[knitting] Various -Alongs and Misc Links

I've joined a few, okay four, knit-alongs.

1. Socktoberfest: over 1000 people have signed up. Huge. I've already outlined what my goals are for this.

2. Stocking-along: Two stockings. Bonus points for any ornaments or decorations. Double plus bonus points for knitting a Christmas Tree Hat for myself.

3. Fiber Flix: I reckon this will be the least stress. Knit whatever I'm knitting (socks, stockings, etc), watch a movie, discuss. Next month's selection will be noir.

4. Who wouldn't love a handknitted gift?: I've got 10 projects I want to knit for Christmas. Sound like a lot? Well, 9 of those things are Mason-Dixon washrags (to be gifted to three people in packets of three), so I'm not too intimidated/scared. My mom has requested gloves.

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Some knitting links:

Branching Out, repeated three times across, turns the scarf into a stole.

Ene's Scarf and a nekkid woman.

This is why you knit stuff for kids. So... cute...

Be amazed by this Dragone Shawl.


[amy] Bad days made better

Blah, yesterday was an okay day, then a sucky day, then a better day, then a crap day, then an okay day, etc. I was being pulled in too many directions and hating on people. I thought I got my Amazon package (finally) but it wasn't at the post office (even though I got an email saying it was delivered, for sure). I kind of hassled the post guy and he was kind of hassling me back. Then I went home and saw the package was on my doorstep. Guilt feelings washed over me.

I ripped it open and carried all my books up to the bedroom. I crawled into bed to browse them and quietly lament my crappy (but improving) day. In addition to knitting and dyeing books, I got this non-stick pan because of my recent potato woes. I gently washed it and used it for supper- the potatoes came out perfect. I cut red new potatoes in half, drizzled with olive oil, tossed with Italian herbs, Goya Adobo seasoning, salt and pepper. I put them into the oven to roast at 380 F and after 30 minutes I pulled out the pan to turn them. All I had to do was shake the pan a little and they slid around like... like little greased sliding things. This brought a tear to my eye and greatly improved my day. I think I'm in love with this pan.


[cooking] Apple Pie

The apple pie came out fantastic. Beyond fantastic. I couldn't stop looking at it and remarking on how fantastic it looked. Dollar just bounced from foot to foot, repeating, "Cut it, cut it, cut it!" I have to replicate the recipe here:

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Classic Apple Pie

2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup + 2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water
corn starch

6 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter, melted for brushing

In a bowl mix flour and salt, cut in shortening, mix; add water a little at a time and mix until all flour is moistened. Make a ball with the dough and place on a floured board. Divide in half. Roll out to an approximately 12" circle and place into a well-greased 9" pie plate, leaving an overhang. Dust with cornstarch.

Mix apples with lemon juice, sugar and spices; turn into pastry-lined pan. Roll out remaining half of dough and place over top of apple mixture. Fold edge on top pastry under edge of lower pastry and trim. Seal with fingertips. Cut steam vents, brush with butter. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 50 minutes, until top is nicely browned.

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1. I couldn't find my pastry blender so I used an oversized fork (one of those big ones that are usually used for serving things). I used it to cut the Crisco into the flour, lightly, until the mixture was uniformly crumbly. Then I added the ice water, a little at a time, and lightly continued the same cutting motion until the dough came together.

2. I brushed the top crust with a beaten egg instead of butter and sprinkled the top with sugar. I turned the oven down to 375 after 10 minutes or so.

3. It took me just under an hour to prepare the pie (not including the 50 minute baking time). I'd like to get that time down to 30 minutes. The dough was very easy; it was peeling and slicing the apples that was the most time consuming. Time to get a corer/peeler.

4. I think this was the first pie I've made since I was 12 years old and spending my summers up on my grandparents farm. I can remember doing a lot of baking up there but I always had my grandmother or great-grandmother looking over my shoulder. I was a little intimidated to do this on my own but it was easy, it came out right and I bet the pie only cost $2 in ingredients.

5. There's nothing like warm homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream. This was a real treat.

UPDATE on 09/25

6. I've made three of these apple pies now. I made two on Saturday- one to bring to a birthday party and another to keep at home. Everyone who has had a slice has either commented on how good it is, asked for more, or asked for the recipe. Do you know why? Do you know what it is about the pie?

The nutmeg. I'm sure of it. I bought a little baggie of whole nutmeg nuts at the Asian Superstore on the Mall in Lebanon for $2.50 and I used freshly grated nutmeg in the pie recipe. Just drag the whole nutmeg along a fine grater, right into the bowl of apples, cinnamon and sugar. Have you ever seen what the inside of a nutmeg looks like? It looks like a brain. (foreshadowing)

What's so special about nutmeg? It's psychoactive. I did some reading on this and if you eat a lot of it, you feel all hot and then slip into a light coma. The whole pie only uses a small amount and then is baked, which I presume releases all the feel-good, mescaline-like properties into the pie. Which makes the eater happy (for reasons unknown to them).

7. Here's a chart on what apples to use for what. I've been using Cortlands from Poverty Lane Farms.


[amy] Misc. stuff

So much to do, so little time. I swear, Dollar and I are not idle but the "to do" list keeps growing. Last night I broke down and made a list of shows/movies we need to watch. I figure "to do" lists don't always have to be crap chores you don't want to do- they can be good lists. Here's what I have on the list (in no particular order):

- Smallville Season 5
- Mirror Mask
- Dave Chappelle's Block Party
- Lost in Translation
- LOST Season 2
- Plan 9 From Outer Space

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I finished one Whitby sock and cast on for the second. I may be able to gift them to a family member sooner than I thought. I'd like to make a couple wire hanger sock blockers to go with them. I'm going to start Socktoberfest way ahead of the curve!

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It's the eminent return of Magic the Gathering. I remember all to well how the last game ended. In fact, all the cards were boxed and shoved into a remote corner of the library before my face was even dry. But recently a friend dropped a whole box of cards off and now Dollar's taken to organizing them all. Thoroughly. As in:

Phase 1: Dollar takes all the cards, separates them out by edition and color, slips them into baseball card sheets and puts them into binders.

Phase 2: Amy takes all the binders and sorts within each color by type (creature, instant, sorcery, etc) and by mana cost.

Sgt. Dollar isn't ready to launch Phase 2 yet, so I sit next to him, nervously knitting until the call of duty.

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I'm knitting some fingerless gloves. Or, I'm trying to. This pattern is meant to use only one ball of Karaoke (which is all I have). I knit to just past the thumb gusset on the first one and it was clear that I wasn't going to have enough yarn for another. So I ripped the whole thing. I started over last night and am making a few adjustments to shorten the gloves. I'm using the Mermaid Mix colorway and it's very pretty. The yarn isn't plied, so I kind of split it with my needle every now and then, but as long as I'm careful, the stitch definition and sheen of the yarn look fantastic.

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Apples from the picking this past weekend will (I hope) be turned into a pie tonight. And I plan on seeing just how well apples and pork really go together by following a recipe called "Apple Orchard Pork Chops".


[amy] Weekend Update

No pictures from the weekend. My camera is taking mis-colored pictures and I can't figure out how to reset it to the factory settings.

Saturday morning I went apple picking with my sister at Poverty Lane. I picked too many and ended up giving a lot away to family members. Now I will start in on the apple recipes.

Then we went to the Tunbridge Fair for the afternoon. We looked at all (and I mean ALL) the horses, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, oxen and cows. I liked looking at all the vegetables and crafts best. Next year I'm totally entering some of my knitted stuff. I told my sister to enter her artwork (it would totally win all kinds of blue ribbons).

The bad news is that Dollar and I didn't make it to Beerstock. We both had such long days- he spent the morning giving a music lesson to his (HYPER-WOW-OHMYGOD-DRUMS!) nephews and the afternoon at band practice. Ken called Sunday night and I tried to pull the whole, "What do you mean you didn't see us? We were there." It didn't work. Apparently we missed the best party ever. I seem to remember Ken saying that once you get coupled up no one ever sees you again (e.g. "Wasn't there something we were supposed to do tonight? ... Oh well, let's just stay home and have sex.") and I didn't think it was true but...

Sunday I lounged around, did some chores, and helped a friend move a couch and dresser into my basement (until he moves into his new place). I did a lot of knitting this weekend and re-appreciated how much pleasure I get from it. Whenever Dollar asks me what I want to do, I always say, "Honestly? I want to knit." He's fine with it because then he does his own thing around the house.

[knitting] Socktoberfest

I've joined Socktoberfest and for the month of October, I will be focusing my knitting on socks. My goals are:

1. Knit Picks Gloss in Cocoa --> Whitby (nearly half-way there already!)

2. Kool-Aid dye Knit Picks Bare Superwash/Nylon/Donegal

3. Knit Picks Essential Tweed in Plum --> ?

4. Regia Silk in Burgundy --> ?

5. Sock blockers? Make some out of wire hangers? All the plastic and wooden ones I've seen online are crazy expensive.

6. Can the stockings I need to make for Stocking Along count towards the "sock" theme of Socktoberfest?

Updated to add...

7. Learn short row heels

8. Learn toe-up socks


[knitting] The Leia Hat

This Leia hat is so awesome, I'm not only going to link to the post (with pattern!), I had to show you the picture as well. Simply awesome and fun. Something about it didn't seem quite right, though, so I did some Google image searching.

It should be browner with a part in the middle. So my suggestion would be to still knit it in the round, but put a purl (or two) into the front middle and back middle, running the whole way up.

The only problem left is that you won't be able to hear all the compliments on how frigging awesome your hat is.


[cooking] What is that? | Why can't I cook potatoes right?

I walked into the kitchen yesterday and saw a clear bag of something on the counter. "What is that?" I thought. "What- Are those potatoes? Chicken nuggets? What the-" Upon closer inspection, I saw that they were old fashioned donut holes. I have no idea where they came from but I could hazard a guess...

AMY: What are those?

DOLLAR: Donut holes.

AMY: Where did they come from?

DOLLAR: The middle of donuts.

AMY: Ha ha ha. Seriously, though.

DOLLAR: My sister.

AMY: She stopped by?


AMY: Hmm... It kind of freaks me out when I see something I don't recognize in my kitchen. Is that totally psycho?


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In other cooking matters, I cannot seem to roast/brown potatoes without them sticking to the pan. I'll use a spatula to try to get them to come off the bottom but then they rip. Soon, I'm left with broken potato pieces in the pan and I feel like throwing the food against the wall. I like to cook and I cook a lot and I know how to cook but this is the one thing that's really bothering me right now.

Example 1: Home fries. Chop potatoes in to large chunks, melt butter in pan over medium/medium high, throw in potatoes, stir to coat, leave alone for 10 minutes, try to turn, stick, rip, bits falling apart, get extremely frustrated.

Why can't I do this?

Example 2: Oven roasted herbed new potatoes. Chop in half, toss in bowl with olive oil and herbs, throw into roasting pan, roast at 400 for 40-50 minutes, shake/turn, everything looks good, cook for another 30 minutes, everything is stuck to pan. Not burned, just stuck to pan. Try to turn/move, potatoes rip. Get extremely frustrated.

I follow recipes, I swear. Boo hoo, boo hoo hoo hoo (this is me crying) boo hoo. Does anyone have a perfectly roasted potato recipe for me to try? I'm desperate.


[tv] The Story So Far | Battlestar Galactica | SCIFI.COM

I would just like to point out that the new season of Battlestar Galactica premiers Friday, October 6 at 9 pm on the SciFi network. I don't get tv so that doesn't really mean anything to me (I have to wait to the season to come out on DVD)- except that it's my birthday! It's like it's... meant to BE or something.

Of course, at 9 pm on that Friday night, I expect to be screaming in terror. I won't be thinking about Battlestar.


[knitting] Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival

Saturday my sister and I went to the 18th Annual Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. I thought it was a depressing little affair but a lot of people online are saying they had a nice time. I was able to get some more Alpaca Lite from A Touch of Twist (seriously, I love this yarn). I'll just leave you with these pictures from the Alpaca obsticle course:

See if the llama can step THROUGH the pool noodles!

See if the llama can weave back and forth THROUGH the sticks!

See other llamas watching too!

[knitting] Kiri

I finally got around to blocking my Kiri Shawl for the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. If you perform a Google Image Search on the words "blocked shawl" (or any variations on those words), you'll see most have pointy, sharp edges. This is a look I don't find particularly pleasing. It seems so sharp and abrasive. I consider shawls (and most knitting) to be something to cuddle and snuggle into- not take your eye out.

But that's just me. Everyone's different.

Anyway, I wanted to block my shawl to have a nice, rounded, scalloped edge. Here it is with the left side pin-scalloped and the right side pin-pointed:

Here are two close-ups (scalloped vs. pointed):


How did I do it? Well, first I pinned the more solidly knit parts to the edge, as opposed to the yarn over areas. I would poke in the pin about 3/8 inch in from the shawl cast off edge and then poke it back out at the edge, then pin to the mattress:



Secure to mattress

Voila. Here you see two points on the left needing to be re-pinned and two on the right showing off a nice scalloped edge:

And all blocked:

So all the pattern specs (which I don't think I've ever actually typed out for anything) are:

Pattern: Kiri
Yarn: Alpaca Light in Teal (almost 4 balls), by A Touch of Twist (I love this yarn.)
Needles: Clover Bamboo, Size US 4

Some blocking notes: I did end up using a little bit of the Yarn Harlot's Walk Around the Block method. I strung some string through the top straight edge. The rest I just pinned and adjusted and re-pinned to the point of "Ah, fuck it. It's good enough."

Also, I think this pattern's tendancy IS to have the yarnover wedges pinned. The scallops, which were nice at first, have eased back somewhat into the shawl, creating a straighter (less scalloped!) edge. Which still isn't as bad as the scary "you'll poke your eyes out" points.


[knitting] New Knit Stuff

The September issue of MagKnits is posted. I like the socks.

I also just heard about Yarnival, a Blog Carnival (aka: Link Dump). The first issue is here.

This Aran Marl Capelet is pretty. Maybe in brown, a little longer, for a nice fall walk in the woods.


[vermont] It's a wee bit... nipply out.

Brattleboro has decided to let nature deal with nudity there. See, this is how Vermonters think: "They'll put clothes on when they get cold." I find it strange, though, these random acts of nudity. Must be something in the water...

[knitting] A Knitter Visits (Practially All of) Vermont

For the past week The Purloined Letter has been posting about a recent trip to Vermont. Putney, Burlington, Quechee, etc. Farmer's Markets, Co-ops, the Green Mountain Spinnery, etc. Very cool.


[amy] Weekend of What I Wanna Do

I took Friday off to make it a 4-day holiday weekend and let me tell you- I didn't do any chores. I just slept and read and knit and played video games. I made a half-hearted attempt to vacuum, but only ended up doing the downstairs before I sighed, "Oh fuck this" and went back upstairs to play mah jong on the internet.

Friday I slept in (while Dollar went to work, ha ha), then got up and finished his second green sock. I went to Borders and got the new Vogue Knitting, Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns and a Mexican Cookbook. And then I went grocery shopping. You know, for some reason I thought food shopping on a Friday evening would be easy but I never know when the right time is to shop. The things on sale are ALWAYS gone by the time I get there, whatever day I go. The iced tea Dollar loves? Gone. The cupcakes? Gone. The chicken on crazy-sale? Gone. WTF? While waiting in the check-out line, I was chatting with a lady behind me and she chalked it up to it being a Holiday weekend but still. If Dollar wasn't such a brand whore ("The cupcakes HAVE to be Hostess") or allergic to weird things ("Diet drinks give me headaches- I think it's the fake sugar"), my shopping experience would be a whole lot easier.

Saturday I went to the Quechee Crafts Fair expressly looking for yarn. There was none but there were LOTS and LOTS of blankets, sweaters and things knit with acrylic yarn and (most prevalently) Lion Brand Homespun. I got a new sugar pot, some buttons and a couple pot holders. That evening I went to a cocktail party but was so tired that I went home to take a nap. I planned on returning but fell deep, deep, DEEPLY asleep.

Sunday I went to the Norwich crafts fair, looking for yarn. There was none but I talked to a nice lady who dyes fabric and fiber using natural dyes. She had a couple books with her on the subject. At home, I tried a couple stitches from Mary Thomas's book and decided on one for a scarf. I started the scarf on Sunday night-

-and finished it Monday morning. It was a quick knit. Other than that, I made some chili. MMMmmm. And then Dollar and I played far too many hours of Halo. Nothing builds a stronger relationship than screaming, "You stole my kill!" at your partner.

This Saturday is the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. I think my sister's coming with me. I've got some things I need to put in order (finish) before the big day. I need to find some info on blocking lace...