Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Llamas & Alpacas & Yarn, Oh My!

We are so lucky to have had the Grand National Llama & Alpaca Show here every year for the last 5 or so at least. It's not only great fun to see all the charming animals, most of whom like to be petted and are wonderfully soft (if you haven't felt Alpaca fiber "on the hoof" you don't know what you're missing!) but there are myriad fiber acquiring opportunities!

I usually purchase yarn, and perhaps some roving or other ingredients that may catch my fancy, but this year I also purchased a knitted item. I fell in love with a pair of fingerless gloves which are just what I've been wanting to make, but hadn't found a pattern yet.

Photo Link The very talented lady who made these had come up with her own pattern, and while I could mainly figure it out by counting rows, etc., there was one spot where I wasn't sure what she'd done. She gladly told me, and I have now made about 3/4 of a pair of my own from the brown alpaca yarn I also purchased. Fun knitting, and a very fast project. Here's my progress so far.

Photo Link

These were so popular on the runway at the Fall shows, and were mainly shown being worn over gloves, so that no matter what the glove shaft length, they worked under the shorter-sleeved jackets and coats that have been all over this year.

Here's my entire haul from the show. Coral llama yarn, with a green bonus Cria pin, the brown alpaca yarn, and the fingerless gloves. I also bought a single hand needle-felting needle to use for "basting" when working with my Embellisher.

Photo Link

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies


Here's what I came up with when using the recipe proposed by kitnrose that's been discussed on Stitcher's Guild, and which was tweaked by an actual Pastry Chef, husband of Portia, a member of Stitcher's Guild. You can find the entire discussion at the link above, including the recipe.

I made a few changes from the original, including:

Took out 2/3 cup of flour.
12 oz. Semi-Sweet chips and no white chocolate chips
added 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
Sifted all dry ingredients before measuring, and spooned into measuring cups
added Zest of one orange (two would be better)
baked on parchment and did not flatten, as the batter was quite soft, and they flattened themselves effectively

They are quite delicate, almost like lace cookies, with crisp edges and a slightly tender middle. I also got over 6 dozen out of the recipe rather than the stated 5 dozen. The plate the cookies are shown on is a small one, no more than 6" across, so that gives you an idea of the size I'm getting.

There's not a lot of orange flavor, although there's a definite orange scent to them. I really think if you're dying for Orange/Chocolate flavor, you'd do well to use orange frosting on them.

I'm not usually a happy cookie baker, or an anything baker for that matter, but this recipe intrigued me, and I needed some cookies to take to a Fundraiser Boutique my music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon, is having tomorrow.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hello Again

It's been quite a while since I posted, and I must admit there have been times I wanted to, but everything that's been happening lately has been just a little too close to home, and it's very hard to be detached about them. I see no reason to inflict un-fun stuff on all of you, so I was just quiet instead.

I have been knitting more than anything lately, as it's so nice and portable, and I've been doing a lot more running around than usual, so it's what fit in.

I am practically finished with my brother's Xmas sweater, and I reached into the bag for the last ball of yarn, and it wasn't there! I apparently used it all already. I can't even count ball usage by seeing where I have to weave ends in, since I was so smart and used a "spit splice" each time. Oh well, hoist on my own petard, as usual. I called Bendigo and ordered one more ball, as well as some of the Rustic Red Tweed to make a 'matching' sweater for my nephew. I ordered plenty for it. I'm sure it will be enough, as I won't be making his sweater extra long, as I had to do for my brother, who's 6'6", with very long arms. Usually I'm way under the recommended amount of yarn, but with substitution, lengthening, etc. I apparently didn't allow myself enough of a cushion. Also, as I think I reported before, this is almost the only thing I've ever knitted where I'm getting the gauge perfectly while using the recommended needle sizes. I have always had to go down at least 2 sizes for sure. So, something's going on, or maybe they just have my number at Drops. They're Norwegian, I'm Swedish, maybe Scandinavians knit a little differently. Somehow I doubt it.....

I finally began a shell with some rayon chenille yarn I bought from a blogger back when blogs were a new phenomenon, to me at least. It's a fine, flat yarn, variegated in gold, sage, olive, brown and black, and it's semi-camouflagey looking, but I like it.

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I keep changing my mind on whether I like the stockinette or purl side better. I don't have to decide until the very end with this pattern, so that's good. The pattern is a hybrid that I made last year or so. The tank top on the right is from a Katia book, and I used the yarn shown. The further I got into it, the more I was sure that those straps, no matter how darling, were not going to be good on me, and I started looking for a pattern that would be easy to combine with what I already had done. The shell on the left from KnitOne magazine was perfect, and I have been very pleased with the look and fit of the resulting garment, so I decided to try it again. I change to the KnitOne pattern right before the armscye shaping.

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If you haven't listened to Toya's interview with Carolyn yet, you have a treat coming. It's a well done interview with a very interesting subject, and they're obviously having a great time throughout.

Lastly, I saw this and took the quiz to see What Kind of Mythological Creature Are You? I'm feeling slightly mythological lately, so why not? (As I told my accompanist after explaining my research findings (which alluded to Zeus's many partners of all kinds, no surprise there) on Ganymed while doing the Schubert song of the same name, "It's mythology. It's educational.") So, maybe this is educational too.

You Are a Pegasus

You are a perfectionist, with an eye for beauty.
You know how to live a good life - and you rarely deviate from your good taste.
While you aren't outgoing, you have excellent social skills.
People both admire you - and feel very comfortable around you.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Zebra Quick Top

Photo Link

This top was the culmination of a process that included a muslin for a different pattern, which needed a lot of work, although I was planning to do it. It was a princess-seamed knit top with a tall funnel/cowl neck. I bought this fabric simply to use as a muslin since it's very thin, but the price was right for a test. After I stitched up the muslin, I realized that I very much liked the way the print fell, and thought I'd see if I could get some more to make a top to wear from it.

I was able to get more, and then wondered whether I really wanted a knit top with princess seams after all. I sometimes think I'm curvy enough without adding to it with both knit fabric and major shaping seams, so I decided to use an old favorite pattern, the top from Fashion Sewing Group #1960 Twin Set. As Carolyn has said, why re-invent the wheel when you have a pattern you already like? I added the collar from the Vogue 8323, which was what I really liked about it, and am very happy with the results. I will wear it under other things becasue, as I already mentioned, it's a very thin knit and not the best quality by any means, so the drape of the fabric isn't too great, but I fell for the print and the color, which is a bit more pronounced than in the photo, but not by much. It feels like it's going to be nice and snuggly for winter, especially with that collar.

My other really thrilling news is that I did NOT accidentally throw away my Fall Marfy catalog, thank goodness. I couldn't believe I had, but I searched and searched for several days with no results. Then, I dreamed about finding it, although it wasn't where I dreamt it was, and I knew it couldn't be, but it was in that room, and I felt like it was a sign that it really was still around and I should just keep looking.

I'm also getting sort of close to the end of my brother's Xmas sweater. I've finished increasing on the last sleeve and will soon begin the shoulder shaping. Then it's just assembly and the collar. I can't believe it. It's been quite the epic project, and I should start a matching one for his youngest boy, who is crazed for anything "just like Dad's", but I may have to do something else for a while. At least his would be much smaller, and surely go much faster..... I'll have to think about it.