Thursday, July 31

Yarn Wallpaper

Thought I'd pass along a neat find from Vogue Knitting. I was looking at their website tonight, which I hardly ever think to do, and found free downloadable computer wallpaper with pictures of yarn and knitted fabric. You can find them here; there are some great photos and they don't even had ugly advertising all over them. Go see!

Wednesday, July 23

Summer is in Full Swing

I’ve been busy lately. Not just with work like usual – but fun stuff too. Two weekends ago we enjoyed a Nascar weekend in Joliet. This was great because not only is the track close to my parents house so there are free accommodations and a short drive, but the race was at night so it wasn’t 50 million degrees in the stands.

Last Friday night, Steve and I went to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, IL. The fair was only open for three hours on Friday, and unfortunately it went by way too quickly. I spent most of my time trying out different spinning wheels. I think I have decided on the folding Lendrum. I just have to save my pennies now so I can have one sometime in the next decade!

While there were a lot of great vendors and things to see, I don’t think the fair was laid out very well or at least didn’t have good signage. There was a map in the program, but we just glanced at it and then wandered around. Just when we thought we had seen everything and were on our way out, we would turn a corner and found more booths. We ended up running out of time and not seeing a lot of the vendors. In fact, I didn’t realize until we got home and I was reading through the program that there were vendors on the second floor! (My bank account is grateful for this.)

I ended up with two skeins of yarn, which I will tell you about in another post, since this is getting a little long already.

After the fiber fair, we met some family down in the southern Illinois/St. Louis MO area. We all went to another Nascar Busch Nationwide race on Saturday night and spent a few hours Sunday exploring St. Charles, MO. I found a great yarn store and just had to stop by. (Isn’t that the first thing you do when staying at a hotel in a new town? Look up “yarn” in the phone book?)

It was called Knit & Caboodle and they had literally rooms of yarn, plus lots of books and patterns. I could have spent hours looking through all of the yarn, but since I was dragging 5 people with me (they were such good sports!) I picked out a pattern (Berroco's Beaujolais from booklet #255) and tragically left without any yarn at all. I’d love to go back some day.

I wanted an easy, mindless project to work on during the 5 hour drive to St. Louis. It is hard to concentrate, or even stay remotely comfortable, for any length of time with four tall adults squeezed into a Jetta! None of my current works in progress (which would be two – Mom’s broadripple socks and a sweater that I had just cast on for) fit the bill. So I found my ball of Malabrigo and started a scarf.


Because a wool scarf is what you are supposed to knit when it is 90 degrees F and you are crammed in the backseat of a car. Right?

Wednesday, July 16

Finished: Something Red

Actually, I should call this "Something Slate".

"Something Red" sweater

I am very happy with this sweater, even though it took me forever to finish. I checked my notes and it was started way back on October 5 of last year! Sheesh. In my defense, I didn't work on it for a number of months while I was knitting Christmas, Mother's Day, and Father's Day gifts for people. Then I didn't knit it some more once the weather turned warm, since it is rather uncomfortable to have a pile of alpaca on your lap in the summer. But I got to the point where I just wanted it finished already and I'm happy I did - now it is ready to wear once fall is here.

"Something Red" sweater

Knit and Tonic's Something Red (Ravelry link)
Elsebeth Lavold's Classic AL yarn, 50% baby alpaca/50% merino wool, purchased from WEBS at Stitches Midwest last summer. (Check it out - they have it for $3.49 a ball!)
Knit Picks Options size US5 needles
Started: October 5, 2007
Finished: July 6, 2008

"Something Red" sweater

I have to admit that while this yarn feels very very soft, I could feel some little hairs poking me around the camisole I was wearing under it when these photos were taken. But that could also have been because I was trying to wear an alpaca and wool sweater in 90F weather. We'll see how it goes in a more appropriate environment.

(ETA: I am horrified by how chunky I look in these photos. Unfortunately I don't think it is just the photos either, as most of my summer clothes are snug. Blech.)

Finished: Utopia Hat

Utopia Cabled Hat

This is my Utopia Cabled Hat from SmarieK (on ravelry), made from leftover Cascade 220 Tweed. Do you recognize the yarn? It's from my Bluebell Boatneck sweater.

This only took me three days to finish. It would have been two, but I discovered an incorrectly crossed cable that I had to fix and then decided to made a few changes to the pattern. Still, a fast and satisfying knit.

(Incidentally, the main change I made was to the K6 after the last cable crossing going into the decrease section. I switched it to k2 p2 k2 to divide the ribs back into two and match the ribbing at the beginning. A small thing, but I think it looks much better.)

Thursday, July 10

Good new for knitting fans, bad news for Star Trek fans.

I finished my Something Red sweater a few nights ago. It’s blocking now, and I hope to have the button sewn on and photos taken tonight. It grew more than I was expecting after getting wet. We'll see how it fits after it is dry. I'm a little apprehensive - I was hoping that I made something that wasn't too big for once!

Not surprisingly, I have already started my next project. I wanted some quick knitting satisfaction, so I chose the Utopia Cabled Hat by SmarieK (on Rav).

Utopia Cabled Hat

I am using the remaining ball of yarn from my Bluebell Boatneck Sweater. Yay for stash busting!

As for the bad news, I read (on Ravelry of course, because what else would I be doing at work?) that the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton in Vegas is closing September 1, 2008.

I know this isn't really a big deal in the grand scheme of things. BUT when Steve and I were out there last October we didn’t have time to go through the Experience, although we ate at Quark’s Bar. It runs for 10 years, and I don't get to see it?! Not fair!

Star Trek @ The Hilton

Now to formulate a plan to get out there before September…

Sunday, July 6

Major Ugh.

I really thought I was going to finally finish my Something Red sweater this weekend. In fact, I did, but things didn't work out quite right.

The button band and collar turned out a little funky. I didn't pick up enough stitches down the front edges of the cardigan for the button band, and I think I did a few too many short rows on the back of the neck. It is a little too high on the back of my neck.

button band too short!

I did try it on while working on the button band but I was too lazy to put it on a string or second circular so I could stretch it out all the way. I did look like it would fit while it was bunched up along the circular I was using, honest! Oh well, that'll teach me.

While working the body of the sweater I slipped the end stitches so there was a nice chain of one stitch per two rows for me to pick up. This appeared to work out so perfectly, and I picked up exactly 200 stitches which is what the pattern called for. I was so psyched about how easy it was that it didn't even occur to me that maybe I should have more stitches, since I made the body longer than the pattern called for. Well, dang.

I was looking forward to starting something new once this was finished, and I was so close to shoving this in a closet and pulling out some new yarn. But I am a good girl, or realistic at least, and I know this will never get finished if I don't do it now.

So it's already ripped and the band picked up again. I ignored my slip stitch chain and used the standard pick up 3 out of 4 stitches. I am going to go down one needle size to make sure it doesn't flare out but it already looks better than before.

Friday, July 4

Holiday weekend picnic food!

Hard to believe (for me, anyway) that it is already July 4th. We traditionally do a picnic with lots of yummy food, usually at a forest preserve or state park, and then go watch fireworks.

One dish I have brought for the last few years is Taffy Apple Salad. This is so delicious and tastes so much like a taffy apple it is incredible. I admit that the ingredient list looks a little bizarre; it is hard to imagine that it will taste like a taffy apple at the end! This is also gluten-free, since I do not want to be responsible for poisoning my mom!

taffy apple salad

Taffy Apple Salad
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
4 large apples, cored and diced with peel (I use 2 red delicious and 2 granny smith, for extra color)
1.5 cups Spanish peanuts (variable to your taste; I think 2 cups is too much, hubby thinks 1 is too little)
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip

In a medium saucepan combine the cornstarch, sugar, egg yolk, vinegar and reserved pineapple juice. Cook over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the apples, pineapple, Spanish peanuts, and cooled cooked mixture. Fold in Cool Whip and chill for at least 1 hour before serving, preferably overnight.

Enjoy, and a happy 4th to everyone in the US!