Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Fail for Me is a Bonus for John

Christmas is over for another year. The fridge is full of leftovers; the dishes are done and put away and our tummies are still feeling the effects of an overabundance of good food.

Now, it’s time to get back to normal. I go back to work tomorrow. *sigh*

Oh well, the last few days have seen more than just food. As you may recall, I posted earlier this year about the state of our felted slippers. Both John’s and mine have holes at the heels and the balls of the feet. I decided it was time to make myself a new pair; I’m more bothered by cold feet on these floors that John is, it seems.

I found a promising pattern on the Drops website… this one. I had no intention of making them in red with fuzzy trim, though. I went stash diving and found the remains of the brown wool I had used for the Brown Blob (um.. Quonset Cardigan). The pattern is a simple one, really, knitted flat, seamed and then felted. There was one small glitch. One sentence was somewhat confusing, lost in translation.

As a result, I added a few rows before realizing that I was supposed to continue in garter stitch, not knit in garter stitch to the finished measurement. I figured that the extra rows wouldn’t really affect the overall product as they’d be felted anyway, right?

Wrong. After putting the slippers through two complete cycles, they’re too long. They fit John perfectly. They’re just waiting for him to wear them. I have a feeling he’ll wait until his current slippers pretty much fall off his feet.

So, I’m back to the drawing board. I could just go with the same pattern I’ve been using all along, the Fiber Trends felted clog pattern. I’ve knitted that one a few times already; I’m bored with it. I went hunting and then remembered that Cat Bordhi has a felted boot pattern in one of her Treasuries of Magical Knitting (the moebius books). I didn’t want the moebius “handle”, so it’s been left off and I am, basically, knitting a huge pair of socks that will be felted down and, hopefully, fit.

The wool I’m using is akin to the old White Buffalo. I’m using two strands held together. The pattern calls for two strands of worsted weight yarn held together, so I’m hoping this will work. If they still end up too big, John will have two pairs of slippers and I’ll be investing in some worsted weight yarn and making the felted clogs again.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Day Before THE Day

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s just started to snow. We’re not expecting much; tomorrow’s weather forecast includes showers. At this time of year, I don’t mind snow; Christmas should be white.

This won’t be a long post, just long enough to wish all of you the very best of the season. I intend to finish up a couple of small projects and do a whole lot of nothing for the next four days.

Christmas wishes

(That IS my front door and not just a picture I found somewhere… just thought you’d like to know that.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It’s a Handy Dandy Thing

You’ve all seen towel toppers right? If you do a Google search for images of towel toppers, you’ll know what I mean. They’re kitchen towels, cut in half and a top, either crocheted or sewn (usually), for the purpose of hanging on your oven door’s handle.

Well, on Pinterest, I came across a link for a little item that can turn any kitchen towel into a hanging towel that won’t fall to the floor every time you use it. It doesn’t entail cutting up any of your kitchen towels. It looks like this:

Great idea! Now, I crochet… have done for about as long as I’ve been knitting. I decided I could do this quite simply. But! I really don’t like sewing buttons on to things. For one thing, that means I’d have to hunt for my button bag and ferret through all those buttons to find one that would work. For another thing, it means I’d have to use needle and thread to sew on said button, which takes time.

I decided to modify the design somewhat so that I wouldn’t need to do any searching or sewing. Here’s what I came up with:

As you can see, it has a loop at either end, rather than a button. And how does it work?

All you do is fold it over your oven door’s handle and slide a towel through both of the loops. That towel’s not going anywhere! If I were to make another one, I’d probably use a smaller hook, giving it a little more denseness, but all in all, I really like this little item. No more picking towels up from the floor! Feel free to steal the idea and/or modify it. If you do, though, let me know how it turns out.

Yesterday, John and I went to a friend’s home for a Christmas party. We never go empty-handed so I made a batch of hummus and pita bread (which we know they both love!) and John made mulled wine. At almost the last minute, I decided to bake a batch of speculaas. Have you ever had the Dutch Windmill cookies? Well, that is speculaas. In this case, though, the cookies are more like a square.

They’re made with a combination of spices  and are absolutely delicious! I don’t make them often, but they seem to be becoming a Christmas tradition around here. If you’re interested, you can find the recipe for Speculaas, including the recipe for the spice mix, on my cooking blog.

Be careful, though. They’re totally yummy and highly addictive! I’ve already had two this morning and it’s only 9:30.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Silence is Golden

I’ve been rather silent over the last couple of weeks, haven’t I? Well, I haven’t disappeared; I’ve just taken a short break. I’ve been occupied with other things and things have been getting done.

After having some fun with the Self-Intersecting Basketweave coaster, I’ve been working on a pair of socks for John. They are now done and on his feet. I think he’s worn them every day since Wednesday, when I finished them. I would take a picture but I can’t get him to stand still long enough.

I did discover, in making them, that 100 grams of Trekking XXL, which I love, isn’t quite enough to make the socks I usually make for John. For the second sock, I ended up alternating the Trekking with another yarn in a similar colour. I managed to get about halfway down the foot when I realized there was no way I’d have enough yarn. After scouring both local yarn shops, I had to go the alternating yarn route. I doubt anyone will notice; even John could hardly tell. I’ll try to get a picture at some point… if I can get that man to slow down!

Last week, one of our friends dropped by to invite us to a Christmas party (later this afternoon). I was in my recliner, working on John’s socks, when Mike said he wanted to commission me to knit him a toque… a watch cap. I asked him what colour he wanted it, knowing the answer before it was even out of his mouth. Black. I showed him John’s cap and Mike deemed it exactly what he was looking for. He tried it on, asking what was front or back. I explained that, because it was knitted in the round, in one piece, there were no seams and, therefore, no front or back, right way or wrong way. He was impressed.

Well, Mike was here yesterday, dropping John off (they’d been stacking wood and getting the “man cave” ready for today’s party). His cap was ready and waiting for him and he was wearing it when he left, one happy man.

The pattern is one I wrote back in 2006; it’s hard to believe it’s been THAT long!

Now, we need to eat. As I said, we have a party to go to this afternoon. I’m sure there will be alcohol involved so I intend to go with a full tummy. I’m also bringing a batch of hummus and freshly baked pita breads. And… no drinking and driving!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Huh? It’s Math, right?

I’ve just finished an interesting little project that I’d read about in a Ravelry thread.

This little coaster is the “Self-intersecting Basketweave Coaster” by Brent Annable (it’s a free pattern on Ravelry). In the description, Brent writes “The basketweave pattern on this coaster is created by knitting two layers of fabric simultaneously and having them pass through each other to create the blocks. Aside from being an attractive and useful household item, it is also an interesting mathematical object: because the fabric is continuous around every edge, it actually forms a single self-intersecting plane.”

Once I’d read that, I had to try it. It is, of course, a double knit fabric, knitted on two straight needles. The knitting itself is very simple, a combination of knitting and slipping stitches (no purling, believe it or not). The cast on is a provisional cast on and the cast off is a stockinette and reverse stockinette Kitchener stitch. Confusing, yes?

It is also a lot of fun!

I am not at all mathematically inclined and this simply boggles my mind. I can see applications for it, though. Done in a lovely, cushy, colourful yarn, this could make a great scarf; it doesn’t curl, lies flat and has interesting texture. If you were so inclined, you could make it really big and make a really warm, double sided afghan (wouldn’t THAT be cozy??). Using worsted weight cotton, as I did, and a little larger, this would make awesome pot holders or hot pads. Incidentally, the pattern includes two sizes, the coaster size (40 stitches) that I made and a hot pad size (72 stitches).

If you want to try something really interesting and fun, I’d recommend trying this pattern. You’ll learn some new skills; I had never done a provisional cast on that wasn’t worked from the other end (you know, like starting a shawl, working one side, picking up and knitting the second side), nor had I ever done a reverse stockinette Kitchener stitch.

I’ve always hated math.