Thursday, May 29, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

So now that I know I'm going to Japan, the cleansing can begin. There's no way I'm taking everything I own. I can't even take most of the stash, I'm realizing. My big current problem is that there's really not much room for me to pull things out and organize. I'm the kind of person who takes awhile to go through things and makes a HUGE mess in the process. Luckily, from my last move, quite a few things are already in the state they need to be in. The biggest couple of things are clothes and stash. How much of each should I take? What kind of dress code will there be for work? How much room will I actually have for packing things? Decisions, decisions. The sock and lace yarn is all definitely going. You always know that two skeins (or one, depending on the brand) of sock yarn will always give you a good pair of socks. You can also always find a pattern for any length of laceweight yarn, either scarf, small shawl, medium stole, or huge wrap. These things are all small volume- and weight-wise and lace projects take awhile, so I won't be hankering for too much yarn. I'm also bringing all my Art of Disney cross stitch kits, so I'll have enough craft supplies even if I don't take anything else. Of course, if the dress code is business-y and I can wear sweater vests, I'll be wanting to knit as many of those as I can.
How easy is it to get yarn in Japan? And how cheap?

I figure if I can get through the projects that are currently unfinished in Ravelry, that will be a good start. I have until October, so I can get a couple of big-ticket items done, right? I'm also going to invest in those vacuum-sealed bags, so I can take more yarn in less space. Works for clothes, blankets, and pillows too. I don't want to bring too much stuff, but I also don't want to spend a lot of money on things I had sitting at home that wouldn't have taken too much space if packed correctly. I suppose that at that point it could be sent along to me too, but still.

One good thing about going through all my sock yarn soon? A friend who has just started a sock yarn blanket will be getting all my sock scraps, both the ones that I have now, which I'll be sending along soon, and the ones from Japan, which will probably come with interesting Japanese thingies. This helps with stash reduction for me, and a project for her. Good news all around.

I'm pretty sure I'm about a half skein short for Blaze. It needs the same size needles as the Lace Rib Raglan that I still need to rip and re-knit, so the goal is to get Blaze to the point where I attach the sleeves, and then re-do the top of the Raglan and evaluate the yarn situation for Blaze then. I still don't know where I'm living for the rest of the summer, so I don't want to get another skein and play mail tag with it. I have three and a half inches left of the body before I attach the sleeves, so it's not too much longer.


I'm also on the second sleeve of Peasantry, with the front and back complete. I then need to seam it and dye the leftover yarn black for the edging and embriodered accents. That sleeve is my current purse project. And, ooooh, look! The yarn I knew I bought for Rogue was sitting at home with the yarn I didn't bring to Rochester with me. So now I can finish that, and bring four pullovers to Japan with me instead of four WIPs. Yay!

Extra Yarn

Monday, May 26, 2008


So, I've done a bunch of things over the weekend. Got the job in Japan, graduated from college, saw a bunch of family members, packed up almost all of my stuff, didn't get much knitting done. I got another Art of Disney cross stitch, the Self-Portrait one, for only $15.50, so I'm quite happy. They currently retail for $45. I love e-Bay. I'm still in the hunt for the Barbershop Quartet, Preening Pixie, and The Happiest Celebration on Earth, since they're retired, but I have the charts in case I can't ever find the kits and have to just get the floss and stuff on my own.

Oh yeah, the Japan job. This means I'll be updating my 101 list with a bunch of other things, since the pet adoption and a few other things are going to be going right out the window. Oh well. I've started bolding the things that just aren't going to happen, but that will take more thinking than I can do right now. I gotta go continue to pack!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I want to do this. But, it's probably going to be a 6.5 hour drive. I'm going home to Albany after graduation (in FOUR DAYS!!!) and then to Buffalo, where it would only be a two hour drive, but I'm probably going to Buffalo the day it is. Which means I'd be going 6.5 hours there, and then two back to stay at my grandparent's for a couple of weeks. If I can con someone else into going with me, maybe I will. But anyone else I'd con into going with me would want to be going back to Albany. Oh well.

Wouldn't it be so much fun to go hang out with the Harlot and lots of random other knitters for an afternoon? I think so. Also to be a part of the 1000 Knitters Project would be pretty cool. That and I'm sure there's something interesting to go see in Toronto, other than yarn, so it could be a sightseeing day. Or something.

Eh, if I end up going to Buffalo before the 14th, I'll probably go, since it's within a do-able distance. And maybe one or two of my aunts would want to go with me. Meh, look at me trying to plan my life; I don't even have a job yet! Still waiting to hear back from Japan...

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Things You Learn...

Heeeeeey, did you know that you can set up RSS feeds to be connected to your Google account? I thought it worked like bookmarks, so have never set one up. I'm rarely in the same place twice when I read my daily blogs, and Lee doesn't want my stuff cluttering up his computer, which I use for now. At least until I get a laptop, and I've found the one I want, I just need some time to feel comfortable spending nearly $2000 on any one item. Mainly time to raise a liquid $2000. Etsy store to open soon...But I, I just learned how to set up RSS feeds for the blogs I enjoy reading and have them go straight to my Google account, so no matter where I am, I can read the blogs I like that have updated, instead of just clicking on all of them at once.

Isn't technology wonderful?

My other big question for the day is: When is a cross stitch complete? Knit items are 100% complete once the seaming, blocking, and sewing on of other necessary bits (zippers, buttons, etc.) is done. Lee says I can count my huge cross stitch as being complete the moment I finish the stitching. I say it's not done until it's been dry cleaned (I'm NOT taking even the slightest chance that it will run) and framed. But if I'm moving about for the next couple of years a lot, it may or may not get framed, and I'll have a finished but languishing in the unfinished count cross stitch. Maybe I'll just get it framed in a cheaper frame, so I can re-frame it later but it's still complete. Hmmm...decisions, decisions. I suppose I should probably finish the thing first before worrying about the framing though!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yay for a Productive Weekend

This weekend I finally finished all the baby stuff. I also got one of the two amigurumi I've been talking about forever done. The other one will be done when my sister sends me some pictures of the one I gave her so I can figure out how I modified it when I first made it. I made her a Hedwig, started another, got bored, and put the new one down. I really liked how it came out, so I'd like to repeat it. Gotta start writing things down more often. I think I actually did write down the mods on the pattern, but I must have thrown out the pattern since I can't find it anywhere. I've also got a couple of inches done on Blaze, and I need to type up the English translation of the Hip Dress pattern I used for the baby dresses, since it's only offered in Danish currently. It's a nice pattern, and since it came out like the pictures, I'm pretty sure my translation was correct. I just need to put it in a nice, usable format so others can benefit from the time I spent. It's amazing how much you can get done when you're putting off the last couple homework assignments you may EVER have.

I have about seven other projects I want to start. Considering the fact that the last five projects I've begun were gifts or test knits, I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that I'm only two finished projects short of where I should be. I'm also one frogged and one finished project away from being in the single digits, open projects in Rochester-wise. Great timing, I may hit that goal just before I add all those UFOs lying in wait for me at home to the grand total. Ah well.

I bought the two thread colors that were messed up in my Mickey Mouse and Fireman cross stitch. This made me soooooooo angry. I'm not sure if it was two different dyelots or two totally different colors, but for some reason in the #371 (Mustard dk) had noticeably different threads in the slots for the color. Very similar, though. In fact, I spent about fifteen minutes in the car under overcast skies trying to figure out which colors were wrong. I put this cross stitch away once I realized the problem, because it angered me ever so much, abd I forgot which colors were wrong. I didn't use many, and I was pretty sure it was a green-ish, but I of course wanted to be sure. You can't tell the difference between the incorrect colors in overcast natural light. I decided to go into the store, look at it there in the harsh fluorescent lighting of Jo-Ann's, and then decide to buy the threads or not. At this point, I was beginning to think it was possible that I had just gone crazy before, seeing color differences that didn't exist. Nope, I'm completely sane. About that at least. The moment I walked into the store, it was like neon green and muddy brown as opposed to both looking like dark mustard. Definitely a HUGE difference in the store lighting.

I get to the thread section and grab two skeins of each of the colors that are listed, since the kits come with the thread and list the DMC numbers for interested people. Or if you want more and figure the $1.00 in thread is worth it instead of writing to the company and waiting for them to get back to you. Or people like me who are completely impatient, even though they won't be using the damn thread until they get the other cross stitch and a couple other things done, and therefore could have easily waited for the Stoney Creek people to send the correct thread back.

Anyway, I get the correct threads. Of course, the dyelot is definitely different than it was when I got the kit, and it's certainly noticeable. This means that most of the work I have already put into the cross stitch, which is a rather large 16"x20" piece on 14 ct Aida, has to be removed and redone. Not all of it, but more than half. Craptastic. It was going to be next on my list of cross stitches because of the buttloads of white space in the design, since my third in-progress Disney cross stitch is 18"x25" with about 1" of white space and I WILL NOT start any others until I finish the ones I have going. Unless I get married and get the cute wedding one. Or if...yeah, we all know I'll probably start another one before finishing stuff. But this one would have been fairly simple to finish (comparatively...), and now I won't want to work on it for awhile because of all the un-working and re-working I have to do. I'm sure I'll no longer have feelings of extreme hate towards it once I get passed where I am now, for the second time, but who knows how long that will take since I will be reluctant to work on it until then. Oh well. Not a real problem in the grand scheme of things.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Saartje's Bootees

Don't'cha just hate it when all of a sudden you want to work on everything all at once? But can't because there's too much packing/job searching/final projects/final exams to take? Yeah, that's where I'm at. I want to finish my Cinderella's Castle cross stitch, but that's not going to happen. I want to finish my orange Blaze so I can wear it with my brown skirt and be all school spirit-like for end of year stuff, but I don't think there's enough time, even if I only work on that. And I need to finish the baby stuff so I can give it to Clyde while his baby still fits into it and I'm still in Rochester. Saartje's Bootees are a really quick knit. I cast on one evening, did a few rows, and completed them both the next day. Well, almost. They still need buttons, and then I have to make the button holes on the ends of the straps and weave in the extra yarn. But the knitting's done! See:

I HATE weaving in ends. Aside - I do believe that that is the reason why the little amigurumi that take almost no time at all are languishing; you need to make each part separate, then put it all together and weave in the ends, and that's just a bit more finishing than I like - /aside. This was the one thing that was really scaring me away from this pattern, and I think the reason that the first bootee was knit at a tighter gauge. Not really enough to re-do it, but enough for me at least to notice it. This little bootee calls for ten, count 'em, TEN ends to be woven in at the end. Per bootee. Now I don't mind finishing something correctly, in fact, I thoroughly enjoy seaming. Yes, sometimes it can be a pain and time consuming, but when done correctly, it just makes what you spent so long doing from some really awesome pieces of knitting into a real work of wearable craftsmanship. Some people find magic in the blocking process, I find mine in the seaming. Blocking's great and all, but seaming - now that's one of those finicky little details that I can thoroughly enjoy. Seaming and weaving in that yarn end to wonderfully complete a knitted piece, I enjoy. Weaving in ends after you've knit the item? That's just cruel and unusual punishment, in my book. So I do everything I can to avoid them. Russian join? Check. Spit splicing every yarn that's not synthetic or superwash (except when changing colors)? Check. Overcast method? My favorite. So I was not going to weave in TEN ends after knitting such small items.

Four of these ends are necessary for seaming and button loops, but the other six can definitely be woven in as you go along. I wasn't sure which ones, so the first bootee I made had five ends to be woven in later, and the second was down to the correct four. Which four? Well, when you start, you start with the long-tail cast on, which is what most knitters use I guess. I don't. So my first one looked a bit different from the pictures and had a much longer than necessary tail to sew up the bottom seam, but that's okay. When switching colors, the tails to both the old and new color can be held to the back and woven in using this technique. It's my favorite for changing colors or weaving in ends while knitting where you don't want the extra bulk in the stitches, but don't mind it in the back. Worsted to bulky weight yarns sometimes look bad with the double stitch, so I use it for those. When doing the long-tale cast on for the first strap, the tail from the thumb strand is unnecessary, so can be woven in using the same technique. For the second strap, you really don't need to use two strands since you're starting from the cut end of the working yarn, so I just did a normal long-tail cast on, cutting out two of the ends right there, and wove in the third unnecessary end (the tail) using the same technique, again. I also cut the yarn ends shorter than recommended for all but the initial long-tail cast on for the sole seam, leaving even less to deal with. I also hate throwing out bits of yarn, even if it's less than an inch. All these changes left me with just the four ends required for seaming and button loops, making me a very happy knitter.

The top one is the one with the "correct" number of ends.

I also realized while making these that I never cast off using sock needles. I pretty much always Kitchener. Binding off is kinda finicky with the splitty Wildfoote yarn I was using and such small needles (US1.5). I like the end result very much though! Now all I need is some buttons. I'll need buttons for the two dresses too, so I'm going to go button shopping once all three items are done. I should be finishing the crocheting of the first one in class today, and as long as I can keep away from Blaze or my cross stitch (or from casting on the three pairs of socks that are calling to me), I should be button shopping by Thursday.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Flaws in Logic

The baby dresses I'm crocheting take a bit more than a pair of socks worth of yarn. I can knit a pair of socks relatively quickly, and this doesn't have anything like heel turning, so it shouldn't take that long, right? Two major flaws in logic there. I can KNIT a PAIR OF SOCKS relatively quickly. I cannot CROCHET a BABY DRESS as quickly. It's lovely, don't get me wrong, but I don't enjoy crocheting as much as I like to knit. Actually, that's not quite true. I don't like crocheting on a timeline. I don't mind crocheting. In fact, some things are fabulous when crocheted. However, some things are just finicky and take some time, especially since it's been awhile since I've last crocheted, and I've never crocheted something like what I'm making now.

White Baby Dress Black Baby Dress
White Baby Dress, to the stripe Black baby Dress, to the armholes

It's really not that bad. But I got bored. And since I have a couple of sweaters, some other crocheted items, and some cross stitches with shiny thread, of course the shiny thread won out to alleviate the boredom. I'm supposed to be downsizing the amount of stuff in my "to finish" pile. Working on a cross stitch that most likely won't get finished before I leave because it's freakin' huge is not helping. In fact, a freakin' huge cross stitch still does not take up the room of, well, just about anything else in the "to finish" bin. It takes up a large ziplock. Okay, so maybe a pair of socks takes up less space than this. But not by that much.

Castle Cross Stitch Unfinished
See how freakin' huge it is? That's an 8" diameter hoop. Huge! Huge and wrinkly!

I keep Blaze in the car and the second sleeve in my purse, and it's gotten some work done. But I don't think I'm going to finish anything other than the baby projects and maybe the two freakin' amigurumi before I leave. Mostly because we all know that in a day or two my fervor for the cross stitch will wan, and I'll jump to something else but not for long enough to finish it. I wish I had those other two skeins of yarn for Rogue. That would get done if I knew I had enough yarn to finish the job!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dinner Party

Lee and I are giving a dinner party tonight. I'm in a food and wine pairing class, so we're making the menu that is my final project for a few friends. They're in town for some fraternity stuff, which I am not really a part of, so while they're off, I figure I should probably start our carrot reduction, since it takes hours and there's only hours until we serve it. I call him to see if he wants me to start it and what exactly I should do, since I wasn't home when he made it the first time. He said to chop the carrots into little pieces. We've already learned that the kitchen implements and I don't get along. Lee gets along with the kitchen. He makes culinary masterpieces that delight the senses and tantalize the taste buds. I burn broccoli and make glue when I'm trying to make gravy. Anyway, engineers are problem solvers, and so I solved the problem of getting the carrots into little bits so the blender doesn't choke on them:


And we got a funny looking carrot in the batch too, so I put that in the picture. The dinner party:


Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
We started with sea scallops and Terra Exotic chips with a carrot reduction flavored with anise, salt and pepper. A blenderfull of carrots was pureed with a cup of water and a splash of orange juice. This was left on the stove for hours until it looked powdery and had a consistency somewhere between baby food and clay. The reduction was left thick as a dip for the chips, and cream was added to thin it for the scallops. Each end of the scallops was dipped in an anise/salt/pepper rub and pan seared so it was still juicy on the inside. The plating had some chips stuck into the dip so as to keep them out of the scallop juices and therefore still crunchy. Martini and Rossi Asti was paired with this course. Originally, we were going to go with Iron Horse Brut, but when taste testing, it was too dry for the sweetness of the carrot/anise sauce.

Salad Course
Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
The salad course was just a plain salad to showcase the pairing of the wine and vinaigrette, but plated to keep it fancy. A row of cucumbers, Boston lettuce piled on top, and some carrots next to the greenery with Newman's Own Raspberry and Walnut Vinaigrette was paired with Dievole Tuscan Rosato. This pairing was considered by the guests to be the most interesting, because the wine and salad took on different flavors when tasted together. The tanginess went away and the fruit flavors were brought out in both wine and dressing.

Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
The entree was pork tenderloin, roasted and cut into medallions, with a habanero jerk sauce, chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, and sweet corn on the cob. The jerk sauce is one of Lee's favorite, most made recipes. He calls it the sauce of happiness. It's good, but usually pretty spicy. The sweet potatoes are mashed with some cream and some chipotle peppers, and have a very smoky flavor but smooth texture. We were going to grill the corn, but the grill is nearly out of gas and we didn't want to risk it. We're not going to refill the whole propane tank since we'll be moving shortly. The wine pairing to go with this was Drylands, a Pinot Noir from New Zealand. I was trying to go with a wine that could handle the smokiness of the potatoes and the spiciness of the sauce while not overpowering the corn and the pork. This was also the only completely untested pairing, and I was quite happy with how it came out.

Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
For dessert, we had Bananas Foster on Perry's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Nilla Wafers. I made this dish five times the week before, attempting to perfect the recipe. I've learned a bunch of what not to do and got it really good once. You need bananas to be on the far side of ripe, with about 2 Tb butter, 3 Tb brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg for the sauce. Melt the butter, sugar, and spices in a large pan on low heat (3/9 on our stovetop) until bubbling. Put 4 large bananas (split lengthwise and then cut each half into four pieces) into the sauce and cook about 5 minutes per side. Add 1/4 cup rum and light. Pour over ice cream. This was paired with Blandy's Rainwater Madeira, a dessert beverage that went really well with the Bananas Foster. I did not like it on its own, or with the bananas, but it did pair well.

And that was my lovely dinner party. Delicious food, good friends, and copious amounts of alcohol.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Technology Hates Me

Technology doesn't like me. I never had problems with my laptop, and then about a month after the warranty was over, everything crapped out on me. The keyboard, the battery, and it just runs slowly and is evil. I've killed every thumb drive I've bought, my large external hard drive got fried, and my cell phone has issues. Today, those issues decided to screw me over in an interview call. I had a phone interview at 10 am. The charger was plugged in, I was sitting, nice and comfy, and I was cross stitching, waiting for the phone to ring. The interviewer called late, which is okay, but my phone decided to not ring. I get a voicemail at 10:09. No call, just a voicemail. No record of the call in the missed/incoming call logs. Just the voicemail. Of the interviewer apologizing for calling late and asking to reschedule since she missed me. I of course called right back on Lee's cell phone, trying to get ahold of her, but got her voicemail. Grrrr. Great way to start a Monday, right?

Ah well. Gardiner Yarn Works, who I test knit for, has their Fall/Winter preview up. I tested the Whitecap Socks pattern, and since you can see the official sample up on the site, here's a picture of mine:
Finished Whitecap Socks

Of course, I took the picture with the jog facing right out, so it's not the best side, but I like how they turned out. VERY quick socks to knit, only took me four days from start of the first to the Kitchener of the second. And I got rid of some stash yarn, go me!