Knitting Helper

 

And she's ditched another collar and blingy tag. That's the second one, which is our limit for cat collars. Will lost about six of them before we gave up. The cats are all chipped, so the lack of collar won't make a lot of difference.

Still working on that Blindingly Blue Baby thing.

 

Well, This is Going To Be Fun

Or,

Please Send Whisky

I was moving right along on the Eerily Electrifyingly Blue Baby Project. We took a trip to the Olympia Farmers’ Market today to stock up. I shoved it in my bag to knit on the way.

Then this happened.

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Well, just screw this, I say. I’m close to the end of the first skein of this, I’m tempted to just cut it off and try to unravel it later if I need it. But if I NEED it, it will end up being on the knitted on edging. This thing is one of those (secret until the baby is born) three part projects: big center thing knit flat, then pick up stitches and knit a bunch in the round until I have a million stitches, then an endless lace knitted on edge. I really wouldn’t want to have to splice in more yarn at that point. So I’ll pour some whisky and get it unraveled.

Here’s another photo with the famous Batdorf and Bronson* goats.

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I was hoping they’d help, but no such luck. And after all, this just wouldn’t be The Knitting Doctor without knitting screw-ups and whisky, would it?

*For the longest time, I couldn’t remember the company name, even though we buy their coffee all the time. So we started calling it Batman and Robin, which it has remained.

Project Spotlight, and An Unappreciated Finished Project

Oh dear, it's been a month again since posting. Oh well. Summer's here, work's been busy, and I haven't gotten a lot of knitting done.

Let's turn a new leaf, shall we? Here's the Unappreciated Finished Project.

Sedona Sunset socks, finished a month ago. Sheesh. I love them, but apparently not enough to post about them. Here's the Ravelry link.

Then there are the new socks, started the same day those were finished.

The yarn is Abi Grasso Self Striping sock yarn. It is Rainbow and Clouds, I'm calling it Rainbow Bright.

Here's a list of my other projects, I'll post some photos another time.

Rogue, in Peace Fleece. I'm still working on it, but it's a big ass wool sweater, not a lot of fun to have sitting in my lap when it's warm out.

Hitchhiker, I haven't really worked on this since Wintergrass, it will get back in the rotation when the mystery baby project is finished.

Mystery Electrifyingly Blue Baby Project. I'm working away at it. Baby's due in September, I should be on track to finish it about the time he gets to kindergarten.

Cathedral Stole, this one's on the back burner too until I finish my other lace project

And one that got frogged. Find a Penny. I started this for Wintergrass, worked on it a while. I pulled it out a few weeks ago, wasn't loving the pattern at all. I couldn't decide, but then discovered that somewhere in my travels I've lost the second hank of yarn. That nailed the coffin on Miss Penny. She took the one way trip to the frog pond.

Last but not least, my Project Spotlight.

This is Douglas Fir, or a Hap for Harriet. This is getting closer to getting finished. Here are a couple more photos.

That's Zoe, of course, helping out. As soon as I put the shawl on the floor, she raced over to check it out. The color of those photos sucks. It's a typical lovely summer day here, overcast and grey, so photography suffers accordingly. At least it's not pouring rain. Yet.

Zoe has decided she is an indoor-outdoor cat. After her little adventure a few weeks ago with spending the night outside, she has been bolting for the door a lot. So we just decided to go with it. Will is out a lot in the summer, he generally goes in and out a few times during the day, comes in for supper, goes out for a bit, then is back in for bedtime. She has pretty much been following the same pattern. She hangs pretty close to the house, mostly messing around in the bushes in the back yard. Unlike most cats, she comes when she is called, and is very sociable, so I don't think she'll go far. She also loves her food enough that I think she'll hang around. And we really didn't have much choice if they both wanted to keep from getting murdered by us. When we were out of town last weekend, one or both of them shredded our patio screen doors, just because they were pissed off about being locked in the house. So the cat door is back open.

I'll try to be back before another month goes by!

 

Officially Summer Patio Season!

We did a little planting this weekend. We have a nice sheltered patio in the front of our house, with space for lots of potted plants.

 

We spent a little time yesterday and today getting things sorted, old pots cleaned out, and finished planting most of the herbs, along with tomatoes, a few bell peppers, and one little cucumber plant. And some flowers.

We still have several pots to get done, but it was a good way to spend a couple of sunny afternoons outside. And now time for the reward!

Happy Memorial Day!

 

Can You Guess?

There is a new baby addition to my extended family anticipated this fall. My nephew and his wife are “expecting”. In uncharacteristic fashion for me, I cast on as soon as they announced the sex of the baby. I am apparently trainable. Can you guess which variety of human it will be? The yarn is from Frolicking Fibers, the color is Sapphire. It can't get any bluer than that. The ultrasound better be accurate, is all I have to say. I'm NOT saying what this will be, but right now it's eleventy billion rows of garter stitch in fingering weight sock yarn. Please send whisky.

In other news, I'm still rocking the Peloton bike. I'm coming up on my 50th ride next week, probably Friday. It is not overstating things to say that this is changing my life. For the first time in decades I've found an exercise that I love enough to drag my sorry butt out of bed at 4:45 AM to ride before work. I did my first 60 minute ride yesterday, then got up at 5:15 today, yes on a Saturday not-work day, to ride along with the crazy friend who talked me into this. It was her 500th ride today. I lost some weight initially, it's since leveled off, but I've lost inches, and I'm much stronger already in only 2 months of riding most days of the week. I could not have done a 60 minute endurance ride two months ago.

Last but not least, I'll leave you with a Zoe photo. She has settled in well here, and surprisingly she and Will have become best buddies. She is still growing and gaining weight, I think she is going to be a big cat.

 

How Can You Forget A Whole Finished Project?

That’s me, right there, someone who forgets a whole knitting project. You’d think that with as few things as I finish, I’d remember to put them up here.

This is the Hawk Affection Shawl.

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Sorry about the no-makeup-photo-in-the-mirror thing. It’s all I’ve got today.

Project Details:

Pattern: Color Affection, my second one.

Yarn: Hazel Knits Divine, this is 75% merino, 15% cashmere, and 10% silk. It really is divinely soft and squishy. The colors are Nekkid, Hawkeye, and Collegiate, chosen to represent my favorite football team.

Needles: 3.5 mm

Started: September 3, 2015

Finished: February 10, 2016

For: Me

Modifications: None, really. I once again knit the three color stripe section until I had used all the stitches up with the short row section.

What I Learned: I love simple knits. And I am really starting to love simple knit things that wind around my neck for a touch of color and warmth. And I learned that I probably should take a moment to put on makeup and do something with that mess of hair before I do a photo shoot. I got off the bike, took a shower, and my hair just did that thing up there. Oh well.

I Almost Forgot! Blogiversary!

It’s 12 years here at Chez Knitting Doctor! I opened up my calendar to check something and saw that today is my Blogiversary. Nothing much new to say about that, except that I’d really like to get back to blogging more regularly.

So what else is new? The knitting projects are all the same. It’s been a bit of a slog around here, and I actually haven’t gotten much knitting done. I’m just plugging away on the same old projects, which is fine with me.

Here’s Hitchhiker:

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And socks:

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One sock done, the other nicely started. I’m not dragging out any other projects to take pictures of, that’s all you get. The Hitchhiker yarn is Wollmeise Pure fingering weight, which is gorgeous. And the sock yarn is Skinny Bugga from Verdant Gryphon. I might have a few other skeins of this in the stash. It is just the best sock yarn, it’s a merino, cashmere, and nylon blend.

The other thing going on around here is fluting, as you might notice from the photos.

I had a little excitement last week. I had a medical conference in Boston, and the second full day we were there, I developed a whole raft of floaters in one eye. Long story short, I ended up having a posterior vitreous detachment and a couple of tiny retinal tears. I ended up at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital, was seen in the ER there around mid morning, diagnosed, sent upstairs to the retina center, and had laser surgery. I was back “home” at the hotel by noon. If you have to have a retina problem, having your hotel located 10 minutes from a major eye hospital isn’t a bad idea. I still have a big jellyfish floater and a bunch of little ones that are driving me nuts, but my vision is fine, so all in all things are OK.

As a public service announcement, these things are more common as we get older, and way more common in people with severe myopia. Symptoms are a sudden splash of floaters in one eye, and lightning flashes. It can be accompanied by a retinal detachment, so it’s one of those things that is a relative emergency.

Zoe is doing very well. She has morphed from the shy, compliant little kitty that she was when she showed up on our doorstep to a very confident zany alpha cat. She and Will are actually turning into buddies, they chase each other around and have little pretend kitty brawls. I think he’s actually enjoying having someone to play with.

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Last but not least, this is the new obsession around here:

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It’s a Peloton spin bike! I’m not sure exactly what’s come over me. I guess some switch finally flipped and turned off the couch potato in me. I’ve had it for a month (minus the week we were in Boston), have done 21 rides, lost 7 pounds, and I’m noticeably stronger already. It’s a spin bike, but also comes with live and on-demand classes via a monthly membership. And I really needed to do this. I’ll be 60 this year, and already have a couple of medical issues related to weight and being out of shape, so it’s sort of now or never. I’m actually looking forward to getting up before 5AM every morning to get my butt on the bike.

That’s all I’ve got. I’m going to practice before it’s time to get going to Easter Vigil services tonight. Happy Easter to everybody!

The Church of Bluegrass-Day 3

We’re having some Great Big Fun here, let me tell you. As usual, it’s a pretty eclectic group of performers here. The music has ranged from old time Appalachian flat pick twangy banjo (yes, that is a music style), to Portland Swing, to Celtic, and everything in between. We saw a group last night that set William Blake’s poetry (yes, that William Blake that they made you read in college English class) to Appalachian roots/funk/soul/gospel/tribal music (Martha Redbone).

So far, it’s tough to pick a favorite, though Steel Wheels is a contender. We’ve heard two of their sets, both superb. Today should be terrific as well. Seldom Scene is doing only two sets this year, both tonight. Doyle Lawson performs a couple of sets today, he is a little twangy traditional bluegrass for me, but his band is polished and very entertaining.

And then there is Väsen. Not bluegrass, but one of my favorite performing groups here. They play Swedish folk music, but it’s more exciting than that makes it sound. I try to hit all of their sets when they are here.

As in previous years, it might be tough to choose my favorite performer of the weekend, but we’ll see. There’s lots of bluegrass left to hear.

Knitting at the ready. I’m off to chase the banjos. Or nyckelharpas. Whatever.

We Are Ready

Wintergrass has begun! Even Sweetpea is ready.*

Things started up last night. Here are some really crappy phone photos.

That is Solas, an Irish band. Very high energy, with talented musicians. And a flute! You can't beat a flute at a bluegrass festival. They had an accordion man too.

Steel Wheels. They were a huge hit last night, just as they were last year. They are playing a couple more sets this weekend, so I'm sure I'll get to hear them again.

Wintergrass has been in Bellevue for the last few years, which was a bit odd at first. Bellevue isn't exactly known for its roots/folk/banjo vibe. It's more of a glass walled high rise/expensive restaurants and Nordstrom's place. The theme the first year they moved the festival up here was something like “Bellevue–it's a hard place to suffer”. We've come to appreciate it though. I have three words: Din Tai Fung. It's the famous dumpling restaurant, and it's right across the street from our hotel. We can almost see them making dumplings from our room. We're headed there later this morning as soon as they open.

And even more fun! Dorothy of Missouri Star blog and her husband Bill are here for their first WG weekend! Here are the two of us last night, knitting and spinning.

As usual, it was the man sitting next to John that asked me about the spindle. His mother was a spinner, spun and dyed her own wool, with natural dyes no less.

More updates later!

*And no, Sweetpea didn't get her own wristband. That's mine. My hands are so skinny that I can just slide the band off. They don't need to worry about me loaning my ticket to anybody though, I'm not sharing.

 

Decisions, Decisions

Or,

Cast On Saturday!

I finished my Seahawks Color Affection earlier this week. It's not blocked, so you don't get the Finished Project post just yet.

But that left me without a mindless-but-not-a-sock project. I have a big-ass sweater project on the needles (Rogue), a sock, and two lace shawls, one of which is in the active knitting rotation, and one that is patiently waiting her turn.

Of course, I have yarn and pattern ideas for eleventy billion mindless projects. After meandering around Ravelry yesterday, I realized that I am likely the last person on the planet to have knit a Hitchhiker shawl. As of this morning, there are 22,564 Ravelers that have knit (or are knitting) this. I've done a couple of her other small shawls and have enjoyed them, and wear them often. And I have the yarn! It's a win-win.

That's Wollmeise Pure, color Bluebell. 525 meters of perfect merino.

I wound up the yarn, put it in a project bag with needles, set it up in Knit Companion, and cast on this morning.

But not before I saw this in a box in my closet.

Isn't THAT pretty? It was at the very top of one of my yarn storage boxes, and it practically jumped up and down, waving its arms yelling “Pick me! Pick Me!”.

So I did. I wound that one up too, and cast on another little “shawlette”. (Does anybody else hate that word besides me?)

This will be a Find A Penny shawl.

Follow the links to Ravelry to see what these look like.

Now I have some good mindless knitting all ready to go. And those of you who have been around here for awhile know what's coming up at the end of February. Wintergrass! Two full days and three nights of bluegrass, perfect for mindless knitting.

I might go see what else I've got up there that I can cast on.

 

Finished Stuff, Forgot To Post

It figures. I actually finish a couple of knitting projects and then forget all about blogging it.

First up is John’s Crazy Hat of Many Colors:

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Project Details:

Pattern: Toboggan Hat, modified for the current Peace Fleece worsted weight

Yarn: Peace Fleece mini skeins

Needles: US 6/4.0 mm

Started: October 16, 2015

Finished: Noivember 21, 2015

For: John

Modifications: The pattern is written for wider two-color stripes. I went all out and did four row stripes in many colors (33!). I bought all the mini skeins that Peace Fleece sells, and didn’t repeat any of the colors. I also did ribbing instead of a rolled cuff at the beginning.

What I Learned:: Hats go quick in heavy worsted weight yarn. I also learned a new trick to do a color join right where I want the color to change at the beginning of the round. It was fidgety, but not as fidgety as weaving in all those ends would have been.

Next up is socks. Tiptoe Through the Tulips Socks

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Project Details:

Pattern: Same old same old. Plain vanilla pattern, let the yarn do the talking. 72 stitches around. Picot tops.

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL

Needles: US 1/2.25 mm

Started: April 19, 2015

Finished:  January 22, 2016

For: Me

Modifications: None

What I Learned:: Socks shouldn’t take this long. And I’m still not tired of white bread socks.

Zoe is settling in just fine. She came home for good on Monday. There is a bit of hissing and caterwauling going on, mostly by Will, but things are getting calmer.

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I have discovered that it is NOT ok to leave anything knitting related laying around with her here. Yesterday she knocked my knitting gadget bag on the floor, then tried to get in my big knitting bag. And I was merrily knitting away on a shawl and looked down to find her chewing her way through the working yarn. The adventures of having a kitten!

Mexico!

Guayabitos, to be specific. We spent a week at exactly this same spot last year. We loved it so much that we booked for this year as soon as we got home. I won't do a long post with lots of photos, since the wifi is a bit slow, but here's my morning.

And that's pretty much been my week. Sunshine, ocean in the background, knitting, practicing flute, siestas, and a cold Pacifico or two. Happy hour daily with margaritas at sunset. Strolls into town for lunch and/or dinner.
We go home tomorrow, which will be OK, since you can't really stay here forever. And Zoe is patiently waiting for us! She became officially “abandoned” by her previous so-called family on Wednesday last week, and we left Friday for here, so she is being boarded with her vet family. We'll pick her up and bring her home on Monday!

Adios!

 

Baby Helen, and Baby Zoe

It’s a real finished project! One of my coworkers had her baby very early a couple of weeks ago, at 25 weeks. (Baby Helen and mama are both doing OK.) I didn’t have anything hand knit ready for her, but fortunately preemie baby sweaters don’t take long to knit.

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Project Details:

Pattern: Design D Cardigan; that’s a really catchy name

Yarn:Dale Baby Ull in hot pink

Needles: 3.25 mm (2.75 for the edging)

Started: 12/23/15

Finished: 12/27/15

For: Baby Helen

Modifications: The neckband as written in the pattern is just plain fidgety. It calls for casting on a few extra stitches along the front bands, knitting a long strip to reach the center back, repeat on the other side, then sew it down and graft together. For a freaking baby sweater that might get worn a handful of times before she grows out of it, that seems like major overkill. I just finished the neck decreases, changed to the smaller needles, did a few rows of garter stitch to match the bottom edge, then did a yarn over /knit 2 together eyelet row, knit another row, then bound off.

What I Learned:: Baby sweaters don’t take long, especially in preemie sizes. This pattern was a mess. It worked, but the instructions for the raglan decreases were written out in a fashion that made them nearly incomprehensible.

I just realized while doing this that I never did a finished project post for John’s Toboggan hat. I will remedy that soon.

In other news, I finally splurged and bought myself a late Christmas present of a really nice wooden swift and ball winder. The rickety plastic ones that I have are just not a lot of fun to use, especially for finer yarns. I’ve had to rewind more balls of yarn by hand to fix total screwups than I can count. Here they are.

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I bought them both on Amazon. The winder is the Heavy Duty Ball Winder by Nancy’s Knitknacks, the swift is a large size Swedish Glimakra. They are lovely. And it inspired me to clear off this wooden shelf to make room for them.

Last but certainly not least, we are 99.9% certain of bringing home a new family member. Those of you who follow me on Facebook have already heard this story. Last Saturday evening we had a knock on our door. Our neighbors had a black kitty show up at their door, they thought it was Willie and brought him down to our house. It wasn’t Will, but a little lost girl kitty. Nobody in our neighborhood has a black cat (except us), so we kept her over the weekend. Monday we took her in to our vet clinic where they checked her over and found she was microchipped. They contacted the owners, who apparently live a few miles from here. They didn’t sound very enthusiastic, but promised to pick her up and take her home on Monday.

Of course by this time we’d fallen totally in love with her. She is adorable, very silky fur, about 8 months old, and as sweet as she can be.

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Five days later, today, and three phone calls from our vet to the so-called owners, and they still haven’t come to get her, and are not answering calls. The vet has to keep her and give them ten days to claim her, though it’s almost certain at this point that they have no interest. We strongly suspect that she was dumped in our driveway. It was a very cold night, and she hadn’t been outside for very long when she came to us. I just wish they would step up and say they don’t want her so we can bring her home. Though everybody at our vet clinic has fallen in love with her as well, she is getting a lot of love there too.

Here are a few more photos from today, we went to the vet to see her.

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Her new name is Zoe! In 5 more days we will be her people!

Solstice 2015

And another Solstice is in the history books.

I don't have a lot of photos of the actual event, John has a few on his “real” camera, but we tend to not take a lot of photos once the actual party starts. This year's dinner was a six course sit down meal for ten of our friends, most of whom are also neighbors. I consider myself a lucky woman to have that many people to cook and enjoy a fine meal for/with, and the fact that they are neighbors as well is a lovely bonus. I know a lot of people who don't even know their neighbors, much less like them enough to invite them to dinner.

Here's Lewey at the groomer getting ready.

Here is the menu:

That's mostly correct. The pork roast recipe came from the December/January issue of Fine Cooking, I did the roast per the recipe, but just ended up making up the sauce. The dried morels were hideously expensive, so I used part morels and part cremini mushrooms, and it was white wine and cream instead of red wine. I sauteed the sliced crimini mushrooms in butter, added white wine and the morel soaking sauce and cooked that down some, then added cream and cooked it more to thicken it. I added the morels at the very end so they didn't fall apart. The sauce in the recipe called for using the pan drippings, but I just made it ahead so I didn't have that last minute thing to do.

The appetizers were Jacques Pepin's salmon rillettes, from his new cookbook and PBS series. This was a huge hit, and can be made well ahead. I have two of these little pots of rillettes left. I'm thinking football game day food. This was served with crackers, though it would be good on baguette slices as well.

The other two appetizers were from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table cookbook. Seriously, go buy this. Most of the recipes are not fidgety, they can be prepared with readily available ingredients, and work well for parties (or just-the-two-of-us meals). The herbed olives are just that, olives in a herb blend that really kick up a plain olive mix. The tomato tarts as she does them are for more of a larger sit down course, I made them as individual tarts. They use puff pastry that you can bake ahead, then top with tapenade (I used store bought), a slice of tomato and mozzarella. Pop them under the broiler for a few minutes, then add salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil and good balsamic vinegar and basil.

The ceviche was also from her cookbook.

No photo of the soup, also Dorie's recipe. I made this on pure faith, pretty convinced that it would be weird. It uses pears, leeks, onion, celery, and vacuum packed chestnuts, all cooked together in stock ( I used turkey stock since I have a surplus in the freezer). When it was done I ran it through my food mill. You can made this ahead, it doesn't have any cream/dairy so it keeps for a few days. I stirred a bit of creme fraiche into it before serving. It was actually very good.

The salad was mixed greens: romaine, radicchio, escarole, frisee, tossed with a basic vinaigrette, and topped with chopped pecans.

The pork couldn't have been easier. I've never done one of these, but you just season it with the herb blend the day before and let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator, then roast when you need it. Ask your butcher for a bone-in pork rib roast, frenched. Count on one rib per person for a generous serving. I served this with the mushroom/white wine cream sauce. Did I mention there was a lot of cream in this menu?

The same issue of Fine Cooking has two recipes for a potato gratin, I did the “fancier” version but left out the chestnuts since I thought that might be chestnut overkill. Next time I might add them. It's a fairly standard gratin recipe, but with a layer of sauteed prosciutto added before the gruyere cheese. It was divine. It had a lot of cream, bacon, and a ton of really good gruyere cheese.
And roasted beets, for some reason beets have become a Solstice tradition. I usually serve them in one form or another. I just toss these in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, toss in some rosemary sprigs and roast. There are some shallots in there as well.
And trifle. I haven't made a trifle in quite a while. See my last post for the recipe and photos. There was fortunately some left, we had it for breakfast this morning.

One of the things I've discovered over the years of doing big dinners like this is to minimize the number of last minute fidgety things that need to be done. We served from the kitchen in courses, so while a guest or two are helping clear the previous course, I have time to plate the next one. Plenty of wine helps as well to keep people occupied during course changes.

The other important thing is planning. I plan the menu well ahead, get all the shopping done based on the menu, then have lists and more lists. I have a detailed game plan of what gets done when, which helps me identify stuff that can be done ahead. It also helps identify when I've planned a menu with too many last minute fidgety things. John periodically reminds me of THAT ONE year when I didn't plan so well, and there was a lot of chaos at dinner time. Planning ahead also helps cut down duplication, for example, if I have multiple items with chopped or sliced onions, a detailed plan lets me know that so I can do them all at once.

There you go. I think it was a successful event, if the number of wine glasses are any indication.

And here is my pretty table before dinner:

And cleaned up, ready for the next meal!