[knitting] Icewine Mittens, do-over

This is where I was with my first Icewine Mitten on Thursday night:

Icewine, Part 1

Icewine, Part 1

I was (note the past tense) using Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair in evergreen and burgundy colors. This was the wrong yarn for the project because:

1. The colors didn't contrast enough.

2. The mohair content in the yarn added a halo to further obscure the pattern.

3. The mittens were too DENSE. I could hold this mitten out and it wouldn't bend/flop.

Also, the corrugated ribbing at the bottom went midway up my forearm and was too tight, the next vine section was baggy around my wrist, the mitten itself was too tight around my hand. Everything about the project was wrong but I wanted to finish because... Because I had to finish. Both my sister and my boyfriend talked me out of finishing something that I would dislike and never wear. So I ripped.

I started again and made a few changes:

1. Plymouth Galway purple and Lion Wool green 100% wool yarn. No mohair to blur things.

2. No corrugated ribbing. The ripped mitten was the first time I ever did corrugated ribbing (knit with one color, purl with the other) and and I didn't like it. It was tedious to create and it wasn't stretchy.

3. Make a regular ribbed lining with a baby alpaca and silk yarn from my stash. So soft and smooth against the wrist.

4. Repeat the vine section twice, in opposite directions.

Here's what the new mitten looks like:

Icewine, Part 2

Icewine, Part 2

Look at the difference in the leaf and grape design from the new and old:

Icewine, Part 2

Icewine, Part 1

I am happier with the newer and brighter mittens. They will be snug around my wrist and I can actually see the fun design now. And the knitting is easier and faster.


[knitting] Almost Finished Objects

I finished knitting the Squirrely Swedish Mittens this weekend:

Squirrely Swedish Mittens

Squirrely Swedish Mittens

Those thumbs sucked. I don't think I'd ever want to do gloves. Now all that remains is to weave in ends (probably at the next Knit Night) and wash/block. These mittens are so soft and floppy but just a little too big. I had Dollar try them on and they fit him perfectly but (a) I don't think he'd wear mittens, and (b) there's no way I'd give these up anyway.

I immediately started another pair called Icewine mittens:

Icewine Mittens

I'm using Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair. Working with this worsted weight wool on size 2 needles is TOUGH. It's not fluid and smooth- making each stitch is like hammering a nail. The resulting fabric is stiff (the complete opposite of the SS mittens). I have a 30% urge to rip the mittens but I'll keep on keeping on in the hopes that they'll bloom, soften and relax after a nice soapy bath. Plus, I think the more dense they are, the more windproof and warm they will be.

The knitting for the Yoke Pattern Jacket is complete:

Yoke Pattern Jacket

I've got to spend one weekend seaming this thing. I need a big block of time with good sunlight to get this thing done.


[misc] Murderface Monday

He loves the crinkle of this plastic bag:


Here he is scratching up my shoes, which I'm okay with because it means he's not scratching up the couches.

Scratching my shoes

I bought him a cardboard scratch mat but he just sits on it.

And this is a little rug I knit for him this weekend while watching Alien3:

Knit rug for MF

I had a wierd scarf knit with bulky-weight Plymouth Yukon that I was never going to wear. I ripped it and reknit two strands at a time on size 17 needles. I cast on 20 and knit garter stitch until I had a rectangle. It's a little slippery on the wood floors, so I'm thinking I might sew some non-skid drawer liner material to the bottom.


[knitting] Yarn on Sale

This past weekend I went a little yarn crazy without spending a lot of money. I was hunting around the web for info on a sale at Knit New London and happened to find out that a local senior center was having a fabric, yarn and crafts sale. I went over early in the morning and brought home:

Bright yarn

There was enough of this yarn to fill a plastic grocery bag and it only cost me $1. The colors are really REALLY BRIGHT.

Bright yarn

I think (hope) it's wool. To find out, I knit a little swatch with a bit of each color to find out the gauge. Next I'm going to throw it into the washing machine to find out if it felts.

Bright yarn

The plan is to make a Christmas stocking for Dollar with this yarn. Now I need BRIGHT fair isle patterns and charts.

Oh, and about the yarn sale at Knit New London? It was awesome. 40% off Cascade Baby Alpaca chunky, Manos del Uruguay Semi Solids Multi Colors, Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, Jo Sharp Silk Georgette, Pear Tree 4ply 8ply 12ply, ROWAN Summer Tweed Cashsoft DK & Aran weight Bamboo Tape Kidsilk Aura Wool Cotton, Noro Kureyon, Malabrigo Worsted Weight 100% Angora, Classic Elite Premiere Cotton. I got lots, Malabrigo probably being my favorite. It's one of the most popular yarns on Ravelry and everyone says it's "buttery soft" but I've never knit with it.

It is like little pieces of heaven spun up into yarn.


[knitting] Mitten Knit Kits

My sister came over last week to help me make knit kits. I have lots of yarn and lots of mitten patterns but I needed her artist's eye to help me choose color combinations. I then bagged the yarn with the pattern and wah-lah! All ready to go...

Knit Kits

Yarn for mittens

Yarn for mittens

Yarn for mittens

Yarn for mittens

Yarn for mittens

Murderface Catdog guarding the kits:

Murderface in the craft room

I am trucking along on my squirrely swedish mittens- I've just started the snow section of the second mitten.


[amy] Update

[knitting] I finished one sleeve of the yoke pattern jacket! I'm well into the second sleeve. I have five balls of yarn but I think I'll only need two more to finish the sleeve and do all the seaming. The Upper Valley Knitting Guild is meeting this Wednesday evening at the Norwich Library from 7 - 9 pm.

[watching] The Wire: Season 4. This season's theme was Education and it was an awesome season. Possibly my favorite so far. If you've not seen this show (or you've seen an episode and were like, "Oh, it's a cop show."), you're missing out.

[cooking] Polenta, my love for you hath not waned. I had some for breakfast with a little cream cheese whipped in. I also roasted some baby red, white and purple potatoes based on a recipe from a copy of Fine Cooking I picked up. I actually didn't roast them with rosemary, fennel or garlic, but opted to use some cajun seasoning I had in the cupboard. Tasted great- these little potatoes do get soft and almost creamy on the inside. [Aside: Fine Cooking is a good magazine. Not as complex as Gourmet or even Bon Apetit, and not as Consumer Reports as Cook's Illustrated. This issue had an article on coconut milk and I made a Thai Shrimp soup that Dollar and I loved.]

[exercising] I joined a gym last week and it's been nice. This gym is way nicer (and way more expensive) that the one I used to attend. I had a physical consultation that they will perform every 90 days to track progress. If that isn't motivation to work it, I don't know what is. I'm trying to get into shape for all the hiking I want to do this summer.

- Lion Brand LB 1878. I ordered a cone in "Fisherman", which I plan to hand dye and use for mittens. LOTS of mittens.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship. I find these comics to be hilarious.
- iPod Shuffle. So necessary at the gym to keep me pumped.

[Cooking] Polenta

Oh my God... I've fallen in love. Last week I had some chicken in the fridge and after flipping through The Joy of Cooking, I decided to make chicken cacciatore. The recipe says to serve with polenta so I went to the grocery store and got some instant polenta. The combination of the saucy cacciatore mixed with soft polenta was amazing.

I can't believe I have lived this long and never had polenta before. I saw a cook on Food Network prepare it once but he made an enormous amount and poured it onto a table for people to share- which came across as rather decadent and weird to me.

Anyway, I made it again the next night with a pork stew over it. I poured the hot leftover polenta into small, oval, non-stick gratin dishes. For breakfast the next day, I turned the solid polenta out onto a cutting board to cut and then fry. I had it with mushrooms and two over-easy eggs on top. Runny yolks + mushrooms + polenta = bliss.

Even though he politely ate his way through all of this, it appears that Dollar doesn't like polenta. :(

Too bad because I bought a different kind to try. Almost all "instant" polenta is pre-cooked (and then dehydrated) because cooking the real thing involves an hour of standing and stirring. But the taste is meant to be so much better than the instant stuff- richer and cornier. This new stuff I bought isn't pre-cooked but cooks just as fast because South American corn is different from European corn blah blah blah. I just can't wait to see how it comes out.

Warning: hot bubbling polenta is the same consistency and temperature as liquid magma. Don't try to taste it, don't let any splatter onto exposed skin.

Here are a couple polenta recipes I want to try:

Creamy Polenta
Polenta Pie with Cheese and Tomato Sauce (just because I want to try those pre-cooked polenta tubes that look like huge yellow sausages.)

I can't think of any more at the moment. The only way I've prepared polenta so far is to cook it in chicken stock with a little freshly grated parm cheese added at the end. I'd like to branch out and try adding other cheeses, or milk/cream, or butter, or herb butter (I still have a bunch of herb butters in the freezer that I made at the end of the summer).

Have you ever had polenta? Do you like it? What is your favorite way to have it?

NPR just had an article on cornmeal.