September 28, 2005

What we do for yarn

Princess Knits is having a little knitting related contest, and the winner gets that gorgeous sock yarn shown in the entry I've linked to. All you have to do to enter is answer the questions below, and since they looked like fun (plus one can never go wrong with sock yarn!) I figured I'd give it a go.

# favorite fall book to read
This one's hard, because I don't have just one particular favorite, and they don't tend to go by the seasons. But one of my favorite books of all time is Watership Down. I never get tired of reading it, and I always read it at least once a year.

# favorite fall soup to eat
This one's easy. One of my favorite soups (for any time of year, but it's more appropriate to fall, I suppose) is Potato Cheese Soup (recipe is posted to my recipe site). It's quick and easy and much better than just plain old potato soup, plus the carrots turn it a lovely orange color, perfect for autumn evenings.

# favorite fall stew to eat
Crockpot Vegetable Stew: This recipe is based on something my mom-in-law makes from time to time. I added the beans and doubled the amount and variety of veggies. The beauty of this is that you toss everything into the crockpot in the morning (and to save time you can buy precut veggies, or just chop everything up the night before) and by the time you get home you have a wonderful, hearty dinner. On weekends when I have more time, I set up the bread machine to make dough, then bake some delicious dinner rolls to go with the stew. Or, if I don't feel like waiting for something to rise, I might pair the stew with....

# favorite healthy muffin recipe
Apple Cinnamon Sweet Potato muffins. I found these a few years ago on, of all places, the Lousiana Sweet Potato Commission website and made a few changes to make them a little bit more healthy. They are dense and squatty and extremely filling, and worth the time to make them.

# favorite fall tree
This one's hard. Where I live we don't see much in the way of fall foilage; more than half the trees are evergreen, or turn a kind of sickly yellow brown. So perhaps instead I'll stick with pomegranate trees, because they produce one of my favorite fruits (plus if you're wiling to deal with the time committment to shuck them and cook the fruit and can it, plus the occasional purple stain, pomegranate jelly is delicious).

# favorite fall knit
While I may not always *knit* them during the fall, my favorite knitted items for when the weather gets cooler are afghans. There's nothing like grabbing one and snuggling into a chair with a cat and some spiced cider and a good book. Pictures of all the afghans I've made so far (with associated pattern and yarn information) can be found here.

Posted by Jenipurr at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)


Yesterday Richard emailed me to ask when I was going to post pictures of the felted messenger bag I'd made for him. I told him I would post pictures as soon as he gave the bag back to me to take pictures in the first place. Heh.

So anyway, here it is in all its fuzzy, felted glory, posing on the downstairs cat tree because, well, it was there.

Notice the Serenity pin on the outer flap. Shall I make you all jealous? We saw Serenity (the verison that will be released this Friday) two weeks ago (and it's awesome!).

Here it is with the front flap open, in order to show the pockets. I'm not sure there was any way to block those pockets so they were perfectly square - the felted material is *very* thick. But even though they're a little lopsided, they're just big enough for him to tuck pens and pencils and electronic gadgets inside (in fact there's a pen peeking out the top of one of the pockets in the picture).

All the gory details - the pattern is Knitty's Satchel. I used Peruvian Highland Wool from in the darkest color they had. I ordered 16 skeins and I did have to start on the last two (you knit this with two strands held together), although I have most of those last two skeins left. I used size 13 needles and pretty much ignored the suggested guage because, well, it was going to be felted so I really didn't care. It took twice through the washing machine to reach the perfect size (and amazingly, it then fit perfectly over an old Fed Ex box, which we have since squirreled away for blocking purposes the next time this bag needs to be washed). Doing the I-cord bind-off was fun because I got to learn how to do something new, but if I ever do this again in a solid color, I'll just do a regular bind-off - once it was felted you can't really tell the difference, and a regular bind-off would go a *lot* faster.

I am now pondering making one for myself, although I think I'd go with something a little brighter in color, and I'd likely do the smaller version with a few extra pockets. It's mostly boring stockinette, yes, but on size 13's it knits up extremely fast, and there's something that's rather fun about blithely tossing something made of wool into the washing machine with the deliberate intent of shrinking it into oblivion.

Posted by Jenipurr at 07:00 AM

September 23, 2005

More socks (by mail)

When I got home today, there was a package stuffed into the mailbox. One half of it rattled, but one half of it was squishy, and that's when I knew it had to be my SockPal2za socks!

I immediately tore it open and then yanked off my shoes and socks and tried them on. And they fit perfectly. See?

. Aren't they gorgeous? And they fit perfectly. Taking a picture was a challenge because the cats insist on 'helping' (you can see Rosemary's leg in the top left; this was shortly after several blurry shots of her inspecting my socks and getting in the way). My SockpalT2za pal turns out to be Katie, of A Long Yarn, who also tucked a notepad with cats on the front, and two boxes of Smarties into the package (that's the half of the package that was rattling). Yum!

I did finally get my socks in the mail on Tuesday to my sock pal, and dropped her an email the instant I got a shipping confirmation from the UPS store letting her know they are on their way. I figured since was a little late getting them sent out, it was better to let her know they're coming, so she doesn't worry.

Posted by Jenipurr at 05:09 PM | Comments (1)

September 19, 2005

In the bag

That messenger bag I am making for Richard may be miles of boring stockinette in boring black yarn, but at least the size 13 needles meant it knit up insanely fast. I finished off the main bag on Saturday, whipped up two of the four pockets (I'm adding an additional pair of pockets to the inside) Sunday afternoon at the knitting group, and finished off all the other pieces last night. I put the bag in one pillow case and the pockets and strap in another (because for some bizarre reason the instructions say to felt them all separately - instructions I really wish I had ignored because sewing those felted parts together is easier said than done - this fabric is *thick*!), and then this morning I shaped it over a handy shipping box and left it in a cat-free zone to dry.

This evening I sat down with extra yarn and a strong needle and tacked all the pieces in place, so Richard's new messenger bag is (mostly) complete. The only addition is that I think it'd be better if I added some buttons or snaps to the flap, just to make it a little more secure. But even just as it is, it's a pretty no-nonsense, sturdy sort of bag.

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:15 PM

September 17, 2005

Bigger than socks

It hasn't all been just sock knitting around here. This past week I also finished off Hot Waffles, the amazingly pink afghan I was making for my little niece. Azzie apaprently figured since he was so much help while I was knitting it (ha!), he should help me photograph it too.

The pattern is based on Yarn Harlot's baby blanket (and go there to get a better idea of how the eyelet squares look, because I couldn't get a decent picture of it), except I did a moss stitch border instead of a garter stitch border, plus I did all my decreases as ssk instead of switching off each row, because I actually rather like the way it makes the eyelets look like continuous diagonal rows between the open and closed squares. Oh, and obviously I used a different yarn (Red Heart Kids, colorway Dream Girl) and made it bigger. But otherwise, same pattern. Really.

I also unbound the end of the basketcase afghan and have been reworking that, since I found that extra skein of yarn. I'd have that done by now, except that Richard mentioned he really wanted a messenger bag, so I showed him Knitty's Satchel, and made him pick out the color yarn he wanted, and it arrived Wednesday from (I'm using their Peruvian Highland Wool) so I cast on immediately because he really wants this bag soon. It'd boring knitting, because of course it is a huge sack made entirely of stockinette, but we have been watching two or three episodes of season one of Lost each night this week, so mindless knitting fits quite well with this sort of TV.

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:06 PM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2005

Sock feet

Here in California we're having a lovely cold spell. It's been windy on and off, and the air is brisk, and in the morning it is downright chilly. It is absolutely delightful! Of course I realize that this is only a fluke and that eventually the autumn heat will return - after all I cannot remember a single Halloween for far too many years where it wasn't warm enough to still be wearing short sleeves at the end of October. But right now we are enjoying it while we can - especially those of us who have lovely hand-knit wool socks.

And speaking of socks, here are all the pictures of my recent socks. These first two were made during our trip to and from Atlanta.

In fact I shaped the toe and did the last kitchner stitch grafting and wove in the ends on the last sock on the plane trip home. Not bad for five days - two pairs of socks! The pink ones are Colori yarn I got from The ones that looks sort of like a 70's acid trip are made with KnitPicks Dancing sock yarn. I really like the yarn - it's very smooth and feels great to wear - not at all scratchy like wool sometimes can be. But the pattern is just really weird. I had ordered two pairs worth of Dancing yarn and I'm working on the first sock of the second pair at the moment (it's become my purse sock - it travels around with me in my purse so I have something to knit when carpooling, or sitting at the doctor's office waiting to get my monthly allergy shots), and it's doing the same kind of weird color patterning as this pair. The only difference is that the pair I'm working on has more subdued colors, so it doesn't look nearly as psychedelic.

Finally, a picture of the socks I made for my Sockpal2za sock pal.

I have completely given up on any attempt to get a picture that shows the actual pattern. Suffice it to say that it is a 5 stitch repeat with a zigzag eyelet pattern, and otherwise my usual top down sock pattern. I have left the ends dangling at the toe, and am sending my sock pal all the extra yarn because I am really nervous about the sizing and it would be just my luck to have made these things too short.

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:36 AM | Comments (4)

September 10, 2005

Steal away home

I should have been posting here - pictures of the two pairs of socks I knit during the trip out to Atlanta and back, and a picture of my complete Sockapaltwoza socks. But since we returned it's been hard to work up enthusiasm for knitting, or for anything else.

Allegra, the little grey kitty who posed for the picture on the main page of this knitting journal, has been fighting kidney disease for about a year now, but in the last week or two it was obvious she'd turned a corner and things were going rapidly downhill. I took her in for tests yesterday and they showed she was pretty much in complete kidney failure.

One of the hardest decisions to make is to determine whether you are keeping the animal alive because it is what is best for them, or because you cannot bear the thought of being without them. This morning the housecall vet came over and I held her in my arms as she gave her the injections to help her slip away.

Rest in peace, little girl.

How do I even begin to describe how much I am going to miss you?

Posted by Jenipurr at 10:35 AM | Comments (10)

September 03, 2005

Muddy waters

Since we flew out to Atlanta, each night I come back to my hotel room, after spending the day going from session to session having fun, and I log in to the computer and I check the news and I am blown away by what is going on down there in the Gulf. And then I turn the computer off and I sit in our room in silence and I retreat to my knitting because it is the only thing I have to do that keeps me focused and calm, and as the news worsens with every day, I need that calm more and more.

We hear mostly about New Orleans because they likely have the worst of it, due to the horrible lack of planning for proper evacuation and care of the refugees. But there are far too many other places where people have lost their homes, their towns, their family members to the floods, and it is just too big, too much.

They are holding a blood drive here at DragonCon, and we are going to try to schedule appointments (although I think it may not yet have been 8 weeks since my last donation). Many of the celebrities are donating their proceeds from the Walk of Fame (autograph signing) to charities, including those that are focused on the victims of Katrina. Everywhere there are people talking to each other about the latest news, the latest footage, the latest pictures of the devestation. We are all here, because we planned to be here, but our hearts, oh our hearts are all there.

You know where to donate - I don't need to remind anyone who reads this to do so. You've seen it all a million places already. Usually we donate to the Red Cross, but this time we are also donating money to the humane organizations who are working on rescuing all those abandoned pets and trying to reunite them with their families, or at least get them out of danger and keep them safe. We have six cats here and I cannot imagine ever being forced to leave them behind, and it breaks my heart to know that so many people had no choice. There are too many lives being irrevocably ripped apart - human and animal - and I do not know how they will ever be okay again.

Posted by Jenipurr at 05:05 AM

September 02, 2005

What the good nerd brings to a Con

We flew off to Atlanta yesterday, for Dragon Con, and what else is a girl to do when stuffed into an airplane seat for 3 hours straight but make a sock? I brought along yarn enough for two pairs of socks, and I think it's good that I did, because I nearly finished the first sock on the plane. Last night, while relaxing in our room after hiking off to find out where they'd stashed the registration for the Con this year, I finished off the sock, and am now pondering casting on for the second one so I can carry it around with me and have something to keep my hands busy during all the sessions we'll be attending.

I'm using Knitpicks Dancing sock yarn for this pair, and, well, it looks nothing whatsoever like the pictures on their site. They show pretty colors in a vague stripe pattern. I've got all those colors, that's true, but mine looks more swirly and spiraly up the leg, and the pooling of certain colors is beyond odd. The psychedelic quality is growing on me, although I realize that there is no way possible I will be able to duplicate this for the second sock, and so they will match in colors only, but still, it's a little unexpected. Has anyone else run into wacky results from using this yarn?

Posted by Jenipurr at 05:37 AM