Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top Secret Project - revealed!

The past two weeks have been so crazy...between my son's graduation and everything that needed to be done before hand and after, including dealing with illnesses, concerts, Memorial Day parade, and having a house guest...that I have neglected my blogging (reading and writing) terribly.
Now back to the business at hand .... my knitting! Yes, even with everything I had to do, I've still been knitting away.

The first thing I want to show you is my top secret project. A sweater for my oldest son's girlfriend's (Kate) birthday present. Her birthday is tomorrow, but I gave it to her last Saturday.
I am not very fond of knitting sweaters, but when I saw this pattern ~ Blaze ~ I thought it had Kate's name written all over it. I had a feeling it would be something she would like. This sweater is knit totally in the round.
The only seams are under the arm which I should have grafted, but I hate grafting so I opted for a three needle bind off instead:
I rationalized the fact that what ever I did, it wouldn't really show because it's under the arm.

I LOVED knitting the zig zag all over pattern, which is really cables.
I followed the pattern exactly as written(size medium), no modifications except that I used a different yarn, Lion Brand Microspun sport yarn. This yarn is so soft and just heavenly to work with. I recommend it highly and the best part it's machine washable and dryable, which is a must for a very busy college student! When I came close to the end I have to confess that I was worried about the neckline bindoff. The first attempt was a bit loose, so I pulled it out and redid it being very careful to bind off extra tight. The results were perfect.

Kate was thrilled with the sweater. The color, the fit was perfect. She immediately tried it on and of course I had to get some pictures of her modeling it:
She was so appreciative and I knew she genuinely love it. She just didn't say she liked it...she showed me how much she LOVED it. She was ecstatic!! It made my day! I love to knit for Kate. Now I have to start thinking what to make for her Christmas present??

I also finished a diagonal Bee Stitch baby blanket for my church's prayer shawl ministry. I'm very happy with the results:
It's difficult to tell from the photo that the stitch reminds me of a thermal blanket. The resulting blanket is very soft and cuddly. I used the diagonal bee stitch dishcloth pattern and kept on knitting until there were 70 eyelet holes on one side. It makes a nice sized blanket using a size 10 1/2 needle.

Robin update: Not good news I'm afraid to tell you. Mrs. Robinson laid 3 beautiful eggs. She was a very attentive mother. On Sunday, one of the eggs hatched. From my bedroom window I could see the tiny hatchling with it's wide open mouth! Mr. and Mrs. Robinson were taking turns feeding the baby. Then on Monday, my neighbor's cat was seen prowling around the bush. Mrs. Robinson was very upset, squawking on the power line above. I threw water at the cat. After that episode the nest has not been attended to by Mrs. Robinson. The cat may have come back when we weren't looking. Very upsetting, but it is nature and from what I have read baby robins do not have a very high survival rate.

Can't believe June is right around the corner. School will be out soon and the summer will be upon us. Have a nice weekend with lots of happy knitting :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I received a very nice Mother's Day surprise :)

...actually more than one.

First a beautiful bouquet from my oldest son. He came home yesterday, which in itself was a gift because he has been away for about 6 weeks. We all went out for lovely lunch yesterday at Longhorn Steak House, because he had to go back early today to work on a project and start studying for finals. Soon it will be all over and he'll be graduating May 25th. Tomorrow we are going to his college for an Honors Convocation as he is receiving an academic excellence award for outstanding academic achievement in Computer Engineering. He will be receiving B.S. degrees in both electrical and computer engineering, magna cum laude. He is in the 5 year masters program and hopefully will receive his Master's degree a year from now.We are VERY proud of him!!

The other surprise was discovering one Robin's egg in the nest outside my kitchen window. Since April 26th we have had a very industrious mother robin (I named her Mrs. Robinson) building a nest in the rhododendron bush. Here and there she stopped showing up to work on the nest and we feared the worst.This is a picture of the rhododendron with the nest:
My camera leaves a lot to be desired. The zoom is awful, but I did manage in Adobe photoshop to zoom in and crop a close-up picture of my new friend:
Today she acted differently, staying longer in the nest resting and not doing her usual nest grooming. Tried standing up on a chair to try and see inside the nest, but no luck. Then I had the brainstorm and went upstairs to my bedroom window. Low and behold there was one beautiful turquoise, robin's egg blue egg in the nest!! I was so "egg"cited :) I opened the window and stuck out my arm with the camera and tried to get a picture. This is what I ended up with:
Not good! Once again I used photoshop and ended up with a close up:
Can you see the blue egg? From what I have read robins lay one egg a day. I'll have to keep a close eye on the nest. How appropriate to find the egg on Mother's Day! I am very happy :) If you want to see a perfect picture of a robin's nest, check out Melody's blog under "I" for incubating .
The next thing was not a surprise, but I am very happy with it. Most of you know I've been crazily baking artisan bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. I did have a dilemma though. My bread slices were a bit to be desired. Ok, for eating with butter, but too uneven for sandwiches. I tried an electric knife as suggested by some of my blogging friends and that went well, very well....but the next time I tried the knife, it was dead as a door nail!! I must have burnt the motor out using it to cut through the crispy, crunchy crust. The knife was over twenty years old ( back to the drawing board.) I splurged and ordered a Rival Folding Food Slicer:
Now this works great! We now have beautiful even slices and the best part - it fold up nicely to fit in my cabinet. I'm baking bread so often now that I really think it will pay for itself :)

No knitting to show you as I am still working on the top secret birthday present.
Hope everyone is enjoy the day....happy knitting :)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Let your yarn dictate the design!

I found a really fun (and easy) way knit a dishcloth:
The pattern comes from Creative Knitting Magazine as a freebie. I adjusted the number of stitches I cast on (38) to convert the Texture Painted Place Mat into a dishcloth. I love how the the yarn decides how the pattern and design will turn out. The knitting either in stockinette or reverse stockinette as determined by the color of the yarn is what developes the design. There will be areas of garter stitch where the colors overlap. This is fun not knowing how each cloth will develop...definitely a surprise...I like that.

Here are the individual cloths:

Perhaps I'll try a towel sometime.

For those of you who are mothers I hope you all have a very happy Mother's Day on Sunday :)

Happy Knitting :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Have pouch will travel...

My 91 year old father has been in need of some sort of carry-all for his walker now that he is using it more often, especially when we go out. I debated with myself as to how I was going to go about creating this walker accessory. I knew I could sew something, but if you know me, sewing is not my forte. Then I thought...why not make a felted bag? I used no pattern and just winged it, keeping in mind that when you carefully felt an item - it shrinks about a third.

This is what I came up with. No straps, but I did make flaps. The idea was to attach this bag to the walker using velcro. Here it is before felting:

and after felting...the felted walker pouch:
Can you see the small rectangle flap at the top? This is the section that I sewed on a strip of velcro to attach it to the walker. I also added velcro to the bigger gray flap to keep it closed.

Here it is attached to the walker:
Dad seems pretty happy with it. I used Paton's Classic merino...which is my favorite yarn for felting. It felted very nicely into a sturdy little pouch.

Here's a couple more pictures of my artisan bread. I made a more elongated loaf:
This time I used an electric knife to slice it. While it was a little easier to slice (the electric really labored hard) slices are still very uneven. Doesn't matter though because it tastes so good. We actually had some leftover slices from this loaf and it makes incredible toast.

Another thing I tried was making some hard rolls.
I forgot to slash them before putting them in the oven. They still came out great though. For the rolls I used parchment paper on my peel instead of using corn meal. I slid them easily onto the baking stone and remove the paper after about 10 minutes. The paper slid out like a dream and the rolls still came out crispy. I'm really hooked on this wonderful bread making method. It's so easy and the results are unlike any grocery store bread that you can buy. I'm definitely making my own bread from now on!!

Have a wonderful weekend! happy knitting and baking :)