scheduled presentation writing. Yup, that presentation that I sort of forgot about, until now. Oops. The good news? It's almost November, and my schedule's about to get much better. One more week . . .

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Falling Off the Wagon

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs;
it's jolted by every pebble in the road.
-Henry Ward Beecher

. . . The stash wagon, that is.
And so it begins. (Yup, there's more on the way.) The problem with developing a passion for colorwork is that it requires so many colors. Might seem obvious, but I just ordered the yarn for the Bondegard pullover, a baby sweater that requires 15 colors of Dale Baby Ull. Yes, that's right - One-five. And it requires 2 balls of a few of those. So you know that most of them only need about 30 yards of that color, but it's absolutely integral to the design.

Why did I order them now, you might ask? There were a lot of changes to the baby ull color line in the last year, and some of the colors were discontinued. I snapped them up while I could.

And that's not all . . . a sweater's worth of yarn for my husband's second anniversary sweater is coming. Let's just say I qualified for the Webs 25% discount . . .

The stash is there for knitting, right?

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Taste of Fall

Life is partly what we make it,
and partly what is made by the friends we choose.

-Tennessee Williams

I guess you know you had a fun night when you wake up to a sink full of empty wine glasses. I had some friends over for dinner last night for some yummy new recipes, good conversation, and even a little knitting. One friend just pulled back into port after a joint exercise in Canada (turns out they have a bar and a velvet Elvis portrait in the officers' mess on Canadian ships!), and the other friend is my deployment buddy. My husband and her fiance are hanging out in the same coffee shop in Iraq, so we're getting a lot of pedicures and watching Veronica Mars. Living up the girl fun while the guys are away.

Since my knitting was limited to simple stockinette socks last night (Did I mention we enjoyed a lot of wine?), I'll share with you my new favorite autumn dessert. This was amazing - like pumpkin pie and apple crisp all at once.

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake
from Bon Appetit, October 2001 (wow - that's been in the "to-try" file for a long time!)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups diced peeled cored Granny Smith apples (about 4 large)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

11/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs

Vanilla ice cream

For apples:
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; sauté until apples begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes longer. Cool.

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside 2/3 cup of mixture for topping. Beat pumpkin, sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, spice, and baking soda into remaining flour mixture, beating just until smooth. Beat in eggs. Transfer batter to pan. Scatter apples evenly over top. Sprinkle reserved topping over apples.

Bake cake until topping is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 20 minutes. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides from cake. Transfer cake to platter. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Funny Feet

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
-William Cullen Bryant

I warned you that a summer of much knitting and little blogging would leave a large pile of knits to go through. For me, the hardest part is going to be remembering what I have or have not taken photos of. The second hardest part is that they are competing with all my current projects.

In honor of Socktoberfest I picked four pairs of socks that I'm going to make, and just cast on for the Williams Street Socks from Knitting Daily last night. Even toe up, like the pattern is written (which is true dedication on my part, since I do not love toe-up socks).

Since, as you might expect of someone who had one sock in progress and then cast on for three more, that equals three single socks, 3 partial cuffs, and a single toe, I'll go back and show you some of my summer socks.

First, the not-quite-so-boring work pair:

Uniform Socks
Pattern: basic rib
Yarn: Wildfoote in black, and unknown remnants in blue (Sisik?) and yellow (pretty sure this is Regia)
Needles: US 1
Notes: As you note, the contrast heel starts halfway down the heel, so as not to poke out of shoes. The toes are a happy accident due to being worried about running out of the blue.
Best Thing About This Project: Definitely my new favorite work socks.

More Fraternal Twins
Pattern: Standard Stockinette
Yarn: won from Beth in a blog contest a while back
Needles: US 2 Lantern Moon sock sticks (which are so going on my Christmas list)
Notes: There are 3 colors here - two solids and a varigated. I had planned to do the stashbuster spirals, but the colors were too close in value and the pattern was invisible. So I embraced simplicity and went with fraternal twins.
Best Thing About This Project: I love using my special yarns.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Best

Sir, Sunday morning, although occurring at regular and well forseen intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise.
-William S. Gilbert

This post will consist of two parts. The first will be random observations about having my husband deployed. The second will consist of lots of knitting.

Observations about having my husband deployed
  1. Random strangers can be very nice about helping you lift bookcases into the back of your car.
  2. Why is it that I suddenly felt the compelling desire to go buy bookcases immediately after my husband left?
  3. I've had them for 3 days and still not put them together.
  4. The fraud prevention people from the credit card were going crazy.
  5. If you or your spouse deploys, you might want to call them and let them know. Otherwise they will call hourly for 2 days straight.
  6. Good to know that someone's paying attention.
  7. A heated mattress pad was the best idea ever.
  8. I don't eat half of what we when he's home; it's more like 1/3.
  9. Guess I don't have to go grocery shopping again for a couple of weeks.
  10. It's rather astounding how many cheesy romantic comedies and NCIS episodes the DVR can hold . . .
  11. And, you can even send flowers from Iraq. Lucky me :)
Works-in-Progress (wahoo conference knitting!)

I took a big black bag with me to the conference, and alternated projects, roughly by lecture. Over 2 1/2 days, I knit

11 inches of sleeve for Park Citythe entire center part of the Swallowtail shawl (which is 1/2 the total, according to the handy-dandy shawl calculator here, which tells me that the border will be in a complementary color)
all but the toe of my second Socktoberfest pair of socks, Old Navy (yup, seemed appropriate)
And that's just what I took with me . . .

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Good Things Come in Pairs

Pair off in threes.
-Yogi Berra

I'm at a conference this weekend, which means a good amount of knitting time and a lot of mandatory fun. So we'll continue the review of summer fun and expect some well-along WIPs next week. I went through a baby knitting phase over the summer, completely sparked by this sweater. My college roommate's very adorable baby is a happy model of handknits (including at my wedding - I knew teaching her how to knit was a good idea!), and they're a cotton-only kind of family who also happen to like bright colors. Add in this cheerful sweater, and it was the perfect first birthday present.

But then I had a moral crisis. How could I give this sweater to the very deserving recipient of adorable handknit baby sweaters? I liked it too much. So I made another one, just by alternating the two blues.

Colorful Baby Set
Pattern: a kit from Lionbrand that I bought on clearance when the old put-up of Cotton-Ease was being discontinued
Yarn: the Cotton Ease in the kit - 5 colors (yes, I bought a lot of it when it went on clearance)
Needles: US 7
Notes: I knit it in the round up to the armholes, and knit the sleeves in the round for ease of finishing. Still a lot of ends to weave in.
Best Thing About This Project: I'm waiting for the true finished object photo - modeled. It won't be long.

We haven't even scratched the surface of my blogging backlog . . . And the knitting continues.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Building Barns

It will not always be summer; build barns.

Sometimes, the amount of yarn I have is terrifying. Sometimes, it's delightful. Lately I've been doing a bit of stash-diving, including knitting great projects with odd balls so odd (and small and partial) they weren't even on the stash spreadsheet. (They were, however, taking up space.) Before we get into all those "somethings for nothing," here are two adorable sweaters from sometime back in the summer.
Stripey Baby Sweaters
Super-Natural Stripes by fPea (available free here)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, conveniently found in the stash in complementary colors
Needles: US 6
Notes: Easy, fun, and super cute.
Best Thing About This Project: It'd be hard to separate these sweaters. Any twin boys out there?

This was a great project. So great, I almost contemplated making more (yup, I still have some Cotton Fleece out there), but two just about held my interest.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

A Winner!

Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold.
-Yiddish Proverb

Wahoo, I'm a winner!
After lusting after box bags for the past several years, I finally got one. And without having to test out my rusty sewing skills. I won a blog contest over at bySarah, with my fabulous Jersey Summer Peach Salsa (recipe on Sarah's blog here).So I love my box bag, the sock yarn, the tea and biscotti, and the stitch markers - all in coordinating colors - but what makes this so perfect is that Sarah is actually my blog twin. We knit the same projects. Lately we've been cooking. And I get a Rhode Island fix by reading her blog. Good times all around.

In honor of Socktoberfest, here's my first of four intended pairs of socks to celebrate. I've been in the mood to knit simple things lately (the Dale is just hanging out in its basket), and these Garter Rib Socks are fitting the bill. I've decided that Koigu is it's own reward, even in a delightfully simple pattern.And, one more thing, speaking of cooking - check out the pumpkin bread: Pumpkin bread may also be its own reward, but it's even better in heart-shaped pans bound for Iraq. And he wondered why I put them on the wedding registry . . .

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Summer Scarves

The best thing one can do when it's raining is let it rain.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Yesterday was my day off and I had all kinds of good intentions to round up the WIPs and dangle them out for the world to see. (True confessions: I had a bout of startitis when my husband deployed. It's a common stress reaction, I find.) But I was stymied by . . . the weather! Clouds. Cool breezes. Threatening rain even. So exciting I'm almost beside myself. I even baked pumpkin bread in honor of the occasion (try the recipe here - it's like a very yummy pumpkin spice bread). So it was too overcast to photograph the new goodies - mittens and Socktoberfest socks and knitting with beads and oh-my-so-much-knitting-fun.

Let's revisit some summer knits then, in honor of the fact that it might actually even rain today in San Diego:

My yarn of the month for (gulp!) June was this hank of laceweight from Morehouse Merino farms. It had been gifted to me by a friend, and marinating in the stash since either my last year of college or first year of med school (circa 2001-2003). It's a lovely single ply in bright, hand-dyed colors, and finally I got to use it.

Merino Ribbon Scarf
Lace Ribbon Scarf from Knitty, Spring 2008
Yarn: Morehouse Merino laceweight, 1 hank, Santa Fe colorway
Needles: US 6 or 7, I forget
Notes: Great, easily memorized pattern. I'm not in love with the color flashing across the scarf, but I did enjoy knitting it.
Best Thing About This Project: Memories of a sunny summer in Providence, all brought back while knitting it.

I cannot at all recall when I finished this second summer scarf. I do know that I was working on it during the trip to Pennsylvania for my wedding in April, so it's been a while. It was a great portable project, as well, with just enough interest.

Lacy Kerchief
Lacy Kerchief from Interweave Knits, Summer 2005 (a great issue)
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, old put up, colorway Candy Blue
Needles: US 8
Notes: I didn't make this quite as long as called for in the pattern, and it's still very very long. With the garter stitch, though, it's very scrunchy and looks great wrapped.
Best Thing About This Project: I love this color.

Now I'm heading out to see if I can catch some rain. Wouldn't that be fun?


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Works in Progress

Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth
until the hour of separation.

-Khalil Gibran

Thanks for all the good thoughts you've sent to us - me on the homefront and my husband on deployment. I definitely plan on knitting to keep me busy while he's gone, and getting used to it is a bit of a work in progress.

As the long time readers remember, last year when he was away I knit him the Dale of Norway Salt Lake City sweater, and a bonus welcome home present of the River Forest Gansey (same post). Is that why you're all wondering what I'll knit him this year? Well, our second anniversary is coming up next summer (probably right after he gets home), and the second anniversary is COTTON. So, a sweater of course. I gave him a few pattern options and we decided on the Tree Bark Pullover from an old IK (Rav link here). I'll be making it in Mission Falls 1824 cotton like it calls for - I think it's a good match, but in more subtle colors - ivory and sand. Should be classy.

I will, of course, have to order the yarn for this project. Which is worth it. Especially because I've been making really good progress on the stash. I'm now down to 469.5 skeins and 95,560 yards, with lots of stuff on the needles. Now that I'm under 100,000 yards, I have to start thinking about how big my stash should be at a comfortable size. I know I'm not there yet, but it's getting close.

Over the next couple of weeks we'll catch up on all those FOs that have eaten up the stash, but for today I'll start with a photo of my favorite work-in-progress:I get a Dale of Norway sweater, too. This is my Park City (Rav link), which is from the same year as Salt Lake City. As a bonus, my sweater is way faster than the sweater for my 6' tall husband - it's flying along!

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