Monthly Archives: August 2013

It’s 50% Sleeves

For the most part, Summer Days was a well written pattern and a fun project to knit. I love making cardigans – especially for kids. I get so much satisfaction knitting something like this.  The more I knit the more I enjoy the projects with a finer gauge, and therefor a lighter yarn. The designer has other cute patterns for kids I would like to eventually try. Like this knitted maxi dress for tots.

I did have a problem with one section of the pattern though.  If I hadn’t made a big deal about temper tantrums, I might have had one. For the most part it is really well written and I was really enjoying it, but the underarm shaping threw me.  I would read it, and re-read it again, hoping for the light to go off in my head. Still not comprehending what to do, I made coffee, and went to a quiet rom with a notepad.  Then I let it sit for a day or two, hoping that new eyes would bring new understanding. Ravelry was no help as sections of patterns are not indexed for comments, and comments in general are truncated so if someone had insight to pass along it was stacked under hundreds of other comments that had nothing to do with my issue.  I tried whatever I could, but finally I just decided to do the next section without the written word instructions as my guide.  That strategy was part success, and part failure, but I learned enough to get back in the game.

This is what that part of the pattern sounded like to me:

Pattern: When you get to the intersection turn left

Me: Ok. …my left or your left?

Pattern: My left. But if it’s a red light, your left. And if it’s a green light my right.

Me: Uh…. ok?

Pattern: At the next intersection if it’s red, it’s my right.

Me: So my left?

Pattern: Yes. Until the end of that street, then we’ll use my left. This rule works for streets and roads, but alleys and back streets you reverse everything.

Me: The left and the rights?

Pattern: Yes, but my left and rights.

It read exactly like the Abbott and Costello’s “Whose on first?” comedy monologue. You can guess who I am in in that scenario. The pattern had charts and a description, but the double meaning of some words and the constant rule changing for a small amount of variables scrambled my brain. All that business added time to the project, which was still ultimately a quick knit.

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I love the puffed sleeves. They really get to me. They remind me of being a kid for some reason, but I had no idea why until today. These kind of vague ideas always intrigue, so I sat down and really thought about it, and for some reason Anne of Green Gables entered my mind. I loved that show when I was young. I did a google image search, and found Anne in all sorts of sweaters that I now know were my original inspiration to knit. Those P.E.I sand dunes and pretty grass fields seemed so idyllic. I didn’t see any puff sleeves, but part of me imagines Matilda scoffing at the wasted excess material. Maybe I imagined that, or maybe it’s there somewhere. One of my favourite knitting blogs posts pictures of the designer in her knits while walking along the sea shore, and I now realize where I get my affinity from. When I first decided to knit this pattern it was because of the unique sleeve construction. Normally a short sleeved sweater is a bit of a clothing oxymoron to me. So despite this sweater having a small window of usefulness, it makes up for it in cute factor, and for me, nostalgia.

buttons

The buttons are polished wood. At first I wasn’t sure about them, but now that they are sewed on I think the domed shape gives the sweater a vintage vibe. I also modified the pattern, which included adding a top button (you can see the spacing doesn’t take the top button into account), and pulled the collar trim in to come up to the edges. I’m happy I made those modifications, but I think these details also add more of a vintage look.

I hope this little girl who loves blue will like her sweater.

A walk in our neighbourhood

We walked about our neighbourhood for about 3 hours yesterday. Without any particular destination, we found ourselves in a park we love, and then stumbled upon a street fair, and managed to loop back in a circle to arrive home.

Here is some of what we saw, in the order we saw it.

streetfeet1 rougeknitting1 castle1 cafeinpark1 parksquirrel1 parksquirrel3 parksquirrel2 fountainA parkflowers1 dorrknocker1 phonebooths1 handchairs1 lemons1 streetart2 streetart1 streetart4 streetart5 MontRoyal1 chess1 brick1

Rogue knitting, a beautiful fountain, street sales, cute squirrels, amazing street art, and some gorgeous scenery. Montreal is a very beautiful city.

Workin’ on a Sweater

I like sharing the works-in-progress, but I’ve noticed a pattern.  It goes like this:

Post A:  Hey, look at this neat-o project I am in the midst of! It’s really pretty and fun, and I’m so excited to see how it turns out. Life is grand. Sing it with me!

Immediately henceforth:

Post B:  $#@! Evil mad scientists have created knitting as a special sort of torture for those who like sweaters and mittens.  Tying hundreds of knots with sticks is masochistic and weird. My shoulders hurt, and I have a headache. I need to be alone in my bedroom for awhile.  Hold my calls.

After some good coffee, and possibly some chocolate:

Post C:  Well shucks, it all turned out okay in the end.  I learned about myself.  I’m stronger for the struggle.  This little item doesn’t look so hard to tame now that it’s all over with. In fact, I’m a little proud of myself.  Huh, well, what do you know?

I’d really like to spare everyone the craft failure temper tantrum post, but it looks like until I become a better knitter, or perhaps a better knitting commentator,  the cycle may continue. Or maybe I could become less prone to temper tantrums. I promise to work on that too. In the hopes of both, I’m posting my WIP (for you non-knitters WIP = Work In Progress. Knitters were the original abbreviators long before texting evolved).

I am working on Summer Days – a kid’s bolero style cardigan. It’s super cute. I hope you can see it here if you’re not signed up at ravelry.  I am knitting it with Malabrigio’s Arroyo yarn.

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I love the yarn. Nice to knit with, soft in the hands, and the colours remind me of water.

 
I like watching the puffy sleeves take shape. One of the things I enjoy about knitting is the sculptural quality. I feel like a 3D printer 😛 blueyarnb

Have a great day!

Woven Chevron Blanket Repurposed

Every once in awhile I decide I own too many things and feel I must remove some stuff immediately. I was going through our linens and bedding and decided there was too much, but then was unable to give a valid reason to actually get rid any of it.  Conundrum. It dawned on me that instead of buying new cushion covers for some oversized pillows I have I could sew some new ones. I repurposed a blanket with a chevron pattern into two pillowcases.

A relatively easy project, but I still managed to break a needle.  I really like them, and feel very resourceful. This is what I imagined I could do if I learned how to sew. It’;s still amateur hour, but it’s really fun to finish a project in a day.  Sewing may never be my first love, but I still appreciate what you can accomplish in an afternoon.

Here they are in our spare bedroom:

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pillows3

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I was also able to upload some onion bags to my Etsy store. If you want to check them out, click here.

Knitting is as Knitting does

I went to the yarn store again.  I felt less guilty about it than I did the last time, as I have made a serious dent in my yarn stash. I knitted up every last bit of cotton I had, so I needed to replenish the stock.  When I got to the store the yarn I had in mind was sold out, so I browsed until I was inspired.  I found some beautiful cotton and linen blends. Something about the idea of dressing up onions and produce in linen seemed so luxurious. I think I may tweak my pattern a little so that the fabric of the bag gets more attention.  Seeing skeins of yarn lined up makes me feel like I have jewels in a box. They are so pretty.

whatisnexta

These skeins are laying on a cotton blanket I have plans for too.  I would like to make new covers for the large cushions I have in our living-room. I want to sew two pillowcase-like sacks out of the cotton blanket fabric. Repurposing the blanket is a good idea as I have a surplus of bed linens, but badly in need of new cushions covers. Still, the idea of cutting it is making me winch like I was cutting off long hair. It’s going to happen though, and I am going to love those cushion covers (I hope).

purplebag

This produce bag I made is from a blend of cotton and viscose.  The colours from this Welsh hand-dyed yarn are beautiful. I will be selling it on etsy, along with others I have completed, very soon.

 

lingerie

I have also been working on this lingerie piece for a friend of mine. I changed the pattern a little, and made modifications, and then found myself stranded in unknown territory. To finish it I will have to create a new top section, and because of the brain power that will take I have put it down for awhile.  I need a eureka moment. In the meantime I have to rip out the top section I first attempted, but failed to execute.

The lace pattern is lovely, and the blended linen and cotton is so soft. I really hope I can make it work.

detail_lingerie

In between fun projects I am still untangling a ball of Americo yarn.  I refuse to let it win. I will untangle it. In fact, I am seeing the light now, but it’s been a long mile of tangled string. A MILE of  knotted thread! (Can you hear the insanity creeping up?)

Have a great Sunday!

 

Peanut Cilantro Sauce on Everything

I have another recipe for you that uses peanuts. I have made it three times in as many weeks, and we put it on things like rice and noodle bowls and salads,  and for the first time it was salad rolls. A recipe my friend gave me was inspiration, but I really wanted to make it as low calorie as possible. As a result I opted to make something with less sugar in it, and add lots of cilantro.

PeanutCilantroB

I’ve tried to recreate the magic from the first time I threw the ingredients together, and to be honest, it has been slightly different each time I make it.  Try as I might, I loathe to follow a recipe – even my own. I am most happiest in the kitchen when I am just using what is on hand, adding what inspires me, and crossing my fingers it all goes well.  Sometimes it doesn’t,  but some times it really does.  When it doesn’t, I keep adjusting things until I like it, and this is the way I have taught myself how to cook.

After I made this sauce I realized I had tasted something very similar a long time ago that was included in a cold noodle thai salad. I called the person who made it for me, and she is sending me the recipe. I want to know how closely what I made matches this recipe from the past.  It’s amazing how taste and smell can take you back.

Trying to find the right balance of sweet, sour and spicy can be a challenge sometimes.  I love Thai food, and dishes like Pad Thai are an example of how that balance can be interpreted differently from cook to cook.  It’s something that tastes differently depending on the cook who made it or the restaurant you ordered it (Although, let me recommend the Pad Thai from Mango Thai on Davie Street in Vancouver).  The ingredients you use to get that balance can vary greatly as well.  We once purchased tamarind fruit to make our own tamarind sauce, which is an ingredient I prefer to use in Pad Thai that has a great tartness, but it’s also found in Worcestershire and HP sauce. Barbecue sauce is another example of finding the sweet spot with sour, sweet, and spicy.

PeanutCilantroA

I hope that you are able to find the sweet spot with this recipe.  It’s meant to be a  thin sauce, with a great amount of tart that brings out the cilantro. The peanut butter has sweetness, but you still need to add a little sugar to keep the tart from overwhelming.

Peanut Cilantro Dipping Sauce.

1/2 tsp- 1tsp Chilli Garlic sauce (Asian hot sauce) + 1/4 tsp chilli flakes (depend on how spicy you like it)
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder, or one minced clove of garlic
1 TBS gluten free soy sauce
2 TBS rice vinegar
Juice of one juicy lime
3/4 cup of water
3 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter
1.5 tsp sugar (brown sugar and maple syrop work well too)
2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves
Notes:
-Blend all ingredients in a blender, with 1/2 cup of the water, reserving 1/4 cup. I’ve made this recipe a few times, and what always turns it from “not quite there” to “that’s good sauce” is the right amount of water.
-The sweetness will depend on your Peanut Butter. Also, if you use a sweetened hot sauce that might affect the balance as well
-The lime needs to be juicey. If you are using dry tired limes you won’t have enough tart to balance the sauce.
– So taste it, and try adding more of the water to take down some of the acidity if needed.
-I have only created this using Tamari’s gluten free soy sauce, which can taste quite different that other brands, like China Lily for example.
PeanutCilantroC
Have fun!