Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The top I've been working on is Gardiner Yarn Works Valencia. I love, love, love this top. I actually knit and finished it awhile back, and wore it on my trip to Singapore and Taiwan quite a bit. It's going to get a lot of use this summer in the States too, I'm sure. This series of posts were started while I was working on it, and it wasn't a test knit I wasn't allowed to show, I just didn't finish these posts in a timely manner (surprise, surprise).

Anyway, the gorgeous finished item (which still needs better pictures sometime...):

Pattern: Valencia
Yarn: Austermann Step, 4.45 skeins by weight, 583 yards.
Timeframe: January 28 - March 1, 2010, would have been shorter if I hadn't been waiting on the yarn.
Mods: Mirrored the front cables because I like symmetry, did the optional waist shaping.
Problems: Already cataloged, none with the pattern itself except maybe yardage requirement.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One More Hurdle...

Well. This top. It doesn't like me. I did the optional waist shaping (who doesn't like a shapely sweater?). I knit as written, though I might have been inclined to lengthen it a bit. I knew I didn't have much yarn, but I had a bit more than the pattern called for (524 compared to 500). My gauge is spot on. I ran out of yarn. This yarn is discontinued.

Luckily, there is Ravelry! I found two people who had made something in the same color I was using. One had no idea where extra yarn from that project would have gone to, though she did check her stash for me, which is awesome. Thankfully, the other had most of a skein leftover and was willing to send it off, along with her original swatches! I figured I needed less than a skein, but not a small amount.

Knitting away, knitting away, getting close to the end of the yarn...uh-oh. Out of yarn again. Two swatches. Let's hope I need less than that to finish!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thwarted Again!

So, I'm motoring along on this gorgeous top, hoping to get it done quickly because my knitting backlog is growing ever longer, and have yet again messed it up. First off, I used my lovely Addi Turbo Lace US7s, which caused my knitting to tighten up quite a bit and that did not work. The swatch said about 19 sts/28 rows, slightly tighter than it should be but not horribly. While knitting, it ended up being closer to 17 sts/32 rows, and that did not work at all. I restarted on my Boye Interchangeables US8s, which are working excellently.

I used up all the yarn from the first attempt, and am almost at the armpit, woo, getting there! Of course, I messed up one of the charts. Typically, I'd just drop the stitches down and pick them back up correctly. Sadly, I completely skipped the smock stitch portion of the cable. There is the same cable row both before and after the smock stitch, and I managed to knit the one before, and then continue on the one after. See image for correct version. D'oh!

A frogging I will go, a good 2", to fix that one. It is making me sad. Especially because this yarn, Austerman Step, is a gorgeous yarn, but horribly slippery, and the stitches will drop down given any chance to do so. This is the kind of project I wish I were a user of lifelines for. Typical lace, using wool or alpaca, is nice and sticky enough to mostly stay knit when I have to rip back. No lifelines necessary. This ribbing, however, will be more difficult to run the needle through correctly on the row that I want, and will try to slip down when I rip back. It's in time out. Until at least tomorrow, since, well, it's kind of a deadline piece, and should get done ASAP.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Starting From Scratch...

Let's hear about a new project, shall we? I finally found the perfect, amazing, wonderful pattern to go with some yarn I brought from the states. I only have four skeins of yarn, so I've been having some troubles finding just what I want for it. Great, perfect pattern, a gorgeous summer top I will get a lot of use out of this summer, excellent yarn to go with it, bit of a deadline so it actually gets finished, perfect! The problem? Stash diving.

My stash, currently:

The yarn for this excellent pattern/yarn combination is that bright blue yarn towards the bottom of the bag in the back on the right. Right there. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to boldly go where no man has gone before (and probably never will - Lee is scared of the Stash). I must dig out the blue yarn without totally disrupting everything or being distracted by other yarns along the way. After all, that massive bag of white yarn at the bottom and the gray and red yarns threatening to explode near the top are for queen sized blankets that will be finished by August. You know, as long as I work on them. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I like candy. A lot. I want to make my own candies and delicious things. There's many reasons for this, one is that it's typically a bit cheaper though it can be time intensive, and I'm much more interested in homemade than not anytime, and two is that high fructose corn syrup, additives, and preservatives are not very good for you. Recent studies have shown that high fructose corn syrup contributes to weight gain (possibly due to the unnatural format, confusing your body instead of just sweetening your food) and unnatural things just aren't typically that good for you anyway. Changing the format of fat and calories entering your body changes how your body processes them. Basically, if your candy, desserts, and sweets are homemade with good ingredients, you don't have to worry as much about intake. Of course, you can't have cake for every meal, but you don't have to skip dessert.

Recently, I finally mastered fondant. Okay, so, maybe not mastered, but I have fondant. I'm still learning how to quickly and easily make the perfect fondant, I'm not there yet. Seems to me that you can't let it cool all the way or else it takes almost an hour of creaming it to work, and you should get it as hot as possible without going into the hard ball stage, so as close to 242 F without going over as possible. I also learned that some of my early candy making and attempts at fondant didn't work because my candy thermometer is about 10 degrees Celsius off. Not even close.

Fondant, yay!

With fondant, you can do quite a few things, and homemade fondant tastes really, really good. Like, really. You can also add flavors and colors, though I can only find powdered food coloring here and I don't like it. It can be used in oh-so-many ways, too. I decorated a cake, but didn't take a picture before transporting it, and it managed to get squashed in transport. I also made chocolate covered fondant candies. These are delicious.

I added almond and vanilla to one lump of fondant, and some grated orange zest to the other. The really cool thing about the grated orange zest is that it also gives the fondant a bit of color, which I like. After mixing in the flavorings, I rolled the fondant into a log and cut off slices to coat with chocolate. This does take a lot of powdered sugar to coat the surface and your hands with, so the fondant doesn't stick to everything. I saved the leftover powdered sugar in the fridge with so I could use it next time I was going to use the fondant. That stuff is expensive! The goal was round candies, but the fondant flattened out a bit as I cut it, so they ended up being more rectangular. They were amazingly delicious! I dipped the fondant into milk and dark chocolate, since I keep a supply of both in the cupboard.*

The other nice thing about fondant is that it will keep in the fridge indefinitely, or so sources say. This means that I can make fondant every so often, and keep the leftovers in the fridge, and when I have an event it would be good to bring something to, mix in some flavors and/or colors, dip in chocolate, and voila!, a quick, fancy-looking and delicious treat as a hostess gift, party favor, or quick addition to a potluck or work party. Excellent!

*I have never once raided that supply when I've had a chocolate craving. I have just realized this, so now, the chocolate is in danger. I am quite surprised that that chocolate has been safe for so long.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter! (Thought I posted this, it was in Drafts!)

I made an Easter Basket!

There's these cute little kits here to make baskets like that. I have a few, and they're adorable, if not the easiest things to get started. I nearly threw it all away, but finally figured it out and think I should make all the ones I got. Early Christmas presents!

I also tried to go through all of my projects to make sure I wasn't forgetting/neglecting any. I count 29. This is not correct. I've been adding projects and subtracting them as I go, so I should have 31. I'm missing 2 projects somewhere. Cross stitch is definitely correct. Papercrafts, stamping, frogging, and spinning are too. That leaves knitting, crochet, and sewing. Now, it's not impossible that I've missed a project or two, but I just can't think of what it is!

New projects are Unders and patches for my holey socks, I've finished four open projects and the LSG scarf, and that should leave me at 31, by the running total. What's missing? This will bug me for quite some time. Maybe I didn't update the total at an earlier date? If I can't figure it out soon, I'll just re-adjust. Makes getting down to under 30 quite simple! And if I just take a day to sew, stuff, weave in ends, and finish patching those socks, that'll be under 20. I like this plan.

In other news, I've lost one of my Fetchings. Again. I believe I still have enough for a fourth one, but jeez, I've gotta find a way to keep track of these things better! Maybe get one of those Mitten Minder things for really young kids or something...I definitely won't have enough yarn for a fifth!

Blocking from the last time I re-knit one

I wonder which one I lost? The newer one likely grew to the same size anyway - I don't recall one being larger than the other anymore. Has anyone else found Cascade 220 to grow quite a bit through use? My Calorimetry and Fetchings used to be great, but they're a bit big now. Oh well. Another small project to toss into the lineup!